Shumba Bush Camp is built on a tiny island looking out as far as the eye can see over a grassy plain dotted with grazing herds of puku and lechwe. On the horizon, four hundred buffalo rumble into view. A side-striped jackal ambles across the grass. Overlooking this activity are the tree-climbing lions – the pride inhabits a clump of distant woodland. Shumba is Kafue’s premier camp, with six tents, and a large, elevated central area with glass doors, which are partially or fully opened, depending on the prevailing breeze. Inside, there is a bar, lounging area and single dinner table to seat everyone together. At the front, a wide, open deck has a comfortable sunken seating area with fireplace, and an infinity pool that spills onto the plain.
The central area is dominated by three giant fig trees, and the whole camp is on stilts, to protect it from the floodwater. In 2007, the camp should be able to operate during the green season. Since this will be its first year, the precise dates are uncertain, but probably from March through to July, when the water recedes. The camp will shut in late November.
The rectangular tented rooms are very attractive, with lime-washed wooden floors, flat canvas ceilings and canvas or mesh walls. White curtains can be drawn over the mesh at night. The bed is at one end, then a central living area with wardrobe and sofa, and then the bathroom, with his and hers basins, a loo and spacious indoor and outdoor showers. Curtains can provide privacy.
At present, game drives are the activity on offer. The plains are too open and flat for walking. In the green season, Shumba will also offer water-based activities. On a game drive you can expect to see many unusual species of antelope, including puku, reedbuck, oribi, roan and sable, if you’re lucky, as well as many of the more common species, including lechwe, impala, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo. You stand a good chance of seeing lion, and possibly also cheetah, leopard, and wild dog. Of the smaller predators, side-striped jackal, spotted hyena and civet are quite common. In the swampy parts, you will see many hippo and occasional crocs.
Birds include fish eagle and several species of stork and crane in large numbers, as well as pelican, various herons, spurwing goose, African spoonbill, African jacana and sacred ibis. You can also expect to see some of the more restricted species such as rosy-throated longclaw and locust finch.
Currently, access is by plane to Lunga, on the edge of Kafue, followed by either an arduous three-hour road transfer, or a 20-minute heli-hop. I would opt for the latter. The aerial view of the Busanga Plains is spectacular. The intention is to put in an airstrip, but it is hard to find a suitably long piece of land that will remain above the flood waters. You can fly out to Lusaka from Moshi airstrip, further south. This also involves a three-hour drive, but it is an interesting one - two hours over the Busanga Plains, and the last hour through riverine forest, following the Lufupa River.