McBride’s Camp

There is a particularly lovely spot just below a wide bend in the Kafue River in central Zambia where the hippos number in the dozens and the elephants roam with complete freedom.  Its western bank is an intermittently wooded grassland with an occasional low hillock … dotted with impala, waterbuck and puku.   It is classic bush country … and it sees far less human traffic than my usual haunts in Kenya and Tanzania.  It’s also home to McBride’s Camp … one of my favorite places to stay in all of Africa.

McBride’s is unique in many ways.  Its lodgings are secure but open to the fresh air, taking full advantage of the temperate year round weather and offering guests the best possible view of their surroundings.  The food is wonderful and the dinners are candlelit, with all the sounds of the African night well within earshot.  During the day, a fruit basket placed by the central dining hut attracts a wide variety of birds, including the lovely and colorful Heuglin’s Robin.  The camp structures, made almost entirely from thatch and indigenous materials, are as perfectly integrated into the surroundings and environment as anything manufactured by human hands can possibly be.   One of the area’s most reticent species, the bushbuck, is sufficiently comfortable with the camp to stop by and sit quietly on the grounds on a near daily basis. 

Africa seems to abound with adventurous characters and interesting people.  The camp proprietors, Chris and Charlotte McBride, certainly fall within both of these categories.  They are two of the most fascinating people I’ve met in my many visits to the continent.  Chris has spent much of his life in the bush and has authored a couple of books on lion behavior.  Soft spoken, kind-hearted, personable and intelligent, his dinner conversation alone is reason enough to visit the camp.  He is blessed with a keen mind and a dry sense of humor … he is a supremely gifted storyteller who willingly and generously shares his thoughts and memories with his guests.  Charlotte is a remarkable woman in many ways.  Within minutes of meeting her I was overwhelmed by her enthusiasm and passion for the bush.  Despite having lived on the Kafue for many years, her excitement at any wildlife sighting – be it a lion pride, reed cormorant or a barred owl –is heartfelt and infectious.  She generally serves as the armed escort on the walking forays into the bush.  Her rifle is half again as big as she is … but she wields it with maximum effect.  Those who know her best describe her marksmanship as “deadly.” 

I expect to visit the McBrides again in the not too distant future.  The peace and quiet that comes with the remoteness of the camp, the near proximity of the wildlife, and the quality of the companionship make this one of wild Africa’s most unique and wonderful locations.

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