Camping in South Luangwa – Kalovia Camp

We had wanted to have my parents experience the remote and wild camping that we love so much. Unfortunately, these sites aren’t as easy to find in Zambia as they are in some of the other countries that we’ve been to. After a Sherlock-esq search we found a spot in South Luangwa. It’s called Kalovia camp. It’s just outside the north-eastern part of the park above an area that juts out like a peninsula from the park called the Nsefu Sector. We booked 3 nights.

We drove through the park from Wildlife Camp to get there, stopping for photos of zebra and birds as well as lunch (we didn’t take any photos of our lunch, we just ate it.) We drove through multiple villages and continued right through until we saw no other cars for a few miles. At that point we took a left off the already dirt road onto a 4×4 track which eventually led through a dried riverbed and into the camp.

Cheryl and I looked around and thought “Wow! This place is great. It’s a luxury campsite. There’s a shower, toilet, sink, braai pit – everything we could need.” One look at my mom’s face though and we could tell she wasn’t sharing our excitement. At least it wasn’t ‘Oh no, what have I done?!!?!?” though. It was more like, “Stay positive, I enjoy a challenge.  Keep smiling…” Smile she did. She’ll claim she never had any doubts but her face showed otherwise. I can’t blame her. The first two nights at least there was electricity and plumbing. Here it was firelight and hand-filled bucket showers. Still those doubts must have quickly faded as she settled into camp around the fire with her and my dad teaching Cheryl and I how to play pinnacle for what was the start of an epic contest of the wits in cards.

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Setting up camp.

Over the next few days we hung around camp, read, worked out, played cards, went for a hike and went for a long game drive. I’m sure I’m forgetting something but you get the idea. We relaxed.

The camp had two attendants staying at it that helped us out. We’ve come across this a couple of times before and it is pretty awesome. They lit the camp fire for us, heated the water for our shower and even acted as our guides on the hike. We later found out that they built everything in the camp by hand out of sticks and reeds. On top of all that they were super friendly and great hosts too.

The hike was pretty cool. We were originally planning on driving through the bush to “hippo bend” which has the highest concentration of hippos in Africa. We were disappointed when we found out the road had not been fixed since the rainy season so it wasn’t passable. However, our favorite camp attendants offered to take us on a guided hike to ease our disappointment. We walked through the bush past puku and impala until we got to the river. There in front of us, on the far bank, 50+ hippo were roused from laying in the sun and stampeded into the river throwing up dust and causing an awful commotion (the bank we were on was on top of a ledge some 30-feet high above the river – safely out of the way of any charging hippos). As we looked slightly further down-river and up-river we saw more and more hippos. They were everywhere. We walked to “hippo bend”! (Actually, we later found out we were only at the far end of “hippo bend” and further upriver there are hundreds upon hundreds of hippos all vying for space in a small section of river but that was the part that was inaccessible.) Awesome to see. Little did we know when we went for the game drive the next day we would see hundreds more hippos. Needless to say, we have plenty of hippo photos. Almost one for every hippo seen…

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Hippos were literally on top of one another in Hippo Bend

We had to wade through a river to start and finish the hike.  No hippos or crocs in this river though.  At least not that we could see.

The next day we were up early again to get into the park for a game drive. We tracked back to the Nsefu sector and spent the majority of the day in the park. We had a couple of different great sightings of lion (not eating this time, just lounging), giraffe, elephants, buffalo, crocodiles and many cool birds. We topped it off with a pancakes and bacon breakfast, some scrabble and reading during the heat of the day. What a great day in the park.

Some of the animals we saw in the Nsefu sector.  Also, the roads got a bit interesting at times.  Luckily we were there during the dry season or we may not have made it up the other side of this river crossing.

A late breakfast while on the road in the park.  Perfect place for pancakes!

Unfortunately we weren’t staying at Kalovia forever and after 3 nights we set off.

Next stop: Malawi

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