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Found 3 results

  1. I have been a bit reluctant to start this trip report because there have been so many excellent reports out of Zambia and specifically South Luangwa lately...will folks really be keen to read another? And what can I say that will be different? Well, as it turns out, my husband and I had a bit of a different take on this safari destination...perhaps our expectations were too high, or we chose the wrong camps, or we just got unlucky...but in the end we both agreed that OVERALL it was our least satisfying safari experience to date. But all is not negative...far from it. We certainly had some excellent and memorable sightings, and in retrospect there's no such thing as a truly "bad" safari, as just being out in the bush is wonderful...and far better than sitting around at home dreaming of Africa....but given that this was also our most costly safari to date, we just felt it didn't deliver as we expected. I will add right up front that we absolutely loved Lower Zambezi...and in fact much preferred our time there over South Luangwa. What!! I hear everyone exclaiming Well, keep reading to see why. We traveled Aug 31-September 14. Our itinerary was: 4 nights Lower Zambezi at Amanzi Camp 3 nights South Luangwa at Bilimungwe Camp 4 nights South Luangwa at Tena Tena Camp 3 nights Victoria Falls at the Avani Hotel I had heard so much about South Luangwa, and read so many excellent trip reports, with so many people stating it as their favorite park in Africa, that I knew this had to be our next safari destination. We had considered it years ago when we were planning a November trip, but chickened out due to the heat, and decided at that time we wouldn't go unless we could go in peak season, before "suicide season." I was also excited by the idea of the walking-focus of the park, and was keen to finally get out of the vehicle and explore by foot, after so many stuck-in-vehicle safaris. I had imaginings of the thrill of coming upon wild dogs on foot, or elephants...maybe I was getting these ideas more from Mana Pools trips, but somehow I thought it would be similar. Well, that didn't happen...more on that later. As for Lower Zambezi, I was attracted by the option of doing some boating activities...which I find so relaxing...and seeing the contrast with SLNP. Even though others had said sightings weren't as good there as in SLNP...we felt if we were coming all this way we should at least check it out. So glad we did! Everything was booked through Bill Given at The Wild Source. Originally in South Luangwa I had hoped to stay at Kaingo, mainly for their focus on photography and their hides, but it was way out of our budget in high season. Fortunately, we were able to get some specials: four nights for the price of three at Amanzi and also at Tena Tena. Our original itinerary didn't include Victoria Falls, as we were already topping out our budget; and this time of year the falls would not be at their best; but several months after booking (and just before buying our air tickets) I just decided to go for it...when I realized we could fly directly home from Livingstone on South African Airways at no additional cost from flying home from Lusaka. I'm glad we did. We enjoyed being at the falls, had some adventures (stay tuned ), and those last few days took a bit of the sting out of our experiences in SLNP. The long tiring trip from JFK to JNB to Lusaka went smoothly on South African Airways, and we easily made the connection to our ProFlight fight to Jeki airstrip in Lower Zambezi National Park. Of course, as always, all my fears about overweight camera bags were for bags weren't weighed and somehow everything gets crammed in, either in the back of the plane or under-seat. We were on our way! We were met at Jeki by our guide Lawrence, who told us that the drive would be around 1-1/2 hours to camp--that is, if we didn't stop. Since we arrived at Jeki at around 4:30, we knew we wouldn't arrive at camp until dark. But what we never dreamed of was how productive this very first drive would be! We stopped a lot I didn't take many photos initially as the light was fading and we were traveling a bit quickly to get to camp. We passed a very large herd of buffalo in the open grasslands near the airstrip, and some zebras, but as we got further away from Jeki the terrain started to change dramatically, and we entered into deep forest. Its here that things started to get interesting. It was getting quite dark by now, when Lawrence spotted something.... He seemed very wary...but not of us... Lawrence thought there must be lions around, and sure enough, shortly we heard some distant roars. The light was dimming, we stayed watching the leopard...would the lions get closer? Soon the spotlight came out... I was thrilled to be getting my dream shots...leopard on a termite night...what a start!! Shortly after this, the leopard got up and walked towards the distant trees...we followed a bit but he entered the forest, over a gully we couldn't cross, and we really needed to get to camp. So we started back to the main road. But not before we found the lions who had been causing the leopard such anxiety! There were a pair of two magnificent males! We stayed with them for a while but eventually had to get to camp...dinner was long awaiting. But there was to be one last exciting sighting..... A life mammal! Wow, Lower Zambezi had delivered in spades already and we hadn't even seen it in daylight yet! Soon we arrived at camp, and we couldn't see much of it in the dark, but we were already thrilled with our choice of Amanzi.
  2. 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
  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: 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.

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