Musungwa Lodge – September 2015

I was off to Musungwa Lodge on Lake Itezhi-Tezhi from Livingstone.  I had been there before but not on the route I had planned. The route was Choma, Namwala, over the Kafue River and then to Itezhi-Tezhi.  It was going to be an adventure.

Being September it was also going to be hot.

I was travelling with a friend, Venice, from Livingstone.  We were doing quite a long trip around Kafue National Park.

The map shows the route over the week we were travelling.

Day 1: Livingstone, Choma, Namwala, Itezhi-Tezhi (Musungwa)

Day 2: Itezhi-Tezhi, Mumbwa, Mushingashi

Day 4: Mushingashi, Busanga Plains (Busanga Bush Camp)

Day 6: Busanga Plains, Mayukuyuku

Day 7: Mayukuyuku, Livingstone (via Lusaka)

Getting There

The road to Namwala is all tar from Livingstone, but I could see one or two potholes appearing between Choma and Namwala.  I knew that, without road maintenance, they would get much worse during each rainy season.  On arriving in Namwala, the tar road ended, dividing into two sandy tracks.  Which way?  We about turned to ask for advice.  Go right.

The right track led down to the river and along the southern edge of the Kafue River and onto a dry clay floodplain with tracks meandering here and there.  We knew they would all end up at the same place (there wasn’t anywhere else to go) so we just kept on the most-used track.  After 40 minutes we arrived at the ferry crossing.  The ferryman’s cottage was a straw shack with Dolly Parton songs booming out of it.  We watched the ferry bringing across a load and then it was our turn to board.  Getting on was easy but the getting off was a bit more problematic.  I had to back off the pontoon up a steep incline.  I managed but almost collided with a pile of sacks full of maize.

It was then off up a dirt road to Itezhi-Tezhi.  It was in good condition and we trundled along quite happily.

We arrived safely into Itezhi-Tezhi and took the road to the dam.  The bridge over the Kafue channel from the lake is patrolled by, I assume, the military.  Venice and I got out to take some photos of the lake but were stopped by the officer on duty because he told us it was not allowed.  He demanded that we delete the photos …  He gave us a lecture, so we gave him one back.  This old law in Zambia about not taking photographs of ‘sensitive’ infrastructure is long outdated but is still in place.   It was not the officer’s fault; he was just doing his job and we departed on friendly terms.

We drove along below the dam wall and past the new power station, then up the hill to the lodges along the lake.  We arrived at Musungwa Safari Lodge after a 7-hour trip from Livingstone.  Time for a beer.

The Lodge

I really like Musungwa.  It must have been built in the 1970s after the construction of the dam wall and the filling of Lake Itezhi-Tezhi.  The lake instantly became a weekend getaway for keen fishermen … the road from Lusaka was good in those days.  Musungwa has some amazing plants in the gardens which have aged along with the lodge.  There are enormous bougainvilleas and pandanas.  The staff, headed by Luke and Joyce, have probably been there for many years too and gave us a warm welcome.

We were the only guests that night and we had very attentive service.  The food was excellent.  After sitting by a log fire for a while we headed to bed – it had been a long day.

This was the year when Zambia was short of power so the power went off at 10pm to return at 6am.  I woke early so went for a shower and then the power came on. I sat on the veranda enjoying the morning noises of francolins chirping down the hill and monkeys scampering over the roofs.  Joyce brought me a pot of filter coffee – the perfect start to any day.

Breakfast was as good as supper – sausages, bacon, eggs, pancakes.  Who could ask for more?

We did not have time to do any activities at Musungwa.  We were off onto the next leg of our journey to Mushingashi …

Updates – May 2018

The road from Itezhi-Tezhi to Lusaka-Mongu road is being worked on and there is only about 30km left to complete.

Musungwa has a new boat and safari vehicle and are busy refurbishing more rooms.

If you have visited Musungwa, please let us have a comment.  I will print your comment (no email mentioned) below my review.