Camping at Ndole Bay

Earlier this year we travelled up to Ndole Bay on Lake Tanganyika with a couple of friends, stopping off at Kapishya Hot Springs & Shiwa Ng’andu on the way to break up the journey, as it is a 1327km journey from Mazabuka.

Having set off from Kapishya Hot Springs, we arrived at Ndole Bay Lodge after just over 8 hours on roads that were not nearly as bad as we were expecting, but naturally this changes throughout the seasons each year. Again, it was a beautiful drive, watching the changing landscape, as the scenery is just so different up north.

The campsite is an absolute gem; it is set on a bank of white sand under some huge winterthorn trees, backed by a forested hill with the lake to the front. We had a few thorny incidents as we kept forgetting to wear shoes, but it really couldn’t be a better spot. There are spacious unisex ablutions, two showers and two toilets, with the added bonus of electricity and hot water. A large open lapa with two plugpoints is set behind the three campsites, which was the jackpot to keep fridges cold and things charged and the shelter is very useful in the rainy season.

The lodge has a beautiful communal bar and restaurant where you can prebook meals if you are camping.  The décor throughout all the areas of the lodge is so beautifully light and creates a restful feel.  Varied seating of hammocks, beanbag couches and comfy cushioned chairs; all very light with beachy shades of blue and white. I forgot to take a peek at the rooms, but those would be brilliant for non-campers. There is also a swimming pool at the top available for the lodge guests.

We spent 6 nights here, so we were able to fully relax without the dreaded fomo kicking in. It is not often we spend this long in one spot, but we learnt from our time at Kaingu that it is the only way to fully rejuvenate. We did some boat trips out on the lake and snorkelled, did some birding, and the guys fished and our friend also did a short hike up the hill behind us. It was so refreshing, literally, to be able to swim in Zambia. With all the crocodiles and hippos it is normally an absolute non-starter, but there are areas where the water is very clear and it is “safe” to do so. I am still not entirely sure how that makes any sense, but we went with it and it was wonderful!

There are some fantastic activities that you can book both in the bush and on the water; hiking, walks, safari trips into the nearby park or fishing, snorkelling, diving, sundown cruises or even their big day out which can encompass a bit of everything.  The team were all really attentive and made our time so special. We took a day trip out on their dhow boat – we snorkelled and spotted many different cichlids, and drifted along looking for birds, stopping in at some of the bays and climbed up a huge sand dune to take in the views. The dhow boat is so comfortable with all it’s large cushions on the shaded wooden deck.

There are always many humbling sights when holidaying in Africa. Fishermen and children risking their lives for their catch. We watched what I assume was a father and son navigate their way passed some hippo, after paddling furiously to get by, they turned back to look once they knew they were safe.

We had a meal on our last night for Erik’s 40th birthday, the food was really delicious and they even surprised Erik with a chocolate birthday cake, which was such a kind touch.

The birding in this area was fantastic, although I don’t think we were on high form as we only identified 79 species! Highlights were a Western Osprey, Abdims Stork, a Levaillants Cuckoo and an Orange-breasted Bushshrike.

After 6 restful nights, we packed up early to head off, with just a slight delay as we managed to get stuck in the sand and had to be pulled out by our friend’s Land Cruiser.  We are slowly building our case as to why we need a Land Cruiser as our future car!

We were on the road just after 7am, with a quick padkos stop at Kasama Shoprite – you know your standards have dropped when you start scoffing Pringles. After a couple of roadside and fuel stops, we reached Mutinondo Wilderness just before 6pm – bit of a haul! Look out for a blog post on that soon, it was a spot that absolutely captivated us.

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