We have been lucky to have such special holidays here in Zambia, and it is difficult to pick just one favourite, but our trip to Kaingu Safari Lodge would definitely make it into our top 3. In September 2020, we spent 7 whole nights there with two other fun families and the camp site is the best I have been to in Zambia.
We booked out two campsites on the Rapids that have a reed fence between them, so they were perfect for our group to split between. The campsites are set on the shady, grassy banks of the river looking onto huge boulders and a little island opposite. We spotted the elusive African Finfoot and even an elephant from our camp chairs, I’ll also add that we saw a few large crocodiles right near the waters edge beneath our campsite. Be aware of becoming complacent in this tranquil spot; it is wild! Keep fingers and toes away from the water. We set strict kiddie rules on arrival!
Each camp site has it’s own private open air ablutions made from stone, reeds and thatch as well as a separate washing up sink, and a small lapa, which is super handy for the rainy season I would imagine. There is no electricity, which is surprisingly pleasant, but go prepared with power banks, head lamps and solar lights.
This was such a relaxing holiday for us as we could just set up our camp and have endless time to potter around. It is rare that we go to one place for such a length of time. Some mornings we were treated to what is now known as Uncle Eriks famous skottel brekkie and pots of coffee, and in the afternoons we had poitjies bubbling and ice cold G&T’s.
We birded, fished, had both deep and light hearted chats and just mucked about in camp, sipping copious amounts of tea! We had an inflatable canoe from the lodge that the guys could fish off in our area in front of the lodge and camp. Just a short walk away you could access the rapids, huge boulders and rocky areas which formed pools where it was “safe” to swim as you were protected from crocodiles. On our walk back, it was slightly amusing, although also disconcerting, to spot a rather large croc eerily floating in the large pool at the base of the rapids … in wait?
We had three teenagers in one family, and 3 kids under the age of 10 in the other, so there was much fun and laughter and we were even treated to a couple of songs and hops and dances from the younger ones.
Our “Well Done” song could be heard ringing out from our campsite for miles around I am sure!
There had been a very wide spread fire in the GMA and into Kafue National Park which was sad and rather bleak to look at, so it was not worth game driving, which meant no need for too early a rise. We were not too fussed as everyone was in need of much rest. We did do a few boat trips – for fishing, birding and just cruising along. I love the Kafue River and would pick it over the Zambezi any day. It is just so pretty, with all the boulders and rocky areas, grassy banks and trees hanging over the dark greeny blue water. Magical!
The guys managed to catch a few fish worth keeping, which meant we enjoyed a couple of fresh, tasty lunches and dinners. We really feasted on this holiday; our friend is a keen open fire cook and baked a chocolate cake for her husbands birthday, supplied us with countless roosterkoeks and even a cinnamon-roll dessert. I am willing to be bribed to reveal her name and might even hire her out.
The other great thing about Kaingu, is that they offer some really fun activities for kids; jewellery making with beads and seedpods, bow & arrow making, breadmaking and cooking. I have never seen activities like that advertised and thought it was a great way to give parents some down time and fun for the kids. We met the owners, Julia & Gilmour as well as Mike and Chris. They are very hands on, and it really shows in the attention to detail throughout the lodge as well as the training of their staff, who are so attentive and friendly.
The rooms here are stunning, all set along the banks of the river and they have a larger family chalet with a cot, basic kitchenette area, seating and veranda. This is a spot I would definitely love to return to one day, and if I am honest, I have made a mental note that it should be our first big holiday to celebrate when Baby Black comes home.
We saw 72 species on this trip. Highlights were African Green Pigeon, Bohms Bee-eater, Freckled Nightjar, Half-Collared Kingfisher, Retz’s Helmetshrike and the White-Backed Night Heron which we had a real close up of.
There is a third campsite called Chiefs, set a short walk away from the Rapids campsite. I think Chiefs is possibly the better one, although they are all stunning.
Visit their website where you can download a pdf of the Kaingu Recipe Book.
Photo credits: Cassandra Green Photography.