Saturday, August 24, 2013

 One of the many Treetops Safaris with the  St. Mark’s Church Youth in Chingola, Zambia

Kafue National Park

Kafue National Park covers is two and a half times larger than the size of the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. The road from Chingola to the road going north into the Park was fairly good. It was tarmac most of the way. We had four to five hours driving on sand. Once you get to the camp at Treetops game viewing can be stunning. It is close to the Busanga Plains where we saw a herd of Cape buffaloes the very first day. The road the last three or four hours  had been graded and driving  was less bumpy but there still were many huge potholes to drive around if there were not too many rocks  The children got out and filled up some of the potholes with stones and tree limbs. Total journey time is about eleven hours. We broke down three times.  The first time we were fortunate as there was an Acacia tree which provided us with some shade. The main vegetation of the Kafue area is called "Miombo".  It has more trees than you can count.
The Park is North and South by the Kafue River which comes out from the Zambezi River. The Kafue is a long old river that changes its moods from slow to swift channels between trees in the little islands and the rapids flow furiously from the Itezhi-Tezhi dam below which flows out in to the Kafue Flats. Once we saw nesting sites for Bee eaters in the sandy banks. Also some of the students saw two otters, a ugly water monitor that is scary, two hippos and several crocodiles that looked sleepy but of course they are not.  One of the boys threw a rock that was not very big but his eyes opened up probably due to the splash.  Farther down the water became tranquil water and was a haven for wildlife watchers. Two of the boys with their dad threw out their lines and caught some bream, and pike.  One of the fellas thought he had a bream but he lost it.  They caught enough for our dinner and enough to share with the local men that worked at the camp.

The Northern Section of the park is a slightly rolling, scenic plateau and has two rivers. Treetops camp is on the banks of the Lufupa River. The area is covered by Miombo and Mopani woodlands with occasional open grassy plains. There are many hardwoods, sausage trees and to everyone’s delight the enormous baobab tree was at the center of our camp. The school room at Treetops has a huge Baobab tree beside it that they told us it was hundreds of years old.  We saw many Baobab trees on this trip.  One of the cooks at the camp who only spoke Bemba, and with the help of the Zambian children that were with us that spoke Bemba fluently showed me how to make a delicious drink from the fruit of the baobab tree.  It tasted like lemonade, and all the children loved it.

We identified martial and fish eagles, crowned and wattled cranes, saddle-billed stocks and a wealth of hornbills, kingfishers and babblers with the help of  camp guide. Kafue also has a huge variety of wildlife. The antelopes that we saw were puku, impala, kudu, bushbuck, hartebeest, defassa waterbuck, sable, roan, lechwe, oribi and blue wildebeest. The predators that we saw on the Busanga Plains were lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and packs of wild dogs. We also saw elephants, herds of buffalos, zebras, many hippos and crocodiles basking in the sun on the grass and sandy shores. 

The focus of the trip to Treetops was to educate the children on the wildlife, and the natural resources. I taught not only about the natural resources and the wildlife but began each day with prayer and reading the Psalms in the Bible.
A huge Baobab tree is the central attraction at "Treetops" Camp which is not far from the Busanga Flood Plains. The camp helped the children from the Copperbelt during the dry season for ten days to help educate them about the wildlife in the Park, and to learn more about the book of Psalms. The camp had boys and girl’s dormitory, teachers huts, dining room, open air classroom, toilet facilities with a shower, and a kitchen with two refrigerators.