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I am planning a trip to Zambia to visit a safari lodge to view wild life.
Does any one have any experiences or recommendations that may assist.
tks & rgds

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    My safari experience in Zambia is limited to several nights at Kafunta in South Luangwa -- a highly rated lodge and a great park. There are also some other great lodges in that park. Its a bit of an effort to get to South Luangwa, I flew from Lilongwe, Malawi, but its an interesting park. I haven't been, but I'd like to next visit Kafue, which is also supposed to be a great park in Zambia.

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    After a huge amount of research my husband and I booked with Robin Pope Safaris. Oftentimes you can get a discount by putting out a bid to the operators who sell their trips. And sometimes operators outside the US have cheaper rates depending on the strength of the dollar. By all reports, Robin Pope is a superb outfit. I'll let you know how it goes when we return.

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    Michael,

    Can you please tell me more about Kafunta??? I am strongly considering Kafunta over Robin Pope and Bushcamp Company. Kafunta looks every bit as nice, if not nicer, and is about 1/3 less expensive than those other two lodges.

    How was the game viewing? Were the rangers experienced and knowledgable? How was the service at the lodges? How was the food?

    Thanks.

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    Re Zambia: Hello Don
    Just saw something the other day on zambia-I looked at this very quickly so didn't read it in full. They mentioned a fellow by the name of Chriss Wienand(a white zambian) who is just opening Mbizi (zebra) Safaris Ltd into some kind of reserve in the lower Luangwa River called it mandevu. Perhaps it could be interesting! Patricia

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    Patty,

    This will expand a little on your last post:

    MANDEVU, ZAMBIA—Under a spreading sausage tree, a stone's throw from a sunning 10-foot Nile croc on a sandbar, a pair of bushbuck (not the local currency) across the river, we're sipping Mosi beer, which tastes like Coors, only worse. We're tourists in a place you can't find on a map.

    Zambia, in south central Africa, has never been widely known as a tourist destination. Zambia, in fact, is not widely known for much of anything. What little global recognition it enjoys comes more from the antique cuts of the colonial penknife, from its borders with more newsworthy neighbors, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Angola and Mozambique to the west and east, and Zimbabwe to the south. In the mid-'60s, after independence, it was the third-largest producer of copper in the world,. For a time, Zambia's currency was among the most valuable in the world, and per-capita income equaled $800, second only to South Africa in the sub-Saharan region.

    But with the crash of copper prices, Zambia is now very small beer in the mining world, and it has yet to find a viable refill. Kenneth Kaunda, founding president and overseer as the country slid into economic ruin over a 27-year socialistic rule, tried all sorts of schemes to bring back its glory, including backing an American con artist, Farley Winston, who sold the head of state on a contraption that ostensibly converted grass to diesel. KK, as the president liked to be called, had visions of a new sort of African OPEC and banned the burning of grass until the scam was exposed.

    Now Zambia is cited as one of the word's poorest countries, with 25 percent unemployment and 75 percent of adults living below the World Bank's poverty threshold of $1 a day. The nation is also occasionally in the news for its epidemic of "slow-puncture disease": 20 percent of adults are HIV-positive. In nearby Nganbwa ("rat" in the local Cinyanja language) village today, among a gaggle of giggling kids, we met a grim-faced 8-year-old, John Zulu, doing his homework in the dirt, both parents dead from AIDS. He's in a big club … nearly half of Zambia's children have lost one or both parents to the disease. Lately, Zambia has also seen some ink for its southern drought and its politically charged rejection of Frankenfood, the genetically modified maize sent by the United States to feed a region where some have been reduced to eating dirt.

    PART II to follow...

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    Perhaps tourism is the redeemer. Last month, Zambia's recently elected president, Levy Mwanawasa, announced that his government has placed tourism and agriculture at the center of the country's economic revival. Yet, even though Zambia has 19 national parks and 32 game management areas (30 percent of the country) and some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in the world, the game has always far exceeded the gawkers.

    Tourism has not had an easy way here, especially of late. Zambia Airways, the national carrier, is bankrupt, its planes repossessed. The perfect storm of global recession, the post-9/11 fear of flying, and the "Zim Effect" (the apprehension of being fair-skinned anywhere near Robert Mugabe) have conspired to bring holiday visitation down as much as 85 percent from its already paltry levels.

    Amid all this, though, is our host, 49-year-old white Zambian Chriss Wienand, and his boundless optimism for a scheme to create an adventure farm in Zambia that is as exhilarating as it is ecologically sound and maintainable. Chriss and his partner have negotiated a 99-year lease of 50,000 acres along the lower Luangwa River, a tributary of the Zambezi, which they have dubbed Mandevu ("man with a beard"). Their operating company, Mbizi [zebra] Safaris Ltd., is looking to turn the land, upon which roam elephant, leopard, lion, zebra, and a carnivore's dream salver of antelope, into a private park that will serve overlanders (the Cape Town to Cairo in Bedfords set), photographers, birders, rafters, and some hunters. Just five hours drive from the capital Lusaka, it will be among the easiest big game parks to access, and it has ambitions to be sustainable, which in this part of the world means keeping out the poachers. Until the 1960s, the Luangwa Valley was home to 100,000 elephants, the largest concentration in the world. Today, because of poaching, an estimated 15,000 remain. In the 1970s, there were some 2,000 black rhinos in Zambia. Today there are none.

    So, how do Chriss and company hope to achieve this balance between wildlife and the economic needs of ultra-poor human neighbors? By supplying the villagers with income and the necessities of life through tourist fees and private donations. This has been tried many times before, with programs such as Campfire in Zimbabwe, and the Zambian-government-sponsored ADMADE (acronym for the wonderfully bureaucratic name "Administrative Management Design"), but hulking corruption in the distribution chain has always contaminated these efforts. The difference here is that the enterprise is thoroughly private, and Chriss is overseeing all payments for goods and services personally. Already Mbizi Safaris has built a clinic and a school for the locals who live adjacent to the property, and Chriss has employed up to 100 people at a time. And the project is still in its infancy: This year its required circumference fence was posted and its entrance road improved, so that it now takes 90 minutes from the nearest town, Nyimba, rather than four to five butt-banging hours.

    In fact, we are among the first visitors to Mandevu, and we plan to spend the next few days hiking the grounds and witnessing the wildlife, which includes the panoply of African predators and a dozen varieties of highly poisonous snakes. In our group we have two software engineers, three math Ph.D.s, a pathologist, and a pediatrician, so I figure we're covered for all emergencies. Then we'll head upriver to a couple of national parks and finally across the watershed divide to the Bangwelu Swamps, the source of the Congo, the river that has become the overwrought symbol for the white man's descent into madness while on an extreme quest in Africa.
    -Richard Bangs, September 18, 2002, MSN.com

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    Dear Roccco
    Very interesting-much appreciated. Aids is endemic on the entire continent;close to half will die of this disease. I have a question for you but will address it on the site where you commented on Kafunta safaris. Patricia

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