CaroleE

Rivers, Waterfalls: a 10th anniversary special to Zambia

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Posted (edited)

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

 

IMG_0056.thumb.JPG.3ed9ada577c8d96ecc85a9596c87e8e5.JPG

 

The Zambezi

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Victoria Falls

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Edited by CaroleE
Typo!
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Can't wait to read about your entire trip! Great images so far!

we are debating which camp in SLNP for our trip and also if July is a good month (wildlife-wise) 

vs. early Sept.  Rates much lower in July.

Tafika or Kaingo our top choices so far in No. area. Was 4 days there enough for you?

we may add a few more days in the southern region: any thoughts ?

thanks for taking the time to do a TR!  

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Looking forward to this one!  Sounds like you're over the moon about it!

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You know I've been waiting for this one anxiously! We leave on a very similar trip in just one month--Lower Zambezi (at Amanzi too, so really eager to hear that part!), then two camps in SLNP, then Victoria Falls. 

 

Dying to know what your "special" sightings were...don't tease us for too long!!

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I know what you mean about the Luangwa @CaroleE and with the lovely start to this report I know I'm going to enjoy following it.

I won't mind If you err on making us wait !

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@CaroleE nice pictures and yes, South Luangwa + Lower Zambezi very good :)

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21 hours ago, AandA said:

Can't wait to read about your entire trip! Great images so far!

we are debating which camp in SLNP for our trip and also if July is a good month (wildlife-wise) 

vs. early Sept.  Rates much lower in July.

Tafika or Kaingo our top choices so far in No. area. Was 4 days there enough for you?

we may add a few more days in the southern region: any thoughts ?

thanks for taking the time to do a TR!  

 

July was quieter compared to last visit to SLNP which was in November, as animals were more dispersed you did have to work harder for sightings. But still had some great sightings, there was still wildlife (and birdlife) out there. Nearer to October time the drier it gets and the wildlife is concentrated around the remaining water sources. Disadvantage to later in year...it is getting hotter. July early mornings and late afternoons are cooler, rest of the day was very pleasant. You may wish to add that into the reasons to go at a particular time.

Tafiko or Kaingo. I dont think you can go wrong with either of them. I was potentially looking at Kaingo for this trip but they were fully booked. Just remembered that Tafika were already fully booked for September 2017 during my visit, so best to try and  book as early as possible if you want to go in September 2018.

4 days wasn't enough, I eventually chose to have rest of my visit in other areas so that was reason only 4 days in SLNP. Last visit was for 9 nights in one camp (Nsefu) and we didnt run out of things to see. If you choose to stay longer you could do a combination of camps and/or areas. Also look at having a walking camp as one which woud be a great experience and get you out of the vehicle for a whole new perspective.

 

That is my opinion, there are many more people on here with much more experience and knowledge of Zambia than me, if you havent done so already I would add a post into Trip Planning forum and I am sure you will get lots of helpful advice.

 

Good luck with the planning and thank you for stopping by to read the start of my TR!

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21 hours ago, amybatt said:

Looking forward to this one!  Sounds like you're over the moon about it!

 

It really was a great trip! Great camps, great people, fantastic sightings. Yes I enjoyed it!!

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19 hours ago, janzin said:

You know I've been waiting for this one anxiously! We leave on a very similar trip in just one month--Lower Zambezi (at Amanzi too, so really eager to hear that part!), then two camps in SLNP, then Victoria Falls. 

 

Dying to know what your "special" sightings were...don't tease us for too long!!

 

Very jealous that you are going on a similar trip.....Jealous because I know what you have to look forawrd to :)

Fingers crossed, holding thumbs, your trip is just as successful, if not more so, than mine.

 

How long do you think I can keep you all waiting before you all give up and stop reading? It is a fine line between a good feeling of expectation and giving up in fustration as you are having to wait too long:)

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16 hours ago, Caracal said:

I know what you mean about the Luangwa @CaroleE and with the lovely start to this report I know I'm going to enjoy following it.

I won't mind If you err on making us wait !

 

Aha another Luangwa fan. Great!

And this tme a vote for waiting....:)

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Glad you had a great "anniversary" trip, Carole, and looking forward to hearing all about it.

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@CaroleE Looking forward to your TR.

south luangwa was my first safari back in 1999 and still one of my favourite places on earth!

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Happy Anniversary.  You know how to celebrate.  Great photos to start us off.

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I thoght it was high time to add some more to this TR. Sorry it has taken so long, the world and life outside safaris has had to be a priority recently.
So let's start of at the beginning, it's a very good place to start :)


International flight to Lusaka was naturally on time. I need not have booked the extra night in Lusaka but I was happier with a bit of extra time just in case. I flew Emirates via Dubai who were again excellent. At Lusaka, Emirates called everyone out of the immigration/visa queue who were on the afternoon Mfuwe flight so that they coud be speeded through. Despite wanting a joint Zambia/Zimbabwe Univisa I still think I could have got the Mfuwe flight!


On arrival at the visa desks I asked for the queue which could process the combined Univisa but I still ended up at a desk which entailed them having to go to another area to process and print the Univisa. The Univisa was for me cheaper and meant a lot less hassle entering Zimbabwe and re entering Zambia. Also a good idea if you want to visit the Victoria Falls/towns on either side of the Falls, multiple entries allowed.


Overnight in Pioneer Camp was a good idea, It is on the right side of town i.e. no need to go through it. 14kms, about 30 minutes from the airport. I found it a peaceful location, good idea to start the trip with some greenery and bird song! Food is simple but good, small braziers by each table to keep you warm on those cooler evenings. People are really friendly and helpful. Especially when they give you an extra wake up call when you oversleep.Who me? Yes, I can't deny it :). The last bit of the journey is still on the bumpy no tarmac road. They are still being promised that it will be fixed. Soon. Anyway it is good practice for all your game drives, start a bit earlier with all the bumping along :)

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As I had an early start the next morning plus I hadn't slept that well on the flight - lies with me not Emirates, still havent mastered that art -  it was an early night after a quick dinner.

Pioneer also did all the transfers to/from Lusaka airport and the next morning we managed to speed our way there and were so early that domestic check in wasn't yet open. Yes despite my excellent oversleeping skills!
Domestic departures is very simple. For those who haven't travelled trough it, no facilities - so if you want a drink or to use the bathroom best to go before going through to the depature lounge. I yet again marvelled at the ''VIP area'' in domestic departures, I think more airports should follow their example :D

 

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After an uneventful flight, touch down at Mfuwe, met my guide and a couple of other guests who were going to Tafika and I was off into South Luangwa. Yaaay! I was so happy to be back. I didn't forget that you lose mobile signal about 20 minutes after leaving the airport, so had time to send a quick ''I'm here, arrived safely'' text message. A good idea that I did this at Mfuwe as there is no mobile signal in camp. If you needed one you had to walk to a big termite mound some distance from camp and climb to the top of it. Offline, almost. There was a bit of wifi in camp but only in the corner nearest the office and it was really slow.


And on the way to camp, about a 2 hour trip if you don't spot and stop for things, my first Cookson's Wildebeest. Not spotted during my first SLNP trip. A good start! This isn't a great photo. it was taken just in case I didn't see them again.

DSC_0006.thumb.JPG.dd4da8bfffb2cd9337cc8c174d21edee.JPG

 

And I will leave you for now with a few photos of my banda/chalet. More on Tafika camp tomorrow....

 

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The front door

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A few views of the chalet. The first is looking towards the open bathroom at the rear, the second towards the front door.

IMG_0007.thumb.JPG.604ee75b92be34092be480b3124b4212.JPG

 

IMG_0013.thumb.JPG.b6a250a56909affef620f64ad77e0af3.JPG

 

And the shower built into/onto the tree which basically formed part of the chalet.

IMG_0037.thumb.JPG.8ab93c8b4a3d70757dd63e30fa5d72e1.JPG

 

 

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