THE GRANDADDY OF ALL LODGES

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There are only a few lodges (bigger and more permanent than chalets in bush camps) allowed in the National Park. Mfuwe Lodge, our next stop, is the “grandfather” of the park lodges. I wasn’t expecting the stateliness and upscale elegance of Mfuwe Lodge as we drove into the covered entrance paved with natural stone and protected with a high vaulted ceiling supported by generously curved columns of locally made brick.

Mfuwe Lodge staff lined up outside to greet us with a song as our Land-Rover pulled up under the covered entrance. They held trays with refreshing glasses of juice and wet washcloths. A broad set of stone steps led into the lodge, and the open-air lobby had a soaring, thatched ceiling. Built in 1998, the lobby, reception area, bar, restaurant, pool, and lounge are dramatically and stunningly furnished with creative use of indigenous materials and colorful fabrics. Comfortable conversation areas in the open-air main hall with a bar and dining area provide space for animated conversations about wildlife. There is a lovely swimming pool overlooking a marshy area next to the river and a wood deck called a “boma” for outdoor dining that overlooks the Luangwa River, and except for the hottest part of the day is a constant parade of elephants, hippos, herons, egrets, and other wildlife. Lodges for backpackers and families line the river directly across from the park.

During our orientation before we left home, Carol Van Bruggen told us the lodge is known around the world for its visits from a local elephant herd when the wild mango fruits are ripe. The small mango grove grew along the Luangwa River before construction of Mfuwe Lodge. The elephants know what time of year they should cross the river to forage for ripe mangoes. We were at Mfuwe Lodge at the right time of year, and the elephants were hungry for mangoes.

Written by Patricia Cole

An Africa Hope Fund board member for 7 years, Pat is a writer and a conservation activist. After traveling to Zambia, she became dedicated to helping Africa Hope Fund provide education to the next generation of Africans and ensure their future by protecting wildlife. Find Patricia on Facebook and Twitter, or on her websites www.writepatwrite.com and www.patmcole.com.

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Carol Van Brugen