South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.......

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May 3rd, 2003, 06:15 AM
  #1
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South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.......

Here is a copy of the most comprehensive article that I have yet read on the internet about South Luangwa, a seemingly excellent alternative to the very pricey lodges of Botswana and the Sabi Sand in South Africa (posted in 3 parts):

South Luangwe NP
Experts have dubbed South Luangwa as one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of game around the Luangwa river and itys ox bow lagoons is among the most intense in Africa.
The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life blood of the park's 9050km2. The Park hosts a wide variety of wildlife birds and vegetation. The now famous ywalking safariy originated in this park and is still one of the finest ways to experience this pristine wilderness first hand.
The changing seasons add to the Parkys richness ranging from dry, bare bushveld in the winter to a lush green wonderland in the summer months. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction.
If youyre staying at one of the Valleyys lodges, the guides will ensure you have every opportunity to see all that the valley has to offer of its wildlife, birds and varying vegetation and habitats. If youyre in your own vehicle, be sure to get a map of the park from the Crocodile Farm at the park entrance and follow the loop roads graded in the park, past dambos bursting with hippos, crowned cranes, grazing antelope and scurrying baboons. Further out on the plains youyre bound to see the large elephant herds, reaching up to 70 in number. Buffalo are abundant and spread throughout the valley.
The hippopotamus is one animal you wonyt miss. As you cross over the bridge into the park there are usually between 30 and 70 hippos lounging in the river below and most of the dambos and lagoons will reveal many. There is estimated to be at least 50 hippos per kilometre of the Luangwa River!
Zebra can be seen running in small herds of about a dozen. The difference between Zambiays zebras and those in the south and east of Africa are in the stripes. Here they are evenly spaced as opposed to broad light stripes with a faint shadow stripe in-between.
Thornicroftys Giraffe, unique to Luangwa Valley should be easily spotted.
The park has 14 different antelope species, most of which are easily seen on game and night drives. Watch out for the elusive bushbuck, preferring to inhabit densely covered areas. The common duiker is not that common near the Luangwa river but inhabits the back country of the Luangwa Valley. The largest of the antelope is the eland, usually near the Nsefu sector of the park. The most numerous antelope is the impala, these gregarious animals can be seen in herds all over the park. Not to be confused with the Puku, of similar size but a much fluffier buck with a rich orange coat and also prolific. Perhaps the most beautiful is the Kudu, with its majestic spiral horns and delicate face. Although fairly common, theyyre not always easy to find due to their retiring habits and preference for dense bush.. Reedbuck, roan, sable, hartebeest, grysbok, klipspringer and oribi are all here but not prolific in the central tourist area of the Park. They tend to stay deeper in the remote parts towards the Muchinga escarpment.
Of the primates, baboons and vervet monkeys are prolific. More scarce is Maloneyys monkey. Present, but unlikely to be seen except on night drives is the night ape, and the nocturnal bushbaby.
Hyenas are fairly common throughout the valley and their plaintive, eerie cry, so characteristic of the African bush can be heard on most nights.
South Luangwa has a good population of leopard but they are not that easy to spot and tend to retreat when they hear vehicles. Many of the Lodgeys game trackers are skilled in finding leopards on night drives however, and often visitors are rewarded with a full view of a kill.
Lions are as plentiful in the Luangwa as anywhere else in Africa, but when a kill is made away from the central tourist area, the pride may stay away for several days and may not be seen by visitors on a short stay. Very often they roam in prides of up to thirty.
Of the other carnivores present but not often seen is the caracal, wild dog, serval and side striped jackal.
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May 3rd, 2003, 06:18 AM
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South Luangwa National Park (Post 2 of 3):

The Luangwa river also has an extraordinarily high number of crocodiles. It is not uncommon to see several basking on the riverbanks or even floating down the river tearing at a dead animal.
Night drives are fascinating in the Luangwa. Not only for the chance of seeing a leopard but for the many interesting animals that only come to life at night. Genets, civets, servals, hyenas, and bushbabies as well as owls, nightjars, the foraging hippos, honey badgers and lion.
Birdwatching is superb in the Valley. Near the end of the dry season, when the river and oxbow lagoons begin to recede, hundreds of large waterbirds can be seen wading through the shallows. The red faced yellow billed storks move along with their beaks open underwater, disturbing the muddy liquid with their feet until the fish flop into their mouths. The pelicans tend to operate in lines abreast, driving the fish before them into shallows before scooping them up into their beak pouches. The striking 1.6m saddle bill stork makes quick darting movements into the water. Then there?s the marabou stork, great white egrets, black headed herons, open billed storks and the stately goliath heron that can stand in the same position for hours before pouncing. Of the most beautiful are the elegant crowned cranes, with their golden tufts congregating in large flocks at the salt pans.
Around the same time, just before the rains set in, in November, the palearctic migrants from Northern Europe and the intra-African migrants arrive to exploit the feeding opportunities that the warm rainy season brings. These include the red chested cuckoo, white storks, European swallows. Swifts, hobbies and bee-eaters, as well as birds of prey such as the Steppe eagles and Steppe buzzards that come all the way from Russia. A special sight is the hundreds of brightly coloured carmine bee-eaters nesting in the steep sandy banks of the river.
The ever-present sounds of the birds in the Valley takes some getting used to. An early caller is the ground hornbill, looking like a well-dressed turkey, but emitting the sound of a deep base drum. The melodious Heuglin?s robin, the shrill cry of the fish eagle and the background cooing of doves and larks.
With about 400 of Zambia?s 732 species of birds appearing in the Valley, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, there is plenty for the birdwatcher to spot, whatever the season.
For an enhanced experience of the bush, one would do well to develop an interest in the varying vegetation in Zambia. Some magnificent trees grow in the Valley and it certainly adds to the richness of one?s experience to begin to recognise different tree species and figure out the implications of them growing in that particular area.
Among the more common trees in the valley are the mopane, leadwood, winterthorn, some beautiful specimens of baobab, large ebony forests, the tall vegetable ivory palm, marula and the magnificent tamarind tree.
Mfuwe Airport recently achieved international status and various airlines were looking at scheduled flights from abroad.
Domestic flights operate about ten times a week in peak season (June-Oct) from Lusaka. Check with any travel agent for schedules.
Charter planes from outside the country can now fly direct without clearing customs at Lusaka and there are a number of charter companies in Zambia, that can fly to and from Zambia?s top destinations. All lodges do transfers to and from the airport. Zambian Airways has scheduled flights from Lusaka to Mfuwe. Air Malawi has scheduled flights from Lilongwe to Mfuwe.
While you await your flight or before you head off to the bush, don't miss a visit to Jake's Moondog Cafe just outside the airport. An excellent bush bar with ice cold beers and great food. Next door is the famous Magenge Crafts Shop with an impressive collection of fine arts and crafts made by the local artists and craftsmen in the valley.
Driving, one can approach from three sides. The usual route is from Chipata. This is a good road if a little corrugated and the 123km drive takes about two hours to Mfuwe, just outside the Park. If travelling in a robust 4x4 from Lusaka, it is possible to take a short cut from the Great East Road at Petauke, up alongside the Luangwa River to Mfuwe. Only to be attempted well into the dry season. A good overnight stop along the way is at the Luangwa River Bridge at Bridge Camp.
The Northern access is from Mpika on the Great North Road or Lundazi, near Zambia?s eastern border with Malawi. Just below Mpika, there is a road running down the Munyamadzi Corridor between North and South Luangwa Parks. It is passable but only in 4WD and preferably with two vehicles as help is a long way away. The mountain pass down the escarpment is quite formidable, very rocky and bumpy but the view over this, the tail end of the Great Rift Valley, is quite spectacular.
Seasonal changes are very pronounced in Luangwa. The dry season begins in April and intensifies through to October, the hottest month when game concentrations are at their height. Warm sunny days and chilly nights typify the dry winter months of May to August. The wet season begins in November as the leaves turn green, and the dry bleak terrain becomes a lush jungle. The rainy season lasts up until the end of March and the migrant birds arrive in droves. Each lodge stays open for as long as access is possible, depending on its location in the area. See below in brackets.
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May 3rd, 2003, 06:19 AM
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South Luangwa National Park (Post 3 of 3):

There are many varied places to stay in the Valley ranging from luxurious safari camps to budget chalets and camping. Most of the lodges are spread along the east bank of the Luangwa River, in the adjoining Game Management Area, conducting game drives and walking safaris along the west bank, in the Park itself. Some of the Lodges have bush camps deep in the Park for remote walking safaris.
Kaingo is a small, very comfortable lodge, one of the few inside the Park itself, with an emphasis on personalised walking safaris and game drives. Mwamba Bush Camp is three hours walk north of Kaingo set under shady ebony trees along the Mwamba River. The emphasis here is mainly on Walking Safaris; it is an excellent game area. An ideal safari includes three nights at Kaingo and three at Mwamba Camp. Both camps are owned and operated by Derek Shenton, son of former Park Warden and prominent conservationist, Barry Shenton. (Open: 20 May - 31 Oct)
One of the more well known and established lodges is Kapani, built by Norman Carr, the yfathery of conservation in Zambia. It has comfortable brick and tile chalets and top quality catering. (All year). Kapani runs three bush camps in the Park during the dry season; Luwi, Kakuli and Nsolo with the emphasis on walking safaris. (June to October) RUn by Norman Carr Safaris.
Mfuwe Lodge is a fine luxury lodge in one of the South Luangwa's prime locations, built between busy lagoons within the Park iteself. They have two Trail Camps, for walking safaris operating from July to October. Otherwise the main lodge is open all year round.
Chinzombo, part-owned by another of the Valleyys forefathers Phil Berry is a comfortable shady lodge with a pool and excellent cuisine, offering game drives and walking safaris.. (All year)
Tena Tena is a luxurious tented camp under a shad mahogany grove in the northern section run by Robin Pope, a well-known safari expert. (June to October). The Popes also own the picturesque Nkwali Camp further south, which boasts the ybest bar in the Valley.y (April to December) and Nsefu, the oldest camp with a spectacular view across the Luangwa River.
The Bush Camp Company has walking Trails through the Park staying at their four very comfortable bush camps along the Luangwa River.
Chibembe is a thatched grass and reed 12 bedded lodge at the confluence of the Chibembe and Luangwa Rivers. All rooms are shaded by massive mahogany and acacia trees, with en-suite bathrooms. Chibembe has two walking safari camps in the Park.
Another well-known wildlife expert, John Coppinger has a small exclusive camp called Tafika, just north of the Nsefu Sector of the Park. Their specialities, apart from the usual Game drives and walks, are microlighting over the surrounding Game Management Area and river safaris down the Luangwa at high water in February and March (June - Oct) just north of the Nsefu Sector of the Park. Their specialities, apart from the usual Game drives and walks, are microlighting over the surrounding Game Management Area and river safaris down the Luangwa at high water in February and March (June - Oct).
The newest Lodge in the Valley is Kafunta. Each spacious log cabin is made from natural material with a splendid view over the winding Luangwa River.
About 23km south of Mfuwe is Tundwe, perfectly sited under an enormous canopy of evergreen trees with large A-frame thatch chalets overlooking the river. (May - Nov)
Luamfwa is another of the Valleyys oldest lodges, recently refurbished and nestling in a very remote section of the park itself. Its wooden chalets overlook a busy lagoon. (June - Oct).
Other camps are Kapamba Trails Camp on the Kapamba River in the southern section of the Park. (June - Oct). Muchenje Camp, run by Savannah Trails. (June to Oct).
For the budget traveller, Jakeys Flatdogs has four very comfortable and airy, self catering chalets for rent as well as a fully serviced camping site with excellent ablution facilities, a fully equipped kitchen with a cook on hand, a bar and a take away restaurant. This youyll find at the Crocodile Farm near the entrance to the Park. Walks, night drives and game drives in open vehicles are available. (All year)
The Wildlife Camp also has self catering chalets for hire a camp site and a good bar/restaurant with a great view. They also offer game drives and walking safaris. (All year)
Backpackers could also try Ulendo Rest House in Mfuwe village, just outside the Park on the main road - it offers simple accommodation and traditional food. (All year)
All the bigger lodges offer game drives, night drives and walking safaris as part of the package. Budget lodges charge separately for these services.
Mobile Walking Safaris are run in the wild and remote sections of the park. Camps are set up ahead of you and moved on to the next site while guests take a slow and adventurous walk through the bush. Robin Pope Safaris (June to September) (END)
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May 3rd, 2003, 07:33 AM
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Direct links to some of the game lodges/safari camps in the South Luangwa:

Kafunta (where I am going in early June): http://www.luangwa.com
High season price: $395 USD per night ($197.50 pp sharing).

Bushcamp Company: http://www.bushcampcompany.com
High season price: about $650 USD per night ($325.00 pp sharing)

Robin Pope Safaris:
http://www.robinpopesafaris.net
High season price: about $700 USD per night ($350 pp sharing)

Kaingo (Shenton Safaris):
http://www.kaingo.com
High season price: about $440 USD per night ($220 pp sharing)

Norman Carr Safaris
http://www.normancarrsafaris.com
High season price: about $680 USD per night ($340 pp sharing)

There are many other game lodges in the South Luangwa but these are probably the highest regarded lodges and the most accessible on the internet.

With the South African Rand below 7.5 to 1USD, South Luangwa offers an excellent alternative to South Africa and Botswana (largely priced in South African Rand). Keep in mind that when most of the current rates for the Botswanan and South African lodges were released, one could likely get 10ZAR per 1USD. I did book a short 3 night stay at Vuyatela in the Sabi Sand for the grand finale to my holiday but I am beginning the holiday with 5 nights in South Luangwa (after first spending a couple nights in Joburg).
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May 3rd, 2003, 11:40 AM
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It sounds wonderful, Rocco! I found this last night on a site and thought about how great your trip is going to be:

Zambia, a little farther off the beaten path than Zimbabwe, offers some of the best safaris in Africa, because of the excellent game viewing in national parks unspoiled by tourism. The South Luangwa National Park, where it's said walking safaris originated, offers an intense concentration of wildlife around the Luanga River and its ox-bow lagoons. Visitors to this park have reported seeing 30 to 70 hippos in the river at one time! The only "big five" species missing is the white rhinoceros, which was hunted to extinction. (Zambia's only remaining rhinos are found in Mosi-O-Tunya Zoological Park at Victoria Falls.)

You are doing a walking safari, right? And did you opt for a yellow fever shot? They lifted the req'd last year but one doctor told me some border guards to other countries don't realize that yet and you can be req'd to get a shot on the spot.
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