Kafue National Park

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Jul 8th, 2005, 11:40 AM
  #1
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Kafue National Park

I have been reading good things about Kafue National Park in the recent Zambia Brandt Travel Guide. Busanga Trails has three camps in the northern park area that look intriguing and are reasonably priced ($2100 for 6 nights including transfers from Lusaka).
African Experience, who partners with Robin pope Safaris, has two camps in the northern park as well. They are more up market, which of course means more expensive ($2900us plus transfers for a 7 night package).

Has any one stayed at any of these camps or gone to Kafue Nationals Park?

Brenda
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Jul 8th, 2005, 01:02 PM
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Kafue was written up in Africa Geographic early in 2004 I believe. From memory the reports of the game were quite favorable, I will have to go back issue hunting at home to get more information for you.
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Jul 8th, 2005, 01:36 PM
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I believe that predatorbiologist is going to Kafue right around...now! May be there as we...type! So might want to post again or bump this thread in about a month.
Hope you get some other responses before then, because I'd like to know too. I saw the Africa Geographic article, though my recollection was that it was last summer...I'm sure you can find it on their website.
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Jul 8th, 2005, 02:03 PM
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bwanamitch
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Brenda,

I've been at Lufupa and Shumba in 2001, and I will be back there in two months. Chris McIntyre is absolutely right in his travel guide: Busanga Trails is the best option available for leopard night game drives - not even in Zambia, but maybe in whole southern Africa! Compared to most other camps and lodges Busanga Trails is more down to earth, accommodation and meals are more simple, and speech is more direct (f***ing is a common word there). If you can live with that, Busanga is a really unique wildlife experience. The exciting leopard night drives are mainly at Lufupa. River cruises and fishing tours are very good, too.
Mitch
 
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Jul 8th, 2005, 02:48 PM
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Taskak..I am very interested to hear what Predatorbiologist has to say as the owner of the travel company I used for Botswana had a really bad experience with the African Experience camps. Not sure how long ago.

atravelynn was there in 2003 and had a good experience at Busanga Bush Camp.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34548887

I tried the Africa Geographic website but since I am not a subscriber I can not access the archives.

Perhaps a subscription is forthcoming..!
Brenda

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Jul 8th, 2005, 03:09 PM
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Mitch,

Leopards...yes, that really got my attention. Glad to know that Bradt's is so reliable.
I've been known to mutter an expletive on occasion and seeing leopards on a night drive would surely justify the use of a few !

Looking forward to your trip report, where else have you traveled in Zambia.
Brenda
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Jul 8th, 2005, 04:09 PM
  #7
bwanamitch
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Brenda,

Busanga Trails is the only operator that follows leopards when hunting, so you can expect some rough rides through the bush and, with luck, very exciting sightings. These are real night game drives that start after dinner and can last until 1:00 in the morning.

During my last Zambia tour I also stayed at Old Mondoro (Chiawa Camp), Nsefu (Robin Pope) and Tafika/Crocodile/Chikoko (Remote Africa), but these operators have a slightly different game drive policy, more relaxed, no interference during hunts (and imo less exciting).

During my next Zambia trip I will stay in Kafue at Lufupa/Shumba/Kafwala Rapids (Busanga Trails) and Hippo Lodge, in North Luangwa at Mwaleshi (Remote Africa) and in South Luangwa at Bilimungwe (Bushcamp Company) and Kaingo/Mwamba (Shenton Safaris).

Mitch
 
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Jul 8th, 2005, 04:21 PM
  #8
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Brenda,

try this link for the Africa Geographic article: http://www.africa-geographic.com/Arc...06/A110706.htm

Mitch
 
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Jul 8th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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bwanamitch,

Prices aside, would you still choose Busanga Trails over Africa Experience?

Also, are you aware if Busanga Trails recently updated their camps or if they only changed their website. Before just now, the last time I had visited their website was about four months ago, and I thought that Lufupa looked like a bad American campground, but it looks slightly better now.

The Zambian agents sure push Lunga River Lodge and Busanga Bush Camp while telling people to avoid Busanga Trails, at least from my experience.

The two places I would like to next visit in Zambia that I have not yet visited are Kafue and North Luangwa. Liuwa Plains is a close third...any experience with Liuwa, BwanaMitch?
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Jul 9th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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Rocco,

I don't want to repeat myself, but the kind of night game drives they offer at Lufupa Lodge are unique in Zambia (even better than those of Kwando which I regard the most exciting in Botswana). This has nothing to do with prices. And I like the special family atmosphere at Busango, where you have to earn your respect and can't buy it. Busanga Trails are definitely NOT an option for people who expect luxury accommodation, professional smiles and well-temperatured sun-downers - it's a place for enthusiastic nature lovers.

Actually I first planned to go with African Experience, because they offer this special 3-day trip to Nchila Wildlife Reserve. Unfortunately they don't offer this for a single person, and so I fell back to Busanga Trails. From the images I saw, and from what a friend told me, I just don't like the accommodation at Lunga River Lodge, and their game drives are more the standard thing. (And I really don't need a sauna in Africa.)

Liuwa Plain NP is on top of my wishlist! Currently there is no accommodation available, so you have to go there by 4x4. But hopefully that will change in the not so far future (maybe 2006).

Mitch
 
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Jul 9th, 2005, 09:26 AM
  #11
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Hi Mitch,
Great article...thanks for posting it.
Busanga Trails night drives sound like a real intense experience.
Reminds me of the night we spent at a remote hide at Savuti Camp. Instead of relaxing around the camp fire, our party of four and "go for it guide" decided to do a gonzo night drive that lasted til 12:30 am.

Who did you use to book your upcoming Zambia trip? The choice of camps is surely to be a winner and it will be interesting to hear your thoughts on how the camps compare.
You will have a great combo of activities and the photo hides at Kaingo loked great!
Reading about all the camps is fun but actually being there is ...sigh..the absolute best.

I think it is interesting that most of the travel companies really push RPS as the absolute best. Makes me wonder if the commission structure and the fact that they are a "safe" bet for most folks are the real reason.

Brenda

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Jul 9th, 2005, 12:37 PM
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bwanamitch, can you tell us more about the gamedrives at Busanga...specifically the comment about the "no interference" policy of other guides/lodges vs. what it is that Busanga does?
Thanks,
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Jul 9th, 2005, 02:59 PM
  #13
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Brenda,

it won't help you much if I'm telling you the name of my travel agent - I'm living in Germany. I'm planning all of my safaris myself. Finally, when I've found the optimal itinerary with good dramaturgy (including fallback options), I contact my German travel agent to do all the bookings, and she will use the services of a consulting operator in South Africa, Journey Beyond.

Regarding RPS: this is certainly one of the best operators in Zambia, and Jo Pope has really great marketing skills. But you also have to look at this special US market: when I'm reading all the threads in this forum it often appears to me that many of you people are more interested in luxury accommodation and "paw" ratings than in good game drives and other interesting nature activities. Another example: during my last Zambia safari I told my guide at Crocodile Camp that I hadn't expected a flush toilet in a simple trails bush camp - his answer: the Americans need this. Of course, the operators and agents have reacted to this and only sell the luxury options in your country. There are many operators which are regarded as "typical US" in Europe - for instance, only very few Europeans would ever consider to book an East African safari with CCAfrica. Hope that explains it a little bit...

tashak,

during a Busanga Trails night drive, if a leopard goes hunting, or you find a leopard already stalking, they will follow it regardless where it goes. This already is an adventure in itself - before that I didn't know where you can really go with a 4x4! Often the vehicles will pass the leopard and then stop allowing the guests some great photo shots. When possible prey appears the guides will try to find a good position where you can see both the leopard and the prey. They will explain possible hunting tactics to you, and will alternately lighten the leopard and the prey. With luck you will see a kill like this one:
<ftp://www.podszuck.de/po/podszuck.de...rdKill-1.jpeg>
<ftp://www.podszuck.de/po/podszuck.de...rdKill-3.jpeg>

Most safari operators I know will leave a leopard when it begins to hunt. They argue that following the leopard would change its behavioural patterns and thus would be an interference - the leopard could use the noise and light of the vehicles for its advantage, and the prey has an additional disadvantage because of the disturbing flash lights. The Busanga Trails people told me that they've seen no change in behavioural pattern since they are doing this - and they are in business for decades now.

Mitch
 
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Jul 9th, 2005, 04:20 PM
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Okay, let's see...if I drop Cape Town and the Sabi Sand, I will be able to add a fourth night to Luangwa River Lodge (in addition to my three nights at Puku Ridge) and then do a six night stay with Busanga Trails, for a total of a 19 night Zambian safari. 4 nights Cape Town and 3 nights Sabi Sand will be more expensive than 7 more nights in Zambia.

If I didn't think my agent would hunt me down and my wife would leave me I would do it!

Brenda, if your friends don't join you next year, and you are looking for a couple to share a private vehicle with in Kafue that also sometimes has a problem controlling the expletives, let me know.

I am definitely thinking Kafue and North Luangwa for next year, probably again with time in South Luangwa.

Quite honestly, I am having a hard time with Botswana...low season pricing Botswana is still more than high season Zambia (sometimes MUCH more). I have just developed such a love for Zambia that I am not really ready to take on another love at this time...but an April visit to Botswana is still a possibility...has to be early enough in the year so it will not interfere with a September 2006 visit to Zambia.

Kutandala in North Luangwa would be a great experience. A maximum of six guests at Kutandala, and a maximum of 24 guests in a park that is about six times the size of the Sabi Sand. It is like each couple has their own Mala Mala, if you think about it (Since Mala Mala takes up half of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve).

I would love to do this next September:

September 07 & 08 - Stanley Safari Lodge (Sept 07th Full Moon - Lunar Rainbow Over Victoria Falls)

Sept 09, 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14 - Busanga Trails. This would be an easy transfer from Livingstone to Lusaka, early enough to then be driven by Busanga Trails to Kafue.

September 15, 16, 17 - Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa (just a bit of luxury and fine dining before getting a bit more rustic for the remainder of the safari)

Sept 18, 19 & 20 - Tafika, South Luangwa (microlighting and just a beautiful and isolated part of the park)

Sept 21, 22, 23 & 24 - Kutandala, North Luangwa. While this would be mostly bush walks during the day, I know that limited game drives may also be enjoyed. I originally planned to visit this year, but when my mom and sister cancelled, I postponed North Luangwa.

Stanley Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls (2)
Busanga Trails - Kafue (6)
Luangwa River Lodge, SLNP (3)
Tafika, SLNP (3)
Kutandala, NLNP (4)

Now that is an itinerary that speaks to my heart without any of the worries of a $2,400 per night tariff. This entire 16 night itinerary is about the same price as 3 nights at Mombo plus 3 nights at Kings Pool.
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Jul 9th, 2005, 04:25 PM
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Actually, this would be best:

Victoria Falls (2)
Kafue (6)
Tafika, SLNP (3)
Kutandala, NLNP (4)
Luangwa River Lodge, SLNP (3)

Unless one wants to charter a very expensive light air transfer directly to North Luangwa, then the flights must go through Mfuwe (SLNP).

Seven weeks to go until Zambia...I am dying here!
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Jul 9th, 2005, 04:35 PM
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From my archived e-mail, a price qutoe for a September 2005 visit to Busanga Trails:

>>>If you were to stay with Busanga Trails Camps, the costs including road
transfers from Lusaka would be $1660 for a 6 night package + $105 for Kafue
Park entrance fees and taxes.<<<

So, the grand total for a 6 night Kafue visit with Busanga Trails this year would have only cost $1,765 pp sharing...that works out to $294 pppns for what BwanaMitch is saying is a one of a kind experience and the best out there for night game drives. WOW!
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Jul 9th, 2005, 05:01 PM
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Hi Rocco,

wouldn't it be better, if you combine Tafika with Mwaleshi/NLNP - both Remote Africa? Of course, unless you're a gourmet, since Kutandala is famous for its kitchen...

Here's a small appetizer for Tafika (as seen from the microlight):
<ftp://www.podszuck.de/po/podszuck.de...alView-1.jpeg>

Mitch
 
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Jul 9th, 2005, 05:32 PM
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Mitch,

Yes, that would be one consideration, but, actually, I think my wife would love to see how Guz does things in the kitchen. Guz is a Ballymaloe? trained chef.

I did ask Tafika this year if they would have any issue with me staying at Tafika but then staying at Kutandala, and they said no, but then their camp was later unavailable to me so I instead chose to stay at Puku Ridge (along with Luangwa River Lodge).

I just think that Zambia is an amazing destination and it is possible to stay at some pretty great places for a very reasonable price.

Assuming that I would be able to get a 10% discount off rack rates for what would be my 5th visit to Zambia in as many years (I have a few contacts by now), I would be looking at pricing as follows, for an amazing 19 night safari:

Chongwe River Camp. LZNP (3) $1,540 USD

Busanga Trails (6) $2,980 USD

Tafika (3) $2,430 USD

Kutandala (4) $2,880

Luangwa River Lodge (3) $1,890 USD

TOTAL = $11,720 USD ($5,860 pps or $308 pppns). Light air transfers would likely be another $1,780 USD or so, for a final price of $13,500 for a 19 night safari.

If someone really wanted to save money and have an even more increase overland safari, Kafunta Safaris has an 8 night North Luangwa/South Luangwa package, driving from South Luangwa up to North Luangwa (with an overnight inbetween at Luambe National Park) for only $1,965 pp.

Throwing in 3 nights at the end at Tafika or Kaingo and now the pricing is as follows:

Chongwe River Camp. LZNP (3) $1,540 USD

Busanga Trails (6) $2,980 USD

Kafunta 8 night North Luangwa/South Luangwa package (3 nights at Kafunta River Lodge, 1 night at Wilderness Camp in Luambe, 3 nights at Buffalo Camp, 3 nights at Kaingo) $5,350 USD (10% discount also applied) This is modified to drop the last night at Kafunta River Lodge to instead spend the last 3 nights at Kaingo.

http://www.luangwa.com/rates.htm

TOTAL = $9,870 USD ($4,635 pps or $244 pppns). Light air transfers would decrease down to $1,130 USD total or so, for a final price of $11,000 for a 19 night safari in HIGH SEASON.
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Jul 9th, 2005, 05:57 PM
  #19
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Yeah, do it as fast as you can.
With the increase of visitors in Zambia and unless the situation in Comrade Bob's empire (Zimbabwe) change, I predict that rates in Zambia will go to Botswana level in the not so far future.

Mitch
 
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Jul 11th, 2005, 03:45 PM
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Tashak: very good memory as I should be just returning from Zambia from leading an exceptional, one of a kind Wild Dog safari. Unfortuneately I was only able to get one couple who then had to drop out due to a stroke. I could have run the trip with only 4 but it didn't go.

I will add though for those considering a trip to Kafue, there is a San Diego Zoo researcher studying wild dogs -- Anne Carlson who is based in close proximity to Lunga River Lodge. Sometimes she comes to the lodge to give presentations and it may be possible to arrange going into the field with her as she has a couple of packs that she can track by satellite collars. I had arranged for my group to do so. Of course the best time is when the dogs are denning and the pups have emerged which is right now.

No one is more sorry that I can't report a first hand experience! Hopefully next year I will get a trip together.
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