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bluebird

Choices: Lower Zambezi, Kafue, or Okavango?

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I'm in the middle of planning a first safari with my father for August/September 2018. We plan to spend 12-15 days. Our likely trip outfitter, The Wild Source in Golden, CO, has come up with a few great itineraries. And now we're having a very hard time deciding.

 

All three itineraries include 6-7 days in South Luangwa, staying with the Bushcamp Company (Zungulila and Bilumungwe). The other half of the trip is where we need to make some tough decisions:

 

1. 4 days in the Okavango with Bushmen Plains, followed by 2 days on the Chobe River on a houseboat, and one day at Victoria Falls and Gorges Lodge (If we selected this trip, we'd have a private guide/vehicle for South Luangwa.)

2. 4 days in Lower Zambezi at the Amanzi Camp. (If we selected this trip, it would be 2 days shorter, but we'd have a private guide/vehicle for the entire trip.)

3. 4-5 days in Kafue (unsure of camps yet or private guides; this one is still getting worked out).

 

A Little About Us:

As this is our first safari, virtually everything will be new to us (except maybe cattle egrets). My father is a retired wildlife biologist, so he greatly appreciates wide, open space and NO crowds. We're both birders, but we are just as excited to see new mammals and reptiles. My dad specialized in ungulates, so a variety of antelope would be great; again, though, we wouldn't need to be chasing rarities. Wild dogs would be the cherry on top of an amazing trip. Victoria Falls is not a must for us by any means.

 

Questions:

Any advice or recommendations based on what you see above?

Any concerns we should consider?

Have any of you spent ay time on safari on a houseboat? That part sounds a little weird to me, but it might be great for birds.

 

Thanks in advance for your help. I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait 18 months for this!

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@bluebird You're back!! :) Looks like you've settled on a rough itinerary- awesome!! Wow....such great choices. There is a piece of me that leans towards #1, but that's just because I find the whole houseboat thing intriguing. Water, birds, chilling on the deck...seriously, how can you go wrong? Plus, I know Vic Falls isn't high on the list, but it's pretty impressive and for a one time thing....very cool. And I have looked at the Gorges Lodge and wow....very impressive. And, you get a piece of Botswana which truly is an amazing country. My second choice would be Kafue. Been there only once and definitely want to go back. Looking forward to hearing what you decide!

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I was on the Zambezi Queen for a couple of days on the Chobe. It's a large Riverboat. There were less than 30 people aboard. The water safaris were spectacular and there are lots of species of birds on the Chobe. We also visited a village and were treated to some delicious food.

 

There were lots of activities you could choose from.

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@bluebird What houseboat are you on and where is it going to and from? I think each of the boats is quite different and does different things. "Houseboat" sounds like something very small and personal - just for your group or maybe yours and another group.

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Well I can't comment on Okavango or Lower Zambezi but if your father is as you say looking for "wide, open space and No crowds" then I think Kafue would be ideal particularly as it has more antelope species than any other park in Africa and it has a great variety of birds including the endemic black-cheeked lovebirds which are in the southern sector around Nanzhila.

 

I confess I'm hooked on Kafue and have visited it in 2007,2010,2011,2014 & 2016. It's still quiet tourist wise and still retains that feeling of being a vast wilderness. It would be a good fit with the beautiful South Luangwa and if you wish it's easy to tack on Vic Falls from or to the southern Nanzhila sector.

 

If you think I can help further with advice on my experience of Kafue then please feel free to PM me.

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@@pault Great question. The houseboat is the Pangolin Voyager. It sounds like it would be quite intimate--maximum of 10 guests. http://www.pangolinvoyager.com/

 

@@Tulips I'm glad to hear your boat experience was a good one. I guess I'd just never thought of safari from the water. It's a nice way to get from one place to the next, though. And it looks like they have some great tender boats for getting closer to the action.

 

 

 

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@imonmm Yes, I'm back! I've been lurking and reading quite a bit. :) I agree with you that the Botswana trip is seriously tempting. There would be a lot of transfers, between Botswana, the houseboat, Victoria Falls, and then on to South Luangwa. But it might be worth it. And I'm glad to know that Kafue would be second on your list. I'm eager to get my hands on that itinerary.

@@Caracal Thank you for the info on Kafue. I might take you up on your offer once I see more details on that itinerary. Every trip report I've read on Kafue sounds amazing. My dad is the kind of guy who would appreciate wide expanses of wilderness, even when there isn't an animal sitting in the middle of the scene.

This is going to be a tough choice...

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@@bluebird

 

As Zungulila and Bilimungwe (South Luangwa) already appear to be locked in, my recommendation would be to avoid time consuming international border crossings and stay in Zambia.

Given what you have said about your dad I would recommend Kafue National Park. Depending on budget I would suggest 5 days combing Musekese Camp and a camp out on the Busanga Plains area (of Kafue). But 5 days in Lower Zambezi would be fantastic too!

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@@bluebird

 

I researched possible trips to the areas you mention and settled for 8 days in Kafue at 2 camps. Your father's tastes seem to match my own and I certainly didn't regret my decision.

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I've been to all 3 parks, and I'm actually going to throw in a shout for the Lower Zambezi. I'd agree that staying in Zambia makes more sense logistically, and I think the greater focus on the river there will give you much more of a contrast with the South Luangwa. You will lose out on the wide open spaces that you'd find in the Busanga area of Kafue, but unless you are going to this area specifically, that's less of a loss anyway. Where I think you really gain is the amazing birding, game viewing around Amanzi is certainly better than anything I experienced in Kafue, and the camp itself is a bit of treat too. Plus, if it means you get a private guide, well, that's a bonus too.

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wide, open space and NO crowds

 

 

Basically sums up Busanga. August is also a spectacular time of year there.

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Thank you to everyone for your thoughts. It means a lot. I just received the third proposed itinerary with Kafue. Essentially, it's:

 

4 nights with Bushcamp Company camps in southern South Luangwa (private guide these days)

3 nights at Kaingo Camp (Shenton Safaris) in the northern part of South Luangwa

4 nights at Busanga Plains Camp in Kafue

 

I'm excited about the thought of even a short stop at a Shenton location. And I recognize Busanga Plains from many happy trip reports.

 

Any thoughts on this? I like the variety of birds and antelope that are possible between the three locations.

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Spot on itinerary in my opinion. An absolutely wonderful trip. You say "Busanga Plains Camp", so I assume it is the Mukambi camp rather than Busanga Bush Camp (which is the wilderness property)? Either camp is great - small, intimate and fantastic locations. If it is the plains camp then maybe ask your agent to specify being guided by Ferrison - he is a great guide and good on his birds!

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@@bluebird

Looks like an excellent combination to me!

The only change that I would make (if I had money to burn) would be: Add more days. At all camps!

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Posted (edited)

@@ZaminOz I agree! I wish we could spend something more like 5 days at each. I just don't think the budget will stretch for it, unfortunately. Maybe next time! Thank you for your feedback.

@@KaingU Lodge Yes, it's the Mukambi camp. Thank you so much for the tip on Ferrison.

Edited by bluebird
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@@ZaminOz I agree! I wish we could spend something more like 5 days at each. I just don't think the budget will stretch for it, unfortunately. Maybe next time! Thank you for your feedback.

 

@@KaingU Lodge Yes, it's the Mukambi camp. Thank you so much for the tip on Ferrison.

 

Awesome. You will have a great time I am sure.

 

I was there last year with family and had a fantastic time:

 

post-42446-0-37122500-1490985720_thumb.jpg

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@@KaingU Lodge that picture made me gasp. It looks so amazing!

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Just a quick update. Thank you to everyone for your advice here and for your trip reports, which I have pored over. My dad and I booked the South Luangwa and Kafue itinerary this week; we'll be leaving the last week of August 2018. It's going to be amazing.

 

And now I face the hardest part: Waiting almost 17 months to go!

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