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My husband and I are wanting to do a 4-5 night Zambian Safari in May 2006. We are undecided about splurging and staying at the Luangwa River Lodge or being more budget cautious and staying at the WildLife Camp. Does anyone have any suggestions? Note that we will be in South Africa (Capetown, Garden Route, Johanessburg) afterwards for approx 2 weeks. So if we splurge on the safari we will be staying in hostels etc later on in our trip.

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    hut,

    I would strongly encourage you to consider the more upscale Luangwa River Lodge. For a four night stay you are looking at only $950 per person.

    This is from a correspondence that I received from someone while I was still in the planning stages:

    I have also visited lots of the camps and lodges that you have mentioned .....Chichele (Great guides in Nic and Botha though sadly i hear Nic is leaving.) but it has a kinda golf club feel to it maybe its the gates and rolling lawns...Mfuwe Lodge (Nice place and good game but more like a hotel and too impersonal)...Nkwali (Overated and a liitle to regimental with itineries and hosting) Chamilandu (a wonderful bushcamp and area but food a liitle poor) Tena Tena ( a nice camp but a little to cant quite put my finger on it....false maybe?) Tafika ( which with Mwaleshi, crocodile and Chikoko offer Zambias finest walking safaris by a long way(remote africa safaris)...the Coppingers certainly know how to do things in a good wholesome way!)...but this year we stumbled on a real gem purely by accident as we booked late and availability was a problem...so we went to Luangwa River Lodge. amoungst others but the rest were trully forgetable after our experience there.

    http://www.luangwariverlodge.com

    It really is an oasis in the Luangwa like nothing I have seen in Zambia if not Southern Africa....The guides were of good undertanding and exceedingly knowledgable all Zambians I hasten to add who entertained us with superb guiding and then dissapeared at dinner time which was a pleasant change as I find most camps in Zambia seem to force guides to dine with guest which can sometimes be stuffy and awkward......The Hosts Barry and Tara were wonderful and ever so helpful and flexible to any requests made.....Itineries were all down to us with great suggestions from the hosts rather than the old fashioned regimental itineries, (i guess this was down to the low numbers the camp caters for 6 at the moment with expansion to 10 by December we were informed) and it all made for a truly monumental stay......the other things that truly stood out were the decorative touches in the lodge and chalets which superceed anything I have stayed in anywhere...not necesarily a Singita but more natural and thoughtful as well as pleasing to the eye and the food....well u will have to try as my wife is a vegetarian and she was amazed at the variety and colours and tastes conjured from the kitchen by Tara in veggie food whilst not compromising on my not so veggie tastes..truly a feat in this part of the world.

    Tara and Barrys only weak point it seamed was there backgound as it was not from a wildlife or lodge so therefor they are not an encyclepedia of naturalist knowlwedge but thry are learning fast and more than make up for this in the attention to detail of all hosting and activities as well a general humour and the unothordox approach they take to your stay.

    ---------------

    So, hut, there you have it. I didn't really know where I was going to stay either until I read this information.

    I have been to quite a few places, but I am making Luangwa River Lodge the grand finale on my 12 night Zambian safari this time around.

    Barry, one of the owners, has been a pleasure to deal with and he is always most responsive to my e-mails.

    I don't think you can go wrong with Luangwa River Lodge. It is definitely worth the extra $400 per person that you would probably be spending over the Wildlife Camp.

    Let Barry know that Rocco from Fodors recommended you and that I say hello! :)

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    If that is all your going to do in the way of wildlife viewing in Africa, you
    should consider at least a few days at a bush camp for real Africa flavor.
    Check out Buffalo Camp in North Luangwa as an alternative. It is one of the cheapest and one of the remotest spots.Lions can be seen frequently on the Walks.
    My suggestion if you are on a budget, you know you can stay at a luxury hotel on another holiday anytime.
    But Wildlife camp is a good choice. Guides are good. Nice location on the Luangwa,chalets are good and I have frequently seen lion and elephalt in the camp. Check with Manager to see if they can make reservations for dinner at Kapani or another. The game drive for the short distance at nite on return is worth it frequently. The 10 minute drive once took 45 minutes because of giraffe, buffalo, eles, zebra and a couple young lions. Not sure what they thought they were doing, maybe being a tourist.
    .

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