Adventures at Lifupa Lodge, Kasungu National Park
How close do the elephants come to the resort?
That seemed to be a fair and reasonable query to make, upon arrival at Lufupa Lodge, western Malawi on the border of Zambia. About a dozen of the elegant beasts were idling across the wide reservoir parading in front of waterlogged hippos. A few newly arrived European migrant birds were flitting about with the regulars, herons and ducks and lapwings. That safe distance had me far more attentive to my new digs, a large grass roofed hut with brick walls, perhaps to keep the elephants from toppling. All Fall Down, I laughed to myself. When I signed into Kasungu National Park after midday, much to my surprise, I was registering on a clean page. A national park with elephants and hippos and exotic birds all to myself! That would be a first and I was getting excited!
They will be in front of your room sometime, was the amiable, casual response to how close the elephants come. His calm and matter of fact reply could have been reciting breakfast times not a danger lurking outside my sleeping quarters. I noted but really didn’t take him seriously until I returned from late afternoon birding on the edge of the property. If I hadn’t been scanning the bush for any and every flicker or twitch I might have missed the massive hulk feasting head first into the underbrush. Thirty metres from me was the butt of an elephant heavily absorbed in browsing a brush snack before dusk. If he had been facing the other way I could have looked into his eyeballs. Jumping back I spent a few minutes gapping at what only I appeared to be witnessing. Truly an African dream.
The oversized bar at the lodge was overseen by a bartender with a matching oversized smile. It was easy to strike up a conversation fuelled by cold Kuche Kuche in late September when the dry season has soaked up moisture from even the most adapted flora and fauna. Isaac did his best to keep the only TV screen (and no wifi) in a hundred km radius on a soccer game for the team of eager, young carnivore researchers. Elephants, jaguars and hyenas. Oh, my! Soon we were striking up a conversation, checking out the rumours on the park fires, whether they were set by farmers or poachers. We agree remaining optimistic is best.
As I tucked into my snuggly cottage, sweet memories of my close encounter enveloped me and the expectancy of more to come tomorrow had visions of wild elephants parading in my sleep. Tomorrow more adventures await.
For more on Malawi adventures, see also: