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Julian

Zambia 2017 - Advice, suggestions, etc - Please

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Posted (edited)

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.....

Edited by Julian

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Hi @@Julian I think your budget is tight. The internal flights are expensive, so limiting to one park would save on cost. Also Zambia has recently added VAT to room rates (15 or 16% I think). However, if you used one chain of camps, this leads to long stay discounts. As with most destinations, dry season (aug-oct) is usually suggested, but there is an increasing green season trade (they call it emerald season). We have been twice (in september) and both times combined SLNP with Lower Zambezi, which is a nice combination of wet and dry and also was an easy connection to the now sadly defunct direct BA flight from Lusaka....

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@@Julian...we were in South Luangwa last august/September. I did a trip report titled "South Luangwa". We had a great experience and are looking forward to returning in the future.

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Hi @@Julian I think your budget is tight. The internal flights are expensive, so limiting to one park would save on cost. Also Zambia has recently added VAT to room rates (15 or 16% I think). However, if you used one chain of camps, this leads to long stay discounts. As with most destinations, dry season (aug-oct) is usually suggested, but there is an increasing green season trade (they call it emerald season). We have been twice (in september) and both times combined SLNP with Lower Zambezi, which is a nice combination of wet and dry and also was an easy connection to the now sadly defunct direct BA flight from Lusaka....

Thanks Tdgraves.

With regard to the budget I'm surprised you think its tight. Last year we had 15 nights on safari in Tanzania( Selous, Ruaha, Katavi , Serengeti) including five internal flights ( one of which was an inducement charter costing £800 per person) and the whole safari excluding international flights was £7,500 per person.

 

If Zambia is that expensive then to keep the cost down we would probably go for say 12 days on safari rather than 14 and maybe only do one camp in each of two reserves?

We are not restricted to any specific time of year and would possibly prefer green season.

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@@Julian...we were in South Luangwa last august/September. I did a trip report titled "South Luangwa". We had a great experience and are looking forward to returning in the future.

Hi Marg

Thanks, will read carefully through your report ( and all other Zambia ones from the last two years).

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I don't know if it is of any interest but we came across nkonzi camp at jackalberry safaris which seemed very good value indeed for south Luangwa but don't know what it's like! As @@Tdgraves says a South Luangwa lower Zambezi trip would be splendid. Good luck!

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If Kafue is on your radar then I can thoroughly recommend Musekese - we had an 8 day stay there last year mixing their main camp (which they have moved just across the "peninsula") and mobile just south of the Busanga Plains. TR over in the Zambia section.

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@@Julian Provide more information...

 

What are your interests and tastes. i.e. Do you want to do walking safaris or vehicle based or a mix of the two? Any particular animal you want to see?

 

Do you like bush camps or lodges? As an example have a look at Kaingo Camp & Mwamba Bush camp and compare that with Lion Camp these 3 camps are not far from each other, use pretty much the same gameviewing area but the camps are very different.

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@@Julian

(I posted this in the 2017 thread but have copied it here incase anyone else is looking to go to Zambia)

 

We went to South Luangwa in Late August 2013 - it was wonderful. We chose that time because it was dry and getting hot but not reaching the very high temperatures of Late September/October (we did some walking so didn't want it to hot)

We stayed at Pobin Pope Camps (Nkwali, Nsefu, 2 nights bush camping/walking, Tena Tena) They we all excellent - and we saw lots of Leopards! (My first trip report is in the Zambia Section)

I believe that there are a number of very good camps in South Luangwa - ATR has good photos of them - you might also look at the Expert Africa website as it has a bit more text about the camps - including some on typical pattern of the day. It all helps to choose one that suits you.

 

I think South Luangwa is an excellent place to go. We haven't been to Kafue - but it also looks like a great place to go and very appealing

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Posted (edited)

@@Julian Provide more information...

 

What are your interests and tastes. i.e. Do you want to do walking safaris or vehicle based or a mix of the two? Any particular animal you want to see?

 

Do you like bush camps or lodges? As an example have a look at Kaingo Camp & Mwamba Bush camp and compare that with Lion Camp these 3 camps are not far from each other, use pretty much the same gameviewing area but the camps are very different.

 

Hi Geoff

A mix of walking and vehicle based safaris is what we want ( a couple of night drives would also be good )

This will be our sixth safari ( and my seventh), already been on safari to Kenya, Tanzania ( North, West and South), Botswana and India.

 

We like all the wildlife but the big cats and elephants are always great to see, and we've only seen wild dogs once ( we do plan to have future trips to Botswana and Zimbabwe - so we know they will be better for wilddogs).

We have never seen Servals, Caracals, Honey Badgers or Pangolins ( but I dont think any of those are likely sightings in Zambia??)

 

Much prefer safari camps to lodges, but not really interested in the tiny 'fly camps' , ie prefer a camp that has a few 'tents' and a central dining/ bar area- eg anything from the basic traditional Nomads Katavi Chada to the more stylish like Ruaha Mwagusi.

 

Having visited Tanzania late Sept/ early Oct last year ( Selous, Ruaha, Katavi, Serengeti) we would prefer to go at a different time of year - we do really appreciate the landscape a lot and it would be nice to see Zambia at a greener time, although we dont want to be there when there is a high chance of regular rainfall.

Edited by Julian

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@@Julian

(I posted this in the 2017 thread but have copied it here incase anyone else is looking to go to Zambia)

 

We went to South Luangwa in Late August 2013 - it was wonderful. We chose that time because it was dry and getting hot but not reaching the very high temperatures of Late September/October (we did some walking so didn't want it to hot)

We stayed at Pobin Pope Camps (Nkwali, Nsefu, 2 nights bush camping/walking, Tena Tena) They we all excellent - and we saw lots of Leopards! (My first trip report is in the Zambia Section)

I believe that there are a number of very good camps in South Luangwa - ATR has good photos of them - you might also look at the Expert Africa website as it has a bit more text about the camps - including some on typical pattern of the day. It all helps to choose one that suits you.

 

I think South Luangwa is an excellent place to go. We haven't been to Kafue - but it also looks like a great place to go and very appealing

 

Thanks TonyQ

This is all very helpful advice.

I'llread your Zambia report very soon. no intention of booking for some months yet - giving us plenty of time to start getting advice and researching camps, etc.

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@@Julian Hi Julian, my experience is only restricted to South Luangwa NP but that is such a huge area it would be more than enough to keep you occupied. In my mind, I split the NP into 3 parts - north of Mfuwe, south of Mfuwe and Nsefu across the Luangwa river. I was in the north part and Nsefu areas and focused in that area (TR link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/13282-ebb-and-flow-ebb-and-flow-in-slnp/

 

I stayed at the Shenton Safari camps (Kaingo and Mwamba) and we chose those camps because of the hides they provide. Hides are fabulous places to watch the animals without disturbing them much and if you go in September you will get to experience the amazing southern carmine bee-eater. that'[s a spectacle not to be missed. of the two camps - I love Mwamba which has only 4 tents and has a hide just next to one of the tents. It's nowhere near the other lux camps but it was small and intimate and so much happened there.

 

Remote Africas has Tafika (across the river) which does vehicle, bicycle and walking safaris, as well as very small bush camps in the northern part of SLNP which mainly does walking safaris.

 

September is very hot and October is worse, which means you will get to see a lot of animals at whatever waterholes are left. predator activities should be high. In green season, the northern part of SLNP is flooded but the birdlife should be astounding and you can do boating experiences. you can do walking safaris with Shenton safaris and others (our walk was very sedate but another couple on a separate walk bumped into lions).

 

Night drives are available in the park. In the night you will get to see loads of elephant shrews, porcupines, genets, civets. But we didn't get to see servals or badgers.

 

a lot of ST-ers love the Bushcamp camps - they have a number of walking tours so you can check that out. I would include that when I next go to SLNP (not sure when!).

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Posted (edited)

I stayed at the Shenton Safari camps (Kaingo and Mwamba) and we chose those camps because of the hides they provide. Hides are fabulous places to watch the animals without disturbing them much and if you go in September you will get to experience the amazing southern carmine bee-eater. that'[s a spectacle not to be missed.

 

+1 for Kaingo as well. Their hippo hide is terrific, and the best guiding I've experienced has been at Kaingo. Excellent food as well :-)

Edited by Christopher Moran
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Serval is do-able in several areas in both South Luangwa and Kafue, with a bit of luck honey badgers can be seen too. Busanga Plains is one of the best places to see pangolins, but having said that it is still very rare to see them.

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I have stayed twice at Kaingo,twice at Mwamba and twice at Tafika. I have been fortunate to see honey badgers many times on night drives. I was even lucky enough to observe a honey badger for 35 minutes. On another occasion, I saw a pair of honey badgers. I even recall seeing a honey badger run in front of our vehicle on the way back to camp. I remember at Mwamba the manager asked me what I wanted to see during my night drive, and I said serval: sure enough I saw one for the first time on that night drive.

 

The guiding at both Kaingo,Mwamba and Tafika Camps is superb. Patrick Njobuvu who was a guide at both Kaingo and Mwamba Camps is not only one of the finest guides I've had; but also one of the funniest people I've ever met. I also have to say that Kaingo, Mwamba and Tafika also have excellent and very experienced guides. The food at all camps were superb. I'll write more later on walking safari in South Luangwa National Park.

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We are leaving for Zambia in 7 days. Staying at Kapamba,Chinzombo,Chiawa , and Toka Leya in Livingstone. Whole thing booked with journeys by design in London. Will send you a note upon our return

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Will send you a note upon our return

 

@@Fredweinman and write a trip report for the rest of us... ;)

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I plan on the trip report. We spent two years reading other reports and we got great advice from the group on malaria medications. Time to pay it forward!!!!

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For what it's worth :) I went to Zambia for my 50th a few years ago and actually convinced my sister to come with me. Although the trip overall was good, it was during late Oct early Nov and I will never ever go to Southern Africa at that time. It is dry, desolate, animals (what few we saw) are stressed- just not Africa's most beautiful time. And the heat....ugh...unbelievable...but I know that is very much a personal preference. I love green lush Africa. Anyway- stayed at Shumba in Kafue- saw a Serval every day :) Not much else mind you, but my sister became the champion Serval spotter. Balloon ride and helicopter ride was all included so that was all fun. I think if I went back I'd do something different. Expert Africa mentions Muskese Tented camp as a wonderful place, very big into walking. Not close to the Busanga plains though so it really just depends on what you are looking for. I'm planning my tenth trip so now I go for the joy and just pure bliss instead of ticking off things (though brown hyena is definitely on my list- have yet to see one). Shumba in Kafue was quite nice, rather luxurious and the views are quite beautiful. In South Luwanga we stayed at Kalamu which I don't think even exists any more, but South Luwanga would absolutely be an area I'd go back to. In the Lower Zambezi we stayed at Sausage tree. The elephants are stellar there. Got trapped at the pool one day by a young bull, had to detour numerous times walking to/from the room by ellies and being on the river was wonderful. Lunch with feet in the river, canoeing past pods of hippos.....I really loved that place. And they have these gorgeous open air bathrooms that are just too fun. Anyway- that's my two cents. My guess is no matter what you decide it'll be fabulous.

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Posted (edited)

I have stayed twice at Kaingo,twice at Mwamba and twice at Tafika. I have been fortunate to see honey badgers many times on night drives. I was even lucky enough to observe a honey badger for 35 minutes. On another occasion, I saw a pair of honey badgers. I even recall seeing a honey badger run in front of our vehicle on the way back to camp. I remember at Mwamba the manager asked me what I wanted to see during my night drive, and I said serval: sure enough I saw one for the first time on that night drive.

 

The guiding at both Kaingo,Mwamba and Tafika Camps is superb. Patrick Njobuvu who was a guide at both Kaingo and Mwamba Camps is not only one of the finest guides I've had; but also one of the funniest people I've ever met. I also have to say that Kaingo, Mwamba and Tafika also have excellent and very experienced guides. The food at all camps were superb. I'll write more later on walking safari in South Luangwa National Park.

u

 

This all sounds great Optig

I ' ll be looking in detail at all the camps you suggest as they and the guiding there sounds wonderful.

From what you and others have posted it seems there will be a very good chance of seeing some of the animals I listed that we havent seen before - not only honey badgers and serval, but as someone else mentioned civet, elephant shrew and porcupine - which we have also never seen.

Also be interested to know the times of year you were there, as our choice on the time we go will probably have some relevance to the locations we stay.

Edited by Julian
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@@Julian

On night drives we had good views of civet, elephant shrew and porcupines - including with a baby!

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Posted (edited)

@@Julian Hi Julian, my experience is only restricted to South Luangwa NP but that is such a huge area it would be more than enough to keep you occupied. In my mind, I split the NP into 3 parts - north of Mfuwe, south of Mfuwe and Nsefu across the Luangwa river. I was in the north part and Nsefu areas and focused in that area (TR link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/13282-ebb-and-flow-ebb-and-flow-in-slnp/

 

I stayed at the Shenton Safari camps (Kaingo and Mwamba) and we chose those camps because of the hides they provide. Hides are fabulous places to watch the animals without disturbing them much and if you go in September you will get to experience the amazing southern carmine bee-eater. that'[s a spectacle not to be missed. of the two camps - I love Mwamba which has only 4 tents and has a hide just next to one of the tents. It's nowhere near the other lux camps but it was small and intimate and so much happened there.

 

Remote Africas has Tafika (across the river) which does vehicle, bicycle and walking safaris, as well as very small bush camps in the northern part of SLNP which mainly does walking safaris.

 

September is very hot and October is worse, which means you will get to see a lot of animals at whatever waterholes are left. predator activities should be high. In green season, the northern part of SLNP is flooded but the birdlife should be astounding and you can do boating experiences. you can do walking safaris with Shenton safaris and others (our walk was very sedate but another couple on a separate walk bumped into lions).

 

Night drives are available in the park. In the night you will get to see loads of elephant shrews, porcupines, genets, civets. But we didn't get to see servals or badgers.

 

a lot of ST-ers love the Bushcamp camps - they have a number of walking tours so you can check that out. I would include that when I next go to SLNP (not sure when!).

Kitsafari

This is all reallly helpful info.

I'll look at the info on camps you suggest and although Iit would be nice to see the carmine bee eaters, we feel we would like to go when its not quite so arid and hot- from what others say, August at the latest but possibly July Or even late June?.

Edited by Julian
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If Kafue is on your radar then I can thoroughly recommend Musekese - we had an 8 day stay there last year mixing their main camp (which they have moved just across the "peninsula") and mobile just south of the Busanga Plains. TR over in the Zambia section.

Thanks African - very useful to know.

I need more info on Kafue as it will determine whether we just stay in south Luangwa or include Kafue as well. Also info on lower Zambezi.

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We are leaving for Zambia in 7 days. Staying at Kapamba,Chinzombo,Chiawa , and Toka Leya in Livingstone. Whole thing booked with journeys by design in London. Will send you a note upon our return

Thanks Fredweinman

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For what it's worth :) I went to Zambia for my 50th a few years ago and actually convinced my sister to come with me. Although the trip overall was good, it was during late Oct early Nov and I will never ever go to Southern Africa at that time. It is dry, desolate, animals (what few we saw) are stressed- just not Africa's most beautiful time. And the heat....ugh...unbelievable...but I know that is very much a personal preference. I love green lush Africa. Anyway- stayed at Shumba in Kafue- saw a Serval every day :) Not much else mind you, but my sister became the champion Serval spotter. Balloon ride and helicopter ride was all included so that was all fun. I think if I went back I'd do something different. Expert Africa mentions Muskese Tented camp as a wonderful place, very big into walking. Not close to the Busanga plains though so it really just depends on what you are looking for. I'm planning my tenth trip so now I go for the joy and just pure bliss instead of ticking off things (though brown hyena is definitely on my list- have yet to see one). Shumba in Kafue was quite nice, rather luxurious and the views are quite beautiful. In South Luwanga we stayed at Kalamu which I don't think even exists any more, but South Luwanga would absolutely be an area I'd go back to. In the Lower Zambezi we stayed at Sausage tree. The elephants are stellar there. Got trapped at the pool one day by a young bull, had to detour numerous times walking to/from the room by ellies and being on the river was wonderful. Lunch with feet in the river, canoeing past pods of hippos.....I really loved that place. And they have these gorgeous open air bathrooms that are just too fun. Anyway- that's my two cents. My guess is no matter what you decide it'll be fabulous.

Thanks Imonmm

Lots of very helpful info you have provided.

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