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Zambia - Dec 26th to Jan 13 report

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Here is a brief report on our trip. Realize this was our first Africa trip.

Left Toronto to Lusaka via BA Dec 26th. Arrived Dec 26th and immediately flew to Mfuwe.
Stayed 9 nights at Robin Pope Safaris
Then transferred to Livingstone (via Lusaka) and stayed 5 nights at the Livingstone Safari Lodge.
Then transferred to Lusaka for 2 nights at Chaminuka.

Flights: External was with BA, business class. Would not have been happy if I actually paid for the business class (we were point-upgrades). Cabin cramped, and BA successfully trashed a lot of our trinkets we came back with (even with proper bubble wrap packing).

Flights: Internal - Airwaves/Zambian (same thing now). Good flights, but when they say "be there 1 hour before", you best be there since they are known to leave 1 hour early. Inflight service was good for such a short flight, but use the washroom before you board because the Beech 1900D uses the bucket system.

Mfuwe: Robin Pope Safaris - Damn these guys were the best! Great food (and lots of it), great people, great guides, great accom. and would bend over backwards for you. Toured the village they support, seen 4 of the big 5 the first night, and seen so many things we started getting bored of them. Only ever had 5 to 6 people per vehicle, even with the lodge full, and the new house built. The new house they built was HUGE luxury (we visited it, didn't stay though). We HIGHLY recommend them.

Livingstone: Livingstone Safari Lodge - really a campground with big cabins. For the price ($55USD/day/per.) they were good, but coming from RPS to here the difference was apparent. Tried really hard though and were a great financial alternative to the Royal Livingstone ($300/day/per). Good dinners and people. For the price, a good result.

Livingstone activites:

Bundu rafting/boarding - great safe trip, had a blast - don't buy the photo CD as the one we bought was unreadable in any PC. Bring $$ for the winch after the full day trip.
Botswanna day tour - great, pricy, but great. Cannot remember who it was with.
Falls/Market tours - good, get your guide to watch the packing of trinkets, bring them to the car, and help with conversions/negotiations. They tend to be cabbies offering an extra service. When at Livingstone, check the airport and museum trinket prices as reference. Once the market people know that you know what they should go for, it is easier to get them for a reasonable price.
Royal Livingstone massage/lunch: even if you are not staying there, they will let you in to hang out and get these - good relaxing option.
Rhino walk - good. Got real close to them. If you are already on a lot of gameviewing, then just do the 1hr rhino viewing, forget the walk.
Elephant ride: SafPar - not up to expectations. Nice welcome, briefing, ride was good, but 1hr elephant interaction was over after about 5 minutes. Interaction was feeding kibble to the ele's then a nice snack while we waited to a 10 minute DVD to be created so we could watch it. Of course they were offering it for $40USD. Would rather have had more time with the ele's than the snack, and forget the DVD.

Lusaka: Chaminuka - Not bad - lots of ammenities (A/C, pool, etc.) Food was good/really good, and a lot of animals (private park). Did not like the caged lions and hyenas - I can see that at home. Cheese factory visit was good. A little overrated for a quick visit.

Pros: RPS, Airwaves, Livingstone Lodge, Bundu whitewater
Cons: British Airways bag handlers, SafPar Ele ride interaction

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