Return to Zambia! March 2006 Trip Report

Mar 31st, 2006, 08:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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What an incredible way to celebrate your birthday!
Patty is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 06:52 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 230
Dennis - that's what I call a truly remarkable way to spend a birthday! Makes being a year older really OK
stamiya is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 04:30 AM
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As I'm reading about your cheese (vs cake) wondering, "is he kidding?" Though it's nice to have the choice.

20-seconds - oh my, either, a stud or an old lion?

Dennis I'm enjoying this so much and though spa/massage and safari don't seem to go together, you can attest to the fact - a nice extra on the banks of an African river.

Looking forward to reading the rest and seeing the pics.
Apr 1st, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,391
will finish the trip report soon but the pictures are at:
matnikstym is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 06:39 PM
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Abel from Puku Ridge drove us to Croc Farm where we met up with Victor, the guide from Luangwa River Lodge. We had him last year for a walking safari, he’s a great guide, funny, and really knows his stuff! We hopped on the boat for a short river ride to the lodge. We were met by Maryann and Sean as Barry and Tara were stuck in Mozambique. Sean is Barry’s brother and Maryann is his wife. They were great hosts, making us feel at home and since Maryann is Zambian, we learned a lot about growing up there. All the staff at the lodge came out to greet us, remembering us from last year. We had the same chalet as last visit, it has the boma nearest to the river. It was like coming home for spring break! We had a nice lunch, then back in the boat to Croc Farm to pick up some other guests. From there we went on a game drive. Saw 5 different lions from the ones at Puku Ridge, they were very skinny. Finally saw a couple of buffalo, which mostly stay out of touch in the Emerald season, and a brief glimpse of another leopard. Saw lots of zebra, puku, impala and elephants. Came back to camp by moonlight in the boat. I have to say that the morning game drives in the Emerald Season are not as productive as the afternoon/night drives. Hardly any elephants in the mornings, though the lions were always in the road. Next day ½ way down the river on our return to camp, the boat broke down. Then the boat they sent to rescue us broke down so we had no choice but to walk back to camp. Victor said “It’s just around the bend, just around the bend”...well we walked for an hour and there were many bends before the lodge! When we were getting out of the boat, a hippo came out of the brush and slid down into the river and followed us, grunting, all the way to the lodge. I thought for sure he’d come back up and attack, or call his friends in the bush to “get us” but we had no more surprises. Being an unscheduled walk, we had no guard. The mud was past our ankles, the sounds of the bush louder on foot, Victor kept saying “don’t touch this, watch out for that” I thought we’d all be dead if we made it back. It’s not easy not to touch things when your ½ stuck in mud! We made it back though, another great adventure under our belts. On that evenings game drive, after another great drive, we came across a leopard, but he ran into the bushes. Sean was stuck in the mud with the LandCruiser, so we passed him on the way to the boat dock and we got stuck. Victor said “The boat launch is just around the bend, we’ll walk” (now where did I hear that before?!) Well we had just seen a leopard walking that way, we had one small torch (mine) and there were 6 of us huddled together to ward off the leopard, hippo and crocs. It was only a 15 minute walk, we made it, but it had to be on the “Top Ten Most Scary Moments In My Life” list! I think it will be a long time before Dana, one of the other guests returns to Africa! Next day, the other guests were leaving so we went with them to “Tribal Textiles”, very nice fabric products to buy,(pillow cases, wall hangings, placemats etc.) and then went to ZAWA and had a presentation on poaching and saw the snares and guns that poachers use and some elephant tusks and leopard skin. Very interesting! On the way back we finally saw the leopard who stood still for photos, then he walked, we followed. In a culvert next to the road there was a 10 foot crocodile. The leopard saw the croc, the croc saw the leopard, the croc moved forward, the leopard moved forward....finally the leopard must have realized the croc was too big to tackle, so off it went, with the croc following. For three days, we had the camp to ourselves, making 6 of 11 nights, just us. It was like a private safari. Mfuwe Lodge, RPS and Nkwali all had between 6-8 people in their rovers. It was nice not having to share, going where we wanted, stopping when we wanted. In the 5 days we were there the river dropped 2.5 meters and you could see the islands of sand, the submerged trees and hippos standing up! After 5 nights at LRL, it was time to leave. We went on a short game drive in the morning, then off to the airport for a night in Lusaka, 3 nights in London and 2 nights in California. This time at the airport, I remembered to buy the CD “A Luangwa Adventure”, 70 minutes of sounds from the bush. I’ve been playing it at night to fall asleep to the sounds of hippos and the go away bird.
It’s always sad leaving Luangwa River Lodge, they’re all like family or long lost friends!
Thoughts on Luangwa River Lodge: The staff are the greatest! Whether it’s Barry and Tara, or Sean and Maryann, the hosting is outstanding! You’ll be made to feel at home, at ease and welcome. The food is the best we’ve had anywhere, Simon, their chef, is a culinary genius! The location, at a bend on the river is extraordinary any season of the year. I’d go back anytime! Food highlights: Butternut squash soup, squash fritters, lamb shanks and white beans, carmelized onion in puff pastry, smoked pork neck, bacon and walnut salad with raspberry vinaigrette, banana creme torte, coconut sorbet... all the food was good!
matnikstym is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Thanks for the continued report - We'll be a LRL in May and are really looking forward to it. Your adventures just keep on happening this trip; should be really memorable for you! I guess walking instead of riding is how you kept from gaining tonnage from the great food?
stamiya is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 09:27 AM
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The flight from Mfuwe to Lusaka, with a stop in Chipata was uneventful. We were met at the airport by the Intercontinental bus and taken on a mad drive through Lusaka to the hotel. I think the driver didn’t want to be there as when Maryann called to confirm our pickup, she had to argue with 2 or 3 employees at the hotel about what time the shuttle would be there. They told her the last shuttle was at 4, we didn’t arrive until 4:45 on a scheduled flight, so Maryann was insistent on them picking us up. The driver drove like a madman, passing cars when we could see oncoming traffic, weaving in and out, it was a ride from hell! The Inter-Continental is nice, rooms a bit small, hardly any shopping but the bar is nice! We went out to dinner with Ilsa, a Belgian woman we met last year at Luangwa River Lodge, and her husband Jacob. She’s a writer for the Lusaka Post and has co-written a book about Zambia’s Secret Waterfalls, he’s a chief from one of the tribes. Had a great time and had some pretty good Chinese food. (Chinese food in Lusaka?) Got up the next day and went to the airport. Lusaka airport is not bad, check in was quick and upstairs in the waiting area they have 4 nice shops for souvenirs, so I was finally able to buy some mementos from Zambia. On the flight to London, there was a group of 50 Congolese refugees, mostly children, who had been in a Zambian refugee camp and were going to the U.K. to start new lives. (The organization that was taking care of them was OIM, if anyone wants to read about it, they have a web-page.) It was so sad seeing them, all they had was a jacket, a pair of shoes, a beanie style hat and some mittens. There was a young girl sitting up and across from me who looked so terrified of what lay ahead. I kept giving her candy bars and sodas, everytime she’d look at me with big eyes and say “Merci”. When the stewardess would come around with juice, the young girl would hide her “goodies”, probably thinking she wouldn’t get anything if she already had something, When we landed, I shook her hand and with tears in my eyes, I told her, “Good Luck”, though she didn’t speak English, I hope she understood.
Took the Heathrow Express into London, then a cab to our hotel, the Thistle Marble Arch. The hotel was very nice, room comfortable and convenient to the tube station. We took the Big Bus London tour, hop on hop off wherever you wanted. We toured the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and the Princess Diana memorial. That night we went out to dinner with a couple we met last year at Chongwe. Had a great time though the food was so god-awful after the gourmet feasts in Zambia. The next day we went out to Kew Gardens, would have been nice if anything was in bloom, but it was quite boring at this time of the year. Came back, did some shopping on Oxford and Regent Streets, had dinner at the hotel and the next morning, back to the U.S. The flight on BA was not bad, had the 2 seat configuration again (back of the plane on a 747 and except for not having video on demand, it was a good flight. Two days in California with family and friends, then back to Hawaii, ready to plan the next trip.
matnikstym is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 07:49 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222

Finally got to the last two installments (after your birthday extravaganza). I'm so glad you had a wonderful time and got to compare dry and Emerald seasons.

But you haven't indicated where to next and when...
Leely is offline  

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