Words by Kim Sparrow Photos by Karen Lowe
Departure from Mukambi Safari Lodge was accompanied by conversations of gratitude about the game drive the day before which had spilled over into the night, gifting sightings of porcupine, genet, white-tailed mongoose and grazing hippos. Karen and the guide shared the excitement of the unexpected nocturnal visitors, as well as retold each other the story of coming across the leopard and lion on the cusp of the storm. Their enthusiasm was equally displayed by an up and coming trainee - one of the lodge waiters who was fulfilling their dream of becoming a professional guide, part of the staff empowerment ethos Mukambi upholds.
Farewells and final words sent Karen on her way to her next adventure; Busanga.
Busanga Camp is located in a remote area of the Kafue National Park. A 5-hour drive from Mukambi Safari Lodge, deep in the heart of the Busanga plains awaits a wetland wilderness covered in palm groves, lily covered lagoons and papyrus reed beds - a biodiverse and thriving ecosystem like none-other. Coming off the adrenalin of the evening activities, the vehicle stopped for tea, slowing the pace to observe their surroundings. Finding themselves surrounded by butterflies, Karen once again had unexpected wild wonders framed in her lens, this time a reminder from nature that beauty is also to be found in the small.
Arrival on the Busanga plains was greeted by sunset and herds of elephants, their gentle rumblings a welcome song. A pack of wild dog yawned lazily, bidding the day adieu. A dramatic backdrop of silent sand towers emanated a sense of a termite graveyard - silhouetted against the darkening sky. Busanga was everything Karen imagined, and more. All-encompassing views and wildlife topped off with a warm welcome by camp owners Edjan and Robyn and a seat around the campfire beneath untouched and untamed skies. The evening was spent enveloped in conversation and stars, recounting and reconnecting under the full moon.
Silhouettes of acacia trees decorated the foreground of an African sunrise - the huge red sun rising behind. A kettle boiled on the fire in the Boma, warm beverages and lights snacks to curb the morning's hunger, the appetite for adventure simultaneously growing. Heading off on one of the game drive routes provided almost immediate sightings of pools with pods of hippos, finding reprieve in the October heat. Being the dry time of year, a variety of birds and animals congregate at various water sources, crowned and wattled cranes sharing water with endemic lechwe, elephant, zebra and wildebeest; a lion’s dream.
After a morning of observation, return to camp was met with tea and biscuits, and a session in the infinity pool overlooking the plains, soaking in the views and cool water. A constant stream of delicious food was prepared and consumed, fuelling up for the next game drive expedition. Exploring another route through the concession, the vehicle stopped to appreciate sundown, only to find themselves surrounded by a pride of lion. Seated in silent anticipation, breath and trepidation held, the pride moved beside the car focused on hunting strategy, falling into formation. Deciding to leave the lions to attain their prize, the game drive vehicle quietly backed away, wrapped in lion roars as the king of the beasts made their presence known to dusk.
On the drive back to camp, a slender serval greeted the vehicle, sitting poised on the edge of the road, showcasing its gorgeous coat. A little plover ruffled up her feathers to protect her baby, maternal instincts overriding fear. Camp welcomed the adventurers home with an outdoor dining experience under a blanket of endless stars.
The next day began with an early morning drive, taking in vast landscapes scattered with plains game - roan, wildebeest and zebra. The remainder of the day was spent relaxing, sharing pizza and stories around the swimming pool, the true unique Busanga magic.
Karen spent her final evening photographing the magical star bed, elevated above the ground with a ceiling of the African sky, simultaneously safe and spectacular. Candles lit her way up the stairs, welcomed to the experience by only night breeze and orchestrated by the sound of the nocturnal. As Karen stood beneath the moon, engulfed by the vastness of the night, the experience settled on her skin. The myriad of stars capturing a part of her own journey, a memory etched into her mind for as many years as constellations. Karen imagined waking with sunrise, reaffirming her feeling of everything you imagine, and so much more.