Julian

Zambia 2017 - Advice, suggestions, etc - Please

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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.

Thanks ZaminOz , this is really helpful.

Regarding the northern sector of SL , Kaingo and Mwamba do sound really good ( as does Tafika) based on the trip reports on here and other reviews. They all currently have rooms available.

The southern sector is now no longer an option as all the good camps are full( or just odd days available) during July.

Also helpful to see that you confirm our views that Lower Zambezi would use up a lot of 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.

Thanks Optig this is also really helpful.

You and ZaminOz share the same opinions regarding Kaingo and Mwamba.

The southern sector of SL is no longer an option - all the camps you will be staying at are nearly full in July ( just odd days left).

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Posted (edited)

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

Thanks African this is helpful.

Nice to know that Musekese ( which still has rooms available ) is good for walking.

 

Regarding ATR, we will definitely be booking with them. They were superb with everything on our last safari and we were 100% happy with everything they discussed and arranged. They are probably the only company that provides a fully itemised breakdown of all the costs so you can see exactly what you are being charged on a day by day basis. They also tend to be cheaper than any other major travel company, and although others may disagree they will book you into any camp you want.

Edited by Julian
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Posted (edited)

Many thanks to all who have responded to my detailed post yesterday.

Its all very helpful info.

 

The southern sector of SL is no longer an option for July as there are only odd days left at Kapamba, Kuyenda, Bilimungwe, Zungulia, Chichendi and Chamilandu- so that will have to wait for a future visit to SL.

 

So, subject to availability it will be as I stated above for 6 days in Kafue.

The other 6 or 7 days will be in the Nortern sector of South Luangwa. From your responses , and the trip reports section, Kaingo and Mwamba are obviously excellent.

 

Any of you been to Tafika?

 

Another option we have in the northen sector is the Norman Carr camps - Luwi, Nsolu, Kakuli and Muchenje.

Any of you been to these?

 

Also with regard to those four Norman Carr camps there is a special option, dont know if its only through ATR, where we can take pot-luck , booking a minimum of four nights. This would mean we would be allocated our camps upon arrival and would be moved around those camps. So if we booked 7 days we might spend a couple of days at each camp or any other combination - its their way of filling up the odd days gaps in bookings.

Why choose it - if availability in SL is really difficult when we book it may be the only option, but the main reason is that you get about 25% off the rack rate, as well as any other discounts.

Edited by Julian

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@@Julian Tafika....going in the future. It is has a great reputation.

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Many thanks to all who have responded to my detailed post yesterday.

Its all very helpful info.

 

The southern sector of SL is no longer an option for July as there are only odd days left at Kapamba, Kuyenda, Bilimungwe, Zungulia, Chichendi and Chamilandu- so that will have to wait for a future visit to SL.

 

So, subject to availability it will be as I stated above for 6 days in Kafue.

The other 6 or 7 days will be in the Nortern sector of South Luangwa. From your responses , and the trip reports section, Kaingo and Mwamba are obviously excellent.

 

Any of you been to Tafika?

 

Another option we have in the northen sector is the Norman Carr camps - Luwi, Nsolu, Kakuli and Muchenje.

Any of you been to these?

 

Also with regard to those four Norman Carr camps there is a special option, dont know if its only through ATR, where we can take pot-luck , booking a minimum of four nights. This would mean we would be allocated our camps upon arrival and would be moved around those camps. So if we booked 7 days we might spend a couple of days at each camp or any other combination - its their way of filling up the odd days gaps in bookings.

Why choose it - if availability in SL is really difficult when we book it may be the only option, but the main reason is that you get about 25% off the rack rate, as well as any other discounts.

 

@@Julian

 

The other camp in the north is R.P.S's Nsefu in the Nsefu sector across the river from Kaingo & Muchenje. I have not been there but an ex Safaritalker with extensive safari experience raves about it. I'm actually considering it as an extension to my 10 days (already booked) at Mwamba/Kaingo this October. I also spent 10 days at Mwamba/Kaingo last October.

 

I absolutely love Mwamba but i would describe it as rough & ready. It can be very hot during the day there whilst Kaingo being on the river picks up a cooling breeze and with it's permanent chalets with large rooms & bathroom is easier on the body than Mwamba.

 

I have been to Tafika, Nsolo, Kakuli & Luwi but that was many years ago. My view might be outdated but I suspect that all the Norman Carr camps you mentioned have an emphasis on walking based activities rather than drives. Only you and Rachel will know/understand her physical capabilites and she might not be up to all that walking, Where as Kaingo & Tafika you can opt to have a walk rather than a gamedrive.

 

The other area you did not mention is what II think is called the Central sector. It can be busy but also extremely good value at places like Flatdogs, Nkwali, Kafunta etc.

Kafunta can be outstanding value (and the lodge & surrounds is beautiful) although if going in July I would not consider Kafunta.

 

If you do stay in the Central sector it is easy to get to the airport on the last day rather than having a hard slog of a 3-4 hour gamedrive back from the south or north.

 

Best wishes to Rachel.

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@@Julian

 

I have been to Mchenja in 2010 (there's a trip report here somewhere). Beautiful camp but really in the same area as Kaingo... and I would rate Kaingo higher. Also, which is important for me, Shenton Safaris (Kaingo/Mwamba) are still genuinely owner operated, Zambian owned. Norman Carr Safaris (sadly) is not. They are now owned by a Mauritian luxury hotel chain.

 

I also agree with @@Geoff that Mwamba is "rough & ready". It is one of the most rustic, authentic Zambian style bush camps out there, but a wonderful camp to experience. Also I wouldn't worry too much about the heat in July (it's not that hot).

 

I haven't been to any RPS camps or Tafika, but would be interested to try both one day... just need a balaclava, sawn off shottie, fat juicy unprotected bank and a fast getaway car first...

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@@Julian I"ve been twice to both to Tafika and Mwamba. Tafika is an a superb camp in all respects. I've stayed there twice and couldn't have enjoyed it more. There is a super hide for watching carmine bee eaters and the site along the river is breathtaking. The vibe is awesome. You can choose to go on walks or game drives during the day. The night drives were incredibly productive. I loved the rustic,but comfortable huts. I enjoyed the open air showers. There were often elephants in camp. John and Carol Coppinger,Brian Jackson, Rona,and Heather make you feel like your'e family,not like paying guests as you would at some other property. The food was incredibly good,especially the cakes.

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@@Julian

 

Another vote for Tafika. It was back in 2007 when we went but John & Carol Coppinger, Bryan Jackson, Rona, Heather and guides Isaac Zulu and Stephen Banda are all still there.

Very, very easy going and experienced team. We had a great time. They have 2 satellite bushcamps called Chikoko and Crocodile which are also excellent but do concentrate on walking.

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@@Julian Tafika....going in the future. It is has a great reputation.

 

Thats great, hope we can book it for this trip

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Posted (edited)

 

Many thanks to all who have responded to my detailed post yesterday.

Its all very helpful info.

 

The southern sector of SL is no longer an option for July as there are only odd days left at Kapamba, Kuyenda, Bilimungwe, Zungulia, Chichendi and Chamilandu- so that will have to wait for a future visit to SL.

 

So, subject to availability it will be as I stated above for 6 days in Kafue.

The other 6 or 7 days will be in the Nortern sector of South Luangwa. From your responses , and the trip reports section, Kaingo and Mwamba are obviously excellent.

 

Any of you been to Tafika?

 

Another option we have in the northen sector is the Norman Carr camps - Luwi, Nsolu, Kakuli and Muchenje.

Any of you been to these?

 

Also with regard to those four Norman Carr camps there is a special option, dont know if its only through ATR, where we can take pot-luck , booking a minimum of four nights. This would mean we would be allocated our camps upon arrival and would be moved around those camps. So if we booked 7 days we might spend a couple of days at each camp or any other combination - its their way of filling up the odd days gaps in bookings.

Why choose it - if availability in SL is really difficult when we book it may be the only option, but the main reason is that you get about 25% off the rack rate, as well as any other discounts.

 

@@Julian

 

The other camp in the north is R.P.S's Nsefu in the Nsefu sector across the river from Kaingo & Muchenje. I have not been there but an ex Safaritalker with extensive safari experience raves about it. I'm actually considering it as an extension to my 10 days (already booked) at Mwamba/Kaingo this October. I also spent 10 days at Mwamba/Kaingo last October.

 

I absolutely love Mwamba but i would describe it as rough & ready. It can be very hot during the day there whilst Kaingo being on the river picks up a cooling breeze and with it's permanent chalets with large rooms & bathroom is easier on the body than Mwamba.

 

I have been to Tafika, Nsolo, Kakuli & Luwi but that was many years ago. My view might be outdated but I suspect that all the Norman Carr camps you mentioned have an emphasis on walking based activities rather than drives. Only you and Rachel will know/understand her physical capabilites and she might not be up to all that walking, Where as Kaingo & Tafika you can opt to have a walk rather than a gamedrive.

 

The other area you did not mention is what II think is called the Central sector. It can be busy but also extremely good value at places like Flatdogs, Nkwali, Kafunta etc.

Kafunta can be outstanding value (and the lodge & surrounds is beautiful) although if going in July I would not consider Kafunta.

 

If you do stay in the Central sector it is easy to get to the airport on the last day rather than having a hard slog of a 3-4 hour gamedrive back from the south or north.

 

Best wishes to Rachel.

 

Thanks for all the info Geoff,

Nsefu , yes we have noted that, and Tena Tena - both possibles.

 

The differences in Kaingo and Mwamba - thats good to know - we would definitely choose Kaingo out of those two as bathroom facilities are now more important for Rachel.

 

As others have said, the Norman Carr camps are now run by a hotel chain, so unlikely to choose any of those.

 

The central area - we decided we would avoid that because, as you have also said, it is busier. Not worried about a long drive back.

Edited by Julian

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@@Julian

 

I have been to Mchenja in 2010 (there's a trip report here somewhere). Beautiful camp but really in the same area as Kaingo... and I would rate Kaingo higher. Also, which is important for me, Shenton Safaris (Kaingo/Mwamba) are still genuinely owner operated, Zambian owned. Norman Carr Safaris (sadly) is not. They are now owned by a Mauritian luxury hotel chain.

 

I also agree with @@Geoff that Mwamba is "rough & ready". It is one of the most rustic, authentic Zambian style bush camps out there, but a wonderful camp to experience. Also I wouldn't worry too much about the heat in July (it's not that hot).

 

I haven't been to any RPS camps or Tafika, but would be interested to try both one day... just need a balaclava, sawn off shottie, fat juicy unprotected bank and a fast getaway car first...

Thanks for this ZaminOz

Very helpful to know that those camps are no longer Norman Carr owned camps.

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@@Julian I"ve been twice to both to Tafika and Mwamba. Tafika is an a superb camp in all respects. I've stayed there twice and couldn't have enjoyed it more. There is a super hide for watching carmine bee eaters and the site along the river is breathtaking. The vibe is awesome. You can choose to go on walks or game drives during the day. The night drives were incredibly productive. I loved the rustic,but comfortable huts. I enjoyed the open air showers. There were often elephants in camp. John and Carol Coppinger,Brian Jackson, Rona,and Heather make you feel like your'e family,not like paying guests as you would at some other property. The food was incredibly good,especially the cakes.

Thanks Optig, this is helpful

Tafika is definitely one we would hope to book, it sounds wonderful.

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@@Julian

 

Another vote for Tafika. It was back in 2007 when we went but John & Carol Coppinger, Bryan Jackson, Rona, Heather and guides Isaac Zulu and Stephen Banda are all still there.

Very, very easy going and experienced team. We had a great time. They have 2 satellite bushcamps called Chikoko and Crocodile which are also excellent but do concentrate on walking.

Thanks Zim Girl

Tafika is now a definite, subject to it being available.

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@@Julian I also have to stress that South Luangwa National park is not only a lovely National park it's without a doubt one of the loveliest in Southern Africa. The scenery not only in all of the park.but just in the Northern Sector where Tafika is located. it is located along the river, and all has plains in front of it as well as a lovely forest. I'll be visiting the Southern Sector which is scenically completely different.

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Posted (edited)

We would welcome advice/ answers please on the folowing questions for this trip to Zambia ( Kafue and South Luangwa) in July:

 

The two main options for flights from the UK to Lusaka are either Emirates via Dubai or South African via Jo'burg. Not a lot of difference in cost. Anyone have preferences on which is best?

 

Temperatures overnight and especially on morning game drives ( mid to late July) ? And what cold morning additional clothes would you take, taking into account the luggage allowance limits?

 

Are the luggage allowance limits for these destinations in zambia ( given that we will be on one or more light aircraft ) 15 kg or 12 kg, and do they enforce these limits ( weigh your luggage), and what haappens if it is over the limit?

 

Tsetse flies - How bad are they likely to ge in Kafue and SL in July. ( Rachel had an unpleasant reaction to these on our last safari in Tanzania ie very itchy lumps/ spots, although we are now aware that taking antihistamines in advance is supposed to help a lot ?

 

We normally tip in US dollars, is that OK for Zambia or do we need Zambian currency?

 

Anything else that we should be aware of going to Zambia as opposed to our previous safari destinations in Tanzania/ Botswana / Kenya?

Edited by Julian

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@@Julian Of the ones that I can answer...

 

US$ is fine for tipping.

 

Tsetse flies could be an issue in Kafue especially in or near the tree line. Out in the middle of Busanga Plains they won't be a problem. Not nearly as bad in SLNP but you might come across a few if you go inland away from the river. Suggest Rachel wear long trousers and long sleeve shirt.

 

July temps are something like a low of 10 degrees, high of 30 degrees. Could feel cooler overnight, especially if there is a breeze, take a fleece for the early morning part of the drive and you will probably find you won't need it after morning tea.

 

What other light aircraft flights are you taking? As Proflight allows 23 Kgs on Lusaka - Mfuwe flights.

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@@Geoff is correct the Proflight checked baggage limit Lusaka - Mfuwe is 23kg. But my bag for Luangwa (in the July period) still usually weighs in at about 15kg (and I have usually over packed). Don't forget that all the camps that you are considering will do daily laundry for free, so you don't actually need that many changes of clothes.

 

For July it could get chilly on an open vehicle in the early mornings and evenings (it may only be 10 degrees c, but the wind chill factor can make it feel colder than that while the vehicle is moving), but a good warm fleece or a good bush jacket will keep you warm enough until the sun warms you up. Also many camps put a couple of blankets in their vehicles which you can use to keep out the chill.

I think that it would be a little bit warmer down in the Luangwa valley than in Kafue (higher altitude) though.

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@@Julian I purchased a fly suit because I not only will be visiting Kafue,but also Katavi, Murchison Falls and at some time in future Zakouma, and Tarangire National Parks all of which have a terrible reputation for having a terrible problem with tsetse flies. If you need it I'll be happy to send you the link.

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@@Julian Emirates makes it unlikely you will make the bush that day, with South African you usually can. Personally prefer Emirates and having a quick overnight in Lusaka, then going on to the bush in the morning- seems a little more relaxing, but if you are dying to get out to the bush then it will need to be South Africa.

My own experience with tsetse's in Kafue in July was extremely offputting (6 tsetses inside my trousers was a personal low), but as @@Geoff mentioned it was definitely much better up at Shumba than further south. Entirely anecdotally, I do find that I tend to feel tse tse and mozzie bites less towards the end of a trip than I do at the start. I'm not sure if I've just become more accustomed to the temperature or my body finds the bites less irritating, but were I to do the South Luangwa/Kafue combo again in July I'd probably do Kafue second for that reason.

I'd say from what you've written about your previous safaris I think you would love Zambia. There's more of an emphasis on walking than the places you previously mention visiting, and the night drives tend to be a lot longer too- in some cases going out again after dinner as well. Enjoy though, it looks like a cracker of a trip.

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My recent experience with tsetse in Kafue (October 2017) was that they are not as bad as they have been in the past. A pair of long trousers and a long sleeve shirt is probably wise if you are heading for the treeline the first time.

 

Like @@ExtraordinaryAlex I now find my body is much less troubled by them that it was some years ago but I do carry antihistamine to take in case of a fierce reaction. I have not ever felt the need for a bug suit in Kafue.

 

I have also had a few nasty bites one when I was 'enjoying' a pit stop and I was had in a very delicate place!

 

In Kafue they sometimes use the smoking elephant dung on the back of the vehicle to deter the tsetses.

 

They do not have to be a major problem

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Proflight were weighing hand luggage in mwfuwe the last time we were there and despite our hold baggage being underweight, we had to pay excess baggage for our camera equipment. Not from Lusaka though....

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@@Julian...flight recommendation: Emirates! The flights are so much nicer, you can avoid JoBurg and you can connect with the Proflight flight that goes to Mfuwe if that is where you are headed first. It is true that you will have to spend the night somewhere before getting to your camp. We arrived at the Mfuwe Lodge in the dark, had dinner and went to bed. First sighting: little brown frogs. The next morning we were up early and ready to go. And rested.

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@@marg's quite right- I should have mentioned it is possible to get up to Mfuwe in one day if you do the Emirates flight and pick your days right, but the connection is only 80 mins so there's not much margin of error for any delays out of Dubai/time for lost bag hunting etc. So I think the Lusaka night definitely takes the potential for hassle out of the situation, but the trade off is of course the lovely wake up in Mfuwe which @@marg mentions so I think this would mainly come down to your personal travel style.

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2016 was my 5th visit to Kafue and I've never found the tsetses too troubling personally.

 

A nuisance at times yes but then the call "Time to light the dung" usually does the trick and the lighting of elephant dung @@wilddog refers to seems to solve the problem.

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