Vacations and Travel, Australia

Sue Watts talks about Zambia’s safari zeal: Another protégé of Norman’s is Robin Pope who, with his wife Jo, established Robin Pope Safaris (RPS), renowned for its walking expeditions, excellent guiding and luxury camps, including Nkwali, Tena Tena and Zambia’s oldest, Nsefu.

Named after the tribal chief who first gave his land to conservation, Nsefu is an elegant, relaxing camp on a riverbank. Everything here seems chilled:

on a game drive, a giraffe comes close to our Land Cruiser, almost poking her head inside to satisfy her curiosity; a lion cub fights tiredness like a young child, shaking itself awake before flopping back onto its mum. During the day, elephants wander across the river and Nsefu’s grounds at will; leopards loiter at night.

RPS has also been continuing Norman’s tradition of community development – recently, it became the joint overall winner of the Responsible Tourism Awards in London’s World Travel Market for the work it does with Kawaza Village, home to many of RPS’ staff. Since the late 1980s, the village school has benefitted from donations from guests and RPS, and in 1997, it established the Kawaza Village Tourism Project, run by and for the local people.

Wandering around the village of mud and thatch houses, we see a woman making the local gin, enigmatically called moonshine, using a rudimentary condenser involving half a tyre, a pipe and a clay pot. I take a sip and almost burn my throat. It’s fiery stuff.

Nearby, women and children pump water from the bore hole with lively disputes about whose turn it is next. Children as young as five balance 10-litre buckets full to the brim on their heads with consummate ease.

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