Kafue National Park

We’ve gotten our camping feet wet, and now we’re making plans!  We’re getting our Africa on!  This month, it was a weekend with friends at Kafue National Park, one of Zambia’s greatest national treasures.

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Kafue is in the heart of the Real Africa, the part where wild animals actually live.  And it has campgrounds.  At first it seemed weird to think we would be camping in a flimsy tent with wild animals, but when we arrived the hippos were right there, splashing around in the water not 10 feet from where we were parked.  Hey wait, aren’t hippos… big and… dangerous?

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Our friends, the Romanowskis, took us on this first African-style camping expedition into a real game park.  We pitched our campsites down near the Kafue River and ate grilled chicken and s’mores as the stars came out.  Eventually the hippos quit swimming and climbed up the banks to have dinner in the tall grass, where we heard them grunting all night long.  We stirred to the sound of monkeys chattering, which meant something was lurking outside.  Is it worth wondering if a leopard or a lion is contemplating the size of our children, or the contents of our tent?  We’re already here, so the answer is no.  But we were grateful when the sun came up!

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Mom, this would be a good point to say thank you for the Starbucks Via packets.  I don’t know if Starbucks envisioned people camping with the hippos in Zambia when the developed those things, but they sure come in handy!  And thanks to our team of fire experts:

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For the next two mornings, we got up early with the sun (easy to skip sleeping in when you’re sleeping on the ground) to go hunt for animals.  It was just like our childhood trip to Yellowstone 30 years ago, when Dad woke us up at the crack of dawn to drive around hunting for bears.  And here we are doing it with our own kids!  Some Rites of Parenting Passage don’t change.  I wouldn’t want them to.  Although, I will say that we did give our kids some breakfast first so nobody was throwing up.  “Muesli Rusks,” a very South African/British breakfast thing, sort of like a scone but hard and crumbly and designed to last for, I don’t know, a year?  At the end of our game drives our laps were covered in crumbs.  Our car was covered in adventure!

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And look at what we saw!!!!

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This is not Disneyland!

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Get away from the water!!  There are real crocodiles in there!!

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After coming back to camp, we had cinnamon bread (thanks Alicia!), then hired a boat for a trip down the river.  We saw a whole herd of hippos jump into the water, and cast our fishing lines surrounded by the sounds of them playing around our boat.  They make the funniest noises!  It seemed like they were having fun.  We had fun too.  All four of the boys caught fish!!  They were Silver Babofish, I have no idea if I’m spelling that right, but our boat captain said it was like a catfish.  The fishing was fun, but because we had delicious things like taco salad and nutella crepes waiting for us back at camp, we gave our catch to the captain.  Remember this?

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When it comes to gutting and cooking your own fish, Mike and I both feel that once is enough.

Besides, there are more important things to do back at camp them disembowel fish.  Like dinosaurs…

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And Happy Hour…

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Is all this for real?

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Jake and Eli had a fun weekend with their friends, Tristan and Killion.

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Mike and I had a fun weekend with our friends, Rob and Alicia.

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It may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to go camping with hippos in Africa, but it is also a once in a lifetime opportunity to be friends with the Romanowskis.  They are the first people we met when we arrived in Zambia, and they are leaving this summer.  We will miss them.  But we will never forget!

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