Self-Drive Zambia

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Feb 24th, 2011, 05:44 AM
  #21
 
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Thanks MT! Would you recommend one mall over the other, or are they much the same? Most people seem to use Manda Hill.

-25C here this morning -33C with the wind chill. Blessed cold! Not going to get out of the cold until the end of the weekend. I gather Victoria was at a standstill yesterday after receiving nine inches of snow - not certain if the storm hit Vancouver. Enjoy your warmth! Robin
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Feb 27th, 2011, 05:05 AM
  #22
 
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Hi CR,

I prefer Arcades because it is quiet and parking there isn't so much of a problem. It also has a great book store. Manda Hill has recently re opened after a reno: people love to hang out there. Depends what supplies you need. The Shoprite at Manda is arguably better than the Spar at Arcades.

Heavy rain here in Libreville. Most of us woke up to floods. Still preferable to -25 C however!

MT
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Mar 2nd, 2011, 02:30 PM
  #23
 
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Thanks MT! Does Manda Hill have a Woolworth's food since the renovations? We are shattering cold records here - two nights ago, several cities in this province broke the previous recorded lows by 10 to 13C - amazing and blessed cold! It was -43C with the wind chill in Lethbridge last night - and this is March! CR
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Mar 2nd, 2011, 06:49 PM
  #25
 
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Canadian Robin - i am a fello canuck (in ontario but did live in edmonton for four yrs) followed your east african trip report with much fun! What a great trip. I am heading to tz for a self drive this august with my father and friend - is there a way to hook up on email so i can ask some rather silly questions - like can we get groceries in karatu....and where my buddy can buy yet more wooden carvings...

My wife and i spent three weeks in zim and zambia in 2009 and we put our trip together with the awesome help of luangwa blondes - so hello to luangwa blondes!

For what it is worth we loved track n trails - eles in the camp everyday and night. Do pay for a night drive as we saw a pride take down three buf calves, just after a leopard and a pack of wild dog....productive to say the least....
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Mar 2nd, 2011, 08:31 PM
  #26
 
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Hi Sallycanoe! Always happy to chat with a fellow canuck and self-driver - I am originally from Ontario and went to Trent. Pity you are not still in Edmonton - I am headed there next weekend.

If you want to post your email, I will certainly be happy to respond. However, you might want to post your questions here so others can benefit - there are no silly questions on this forum . Whatever you like!

We didn't stop in Karatu but, as I recall, there was a market. Mto Wa Mbu is the larger town of the two, and would likely have better shopping. For wooden carvings, the best market we visited in Tanzania was the Masai market in Arusha - good selection, good prices!

Have you posted a trip report for your Zim/Zam trip? Would love to hear about your trip.

Good to learn you liked T&T - haven't been able to find anyone who has stayed there. You had quite the night drive! CR
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Mar 2nd, 2011, 08:34 PM
  #27
 
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Thanks for the link to Manda Hill luangwablondes. I have been on the website and know that there is a Woolies, but no where does it say if the Woolies has food. CR
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Mar 5th, 2011, 06:32 AM
  #28
 
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Canadian Robin, or any one!, okay I know this is not on the right post but I'll make up for that with some details on our last trip to Zambia.

The big question I have is our trip and camping sites: end aug/early september we are doing the fol: 3 nights Tarangire (Mhwembe SC- booked); 1 night Rhino Lodge (on the rim); 1 night Simba A public campsite (we'll bring warm clothes!); 2 nights Hembe SC, 2 nights Lobo Hill SC, 1 night public campsite in Seronera area; then fly into a camp in the Mara Triangle (TZ side but in the thick of the migration river crossings - not very cheap!).

Any thoughts on this is appreciated, but in particular your thoughts on the 2 nights Hembe, 2 nights Lobo, 1 night Seronera. There are no SC available for our last night in the area and we need to be at the airstrip by around noon, so we are thinking that a public campsite will need to do. The same for the first two in the serengetti - nothing available closer to Seronera so we've booked Hembe SC. Hembe is about 30km from Seronera towards the western corridor...we wanted to be in the Seronera area because we've been told that the wildlife, particularly cheetah and lion is good. Have you any thoughts on this: we could decrease a night in Hembe for another night in a public campsite in the valley (traffic and congestion...ugh) if you think the game is that much better or even add a night at Lobo Hill (for three nights)...or stay at Hembe for two...

Am over-thinking this yet again, but hey, planning the trip is almost as much fun as doing it!

Thanks!
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Mar 5th, 2011, 07:20 AM
  #29
 
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Zambia. Zimbabwe Trip report from 2009 - this is a rough summary from a trip two years ago...August 2009, focused on Mana Pools Zim, and SLNP Zambia (self-drive)

- Arrived Lusaka, then immediate transfer to Chirundu (arranged through Zambian Safari Company who are great, very responsive with queries via email and tons of help) on the Zambezi river (Zam/Zim border). Stayed at Zambezi Breezers - perfect location, great atmosphere (mostly Zim expats living in Zambia and staying for a fishing weekend). Reasonable rates, and facilities were good. Arrived around 5PM after a long 44hrs of transit, had a glass of wine listening to the resident hippo, then spent a lively evening at the bar with the Zim expats...these folks are hardy! We stuck it out as long as we could at the bar, and our new friends helped us the next day with the border crossing.
- Border xing. We did not have a vehicle at this time and had planned on walking the no-man's land across the bridge. This would not have been a good idea as it is probably close to 3km between border posts. Our new Zim expat friends dropped us at the Zam exit post (about 10 mins from Breezers) and we then took a taxi across the no-mans land to the Zim entry port after getting the appropriate stamps. The Zam taxis are allowed in no man's land, but the zim taxis are not. On the Zim side, we had no problems, and within 15mins had linked up with the driver from our Mana Pools tented camp.
- 5 nights in Mana Pools. Incredible. Walking and canoeing safaris with an amazing guide. Lion, wild dog (saw them hunting twice), leopard and elephant..). Mana was awesome.
- we were then dropped off at the Zim border post for our reverse journey into Zam. We had arranged for our 4x4 rental company to pick us up at the border on the Zam side. After some attempted bribes which we shook off, we finally found a young man with a cell phone who, for a price, was willing to call over to a Zam taxi, who then drove over the bridged picked us up, and then dropped us off on the Zam side. This was actually not much fun. But it worked. The bribe experience was unpleasant, but we firmly declined the offer to pay 100USD for the exit visa. The official looked around the empty customs room and implied that we really had no choice...I explained that we had loved our time in Zim and it would be unfortunate if my last memory was a negative one. He smiled and stamped the exit visa.
- we then found our Landy, and drove back to Lusaka. We stayed at Chita Lodge which was in a great location to Manda Hill and the other shopping centre, Arcades. Accomodations were okay, nothing special but good enough for a quick overnight. We had supper at Manda Hill (nice) and did groceries that night at Arcades. No difference...they are both close and both have everything you need.
- we hit the road early the next morning (too early as I forgot my visa card - more on this later). It was a sunday and traffic was light. We drove to Chipata - a long drive. Roads were good, a few sections with potholes, but nothing compared to the Kasane-Nata road. What was truly awesome was that we saw zero tourist/safari traffic - we really felt like we were touring through the 'real' africa - for whatever that means. Definately off the beaten path and away from the normal safari circuit.
- we arrived Chipata after a good 7 hrs of driving. No issues at any of the checkpoints - just smiles and waves, and one half-hearted search with no malice intent. We stayed at Mama Rulas which was good enough to camp in. Another solid grocery store in Chipata if you forgot anything.
- Chipata to MFuwe was a good drive, not sign posted, and very very corrugated. We drove too slow, and after speaking to our campsite neighbours, he advised to travel fast, and skim the bumps....up to you! We stayed at Track and Trail - great location. Our tent (RTT) was parked right on the river and we saw hippos, crocs and elephant all day long. T&T also has good facilities and a good bar/restaurant. We purchased bread once, but otherwise we stuck to our own provisions. Track and Trails is a good choice, and every day we had eles in the campsite - you need to make sure you give your fruit to the camp manager everynight, else you might end up with a smashed up trunk (or boot)...
- SLNP was fantastic. Lions and giraffe and big buf heards. And of course leopard. Two solid days and no leopard for us, so we went on a night drive. Ten minutes in - there - a leopard. How many had we driven by? The price we self-drivers pay in missed sightings...the night drives are well worth it. We actually hired our night drive driver to come with us in our vehicle for morning drive - sure enough he spotted two leopards.
- game drives in SLNP were very easy. Travelled along main roads until we found tracks we liked and followed them. Most sightings were solo with no other vehicle traffic and the vehicle traffic that did exist was very courteous - guides would hang back to avoid a crowd, then move in once the other vehicle had departed. Had a leaky tire and actually needed to hand-pump the tire in the midst of a zebra herd. The leaky tire was a pain for the rest of the trip, as was the leaky and underinflated spare...
- we also visited the Tribal Textiles in Mfuwe - a good mid-day diversion - especially for my wife. After all the dust and dirt, she managed to pay me back by spending our gas money on those irresistable table cloths and whatever else they sold. This is where we realized I had lost my visa. So literally we used our 'emergency gas cash' to pay for the stockpile of future wedding gifts she had selected. Very beautiful stuff, and not cheap, but of high quality. Not really my thing.
- we also visited the Chipembele Wildlife Education Centre - about an hours drive from track and trail along the non-park side of the Luangwa river. Great place - we linked up with the amazing brit expats who run this place via the internet and had brought a bag full of donations (the normal soccer balls, pens, paper, stickers etc). What an incredible place and people.
- we also spent a day in the north east part of the park - east side of the river, Nsefu Sector. Wild - we spent a full day and never once saw another vehicle. Saw the most amazing buffalo herd cross a river - the herd must have been a km long. Great day and well worth it if you have time.
- After 5 nights, we hit the road back to Lusaka. Realized we were ready to go when we drove past a lion without blinking an eye...we stopped at the Bridge Camp on the way home...as per the post above, nothing to write home about. Camped with three couples from South Africa (50s and 602s) who were fretting about how all their doctors had moved to Canada (we apologized and shared a bottle of wine).
- Back to Lusaka and the Chita Lodge - where they, without prompt, handed me my visa card which I left on the counter at checkout (so excited to get going). The Lusaka weekend market was really good with a wide variety of curios...

Bottomline: not a normal self-drive trip as we were kind of in and out in a hurry with just one drive in destination, but we really wanted to see SLNP and I am not a big fan of being guided around, and we can't afford the high end lodges. The Mana Pools part was amazing. SLNP was amazing. The roads in Zambia were fine, and the people friendly. Great trip for sure - short, but sweet, and with the driving we felt we actually saw something of Zambia, rather than just airport, airplane, lodge...etc.

Another shout-out to Luangwa Blondes who provided alot of info and advice for our planning.
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Mar 5th, 2011, 08:29 AM
  #30
 
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Mbweha campsite in Tarangire is great - good location in terms of where the action was when we were there in August, very isolated and a beautiful spot with lovely views - probably the most scenic of all the special campsites we stayed on. It is a little difficult to find - I assume you got our GPS points off our report. There are several forks in the road on the way to the site, and none are marked. Beware of the colony of bees in the big tree on the campsite. We were fine on the campsite for the first night, before the bees discovered us (and more importantly, that we had water!). The second two nights, the bees forced us to camp about a kilometre away, which was fine. We just found an open spot and camped - we didn't build a campfire because we didn't want to leave a scar on what was not a legitimate campsite. Rangers we met at the picnic site were fine with us camping off the site, but they did offer to move us to another SC. We liked the location too much, so we stayed put. We found the best game viewing to be along the river, below the Matete picnic site, so head south from the campsite at dawn.

Despite the fact that the migration had moved on, we liked the Western Corridor. Having been stripped of all of the grass, it looked incredibly barren, but we saw plenty of wildlife, including two prides of lions. There were still pockets of water in the Grumeti River that attracted the wildlife. We watched crocs eat a zebra that had come in to drink. From my map, it appears as though Hemba isn't too far from Seronera, so two nights there would likely be good. It would be worth spending a bit of time along the Grumeti River - although maybe not, given your limited time. Head south to Seronera - although that will be a long round trip.

Lobo was a huge surprise to us. The reviews we had read implied that the game viewing wasn't that good, but we saw more lions in Lobo than anywhere else, and also had a cheetah to ourselves at one point. We found the game viewing amazing and were so thankful that we had booked three nights. The Lobo Hills campsite is located at the end of a dead-end track. We actually camped about a kilometre from the end - where the views were much better and it was more open (so no tsetse flies). The campsite at Lobo Hills is very close to the Ngare Naironya Springs and the road along the springs provided the best game-viewing of our trip - if we drove it at dawn or dusk, we were almost guaranteed to see at least two or three groups of lions. It is where we watched the lions kill a buffalo. Check out the kopjes near the airstrip at Lobo - the lions like to warm themselves on the rocks at dawn. The Grumeti Game Drive circuit, while very scenic and quiet (we saw only one other vehicle), didn't provide great viewing other than the cheetah.

The public campsites at Seronera for one night would be fine, just not nearly as isolated or private - they are popular with large groups and there may be more than one group on a site, so they may be a tad noisy. However, the sites are big enough that you could perhaps tuck yourself away in a corner.

We certainly had great sightings in the Seronera area - we regretted only having two nights there but mainly because we had to have been given what is surely the best campsite at Seronera. The Turner Springs campsite was amazing - very isolated and the springs attracted a lot of wildlife. The lions and hyenas kept us awake most of the night. However, the downside was many vehicles once we drove back towards the main area. Any good sightings involved several vehicles - ugh!

I think your two nights Hemba, 2 nights Lobo and 1 night Seronera will be fine. If it were possible to get a SC at Seronera, I would drop a night or even two at Hemba and add it on at Seronera - or add another night at Lobo. I might be tempted to add a night at Seronera even if you have to stay on a public campsite - it's a tough choice. You could book yourself onto a public campsite and then check to see if there is a special campsite available once you get there. There were two special campsites at Turner Springs and one was empty when we were there in August. In fact, on our Serengeti trip, we only ever saw two other SC being used - both at Lobo by mobile safari groups. I am amazed that they are telling you that they are booked. Honestly, from our experience, we could have been based anywhere in the Serengeti and the viewing would have been great. However, when we were there in August, the area just south of Seronera and Lobo did seem to be the centre of activity.

Give the Retima Hippo pool on the way to Lobo a miss - not worth the hype! Spend all your time at Lobo.

...and I agree - the planning is soooo much fun - such anticipation!

Speaking of anticipation...I am eagerly anticipating those Zambia details....

You might wish to start a new post so that others can offer their Serengeti input - no one will think to look on this post given the Zambian title. Robin
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Mar 21st, 2011, 01:37 AM
  #31
 
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Please refer to my comments on camping at Croc Valley in South Luangwa!
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Nov 6th, 2011, 04:02 PM
  #32
 
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Hi Robin -

I can't tell you what a resource your travel log has been in putting together my own self-drive trip - thanks for being so thorough!

I know that you didn't us the public campsites in Serengeti and Ngorongoro, but thought I'd ask in case you or anyone else tuned in has an answer.

1. Is it possible to reserve a spot at the public campsites ahead of time (so one knows for sure that a place to stay is waiting)?

2. If not, do they ever fill up? (Translate: someone arrives and gets turned away - yikes!).

* I can't seem to figure this one out.

thanks in advance!
best,
rich
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May 16th, 2012, 05:21 AM
  #33
 
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Some maps of the SLNP area - www.maunselfdrive4x4.com/slnpmaps.htm

Gives you an idea where places and routes are that we often talk about.
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May 17th, 2012, 03:25 AM
  #34
 
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My apologies richwpagen - I missed your questions - just found them now when luangwablondes' post brought the thread back to the top. I am certain my response will be far too late but... as far as I know, you cannot book a public campsite. The campsites I have seen have all been quite large (accommodating 20 tents), and I cannot imagine they fill up. The exception would be at the campsite in Seronera in the central Serengeti. At Seronera, the campsites (there are several) were busy, but campers were assigned to a specific site on arrival, so there were not too many campers per site.

Regarding the Zambia discussion above, here is the link to my trip report and photos from our Botswana/Zambia trip in October 2011 - it is a work in progress, but the highlights are posted, along with some of our favourite photos. CR

http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Trav...0148040_sCzBLk
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May 31st, 2012, 06:18 PM
  #35
 
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I just got an email from the owner of Zikomo Safari Camp. The camp has had regular visits by wild dog recently. They think the wild dogs are denning in the general vicinity.
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Jun 1st, 2012, 06:39 PM
  #36
 
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@CR-- it's taken nearly all day for me to get through your remarkable trip report with those fabulous pictures. What a fabulous adventure!
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Dec 14th, 2012, 09:57 AM
  #37
 
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Hi Robin,
what a great trip report!
i had already read you previous report from Tanzania and Botswana and had enjoy them as well!
this one is especially enjoyable since i am "strandet" i Norway for the moment after a four years periode living in Zambia as well as tree years in Malawi...
durring this seven year i did a lot a selv driving all around the region,SLNP for ex i probably visit around 40 times sometime up to 10 days at the time...i drive up to the Serengeti from Lusaka and have been down a couple of time to Namibia...
for your next Africa expedition allow me to recommend Katavi np and Ruaha np, to places, i am sure you will enjoy a lot!
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Dec 15th, 2012, 08:01 AM
  #38
 
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About self-drive in Zambia i d like to precize a few things
first, driving into the Zambian bush even in the dry season without a 4/4 is asking for trouble!
of the tre main np in the dry season Kafue is probably the easyest to drive around but in the busanga depending on the amount of rain that has falling one can meet muddy areas well up into august, also there are patch of deep sand on somme tracks...
the acces road to the Lower Zambezi np cross severals dry rivers beds where the descent into and the climing out is verry steep, the road sandy with loses rocks, crossing those without a 4/4 is a serious problem is possible at all...once in the park many of the game drive loops cross muds holes, pools and deep sand patches...
the last time i was there driving to South Luangwa, it could be done with a saloon car from Chipata and many loops could be drived with a high clearence 2/4 nevertheless some loops cross dry river and small streams beds, som of them are actualy on those beds witch are made of verry deep sand...
it is possible of course to avoid those road but it can be frustrating to have to back track the samme loop...
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Dec 15th, 2012, 08:36 AM
  #39
 
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about camping i will recommend Flattdogs, when it is available for it s great site with a lot of big trees and bushes and the wildlife passing throug (elephants, hippos, girafes, hyenas, bushbucks, lions...)
For the rest of the year my choice will be Wildlife camp with great wildlife viewing around the camp and the adjacent floodplains.
The problem if one with those camp is the overlands trucks and the noise they can make, espesialy in the evening...these trucks actualy can be a problem in most of the easy accesible campsites in the region.
lukyly one can still find great campsites without in place like North Luangwa, Katavi and Ruaha for ex...
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Dec 17th, 2012, 02:49 PM
  #40
 
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Unfortunately, Flatdogs doesn't offer camping any more. There is a new campsite at Nsefu that doesn't take large groups, unless they reserve all the campsites- all 5 of them. This is getting to be a popular option for campers who want some space and quiet when camping. All the sites are on the river, and in a game rich area-That includes cats and dogs.
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