Fighting Hippos of Pinnon

Hippos are big and very dangerous animal found all round Africa, here in Kafue National Park there are plenty of them. Every night without fail you will hear them from the lodge, fighting, chomping or just talking (grunting) to one another. We have had a number of serious hippo fights at the lodge which we watch with awe from the shoreline. These fights usually occur when a young male comes of age and the Alpha male of the Pod is trying to remove him forcibly to prevent inbreeding.

Two males fighting outside the lodge

Often these fights result in the death of the smaller of the two. If the younger male does not get the message it will end with him being killed by the massive teeth and jaws of the larger male (often the father). When this happens the crocodiles come and feed!

Hippo teeth can reach 36 cm long

Pinnon Safari Lodge is straight on the Kafue river with 3 chalets overlooking it. We are very fortunate to have a resident pod of about 16 hippo residing on our stretch of the river. There are a host of pods dotted about up and down the Kafue but on our little stretch or river and the adjoining stream, we have the Pinnon Pod. It comprises of one big male we call Black (named by our daughter Indianna and her cousin Iris) due to his much darker coloration than than the other hippos in the pod. The rest of the hippos are females and juveniles.

Cheetah In Kafue

Kafue National Park in Zambia is one of the strongholds of the Cheetah.

Not as common as Lion or Leopard but this incredible feline has its own niche in the ecosystem. Unlike the other predators (apart from the wild dog) it predominantly hunts during the day. It does so to ensure there is less competition. It is lean and smaller than it counterparts but preys upon similar animals. Today there are only 7100 left in the wild, throughout Africa (they have recently been introduced to India). Kafue is home to between 100 and 200 Cheetah. These photos were taken close to the Pinnon junction. There is even a coalition of two male brothers called the Pinnon coalition, We were lucky to have spotted them on camp and sent pictures to the Panthera the local specialists in wildlife conservation, to be told it could be the first recorded sighting. We were so pleased to have have them named after us.

The start of Pinnon part 1

In March 2016 We finally got the permission to build Pinnon Safari Lodge. Why Pinnon? and how did we get permission? Those are for another story. we could have built in November 2015 but the rains were upon us and building so far from the main road had multiple challenges, however the rains came in November and they came hard that year. So we had to wait till the rains eased. Ruth and I lived in the local village called Nalusanga for the months preceding the build and during the heavy rains. Life was simple yet satisfying, it gave us some time to get to know the locals who had been so kind to us since we had arrived in Zambia. We initially met, who became a dear friend, called Robin Basque. An incredible man who himself had built lodges in the same area (30Km away). Ruth an I were camping in a small tent in a garage which is based in a village called Nalusanga which is the entrance to the great Kafue National Park. He was just stopping by Geralds garage to say greet his local friends when he stumbled across two mad Muzungus (Zambian for white people) camping in a small, basic yet vibrant little village.

Now Nalusanga was then home to around 1000 Zambians and is a small little farming community but its position next to the park is actually quite strategic. It is on the M9, the main and only road on route to Angola, and as such is a fairly high profile little viilage. We had very little idea of this at the time and we loved meeting the community there who embrased us.

Robin Basque took one little look at us as he stopped by Geralds garage and was intrigued. We had a good chat and he asked us what we wanted to do. We told him about our naïve ambitions and how we had managed to secure some land from the local head chief, Chieftainess Kabulwebulwe (again another story), and he seemed surprised how much we had managed to achieve in the short space of time we had been in Zambia. Being the man he is he was quick to offer us some advice on how we could go ahead with the build. “You cant build till after the rains” he said. “You must get a gun”. etc, He gave us advice on how to build (we had no idea), when to build but more importantly who could build it for us. He gave us the name of a local builder called Lemmy. Lemmy had worked with Robin in building his lodges in Kafue and we were well aware of our misgivings in how to construct so it seemed very fortunate that Robin had stumbled across us on the day. After a fairly briefing little chat we were kindly given Lemmys phone number and advised he may well be willing to work for the right people. We gave him a call.

Now in Jan 2016 Ruth an I were getting married back in the UK so there was a lot going on but it did not stop us going to see Lemmy who lived not far away in a local village. Our immediate impression was what a lovely man he was. So Zambian and accommodating . We were offered tea and fritters (Sort of like a doughnut, which we now serve at the lodge as a dessert) and were welcomed so kindly into his home. We told him our aim was to build a lodge and mentioned the location of the build which he knew already like the back of his hand. We were asked if we had a design in mind, we only had a loose plan which went off researching other lodges we liked the look of which we pulled together to make a blueprint for Pinnon, We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and to be honest we were very conscious we didn’t have the skill set. But lemmy was willing to assist. In December 2015 we felt lucky. Again. Having somehow managed to secure land to build on, find a place to have sanctuary and meet amazing Zambians who were willing to advise us and help us. So we went back to the UK to get married far more confident we could pull this off then we had previously.

Back from the wedding in February…. and it was a good one. We realised not only had we a lodge to build but Ruth was actually 3 months pregnant, we seem to always add a bit of pressure to ourselves at all stages in life. Lodge building building was about to start.

The Humans Of The Kafue

This article was written by a guest visiting Pinnon Lodges Kafue National Park and includes photos taken by regular guest Karthik Jayaprakash. The focus of the article is on the stunning Kafue landscape and wildlife but also the incredible humans that live here, including our very own Martin and Passmore who have lived in KNP their whole lives. It also mentions our delicious food 🙂

Over the bridge

We have been meaning to upload some videos to show you a bit more of our camp for a while and now amongst the Corona madness we have finally found the time to do so.. the first little video is just my favourite view within camp which opens up as you cross the bridge. I think it’s because when we first arrived we camped under that beautiful fig tree waiting for the rains to end so we could begin building the lodge so it reminds me of those exciting days when we first began living in the bush. The chalet you can see is Wagtail chalet and there is another chalet just beyond the big fig tree. Our chalets have lots of space between them so you can enjoy the views around without feeling overlooked by your neighbours.

Jacana Chalet

We have finally gotten round to taking some photographs of our third chalet, Jacana. We opened Jacana chalet in 2017 and a mere two years later we have taken a few quick shots to show off our most private chalet. Set on its own away from the other buildings Jacana is the perfect location for a romantic getaway. It also has stunning views of the river to the front and the dambo to the back.

Inside is a similar design to Wagtail and Kingfisher chalets but with a quirky recycled bottle shower wall in the bathroom.