Kanyemba get-away weekend, Lower Zambezi, Zambia

Sara Drawwater
12 December 2011
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In a previous blog we announced how one lucky member of The Best of Zambia team won two nights at Kanyemba Lodge. Well, that lucky person was me, Multi-media journalist for the Best of Zambia! So, here’s what happened on this fabulous getaway trip in the Lower Zambezi…

Winning two nights for two at Kanyemba Lodge was such a shock for me. Last month, we went out to support one of our own, Roma House, as they were hosting Conservation Lower Zambezi’s “cocktails for conservation night” fund raising event. The night was extremely successful and ended with a draw. I joked with the others that this trip was definitely mine as I’d thrown in my business card. Much to my surprise and delight, my name was called out!

Getting to KanyembaAfter the initial excitement we had to pull this trip off. Neither I, nor my boyfriend Sizwe (who I decided to share this trip with) had ever been to the Lower Zambezi before, and we had no idea how to get there! After some consultation, we decided to use the transport services provided by Kanyemba Lodge. Our driver, who introduced himself as Paul, was very punctual and he picked us up at 7 o’clock sharp. Our drive was extremely comfortable, with refreshments on board and a travel break. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the journey only took two hours. When we reached the shores of the Zambezi, Thomson and a speed boat from Kanyemba was waiting. Thomson was to be our guide throughout our stay. Off the speed boat, the drive to Kanyemba was only 15 minutes.

HipposWe were immediately treated to the sight of several hippos and Thomson was kind enough to get close enough for us to take pictures. I was terrified by how huge the hippos were in real life — nothing compared to the hippo’s I had seen from my small TV set!

The sundowner cruiseOn arrival we were met by Brent Walker, one of the team members at Kanyemba Lodge and joined by the lovely Finola Dickie who went out of her way to make sure we had a lovely stay. Our gorgeous room was set in beautiful African decor with a thatched roof. After some rest we came out to a delicious lunch with Brent and Finola. Together we discussed what we wanted to do for the day and decided on a sun downer cruise.

The cruise was sooo exciting! We got to see lots of birds and Thomson patiently explained everything we could possibly want to know about each bird, even when we asked him a thousand times over! And then the elephants. Our previous awe of the hippo dimmed in the presence of these enormous creatures. We also spotted crocodiles sun bathing on the bank but they were exceptionally quick to get back in the water as soon as we got close. I made sure not to dip my hand in the water after seeing that.

After cruising for a while we stopped by a gorgeous little sand bank where we enjoyed a few drinks. We spotted a large herd of buffaloes on the island across from us but were unable to get close as the water was too shallow for our boat.

The highlight of the boat cruise was watching the sun set in the African sky with its golden light cascading above the Zambezi River and slowly fading into the night. After these wonderful experiences all packed into one amazing afternoon, we got back to the lodge in time to freshen up and join Brent, Finola, Ricardo (who is the lodge owner) and three other guests for dinner.

Elephants say good morningWe awoke to a view of elephants from the deck right outside our room. That view towards Kanyemba Island, with elephants eating leaves from the tree was just stunning.

ActivitiesAt breakfast we joined other guests for breakfast and discussed activities. It was either canoeing or a game walk on Kanyemba Island as fishing was not an option due to a fishing ban. But we were very disappointed to be informed that those activities were only offered at 6 o’clock in the morning. We were too late. None of the staff had informed us the night before and this was a let down, especially for me. I had really wanted to experience a walking safari. Finola did apologise for the confusion but the safari was just not possible as the guide had left.

Canoeing was still possible for the next morning just before we were to leave so for the day we settled for another boat cruise. This time Thomson took us to a clear part of the Zambezi River and watched over us as we took a dip. This was tremendously exciting and a little scary, especially after seeing all the crocodiles and elephants. But we had come to trust our guide completely and it was an unforgettable experience.

Our stay came to an end too quickly. Before we left Brent and Sizwe went out for a three hour canoeing trip. I stayed back with Finola. We went round taking pictures of the beautiful Kanyemba Lodge. We even made a trip across the island to take wild fruits for the elephants.

In conclusion…Our visit was slightly marred when we were presented with an unexpected drinks bill. We had taken it for granted that drinks were inclusive in our winnings, but we probably should have read the fine print! I would however, suggest that in future the Kanyemba team take the time to explain to guests, exactly what is on offer during a Kanyemba stay and not assume that guests already know.

Despite the two downbeat surprises we still had a fantastic time at Kanyemba. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxing break and a bit of adventure, with lots of birdlife and a chance to see some incredible wildlife.

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