Julian

Zambia 2017 - Advice, suggestions, etc - Please

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@@Fredweinman...when you are at Chiawa, go for the canoe ride in the channel. It's a little bit scarey but interesting but you should have some good closeups.

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If you want more information on the Kafue, then ATR is not really your go-to place I am afraid.

 

Kafue has lots of great camps that sound like would fit your bill, I will start from the North and work down:

- Busanga Bush Camp (wildrness, the smaller, more intimate, slightly less 'luxurious' sister of Shumba camp)

- Mukambi Plains camp (similar to BBC above, but owned by Ejan of Mukambi, great guides, great camp)

- Musekese (J&M, Phil and Ty are re-modeling and changing location. Great place, great guys. Plenty on here about them)

- Mukambi Fig Tree (sister camp to plains camp. In central area on one of the best game viewing areas outside of Busanga, small and intimate, elevated tents. Super spot)

- Us. Kaingu Lodge. Do a web search.

- Konkamoya (south shore of the lake. Good sightings, Andrea is a great host/owner). Italian food! Aardvarks and cheetah feature regularly in his sightings book.

-Nanzhila Plains Camp (most southern lodge/camp). Super place, Steve runs a great operation down there. Last two seasons sightings have been really good.

 

There are bigger properties in the Kafue, I don't think they will fit what you are looking for. All the above are relatively small, tented style camps/lodges and either owner run or at least the owner is actually there almost all the time. All with good guiding standards. Some of them don't even feature beyond a name on ATR's massive site.

 

As has been mentioned, Expert Africa will do a good job.

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Posted (edited)

Thee you go @KaingoU lodge mentioning Aardvarks! Can you kindly comment on the ease of travelling between the places you mention?

Edited by Towlersonsafari
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Thee you go @KaingoU lodge mentioning Aardvarks! Can you kindly comment on the ease of travelling between the places you mention?

 

 

Well, all pretty easy. All camps listed regularly work together to coordinate road transfers. Let's say Busanga to Nanzhila would be basically a whole day in the car, but otherwise you are looking at say 3hrs Busanga to central area. Central area to lake = two and a half hours, central area to Nanzhila 4 hours.

 

It's easy. All the camps mentioned regularly combine each other and move guests between each other's camps.

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I suggest you take a look at "Lion Camp" in the SLNP.
We stayed there last year and had great sightings.
Very well managed camp.
Here´s the trip report.

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Thanks for your speedy reply @@KainguLodge probably too wet to mow the lawn I better do some valuable camp research!

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Thanks for your speedy reply @@KainguLodge probably too wet to mow the lawn I better do some valuable camp research

 

You are most welcome. Pretty dry here now and luckily hippos keep the grass in order!

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I visited SLNP in Sept 2014. I stayed at Kuyenda, Kapamba and Bilimungwe, all bush camps run by the Bushcamp Company. It was a superb experience.

All evening drives turned into spot lit night drives. Over 7 days I saw 6 different leopards, 2 male lions, a pack of wild dogs including their pups and while they were making a kill . Importantly, at each sighting there was only one vehicle.

Out of 7 nights, for 3 nights I was the only guest in the camps so it was like a private safari. On walks, I saw a lot of elephants, general plains game and hyena on one occasion. Otherwise walks were quiet. At Bilimungwe, elephants were in the camp everyday and had to be careful while going from the room to the reception area.

The weather was superb, cool during mornings and evenings and a little hot during the day but never uncomfortable.

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If you want more information on the Kafue, then ATR is not really your go-to place I am afraid.

 

Kafue has lots of great camps that sound like would fit your bill, I will start from the North and work down:

- Busanga Bush Camp (wildrness, the smaller, more intimate, slightly less 'luxurious' sister of Shumba camp)

- Mukambi Plains camp (similar to BBC above, but owned by Ejan of Mukambi, great guides, great camp)

- Musekese (J&M, Phil and Ty are re-modeling and changing location. Great place, great guys. Plenty on here about them)

- Mukambi Fig Tree (sister camp to plains camp. In central area on one of the best game viewing areas outside of Busanga, small and intimate, elevated tents. Super spot)

- Us. Kaingu Lodge. Do a web search.

- Konkamoya (south shore of the lake. Good sightings, Andrea is a great host/owner). Italian food! Aardvarks and cheetah feature regularly in his sightings book.

-Nanzhila Plains Camp (most southern lodge/camp). Super place, Steve runs a great operation down there. Last two seasons sightings have been really good.

 

There are bigger properties in the Kafue, I don't think they will fit what you are looking for. All the above are relatively small, tented style camps/lodges and either owner run or at least the owner is actually there almost all the time. All with good guiding standards. Some of them don't even feature beyond a name on ATR's massive site.

 

As has been mentioned, Expert Africa will do a good job.

 

Thanks for this kaingUlodge

Very useful to know which camps are best, I'll look at what Expert Africa says about them .

However we will definitely book with ATR.

We will be chosing the camps and ATR will book you with whatever camps you choose.

As big as ATR are its inevitable that they cant visit every African camp/lodge, and obviously they will concentrate more on where their customers want to travel to. The fact they have limited details ( or none ) for some of the camps would suggest that numbers wishing to visit Kafue are low ??

I may be wrong, and I' m sure you will know, but I assume visitor numbers to Kafue are relatively very low in comparison to South Luangwa, and that safari visitors to Zambia as a whole are low in comparison to Tanzania or Kenya.

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Quite some years since I last visited Luangwa but Nsefu and Kaingo in particular hold great memories.

 

I've now made four visits to Kafue and will be returning in September on my way back from UK for an all too short stay at my favourite camps Nanzhila Plains Camp and KaingU Lodge.

 

Kafue has a great variety of antelope species including the majestic sable and roan. It also has great bird life. Its sheer size, variety of landscapes and remoteness appeals to me. In the 14 days there in 2014 we did not come across any other vehicle at any sighting. The elephant orphanage release project is near Konkamoya. One area I haven’t visited yet is the central north area around Musekese – need to rectify that.

 

I’ve had excellent sightings of serval, honey badger and wild cat in Kafue but of course nothing’s certain and whilst I’ve seen lion, leopard, cheetah and wilddog there sightings of lion and leopard would admittedly be more predictable in Luangwa.

 

I find early September a good time to visit Kafue – good weather and parts of the bush just starting to green up in anticipation of the rains.

 

If you’re looking for overnight in Lusaka I’d suggest Pioneer Camp and in Livingstone Waterberry Lodge.

 

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Posted (edited)

@@Julian

 

Quote "I assume visitor numbers to Kafue are relatively very low in comparison to South Luangwa, and that safari visitors to Zambia as a whole are low in comparison to Tanzania or Kenya." The most telling figures I've seen compare Kafue to Kruger - broadly similar in size. Kruger receives around 1.4 million visitors per year while the Kafue gets around 10,000. This means that while you are on safari in the Kruger you are sharing the Park with an average of 3,835 people each day. Safari in the Kafue and you are sharing the park with an average of 27 people!

OK, Kruger is a year round destination whilst Kafue is essentially shut over the rainy season but that still means on a daily basis you're sharing 22,500 square kilometres (ie Wales) with less than 50 people! On our trip there we saw one vehicle "at a sighting" and passed one "tourist vehicle" on the road (& that was coming from Musekese as we were heading back there from the mobile).

 

I can also echo @@Caracal 's suggestion of Pioneer Camp in Lusaka if you need an overnight there.

Edited by AfricIan
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We returned three days ago from Zambia. We stayed at kapamba and chinzombo in the south luangwa and then chiawa in the lower Zambizi. The game viewing is unlimited in the south Luangwa. Beyond the expected animals we had many servals, civets, excetera. Kapamba was a perfect camp for walking safaris, nigh drives and many special surprises. The Bushcamp Company has a very nice collection of camps and offer good deals for longer stays. Excellent guides, Camps, and service. We would highly recommend the Bushcamp Company. Chinzombo is a Norman Carr camp and while lovely, was an over the top expensive and not anything I would want in a safari experience again. The chiawa camp was wonderful with the water activities on the zambizi river. This is a special camp,and combined with the sister camp old Mondoro would make a wonderful,package

 

This was our first safari and the biggest thing I learned was to not move from national park to national park. We spent way too much money on Pro Flights. I also learned the area around the park entrance at south luangwa was very crowded and almost stressful. There was no joy in working to have a special sighting, all you had to do was drive around and look for way more than three vehicles crowding a leopard. This area almost felt like a animal viewing park. There were also many self drive vehicles causing trouble and getting in the way

 

Best of luck in your,planning. We are home three days and already planing for 2018

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Posted (edited)

We returned three days ago from Zambia. We stayed at kapamba and chinzombo in the south luangwa and then chiawa in the lower Zambizi. The game viewing is unlimited in the south Luangwa. Beyond the expected animals we had many servals, civets, excetera. Kapamba was a perfect camp for walking safaris, nigh drives and many special surprises. The Bushcamp Company has a very nice collection of camps and offer good deals for longer stays. Excellent guides, Camps, and service. We would highly recommend the Bushcamp Company. Chinzombo is a Norman Carr camp and while lovely, was an over the top expensive and not anything I would want in a safari experience again. The chiawa camp was wonderful with the water activities on the zambizi river. This is a special camp,and combined with the sister camp old Mondoro would make a wonderful,package

This was our first safari and the biggest thing I learned was to not move from national park to national park. We spent way too much money on Pro Flights. I also learned the area around the park entrance at south luangwa was very crowded and almost stressful. There was no joy in working to have a special sighting, all you had to do was drive around and look for way more than three vehicles crowding a leopard. This area almost felt like a animal viewing park. There were also many self drive vehicles causing trouble and getting in the way

Best of luck in your,planning. We are home three days and already planing for 2018

Thanks for that info Fredweinman

Its very useful to know the problems as well as good points.

Edited by Julian

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While the SLNP is unrivalled for the volume and accessibility of its wildlife, the KNP offers a greater variety of species and of scenery. This year I am embarking on my third "Plains to plains" safari in the KNP and can recommend all my chosen camps. My starting camp is Nanzhila Plains, a small camp run by its dedicated owners Steve and Cindy Smith whose prince over the last 10 years has contributed in no small measure to the recovery of wildlife in what had been a heavily poached area of the park. In the first 24 hours in the area one can expect to see Roan, Sable, Wildebeest, Hartebeest, Waterbuck, Impala, Reedbuck ,Bushbuck and maybe Eland. On my last visit I saw a herd of about 40 Eland on an area of burnt grassland not far from camp. Predators include lion, leopard, cheetah, the occasional caracal and wild dog, and also serval. At night, in addition to the usual white -tailed mongoose, civets and genets you will see spring hares which do not occur in the SNLP and even in the KNP not much further north of Ngoma. Bird sightings will almost invariably include both martial and long-crested eagles and there is the added bonus of the endemic black-cheeked lovebirds. Habitats vary from miombo to mopane woodland interspersed with areas of floodplain and stands of terminalia. And in addition to all this you are unlikely to see many vehicles other than the lodge's own.

 

My next stop after a road transfer within the park will be Kaingu. Beautifully situated on the banks of the Kafue river just outside the park in an area where it runs through a series of islands and huge boulders.Access to the camp is by boat on a short journey where you will see cormorants, darters and rock pratincoles and maybe elephants on the banks or on the islands as well as antelopes coming to drink. KaingU has always been a nice place to stay, but game viewing opportunities have been a bit limited. However, now that loop roads have been established in the park opposite the camp a whole new wildlife viewing area has been opened up.

 

Next stop, Musekese . This relatively new camp run by Kafue enthusiasts Phil Jeffery and Tyrone McKeith has already earned itself a great reputation, and I am expecting an even more exciting bush experience now that the location of the camp has been moved to a new site not far from the original. The new site is on the edge of a large perennial dambo bordering the Kafue river. When I visited it last year I was impressed by the sheer numbers of small antelope, mostly puku and impala which rivailed anything the SNLP has to offer. I also saw bush pig and elephant in the area. Now that the new camp has been built it does not seem to have affected any of the wildlife, and there are reports of frequent sightings of lions and their kills around and even in the camp. Leopard, cheetah and wild dog also occur in this part of the park which is very much virgin territory which has hitherto not been open to tourism and where you are unlikely to see any other vehicles than your own. River trips are also a speciality of this camp whether for fishing or simply observing animals coming down to drink or just lazing by the water.

 

Finally, the Busanga plain in the very north of the park. This vast expanse of grassy flood plain with a papyrus swamp at its furthest end offers a landscape totally different from the rest of the park. Here you will see large herds of red lechwe and puku as well as wildebeest, roan and zebra. Elephant have also made a come-back in the area and can be seen crossing the plain to feed in the tree line and then back to their retreat in one of the plain's wooded "islands". Sable also emerge from the treeline to drink at one of the waterholes on the plain. My camp here will be the Busanga Plains Camp run by Mukambi Safari lodge. It is a tented camp with great views over the plain from a dining area on a raised platform.

 

After this journey from south to north of the KNP I shall be returning for a couple of nights at Mukambi Safari Lodge. This is a much larger establishment than the other camps in my itinerary, and is less of a "bush" location. However animals do frequent its grounds and you still need to be escorted back to your rondavel or tent at night in case you encounter a hippo or even a lion. Although situated outside the park and not far from the main road, Mukambi can still offer excellent game viewing drives in the park on the other side of the river as well as river trips.

 

My safari concludes with a 4 hour drive on the main road back to Lusaka, the principal problem here being the battle to get across to the airport in the face of the intensely congested traffic in and around the city.

 

I hope, Julian, that this will give you an idea of what to expect if you choose to come to the KNP. Not that I want to undervalue what the SNLP has to offer. indeed I have spent many enjoyable safaris there. However, if you opt for the SNLP but prefer smaller camps and fewer vehicles on the roads then I would advise that you opt to go to camps in the northern part of the park or in the Nsefu sector and I can recommend Robin Popes two camps, Nsefu and Tena Tena or Derek Shenton's Kaingo or John Coppinger's Tafika.

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Just to back up my recommendation for Musekese at its new site, here is a recent view from the deck at sundowner time.post-25523-0-93252800-1467936268_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great description @@wulff, we are looking forward to seeing you again.

 

I have increased the new loops opposite us in the NP - two days ago I was there creating some further small water hole viewing loops and I was staggered by how many Hartebeest we saw. Not to mention sable and oribi.

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While the SLNP is unrivalled for the volume and accessibility of its wildlife, the KNP offers a greater variety of species and of scenery. This year I am embarking on my third "Plains to plains" safari in the KNP and can recommend all my chosen camps. My starting camp is Nanzhila Plains, a small camp run by its dedicated owners Steve and Cindy Smith whose prince over the last 10 years has contributed in no small measure to the recovery of wildlife in what had been a heavily poached area of the park. In the first 24 hours in the area one can expect to see Roan, Sable, Wildebeest, Hartebeest, Waterbuck, Impala, Reedbuck ,Bushbuck and maybe Eland. On my last visit I saw a herd of about 40 Eland on an area of burnt grassland not far from camp. Predators include lion, leopard, cheetah, the occasional caracal and wild dog, and also serval. At night, in addition to the usual white -tailed mongoose, civets and genets you will see spring hares which do not occur in the SNLP and even in the KNP not much further north of Ngoma. Bird sightings will almost invariably include both martial and long-crested eagles and there is the added bonus of the endemic black-cheeked lovebirds. Habitats vary from miombo to mopane woodland interspersed with areas of floodplain and stands of terminalia. And in addition to all this you are unlikely to see many vehicles other than the lodge's own.

 

My next stop after a road transfer within the park will be Kaingu. Beautifully situated on the banks of the Kafue river just outside the park in an area where it runs through a series of islands and huge boulders.Access to the camp is by boat on a short journey where you will see cormorants, darters and rock pratincoles and maybe elephants on the banks or on the islands as well as antelopes coming to drink. KaingU has always been a nice place to stay, but game viewing opportunities have been a bit limited. However, now that loop roads have been established in the park opposite the camp a whole new wildlife viewing area has been opened up.

 

Next stop, Musekese . This relatively new camp run by Kafue enthusiasts Phil Jeffery and Tyrone McKeith has already earned itself a great reputation, and I am expecting an even more exciting bush experience now that the location of the camp has been moved to a new site not far from the original. The new site is on the edge of a large perennial dambo bordering the Kafue river. When I visited it last year I was impressed by the sheer numbers of small antelope, mostly puku and impala which rivailed anything the SNLP has to offer. I also saw bush pig and elephant in the area. Now that the new camp has been built it does not seem to have affected any of the wildlife, and there are reports of frequent sightings of lions and their kills around and even in the camp. Leopard, cheetah and wild dog also occur in this part of the park which is very much virgin territory which has hitherto not been open to tourism and where you are unlikely to see any other vehicles than your own. River trips are also a speciality of this camp whether for fishing or simply observing animals coming down to drink or just lazing by the water.

 

Finally, the Busanga plain in the very north of the park. This vast expanse of grassy flood plain with a papyrus swamp at its furthest end offers a landscape totally different from the rest of the park. Here you will see large herds of red lechwe and puku as well as wildebeest, roan and zebra. Elephant have also made a come-back in the area and can be seen crossing the plain to feed in the tree line and then back to their retreat in one of the plain's wooded "islands". Sable also emerge from the treeline to drink at one of the waterholes on the plain. My camp here will be the Busanga Plains Camp run by Mukambi Safari lodge. It is a tented camp with great views over the plain from a dining area on a raised platform.

 

After this journey from south to north of the KNP I shall be returning for a couple of nights at Mukambi Safari Lodge. This is a much larger establishment than the other camps in my itinerary, and is less of a "bush" location. However animals do frequent its grounds and you still need to be escorted back to your rondavel or tent at night in case you encounter a hippo or even a lion. Although situated outside the park and not far from the main road, Mukambi can still offer excellent game viewing drives in the park on the other side of the river as well as river trips.

 

My safari concludes with a 4 hour drive on the main road back to Lusaka, the principal problem here being the battle to get across to the airport in the face of the intensely congested traffic in and around the city.

 

I hope, Julian, that this will give you an idea of what to expect if you choose to come to the KNP. Not that I want to undervalue what the SNLP has to offer. indeed I have spent many enjoyable safaris there. However, if you opt for the SNLP but prefer smaller camps and fewer vehicles on the roads then I would advise that you opt to go to camps in the northern part of the park or in the Nsefu sector and I can recommend Robin Popes two camps, Nsefu and Tena Tena or Derek Shenton's Kaingo or John Coppinger's Tafika.

Thanks Wulff

Really useful and helpful information that will definitely help us in planning our safari.

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Posted (edited)

Time has passed quickly - nearly 8 months since I last posted on this topic which I started last June!

Other events have taken priority but we are still hoping to go to Zambia this July, but won't be booking until next month.

 

Our last safari was in Sept 15, Selous, Ruaha, Katavi and Serengeti Mara, and a lot of you commented on my trip report, thanks.

2016 turned out to be a year we were really pleased has passed. Rachel, my wife, had major surgery for cancer in March but is now fully recovered, so progress with organising this safari to Zambia has taken a back seat until the last few weeks. We plan to book the safari as soon as Rachel gets, fingers crossed, the ' all clear ' from her next scan - seeing the consultant beginning of April.

 

So thanks for all your info so far on this thread. In the last week I've read through the most recent Zambia trip reports on here - about 20 of them. Also been looking through detailed info on ATR and Expert Africa. We will definitely be booking the safari with ATR.

 

This is the rough plan:

Due to the value of the £ against the $ since Brexit, we have increased the budget to £8000 per person ($10000). That will be for everything except the international flights from UK to Lusaka, and hopefully be 12 or 13 days on safari.

 

A while ago we were thinking we would do 4 nights Kafue( Busanga area), then 4 nights South Luangwa north, then 4 nights South Luangwa south.

After all the research we are now thinking of 3 nights Kafue ( Busanga area) , 3 nights Kafue ( Musekese Camp) , 3 or 4 nights South Luangwa north ( Kaingo or Tafika or Mwambe or others?) , then 3 or 4 nights in a second camp in South Luangwa north.

 

Whilst we would like a couple of walking safaris on the trip we are not interested in doing full day ones. We would like to do a few night game drives. Due to Rachel's surgery ' fly camping' is out of the question, so not interested in the satellite camps that only offer that sort of option.

 

We would like your advice please , so Questions:

 

Choice of camps - Busanga area in Kafue will be Shumba or Busanga Bush or Busanga Plains - which one?

 

About 7 days in South Luangwa north - what do you think of the camps I've suggested? ( Are The Robin Pope camps a better alternative?)

 

Instead of the second camp in Luangwa north would it be better to do the last 4 days in Luangwa south, or in Lower Zambezi?

( I' m guessing Lower Zambezi would mean a lot more time transferring and higher cost so may not be an option)

 

Looking forward to your replies, thanks.

Edited by Julian
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First of all, congrats to Rachel for getting through this tough experience (and you for being there supporting her). 13 year breast cancer survivor here so I understand the joy of coming out the end of the tunnel of treatment and I can't think of a better reward than a trip to Africa. I went back to look at the original post and comments and yeah...I blabbed somewhere in there :) As far as Busanga area- as I'd mentioned I'd stayed at Shumba which is a beautiful camp- and has a pool which was very nice during the incredibly hot time I went. But, if I went back again (and I would not do it during the hot period so wouldn't need a pool) my choice would be Busanga Bush Camp- just something about that camp that really appeals to me. When I went a few years ago I was supposed to stay there, but got upgraded to Shumba as I guess BBC was virtually empty and they consolidated everyone to Shumba. I wish I knew more about the Luangwa area so I won't endeavor to offer any advice there. I do want to go back to that area so I am enjoying reading all the advice. I look forward to the final itinerary and report after the trip of course :)

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@@Julian

First, best wishes to Rachel!

 

Second:

South Luangwa (north): My advice (if you can get in) would be a combination of Kaingo and Mwamba. Superb camps, superb guides.

South Luangwa (south): My advice a combination of any of Kuyenda, Chindeni, Chamilandu or Bilimungwe (but to maximise this splash out on a private guide/vehicle). Again superb camps and guides.

 

The topography and scenery of the southern sector (closer to the Nchindeni hills/escarpment) is different to the northern sector (more open flood plains) and thus worth visiting both.

I think adding Lower Zambezi would just use up a lot of your time.

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@Julain Of course I send my warmest wishes to Rachel. I've stayed twice at Kaingo for 4 nights each time and twice at Mwamba once for 4 nights and another for 3 nights. They are both superb. All the guides are excellent,but Patrick Njobuvu the chief guide is simply outstanding. He makes every game drive, night drive or walk simply hilarious. He had me constantly in stitches !!! Next year I'll be staying for 3 days in Kuyenda, 3 in Chamilandu and 3 in Bilingumwe. South Luangawa is along with Northern Botswana my favorite safari destination.

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Musekese should suit your walking requirements just fine @@Julian, Phil/Tyrone will go as long/far as you want to & there is also the option of meeting up with the boat if you are near the river.

 

Having booked through ATR in the past I can understand why you're happy to go with them again but it might be worth trying Tony McKeith at Busanga Safaris - As well as organising our trip, I know @@wilddog uses him

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As mentioned in my recent TR, Tony has always been my man for Zambia. He has been arranging trips and and travelling to Zambia for many years. And of course introduced Tyrone to Zambia as a young boy.

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I spoke to Tony Mckeith both yesterday and today. Hopefully i'll be going to Zakouma next year in a group led by his so,.Philip Jeffrey or Doug Mcdonald. I know that all of them are superb guides,but my preference is still with Ant Kaschula. He stressed the same thing as @@Sangeeta that whatever you do go in February because the heat is simply horrible in March.

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First of all, congrats to Rachel for getting through this tough experience (and you for being there supporting her). 13 year breast cancer survivor here so I understand the joy of coming out the end of the tunnel of treatment and I can't think of a better reward than a trip to Africa. I went back to look at the original post and comments and yeah...I blabbed somewhere in there :) As far as Busanga area- as I'd mentioned I'd stayed at Shumba which is a beautiful camp- and has a pool which was very nice during the incredibly hot time I went. But, if I went back again (and I would not do it during the hot period so wouldn't need a pool) my choice would be Busanga Bush Camp- just something about that camp that really appeals to me. When I went a few years ago I was supposed to stay there, but got upgraded to Shumba as I guess BBC was virtually empty and they consolidated everyone to Shumba. I wish I knew more about the Luangwa area so I won't endeavor to offer any advice there. I do want to go back to that area so I am enjoying reading all the advice. I look forward to the final itinerary and report after the trip of course :)

Thanks for this Imonmm.

I think it may come down to which camp is available when we book.

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