return to zambia or try another part of Africa

Aug 26th, 2006, 05:25 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 49
return to zambia or try another part of Africa

We had a wonderful trip to South Luwanga and Lower Zambezi this summer and after searching high and low can't think of a better vacation (open to suggestions) than a return to Africa. Our question, especially to Rocco, is do we try to find an affordable place in Botswana or go back to Zambibi or try a combo of two countries. We did like the conoeing and other variety of activities in Zambia and the Zambezi River and park were unbelievable. We were a Chiawa and Luwanga river lodge and do not want to repeat the same experience. We did not like the conjestion at the park in south Luwanga as well and are looking for remote areas with less vehicles and crowds....any suggestions?
stru_lgr is offline  
Aug 26th, 2006, 06:25 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Looks like you are hooked!

Are you going back the same time of year? If not, then you can have a different experience in the same place.

If you have enough time you could combine Zambia and Botswana for some old and some new. I did that once and enjoyed the contrast.

If you did wish to return to Zambia and do a different LZ and canoe experience, you could try this: Start at Sausage Tree for 2 or more nights, then spend a full day canoeing the Chifungulu Channel to Old Mondoro. The narrow winding channel provided beautiful scenery, loads of birds, and some animal encounters. Nothing scary though.

Old Mondoro focuses on walking, but I also did night drives. Rocco just posted that driving will now be standard at Old Mondoro. You would want at least 2 nights here.

You could also try North Luangwa. Kutandala, in North Luangwa, is my favorite camp. It's all walking there and very, very remote.

You could also go to Kafue. That is remote. It has beautiful antelope species like sable and roan. I saw some in mid-July, but Sept-Oct would be better.

Good luck with your decision.
atravelynn is offline  
Aug 26th, 2006, 06:39 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,391
or you could try Tafika or Kaingo in south Luangwa. They are far enough from the other lodges that you would not have congestion. I was at south luangwa last october and again this march and never did see more than 3-4 other vehicles. hope the park is not getting too crowded! I do want to take lynn's advice and go to north luangwa or kafue, even though i'm not much of a walker. good luck and welcome to the return to africa club! are you going to do a trip report or pics?
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 26th, 2006, 06:40 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,391
sorry, just clicked on your trip report, once again, glad you enjoyed Zambia!
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 26th, 2006, 09:41 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Stru_lgr,

You know, I am so partial to Zambia that I am going to say that you really have not yet seen it all yet, even staying at those two great properties.

There are so many other wonderful properties to explore. Kaingo and Tafika, for an August/September/October visit immediately pops to mind. Also, you cannot fully appreciate South Luangwa until you have spent time at Puku Ridge, an absolutely wonderfully located luxury tented camp.

Also, although I will not disclose on this board, there are some wonderful low season prices to a couple properties that are thought to be much higher priced, making an extended visit in mid May until the end of May especially attractive.

As atravelynn mentioned, Old Mondoro has a fabulous secluded location, as does Kulefu. However, these camps would be for August/September/October for their best potential (Old Mondoro opens around mid June, I believe and closes October 31st).

Keeping to my consumer advocate ways, I think a wonderful option would be to get in some high season properties before they close for the season and then allow the safari to run into early November to take advantage of some absolute great pricing. Although it would involve a bit of flying for the amount of money saved, something like this would be very worth it:

Kaingo/Mwamba (4 nights)
Old Mondoro (4 nights) (just as the season is closing)
Kulefu (4 nights) at the very start of November to take advantage of low season prices...basically prices drop $150 per person per night on November 01st
Puku Ridge (4) Just like Kulefu, you would save $150 per person per night (a $1200 savings for a couple) by visiting in early November. The gameviewing will still be fantastic and it is doubtful that the first heavy rain will yet have hit to disperse the wildlife.

Something like this would cost for 2007 late October/early November:

Kaingo/Tafika (4) $2150 pps
Old Mondoro (4) $2100 pps (I think)
Kulefu (4) $1300 pps (Kulefu is not too far from Old Mondoro and it does feature some amazing channels in the area to canoe)
Puku Ridge (4) $1300 pps
Air = Lusaka to Mfuwe to Lusaka to Lower Zambezi to Mfuwe to Lusaka = $1150 pps
TOTAL = $8000 per person sharing for 16 night Zambian safari in what really still is high season.

Now, I do think that by waiting until November, that Luangwa River Lodge (and all of South Luangwa for that matter) would offer a far more exclusive safari as there will be so many less people in the park. I would advise people to wait until mid September just to be nearly sure to avoid families with children and the related congesttion.

Take a look at this, and do give Luangwa River Lodge a chance for November:

Chongwe River Camp (4) $1700 pps
Kulefu (4) $1300 pps
Luangwa River Lodge (3) $950 pps
Puku Ridge (4) $1300 pps
Luangwa River Lodge (3) $950 pps
Air = $750 pps
TOTAL = $6950 for a SEVENTEEN night Zambian safari.

I would break up the six night stay at LRL to make things interesting and still take advantage of the long stay discount (pay for 5, get 1 night free).

Although I did not have the best experience at Kulefu, it must be said that I was about the first guest in the camp that particular year. Probably no different than "cruisers" who go on an inaugural cruise and find some inconsistencies.

However, Kulefu has since been completely refurbished and has been moved about a kilometer away from its old location...now it is right on the riverbanks, as is Chongwe River Camp.

I loved my experience at Chongwe River Camp and you may count on numerous elephants daily walking right through camp...however, because the camp has such a huge open area, as long as you stay alert and do not allow yourself to be surpised by the presence of elephants, it is a great camp.

However, I do think that a park to watch is Hwange. Dennis (matnikstym) is going to be the experimental lab rat for the Fodors board when he stays at the very nice looking Somalisa Camp very soon.

http://www.africanbushcamps.com/camps/somalisa.htm

Hwange is a Big Five park and certainly has one of the highest populations of elephants of any park in Africa:

http://www.game-reserve.com/zimbabwe_hwange_np.html

I will help lead the return to Zimbabwe with my visit next May/June. I will be visiting four different wildlife areas, including Hwange, Mana Pools, Lake Kariba and Malilangwe Private Game Reserve. I am really very fascinated by all of these areas, although really Lake Kariba.

Just read up on Malilangwe Private Game Reserve...there are only two lodges in the entire 100,000 acre reserve. Black & white rhinos

http://www.game-
reserve.com/zimbabwe_malilangwe.html

Plus, there are wild dogs galore at Malilangwe. Have a look at this August 27th (today's) update:

http://tinyurl.com/ldvuc

The drawback at the moment to Zimbabwe is that the cost of fuel makes air transfers twice as much as they would be in Zambia or Botswana. Even so, for its excellent looking wildlife areas, it may be totally worth it. Pamushana (in Malilangwe), despite being in Zimbabwe, appears to be one of the most luxurious lodges in all of Africa.

Roccco is offline  
Aug 27th, 2006, 03:52 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Hello,

If it's remote and uncongested you want, Botswana is the place for you -- and contrary to popular belief it is certainly possible to have a reasonably priced trip to Botswana, particularly if you opt for the shoulder season (June or November).

The Okavango Delta is unlike any environment in Zambia, and would make a great contrast to the Lower Zambezi. In the Linyanti, you'll have the best possible opportunity to see wild dogs.

Combining Botswana and Zambia is easily done, with a connection via Vic Falls. You could overnight in the Falls for a relaxing transition between the two (highly recommended) or go straight through.

Another option would be Zimbabwe -- there are great canoeing options in Mana Pools, and excellent game-viewing in Hwange. A Botswana/Zimbabwe combination could also be easily done with a connection via Vic Falls.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Aug 27th, 2006, 07:59 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 143
The only vehicle we saw while at Tafika during our 3 days there (1st week in July) was another Tafika vehicle. This was for about a minute on the only night the camp was filled. Both vehicles were looking for a young leopard we had seen during the day that had abandoned it's lunch on a tree limb when we arrived on the scene. Everything about our stay with the Coppingers was just plain excellent, especially the early morning micro-light flight, just lovely!
We also really enjoyed our stay at Vundu in a tent on the river bank in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe. Again the only vehicles we saw were trucks that belonged to a couple of families and Wilderness vehicles moving things out of their concession. We thought Nick Murray was terrific as was the rest of his staff. Approaching a wild dog den very quietly on foot and wishfully waiting for them to bring the pups out was a memorable experience.
We could be packed and on the way to the airport in under 30 minutes if we had the opportunity to go again!
katt58 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2006, 06:19 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I agree with Tafika as an excellent choice for South Luangwa.

Wild dogs on foot!!?? Kat! Wow!
atravelynn is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 10:43 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,867
"The drawback at the moment to Zimbabwe is that the cost of fuel makes air transfers twice as much as they would be in Zambia or Botswana."

Rocco,
Since I have no concept of air transfer costs in Zambia or Botswana, could you give an example of a route and cost in Zimbabwe? Thanks.
Patty is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 02:59 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 49
Thank you one and all for your prompt responses. I am a teacher and therefore with school starting haven't been quite diligent with MY responses. Thanks Rocco....as usual, very informative and helpful advice. Being a teacher we are limited to June,July and August....eat your hearts out all you "all year long" workers...ha ha...teaching does have its advantages, but traveling in November and saving money isn't one at this time. We too fell in love with Zambia and all the suggestions about the uncrowded camps sounds great. We did one walking Safari at South Lugwanda and although it was very informative and fun we didn't see many animals and it got pretty hot toward the end....so I am not sure about an "all walking" camp. I have copied all your posts and will be talking it over with my husband this weekend and will get back. One more thing. When we were at Chiawa one of the guides there was quite distressed with the political issues and safety in Zimbabwe. His mother is still working there and he made it sound like things were pretty unsettled. Has anyone heard anything lately? I will be reading this post, so if anyone comes up with any other ideas I would be grateful.
stru_lgr is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 03:07 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 184
stru_lgr, We had decided on two nights at Luwanga River Lodge in August of next year but at this point I need to rethink that based on your post of seeing too many other vehicles. How bad was it? I think that would disappoint me so can you give me more details. Thanks
dwc0201 is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 03:21 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Hi Patty,

Sure, no problem.

Okay...from Livingstone (Victoria Falls, Zambia) to Lower Zambezi, the approximate cost is about $350 pp.

From Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) to Mana Pools (directly opposite Lower Zambezi) the cost is minimum $500 pp, if not more.

Those costs are not so bad and Hwange would be half or less from Victoria Falls.

Before moving onto the Zim air transfer costs, here are just a couple more for Zambia:

Livingstone to Lusaka: $200 pp (each way)

Lusaka to Lower Zambezi: $150 pp (each way)

Lusaka to South Luangwa: $225 pp (each way)

South Luangwa to North Luangwa: $200 pp (each way)

Okay, now here are some recent quotations I received for a client who was very interested in visiting Zimbabwe (her request, in order to avoid crowds and have a more exclusive high season safari). However, after seeing these costs the client was scared away not by the political situation but the cost of the air transfers. She instead booked a Botswana safari:

Charter flight directly out of Harare airport and on to Pamushana 1 hour 50 minutes - Cost US$1,080 per aircraft (nett rate)(my cost, one way)
www.pamushana.com

Charter flight directly from Pamushana to Hwange 2 hours 30 mins - Cost US$1,970 per aircraft (nett rate)(my cost)

Charter flight directly from Pamushana to Victoria Falls 2 hours 50 mins - Cost US$1,965 per aircraft (nett rate)
(my cost)

From Pamushana the guests could charter directly through to Johannesburg?? Quote from Pamushana (clear customs at Buffalo Range) through to Johannesburg possibly Lanseria is ZAR26,850 (nearly $4,000) this flight is on a Beechcraft Baron 58 (Twin engine unpressurised)

------So, unfortunately, not only is the political situation hurting the photosafari lodges in Zimbabwe but also the cost of fuel in Zimbabwe is making it especially difficult.

Chances are that lower cost transfers may be available, but how much lower remains to be seen.

I will be spending about 14 nights in Zimbabwe next May/June, visiting Victoria Falls (1), Hwange (4), Lake Kariba (2), Mana Pools (4), Malilangwe (Pamushana)(3) before transferring to Mozambique for 8 nights. I have not yet received my air charter prices. Although they should be less than the above prices, by how much remains to be seen.

However, please keep in mind that two of the best parks, Hwange and Mana Pools still have reasonable transfer costs. It is the off the beaten path places like Matobos Hills and Malilangwe that have very expensive transfers.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 03:24 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 49
SLR camp was wonderful. Barry was outstanding as the host. I understand he and Tara are going to open another lodge on the East Coast and that his brother and wife will continue running the camp. The staff was VERY accomodating and we can't say enough about our stay. We went to Chiawa next which was a more formal, but isolated camp. It was a completely different and wonderful experience. At SLR the night drives were like a race with the other camps to find wildlife and then the other 4WD vehicles were not far behind....It was annoying, but not enough to miss the great time there. Two night will be great and you will enjoy your stay I am sure. Although, I have not stayed elsewhere to compare to what this post is saying. One thing we did get to do at SLR was to see the Zambian people. Barry took us to some villages and the school and I don't think our trip would have been complete with that aspect...he even took us to a local bar!!! So even though it was a little more crowded on the night drives I still would highly recommend it as part of the Zambian experience.
stru_lgr is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 03:27 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 49
Also, one more thing....Barry took care of all of our flights in Zambia. He had people meet us as the airport and got us right through all the paper work that another post was saying is a scam....we had not problems thanks to Barry....that in itself was enough to go to SLR
stru_lgr is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 03:46 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
stru_lgr,

The nice thing about Zambia is that it is still a tightly knit safari community and all the lodges act in cooperation to provide the best safari experience for the clients.

I find all of the lodges to be wonderful ground handlers but, yes, Luangwa River Lodge does a great job (as does Chiawa in Lower Zambezi). They are used as ground handlers for both direct bookings and for bookings through tour operators alike. The advantage to booking through a tour operator, however, is that the lodges are not in competition with their agents so while the lodges should be selling at full rack rate, a tour operator is often able to provide discounted pricing (yet the end result is the same as far as ground handling goes).

The people at Luangwa River Lodge are great and whether it is Barry or Tara managing the camp or Sean and Maryann, the experience is extra special.

Luangwa River Lodge should be updating its website soon and will soon have a guest photogallery. They will be most appreciative for any past guests to contribute their photos so if you have any, please e-mail them to Sean at [email protected]
Roccco is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 03:51 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Hello Stru,

Given that you're looking at June-August and hoping to keep costs reasonable, I'd recommend looking at shoulder season in Botswana (early June) and combining it with Zimbabwe (Hwange or Mana Pools) or Zambia.

Another option is South Africa -- June-September is the low season in SA, which means some great deals on accommodation.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 07:52 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,867
Thanks, Rocco. That's very helpful and gives me an idea of what areas I might want to focus on based on flight costs.
Patty is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 02:29 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 49
Hi Julian,
Just wondering if you could recommend any camps in early June that would be competitive.....I am fearful, cost wise as well as politicallly to go to Zim right now. A combo with Zambia might be a good idea....any thoughts on the best combinations with flights etc. ? Thanks
stru_lgr is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 09:00 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
stru_lgr,

It would be relatively simple to combine Botswana and Zambia. Victoria Falls offers an easy connection to Kasane, Botswana (about a 90 minute road transfer) and there are also flights from Livingstone (Victoria Falls) up to Lusaka and then onto Lower Zambezi and/or South Luangwa.

You could potentially enjoy a shoulder season Zambian safari followed by a shoulder season Botswana safari. I don't know how long you are considering, but something like this would be very nice:

May 24th to May 27th
Puku Ridge, South Luangwa (4)

May 28th - May 31st
Chongwe River Camp, Lower Zambezi (4)

June 01st
Royal Livingstone, Livingstone (1)

June 02 - 05th
Camp To Be Determined In Linyanti (4)

June 06th - 09th (4)
Camp To Be Determined In Okavango Delta

June 10th - 12th (time and budget permitting)
Jacks Camp (3)

Okay, so maybe 20 nights is a bit much, but it would be an amazing safari!

For your Zambia portion, pricing would be about:

Puku Ridge (4) $1805 pps (5% discount for long stay of 4+ nights)

Chongwe River Camp (4) $1700 pps

Royal Livingstone (1) $270 pps

Air - Lusaka to South Luangwa to Lower Zambezi to Livingstone = $925 pps

TOTAL = $4700 pps

Not counting your transfers, Botswana would likely add about an extra $500 pppns.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 31st, 2006, 02:58 PM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 49
Rocco you make us laugh.....yes 20 days would be fantastic, but do you know a bank we could rob and not get caught...ha ha....

Yes Zambia would be great again. Puku would be nice and we are interested. Wondering what keeps you coming back to Chongwe...why not Old Mondora? Althought we LOVED the Lower Zambezi, should we repeat or perhaps try North Lugwanda as some have suggested. Just wondering about a walking camp. It seemed the animals were okay if we were in the jeep, but as soon as we got out they would flee. Why wouldn't they do the same on a walking safari?

We are interested in the shoulder camp rates at specific camps in Botswana. Do you know any? We are interested in a camp with multiple activities like you suggested for us last year, walking, riding and water, but of course we are open to new adventures always....thanks in advance as usual....
stru_lgr is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:50 AM.