What I Learned from the Mama Leopard (Kerri Zane)

Robin Pope Safari Camp- Bush Camp redefined
The amazingly friendly staff at Robin Pope Safari’s Nkwali Camp in South Luangwa Valley, led by camp manager Kris, and guide Chris, greeted Rachele and me. The chalets at RPS were similar to Chongwe Camp with a very modern feel and an open bath area, except these facilities are attached to the room, so it feels more private.

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Luckily, we were also able to spend a few nights at the property’s Luangwa Safari House. Designed by Neil Rocher, this private house looked like a two story, Flintstones meets life-sized dollhouse, to me. There are four bedrooms, each themed to mimic the elements of water, earth, wind and fire. The spaces are completely open during the day. At night the staff secures the spaces with floor to ceiling mesh screens. That way you feel safe and enclosed, yet still able to hear the sounds of the wildlife that roams area.

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We had our lunch on the raised deck that juts out over the backyard lagoon. There we indulged in chicken, walnut and blue cheese salad, Parmesan and prosciutto, lentil and tomato salad, and butternut squash quiche while watching an elephant lazily chomped his way through the tall grass. It was an unforgettable experience. The house also affords its visitors a private staff led by hostess, Tina (if you bring small children along on your trip she’ll babysit!) and dedicated guide, Jacob.

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Jacob’s passion for what he called “his office” (the park) was infectious. The Luangwa Safari house can accommodate up to 8 people, which makes it perfect for a multi-generational family vacation or a group of friends seeking a private getaway.

See a Village
While it is great to be pampered by the staff at the bush camps, you can’t actually get a feel for the Zambian people or the culture until you sit amongst the locals. That’s why visiting a local village is a must-do. We visited Mfuwe where our host, Constantine, gave us a tour of the round houses guests can stay in overnight, shared a traditional Zambian meal of Nshima (a polenta like corn meal) and took us to the Kawaza school.

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We spent time talking to a host of ambitious students, and heard about their dreams of becoming doctors, accountants and teachers. We shared our ROXO bracelets with all of them. We also got a peek inside their library, severely bereft of books. A reminder of how much more is still left to accomplish, in order to assist these young people in reaching their fullest potential. Critically important is the symbiotic nature of the bush camps we travelers visit and the conservancy programs taught in school. There is a great bond in tourists, tourism and the sustainability of African culture, the stunning landscape and the preservation of their precious wildlife.

With comfortable flights, great food, safe surroundings, beautiful vistas, amazing wildlife and a warm welcoming people you have no excuse and every reason to make this family trip a bucket list dream come true.

Extracted from: What I Learned from the Mama Leopard 

Kerri Zane:

26 May 2014

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