“….going to the camp is about experiencing nature like no other place in Africa. Clients are well aware that even if they do not see the Lions, it is the sheer experience of wilderness and closeness to nature which other places in Africa do not have now.” – Amol Damle, Damle safaris
In the Heart of Zambia: A Visit to McBrides Camp in Kafue National Park
Through a captivating ensemble of crepuscular light, the sunflower hues of dawn announce our arrival to McBrides Camp, nestled deep within the beating heart of Zambia’s Kafue National Park. We are set to navigate the evocative landscape of this sprawling wilderness.
The journey to McBrides was a symphony of shifting landscapes, the metamorphosis from urban bustle to untamed savannah enveloping us in a comfortable hush. The scent of the wild greets you long before you set eyes on the camp. A mélange of earthy fragrances – a faint whiff of the damp, dark, loamy soil, a hint of grass whispering tales of the wind, and the subtly intoxicating scent of wildflowers in bloom.
Arriving at the camp, one is immediately struck by the profound peace of the wilderness. The main lodge, a charming fusion of rustic simplicity and organic opulence, invites with the warmth of a much-loved home. A whispering breeze, rich with the perfume of wild orchids and freshly baked bread from the lodge’s hearth, entwines itself through the open dining area, adding an extra note of hospitality to this wild retreat.
As dusk descends, the landscape transforms into a dreamy spectacle. The sky, a canvas dipped in resplendent shades of orange and purple, is mirrored in the shimmering surface of the Kafue River. Time holds its breath as one by one, stars prick the velvety night, transforming it into a glittering tapestry that stretches endlessly above.
Days at McBrides are filled with the harmonious chorus of wildlife. A cacophony of birdsong punctuates the morning air, from the plaintive coos of emerald-spotted doves to the raucous calls of fish eagles, their piercing notes reaching crescendo just as the sun pierces the horizon. These melodies serve as the soundtrack to our dawn game drives. A herd of elephants, their skin the colour of the soil, their presence an embodiment of stately grace, amble across the papyrus-lined river banks. And not too far, a pride of lions lounge languidly, their golden eyes reflecting the fiery African sun.
Afternoons are spent lazing in the shaded veranda, gazing at the Kafue River. Nile crocodiles bask in the sun, their ancient eyes keeping a vigil on the ebbing water, and every so often, the reeds rustle with the arrival of a curious hippo.
Come evening, the campfire roars to life. The dancing flames cast long shadows as they flicker on the faces of fellow adventurers, creating a profound sense of camaraderie. Stories and laughter intermingle with the sizzle of locally sourced ingredients being transformed into sumptuous dishes – tender steaks, fresh bream fish, and seasonal vegetables grilled to perfection.
Night in the camp brings a different kind of music – the hum of the cicadas, the whoop of the hyena, the growl of a distant leopard, all overlaid by the rhythmic lullaby of the Kafue River. The thatched chalets, cosy and comfortable, serve as the perfect haven to let these sounds of the wild lull you to sleep.
Embodying Patrick Leigh-Fermor’s advice, “Make sure you wake up every morning with a smile
Chris and Charlotte McBride write about their experiences in a remote part of the Kafue National Park in Zambia where they have been running a safari bush camp for more than 20 years.
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