Chifunda Bushcamp It's Wild

Trip Start Aug 01, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2009

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Chifunda Bushcamp

Flag of Zambia  , Eastern,
Monday, August 17, 2009

Chifunda Bushcamp, It's Wild 17th & 18th August 2009

We were concerned that after enjoying Mwanya Bushcamp so much that we would be disappointed with our next bushcamp at Chifunda. So we set off early, 6am after saying goodbye to Boniface.  The roads were quite good again, no tar just gravel and sand with yet again steep sided riverbeds, and thankfully we didn’t get stuck this time.  At Chakolwa Gate we entered the Luamba National Park, transiting again meant we had no park fees to pay.  Yet another pleasant park to drive through although we didn’t see a lot of game.  What we did see is local people travelling through on their bicycles with goods to sell in baskets on the back of the bike, or a husband pedalling with the wife and child sitting sideways   on the back of the bike.   At Chipuka Gate we were out of the park and passed more villages with waving and smiling local people.  At Chifunda village we followed more It’s Wild signs to the bushcamp, the village is 20 km from the bushcamp.  Mwanya bushcamp is 160km from Chifunda bushcamp. 

Yet again we received an exceptionally warm welcome from the staff.  All of them lined up to shake our hands and to introduce themselves.   Then into the boma for a glass of orange juice and to tell us about the camp.  An added bonus was that another gentleman was there too, Charles Ngoma, who we had been emailing with regard to the camps.  We also later were able to have a good talk with him about what the communities at the bushcamps hope to do in the future.  Again what did we want to do? Game walk or game drive, we opted for game walk 6am the following morning.  Whilst we sat and enjoyed the view over the river taking photos and enjoying the wildlife, the waterboys were sent down to the river to fetch water for our showers.  As there is no ablution block for campers we were to use the bathroom facilities of one of the chalets.  A plastic container with drinking water was also brought over to us.  We asked if they would be able to cook a meal for us tomorrow evening that would be no problem they would send a message for the chef to come from the village.  What did we want?  Traditional Zambian meal was what we requested and that brought beaming smiles.  We think the chef was radioed to come and he cycled the 20km to be ready to cook our meal.

6am the next morning and our guide and armed scout were ready to take us for our game walk around the nearby lagoon.  Our guide was really good he knew the birds by both call and sight, and he knew when an elephant was nearby before we even heard it.  How he saw the hippo in the bushes we will never know, but it was there.  We had a very enjoyable 2 hour walk, and we were to go for another walk at 4pm that afternoon but this time we would be going into the North Luangwa National Park.  Before that we just chilled out again, the weather has really warmed up and there is plenty to see from our pitch.

4pm and we set off together with the armed scout and our guide towards the pontoon.  Paul gave the guide a hand pulling the pontoon across the river, and then we had to go in single file across the very sandy riverbed.  The water level was going down fast now.  First we set off around Delia Lagoon (named by Delia & Mark Owens American conservationists who are well known in this area) and our guide pointed out the local wildlife including puku and impala.  At another lagoon we stopped to admire loads of hippos and some very large crocodiles.  Then it was time to start to return to camp and our route took us along the riverbed.  Our guide saw elephants with young so we waited to give them time to move on or so we thought!  As we started to walk again a bull elephant decided to trumpet, wave his ears, and charge towards us.  The guide gave instructions for us to move back towards the river, and the armed scout had his shotgun at the ready but the guide told him not to shoot.  Heart stopping moment but interesting at the same time.  We think the only reason the elephant didn’t continue his charge was that the bank-side was steep, if he had been on level ground his charge may have continued.  Our way home to camp was now at bit more difficult, and then we noticed more elephants on the opposite bank!  We had to keep walking along the rivers edge, cross the sandbanks, wade through the river, first making sure no crocodiles or hippos were there, all to get back to camp.  True African bush experience, which many of the locals have to encounter on a regular basis. 

Back at camp with wet boots and trousers the camp manager told us the water was ready for our showers and then the chef would have our meal ready too.  The chef brought out our meal of mshima, soya and beans and it was absolutely delicious.  After we had finished eating and were sitting around the campfire four of the staff came to join us for a chat, the scout, guide, camp manager and chef.  An enjoyable end to an eventful day.

That night the breaking of branches and the movement of animals disturbed our sleep.  Elephants were in camp very close to the tents and seemed to be there for quite a while.  We could hear them pulling at the trees and then making their way down to the water.  The next morning the staff asked if we were okay, as they had heard the elephants too, plus the elephants had broken part of the reed fencing.  All part of the experience of camping in the bush.

Check out for more information about Chifunda Bushcamp and the Its Wild Organisation.
I have recently had an email from Charles Ngoma Bushcamp Manager.  COMOCO have ended the funding for the community camps.  Now more than ever these communities need the tourists to help sustain the local people.  Without the tourists the local people may be tempted to go back to the old ways to feed their families - poaching.   Help protect the local people and wildlife - please give your support anyway that you can.  If you can visit these camps it will be a big help, if you can't visit but would like to help in another way then email me via this travelpod.
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