THE ROAD TO KASANKA
After a few days on the Zambezi, we were starting to think that Zambia had managed to avoid the drought which has ravaged much of Southern Africa lately. But when the road turned north-east and left the river, just after Livingstone, we soon saw that the Zambians hadn’t been so lucky. Lush riverine forests gave way to desperately parched scrublands. Grass seemed non-existent. Mopane trees hung on for dear life. Our travel guide described The Moorings campsite, just outside Monze, as the most manicured in all of Zambia, with lush, sprawling lawns on which to pitch a tent. When we pulled in, faced with a campsite devoid of any green, we wondered if we were in the right place. The Moorings is on a working cattle farm, and the manager confirmed that it had been a very tough year. Like so many other parts of Southern Africa, the rains in Monze can’t come soon enough.
After overnighting at The Moorings, we got an early start and made it to Lusaka well before midday. On the advice of Brett from Jungle Junction, we decided to push through the Zambian capital after a quick stock-up, all the way to Forest Inn near Mpika. It meant a long day in the car, especially when you factor in getting through Lusaka on the infamous Cairo Road. But it would also put us in striking distance of one of our big goals for the trip: Kasanka National Park.
Like The Moorings, Forest Inn was another in-and-out overnight stop. But it had the added bonus of being situated in a small, relatively pristine patch of Miombo Woodland. Miombo covers much of east and south-central Africa, and is home to some pretty unique wildlife, especially birds. Within minutes of arriving, our binoculars were trained at the canopy, and we had soon spotted some of the Miombo specials that we’ve only ever seen in our bird book. We could have spent the whole day wandering around the woods of Forest Inn, but Kasanka was calling, and there was plenty more Miombo woodland to come.