Best Lodge in Zambia?

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Jan 24th, 2006, 12:00 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Best Lodge in Zambia?

We are doing a small group safari in Tanzania and Kenya in Sept. 2006 beginning in Arusha and ending in Nairobi. The tour does not include Victoria Falls which we wish to visit. We are planning to arrive a week early and spend several days in a lodge, 2 days in Victoria Falls, and then join our group in Arusha. We have decided (based upon help from this board) to begin in Zambia rather than Botswana.

We would like to spend 4 or 5 days at a great location in Zambia. This is our first trip to Africa and will be our first stop! I've seen many recommendations for Chongwe River Camp and Luangwa River Lodge. We are looking for nice accommodations with creature comforts, natural beauty, animals close by and interesting activities. Which lodge would you choose?

Also, any recommendations for lodging at Victoria Falls and an operator to help us with the lodging and airfare to and in Africa?

Your wise assistance has been invaluable! Thank you.
nankar is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2006, 12:57 PM
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Join Date: May 2005
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I recommend Luangwa River Lodge, so far my favorite camp, then Chongwe (i've only been to those two) but the end of March I'll have 2 more (Tafika and Puku Ridge) to comment on. One place NOT to stay in Livingstone is the Stanley Safari Lodge...two thumbs down!
Dennis
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Jan 24th, 2006, 01:02 PM
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Hey Dennis! I didn't know you were going to Tafika! You have to post a report immediately upon your return!!!

cooncat is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2006, 04:32 PM
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Nankar,

That is really such a difficult question to answer. If you are open to tented camps and want to experience the Zambezi River, then Chongwe River Camp or Chiawa Camp would be hard to top, each located in Lower Zambezi. Both of them have fantastic locations and have wildlife roaming right through camp each and every day, and I am talking about elephants, buffalo and more, not merely baboons, antelope and monkeys.

Then there is South Luangwa. I really love each Luangwa River Lodge and Puku Ridge. Overall, I would definitely choose Luangwa River Lodge, but then for location, alone, I would go with Puku Ridge. Luangwa River Lodge is more centrally located, however, and this does allow access to each the northern part of the park and the southern part of the park.

Another consideration should be Kafunta River Lodge, as it is an excellent value and is located not far from Puku Ridge, but just outside the park.

The following camps each offer long stay discounts:

Luangwa River Lodge - Pay For Five Nights, Get Sixth Night Free

Chiawa Camp - Stay 5 nights and the entire stay is discounted by about 15%

Chongwe River Camp - Stay 5 nights and the entire stay is discounted by about 15%

I do think for a long stay that I would lean towards Chongwe or Chiawa, as there are so many activities in the Lower Zambezi. At Chongwe, however, since you are outside the park, the river activities are always included in your rate, while at Chiawa there are sometimes extra charges for fishing and other activities. Although Chongwe is located outside the park, it is only about 15 minutes from the entrance to the park and it enjoys a storybook like location at the confluence of the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers, giving it 270 degree river frontage and wildlife all around.

Lower Zambezi is not far at all from Victoria Falls, requiring only a 45 minute light air transfer. September is the absolute perfect time to visit the Lower Zambezi. I was there last September and found it to be a very rewarding time.

Please feel free to have a look at my photos from my September safari to Zambia, when I visited Luangwa River Lodge, Puku Ridge, Chongwe River Camp and Kasaka River Lodge:

www.kodakgallery.com/rocco/2005_favorites

Although Chongwe River Camp was already fabulous when I visited, the owner, Chris Liebenberg has told me that the camp has undergone further upgrades this offseason and will be the best it has ever been. I nearly had to be dragged away from this camp when it was time to go because I loved it so much. Fireflys at night, bell? frogs each night making a sound that is quite un-frog-like, hippos grunting, occasional lion roars, and then mysterious sounds that cannot be identified but add to the intensity of the camp!

If you have the opportunity to do so, do not miss out on Zambia, whether it is the Lower Zambezi or South Luangwa.
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