There is silence in the dining room, and around the dinner table, only the quiet clanking, tinkling and scraping of cutlery, as we enjoy delicious mushroom risotto. The dining hall sits on top of a hill, looking east over Lake Itezhi-Tezhi in the southern part of Kafue National Park in Zambia. Antique lanterns illuminate the table and surrounding deck, and in the stillness we can hear loud splashing sounds from the water. Abandoning our places at the table, we walk to the edge of the terrace and stare into the darkness. A powerful torch illuminates twenty or thirty hippos, all browsing, stomping and splashing in the shallow waters and on the shore. Slightly chilly, no doubt feeling a bit exposed and vulnerable, they quarrel, periodically darting towards the water and sending up plumes of spray. We didn’t expect the hippos, in such numbers, to visit us after dark. Looking up, the starry skies overhead were reflected by the twinkling lights of local fishing camps and the lamps of their canoes, as they fished in the darkness. After dinner, we went to bed, leaving the hippos in peace, and in the morning, opening our bedroom doors, we lay on the bed listening to them, still snacking, as a sunrise spectacular illuminated the sky in a kaleidoscope of colors.
As we head for breakfast a huge monitor lizard struts around in the grass and we find leopard footprints on the terrace next to the dining room – it had clearly come for a drink from the swimming pool while we slept. During the day there is an ever-changing array of wildlife in front of the lodge, with puku, bushbuck, impala, vervet monkeys and a troop of banded mongooses all very much at home here, and elephants who are no strangers to the camp.
We are at Konkamoya, in Kafue National Park, the oldest and largest national park in Zambia, and one of the wildest on the continent. Kafue takes its name from the river, the lifeblood of the park, which dissects it almost from north to south. The Kafue River is the largest tributary of the Zambezi. A large river, up to 400 m wide in places, and elsewhere interspersed with islands, granite rocks and fast-flowing rapids. It is the Kafue which eventually feeds the magnificent artificial lake Itezhi-Tezhi, which is still relatively undeveloped.
Kafue is unspoiled wilderness, a land with no fences and few roads, but with extraordinary wildlife. Nowhere else in Africa can you see blue duiker, sable, roan, red lechwe, Lichenstein’s and Defassa’s hartebeest, elephant, buffalo, leopard, wild dog, hyena, l hippopotamus and yellow-backed duiker in one park. While Kafue lacks the huge herds of game found in other parks, what it lacks in density more than makes up for in diversity. There are at least 161 species of mammals, 6 species of cats and 22 species of antelope (Kafue has the greatest diversity of antelope of any African park). The park is also home to around 500 species of birds.
Konkamoya means “following the wind” in the local language, Nyanja. The lodge was built in 2010, after the founder, Andrea Porro, discovered this piece of paradise. Andrea was born and raised in Milan, but his childhood interest in wildlife led him to study zoology and natural sciences. Combining his love of wildlife with his passion for photography, Andrea has traveled the world, including Zambia, where in 2007 he discovered Kafue National Park. Repeated visits ensued, culminating in his decision to put down roots in the park. Andrea says “When I first came to Kafue over 10 years ago as a passionate wildlife photographer and zoologist, I completely fell in love and decided to change my life. From Italy, my native land, I moved my house to the shores of Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, a magical place… My goal is to share my passion and my house in the bush with a small number of guests… to offer a real closeness- meeting with Mother Nature in one of the wildest and least known areas of Kafue NP… For me it’s all about love and I’m never too tired for another exciting walk late in the night, to follow an elusive aardvark or to find the lions are calling nearby”
Andrea wasted no time during covid. Freshly renovated and almost unrecognizable since my last visit a few years ago, this exclusive little lodge has had a facelift. Along with his various other skills, Andrea turned to carpentry and created all of the lodge’s wooden furniture – chairs, beds, tables, cabinets, benches and more. With only four spacious and luxurious safari tents, accommodating a maximum of 8 people, the lodge guarantees you an intimate connection with the surrounding nature. Each of the four tents are on raised wooden platforms, high enough to deter any unwanted guests! Inside, each has an open-plan bedroom and living room, with an adjacent bathroom and shower. All tents are east-facing and offer beautiful sunrise views from your bed, living room or private veranda. Electricity is solar powered, so there’s no generator to disturb the peace of the bush, the roar of a lion, the growl of a hippo or the distant call of an owl fisherman from Pel.
On game drives we were on the heels of hyena, lion and leopard tracks. Birds were everywhere, from red-faced mousebirds to grey-headed seagulls. Mayer’s parrots, egrets, spoonbills, cormorants and storks, attentive fish eagles perched in the trees overlooking the water and pelicans soared above. Stopping for a drink, we suddenly found ourselves in the ‘way of things’ as a herd of elephants decided to cross the road ahead of us. The group was huge and it seemed to take them forever to cross paths. Elephant after elephant walked in front of us, big, small, mothers, babies, teenagers. Some stopped to watch, others shook the branches of the trees in the hope of dislodging the fruit, a few young males tried to show themselves “who was the boss”. After almost 30 minutes, there were still a few stragglers who hadn’t crossed the road yet, so we decided to give up waiting and turn around, heading back on our way.
If you are reading this article anywhere other than A Luxury Travel Blog, chances are this content was stolen without permission.
Please note the web address above and contact A Luxury Travel Blog to let them know about this issue.
Thank you for your help in the fight against content theft.
Food is a highlight of your stay in Konkamoya. A simple but delicious lunch of sliced salamis and salad of prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto, served with homemade focaccia. Dinners of mouth-watering risotto, homemade pasta, delicious roast meats or traditional thin-crust pizza prepared in the lodge’s wood-fired oven. The meals are fantastic and are all accompanied by Italian wines. The menu is arranged and personally overseen by Caterina Ferazzini who joined Konkamoya in 2019 and has been passionately overseeing everything from reservations to human resources and catering ever since. She is responsible for all the delectable dishes you will find on your plate. Thanks to Andrea and Caterina’s background, the menu is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine and, like any Italian home, cooking is at the heart of the lodge.
Often overlooked in favor of smaller Zambian parks, Kafue is a sleeping giant. One of Africa’s oldest and largest parks, but still one of the wildest, it’s a remote wonderland, with spectacular rivers, vast open plains, forests, stunning landscapes , wildlife and birds. The sense of remoteness is palpable in this untouched wilderness, but in Konkamoya you will definitely feel at home.