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Walking Safari in South Luangwa

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Hello,

i would just like to start by saying what an informative forums this is. My wife and I are celebrating our 25th Wedding anniversary next year, and i wanted to surprise her with a safari. We travelled to Botswana last year, though this time I am looking to go further a field.

I was planning on booking a whirlwind trip lasting just over a month, starting in September. Having spoken with a couple of agents, this is what we have decided on:

15 nights in Botswana, including Savuti, Mombo, Jacks, Deception Valley and a water camp

2 nights in Livingstone

We then roughly have a 11 nights span to go on safari in Zambia. Whilst here, i have already allocated 4 nights for Chiawa. It is now a case of deciding where to go in SOuth Luangwa. I specifically wannt to concentrate on the walking safari element as this is what the PArk is reknowned for. The two companies that really take my interest are the Bushcamp company and Robin Pope. I have found only limited information through the search facility on these outfits. Bushcamp appears to be very intimate with a high emphasis on walking. Whereas Robin pope seems a little larger in a more populated area of the park. Any information on these two would be fantastic.

Once this is sorted, the SA is easily organised.

Thanks in advance,
Peter

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    Since you are not going to next year, several of us will be going in September-October this year and can let you know our expreiences when we gbet back. I would, however throw John Coppinger's Tafika in the mix as well as he has a camp in the North Luangwa that is walking only and more remote. They are Remote Africa Safaris n the web. Also Kaingo by Shenton Safaris has more than one camp that is walked to. We will be staying there and it is one of the few that has reports in Trip Adviser.

    If you are going to Chiawa, you may want to look at Old Mondoro -- its sister camp. Also do a search here for the camps you are interested in.

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    peterpiper,

    I would suggest this website for the very best Zambian information:

    www.zambiatourism.com

    Also, here are some other camps that you may want to consider in Lower Zambezi:

    www.kasakariverlodge.com
    www.chongwe-river.com

    Each of these two places look fabulous and they are about 1/3 less than Chiawa's standard tents.

    For South Luangwa, here are some other considerations:

    Luangwa River Lodge (www.luangwariverlodge.com)

    Puku Ridge
    http://www.star-of-africa.com/circuit/pukuridge/pukuridge.htm

    I think you are going to love Zambia. I am making my third trip in as many years this September and will be visiting each Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa. My own itinerary, before finishing up with a weeek in Cape Town and the Sabi Sand:

    Kasaka River Lodge, LZNP (3)
    Chongwe River Camp, LZNP (2)
    Luangwa River Lodge, SLNP (3)
    Tafika, SLNP (2)
    Puku Ridge, SLNP (2)

    Over the last couple years I have made some excellent contacts in South Luangwa, so if you need any assistance, don't hesitate to e-mail me, and I can put you in touch with the right people to help you get the best pricing.

    Congratulations on your approaching Silver Anniversary! :)

    ---In case you missed my recent thread on Victoria Falls and South Luangwa that may be of interest to you, I have copied and pasted it below:

    Author: Roccco (rocco_morelli@hotmail.com)
    Date: 04/30/2005, 08:34 pm
    http://www.lowdown.co.zm/2005/2005-04/rainbow.htm

    (about full moon rainbows over Victoria Falls)

    During a full moon, there is actually a rainbow (or rainbows) over Victoria Falls, and it is possible to visit the falls during a full moon if you or your lodge/hotel sets it up in advance.

    http://www.lowdown.co.zm/2005/2005-03/nogoingback.htm

    (the story behind the construction of the luxurious Luangwa River Lodge in South Luangwa, as well as a review of the lodge)

    Sidenote...Luangwa River Lodge is $350 pp per night sharing for the first 3 nights and $300 pp per night sharing for any additional nights for international travelers in high season.

    For low season, it is only $250 pp per night sharing for the first 3 nights and $200 pp per night sharing for any additional time for internationl travelers.

    (The article mentions low season pricing for locals, as The Lowdown is a Zambian magazine)

    The Lowdown is a great source for local Zambian information, including reviews on luxury camps/lodges.

    www.lowdown.co.zm



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    Dear Peter,
    My wife and I have traveled extensively through Southern African wildlife areas over the last 20 years (Namibia/Bowtswana/Zimbabwe/South Africa/Zambia)and I consider that nothing beats a Robin Pope 5 day Mupudmadzi mobile safaris in the South Luangwa. (I have not done North Luangwa but it is on the "to do" list.)
    Sepetember is a great time for the 5 day walking mobile on the Mupudmadzi River - my wife and I went in September last year. You will not see as much game as driving and also because the animals are not at all habituated to people as it is so remote; but we were very lucky last year and our trip was described on the RPS website as Robin's best mobile ever for game viewing. Given your overall itinerary, you will in any event see plenty during your holiday.
    By the way, if you can get Robin himself as your guide, as we have been lucky enough to experience in 2001 and again last year, it is well worth it (although the other guides we met in the various RPS camps were also very good and would no doubt do a great job).

    I also stayed at Old Mondoro last year and highly recommend it for a night or two as it is very rustic, isolated and unspoilt. However, it does not offer boating, fishing or canoeing as a matter of course so you may wish to stay at Chiawa for the full time.

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    Wow, it will be a 25th to remember!

    I prefer to do the active part of any safari (Zambia in your case) up front, then relax for the remaining less active part. But that's just me.

    In September/October the Linyanti area of Botswana is a little better than the nearby Savuti area.

    As mpkp recommended, I think Tafika would be worth a look and I enjoyed my stay there immensely. Only 5 thatched huts and tremendous personal service. Good game area, in fact we saw Pope's vehicle in our area coming to check out Tafika's game.

    The Coppingers also have a North Luangwa camp, Mwaleshi. I've not stayed there, but have visited, and am planning a return to, Kutandala in North Luangwa. A magical place. Kutandala was my answer to a previous post on favorite bush camp.

    It is not the fanciest camp, but its owners, a married couple Rod and Guz, have put their heart and soul into the place. Its location and the setting of the dining areas are charming, along the Mwaleshi River. In fact most game walks start and end with removing boots and wading through the ankle deep Mwaleshi. The tents overlook the river and have giant ensuite sandy floored bathrooms. Guz is a marvelous cook and Rod guides the walks. There are no night drives and no vehicle game drives unless the drives coordinate with transfers or errands.

    In the 4 days I was there (and 4+ is recommended), our walks included meandering among a herd of buffalo, getting snorted at by a bushpig, observing two bachelor elephants cross the Mwaleshi, watching a nose-to-nose exchange between a buffalo and a croc, and seeing three lions with six other species of hooved animals fleeing the lions. Plus lots of other interesting sightings.

    Though I have not been there, Kaingo in South Luangwa has gotten some very good writeups here. Not only are there morning and afternoon/evening activities, but also midday trips to a hippo pool.

    Two years ago I also stayed at two Pope camps, Nikwali and Tena Tena and had a good time there. Talked with people who had done the Pope mobile walking safari and they raved, but mentioned they had few animal sightings. Compared with non-mobile walking safaris, that has been my experience also.

    If you enjoy canoeing, one of the most amazing canoe trips I ever took was the daylong paddle from Sausage Tree to Old Mondoro, using a back channel that had been discovered just a week before I arrived in July 2003. I would suspect that channel still exists, although a couple of rainy seasons may have altered it somewhat.

    The trip took all day but was easy paddling because we were with the current the whole way. The first two hours or so was on the Zambezi, then we hit the channel. It was much more narrow and winding than the Zambezi so we were much closer to the wildlife--a few elephants, a herd of relaxed buffalo, baboons, vervets, antelope, hippos charging out of the water, not at us. No dangerous hippo encounters. And really beautiful scenery on both banks.

    The flocks of birds were amazing--sacred ibis, open billed storks, spoonbilled storks. They seemed to fly with us. It really offered a different canoe experience than on the Zambezi itself.

    My guide was quite enchanted with it. In the four days we were together, he was more excited over this than anything else--and there were some other very good viewings and encounters in my opinion.

    You cannot canoe to Old Mondoro from Chiawa--it's too far. But it is a perfect all day trip from Sausage Tree, a lovely camp with a reputation for a festive approach to safaris and some memorable surprises.

    I loved Old Mondoro, a walking camp, although we did night drives. The landscape was beautiful and elephants were plentiful in camp.

    Have a marvelous trip and Happy Anniversary.

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    Killer Bots itinerary...

    As usual, there are some excellent comments from people who have experienced trips that concentrated on walking in Zambia.

    RPS does great "mobile" walking trips-- Robin is superb, but so is Jason who has specialized in these trips for many years. A friend who did one of these trips was blown away by the wildlife they encountered on foot. And RPS always does a great job taking care of guests.

    But then so do Rod & Guz at Kutandala in North Luangwa. If you can do this, it would be especially nice for a wedding anniversary-- a very special, private, wild place.

    Finally, Bush Camp Company also specializes in walking. I don't know why more people haven't mentioned Phil Berry at Kuyenda-- Phil is the guides guide--he is the one the other guides call for info, history, etc. Right up their with Robin Pope as Zambia's top guide. And at Kuyenda Phil conducts EVERY WALK and EVERY DRIVE (at least he did a couple years ago, and I believe this is still the case. An email can confirm this...) If you ask the guides of Zambia who is the top guide, I'm pretty sure that the answer would be "Phil". Kuyenda is small (Phil insists on no more than 6 guests on a walk, so that is the camp limit) and lovely-- thatched reed huts. Bush Camp Company's other camps, including Chendeni, are beautiful too, and they are a quality operation. They have options for walking between their camps,too. (My only reservation about them is for visitors who really want to concentrate on drives--they do some drives, but primarily walk. If that's what you want, they do it very well indeed!

    Sigh...wish I could do all these...you have such a great trip planned already...why not add 15 days in Zambia and sample all of the above?

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    Wow,

    Thankyou very much for the extensive response. Rocco, i appreciate the information you have given, have given those links a thorough read. I am not really that interested in the other lodges though. From the website, Luangwa river lodge looks excellent, i also remember seeing the owners on the no going back series. Puku lodge looks very rustic too, though its not really the walking side i am looking for.

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    Tasha,

    I think one could stay 30 nights in Zambia and still not spend ample time at all the great places! :)

    Let's see...30 nights in Zambia...preferred timing being early September to early October...

    Lunga River Lodge, Kafue (2)
    Busanga Bush Camp, Busanga Plains, Kafue (3)
    Lunga River Lodge, Kafue (1)
    Tena Tena, SLNP (3) (working my way north here)
    Kaingo, SLNP (3)
    Tafika, SLNP (3)
    Kutandala, North Luangwa NP (4)
    Shiwa N'gandu (The Africa House) (3)
    Nkwali, SLNP (3) (working my way south here)
    Luangwa River Lodge (3)
    Puku Ridge (3)
    Kasaka River Lodge (3)
    Chongwe River Camp (3)
    Sausage Tree Camp (3)
    Chiawa Camp (3)
    Stanley Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls (2)

    Sorry...I am a failure...I couldn't stay at all the Zambian lodges I wanted in under 45 nights!

    Now if only one of those scamming Nigerian bankers who always spams many of us with e-mails turned out to be the real deal and put $5 million dollars in our hands, then an itinerary like this would be possible! ;)

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    sorry, accidently pressed post. They dont offer just walking, which is what i am after.

    I think i am leaning towards a mix of north Luangwa and the Bushcamp Company. Tashak, thanks for the advice on "phil". I would certainly like to spend some time with him. I am considering the the Luangwa encounter that is offered, staying a few more days and heading for a walking trail in North Luangwa. That said, I may shorten the bushcamp section of the trip for a few days with Bushcamp for Tafika. It is in a different part of the park and the microlighting is certainly a draw.

    I know that a number of you are going away this year, so i think i will wait until your return to book the Zambia section of the trip. I want to get Mombo booked pretty quick as I dont want to be disappointed.

    Its back to the guide books and more reading!

    Thanks for all the help
    Peter

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