Polo holidays are some of the best kinds of travel. And in this case, when they are combined with amazing safari experiences, decades-long friendships, fantastic tournaments, and family, it becomes even more special! This sojourn to Zambia, however, was extra special as it was the first time the Haryana Polo Club (HPC) team, represented by the entire Kalaan polo family, visited here.
The connection between the Kalaan’s who are one of the most well-known polo families in India and Zambian polo dates back to 35 years.
Founder of HPC and former five-goal polo player, Col. Raj Kalaan, was the first Indian to ever play polo in Zambia in August 1979. Subsequently, between 1999-2008, his sons Uday and Angad played there almost every year.
Polo started at the Lusaka Polo Club, with a match between Haryana Polo Club and Lusaka Polo Club teams. HPC got away to a good start going up 3-1 in the first two chukkers, with some fantastic team play by the Kalaan brothers.
However, Lusaka Polo Club wasn’t going to let HPC get away so easily. Eric Stubbs combined well with his players to bring the game back level at 4-4 in the third chukker. The final chukker had some fast, attacking polo and the game ended with a 6-5 win for HPC. In true Zambian style, polo was followed by a ‘braai’ or barbeque at the clubhouse and the festivities continued long after the horses had gone home!
Zambia has some of the most incredible wildlife areas in the world, and so between the polo weekends, the entire Kalaan family visited the Chichele Presidential Lodge in South Luangwa Park, located in Northern Zambia.
South Luangwa is said to be one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world with one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. This stunning game lodge is located in the middle of the national park and provides sensational safari experiences.
We were lucky enough to see a number of animals in the wild and over 30 different species of birds. Early morning game drives included spotting hyenas, the shy bushbuck, curious giraffes, herds of buffalos, baby elephants walking alongside the safari jeep, fish eagles and hippos and crocodiles as far as you could see.
Night safaris meant following leopards and the elusive wild dogs while they hunted, hippos crashing through the bush and following lions as they awoke to look for food in the cool evening weather. After four days spent viewing incredible wildlife, eating great food, drinking excellent wine and generally resting and recuperating, we were all ready for part two of the HPC polo tour of Zambia.
We then made our way to Mazabuka, a farming area about 110kms south of Lusaka. The HPC team was hosted by the Lubombo Polo Club run by the Coventry family over the weekend. The tournament being held over the weekend was the last and final tournament of the Zambian Polo Season, the Lubombo Open, with six teams participating.
Angad and Uday Kalaan played with the Parmalat and AgriSure Teams, respectively. The tournament was held over three days and Parmalat reached the final against the local favorites Yara. Sunday’s final was a hard fought game with Parmalat losing by half a goal to Yara in the dying seconds of the game.
In addition to being runners-up, Angad was also presented with the award for the Player of the Tournament. A perfect polo Sunday in Zambia ended in good form with bar dives, drinks, and much merriment at the club bar.
It was a perfect end to the trip!
About the author: Mandira Kalra Kalaan is a feminist and farmer who runs an organic farm business and works on women’s rights and gender discrimination. She’s also an avid polo wife, cheerleader, and traveller who can usually be found with gin and tonic in hand at the clubhouse, cheering madly for her husband!