High season in the Southern Kafue

July has been an interesting month so far…we were finally able to open the Kalenje Track – more than a month later than last year which shows you how much more rain and water we had last summer. Accordingly, the game has been widely dispersed and so it’s really only been during the last 2 weeks that we are starting to see denser groups of animals as the water resources start to dry up. Looking back over the month though, you really do get an appreciation of the incredible diversity of life in the Southern Kafue with sightings of the following antelope:

Sable, Roan, Eland, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, blue wildebeest, kudu, reedbuck, impala, common duiker, oribi along with a variety of the smaller and more secret life with some great serval sightings, the famous Nanzhila honey badgers spotted in daylight and no doubt off to raise a caucus somewhere and civet being spotted most evening drives. There were sporadic sightings of lion, cheetah and leopard. Wild dog have been seen by staff regularly near the back of camp, which hopefully means that they are denning near by.

In addition to the great diversity and wildlife seen outside of camp, Nanzhila Plains also hosted an incredible variety of nationalities this month: We had Italians, Austrians, Germans, Americans, Swiss, Israelis, French, Irish, New Zealanders, South Africans and of course Zambians to name a few! It’s amazing to think that people from all around the world take the time and effort to visit a little corner of Zambia as remote as the Southern Kafue – we are very grateful for the support and some of the kind words written below:

“We would like to thank you again for the really nice and very interesting stay at Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp – we liked it very much and it’s a pity that we couldn’t stay longer.”

 “Thanks to Cindy, Steve and all the staff, we 5 had an amazing time over there. We’ve been literally spoiled with morning and evening game drives and walks, gorgeous and tasteful meals, and cherry on the cake, a dreamful dinner + marshmallows under the milky way… No words to describe those 4 days. Actually, I didn’t want to leave, husband and sons neither. 😉 “

And in keeping to the theme of international variety, we had a comment left in our guestbook which I’ve retyped below (please forgive any inaccurate transcription) and would love someone to translate it us … just hoping it’s good things! :). (Use the comment section below.)

Siamo stati meraniguosamente al Nanzhila…Location, gentilezzae cibocoredi meguiomon potelamo speraze! Abbamo visto fantassimi tipi dianidau: zebre, elefanti, antilopi, scimmie in un ambiente mozzafiato ricorddezemo la gentilezza e la cura inogni cosa di ognuno di voi!”


A game drive ‘selfie’ sent in from our latest guests:

Game drive selfie😎 #nanzhilaplains #selfie #kafue #hiddengemsofzambia #africasafari #travelafrica #travelzambia #safari

A post shared by Nanzhila Plains (@nanzhilaplains) on

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May 2017 – Nanzhila opens to wet roads and wildlife

Our first blog of 2017 and Nanzhila opened in early May this year to some very wet and muddy roads after above average rains. During this time, it becomes really important to find out the correct routes to drive before you travel as the Southern Kafue is so vast, you can easily take the wrong road and find yourself stuck in the mud for lengthy spells as happened to 2 of our clients in May. Fortunately, the benefit of being an intimate, owner-run camp means that when something goes awry, Steve and Cindy will be on their way to help and find you and have you back in the beauty of Nanzhila in no time. One of our guests had these kind words for us:

“Magical place, what an experience. Living completely outside everything. Steve, Cindy and staff great hosts, thank you.”

From a wildlife point of view, we actually have had a very good start considering May is one of the more difficult months for game viewing. We have witnessed 2 kills – both more unusual…the wild dogs that moved into the Nanzhila area last year have stayed and clients witnessed them on a kill and we also saw an unfortunate frog fall prey to a beautiful vine snake!

A new young but large male lion has been hanging around Nanzhila and his roars were heard frequently until eventually we got this sighting of him below. Although Steve has seen leopard a few times, we haven’t got a shot of one yet and we have also had about half a dozen sightings of cheetah this year. Jackal and serval make up some of the smaller predators to be spotted already.

Although there is still a lot of water, we are seeing more and more plains game – especially for May and Steve also captured this image (below) of these very big crocs on the Kasha river.

With our “High Season” beginning on the 1st of July and Nanzhila enjoying a very busy 2017 season at the lodge, we are looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season holds in store for us and close the May Blog with another kind piece of writing from our Guest Book:

What a unique stay, and thanks to our wonderful hosts and team for making it so wonderful.”

 A room with a view!

A elephant’s visit to one of our chalets was caught on camera last month.. Click to view the video in full!

A tribute to tourism – 2016 in review

Can small-scale eco-tourism make a difference? 2016 at Nanzhila proved this where the tireless efforts of Steve and Cindy Smith along with GRI (Game Rangers International), TNC (The Nature Conservancy) and DNPW (Dept. of National Parks and Wildlife Zambia) have created a platform for the wildlife of the Southern Kafue to start returning to its former glory. But without the presence of guests – happy to explore this incredible wilderness with us, none of the results would have been possible. It is these self same guests though who best captured what 2016 was like at Nanzhila – many thanks to all who contributed – we know there were many more than the people mentioned below. We thank you for the impact you made!

KEN COE – Sept 2016:I am here in the Nanzhila Plains area of Kafue National Park in Zambia for the fourth time, with green, yellow and russet leaves of the miombo in front of me, finding it impossible to describe the rich luxuriance. For the next five days, the owner of Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp, Steve Smith, who has become a good friend, would himself take the wheel; the incomparable private guide, Benson Siyawareva, would stand primary sentinel; the gentlest person in Zambia, Brighton from camp, would perform all back-up duties in the vehicle; and Steve’s wife, Cindy, would skillfully manage the camp and put up with us all. The contrast between Benson’s and my first visit to Nanzhila back in 2009 and now is stark.  The sedentary species, such as impala, reedbuck, oribi, waterbuck, kudu and warthog, have easily doubled in number and their “flight distances” have been more than halved. The spectacular but shy sable and roan also allow closer approaches now.  As a result of the boom in prey numbers, predator sightings, once rare, are on a continual increase.  All this is a far cry from the poached-out, left-for-dead period before the opening of the camp 10 years ago.  Only the species that move around – elephant, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo – aren’t increasing.  Is there a better argument for tourist presence assisting in conservation of remote areas?  Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp is the only camp in this southern end of Kafue.  Its presence, not to mention specific conservation measures undertaken by Steve and his staff in assisting the park rangers, is making a difference. Wild fire management is at its best I have ever seen.  The improving game numbers speak for themselves, but perhaps the story is best told by the most intelligent species here (elephant, not man).  After decades of living in concealment in the area, elephants are obliging us once again.  That they trust us now in what was formerly a killing field is heartening to say the least.  We end up enjoying hours of watching them – and their watching us with some suspicion at first but then soon relaxing completely. What a privilege…” 

More guest feedback from 2016:

Alex Paul“ My third visit to Nanzhila. Once again many thanks to Cindy and Steve for their welcome and hospitality. Under their watchful eye the wildlife goes from strength to strength and has increased notably since my last visit”. 

Sandie Van RooyenThank you to all at Nanzhila for showing us that there are indeed animals and birds in the Southern Kafue.”

Ann ThompsonWe had a wonderful experience at Nanzhila and will likely return in the coming years. The lodge provides you with a Safari experience in its true spirit away from maddening crowds. We were spoiled by Cindy’s cooking and the staff’s personalized service. “

Richard Pooley “I was last in Kafue National Park some 30 years ago and then only in the northern section. So, I was keen to see a. whether there was still the diversity of wildlife that I remember and b. whether the southern part of the Park was as beautiful as its more popular northern neighbour. Yes, on both counts!”

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October game sightings

“Very special camp in remote part of Southern Kafue National Park.” (Will, Oct 2016)

The month of October has been very warm but continued to deliver great wildlife sightings in addition to a myriad of special bird sightings. The ellies are in front of the lodge almost every day with the waterbuck and as the dambo gets lower, so they have stirred up a lot of silt turning our water into the ‘Nanzhila spa’ – the challenges of living with wildlife!

Lions show up on a regular basis but this sighting of a coalition of 3 males was very special and if they stick around, could well ‘shake’ things up with the resident prides. Guests were also recently surprised by a massive male leopard strolling through camp and the wild dog have been seen a few more times.

Of course the Nanzhila antelope are always fantastic and with roan and sable seen on nearly a daily basis, we sometimes take them for granted. We also had a beautiful sighting of eland recently and the bushbuck living in camp have provided us with some beautiful photo opportunities.


Greatest game drive ever?

Alex Paul – “ My third visit to Nanzhila. Once again many thanks to Cindy and Steve for their welcome and hospitality. Under their watchful eye the wildlife goes from strength to strength and has increased notably since my last visit”.


Read below to hear about arguably our greatest game drive ever! Steve Smith picks up the story:

“Our guests for this drive were Alex Paul from England, (on his third trip to Nanzhila in recent years), Ann Thompson and Mark Sheddan, both from Florida in the USA.

Cheetah are always a special sighting, and although the Kafue NP is the best place to see them in Zambia, an encounter is by no means guaranteed. Ruston Shikanyenu, on duty as spotter, was the first to see them, in the shade of a termite mound some 300 metres away. The mother and her two sub-adult offspring seeing out the last of the days heat.


Not 1 km further we had our next feline encounter. This time a solitary leopard on the road ahead. These are shy and elusive animals at the best of times, so to see one during daylight hours was a special treat, particularly for Mark (who was on his third game drive ever!). The leopard seemed to be in hunting mode using the waist-high grass at the side of the road as cover and as soon as he entered the grass he disappeared from view. Alex was not too perturbed by the brief sighting – he’d been on a drive two days earlier on Mafuta Loop and encountered a very obliging large male.


Earlier in the day we had come across a bush pig carcass. Strangely, although having the tell-tale puncture marks in the throat area it was uneaten and seemed abandoned. By our arrival late in the afternoon vultures were in attendance but the carcass largely intact. Closer scrutiny of the surrounding bush revealed a large male lion quietly observing us. He seemed in no rush and was not particularly hungry so we decided to continue and return after dark to see if he had developed an appetite. By the time we returned he had moved off and although we had glimpses of him in the spotlight he showed no further interest in the bush pig. No sooner had we departed we encountered the two lionesses that form part of the Chilenje pride. Each lioness has cubs, which on this occasion were keeping a low profile.


The highlight, for me anyway, was definitely the Wild Dog which we encountered along the track not 10 minutes later. They consisted of two females and were accompanied by 4 pups. We had the pleasure of accompanying them down the road for the next 2kms as they searched the surrounding bush for their next meal. This was my first sighting of the pups. A previous client had reported seeing a pack along with 7 pups in the general vicinity. It seems likely that they are the same dogs, and if so begs the question about the whereabouts of the missing 3 pups.


Add into the mix the elephants we left at the lodge, reedbuck, kudu, impala, sable, zebra, wildebeest, grysbok, duiker and warthog also encountered along the way, here ended the most memorable of game drives!”


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Leopard Attack!

We have a number of people wanting to know more about the story behind the incredible photo on our homepage featuring a leopard attacking a Defassa waterbuck so we went behind the scenes to get all the details for the photographer – Phillipe Kress from Switzerland. Phillipe takes up the story from here: 

“All our cameras were packed away and ‘dust-proof’ as another long and warm day in Nanzhila was coming to an end with the sun about to set. Suddenly, someone shouted “Leopard!” I was only just quick enough to unpack the camera before the male leopard launched an attack on this rather large waterbuck. It is impossible to describe the speed of the attack but to try and put it into perspective, I shot the first 10 pictures (of which 5 feature below) in 6 seconds and with that, both the leopard and the waterbuck tumbled into a ditch out of view. We drove around for 10 minutes before incredibly, we found the waterbuck again – bleeding heavily and wounded but alive. We don’t know whether it survived the night…

What was interesting was that there was a second and smaller leopard hiding in the bushes a distance from the scene of the attack. As it was too dark to photograph, we can only surmise that this was perhaps a female who was either courting the male or trying to avoid him! Needless to say, we had a wonderful stay at Nanzhila where I managed to get a number of photographs of many other great sightings which alone would have justified our stay and we look forward to returning one day!” 

It just goes to show why you should never miss a game drive – you never know what could happen and be over in a flash around the next corner when out on safari!






September Kafue sightings

September is known as “safari season” in Zambia and has been a really busy month for us! Here are some of the highlights from around Nanzhila in the Southern Kafue over the last 2 weeks:

From the predators, the standout sighting was a family of very relaxed cheetah! Nanzhila has abundant prey species and ideal habitat so it’s always a treat seeing these cats. The local pride of lions were around the other night and caused a little consternation by chewing open the bailing twine on some of our thatching grass stacks! Also big news is that the wild dog pups in the area were spotted! Sadly no photos yet but we hope to show you soon!

Our bachelor herd of elephant is now up to 9 and they hang around the lodge almost every afternoon and evening which has made for great photos. We also had a wonderful sighting of the ellies up at Lake Itezhi-tezhi too.

As usual, the birdlife and the antelope species of the Southern Kafue have been magnificent and we have had some awesome sightings of roan, sable, kudu, black cheeked lovebirds, Pel’s Fishing Owl (!) and many more.

Obviously we have had a number of people visiting us recently and so it’s always nice to read some good feedback – the below are 2 brief accounts

“Wonderful food and service, the owners took great care of us and we saw all kinds of wildlife…We went for the wildlife but our lovely chalets and great lodge experience topped it off as a really nice experience!” WESLEY.

“Our game drive with David & Bob (two of the top guides we have experienced in Zambia) was filled with sightings of many antelope among which the Sable and Roan were magnificent…To really appreciate and experience what the Southern Kafue has to offer one needs to stay at least 3 nights. Thank you to all at Nanzhila for showing us that there are indeed animals and birds in the Southern Kafue.” EBEN & SANDIE


Best of the Guest’s 2016 – Competition


Thank you for entering our “Best of the Guest’s 2016” photography competition.

Here are the rules, details, terms and conditions:
1. Send us your best photos taken at Nanzhila – subject matter is open and your choice. Max. 6 photos please and also send the dates of your visit.
2. We will place a copyright mark on the images and post them into the DARK ROOM.
3. On the 25th of November, we will select our 10 favourite images and upload these onto the Nanzhila Plains Facebook page.
4. From the 25th of November to 20th December, votes for the various images will be collected via the means of LIKES on Facebook for the various photos.
5. At 09.00am on the 20th December, the winning votes will be counted and the winner announced along with SILVER and BRONZE awards.
6. By sending us your image, you agree to the following:
a. Your image will reflect your own name for copyright use.
b. Your image may be used in current or future marketing material for Nanzhila Plains without financial compensation.
7. The 2016 prize is 3 Fully Inclusive bednights at Nanzhila Plains for 1 person excluding park fees and bed levies.
8. The prize is valid for travel in 2017 only but can be transferred to a nominated person of your choice.
9. The prize can be combined with bigger/longer bookings but cannot be offset for any future or previous monies owed to Nanzhila Plains.
10. The decision of the first 10 photos to go through to the “finals” will be at the discretion of Nanzhila management and marketing teams.


Latest wildlife sightings – the best so far?

The last week of August and first week of September at Nanzhila Plains produced some more incredible wildlife sightings and excellent birding! The week started off with a lovely sighting of young leopard off the Cordon road trying to melt into the undergrowth. The herds of roan and sable have been very visible and our bachelor herd of elephant now spend almost everyday in the dambo in front of the lodge.

As usual, our guests have had great sightings of the black-cheeked lovebirds in the last week. However, the birding sighting of the week was the Pel’s Fishing Owl seen on a walking safari on the Kasha – the first sighting of this special so close to Nanzhila in 10 years!

But the standout feature should surely have to have been the solo battle between a lone male wild dog and a male reedbuck with the wild dog winning the day! It is believed this is the male of a new, small pack that appears to be settling in the area. The guides have seen that one of the females is lactating so we are hoping to see new arrivals soon!

One of our recent guests had this to stay about their time at Nanzhila: “The stay was lovely, and everyone really enjoyed… the biggest complaint was why I had not arranged 2 nights there !!!” 

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The full package in August week 3

This week has shown the full range and diversity of the game viewing in Nanzhila! Our guests have enjoyed an incredible range of species and sightings and it once again highlights what a unique area the Southern Kafue is:

Our visitors from Italy enjoyed a rather unique evening drive when they saw leopard, 6 lions and an otter! In addition to the ‘normal’ plains game, we picked up the following special species through the week:

Eland; Bushpig; Sable; Roan; Serval and Wild Cat! What a combo! However, perhaps the ‘sighting of the week’ must have been the wild dog chasing a kudu near the dambo in front of camp!

Another great sighting was of the critically endangered White Headed Vulture and we also got our 2 resident rollers (Lilac-Breasted and Racket-tailed) this week – the other 3 rollers we see (European, Purple and Broad-billed) are visitors and will be arriving soon!

Some of our departing guests also made use of the Ngoma Airstrip to connect their time in Kafue with the Luangwa Valley – it’s great to know that people wanting to connect the Kafue and Zambia’s other great parks can do so through charter flights out of the nearby Ngoma Airstrip.Their feedback (translated back from Italian): “A wonderful place and definitely a place to return to!”



Nanzhila is the closest true safari destination in Zambia to the Victoria Falls and enjoys nearly 3000 sqkm of the Kafue National Park to itself. An incredible variety of wildlife and birding species, as well as a magnificent location overlooking the dambo, make Nanzhila one of the most memorable safari camps in Zambia.


Reservations & Enquiries
Erroleen Williams
Cell: 0027 82772 0804 (7:00 – 19:00)



Emergency Contact

WhatsApp Only
Steve and Cindy Smith
Cell:+260 963 006 202

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