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Trip Report - Zambia 6/7/07 - 21/7/07

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Trip Report - Zambia 6/7/07 - 21/7/07

Hi All - Got back from a wonderful 2 week safari in Zambia. Had a fantastic time while there. I am a trip report virgin, so take it easy.

Itinerary -

2n - Tafika
2n - Chikoko Bushcamp
1n - Crocodile Bushcamp
2n - Tafika
2n - Kaingo
2n - Kuyenda
2n - Zambezi Sun, Livingstone

Accommodation -

The chalets at Tafika are reed and straw with solid floors, large, airy and comfortable with twin double beds, outdoor shower, loo, solar powered lamps and a verandah with seating. The lodge is set on a bend in the Luangwa with lovely views across the sand bank, just outside the northern boundary of SLNP. The lodge has 6 chalets. The chitenge is cozy, contains a bar with a few sofas and arm chairs and some dining tables and overlooks the river. The grounds of the lodge are in an ebony (I think) grove, laid to lawn and immaculately maintained by the resident hippos. Walking, drives and mountain biking safaris are possible.

The Chikoko and Crocodile Bushcamps are located inside the park and across the river. Chikoko sits along the Chikoko channel which is seasonal. The 3 chalets are raised on stilts and open on 1 side with large double beds and solar lamps. Showering and toilet facilities are at ground level. The chitenge is built around a large tree and some sofas have been laid out along the channel. Crocodile bushcamp also has 3 reed huts with attached showers, loos and solar lamps along the Crocodile lagoon (dry for most of the year). Both are simple with all necessary comforts. Food here, as at Tafika is excellent and plenty. The focus at the bushcamps is walking.

At Kaingo we were allocated the Honeymoon Chalet, which the one furtherest away from the chitenge. The rooms are solid in construction with straw roofs, 4-poster double bed, enclosed shower and loo and had an outside bath as well.

Kuyenda is in the southern half of the park and about 1 hour drive from Mfuwe lodge and reached by crossing a sand river. Perhaps the nicest of all the bushcamps, the accommodation is spacious with 2 large doubles, outdoor shower and loo. Being experienced Africa traveller, we were assigned the newly built (2 of their 4 chalets were destroyed in the recent floods) 'Lion' chalet. Its remote and excellent. The chitenge is compact, but cozy and the food excellent.

Game viewing / Guiding -

Tafika is in excellent game viewing area. Game drives are conducted in the Nsefu sector of the park. The area is remote and only once out of 7 drives did we encounter another vehicle (from Tafika itself). Highlights of the viewing were 4 Leopards, lions (4 lionesses, 1 young male) at a warthog kills on a night drive (these were part of a 16 strong pride containing 10 cubs), several sightings of Genet and Civets, Banded Mongoose, Ellies, Impala, Puku, Kudu, Eland (herd of 7), Waterbuck, bushbuck, hippos (in their 100's), crocs (in their 1000's), yellow baboons, vervet monkeys, Thornicrofts Giraffe, Crayshaws Zebra, Buffalo, spotted Hyaena. Significant birds including Fish Eagles, Pels fishing owl, Yellow Billed, Marabou and Saddle Billed Storks, and numerous more. The stork colony in Nsefu sector is a sight to behold. There have been sightings of wild-dog (population estimated at around 90 in 5 packs), but their den sites are unknown.

Walking from Crocodile and Chikoko yielded amongst other, an unforgettable 1.5 hour effort to track 3 lionesses on foot - we got within 40 feet of the pride, a leopard kill in a tree - all we saw of the leopard was flashes of the tail, an ellie with a calf that didnt take well to our presence and made some aggressive displays before moving off. As always, walking isnt about the big things and we learnt of several fascinating snippets of information. As usual, the scout and guide displayed amazing tracking skills, intimate knowledge of the area and interactions between various elements.

Kaingo is located on the banks of the Lungwa river. The highlight has to be the Hippo hide, built into the banks of the river and allows one to get very close (20ft) to the resident hippo pod. We had an opportunity to witness 2 Hippo bulls in a very aggressive fight, drawing blood. Lots of pictures. other included a tiny abandoned hippo calf (perhaps no more than a week old), ellies, Giraffe, buffalo, pride of 13 lions, crocs, hippo (1000's) etc.

Kuyenda offers both walking and driving opportunity, but didnt yield the same amount game viewing. However, Phil Berry who is the seniormost guide in the valley is universally accepted as being a walking encyclopedia and we had intended to do as much walking as possible with him. Highlight was a Giant Eagle Owl, a Martial Eagle, Sharp's Grysbok, stalking leopard, various vultures on a hippo kill. Phil educated us on a number of smaller things in the bush.

Overall Impressions -

Remote Africa is an excellent operation. They have some of the most experienced guides in the valley. The atmosphere is very homely and friendly, the whole team is very welcoming.

Kaingo - I'll resist from posting here at the moment as I am in the middle of some feedback and communication with my TA on this. It wouldnt be fair to write anything at this time on Kaingo.

Kuyenda is an intimate Bushcamp operating to a very high standard. Phil is perhaps the best guide in the valley. Food was excellent.

Zambezi Sun - Lets just say, that its a theme park and I wont go there again. The rooms are comfortable and adequate. Their main draw is the location (5 min walk to the falls) and makes several visits to the falls possible. Breakfast (included) was sumptous and lunch (ala carte, poolside) / dinner (buffet) options are overpriced. Seeking out options in Livingstone is advisable. We had dinner at Ngoma Zanga in Livingstone, serving Zambian food. It was reasonable.

Photos to follow.

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