We departed Zikomo Camp on the 18th and had to back-track at least 600+ kms to get to just outside of Lower Zambezi National Park.
We originally planned on stopping back in Petauke where we pit-stopped on the way to South Luangwa NP but after leaving fairly early and making very good time to Petauke, it was 1:00 pm and there was nothing to do in Petauke, we decided to just keep going and stop at Pioneer Camp outside of Lusaka, a previous stop on our way to South Luangwa. We arrived just at sunset, about a 9 hour drive but worth it because if we stopped in Petauke we don’t know how long our drive would have been the next day to get to the Royal Zambezi, probably about 11 hours.
Departing at around 8:30 am on the 19th we arrived at the Royal Zambezi Lodge at around 2:00 pm. Finally a little pampering for three days!
Our second surprise came the next evening. Again we were having our sundowners at the bar and had realized we hadn’t put in our dinner meal request. Hoping we weren’t too late we asked if we could see the menu. No we were told, grab your drinks and follow us to the safari truck. A little late for a safari but we followed and were met by Vincent who had been our exclusive safari driver for the two drives we had done. We hopped into the truck and off we went for what was a 5 minute drive. We assumed we must be going to the Royal airstrip where maybe tables had been set up as we didn’t think there was much else around but after a short drive, in the distance was a very large bonfire and a crowd of people milling about. There were lanterns and torches surrounding the area and we were on the banks of the Zambezi River. Tables were set, the bar was fully stocked and we walked into a beautiful scene out of an old African movie. There was one other British couple who were staying at the lodge, us and the Managers of the lodge, Vincent, an NGO rep and several others associated with the lodge and the protected area. There was Impala stew, chicken curry, nishimi, rice, vegetables etc. etc. which was described to us by the head chef from the lodge. Wow! We were made to feel at home and very welcome. We’re not sure if this a standard routine but we had great conversations throughout our stay with the staff and management and were as always friendly and polite (Canadian eh?) so maybe this helped us snag what we thought was a very nice gesture and what will be something we will not forget. Our hats are off to everyone at the lodge for giving us a very memorable experience. A big thank you to everyone at the Royal Zambezi Lodge!
We hit the sheets late (about 10:30 which is late for us on this journey), awoke later than planned a little fogged by the wine and departed for a long journey back towards Lusaka and a continuation on to Zimbabwe to experience the World Heritage site which is Mana Pools National Park knowing we would miss the comfy bed but looking forward to again camping in the African wilds.