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Found 116 results

  1. A returm to Zambia. The Luangwa and Zambezi rivers Victoria Falls as, hopefully, the climax to my visit. Meaning a first, all be it quick, visit to Zimbabwe I later realised that 2017 was also the 10th anniversary of my first ever safari. All in all not a bad way to celebrate it! My schedule was as follows: 1 night Pioneer Camp Lusaka 4 nights Tafika Camp, South Luangwa National Park 4 nights Amanzi Camp, Lower Zambezi National Park 1 night Pioneer Camp Lusaka 2 nights Ilala Lodge Victoria Falls The trip was again booked through Africa Travel Resource and my contact there Anneli. Once again everything was arranged perfectly. I think the most difficult bit was trying to get the various bits of the trip to fit together particularly in the right order. Lots of puzzing of heads and trying to find 4 nights in each camp. Eventually I had to put a night in Pioneer camp in the middle of my trip. Not ideal but it meant I didn't have to change my itinerary around and start at the Falls or have private charters for flights. Ths trip was already blowing my budget, private charters were just not possible (unless I robbed a bank, and I didn't really want to do that) I added a night at Pioneer at the beginning just in case my international flights were delayed. I didn't want a re-run of last year's trip to Meru and the delayed Nairobi flight. I wanted to return to South Luangwa as I had really enjoyed my trip there a couple of years ago and also I wanted to see it in another season. Last visit was at the beginning of November, this time my visit would be at the end of June, There would be a difference, not only in temperature! Advice from ATR was to combine it with the Lower Zambezi, to give a contrast in lansdscape, flora etc. I readily agreed as I hadn't been to that park before. There would also be a contrast in camps: Tafika, rustic, a long running camp, far far out in the Northern sector of South Luangwa, very much an old style camp for the safari purist; Amanzi a new camp, not too short on extras, it even had a pool, no roughing it here! At the end of the trip I defined the contrasting camps as hardcore safari and safari light. Only the camps themselves.......the parks and the wildlife where just as good at both locations. So that was the planning and the hopes and ideas for the trip. Now you are asking what happened when I got there? Short answer...... a stupendous trip! It really was special. Fantastic wildlife. There is still something I love about the Luangwa river which I cannot explain, which is going to keep drawing me back. Lower Zambezi was a great park; completely agree with ATR that it gave a good contrast to South Luangwa. And finally the falls which basically blew my mind! Wildlife wise there were 2 BIG highlights. Still undecided if I should give you all a clue, maybe add a photo here or make you all wait till I get there in this report. I will have a think about it, but I am still erring on making you all wait But as mentioned in the title there was lots of water involved in this trip therefore end of post 1 will be a few photos of the rivers and falls. Luangwa River The Zambezi Victoria Falls
  2. Preamble ~ Although this was my umpteenth visit to Africa and 4th safari in the South Luangwa I hadn’t been to Africa since 2008. Whilst life had gotten in the way I had kept my enthusiasm for safaris reading the numerous TRs here on ST. In 2008 the safari finished in the South Luangwa and this is where this trip began. The duration of this safari was 28 days including travel which allowed for 11 nights in South Luangwa, then 15 days in the Mara (the Mara will be in a separate TR). Peter my travelling companion, is a TA with over 30 years experience travelling to Africa, (often 4 times a year!) Nepal, Antarctica and beyond so I let him handle all the arrangements. The itinerary was based on the cancelled trip when I broke my leg in 2015. It consisted of; 3 nights Kafunta River Lodge 5 nights Mwamba Bush Camp 3 nights Kaingo Camp Initially we had tried for Flatdogs camp but it was booked out during our travel timeframe so with a plethora of options in the Mfuwe area we replaced it with Kafunta River lodge mainly because of the cheaper rates. A decision I did not regret. I have stayed at Mwamba & Kaingo before and they are my favourite camps in SLNP. I won’t elaborate further on the camps chosen unless I’m asked and rather than give a day by day ~ blow by blow description I’ll just post some images and provide relevant comment. In this first post a few images of what you're likely to see. The sun rising over Lion Plain not far from Mwamba camp. What will the day bring? South Luangwa is renowned for leopard and this trip did not disappoint. A leopardess patiently waiting for her beau to finish his impala dinner that he did not share with her. Even so it did not affect their romance and we heard (rather than saw them) mating in the thickets the next morning. Replete with buffalo meat the Mwamba pride retires to the shade, whilst the adults snoozed some of the cubs watched the vultures game enough to try for scraps. The area around Lion Plain hosts a few lion prides. The two prides mainly seen are the Hollywood Pride (so named as they are so often filmed by the BBC etc) and the Mwamba Pride. Carmine Bee-eater in flight. I captured this image from Kaingo's Bee-eater hide. Basically a tin boat with a canvas blind (works a treat). If you are in SLNP from about August onwards thousands of these birds nest in the river banks. Spectacular fliers they are a beautiful sight. An elephant road block. The only sort of traffic jam I enjoy.
  3. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Amanzi Tented Camp Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia This is the smaller sister camp to Anabezi camp. Amanzi has been open for approx 1 year. 2) Website address if known: Anabezi.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). 29th June - 3rd July 2017. Last 2 nights were in High Season Long stay discount avaialble at time of booking - 4 nights for price of 3. 4) Length of stay: 4 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Small camp, not overly big build, good reputation for level of guiding. Away from main busy area of park therefore vehicle density would hopefully be less. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Through agent (ATR) 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 8 or 9. I've lost count! 8) To which countries? Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No. There is a boardwalk around camp from which you access your tent and the dining area etc. This does mean you are slightly higher off ground but wildlife still comes close and onto boardwalk. Another bonus of boardwalk - no clambouring in and out of your vehicle. You just stepped out onto boardwalk or into car! 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 4 tents. 2 are linked together with a small bridge to be used as family unit or for larger group who want to be closer together. 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Tent 2. Tents run in one row from the dining/mess area with number 1 being closest to dining/mess area. Therefore number 2 is in the middle. Tents number 1 and 2 are widely spaced from each other. There is also sufficient space between tent number 2 and the connected family unit (tent numbers 3 and 4.) Tents have trees/bushes in between so you are not overlooked. All tents overlook channel of the Zambezi River and an island which can have wildlife on it. Each tent has a private sitting area to one side of the tent overlooking the water which has walls around the other 2 sides to give privacy from boardwalk. Tent itself has large mesh windows overlooking the water. The occassional boat does go past so there is a small chance you could have people looking up into your tent. The tents are raised higher up from the water therefore boats can not see directly into tent/sitting area. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortably and well furnished. It was huge! You walk though main door and face outside sitting area. This has two hammock chairs and 2 comfortable chairs and small table. Then turn right into your tent which runs length ways along river bank. Two upholstered comfortable armchairs nearest the door, then 2 big queen beds with mosquito nets. Small divider to inside bathroom and dressing area. Shower and toilet are further separated by three quarter walls. Sufficient space for hanging/storing clothes. For those who want it, there is a safe for valuables. Wooden floor throughout. Marketed as a luxary tented camp and for me this was correct. A mini bar, tea/coffee facilities, fluffy bathrobes and even a hairdryer are for me very luxurious on safari. I had just come from Tafika (South Luangwa) which is definitely more rustic so the contrast between camps was probably more marked. Electric sockets in dressing area (charging point for batteries etc) were not so good quality, you needed a lot of strength to plug things in. Hot water available all day. No bucket showers here! 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Food was excellent, freshly prepared and varied. Excellent chef during my stay. Very flexible in choices. Breakfast was a choice of continental or full english. We took it before morning game drive. Not sure of that would change in summer months. Lunch was buffet style. Dinner was served at table. Tea, coffee (Nespresso type machine) and other drinks available in dining/mess tent at all times. And yes there is cake before the afternoon activity! Also fruit if you want a healthy option. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance? Dinner had 3 courses for which you had a menu, changed daily. of 3 choices per course. Dietary requirements (allergies) were really well catered for. Chef was willing to make/change all 3 dinner courses to meet requirements. This had been specified on booking so was known in advance. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables. Although separate groups were able to dine together during my stay. No hosting during meals. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Packed lunch was taken on full day drive. This consisted of various salads, chicken and bread. This was good and sufficient for me as lunch. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. 2 rows of 2 seats with box in between for blankets. I ended up removing blankets and using box for water bottles and camera gear. I did see one vehicle with 3 seats in back row. Covered vehicles, with canopy. On couple of days I was in car by myself I requested open car and they took off canopy. Drive from airstrip to camp was done in completely open vehicle. Unless I missed them, no charging points. Apart from boxes between seats limited storage for your stuff. Not too many pockets in back of seat or 'tray' in front of first row of seats. 19) How many guests per row? 2. In vehicles I used this was only possible combination. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Standard is approx 3 hours. Although my guide was willing to stay out a bit longer if sightings merited it. Varied routes. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Morning drive 07:00 start. It was winter therefore they started morning drive later. Afternoon drive started at 16:00 They were willing to go out at different times if requested. I had a full day drive, with picnic lunch to enable us to go to area around Jeki airstrip and further west First afternoon my drive was combined with picking up other guests from a boat trip. After which we game drived back to camp. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? N/A see number 23 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Amanzi is last camp at eastern end of the Lower Zambezi National Park. At this end of the park the camp and vehicle density is a lot less then in the central area of the park. 24) Are you able to off-road? No. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Guest numbers were low plus most time was in quieter eastern side of park therefore rotation policy wasn't necessary nor did we face waits for sightings. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Not particularly well known for any wildlife. Potentially wildlife could be a bit more limited and/or scarce at this end of the park. I would definitely recommend a (full day longer) drive to further west - in or past Jeli airstrip. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent. Lawrence Mazele was my guide throughout. Excellent knowledge, very experienced guide and also very personable. He was happy to have a guest who didn't just want to tick off the big five and was willing to spend time at a sighting to watch animal behaviur or wait to see how a sighting developed. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: See number 27. Plus I had one of my best ever elepehant sightings with Lawrence which was down to his experience and willingness to wait and take time with the animals. There was also a major sighting for me. For more details you are just going to have to wait for the full trip report :-) 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? All the staff were great. They looked after their guests very very well. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. No. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: At the moment Amanzi and Anabezi are having to share a ranger. Therefore opportnities for walking are limited. I was only able to do one walk during my stay. And this was only possible because Solomon the camp manager had had the foresight to arrange that I could join other guests on their walk. The camps are already in discussions with the park authorities to try and increase number of rangers. Walks are short bush walks (approx 2 hours long) to look at smaller stuff and the flora. There is no tracking or approaching of large animals. Other guests had a walk curtailed when lions were heard nearby and the guide radio'd for car to pick them up. Camp does have a boat which can be used for trips around islands and channels of the Zambezei. I felt this activity was heavily pushed and I did eventually do a short boat trip one afternoon. This activity may be more rewarding during drier summer months when more wildlife can be found on the islands in the river. The camp does have a small pool on lower deck from the dining.mess area. I didn't use it, water too cold to venture in. The camp does offer fishing. I didn't do this so can't comment. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Coming up shortly. Se my separate post.
  4. Mid september we returned from our second honeymoon (we had two weddings so I felt owed two honeymoons - any excuse to go on safari ) to Zambia's South Luangwa National Park. This was only our second introduction to Africa and to safari and may I just say: "wow! " We absolutely loved Zambia! I know people often say this, but I really really mean it, the people are just so friendly in Zambia! Everyone appears to be genuinly very happy that you are visiting their country and their beautiful park. Aside from the wildlife and the gorgeous scenery, and the delicious food and the beautiful sundowners, the people of Zambia were my favorite part of the trip! I was sold on safari after our previous trip to SA, now after visiting Zambia's South Luangwa national park I am completely in love. And we didn't even get to visit Lower Zambezi yet on this trip - I can only imagine how gorgeous that must be! Pictures to follow
  5. Now that our very first safari is booked for 2018, my dad and I want to start improving our ID skills for birds (especially) and mammals. We'll be in Zambia (South Luangwa and Kafue National Parks) in late August and September. My searches thus far for field guides have not turned up a lot for Zambia. Do you have any recommendations of books that would help us for this area? Or should I just order guides that cover bordering countries and cross-reference lists from our chosen camps? So far, I've purchased used copies of Birds of Southern Africa (Princeton; it does cover Zambia along with many other countries) and Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa (does not technically cover Zambia, although maybe it doesn't matter). We won't likely take these books along with us, so if you have any apps or pocket guides that you'd also recommend, please let me know.
  6. Hi everyone, This is my first post...I hope it's in the right place. We are looking for help in planning a safari for 2018. We really want to see ***wild dogs*** and predators/elephants/rare animals...as well as all other wildlife. We are avid photographers and have narrowed the trip down to two options...for the most part. The question is which is the better option for what we are looking for, I.e. Wild dogs. Both options are in the same price range. We know nothing is guaranteed but are looking for reliable sightings during the times we are going. Option A - Botswana in late June 2018 1 night Vic Falls 2 nights Lebala Camp 2 nights Lagoon Camp 3 nights Little Kwara Option B - Zimbabwe and Zambia in June or August or September 4 nights Nkwali Camp in S. Luangwa 4 nights John's Camp in Mana Pools *****Which is the best month for option B taking into account what we want to see? We welcome all advice/information/opinion. Thanks in advance for the help. Cheers, Eric
  7. Hi All, Take advantage of our Last Minute Special for available dates in July, August and September 2017. For any last minute NEW bookings pay 2 stay 3 nights for both Sausage Tree and Potato Bush Camp so please contact us for availability. **Not to be combined with any other special and only applies to available dates in July/August/September 2017. PS: These fantastic pictures was captured by head Guide Ryan Wilmot We wish you a pleasant day. Regards, James.
  8. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Kaingo Camp, SLNP, Zambia 2) Website address if known: here 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September 2016, High Season 4) Length of stay: 3 Nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? A previous visit in 2008 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? A friend who is a travel agent 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 15 times 8) To which countries? Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Comparable to Kafunta River lodge in accommodation comfort 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 chalets 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Unsure of chalet number, all chalets have view of Luangwa River and private. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable, well furnished, ensuite bathroom 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes, excellent food 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal dining for brunch & dinner, pre-morning activity coffee around campfire. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Adequate snacks & drinks for morning tea & sundowners 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Modified modern landcruisers 19) How many guests per row? 2 per row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? 3 - 4 hours on varied routes 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Morning drives begin after sunrise, afternoon drives around 16:00. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? No. The camp is one of the few permanent camps inside SLNP. At least 3 vehicles 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? With the sister camp (Mwamba) and Lion camp nearby at times there can be a few vehicles at a sighting. 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Possibly but rotation did not occur at any sightings whilst I stayed there. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Excellent leopard and lion viewing. Good elephant numbers and general plains game with diverse variety of antelope 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Tried his utmost to position the vehicle for a good photography perspectives. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes. Both community & conservation projects. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: here 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Very comfortable and informal camp (more like a lodge) with nice outlook over the Luangwa river with each chalet having a private viewing deck. Other activities such as walks and game viewing from the Hippo & Carmine Bee-eater hides are available. A good place to finish off with a bit more comfort after some time at Mwamba camp.
  9. Please note there is an earlier review of Mwamba Bush camp by Optig which can be found here 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Mwamba Bush camp, SLNP, Zambia 2) Website address if known: here 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September 2016, High Season 4) Length of stay: 5 Nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? A previous stay at this camp in 2008 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Via a friend who is a travel agent 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 15 Times 8) To which countries? Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 4 thatched grass Chalets 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? I think chalet #1 closest to the communal dining area and bar though still private. The view from this tent looks across the small ephemeral Mwamba river. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable bed and adequately furnished. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes, excellent food. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Varied menu for brunch and dinner. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal brunch and dinner, pre morning game drive coffee & muffin around the campfire. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Adequate drinks & snacks for both morning tea and sundowners 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. modified Land Cruisers 19) How many guests per row? 2 guests per row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Varied game routes taken. Most drives were longer than 4 hours. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Morning drives 6:00 - 11:00, Afternoon drives 16:00 - 20:00 but times are flexible. If something is happening you stay out longer. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? No. The camp is inside the National Park. At least two vehicles, though I remember 3 in use on a few days to cater for smaller groups. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Vehicle density can be high at times due to the sister camp Kaingo and Lion camp in the vicinity but usually this is well managed and you can find an isolated area to yourself. 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes, though the extensive road network is excellent and well graded / maintained and this allows for very smooth driving. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. This might be an issue but was not a problem whilst I was in camp. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Excellent leopard sightings and big lion prides. Elephant often in camp along with a few antelope species that frequent the waterhole behind camp. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Exceptionally high standard. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Excellent rapport, knowledge and enthusiasm made for stellar company and great sightings. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Very attentive, especially the waiters. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, A few community and conservation based programs. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: here 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: The authentic Zambian bush camp, rough and ready though with a level of comfort. Situated in a superb game viewing area known for its predator concentrations. Enjoyable hot showers in open air bathrooms after a long dusty day. The camp waterhole allows for exceptional game viewing between game drives and access to Kaingo camps Hippo and Carmine bee-eater hides can be organised. A top notch safari experience.
  10. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Kafunta River Lodge, South Luangwa N.P., Zambia 2) Website address if known: here 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September, 2016 , High Season 4) Length of stay: 3 Nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Chosen as a quick stop over after lengthy travel before proceeding to more remote areas of the park 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Via a friend who is an agent 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 15 times 8) To which countries? Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 8 chalets on raised platforms 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? All chalets are reasonably private with views over floodplain 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Well appointed and very comfortable. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Excellent food. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes a varied menu was on offer. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal dining, Guides and Managers join the meals, one lunch for occupants of my vehicle was on a secluded raised platform with wait staff and guide. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Snacks & drinks offered (which is ample) for morning tea and sundowners 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Modified Landcrusiers 19) How many guests per row? Two to a row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? 4 hours + with varied routes 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Supposedly 6:15 - 10:30 morning and 16:00- 19:30 afternoon but I suspect it is flexible if there is a lot of game viewing action. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? No. The Lodge is situated just out side the park. Unsure of vehicle numbers. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? The lodge is opposite the southern area of the central game viewing section which is accessed via a pontoon. Hence vehicle density is low until vehicles using the main access route into the park drive down to that area. 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes, to some degree 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Unsure, perhaps 3 vehicles to a sighting but this was never a problem during my game drives. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? 27) How was the standard of guiding? Very good. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: N/A 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes. A few community & conservation programs. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: here 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Extremely good value for money & a bit more than a basic safari experience. A superb lodge overlooking an amazing floodplain. Bird life is prolific and mammals are often in view. For some one who is used to basic camps it is extremely comfortable with swimming pool and hot tub spa. Massages are also offered. Unfortunately for bird photographers the floodplain is under-utilised. There is a hide underneath the main deck but it faces the wrong direction for light and is next to useless unless an elephant is nearby. A better solution would be for a mobile hide on the flood plain where you can be escorted by an armed game scout. Dislike ~ A full sit down breakfast is served rather than a coffee or tea with muffin etc. This slows the process of starting the morning game drive and during the high season the nice light is quickly lost. If you are not the 1st vehicle in line at the pontoon more game viewing time is lost. Advantages/Disadvantages ~ The lodges's location is a 30 minute drive to the main access gate. If the park is inaccessible via the pontoon then a lot of game viewing time is lost. Conversely there can be some advantage to getting quieter game viewing before other vehicles get to the area. Of course if other vehicles do not arrive you are probably missing something closer to the main gate.
  11. http://www.daily-mail.co.zm/wildlife-conservation-paying-dividends-in-luangwa-valley/ ~ This June, 2017 editorial published in Zambia Daily Mail explains the vital support given by non-governmental organizations to Zambia's Department of National Parks and Wildlife. Conservation South Luangwa, a Zambian registered NGO, offers ant-poaching and wildlife veterinary support. They've protected wild dogs through extensive anti-snare work.
  12. Well here I am again. The safari itch has gotten to me. This is an improvement: usually I'm ready to book the next one about a month after I get home. I made it four months this time. Safari #5 is in the conception phase! For the "next one" I'm considering Zambia in June 2018. I am however, somewhat confused by where I should look in terms of regions. Too many trip reports are too enticing. I'll have 10 weekdays at my disposal, max and I'm trying to work the late May Monday holiday in to squeeze out a bit more time. It may be just me, but likely will include my most recent safari, intrepid gorilla trekking friend Kim, depending on itinerary and pricing. My only priority is big cats with elephants a close second. From what I gather lions and leopards are common in South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi (?) Given my ridiculously good success with cat sightings in the Mara, am I going to have comparable experiences here, or have I seen "it" in terms of cats? One stunning trip report here (apologies I forget whose it was) had wonderful leopard sightings in Zambia. I know nothing is assured...but generally speaking? If I see dogs and elephants, fine too, but not #1 priority. And what part of South Luangwa (or Zambia generally) would you recommend, if you were planning this? And not to sound like too much of a newbie but is it even worth considering splitting time between, say, South Luangwa in Zambia and Chobe in Botswana linked by a day or two at Victoria Falls, or would you keep them separate trips? So I guess my questions are, good time of year? I'm looking for the equivalent crowd experience to the Mara in February where it's excellent game with lower crowds, is June that time?. Also want the cats. Any recommendations for camps in the mid-range...no basic camping but not high end Richard Branson style. (I tentatively have my eye on Kuyenda Camp, Chindeni Camp and Mfuwe Bush Lodge, feedback welcome and alternatives desired!) I just want to have my thoughts in order from you all before I turn this over to my safari planner. Thank you in advance.
  13. In two months and a couple of days, we will be winging our way to Kenya! I cannot wait and have nothing left to plan!! I am thrilled that a friend from work and her high-school aged daughter decided to join us at the last minute, which should make the experience that much better (unless I drive her bonkers with my many exclamations.) My boss is retiring at the end of the school year and she considered going with us too; the timing wasn't right as we leave two days after school gets out and she has to stay through the end of June. So now I am wondering about a "next safari," when I haven't gone on the first one yet! What say you, collective Safari Gurus? This might be a teacher's trip, so probably shorter than the 2 weeks that I'm going this year. Daughter will be doing an internship next summer so I won't have to work around her schedule, although we will be pretty much restricted to mid-June to early-August again. PS That we I in the title is going to drive me bonkers. Can someone fix it to we?
  14. Hi there, has anybody recommendation for hotel in the vicinity of Lusaka airport? How about transfer from and to airport? I´ve heard that this should be expensive. Thanks all Thomas
  15. Having had a fantastic safari last year in Tanzania( Selous, Ruaha, Katavi, Serengeti - report posted in Trip reports , Tanzania ), we have now decided our next safari will be ( provisionally ) to Zambia in 2017. We are thinking of two weeks -most likely to include South Luangwa and Kafue. We have never been to Zambia before ( other than Victoria Falls), so would welcome comments, advice , suggestions, tips, etc , regarding locations, camps,time of year , etc. Early days yet but two things are decided for definite, we will be booking it with ATR and the maximum budget, excluding international flights, will be £6000 ($9000) per person. Obviously I can get a lot of info from ATR's website but would also prefer to have, as well, the advice of those of you who have been there. All suggestions welcome, please.....
  16. Kasanka, Bangweulu, and Liuwa are phenomenal multi-dimensional nature destinations and definitely off the beaten path. As a solo traveler, the small group trips (6 max) provided by Robin Pope Safaris (RPS) were an ideal way to share fixed costs. The two trips I combined delivered superior quality in every respect. You can also drive to all these locations on your own or with a guide. Originally, I contacted esteemed guide, Rod Tether, of the famous and former Kutandala and now of Zambian Expeditions (rod@zambianexpeditions.com) about a private or group trip to a few Zambia locations in November. The RPS excursions were the logical results of our discussions. ........... Kasanka..................................................................................................................................Shoebill Island, Bangweulu......................................................................................................................................Liuwa
  17. I'm curious, has anyone been to Kasanka NP in Zambia? and if so, what did you think of it?
  18. Working on planning 1st safari. Looking for some feedback from all of you who have visited southern Africa, especially if you have been there in December. If you were going in the first half of December and you want at least one camp/lodge (they could be at the same place or different places for each of the items listed) where you could do or have: a walking safari get on the water in a boat or canoe to view wildlife go on a night drive get up close and personal with the animals watching from a hide sit on a deck at camp/lodge and watch elephants or giraffe (or other wildlife but those would be our favs) walk through great game drives with experienced, knowledgeable guides feel like you are really experiencing what you envision "wild Africa" to be great African décor or quirky, fun accommodations Which of the following places would be your favorites --- both reserves/parks and feel free to share if you have favorite a camp/lodge that you have stayed at there? Botswana - Chobe National Park Botswana - Mashatu Game Reserve Botswana - Moremi Wildlife Reserve Botswana - Okavango Delta South Africa - Kruger National Park South Africa - private reserve near Kruger (if so, please say which one) Victoria Falls (stay on the Zambia or Zimbabwe side? And stay in town or on a property that also has wildlife?) Zambia - Lower Zambezi Zambia - Mosi Oa Tunya Park Zimbabwe - Hwange Zimbabwe - Matusadona Feel free to add a park/reserve if there is one we should consider but not on the list, especially if you have a camp/lodge you recommend there. I ruled out Mana Pools in Zimbabwe because of the time of year we are going but am open to considering it if others have gone in December with good wildlife experiences. We are looking for different experiences at each location and probably 4 different reserves/parks staying 3-4 nights at each. The focus is wildlife but also would like different accommodation experiences such as one with a tent, a tent on a raised platform, a hut/cabin, and/or a lodge but all with en suite toilets and at least sinks for washing up. Outdoor shower would be fine. We are not interested in mobile camping, really want the place to be more permanent. Hoping as it's the green season we can also find some good deals with cheaper prices or free night special. We do have a budget but I am interested to hear what places you would rank among your top choices, where you think you can get great value and where it may be worth splurging a little for a few nights. Thanks in advance.
  19. For anyone interested in a safari to the Kafue National Park in Zambia check out our new video which should hopefully give those of you who have always wondered what it might actually look or feel like a glimpse in to what is on offer in this truly wild, truly world class wildlife destination... We still have space have space for the 2016 season (although September/October is all but full) and as such if you need a little nudge to get away on safari this year and are looking for something a little different to the 'norm' then feel free to contact me for more information and for special offers... With warm regards from the Kafue! Tyrone McKeith info@jefferymckeith.com www.jefferymckeith.com +26 0974173403 tyrone.mckeith (skype)
  20. Who has attended/participated in a formal photographic safari? Did you like it? What did you get out of it? How was it similar to or different from other wildlife-focused trips you've taken? Would you do it again, under the same circumstances? Having done one, would you do a second? My questions are based, in part, on my looking into a possible trip to Zambia next year. If my wife decides she's unable to go, either because of the timing or because she doesn't want to blow another 10-12 grand on a trip to Africa, one option is for me to go alone. If I go alone, I'd seriously consider a green-season photographic safari. I'm not really a photographer, but I'm a guy who has had cameras for many years. I like the idea of a solo trip having a more defined focus (so to speak), and it's quite likely I wouldn't do a true wet-season trip to Africa if my primary interest were in seeing tons of wildlife. I'm not good at "resting" during the middle of the day, so I think I'd sort pf like being able to stay out for full days at a time. I'm not mentioning specific names or locations, as I don't want this to be a "How was your experience with Photographer X?" thread. That said, if you had a really good experience, I think it's fair for you to mention any specifics you think are pertinent. Thanks in advance for any thoughts. -tom a.
  21. Now that I'm back from the Mara, its time to start planning the next trip. We are looking at South Luangwa/Lower Zambezi in 2017 and have the option to go either the first weeks in August, or the first weeks in September (we can't go late August due to a family event.) My agent has sent me an itinerary as follows: 3 nights Amanzi camp (Lower Zambezi) 3 nights Bilimungwe Bushcamp 4 nights Tena Tena First of all, how does that sound insofar as combination of camps? We'd love more nights but this is already at the top of our budget. (And our tour operator has already gotten us some free nights with special offers, like 3 for 2 at Amanzi, and 4 for 3 Tena Tena.) I guess we could substitute Tena Tena for a less expensive camp, like Lion Camp, to eek out more days, but I'm concerned with the possibility of six in a vehicle at Lion Camp; Tena Tena promises no more than 4. I don't see much about Amanzi camp, I know its new as of 2015. Anyone have any experience with it? Our interests are birds, leopards, wild dogs (unlikely, although I have read there was a pack near Tena Tena this season!), any more unusual critters, and of course, photography. (Would have loved to use Kaingo, for the hides, but beyond our budget. We are also keen to do some walking, finally...after many Africa safaris confined to vehicles! But not TOO much walking as its not really best for photography. As for timing...would early Sept be substantially hotter than early August? What might be the differences in wildlife sightings? I know we'd have a better chance at the Carmine Bee-eater colonies in September, but if the cost is going to be excessive heat, we might be better off in early August. Thanks for any insights.
  22. Busanga plains. The North West corner of Kafue National Park and an iconic area. Three years ago we visited Busanga in May and it was lush green with water everywhere and we had to travel in to the plains by mokoro. It was a bit of a emotional trip as we were collecting belongings we had left there the year before. The end of three years working there and having some incredible experiences and leaving some real friends there was quite a tug. In fact canoeing out in the stunning scenery and birdlife was really like the end of an era for us and a bit of welling up might have been seen in Julia's eyes. So three years later here we are planning a Busanga trip. Julia's mother and a friend were out to visit us and we thought that it would be time to go back. Now if it was just us we would have headed up with the roof tent and roughed it at Kapinga with the guys from NamibSky (who stay for three months and do the ballooning for Wilderness Safaris). But camping is not really their thing in the heat of October so Mukambi very kindly came up with a good rate for the Plains Camp for three nights. untitled shoot-19095.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr A quick bit of general Busanga background: There are three permanent camps in Busanga (which generally is estimated to comprise 730sq kms). Shumba and Busanga Bush Camp are both Wilderness properties while Plains camp is owned by Mukambi. Plains camp is the furthest North of the three and in the beginning of the season is reached by a massively long boardwalk over the swamps. The Busanga season is a short one – 4 or 5 months maximum. The whole area is inundated with water from December through to June, and while it is absolutely stunning then it is impossible to operate. The area is deservedly referred to as the 'jewel of the Kafue' and to be honest it is. There is simply no question that the unique area offers something that the rest of the park (and the Luangwas and Lower Zambezi) just cannot match. It can be simply mind blowing. The sheer intensity of life there is incredible. Yes, early season if the lions disappear across the Lufupa channel then it can be 'quiet' for those seeking predator action, but the multitudes of birds and lechwe in the plains is amazing. I digress a bit. Anyway, the ladies were fortunate in that they could jump on a flight up from Chunga while I was driving. I elected to take the Western Boundary road which is exactly that – a road used by DNPW to deploy scout teams, sometimes a hunting safari and as a logistical route to the plains. It is a much faster (but more boring) route than the conventional 'spinal' road from the hook bridge up. So I dropped them off at the strip to wait for the plane and headed off. Four hours later I am now heading East, along the treeline and then turning North again into the plains. To be honest at this time of year the plains are a bit underwhelming when you arrive at the edge. In fact it resembles more the salt pans of Botswana than anything else! untitled shoot-18188.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr I bimble across the plains and before long I am seeing roan and (of course) lechwe in the dozens and dozens and some roan. But to be honest by this point I just want to get to camp, rendezvous with everyone and get a shower... The mid day light is also really harsh. untitled shoot-18195.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr I arrive at the camp to be greeted by Erko (apologies if I have spelled wrongly) and told that there is some mechanical drama with the plane so the ladies will not be arriving until much later. Erko is helping out for a few weeks with camp management (his real life consists of film making in Holland). So the rest of the afternoon is just spent wandering around. Edjan (Mukambi MD) has made some great changes to the camp since I last saw it - not least the spectacular elevated viewing lounge high up in the massive fig tree that the main area sits under. I have to confess I might have had a couple of Mosi up there while waiting for the rest of the party to arrive. untitled shoot-18256.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18260.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr The camp itself is four tents which are generously sized meru style under big canvas awnings that provide plenty shade for seating out the front. There are outdoor bucket shower bathrooms reached down a small grass corridor outside each tent. Comfy beds, great linen (can't believe I am writing this!) and as much as you need but not getting into the realm of 'luxury'. Tasteful. Thankfully no solid copper baths or personal waiter service here! Just a proper safari bush camp. The main area has lounge areas, is all up on an elevated deck and has a firepit down at the end of a boardwalk. It is everything that my dream Busanga bushcamp would be..... ;-) As careful readers of Caracal's Kafue trip report might know I like plumbing. I know that not all trip reports include bathrooms, but mine does. untitled shoot-18225.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18211.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18255.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr The ladies roll in around 18:30 after a great slow drive up from the airfield. A couple of drinks around the fire, meet the other two guests in camp and then a great dinner and bed! untitled shoot-19446.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr 05:00 wakeup call. What a pleasure to be on the receiving end rather than the giving end! A quick slice of toast and some filter coffee and off. Well, not before the obligitory lechwe with the rising sun... To be honest this works a LOT better in the winter months with the mist. The haze now is smoke from the bush fires. I had forgotten how much cooler it is in the plains in the evenings, at night and the early mornings. It makes sleeping a pleasure! But a sweater is a must. Unless you are forgetful like me. Fortunately at this time of year the cold lasts for about 15 seconds. untitled shoot-18508.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18495.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr We are driving with guide Powell (fairly new to Mukambi and the plains) and the other two guests in camp (a charming Kenyan/French couple who are into everything, just like us). First sighting (lechwe and hippo excluded) is a rosy-throated longclaw. This bird is tiny but spectacular and is a regular sighting in the plains. untitled shoot-18517.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr A few minutes later an elephant. When we were in the plains to be honest the elephant sightings were not as common as what our impression is now. Speaking to the various guides at various camps over the next couple of days backs this feeling up. The big Kapinga herd are still a bit spooked, but there is no shortage of fairly relaxed bulls wandering around the plains – which is really encouraging. We head off around 'acacia island' looking for lions but quickly we figure out that the heat and the wind have driven them into the shade of the long grass so they won't be showing until maybe the afternoon. untitled shoot-18527.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr We start heading slowly back North towards camp and encounter some fantastic pools packed with hippos. Hippos in Busanga break all the so called rules: it is not uncommon to see herds of them wandering around in daylight (yes, I know they are not really 'herds'). There are a fair old number of them around too. A fair number of side-striped jackals are seen as well. untitled shoot-18593.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18607.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18447.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr We get back to camp around 10:30 (after setting of at 06:00) for a very good brunch with a great lasagna and fresh salad and rock shandies. If my morning drive description seems brief and the sightings few, then this is the wrong impression! I am too busy soaking up just the atmosphere of being back to really photograph and note what I am seeing. To be honest the heat and haze is such that the camera was pretty much put away at 09:30 as anything not really close is just too soft. As we are about to have our brunch I spot old friends out driving so walk out over the boardwalk to arrange a rendezvous for the afternoon....
  23. The annual bat migration at Kasanka National Park is starting soon, and it is one of the most amazing sights in Southern Africa. While becoming more popular every year, it is still considered one of the "secrets" of the safari world. Each year towards the end of October, one of the greatest mammalian migrations in the world takes place at Kasanka National Park. This little known migration is of approximately ten million straw-coloured fruit bats (Eidolon helvum). For several weeks starting around Zambia’s October 24th Independence Day, thousands of colonies of these herbivorous bats start making the park their home. More and more bats continue to come until the numbers reach their zenith towards the middle of November. It is believed that the majority of these bats come from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and some also come from Uganda and elsewhere around Africa. Each night just as the sun is setting, the multitude of bats begins to take off into the night in search of food. The area around Kasanka National Park is full of indigenous and exotic fruits. In November, the main fruits that are ripe are mangoes, waterberries, and mpundu. Each night, the bats go out (up to 100 kilometers!) to feast on fruits and return in the early morning hours. During the migration, Kasanka offers special bat walks. These bat walks are an opportunity to get a little bit closer to the bats and see them while they roost. Due to the sensitive nature of the colony, this tour is only available for small groups, and you must be accompanied by a scout and a guide. There are several vantage points to see the bats take off on their nightly excursion. Near Fibwe Hide there are a few benches and a smaller hide that faces the main roost. You can also go down near the stream, but there is no seating here. Similar to the bat walk, you can hire a scout and a guide to get a little closer with two new hides located in the forest. The guides are well informed about the bats, and can answer any questions you have. The straw-coloured fruit bat is the most widely spread fruit bat species in Africa. These bats are huge, with wingspans of up to one meter, which makes them easy to see even from long distances. The average weight of these bats is usually about eight to twelve ounces and the body grows to 5.7 to 9 inches in length. They get their name from their yellowish colour. These bats serve an important role in the ecological system as both pollinators and seed dispersers. The straw-coloured fruit bats at Kasanka National Park have been the focus several international media outlets, including the BBC and National Geographic. For the video produced by the BBC, visit their website at http://www.bbc.co.uk...it_Bat#p004vb0b. This video has lots of great information about the bats, and some great video as well. Lodging is available during the bat season at both Wasa and Luwombwa Lodges. There are also two campsites within the park, as well as lodging at the Mulaushi Community, Research, and Conservation Centre. For more information on lodging at the park, visit www.kasanka.com or email wasa@kasanka.com. Kasanka National Park is also home to a number of mammals and birds. I believe the most recent tally of bird species spotted at the park is over 460. In addition, elephants, hippos, crocs, and lots of different antelope species can be spotted. Kasanka is well known for the large population of sitatunga that can usually be seen. These slightly akward antelope are swamp dwellers and can be seen at several places in the park, including the Fibwe Hide and along the Kasanka River. Other attractions near Kasanka include the David Livingstone Memorial, which marks the spot where David Livingstone died in 1873, Kundalila Falls, Lake Waka Waka, and the Bangweulu Wetlands. For more information about these other attractions and accomodation, visit nsoberoute.wordpress.com or http://www.openafric...o-Tourism-Route. To get to Kasanka National Park, continue on the Great North Road past Serenje for about forty kilometers to the Mukando Junction. There is a small worn sign for Kasanka National Park, but the best landmark for this turnoff is the giant Apple Max sign. Kasanka is another fifty-five kilometers to the north. There is a big sign on the left side of the road indicating you have reached the park. Both tarmac roads were repaved about six months ago and are still in good shape. This post has been promoted to an article
  24. I just signed the petition: "STOP GOVERNMENT WHO IS LIFTING BAN ON THE HUNTING OF LIONS AND LEOPARDS IN ZAMBIA'S GAME PARKS" Will you join me in supporting this issue? http://www.thepetitionsite.com/840/418/945/stop-government-who-is-lifting-ban-on-the-hunting-of-lions-and-leopards-in-zambias-game-parks/
  25. Grant Cumings Grant Cumings and his family, who pioneered safaris in Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park, own and operate Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro, reputed by those in the know to be one of Africa's finest safari operations with Best in Africa award winning hospitality and guiding. Grant is Zambian born and, aside from formal education, has spent much of his life exploring Zambia's wildernesses. He is an Honorary Wildlife Officer, a Trustee, board member and past Chairman of Conservation Lower Zambezi, and established the Lower Zambezi's safari guide training program, examinations and code of conduct. You can discover more about Old Mondoro and Chiawa Camp at his website - www.chiawa.com ------------------------ What is the history of your family in Zambia? Long or short version? My Mum and Dad, (who thankfully are still with us), came to Northern Rhodesia as it was then in 1962 on their honeymoon from South Africa, fell for the place and never left. Dad was an international judoka and he fought as the Zambian champion all over the world for many years. He set up a successful transport business, though we went into the bush frequently as before getting married he lived for three years in Tanganyika working as a field geologist and these years effected him deeply, giving him his passion for the bush. I was educated privately, did a business degree in the US, and then returned to Zambia to not only work in the family business but with a view to establishing a safari operation, the bush also having become my first passion. Your family own and manage both Chiawa and Old Mondoro Camps in the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia – what is the history of both camps? Chiawa Camp: Rather than look to setting up a safari operation where others already were such as in the Kafue and Luangwa we wanted to be different and pioneer something special. Although the Lower Zambezi NP was a green mark on Zambia's map it was not managed, developed or visited as such. So after one of many fishing and camping trips exploring the area we applied to the National Parks service for permission to open the first tourism company in the Lower Zambezi NP. To cut a long story short we eventually obtained permission, opened a bush camp in 1989, (called it Chiawa Camp), at the prime site in the park and started better exploring the area. We found more animals than we expected but also found poachers so this problem had to be resolved and is what kick started our interest and activity in conservation. It took many years for us to clear out enough of the poachers to make the LZNP a viable tourism destination by which time other camps had followed us in but we are proud to say that Chiawa Camp is still very much the leader of the pack in the Lower Zambezi on all counts. Old Mondoro: An opportunity presented itself when Tongabezi which had established Sausage Tree camp in 1996 handed back its lease for a second site which it had operated for a couple of years as Potato Bush camp, to the Zambia Wildlife Authority. By 2001 Jason Mott had gone into partnership with one of their clients who had bought Sausage Tree and we agreed to do a joint venture and develop a bush camp that would service both Chiawa Camp and Sausage Tree. One thing led to another and as Chiawa Camp was supplying most of the business to Old Mondoro, we bought out Jason's shares and Old Mondoro is now wholly owned and operated by us. Since then Old Mondoro's reputation has gone from strength to strength and is a perfect addition to any visit to the Lower Zambezi, most especially when combined with a visit at Chiawa Camp. What are the differences between the two camps, in terms of quality of accomodation, guiding standards, location and the safari experience offered to your guests? Chiawa Camp is very much the flagship safari camp of the Lower Zambezi. Sixteen beds, large tents with every feature you can think of, (except air con), an award winning guiding team, an amazing history, conservation connection and presence - and TLC galore for its lucky guests. Its location of being in the Lower Zambezi National Park and looking out at another National Park, ie Mana Pools NP makes it almost unique - you will have to look on the map to see what other camp holds the same privilege. Old Mondoro is a bush camp with excellent standards of hosting, activity choice, accommodation, hygiene, meals and guiding. Its small size of eight beds makes it ideal to book out on an exclusive basis and is a more intimate, more connected with the bush safari experience than Chiawa. The locations differ greatly, at Chiawa the habitat & vegetation is more varied, more interesting, with multiple eco zones being passed through on a walk or drive. The Zambezi is at its widest point, (for the Zambezi Valley), at Chiawa Camp and this is where the majority of the lions are. At Old Mondoro the habitat is less varied but more open, with plains and huge groves of winterthorn trees. The river is narrower at Old Mondoro though no less beautiful. Fewer lions but made up for with, (usually), multiple daily leopard sightings. What is the ecological footprint of each camp and their eco credentials? Too much to list in one paragraph here, I have pages and pages on our website - have a look at www.chiawa.com/conservation However in a nutshell we focus on ensuring the LZNP remains a great place for safari afficianado's to visit - by this Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro lead the way in the LZNP, (and in some cases in Africa), through considerate guiding with discrete approaches and viewing, (a disturbed sighting is a failed sighting), developing new protocols, (PDF website link),such as our two light system on night drives (a red filtered light is used for finding and viewing wildlife, and a diffuse filter is used for photography making for very much less invasive night drives), developing and lobbying for improved angling techniques, (PDF website link), so that the tigerfish can recover to previous numbers - unfortunately we are a very small minority, perhaps the sole operation in the entire Lower Zambezi, that is committed to more responsible practices - other camps don't care, don't want to know, couldn't be bothered but slowly slowly catch ye the monkey. Or so they say. What are your favourite memories of the early days setting up operations in the Lower Zambezi National Park? The sense of discovery, having this amazing wilderness area all to ourselves, the sense of achievement in opening the Lower Zambezi's first safari camp, the incredible tiger fishing, having our first anti-poaching and conservation successes - the interesting, fabulous people we have met, (and still meet), along this incredible journey. What was the park like back then compared to now? No airfields, no game viewing trails, just virgin bush and river. No one else was there, we had radios in our boats and vehicles to communicate with camp but there was no one else to talk to so although it was a fantastic privilege for us to have it to ourselves for the first four years it was also kind of lonely and we had to be utterly self reliant. There was a lot more poaching going on, and a mega-lion pride of over 42 individuals dominated the western side of the park - I think 48 cats was the biggest we remember it getting to - but this split up into three sub prides over the years as until then they had been feasting on poached ele carcasses. The reduction in poaching must have made meal times more difficult for them. We see more elephants now, in smaller family groups, and which are generally very relaxed - in the old days it was large herds of stressed elephants that would charge us en-masse! One of the down sides, aside from seeing a few other vehicles on activity, is the much deteriorated fishing - despite catch & release, fishing stresses and injures fish and too many boats fishing with outdated methods all year and without a care for the resource is wreaking havoc on the quality of the fishing experience. What have been your most memorable experiences whilst guiding in the park? Multiple experiences come to mind: Watching a young male leopard one afternoon sitting on a branch above my vehicle devour a leopard cub from head to tail although this was a cub that had been dead sometime it was horrific but captivating. The video made it onto various tv shows Watching a young buffalo caught in a shallow lagoon by a large crocodile, its bellowing got the attention of two hyenas that sat on either side of our game viewing vehicle watching with us, and then the hyenas took off and out of the long grass came a big male lion who then lay down next to our vehicle to watch and wait as the buff would bellow and pull, almost escape but not quite as at the last moment the croc would whip its tail around and whack the poor thing on the head. This went on for about an hour so we left the scene as it was - returned the next morning there was no croc, no buff, no lion, no hyena, nothing - as if the lagoon was deserted and had always been. 25 years and too many stories to repeat - come see for yourself. What does living and working in one of Zambia’s wilderness areas mean to you? What are your own wildlife passions and what gives you most pleasure/satisfaction when guiding a client? Zambia's wilderness areas are relatively unspoiled and are a pleasure and privilege to work in however they run the risk, at least the good, well known ones, of becoming over visited and over developed thanks to weak management planning & too many safari operators taking the short term view. My personal and professional challenge is to try protect the Lower Zambezi NP from this, to make it self sustaining on a high value, low volume basis, and ensure its beauty and wilderness aesthetic remain forever. Opening a client's, (we call them guests at Chiawa & Old Mondoro), eyes to a new experience, new information and having them genuinely appreciate it - having our guests see for themselves and appreciate the conservation steps we take to protect the Lower Zambezi - these circumstances give me the greatest pleasure when guiding a client. There is one exception to this however, I met my wife Lynsey, who came to Chiawa Camp nearly 20 years ago as a client; this has to be the best result I had from guiding a client/guest! What is your client demographic, ie first time safari goer, someone with more experience etc? How can you appeal to a more general audience and how important is it that agents market you correctly? Chiawa is 25 years old this year, and over time has learnt to tick a lot of important boxes consistently so it has quite a following! We get them all, from all over the world, all ages and all levels of experience. Chiawa Camp appeals to anyone who wants a top quality safari experience, with top guides, accommodation, activities and facilities without it being OTT. As such we have earned an enviable reputation for being at the top of our game - this comes with a price - the expectation is therefore very high and we have to deliver every time; additionally agents need to explain to their customers that despite Chiawa's stellar reputation this is not a fancy boutique hotel in the bush - we remain true to our roots in that we are an authentic safari camp, albeit a really good one. What can a first time visitor to the Lower Zambezi National Park expect to experience, to see? What do you personally consider to be the park’s highlights? Elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, hippo - the river and perhaps catch a tigerfish with a herd of elephants and a pod of hippos cheering you on whilst a croc will be lurking nearby trying to claim your prize, or you(!) - the escarpment; the variety of safari activities, (day and night drives, walks, canoeing, fishing, game viewing by boat), - fabulous scenery and wildlife in all kinds of circumstances make for memorable experiences and photos. You can see elephants and lions in lots of places but where else do you get to see elephants and lions from a canoe whilst having to dodge hippos and crocs at the same time? How does a safari in the Lower Zambezi National Park differ from one of the more popular destinations, whether it be in Zambia or elsewhere? Nowhere else offers the diversity of activities or the scenery, being able to enjoy wildlife and a river like that at the same time. However the Luangwa has amazing densities and the Kafue amazing variety of wildlife so they all need to be visited. How do clients usually include either Old Mondoro and Chiawa camps into a more extensive Zambia itinerary? For instance, should one begin or end with you? Old Mondoro and Chiawa Camp combine perfectly as they complement each other perfectly, as if they have been paired by a master chef! Plus we offer some amazing combo deals such as stay 7 and pay 5. Ideally start at Chiawa and end at Old Mondoro. As part of a master itinerary we recommend visiting the Lower Zambezi at the end of a safari purely because the river has so much additional benefit to offer. What is the update to the ongoing story of Copper mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park and how worried are you that this project will eventually go ahead? What would be the impact on both Zambia and the Mana Pools side of the river? Tough question as it's become unfortunately politically charged and now it's in Court so I don't know what I can or can't say without compromising myself. I am aware however of a scientifically based and well researched document that has been circulated which demonstrates that the proposed mine is not in Zambia's best interest. Aside from the potential mining, what other threats are there to the wildlife in the park and how many cases of human vs wildlife conflict occur on the park’s peripheries? What can be done to negate such issues? The Lower Zambezi NP has large buffers on either end of it thanks to the Chiawa & Rufunsa GMA's respectively so from a human wildlife conflict aspect, one has to look further afield where Conservation Lower Zambezi, of which I am a proud Trustee, Board member and founder member is working closely with communities to learn and mitigate. No real solutions are on the table however, at the end of the day too many people living and farming in elephant/hippo country results in loss - loss of crops, livelihoods, life, (human and wildlife). Within the park we monitor closely the state of the habitat and indicator species such as the predators and elephant however an in depth ecological study is long over due - we need a base line survey and some recommendations to take this park through the next 25 years. How do you interact with ZAWA and other conservation and tourism stakeholders in assisting conservation efforts in the park? This is generally a success story where Conservation Lower Zambezi, which gets its base funding and sustainability from the safari camps, and the Zambia Wildlife Authority coordinate and cooperate to ensure we get maximum conservation activity delivered where it counts for the resources available. CLZ has become a regional role model and where for instance its model is being replicated, (not always successfully), elsewhere, in Zambia, Ethiopia and Mozambique. How can photographic safari tourism help protect Africa’s wilderness areas if the resources below ground trump what is overground? Photographic could not protect a wilderness from a mega-below-ground find such as oil which might change the fortunes of a country but it should easily be able to stand on its own two feet when pitted against marginal mineral strikes, agriculture and, (in some areas), safari hunting. What of Zambia’s marginal wildlife areas? How can photo tourism benefit not only conservation in such places but also the rural communities which exist close to or within? Photo tourism destinations require some wow factor as the market is extremely competitive full of amazing places to visit. Marginal areas are unlikely in the short term to be able to benefit from photo tourism except if these were to be leased out on long term basis to corporates and individuals with the means and vision to rehabilitate them. These areas are only marginal because they have suffered at the hand of man but nature has amazing restorative powers if left alone. Such projects, and there are some excellent examples, require ample patience and cash. Alternatively well managed safari hunting can have a beneficial role to play in such areas. How do you interact with local communities and what percentage of your staff come from villages bordering the park? What positions do they hold and what training and advancement do you offer? The nearest village is 50kms from us so we do not interact very closely on a day to day basis except through our staff; at least 70% of our staff in camp are employed from the local area, most will have been hired on as general workers and the more skilled ones trained up into positions such as chefs, waiters and barmen, river guides and safari guides. We take training seriously and most especially chefs and guides receive annual training. We were the first and currently remain the only safari camp in the Lower Zambezi to employ women into the general ranks. Generally safari camps have female hosts and managers and these tend to come from Lusaka or from other countries however, unlike say Botswana and South Africa, due to cultural perceptions women were never hired to do general work in the safari camps. Chiawa Camp has women in laundry, housekeeping and waitering departments with more to follow in 2015. Perhaps our biggest success story is regarding Daniel Susiku who started working for me as a night watchman straight out of school about twelve years ago - he is now Chiawa Camp's head guide and activities manager, and his star is still rising. If you were to go on safari as a guest yourself, what would be your expectations from both the property you stay at and the guide? What would be you criteria for choosing a destination, property and guide? This varies widely depending on the personal requirements of each individual and which is why I feel booking through a reputable agent is so important - getting the right guests into the right camps is their primary role. Location, wildlife, guiding quality, camp quality, (including reliable and sufficient equipment - too many camps are under staffed and under equipped), and then of course a camp's commitment to the wildlife, habitat and local communities should be key. What is your opinion on the whole ebola issue and how has it affected safari tourism in Zambia as a whole? What about your operation personally: what about next season, has there been a knock on effect and if so what are you doing to counter it? What message have you for readers possibly concerned about booking a safari for next year? The Ebola issue is serious, no doubt, and it needs to be stopped in its tracks however it has been blown out of proportion by the press in that diarrhea and malaria tragically kill many multiples more people in Africa than Ebola. I guess Ebola makes a better story but unfortunately this has caused many cancellations and non-bookings with many travel agents saying this is worse than 9/11. Fortunately our bookings remain robust for next season but we are mindful that this could change quickly. I hope Ebola's spread stops, but if it does not and an outbreak was to be declared in Zambia with associated travel warnings, then we would refund any deposits received and guests could cancel without liability. We would rather refund some money in the unlikely event Ebola makes it way into the region than for guests not to book in case there might be an outbreak ... Photos in this interview courtesy and copyright of Grant Cumings and camp photos copyright and care of www.squiver.com. The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk. This post has been promoted to an article

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