North Luangwa and Kawaza Village

Dec 21st, 2004, 04:30 AM
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North Luangwa and Kawaza Village

I am planning a trip to Zambia in June for around 10 days (excl travelling days). While South Luangwa is already in my itinerary (probably staying with bushcamp company), I am thinking if it worth to pay a visit to North Luangwa as well.

From what I have read, it is the same as South Luangwa but probably with less vehicles. Are these the only differences?

I am also thinking of staying at Kawaza Village, anyone been there?

Thank you very much.
llee_2003 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2004, 06:37 AM
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North Luangwa is exclusively for walking safaris. It features only three camps consisting of "Kutandala" at $400 pppns, "Mwaleshi" at about $350 pppns and "Buffalo Camp" at about $250 pppns. In all, there are only 24 beds in the whole of North Luangwa which is equal in size to Delaware or Cornwall. Moreover, the season is a very abbreviated one, between June 15th - October 15th. In a given year, only around 150 guests will visit North Luangwa.

But, do not let the lack of guests dissuade you. Just take a look at the guest comments from Kutandala's website:

I will be visiting Kutandala next September, as I preferred their maximum 6 person capacity over the larger Mwaleshi and Buffalo Camp. Plus, Buffalo Camp is run by an outfit that also double dips in hunting.

You would be contributing greatly to the conservation of wildlife in North Luangwa by visiting. Just ten years ago, the area was ravaged by poaching that greatly reduced the elephant population (which is now rebounding). An excellent book to read about the events of the area during that time is "Eye Of The Elephant" by Mark & Delia Owens. They are two American biologists that largely single-handedly are responsible for saving the area from poaching, although it took many years of struggle and nearly cost them their lives, as they were literally at war with the AK-47 armed poachers.

Should anyone wish to support the Owens Foundation, simply by first visiting their website and then clicking on the Barnes and Noble link, the Owens Foundation will receive a portion of your purchase from Barnes and Noble, while it will not cost the buyer a penny more.

Regarding Kawaza Village, you can either take daytrips there from most South Luangwa camps/lodges. Otherwise, it is possible to spend the night in the village for, I believe, $100 per night ($50 pppns), of which all the money goes directly to the village.

I strongly encourage you to visit South Luangwa and North Luangwa. Also, if time permits, you should consider the Lower Zambezi National Park (but please don't let it be at the expense of North Luangwa which really needs continued tourism if it is to survive. There is no better place in the world, it is said, to track lions on foot, accompanied by your armed scout, of course).

Feel free to ask any questions and I will gladly try to assist you further. You have chosen an amazingly beautiful area that should not be missed!
Roccco is offline  
Dec 24th, 2004, 11:04 AM
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Sounds like a great trip. North Luangwa also has the Cookson's Wildebeest, which I don't think you see in South Luangwa. It is much more remote and wild and as you mentioned without the vehicles.

In 2003 I went to Kutandala and thought it was the best Africa camp I have ever stayed at. It is not the fanciest, but its owners, a married couple Rod and Guz, have put their heart and soul into the place. Its location and the setting of the dining areas are lovely, along the Mwaleshi River. In fact most game walks start and end with removing boots and wading through the ankle deep Mwaleshi.

The tents overlook the river and have giant ensuite sandy floored bathrooms. Guz is a marvelous cook and Rod guides the walks.

In the 4 days I was there, our walks included meandering among a herd of buffalo, getting snorted at by a bushpig, watching a nose-to-nose exchange between a buffalo and a croc, and seeing three lions with six
other species of hooved animals fleeing the lions. Plus lots of other interesting sitings.

There is just something magical about Kutandala where all the elements of a great bush experience come together.

During that same trip I also spent a night in Kawaza and it was a delightful experience. There were six (I think) guest huts in the middle of the village.
I happened to be the sole overnight visitor. There was a "host" and "hostess" as they called themselves, to escort me through the village. I still correspond with the hostess--Esther. We just walked around and visited with the people and observed whatever they might be doing. Here were some of the things we did: Some women were sitting around, playing a shell game and I joined them. We saw several men at the gin still sampling their work. I was invited to have a sample and I did take just a bit. We went to the new flour mill and talked with the people there and watched grains being milled. There was a church service with dancing so I joined in for about 20 minutes of dancing and singing. We went into the fields and talked with people tending crops, mostly pumpkins. Lots of kids were running around playing games, as well as perfoming chores. I visited a witch doctor. I had some school supplies that I took to the school. Too bad it was not in session the days I was there, but I got to meet the headmaster. It was also fine to wander around the village alone, you did not need an escort.

We ate in a pavillion on the floor, with our hands, off of dishes. The menu included something similar to cornmeal, pumpkin leaf relish, and chicken. Tasty! It was specially cooked by women in the village so that it is sanitary and fit for guests.

That night was a big bonfire and dancing and drumming by members of the village. They invited me to join them in a couple of dances. We had hundreds of guests attending from neighboring villages. By about 8:30 everything wrapped up and the kids ran around playing for another half hour or so. Then we all went to sleep. There was misquito netting and I think I slept on a mat in my hut. Before retiring, my host and hostess introduced me two members of the village who would be on watch during the night and in case I needed to use the bathroom
(there was an outhouse for guests' use) they would escort me to it with a torch.

Every effort was made to be sure visitors felt comfortable spending the night.

It was a real, functioning village with people doing their normal routines so if you go you might see something different.

I'd do it again and Esther, the hostess, told me some people come back several times and stay for days or a week.

An experience, such as Kawaza, adds a cultural element that often is not part of the traditional wildlife safari and puts some $$ in the pockets of the local people.

Have a good time in Zambia, whatever you decide on.
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 24th, 2004, 11:15 AM
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One more thing...
North Luangwa had quite a few rhinos introduced in 2003.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 27th, 2005, 04:55 AM
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ttt (for Kawaza Village info)
Roccco is offline  
Apr 27th, 2005, 05:01 AM
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Do you think it would be considered normal to take (many) photographs of the villagers in Kawaza Village?

Rather than spending 5 nights in Cape Town, I wouldn't mind shaving a night off in order to spend 1 night in Kawaza Village, if I knew that photos would be okay and if I knew that my camera and other belongings would be completely safe.

Do you recall what time of day you arrived, and what time of day you departed?

Were there any notable night time activities?

Or do you think that a day trip from South Luangwa would offer a similar experience.

Roccco is offline  
Apr 27th, 2005, 05:48 AM
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I concur completely with atravelynn, Kutandala is absolute magic. In case Ille didn't catch this-- there are NO DRIVES in the North Luangwa park--only transfers. All gameviewing is on foot and its a great way to do it. Rod is an incredible guide, a dedicated conservationist. Guz is wonderful. Also the food is amazing- Guz although born & raised in Zambia trained as a chef in Europe. Ask to see their kitchen & garden!
North Luangwa is one of the few and best conservation success stories, and it deserves the support of those who love Africa and wildlife. GO!!

Also to Roccco re photographs: I haven't been to Kawaaza (sp?) but I have been to other Zambian villages. Zambians LOVE to have their photos taken, and especially love to see the instant images on digital cameras. Kids always ask you to photograph them, and they expertly arrange themselves for group photos. (Much better than any other groups I've tried to photograph. I think its the communal spirit.) I can't imagine that Kawazaa is any different, except that they have more tourists coming they may expect it more, and some of the joy and fascination may have worn off. If you can find a way to send copies of your photos back...well, they would be superthrilled I imagine!
tashak is offline  
Apr 27th, 2005, 05:58 AM
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Thanks for the feedback on Kawaza Village. I have never had any problems taking photos of Zambians before, but besides a single shot here or there, I haven't taken too many photos of people.

Just trying to figure out now whether or not a day trip would suffice.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 27th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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Photos were fine at Kawaza. Everyone I encountered was enthusiastic about having a photo taken. I sent copies to Robin Pope Safaris for distribution.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 27th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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North Luangwa is unique from most any park in Africa. In one aspect it is operated by the North Luangwa Conservation Project in benefit not only for the flora and fauna, but for the local people. Active antipoaching successfully protects the game, employing modern techniques as much as their budget can afford. It is one of the most remote spots in Africa that is actively promoted for tourism. There are few tracks, and the 3 operators consider their walking safaris their biggest asset. The concentration of lions in this area also makes for some interesting walks near each camp. I have seen lion near each one. . As access is limited there is a low probability of even seeing other park personnel or tourists. At Buffalo Camp they see lions on their walks nearly everyday . And I have seen kills from this camp. Each one has a particular advantage. The guides, accommodations, capacity, food are each remarkably different in their own way. Rhino were reintroduced a couple years ago. Wild dog have been spotted too.
Also the concessions take reservations from June 1 through Nov. 1 normally. Buffalo Camp operated by Mark Harvey is solely into his photographic safaris and does not operate a hunting safari or concession as Rocco has said. Everyone in Zambia has friends
Or relatives that do. So possibly that is where that leap came from. ‘Lack of guests’ is not a problem, alas the restriction for the limitation of guests is actually the plus for the park. The actual number of visitors is substantially higher.
One of the things I like about going to North Luangwa is the transfers by track from South Luangwa via Luambe, fording the Luangwa to get to North Luangwa, and then leaving the park going to Shiwa Ngandu. It puts you into that feeling you are truly part of Africa. Not just flying in and out.

I have a particular insight to the park as have been going there since ’97 and even spent a couple long stretches in the park. It is, I feel is one of the top parks in Africa to visit.
luangwablondes is offline  
Apr 29th, 2005, 04:26 AM
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Though my plan is changed (will go to Uganda this June) but Zambia is on my list for 2006.

As my experience in Africa is mainly safari related, I very much want to stay at Kawaza to see the local village. Are 2 nights in Kawaza too much? I saw most people do either a day trip or stay only one night.
llee_2003 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2005, 06:15 AM
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My stay at Kawaza was only one day and night, but I was told me other people stay longer. One woman apparently comes for a week's stay on a yearly basis.

I think 2 nights would offer a broader perspective. I have stayed in other villages for a couple of days at a time and enjoyed the visit. You would be welcomed for a couple of days.

atravelynn is offline  
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