This small town about 50km from Lusaka is close to the Norwegian-built hydro-electric dam on the Kafue River. Tours of the plant can be arranged with ZESCO (Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Ltd), which even has its own small lodge for conferences and accommodating individual visitors. For details, contact Mr Ntala on 032 228101, or 032 228084–97.
Otherwise, there is little of interest here, though the town does have large concrete and textile factories. There are two petrol stations in town, and a Total garage located just after the turn-off to Livingstone.
Where to stay
Outside town is the impressive Lechwe Lodge, while rather more mundane, and closer to town, is the River Motel.River Motel
(42 rooms and 31 chalets) PO Box 373, Kafue; tel (cell): 097 774613
This motel is large and surprisingly good for a small-town hotel in Zambia. To get there, follow the main road through Kafue, heading south. The motel is on the main road, about 5km from the town, with a stone lion guarding each side of the big white gates.
Its twin rooms have a double bed with simple pine furniture: a bedside table, dressing table, desk and wardrobe. A few have air-conditioning and all have en-suite shower and toilet. Alternatively, the slightly decrepit chalets a have small kitchen (a sink and cupboard) for which cooking equipment can be supplied. They also have a small lounge with comfy chairs and DStv, and a bath as well as shower and toilet. Outside, a limited space is available for camping. Facilities include a small gym, two television rooms, two swimming pools (both empty when we visited) and a cocktail bar called 'Surf and Turf'; there is even a boating club on the river. Two conference rooms probably explain the motel's relative prosperity. The restaurant adopts a simple café style, with blue-and-white checked tablecloths and buffet meals. Staff are friendly, and the atmosphere pleasant and relaxed. If you need to stop, do so without fear!Lechwe Lodge
(6 rondavels) PO Box 37940, Lusaka; tel: 032 30128; fax: 032 30707; cell: 095 704803 or 097 879401; email: firstname.lastname@example.org (GPS: LECHWE)
On a working farm just west of Kafue town, this small lodge was started in 1990 by Di Flynn. To get there, turn west off the main road just north of Kafue Town, which passes the Nitrogen Chemicals factory immediately on the left, and later Kafue Textiles, before bending right. Take the next left turn, and stay on a gravel road for about 3.2km. Then take the left turn signposted to Kafue Fisheries and Lechwe Lodge, which is 6.5km from the turning.
The lodge's rondavels are spread around almost manicured lawns and are very well kept. All are roomy with solid wooden furniture standing on expanses of cool polished floor. Two are family units, with four beds in two rooms. The others have twin beds or lovely wooden-framed double beds. All the beds are covered with mossie nets and each rondavel has an en-suite shower and toilet. The food is good, fresh and plentiful, richly deserving the cliché 'wholesome farm fare' in its best possible sense.
Lechwe's farm covers about 13km2, which varies from brachystegia and acacia woodlands through a 'termitaria' zone to open floodplains and the river itself. The game includes giraffe, eland, Lichtenstein's hartebeest, Kafue lechwe, oribi and sitatunga, as well as the more common antelope of the region. None of the large predators are here (except for crocodiles in the river), though serval are plentiful, apparently due to the prevalence of cane rats in the reeds. In and around the river you'll find Cape clawless and spotted-necked otters, hippos and crocodiles.
The birdlife is very good, with more than 420 species recorded. Lechwe was the base for a local birding guru, Peter Leonard, for many years. You should see wide ranges of waterfowl, kingfishers, herons, egrets and perhaps even a rare visiting osprey. Boat trips along the river are possible most of the year, a super way to watch birds, and tackle is always available if you prefer to fish.
Riding is possible, with the farm's own horses, though the lodge insists that only experienced riders should partake (you must be comfortable with a rising trot for 15–20 minutes at a time). A guide takes two visitors out for as long as they wish; hard hats are provided and must be worn. If you prefer to walk, with or without a guide, then that's easily arranged, as are short game drives for the less energetic. The four (6m-high) viewing platforms overlooking the Kafue are always good spots at which to stop and just watch.
Finally if you're interested in farming, then ask for a farm tour; it's fascinating. Pigsties are situated near to large ponds. Their manure promotes the growth of infusoria, which feed the small organisms on which fish feed. Thus the farm produces commercial quantities of pork and tilapia fish, in a very eco-friendly way.
The lodge's activities are tailored to the guests, although you shouldn't expect guides of the calibre that you'd find in the best safari lodges. Lechwe is a very gentle, civilised and relaxing place, perfect for your first (or last) few nights in the country. It's also excellent value and open all year. It's just a shame that it is too far from Lusaka for one night.Kafue Gorge Conference Centre
(72 rooms) Tel: 932 371085, 032 371007 –8.
28km from the Chirundu turn-off, the centre was named after the power stations in the SADC region.