Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Chongwe River Camp, Zambezi, Zambia

I used to be such an organized person. I had a responsible job where I juggled many important things. I had meetings and messages, and events and proposal deadlines, and somehow, I did it all, and I did it well.

Now that I have somewhat less to handle, I don’t handle it as well. I am too relaxed. I don’t obsess about details, I don’t wake up in the middle of the night gasping about something I may have forgotten, I don’t even keep a notepad by the side of my bed to write things down that wake me in the night.

When I was making arrangements for this trip, AdventureMan said to add on a few days at the Chongwe River Lodge, so I told the travel guy at Robin Pope Safaris to book us at the Chongwe River Lodge. Then, I just paid what the invoice said and never thought about it again. If you go to the RPS page, it will show you Chongwe River HOUSE, and that is where we thought we were staying. When we arrived, we were a little disconcerted to discover we were at the Chongwe River Camp, not the house, but our tent/cabin faced a pod of hippos, and we were immediately enchanted, and sometimes things happen for a reason, you know? We knew we were there for a reason, and just relaxed and enjoyed what the camp had to offer.

And oh, WOW, what the camp had to offer. First, every tent is situated to have a fabulous view, and the front of the tent is all clear net, you CAN close it if you want to, but you don’t have to, you have absolute privacy with on one looking in. They have a wide range of activities, lots of water sports, fishing, kayaking, hiking, fly camping . . . so much to do! Or . . . you can do nothing at all, too.

Our view overlooked a pod of hippos. All day and all night long, we could hear hippos. In the middle of the night, a hippo mom and a baby hippo were grazing two feet from the entrance to our tent – when I got up to watch, they quickly slipped back into the water.

That might disturb some people, but it totally enchants me! I was told some people get grumpy because they can’t sleep, that they request earplugs . . . I cannot imagine. I love the sounds, and somehow, it makes me feel safer inside knowing wild things are roaming around at night. I’ve always felt human beings were the far more dangerous threat than the animals.

So I will bore you with a bunch of photos, and you will see the things I love – details of the tents and lounge and dining areas, and photos that I wish had sound attached so you could be lulled to sleep by the laughter of the hippos.

This is the Chongwe River airport:

This is the airstrip we flew into – you can see elephant dung all over the strip, but there were no elephants on the strip when we flew in:

Zambia was experiencing a huge airplane fuel crisis while we were there, so flights were being consolidated. One night, there was NO fuel at any of the major airfields. Here us the fuel storage at Chongwe:

This is my idea of camping – king size bed, good sheets, a great bathroom and a great view of hippos:

The bathroom! Can you see why I enjoy camping so much? The shower has a European style flash heater – so practical, and you get hot water in a heartbeat without burning a lot of trees.

Storage/clothing shelves in the bedroom. Rooms come with flashlights, insect repellant sprays, and a whistle in case you feel in danger:

Dining in the bush – and the food was great. Because it is the middle of winter in Zambia, nights can be chilly, and we had charcoal braziers between diners at night to keep us from shivering. It was toasty warm! When we would get back to our tents, there would be hot water bottles warming our beds, so we could just jump in.

The coffee/tea/hot chocolate bar, with French press Zambian coffee, yummmmm:

This is how the camp would look at night when we would come back from a game drive or a boating trip – purely magic, with all the twinkling candles. The camp offers fishing, hiking, game drives, kayaking, all kinds of activities, or . . . just chilling:

This is the lounge area and library in the daytime:

These are “my” hippos – oh, this just made my time at Chongwe River Camp, hearing their laughter, hearing their arguements. Just up the river all the animals would come down to drink at dusk. I could sit and take photos and never intrude on them – warthogs, impala, elephant, waterbuck, geese, heron, egret, ibis . . . and lots of baboon.

We saw everything on our game drives, but I will start with the great Kudu, because finding a male kudu not shyly running away is a great treat:

I think this lion finds tourists boring – he and his wives endured our presence for about 45 minutes before ambling off to another shady glen:

This was a great thrill for me – an elephant swimming to one of the Zambezi islands. Don’t worry, I was using my great telephoto, I was not that close. We did not bother the elephant, we kept our distance.

Here is the big guy safely on his island:

And just look at this guy! He was a big as a HUMMER! Our guide said he had seen even bigger on the Zambezi. (gulp!)

June 28, 2008 - Posted by | Adventure, Africa, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Travel, Weather, Zambia | , , , , ,

16 Comments »

  1. I see you’ve been really ”roughing” it!
    Wow! That sounds like a great place to be. I love the photo’s! glad you posted so many of them. The elephant is awsome. And I love Kudu!
    I can imagine it being difficult to come back to ”normal” life after this! 🙂

    Comment by Aafke | June 28, 2008 | Reply

  2. It is nice to know that you had a good time in Zambia. You will enjoy it more when you make a couple of trips to other national parks in Zambia! I will recommend South Luangwa for your next visit.

    Comment by Mbulawa | June 28, 2008 | Reply

  3. Aafke – Growing up, I did real camping, and again as a young wife. It was fun, it was a lot of work, and now THIS is how I like to camp!

    Mbulawa – We have been three times to the South Luangua – and we love it there. We wanted to see also what life was like on the lower Zambezi. More to come – South Luangua!

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 28, 2008 | Reply

  4. OMG i LUV elephants!!!

    I loved the pictures. The place looks amazing.

    I’m glad you had fun on your trip :)~ That lions looks so non-chalant 😛

    Zambia is now on my list of places to visit, thanx intlxpatr!

    Comment by cixousianpanic | June 28, 2008 | Reply

  5. wow i loved the pictures! and the lounge area is hands down my favorite place 🙂 look at all those hippos! why aren’t they wearing pink ballet skirts though? lol

    Comment by Yousef | June 28, 2008 | Reply

  6. Amazing pictures 😀

    Comment by Ansam | June 28, 2008 | Reply

  7. that looks like an excellent trip!
    HIFFOS!!! i love themf!
    ur post made me so excited!!!!
    yknow…adventureman gave me an idea…id rather spend my vacation with animals than with ppl, zambia is definitely the place for me

    Comment by Mrm | June 28, 2008 | Reply

  8. Cixousianpanic – I am so happy to see you! When are you going to come back to blogging? Your very erudite, insightful and elegant blog was such a highlight!

    Yousef – You liked the lounge! Why? What was it about the lounge that appealed to you? Hippos are a great theme at this lodge, and they are everywhere. Even in our cabins, we had little hippo statues, jolly fat hippos that looked like they were smiling. You’d like this camp. Great food, too!

    Ansam – Probably every tourist to Zambia has the same photos – the animals almost pose for you! They make you look good. 🙂

    Mrm – Zambia, or maybe Botswana. Both have great game viewing. When you stay in these camps, though, you have meals with your fellow guests, all at one table. If there is a group of you, there is a private area, like for 4 – 8 people, where you can have relative privacy, eat with your own group, etc.

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 29, 2008 | Reply

  9. now i want a hippo instead of a waterbuffalo.

    looks like you guys had a great time, i’m gonna have to put safari on my list of things to do 😛

    Comment by sknkwrkz | June 29, 2008 | Reply

  10. Skunk, you would have a great time. This was our eighth safari, and we discovered a great secret – when you travel in a group of four or six, you have an entire vehicle and guide to yourself, you can sometimes stay in a more private part of the camp, set aside for groups – it’s all good.

    The one part of safari-ing that is a downside for us is the dining with others. While some may enjoy it – and we have met some truly fine people at the big dining table – we really enjoy our privacy, and prefer eating – at least dinner – as a family. You have a greater chance of this if you are in a group. So consider taking your whole family! 🙂

    More social people will enjoy the large group dinners – and large is only eight – 16 people at the most.

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 30, 2008 | Reply

  11. WOW
    I love those photos and what a wonderful trip!!!

    Comment by jewaira | June 30, 2008 | Reply

  12. it does sound like a lot of fun. and its more appealing than a beach holiday,… sunbathing all day just doesnt do it for me anymore 😛

    Comment by sknkwrkz | June 30, 2008 | Reply

  13. Thanks, Lady J. More to come . . .

    It is more active, Skunk, and more peaceful, too.

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 30, 2008 | Reply

  14. Beautiful!!

    Your airport/runway pics made me want to share a story with you. I have a good friend who is a pilot from South Africa. We met in China, but now he is flying in West Africa. He used to tell us stories about his flying days when he brought people to safari camps. Before landing, they would usually “buzz” the runway to scare away animals – elephants, lions, etc. On one landing, everything seemed to be going fine until the airplane jerked wildly to the side and headed towards the edge of the runway (dirt strip, actually). He was able to compensate and stop the aircraft, but he had no indication of engine failure or mechanical problem. As soon as the plane stopped, everyone jumped out and realized what had happened – a giraffe had entered the runway and the wing hit his leg. The giraffe was injured badly and was put down by a park ranger.

    His first job after leaving China was flying into Darfur for the world food programme – he left that job because the airplanes were increasingly being shot at. Imagine that he is all of 24 years old!!

    Comment by Heather | July 2, 2008 | Reply

  15. I love your story, GlobalGal, except how sad for the pilot and for the giraffe, but it is an occupational hazard. And I know your friend, or many like him, the brave bush pilots who take us around, sometimes in tiny tiny planes. Most of them look like they are still in high school! Imagine – flying a plane into Dharful. What courage.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 3, 2008 | Reply

  16. Amazing life and very nice pictures!!

    Comment by beeldig | July 28, 2008 | Reply


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