Roccco and other Zambia experts

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Feb 15th, 2005, 08:19 AM
  #1
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Roccco and other Zambia experts

Please advise:
Wanting to take advantage of the Emerald Season prices, I have FF tickets reserved for a Zambia trip in mid to late March. But I have not made other arrangements yet. Now I am not so sure because my husband is saying that the game viewing may not be very good because of the rain and heat and dense vegetation. True?? Thank you for any advice.
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Feb 15th, 2005, 08:35 AM
  #2
 
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While it is true that the vegetation will be more dense, it is also worth noting that many animals like to use the roads for easier traversing.

Also, it is at this time of year that you have your best opportunity to see wild dogs in South Luangwa.

While you are likely to see fewer animals than you would in high season, the animals that you do see (and there should be PLENTY) will be nice, fat and healthy, and for photography purposes, you will have incredible backgrounds for your animal photos as well as beautiful landscapes for your non-wildlife photos.

I would not hesitate for one second to book an Emerald Season safari. Do not limit yourself to the lodges listed, but also consider places like Luangwa River Lodge, Chichele Presidential Lodge and Puku Ridge who are open for business but are not part of that particular package. Each of the above three lodges are much more luxurious than any of the camps listed in the special but in Emerald Season, you are likely to get identical pricing.

www.luangwariverlodge.com
www.star-of-africa.com
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Feb 15th, 2005, 11:52 AM
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March is definitely green, and there could still be lots of rain and flooding in March. There was through April last year. So it is a spectacularly beautiful time (no dust, crystal blue skies, occasionally interupted by fabulous stormclouds and perhaps lightning. As Roccco says, you should still see lots of animals. It may be one of the best times to see wild dog, and the birding is STUPENDOUS. My guess is you will see everything except possibly leopard. The leopard are more elusive during the green season (I was there for nearly 4 weeks last May, and not one leopard. But there certainly are leopard to be seen, that was probably just my luck.) Also, you will not be able to walk if the grass is high, as it is almost sure to be at this time. So drives only.

Antimalarial precautions are essential during this season BUT don't let that stop you. These mosquitoes only come out at night, and it you cover up, add a little DEET and take your anti-malarial pills, you'll be fine.

Roccco: Is Luangwa River Lodge the new one, just opened at the end of last year or early this year? If so, I would be a bit suspicious -- these managers are not experienced operators in the area, it is not clear who their managers/guides are/will be. And I have some concerns about whether this place is as low impact on the environment as it should be... Personally, I think the conservation support and credentials of camps and lodges in fragile areas is really important, and I think more research is warranted here...
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Feb 15th, 2005, 01:08 PM
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Tasha,

There are a couple new lodges in South Luangwa, and Luangwa River Lodge is one of them, with Lion Camp (not yet opened but purchased by some woman who is reputed to be a Texas multimillionaire).

All I know is that Luangwa River Lodge appears on the website of the South Luangwa Conservation Society as a corporate member and that Barry, one of the owners, has been extremely helpful in helping me plan my itinerary. He seems to really love the area and has made a great personal investment to build his lodge.

Hopefully, a luxury lodge the caliber of Luangwa River Lodge will help bring in a new level of clientele to Zambia, visiting not only South Luangwa but hopefully beyond to places like North Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue.

IMO, Zambia would really benefit from a few more luxury lodges.

Really, I don't see how Luangwa River Lodge could leave any more of an environmental footprint than a place like Flatdogs Camp which features internet, permanent lodging and a whole lot of cheap beds.
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Feb 15th, 2005, 02:51 PM
  #5
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Thanks for the advice, Roccco and Tashak. That was enough to convince my husband.

With flight reservations done, I am now choosing where to stay. Roccco, per your suggestion, I am having an agent (Fish Eagle Safaris in TX, has anyone heard of it?) check on prices and availability at the lodges you recommended.

That said, if I cannot get those, I'll stick with what the package offers. I am thinking about Mfuwe Lodge and Tafika camp in South Luangwa. For Livingstone, I am leaning toward Stanley Safari Lodge. What do you guys think of them? Should I pick the other ones in the selection instead?

Thanks!!
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Feb 15th, 2005, 07:29 PM
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ngodeia,

Luangwa River Lodge is very closely located to Mfuwe Lodge, probably within about a mile, but it will offer a much more intimate and personalized experience. While I don't think that Mfuwe Lodge will be anywhere near capacity in the Emerald Season, you never know and it does have the capacity for FORTY guests, by far the highest capacity of any lodge in South Luangwa, perhaps except Flatdogs Camp.

Meanwhile, for about the same price, you can stay at the much more exclusive Luangwa River Lodge which has the capacity, I believe, for no more than 12 guests (but likely with half that many in Emerald Season).

Tafika seems like a great place and it was originally on my itinerary for this year, but I decided that I would rather stay at the more luxurious Puku Ridge (combined with a stay at Luangwa River Lodge).

Both Tafika and Kaingo would be great options and would allow you to see a different part of the park (the northern Nsefu part of the park).

Stanley Safari Lodge seems like a great place, and personally, the only other place I would consider is Matetsi Water Lodge on the Zimbabwe side of the border.

http://www.ccafrica.com/reserve-1-id-2-9

I do prefer the pricing setup at Matetsi where it is all-inclusive, instead of being charged for everything separately as is done at Stanley Safari Lodge. Matetsi, however, is about a 50 minute drive from the falls, but I preferred it that way for the exclusivity. They do provide free daily transfers to the falls, but first and foremost it is a game lodge with plenty of elephants and giraffes everywhere and a few predators, as well.
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Feb 16th, 2005, 05:05 AM
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Ngodeia,

I really look forward to your report when you return. This green season deal looks very enticing. I did stay at the Mfuwe Lodge on trip last Sept. to Zambia for a few days, but have not had any direct experience with the other choices.

Per Roccco's suggestion, I would also tend gravitate to smaller lodges, but that being said I had a wonderful time at Mfuwe Lodge. It was my first introduction into Africa and I will always remember arriving in my chalet and siting out on my balcony and viewing puku, baboons and elephants graze only 50-100 yards away. It really was like being the kid in the candy store!!

The area is rich in game and I don't think you can wrong in any of your choices.

If you want to get a better feel for the accomodations at Mfuwe Lodge I do have quite a few photos of the Mfuwe Lodge (along with the the other bush camps I stayed at) on Ofoto at:

http://www.olympus.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c...&x=1&y=-pq2c25
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Feb 16th, 2005, 01:51 PM
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ngodeia,
We too have taken advantage of the Green Season special & fly out 14th March from London. Our choice of lodges is as follows:

3 nights Kapani
3 nights Nkwali
3 nights Tafika
3 nights Island of Siankaba

I suggest you get your agent working on the lodges as soon as possible - the smaller ones are filling up even for March.

Kapani and Nkwali are very close, and originally we hadn't planned this however we definitely wanted to stay at Nkwali but they were already booked up for the dates we originally wanted so we have to stay at Kapani first. Not that that is a problem as the camp looks great from the website & the level of guiding comes highly recommended.

Can't wait ......... 26 days to go

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Feb 16th, 2005, 02:45 PM
  #9
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GreenDrake -- Thank you for sharing your photos. It really helps to hear what others have to say about a place. It sounds like you were satisfied with every lodge.

RuthieC -- Thanks for the tip on booking soon. In fact, I already was told that Nkwali is not available. Hopefully, I'll be able to get the other ones. Looking at your itinerary, we may end up at Tafika around the same time.

I am so excited, especially because I wasn't even THINKING about vacations last week. Good thing I saw the emerald season tip from Roccco here. Now I just hope the lodges are available.
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Feb 16th, 2005, 03:48 PM
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I haven't even gone to Zambia yet this year (or come close to paying for it!) but all these recent discussions about Zambia already have me salivating about 2006!

I hope that I can practice abstinence, keeping away from Zambia until the end of 2006, thus allowing a visit to a couple real off the beaten path places in Liuwa Plains (2nd biggest Wildebeest Migration in Africa) and Kasanka (largest Fruit Bat Migration in the world), as well as possibly hitting Kafue National Park to kick things off.

I do fear, however, that with a couple excellent Emerald Season reports that I may not be able to resist and I may find myself in South Luangwa within 6 months after my September 2005 visit!

I know there are only a small handful of Fodorites whom have yet visited South Luangwa, but I think it will be a long time coming before somebody has anything negative to say about this park. It is just an amazing place, not just for the gameviewing but also for the landscapes and people.

I can hardly wait to read Ruthie's report and then start counting down my own trip!

28 long weeks before I am up again, but I think about it day and night!
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Feb 24th, 2005, 07:29 AM
  #11
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To all of you who gave me advice: Thank You!

Our mid- to late-March Zambia trip is confirmed:

1 night Chaminuka Lodge
2 nights Mfuwe Lodge
2 nights Luangwa River Lodge
3 nights Stanley Safari Lodge

I don't think it is ideal, but given that I only started planning last week, I am quite happy with the itinerary and price.

Now, I have more questions for the experts: The CDC recommends a long list of shots and medications, but do we really need all of them?? Polio? Cholera? Yellow Fever? We are already vaccinated for Hap A and Tetanus and will be getting Malarone. Any input is appreciated.
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Feb 24th, 2005, 09:47 AM
  #12
 
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I'd talk to your doctor. The international travel clinic I first went to did recommend all of those and I've kept them up to date.

Because it's your health you're asking about and not a lodge or travel agent, I'd discuss it with your doctor and not rely on anyone on this board--including me!
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Feb 24th, 2005, 02:19 PM
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I am not a doctor but I play one in cyberspace chat forums.

A less honest person may want to consider doing the following, but I would never do anything like this just to save $50!

For your anti-malaria medication, a person may tell your HMO or PPO that you are going for twice the length of your trip...chances are that the prescription will be the same cost whether they give you a 10 day supply or a 20 day supply and then you can just divide the prescription.

Same principle applies if there are more than two people. If I did not have a halo beaming over my head, I, for example, just may want to say that I am going for an 80 day Southern African safari rather than the 20 day trip that I am actually doing. That would cover four people for their anti-malaria meds.
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