Remote Africa - Tafika and Mwaleshi Camps

Jul 19th, 2006, 10:41 AM
  #1  
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Remote Africa - Tafika and Mwaleshi Camps

This is a reply to cooncat3 (Sharon) who asked about North Luangwa but hopefully it will be of use \ interest to others considering planning a visit.

We’ve been to Zambia once before where we stayed at Chiawa Camp in the Lower Zambezi for 5 nights and Nkwali in the South Luangwa for 4 nights and realised then how important it was to choose camps carefully with regard to what you wanted to experience. Chiawa was superb – a great range of activities, excellent guides and exquisite cuisine which put Nkwali in the shade. Plus the use of steel window bars over the ‘windows’ at Nkwali really detracted from the experience of being in the African bush. So after much reading we decided on Remote Africa – www.remoteafrica.com – they aren’t for everyone but they were certainly what we were looking for. We stayed 5 nights at Tafika and 4 nights at Mwaleshi.

First we stayed at Tafika which was excellent - the hosts (everyone in camp), the chalets, the game drives, the walks, the food and of course the microlighting. It was a really relaxing place and everyone made us very welcome. A great place to start our stay. The microlighting is $90 for about 15-20 minutes and gives a great new perspective on the Luangwa – highly recommended. The guides are superb and we spotted leopard and lion (2 separate occasions) while walking as well as elephant, giraffe, zebra and impala. One lion spot was 7 lionesses just outside of camp who stayed there most of the day (about 50 metres from our chalet and in clear view from the Tafika hide). We also spotted plenty of game on drives – lions, leopard, civets, genets, impala, elephant, giraffe, hippo, buffalo and a wide diversity of birdlife (take a trip to the stork colony if you are in the area). The chalets are very clean and comfortable, made from reed poles with an open air shower and wash area (hot water on tap) and flush toilets. It isn’t 5 star luxury but there are plenty of lodges in the South Luangwa if you really can’t do without your tiled bathroom, plunge pool and other trappings from home. The temperature at this time of year is cool, the Luangwa still has some green and although wildlife is more difficult to spot, it is there and the conditions for photography in the early morning and evenings is superb.

If we thought things couldn't get any better then we were wrong. The 4 nights at Mwaleshi were truly outstanding - an unbelievable place which really stole our hearts. The hosts (everyone in camp), the chalets and the walks were excellent and the food somehow managed to even surpass that of Tafika. The wildlife was also always close by - we had a herd of a few hundred buffalo pass through camp one night and cross the river in front of our chalet, then 2 prides of lions close by roaring through the night on another while hyena danced in the river outside the chalet on another. And we bumped into a puff adder on the track to our chalet one night as well. Add to that a sighting of 12 lions while on foot (the sight of them getting up in unison just a few hundred meters from us across open plain was heart stopping) and a great splash at Mwaleshi Falls (where we were fortunate enough to see an otter). We have to say that Mwaleshi was a really special stay - I couldn't recommend Mwaleshi to everyone as it is perhaps a little raw for some tastes but for us it was a little piece of paradise.

Happy Travelling

Graham
daviesg is offline  
Jul 19th, 2006, 10:51 AM
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Thanks Graham... Sounds heavenly! I think you had a bit better luck with game at Tafika than I did in June, but I, too, really enjoyed the place and hope to return. And now it seems I may need to add Mwaleshi to the mix. How did you get to Mwaleshi?

Photos coming?
Cheers~
Sharon
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Jul 19th, 2006, 11:07 AM
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Meant to add that the stork colony is a cool thing to see...noisy even from a distance. And I can't imagine seeing all those lions while on foot! Amazing stuff all around.
cooncat3 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2006, 11:25 AM
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Seems like the lion population has grown around Mwaleshi Camp since I was there. Thats great. I've been there several times.

Kind of off topic, but is Dorian Tilbury still working for Remote Africa?
luangwablondes is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 03:54 AM
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We flew London-Lusaka with BA which connects with a Zambian Airways flight to Mfuwe from where we got a vehicle transfer to Tafika. There is a small airstrip about 10 mins from Tafika (Lukuzi)from where we flew to Mwaleshi (about 30 mins). This was in a Cessna 206 - great little plane with the option to sit up front with the pilot. We then flew directly back from Mwaleshi to Mfuwe to connect to an Zambian Airways flight back to Lusaka (about 45 mins). All went smoothly.

Apparently sighting lions on foot at Mwaleshi is quite common (especially later in the season) as long as the group are fit walkers (they are not always close to camp). The day we spotted the 12 we followed the vultures but it was about a 20km walk in total starting at 7am and getting back to camp about 1pm. Starts are much earlier as the season hots up (it was actually positively cold overnight the last couple of weeks and the walking day time temperature very pleasant).

Ernst Jacobs is the guide at Mwaleshi (he was there last year as well). He is excellent - very observant, very aware of what is going on and we always had total confidence in his decisions. The guides at Tafika - Brian Jackson, Gregg Patrick and Isaac Zulu were all superb as well. The camps are obviously not to everyones taste as they are not luxurious but we found them very comfortable and the setting, especially for Mwaleshi, unbeatable.
daviesg is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 05:53 AM
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Graham - I think I flew in the same little Cessna - was Simon the pilot? Tafika flew me back to Mfuwe with Simon because he was picking up guests at the airport. It was great - and allowed me to have a leisurely morning doing a microlight flight, a game drive and lunch before heading back.

Just out of curiosity do they ever drive to the North park? Is it even possible or desirable to do that I wonder?

Robbie: I don't recall anyone named Dorian at Tafika.

Cheers!

cooncat3 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 06:36 AM
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Remote Africa (Tafika & Mwaleshi) has released 2007 pricing. High season pricing is as follows:

July OR October = $535 per person per night

August OR September = $650 pppn

However, with a 7+ night booking, the prices are very good at $475 pppn
Roccco is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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Yep - Simon was the pilot on the way up. He was great and we had met him at Tafika a few days before he flew us up (he regularly stays at Tafika as Remote Africa use Proflight for most of their transfers). The Cessna was in Lusaka for it's service when we flew back so we had a young man called Brandon for the return flight - also excellent although the plane was a bit slower (and noisier - double engined).

There is a possibility of doing game drives at Mwaleshi but that is dependant on the group at the time - it's really just for walking and as there is only one guide, if someone wants to walk then everyone walks! We were lucky in that there were only 2 of us there for the first 2 nights so after the long walk where we bumped into the Lions, Ernst took us out for a drive in the afternoon for sundowners upstream of the camp overlooking a couple of pods of hippos. We saw some game on the drive - cookson wildebeast, kudu, impala, elephant, puku as well as plenty of birdlife but no predators.

I think Dorian was at Mwaleshi before Ernst (it would be a few years ago that he moved on).

As for the 2007 prices - the 7 to 10 night stay rate is very good if you like the Remote Africa locations \ chalets (which we do). This year Mwaleshi was $200 per person per night cheaper than Tafika so it might be worth just double checking the 2007 price list - not saying you're wrong Rocco but that would be a big increase in price for Mwaleshi if Remote Africa will be charging the same price for each lodge. There is also a special on this year for keen walkers - 4 nights on their walking trail in the South plus 4 nights at Mwaleshi for $2750 per person. http://www.remoteafrica.com/specials.php.
daviesg is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 07:22 AM
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daviesg,

If you look closer at the prices I posted, there is a $175 per person per night price break for a long stay over a short stay in August / September. These rates were just received from Remote Africa recently so I am sure they are correct.

Prices go down to $460 per person per night for a 10+ night visit.

Zambian prices, while still lower than Botswana, have definitely risen sharply the last two years...partly due to currency fluctuations but also due to the fact that it is finally being recognized as a top notch safari destination.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 07:48 AM
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Thanks guys. Graham I was really asking if they drive TO the North park from Tafika. I have no idea of the distance so maybe it's too far.

Rocco - How are prices at Kaingo for next year?
cooncat3 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 08:20 AM
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Kaingo 2007:

$490 pppns + $35 per day park fee + $50 per transfer to Mfuwe or other South Luangwa lodge. I will have to check out single supplement.

5% discount for 7 night long stay discount.

Later I will update you with new Puku Ridge rates for 2007.

Luangwa River Lodge is $380 pppns up until May 31st 2007 with stay 5 nights, get 6th night free special.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 09:24 AM
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Sharon
In the past, Remote Africa had a unimog to supply Mwaleshi Camp from Tafika. Don't think it was used as transportation for guests between camps, nor did I ever see anyone other then their employees driving around in it. Its a long day in one of those from camp to camp. With their own plane at Tafika, I don't think its something many of their type of clients would request.

To give you an idea of distances, its about 200kms-120miles of track from Mfuwe to Buffalo Camp. So my guess would be about 7 hours between the Remote Africa camps.
luangwablondes is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 09:36 AM
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Thanks Robbie. What's a unimog?
cooncat3 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 01:45 PM
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Luangwablondes

Dorian Tilbury, my all-time favorite guide is unfortunately no longer guiding. As of two years ago he was managing Sioma Ngwezi National Park, Zambia.

He married a lovely girl from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and as I live not far from there, I was lucky enough to get to his wedding.

Does anyone know where Ernst is now? Or Rona Smythe?

Leann
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Jul 20th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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safarilover,

Do you have any news on how Sioma Ngwezi is doing? Although it has been a victim of heavy poaching in the past, there are major efforts being made to restore this park that is Zambia's only remaining destination for cheetah, as well as boasting wild dogs.

There are safaris to Sioma Ngwezi offered by Royal Barotse Safaris:

www.mutemwa.com

Here is an article in The Lowdown magazine featuring Royal Barotse Safaris and providing information on Sioma Ngwezi National Park.

http://www.lowdown.co.zm/2005/2005-12/mutemwa.htm

And here is a beautiful brochure for Royal Barotse Safaris:

http://www.lowdown.co.zm/2005/2005-12/mutemwa.htm
Roccco is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 05:16 PM
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Leann ~ There is a guide named Ernst at Mwaleshi, and there was a Rona working at Tafika when I was there. I don't know everything her job entails but I believe for one thing she headed up the kitchen... doing a wonderful job, too!
cooncat3 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 11:10 PM
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As Sharon mentions, Ernst Jacobs is at Mwaleshi and doing an excellent job. He's been with Remote Africa for about 4 years, the last 2 at Mwaleshi.
Like Sharon, we met a lady called Rona was at Tafika but I'm not sure what her surname was.
daviesg is offline  
Jul 21st, 2006, 04:34 AM
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Thanks for the info. Dorian Tilbury, Ernst Jacobs, and Rona Smythe all worked together at Lunga River Lodge--a place so special that I put it on my itinerary twice. Lunga was owned by Rona's husband Ed, and she managed the housekeeping and dining facilities. She is a really talented lady. I knew the three of them had moved to the South Luangwa, but wasn't sure where they are now.

People tend to move around these days. If any of you knew Ross from South Luangwa, he is now managing Sand Rivers Selous in Tanzania. When I met him in January, he mentioned that they are trying to set up some partnerships between Luangwa and Selous. What an incredible safari that would be!

Rocco,

Don't really know that much about Sioma Ngwezi. Thanks for the links. I'm always looking for the less traveled path. Almost booked Maziba Bay several years ago until that I found that the access into it was very difficult.

Leann
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Jul 21st, 2006, 05:02 AM
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Graham - thanks for posting your report.

I am heading up to Buffalo Camp in N.Luangwa this October and my productivity at work plummeted to zero after reading about your great experience in N.Luangwa.

What was the hiking terrain like? I did a walking Safari with the Bushcamp Co. in S.Luangwa and the hiking was very easy with no elevation changes. I brought my lightweight hiking boots and I thought they were overkill and I could have saved some weight by just taking my running shoes. Think that is an O.K. plan for N.Luangwa terrain?
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