Kafue & Mayukuyuku Camp

Kafue Travel Blog

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We got mock-charged by an elephant... that was a good time.

Urse & Bea, and Julie, joined us in Lusaka to accompany us to Mayukuyuku – a camp in Mafue that lies at a bend in the river that is swarming with hippos. I had a great time talking with Julie in the Handy Landy, after a months journey of only guys in the car. We chatted the whole three hours from Lusaka.

Game drives are best in the early morning and around dusk, so the two days at Mayukuyuku were largely spent sitting by the water watching the hippos. My word, hippos are hilarious! They get sleepy around half three to half four, and yawn a lot – which is fun to watch. Then they get chatty in the next hours and bark a funny half laughing pig, half flatulent call across the waters to each other.

Hippos are hilarious!
I wanted to get a recording of them, and aimed my camera out and began filming, and the hippo I zoomed in on raised himself out of the water for a full body shot – something I hadn’t seen one do and didn’t see another do for the rest of the stay – right when I happened to be filming him!

Our introduction from the guide was comforting that first night. He told us a story about an elephant trampling, and how the lions and leopards often come through the camp at night – and they really don’t like each other. Also, the hippos come inland each night and tromp past, about twenty yards from the closest tent. They walk up to 20 kilometers inland, twirling diarrhea in all directions with their helicopter-esque tail so that they can find their way back to the water.

We didn't get to see Timon, but we saw A LOT of Pumba's relatives.
Anyone who gets in the way of the adult and it’s young, or in between it and the water, will get crushed in one bite – they’re amazingly fast – and then spit out because they’re herbivores.

His stories made trekking to the bathroom at night a bit nerve wrecking – which was sad considering it was so awesome! The bathroom had straw walls without a roof, surrounding proper plumbing and hot water via a wood burning hot water heater. I showered while staring at the stars – it was wonderful!

Everyone but Fred, Laura, and I went on a night drive the second evening, so we decided to have our own adventure. We wanted to watch the hippos come out of the water to begin their journey, so we chose a spot out of the way of the giant paths and sat to watch the sunset and the starry sky take over.

After a few huffs we heard the first hippo come out –like a submarine emerging– and it wasn’t until this point that we realized our foolish mistake: the path to the tents involved scaling a hill directly on the other side of the monstrous hippo silhouette that just clomped out of the water. Realizing we’d be stranded if we didn’t beat this first hippo – considering there would be no way of knowing where they were after they started coming out, or if any more were yet to come – we cut in front of the hippo on the main path. Stopping to listen at one point, we heard one just to the side of us, tromping on the bush and snorting. We took off running, down a hill and scaling the other side to the relative safety of our camp, tripping along the way in the massive deep footprints left by the hippos return trek that morning.

The next day on the night drive – which was to be a long drive of 5 hours but was cut short due to surrounding and overwhelming lightning storms – we encountered another adventure. We were randomly mock-charged by an elephant. Not comforting was the clumsiness of the escort who carried the rifle, and the difficulty of the driver to start the vehicle, as we sat in the open-air benches in the back of the pickup. The truck finally started just as the elephant was slowing and turning his head, a mere ten feet away – if even. The guide Patrick was visibly shaken, "Bad, elephants are bad. You cannot hide in a ditch, can’t climb a tree, or run. Even shooting. I would rather face a lion or a leopard than an elephant." Great.

We saw plenty of antelope, water buffalo, zebra, monkeys, kudu, warthogs, elephants, mongoose, vulture, and hartebeests. We also saw an incredibly majestic roan, another type of antelope – which was just gorgeous and regal. No big cats, but that’s okay. It was amazing to see everything living together, the egrets following the elephants to snatch up the stirred grasshoppers; the funny straight-tailed fleeing warthogs weaved with everyone. Humans live so segregated from other species, it was beautiful to see so many different species interacting and living symbiotically.

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We got mock-charged by an elephant…
We got mock-charged by an elephan…
Hippos are hilarious!
Hippos are hilarious!
We didnt get to see Timon, but we…
We didn't get to see Timon, but w…
Ahhhhh. Good yawn.
Ahhhhh. Good yawn.
The bathroom was awesome - it had …
The bathroom was awesome - it had…
Kafue
photo by: Emerlynn