(4 two-person tents) Contact by Sat phone: +88 16 3151 8089; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; www.kaingu-lodge.com (GPS: KAINGU)
Kaingu Lodge is a new lodge in southern Kafue. It stands on the east bank of the Kafue River, within the Namwala GMA; as the bee-eater flies it's about 10km south of Puku Pans.
Turn west at the signpost to Kaingu, leaving this road at n TUKNGU 15º17.901'S; 26º14.159'E, just a few kilometres south of the Mwengwa Scout Post. This bush track twists and winds through dense miombo woodlands for about 23.5km until you fork left at (GPS:TUPPAN). From there it's just under 18km to the lodge, during which you cross a small pole bridge.
When you finally reach the lodge, it's a delightful surprise: a high-quality lodge in southern Kafue. Its design is basically very traditional, using large, green Meru-style tents raised up on hardwood decks beside the river, each with its own en-suite bathroom at the back, and large veranda at the front. What's surprising is the amount of care (verging on perfectionism) that's gone into the construction of these. The tents are big, on carefully laid wooden decking, with a stone bathroom at the back which has not only an indoor and outdoor shower, but also lots of clever touches like the towel rail of knurled wood built into the wall. Each tent has hot water (heated by wood) and small 12V solar-powered lights. Beds, again, are large and high quality, standing on hand-woven rugs, and there's the option to open up the whole of the front of the tent to be one big mesh window.
A small team led by Tom Heineken, and his wife Viviane, built the lodge, but Tom's main passion is the wildlife and the natural environment. Thus activities emphasise walking and river trips, though day and night game drives (and fishing excursions) are also an option. With such a small lodge, and a high degree of enthusiasm, the activities are fairly flexible, lasting pretty much as long as you want them to.
There has long been game in the area around Puku Pans, effectively protected from poaching by the presence of that lodge, and so having two lodges adjacent to each other is widening that safe area. That said, the game here will take a few years to build up, and isn't as good as the park's best corners.
In recompense, the river beside the lodge is most unusual, and as lovely as any stretch of any African river I know: it's worth coming here just to spend a few days afloat. Kaingu stands beside an area where the river broadens to accommodate a scattering of small islands, each onsisting of vegetated sandy banks and huge granite rocks interspersed with rapids. Imagine someone throwing half of Zimbabwe's Matobo Hills into a wide, shallow river and you'll get the picture. So to potter round here with a canoe, or a motor boat, or even just to go fishing, is a real journey of discovery – endless side-channels and islands to explore. There's something different around every corner, plenty of vegetation everywhere – and birds all around. It's a real gem of an area.Kaingu Campsite
(Two private campsites and one larger shared site) Contact via Kaingu Lodge, above
Kaingu have one 'large' campsite, which can take up to 16 people (maximum four vehicles) using shared ablutions. It also has two private riverside camping sites, set apart from the main site, each of which has its own reed-walled ablutions (flush toilet, hot shower and wash basin), a cooking grid, a fireplace, a tap and a table for washing up. These private sites can each take maximum of eight people and two vehicles.
In both cases, the sites are pleasant and grassy, under trees, and firewood is provided. However, you must bring all your food as meals are not usually available at the lodge unless you've arranged them well in advance.