Africa Golf Safari

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Sadly, the time came to leave the South Luangwa national park and our new friends Prince and Suzio and all the crew. At the bush airstrip we waved goodbye as our privately chartered Cessna caravan took off into the wide blue African sky directly to our next destination – the beautiful Lower Zambezi National Park. 

We flew over tawny landscapes with their dry riverbeds and small, huddled villages, and then over the rugged mountains of the Zambezi Escarpment before descending to the bush airstrip at Jeki. As we exited the plane our new guides were there to meet us with broad smiles – Charles and Nevers – and we piled our luggage onto the waiting land cruisers. Once at the Zambezi a motorboat was waiting for us and we sped upriver, passing pods of surprised hippo, on our way to Potato Bush Camp, our new home for the next 5 nights. 

Potato Bush Camp is built from steel frames, wood and canvas and is airy and open with majestic views over the vast Zambezi. A raised wooden boardwalk leads to the four tented suites, each with spacious bedrooms, sitting area, outdoor veranda and private plunge pool facing the river. The fourth tent is a two-bedroom family suite, with two ensuite bathrooms, a central sitting room, wide veranda and plunge pool. 

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The four guest chalets are stone and thatch, open-fronted to the river and with wide verandas. The ensuite bathrooms have twin showers above sunken ‘baths’. At night there are wrought iron grills to pull across the front so that we could enjoy the sounds of the night without worrying about unwelcome visitors. Two of the chalets also have a separate ‘sky bedroom’ raised on a platform high above the ground and a small bathroom below surrounded by a reed enclosure. This was a fabulous place to relax and enjoy an afternoon siesta or as a sleep-out under the stars.

Not far from the lodge was a wild dog den with five cute little pups, which we saw occasionally when they were brave enough to come out and play. We also saw the five adults out on a hunt on one of the islands. The pups were too young to accompany them so the adults would bring some of the kill back and regurgitate it into their mouths. Once plentiful across the continent, African wild dogs or “painted wolves” are on the endangered list so it’s always a privilege to see them.

The wide and shallow Kapamba River proved to be a sublime arena for some surprise experiences set up by our hardworking and enthusiastic camp staff. After our game drive one morning we reached the river to find a long dining table and chairs set up in the water under a shaded awning, and a grand buffet lunch ready and waiting. On another occasion we had sundowner drinks in the river, sitting on stools with our feet in the cool water, lanterns illuminating the fading daylight, our barman ready at the bar, and the sun setting red on the horizon.

Our last day on the Lower Zambezi came around too soon, with sad goodbyes to all the staff at Potato Bush and the knowledge that before long we would be winging our way back to civilization. We descended the steps to the jetty and boarded our boat for the 20-minute return journey back to the airstrip, dodging the now familiar pods of hippos and the many hidden sandbanks. Then from the air we watched this mighty river unfurling below us, dotted with islands and patterned with the dark and light of deep channels and vast shallow sandbanks. For a while we could still see hippos and elephants far below, then we flew higher, and then further and then the river was far away, and just a dream.

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