Beautiful Lion

African Safari at Zambia’s Kafue National Park

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I laughed about the Mukambi Safari in Zambia Africa being a dangling carrot for us to survive the mission trip.  Read about our mission trip to Africa here. Well we survived without anyone getting sick or hurt and headed to Mukambi Safari Lodge about 4 hours away from Lusaka.  The capital city of Zambia, Lusaka, had been our homebase for the prior week as we shared the gospel with nearby villages. Carol and I had been roommates and teammates in our group and now we just had to keep each other from getting eaten by a wild animal so we could fly 23 hours back home!

Mukambi Safari Lodge sign

On the main highway to the safari at Kafue National Park, we passed multiple areas with produce and other things for sale. There would be cars and motorcycles in the larger areas along the roadside. We also saw lots of people walking. The young people would sometimes be in uniform and walking to their schools. We passed at least two schools on that highway, realizing the students walked quite a ways to get to school. The villages where they lived were off the road. Sometimes we could see huts from the road as we drove by, but sometimes we would just see dirt roads that turned off of the main highway. Not sure how far the roads went back in there to get to other villages. 

Produce stand near village on side of road Zambia

We stopped at a typical looking gas station on the way. I didn’t go into the station itself, but the restroom facilities, attached around the side of the building, reminded us to be appreciative.

Gas station in Zambia

The periwinkles planted alongside the property were gorgeous and thriving. 

When we arrived at the lodge at Mukambi Safari, we got off the bus in front of a large hut like structure in what just seemed like a field. When we entered the building we were instantly transported to a beautiful tropical setting. The lodge backs up to the Kafue River and it is designed with a mix of open-air levels for dining, gathering, and enjoying the view. It’s was tranquil and so unexpected. Stepping outside there is a fire pit and an infinity edge swimming pool. These are wonderful spaces to hang out and enjoy the river view. 

Mukambi Safari Lodge looks like a hut from outside
Table set and waiting for us
View of firepit and Kafue River

After a brief, introduction and orientation about the wildlife risks, we were escorted to our chalets. Carol and I were in the one closest to the lodge with two twin beds, a bath and a nice little front porch. The beds were four posters with mosquito nets tied to each post. We dropped off our backpacks, untied the nets to cocoon our beds and headed back to the lodge, staying a safely felt distance from the monkey (Olive Baboon?) we encountered in between.

Walking to our Chalets at Mukambi Safari Lodge
Our chalet at Mukambi Safari Lodge
Inside our chalet at Mukambi Safari Lodge
Monkey near the lodge

When we gathered  back at the lodge with everyone, it was time for tea! The staff had everything all set up with a variety of choices and yummy spice cake squares. Out of nowhere a monkey leaps onto the table to grab himself some of that cake! The staff ran him off quickly, but it was so funny that he just jumped up there to steal some cake right in front of all of us gathered around. Not sure if it was the same one that Carol and I saw a few minutes before. They definitely hung out around the lodge.

Tea time!

After a nice tea, and time to enjoy the lodge, the tranquility and views; we started out for the first of two safari rides. From the lodge, we divided up and took two boats, with our guides, across the Kafue River. There the jeeps were waiting on us for the guides to transition us into. 

Crossing the Kafue River to start our safari!
Hopping on the jeeps for the safari ride
Great looking group on the Mukambi Safari Lodge jeep

We set off along the dirt paths eager to see indigenous African wildlife. We were not disappointed. We saw a small herd of elephants, with a baby, almost immediately. There were bookoos of pukus. Haha These are a type of antelope. They would just run across the road in front of our jeep. The guide was also on the search for elephant dung to burn in the trough on the back of the jeep. This worked to keep the flies off of us. They bite!

Before we stopped for a stretch and snacks at sunset, we had seen: bushbuck, monkeys, sausage trees, above ground termite mounds, impalas, a pack of banded mongoose and a wattled crane family. And more, but identifying wildlife in Africa is not my strong suit. The guide was imparting an impressive amount of knowledge regarding the birds/animals and their behavior, if only I was able to retain all of that!

Seen on safari
Wattled Crane
Safari ride break

The sunset was beautiful over the water, framed in prairie grass. We saw a hippo swimming toward us while we were stopped here. We made sure we got back up in the jeep before the hippo made it to our side of the pond. Hippos kill more people annually than any other animal in Africa. 

Sunset and refection
Beautiful African safari sunset

As it got dark, it got chilly. The guide gave us really heavy ponchos to wear while we buzzed around the bush in the night. The only warm part was driving thru where they were burning off the prairie grass. The fire felt good. The guide was shining a spot light out in front and side to side as we continued to watch for wildlife. We were able to see a wild hare, a serval (small leopard-ish cat), hippos and a loud elephant, out of nowhere, startled us. After my initial reaction, and realizing it was an elephant, I wished someone had of been quick enough to get a photo of it in the guide’s revealing spotlight, with the black night backdrop. I’ll never forget that majestic sight! I don’t think my friends will forget that moment either. 

Brush burning on night safari Zambia

We made it back to the lodge, after another boat ride across the river, in the dark this time. We had a delicious dinner and were, thankfully, escorted back to our chalets amongst the hippos and wildebeest at our lodge grounds.  Yikes. 

When we crawled in bed, we realized the staff had tucked hot water bottles under the covers for us. Very nice. Even if, at the time, we thought it was hilarious and reminiscent of our grandparent’s days. There was no a/c or heat, but we did stay warm during the chilly night with those hot water bottles. 

Inside our chalet at Mukambi Safari Lodge

Early the next morning, we were escorted back to the main lodge for coffee. Afterwards, passing a hippo in the water on the way to the boats, we went out for a morning safari ride before breakfast. It was still very cool and we gladly put our heavy ponchos back on when we docked across the river at the jeeps.  

Hippo in Kafue River
Elephant dung burning or cold!

The sunrise was beautiful as we drove past pukus and caught up with two lion brothers. It was incredible watching these two majestic guys from the ‘safety’ of our jeeps. Granted they could have taken us out with one leap and a powerful swipe, but I trusted the guides. We stayed pretty close to them for over half an hour. It was a remarkable experience and most likely ‘once in a lifetime’ for most of us. I even noticed the guide taking a couple of pics. That, and a frequent safari goer saying he had not ever had that type of encounter with the lions, told me how special it was. Side note-this was the morning of my birthday, what a gift this experience was. 

King of the safari

Continuing on, we came upon more elephant mamas with their babies, grazing on the grass and trees. We rounded out the morning safari with more wildlife, including birds and pukus, which are abundant in Kafue National Park. We stopped for a coffee break with nuts, muffins and cookies. Our resident photographer, Mike Castleberry, spotted and photographed some very cool birds.

Elephants with babies Kafue Ntl Park
Puku Zambia
Safari ride break
My photographer friend Mike

Time to head back for breakfast at the lodge. The food and service really are fabulous at Mukambi Safari Lodge. The accommodations are very nice, and it was great to visit with the owner before we left regarding their renovations.

It’s been an amazing time in Zambia on our mission trip, topped off with a Safari, but it’s time to get back to the US and our families-as we are closing in on two weeks.

We rode the bus back to Lusaka to stay one more night. We stayed at the Hilton, a block or so away from the Protea. It was very nice and also had a restaurant. That night at dinner the waitstaff brought out cake to me while my friends sang happy birthday. So sweet. 

Hilton Garden Inn Lusaka Zambia

The next couple of days held our 23 hours of flying and lots of airport time! We knew there would be a layover between the 7 hour and 15 hour flights, but we didn’t count on a nine hour delay, resulting in 12 or 13 hours at the Doha international airport. Yes, it’s a very cool airport, but not when we had already spent a few hours there on a layover, boarded the plane, were required to deplane and then find out we would not be flying out until the next day. We were exhausted and hadn’t even started our last 15 hour flight leg. 

Scored an extra seat

Thankfully, we made it back to DFW and onto the shuttle which took us back to Tyler, by way of Buc-ee’s. Upon arriving, Carol and I were promptly greeted by some happy husbands! 
Thanks for following along on our Mukambi Safari Lodge guided safari rides and Lodge experience!

Kafue River view from tropical inside of open airy Mukambi Safari Lodge
Elephant on safari
Morning lion stalking Mukambi Safari ride

Hope you enjoyed coming along on this safari with us. If you would like to read about the mission trip leading up to it, click here

Getaway to Fredericksburg soon! You'll love it!

About Us

We are Bud and Debbie Lilly, two travel lovers from Texas. Spending an enormous amount of time researching each location to find the best places to eat, sites to see and things to do is actually something I love to do. Not for everyone, I know. But, we are blogging our experiences to let you know what you can expect in each location and so you don’t have to redo the research. Let us know if you go on any of the same trips and if you find places that impress you. We would love to hear from you!

We feel so enriched by the people we meet and the places we see. Thank you for supporting our blog!

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