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Traditional & Nontraditional Safaris Combine for 2 Weeks of Fab Wildlife

Traditional & Nontraditional Safaris Combine for 2 Weeks of Fab Wildlife

Feb 5th, 2013, 09:27 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Traditional & Nontraditional Safaris Combine for 2 Weeks of Fab Wildlife

Including international travel from the US and transfers between parks and countries, the entire duration of this trip is about 3 weeks total.

I did the nontraditional part at the start of the trip, but if this were your first safari, you might want to start with the traditional part and swap the two segments.

Nontraditional: Robin Pope Bats Safari & Liuwua Plains Safari, Zambia
If you did the standard bat safari itinerary (which I did not because I chopped off the front end of the trip in South Luangwa to be home for Thanksgiving) you’d likely see leopard (everybody who DID do the front end saw and photographed leopard) in South Luangwa.

In fact the 3 nights in South Luangwa is actually fairly traditional except it includes many walking opportunities. Lions, Elephant, Buffalo, Thorncroft’s Giraffe, Zebra, Puku, Hippos, Crocs, maybe Kudu, and the elusive Leopard are all possible in South Luangwa. My one night upon joining the group at Nkwali Camp allowed me to enjoy a taste of this beautiful camp on the Luangwa River.

Then, on to the largest migration on the planet at Kasanka: the straw-colored fruit bats, all 10 million of them. They blanketed the skies at sunrise and sunset. A day trip to Bangweulu Swamp offered the opportunity to see the Shoebill Stork and herds of Black Lechwe.

Liuwa Plains is a magnificent, remote, pristine wilderness that hosts Africa’s fourth largest migration. Blue Wildebeests begin their migration and calving in late Oct or early Nov. By December they can be seen in fields of pink lilies. Lady Liuwa is the star of Liuwa Plains and her poignant plight that helped make this location known to the outside world is shown here in this 46 minute documentary.


She now has the company of two lions and perhaps by now even a litter of cubs from the other lioness.

A large pack of Wild Dogs and many Hyenas are prevalent predators and make for action packed viewing in Liuwa.

As exciting as the fauna may be, in Liuwa, the place itself is a huge attraction. We could see the landscape come alive day by day as flowering pink lilies (Amachiris) and tiny yellow blooms (Grangea) carpeted the ground in ever increasing numbers, below the commanding backdrop of tumultuous skies.

Full report with embedded photos on Robin Pope itineraries I did is linked here:

Getting to/from Zambia is often accomplished by going through Johannesburg, so combining Zambia and South Africa makes sense logistically.

Traditional: Phinda in South Africa
Booking directly costs the same as an agent. I used Eyes on Africa.
It is possible to see the Big 5 here, though leopard are very tricky. (But South Luangwa offered a good shot at leopard.) But another spotted cat—the cheetah—is highly likely at Phinda because it is a cheetah sanctuary. The habitat here also is a compelling part of the visit, as there are 7 distinct habitats in Phinda, all easily accessed within a day.

One nontraditional safari activity I did at Phinda was a night-time Turtle Safari to see Loggerhead Turtles emerge from the ocean to lay their eggs then return to the sea. Sometimes Leatherbacks are also seen.

Full report with embedded photos on my 4 nights at Phinda, Mountain Lodge is linked here:

These itineraries proved an excellent combination for me. Maybe you too.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 12:43 PM
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Lynn - Great report. Was Robin Pope at Liuwua? I heard he is there for the entire short season?

Safari_Craig is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 02:58 PM
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Robin and Jo Pope were at Liuwa and so was guide, Jason Alfonso. So was Lady.

A remarkable location in December. I'd like to see it again about a month earlier and in late May or June.

I want, I want, I want.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 05:35 PM
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Wonderful as always! Good to hear news of Phinda, which we very much enjoyed in 2011 at Vlei. It sounds crazy, but that lion actually looks familiar...And the grass was even longer, though dead, in September. Your cheetah shots are way better than ours.
shouldbewriting is online now  
Feb 5th, 2013, 06:38 PM
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Was the lion just sprouting the first hairs of a mane back then too?
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 07:06 PM
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Oops! Must be a relative!
shouldbewriting is online now  
Feb 5th, 2013, 07:28 PM
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Haven't read thru all this yet but didn't you stay in Malamala this trip?
I was hoping for a report on the single room I'll be inhabiting this June.
KathBC is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 09:12 PM
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No Mala Mala.

Previously I was there in the month of June and it is a nice time to go. The room I had was equipped for 2, with the trademark his and hers bathrooms, so you may not get a special single-sized room. I also was under the impression that if you are getting the no-single-supplement deal that it is not tied to one specific room. Instead they offer it for one of their rooms--actually rondavels--at any given time.

For what it is worth I stayed in #11.
This room probably did not have the most open views of the area surrounding the lodge but vegetation changes by the season and year to year. I did not request any particular room but you might consider asking for a good of the river or scenery. I spent hardly any time inside looking out. The room itself was lovely and very comfortable with a patio.

Here are 2 photos of the room, snapped quickly without a lot of thought to composing or light.


Have a nice time.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 6th, 2013, 10:03 PM
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Thanks for the mini report on Mala Mala, not sure why I thought you were staying there this trip.

Will see if I can request a room with a good view, thanks for the heads up!
KathBC is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 06:45 AM
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Whatever room you'll get, KathBC, will be very nice and I'm sure you'll see some outstanding stuff.

Since Mala Mala was brought up, I'll incorporate it into the title of this post, "Traditional & Nontraditional Safaris Combine for Fab Wildlife." With Mala Mala or one of the nearby lodges, it would be even Fab-er.,

As more stops get added, the 2 weeks time frame naturally increases.

But, a good variation of the trip described above (and described in detail in the links) that would really maximize wildlife viewing, would allow for ideal timing in the various places, and would ease someone into a first safari would be:

About Nov 18: after landing in Joburg, FIRST go to Sabi Sands where Mala Mala is, along with many other fine lodges. Spend 3-4 nights. No better place to see the species people commonly think of when it comes to safari than Sabi Sands.

Then do the bat trip, as I did.
Then do Liuwa Plains, as I did.
RPS usually sets these up so they can be done back to back.

Then end with Phinda, as I did. Dec is better for turtles at Phinda than mid-November.

Heck, if you had about a month to travel and a very generous budget, you could even visit Capetown as a first or a final stop. And 2 nights Vic Falls could be tacked on before or after the RPS segment.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 10th, 2013, 04:50 PM
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Thanks for nice report. Good inspiration for another trip to Africa
DMBTraveler is offline  

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