First off, thanks to Rocco at DestinyAfrica for putting together this trip. It went off without a hitch, everything was arranged perfectly and no problems at all. Thanks Rocco! (and Julian for reconfirming everything!)
On the way back home from our first trip to Zambia, 4 months ago, I thought it would be nice to see the contrast from the dry season to the Emerald Season in Zambia. Living in Hawaii, there’s not much difference in seasons and I wanted to see some change somewhere, and where better than South Luangwa, Zambia? So Rocco put together a 12 night package and 4 months later we were off!
We left Hilo, Hawaii on March 7, stayed 2 days in California visiting friends and family, then off to London where we had an 8 hour layover. We met Kavey, Julian and Mandy (all Fodorites) in Chinatown where we had a nice lunch and compared our African experiences. London was cold and wet and we were a bit jet-lagged but had a nice time meeting everyone.
We flew British Airways from San Francisco to Heathrow, then Heathrow to Lusaka. The seats were o.k. (economy class), first plane was a 747, we got a 2 seat row in the back, second plane was a 767, again 2 seat configuration. My only complaint was the video system. On South African Airlines, they had video on demand where British Airways played the videos at 1 time, so if you woke up in the middle of the movie, you’d have to wait until the movie finished, then they restarted it. The food was good, for airline food, though I think SAA’s food was better as was their service.
We arrived in Lusaka in the morning, was met at the terminal by Zambian Airwaves “Meet and Greet” service, was whisked through immigration, got our Mfuwe tickets and had a short wait for our flight. The plane was an 18 seater, not too comfortable, but the flight was only 1 hour 10 minutes.
Overall, the trip was great! The landscape was green and lush, the river was full when we arrived, the skies bright blue and the weather was hot. During the day it was between 85-96F and at night it was usually 75F, not much different than in October. We saw a lot of game, though it was more spread out, the elephants seemed to only come out in the afternoon, there were more zebras, giraffes, lions and hippos this trip, and we did see 4 leopards, but no dogs! There were a lot of babies this trip, every zebra herd had 1 or 2, baby impalas, hippos and giraffe. The birding was spectacular, if you’re into birds. The only problem with birds is that they do not sit still for photos like the 4 legged critters do! It only rained 1 day in the early evening, some of the park was closed due to mud and there were no walking safaris, which we enjoyed on our last safari. We knew this before we left, so we weren’t surprised and disappointed.
I’m glad I went and saw the contrast, but I do prefer the dry season. More activities available and the animals more concentrated. We did see more of everything this trip, 12 lions, hundreds of zebra, hippos and elephant, puku, impala, waterbuck, bushbuck, 3 different mongoose, genets, a Mozambique spitting cobra and 4 leopards. I don’t think I’d go back in the Emerald Season, but I wouldn’t talk anyone out of it either. The greenery is amazingly beautiful and just to see the river with so much water, it was worth it!
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