Kufunta River Lodge is located in the iconic South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. It overlooks the floodplains of the beautiful Luangwa river and provides game drives into the park. The park is well known for its leopard populations, large numbers of hippos, plenty of crocodiles and often a good number of lions, giraffe, elephants and buffaloes, especially in the dry season.
Just outside of the park in the Mfuwe area, a number of the villages and schools are supported by the locally operated Project Luangwa. This project aims to provide assistance to those villages, their schools and to individual pupils (both primary and secondary) in the forms of building works, equipment and scholarships.
It is not an easy life for many of these villagers and children. It might come as a surprise to learn that, while the tourism industry provides considerable employment to locals, very few have actually visited the park.
But with assistance from a fundraising venture called Elephant Charge, Project Luangwa and Kafunta Lodge itself, a group of 24 local teenagers were hosted at the lodge for four days last December.
A time of firsts
They undertook many of the activities which tourists would enjoy, including game drives and learning about and seeing animals they had never seen before. They also enjoyed a swim in the lodge’s pool – a much safer option than the river!
The team from Project Luangwa said that the children went on game drives, watched films on wildlife and had an interesting talk with scouts from the South Luangwa Conservation Society and local safari guides. It was a week of completely new experiences; for many it was their first time in South Luangwa National Park, their first time to see a lion, a leopard or a hyena.
"The Kafunta guides went out of their way to educate the kids and allowed everyone the chance to act as a guide. They left with a noticeable increase in self-confidence and environmental awareness and are now even more determined to succeed at school," they said.
And there was the added bonus of enjoying other things which we might take completely for granted - hot showers, endless dips in the lodge’s swimming pool and their first encounters with so-called Western food
The team also thankedo Ron and Anke Cowan and the very enthusiastic staff of Kafunta River Lodge for generously allowing exclusive use of their beautiful lodge.
Subscribe to the monthly Peregrine eNews for your chance to win an iPad2. It's so easy! Simply click here to subscribe.