One couple’s six-year journey to building their own safari camp
any safari lovers will have flirted with the idea of managing, or owning a safari lodge or camp. Some may have dreamed of building one. But very few actually tackle, and complete, the challenge, especially when doing it completely independently, risking their own savings to fund it.
Which is why we have been so impressed by the story of Andy and Lib Wilson, who this year opened their bush camp, Kasabushi, in central Kafue National Park in Zambia: the culmination of a life-changing adventure that started in 2010.
A shared passion for Africa’s wildlife led Zimbabwean Andy and Brit Lib to the vast Kafue, where they managed (after three years of negotiation) to secure a piece of land covered in dense bush on the banks of the Kafue River.
Andy and Lib took it slow, initially slashing tracks from the spinal road to prospective building sites on their site. They then spent time camping at these different locations to try and identify the best view of the river in an area that could withstand the rainy season.
A basic campsite was established to provide self-drive travellers a well-located place to base themselves, while bringing in some revenue to help fund construction of the main camp.
With no formally trained architects or landscapers to consult, they had to use their own initiative, material from the local environment and whatever resources they could draw from.
For example, Andy’s design for their central living area, the Round House, was based on a medieval building technique which required the creation of a series of canvas ‘sails’. These were sewn together by their mechanic, Saviour, on a 1920s Singer sewing machine that had been given to Andy and Lib when they set off from the UK, attached to a motor to give it more power: how invaluable it turned out to be!
To overcome the extortionate costs of importing and transporting wood, Andy and Tendai, their carpenter, made tables, beds, chairs – everything from door latches to gum-pole blinds – from locally sourced driftwood, nurturing a constant pile of ‘interesting pieces’ that could be used when the right purpose could be found for it.
These idiosyncratic building techniques and their impressive resourcefulness have made Kasabushi a unique camp that Andy and Lib can truly call their own.
Lib described their journey as involving “a lot of blood, sweat and tears – my tears mostly and Andy’s blood… we both sweated! But seeing the camp come together, and the positive impact it has had on the surrounding wildlife, has made it all feel worthwhile.”
And the name? Kasabushi is the KiKaonde work for an ‘otter’: the first animal the couple saw on their initial visit to the site in 2011 was a cape clawless otter. It is an eternal reminder of the humble start of a long and rewarding journey.
For more, check out their site at: https://kasabushi.wordpress.com