04 – 05th September: South Luangwa, Nsefu Sector
04th September – Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa – Zikomo
Another early wake up for the last morning game drive with Flatdogs. This time, we drive far to the east and come across a pride of lions lazying about by the riverside. One pair was mating but we only saw that from far away, and we spent far too little time with the lions to see it again. That is why I prefer self-driving, we can spend as much time as we want and not be constrained with silly mid morning teas and other tourist’s wishes.
Though we have enjoyed ourselves at Flatdogs, we have had enough of scheduled days and lack of freedom so we bid farewell and continue with our self-drive. But what next? We are unsure – we have 2 days to spend either in Mfuwe or Nsefu. Unfortunately the passport problem we have means that we cannot move earlier into Zim like I would have wanted to do if we had the option. So we decide to try something new and went to Nsefu, about an hour’s drive from Mfuwe on slightly rough road. A patch of deep sand in a dry riverbed causes a spot of bother and squealing laughter from the local kids as our tires are not deflated enough (since we haven’t encountered sand anywhere) and we get stuck, but at the second attempt we are through.
Our destination was Zikomo, recommended by a friend on an internet forum. They have a truly beautiful campsite with a stunning view of the Luangwa river and a very idyllic landscaping. We choose a spot which has a hammock strewn under a huge shady tree. We relax and settle in a bit and walk to the water’s edge to get close views of the hippos which seemed reluctant to put much more than their nostrils out in the midday sun. The riverbank is very high so we can enjoy the view in relative safety.
Little by little all the staff has come over to talk to us – it seems we are one of the first tourists visiting Zikomo as it has just opened. We have never been at a friendlier and more enthusiastic place. We are shown everything with great pride, including the chalets which are quite nice. And I am totally sold when the chef brings over some delicious cake to go with our lunch – give me a sweet and you are my friend for life!
After some relaxation which was well needed as I was running a mysterious fever (no other symptoms … for a while) we went for a drive. The elephants are a bit more wary here in the Nsefu Sector than around Mfuwe but nothing compared to the ones in Kafue. We get some posturing and trumpeting but that is about it.
The scenery is very pretty and animals are plentiful, though not at the same densities as South Luangwa – seems like all the elephants make their way to the river and the pools in the afternoon. We spot a lone hyena before sunset and it’s time to head back to camp. Two fires have been lit for us and we enjoy some lovely peri peri chicken on the braai. Unfortunately during the night disaster strikes and I get very sick – most probably it is because I was a bit careless at Flatdogs and brushed my teeth with the tap water.
05 th September – Nsefu Sector (South Luangwa) – Zikomo
Yesterday we arranged for a walking safari on an island in the Luangwa near Zikomo but I am very sick and feverish and I am not up to it. So we postpone that for the next morning. We get a couple of hours extra sleep and then I feel strong enough for a small game drive at the atrociously late hour of 8am! Some lovely cookies freshly prepared by the ever attentive chef help lift my spirits.
The effort to go on a game drive on the bumpy road when very sick pays off when we spot a lone lioness very close to the road about an hour away from camp, panting in the already extreme heat. Soon she is joined by two of her friends – a collared female and a young male. No other pride members are in sight. We watch them for a while but then they disappear behind some thick bush and we head back to camp.
Back at Zikomo, the hammock comes in handy as I try to sleep off my high fever. It is around 40C but I am very cold and shivering. While I sleep my boyfriend has some spaghetti bolognese for lunch at the restaurant, which he says is very tasty. He is in good company too, Tasha the adorable camp dog is only too keen to have a taste too!
At 4pm I wake up and we try to go out and search for the lions again. In the area we spot a big herd of buffaloes and sure enough the lions are around, looking quite interested in the buffalos. They half heartedly stalk the buffalos but their heart is not really into it and no action comes out of it. The lions are more hoping that one of the buffalos will simply drop dead then show us their ferocious nature.
I am in bed by 7pm having skipped both lunch and dinner but the wonderful staff at Zikomo keep my boyfriend very much entertained, well fed and well watered while I am such boring company. I thought I was delirious with fever when during the night I hear hippos bellowing along to Iron Maiden songs – but it is only the staff at Zikomo entertaining my boyfriend with some of his favourite songs.