walking safari

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Jun 29th, 2004, 07:54 PM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2003
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walking safari

Do any of you have any experience with walking safaris in South Africa or Botswana. The ones I have seen seem appealing--namely Ngala and one by Ker & Downey but I am interested in your personal experiences.

thanks,
davek is offline  
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Jun 29th, 2004, 08:20 PM
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Davek,

Not on your list, but the most celebrated destination for walking safaris is South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

I have been to South Luangwa twice, and to four different lodges. The absolute best place for walking safaris, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have experienced is Chichele Presidential Lodge. If you can afford Botswana, you can likely afford Chichele Presidential Lodge. Plus, just in case it matters, I hold Chichele in the same high regard (IF NOT HIGHER) as Singita, although Chichele is half the price.

http://www.star-of-africa.com/circuit6.htm
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Jun 30th, 2004, 04:02 AM
  #3
 
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Hi
We are just about to go to South Africa and were recommended PHINDA.
We have booked in for a 3 night - 4 day walking safari.
All the best
Michael
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Jun 30th, 2004, 07:17 AM
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I have done extensive walking safaris in Zambia, and some walking in Botswana and a bit in South Africa.

If you are really interested in a regular photo safari (in vehicle) with occasional walks, all of these countries can provide a great holiday. But if you really want to do mostly walking, I second Roccco's recommendations about Zambia. Zambia specializes in walking-- they were the first country in Africa to allow walking in the national parks-- not just in private reserves-- and the camps and lodges have developed guides who specialize both in the kinds of things that one sees and does on walking , and on safety and comfort.

For example, in Zambia, a walking safaria always includes a Zambian Wildlife authority "scout"-- with a rifle -- he goes first, and focuses on safety-- and a licensed guide (who may also carry a rifle, but his focus is on guests and their experience) and a "tea carrier" who follows up last. (But the tea carrier is often a great spotter/ tracker as well.) Needless to say, you feel safe and comfortable, and get much more guide attention than on walks where you go out with only a guide. (Don't get me started on this topic....)

Walks in Zambia can be short or long (we've done all day hikes-- incredible) and some options include walking between fixed or mobile camps, where you arrive at a comfortable but very remote bush camp at the end of your daily walk. (I know people who have done these, and their experience was over-the-top incredible.)

ALL of providers in Zambia are set up to do great walking-- Robin Pope Safaris at the highest end ( they do the mobile bush camp walking as well as walking at your option from their 3 fixed camps and absolutely rival the best offerings of South Africa and Botswana. Frankly, I think they top the competition...), Bush Camp Company specializes in walking and has several lovely fixed camps that you can walk between (And Bush Camp Company's Phil Berry is one of the top guides in Zambia-- he conducts ALL of Kuyenda's walking himself). Kaingo offers walks at your option and has GREAT guides, and a bush camp option.

If you want an even more remote area far away from any tourists, think about the superb Kutandala walking tours in North Luangwa. Absolutely superb walking in a park that has NO vehicles allowed, only a handful of tourists and incredible walking in an area that borders the escarpment (so great views...WATERFALLS! remote hippo pools set in the hills!! Lots of lion! (And great food and hospitality, so although you definitely feel out in the bush, you will be very very comfortable.)

Finally, at the low end, Wildlife Camp has a great "bush camp" option which involves a walk from their main camp to the bush camp, an overnight there, and a walk back in the morning. Walks and camps on on Zambia Conservation Society land adjacent to the park...it is basically like an extension of the park. Lots of ellies, a curious giraffe actually "followed" us for a while on our walk, INCREDIBLE. (and the group that went the day after me saw two lions on a kill-- quite close. Just my luck to miss this...) We had a simply perfect time with this experience, and it was really inexpensive. (But you'll have to book this direct through their website and email...I don't think they have arrangements with any US-based travel agents). However with prices at about $100 pppn, ALL INCLUSIVE, it is a marvelous option on a vacation in Zambia.

Sorry to butt in by suggesting other countries, but any talk of walking in Africa without discussing the options in Zambia is really incomplete!
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Jul 3rd, 2004, 02:29 AM
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Hello there from RHODE ISLAND,USA. I was doing a little research on the WILDLIFE CAMP, ZAMBIA. Looks like my kind of camp. No frills, not a wallet killer ect. I will give this some thought for sept 2005. As I have plans to visit my ZIM guide again for a couple of wks. At first thought I would not mind staying at this WILDLIFE CAMP at all! By the way, is it easy to get from there to VIC FALLS?
I also did much walking & tracking in ZIM in 1999. Fantasic stuff that walking. Still in touch with my guide there. So I have no problem going there again.
But first I have a MIKUMI, RUAHA & TSAVO EAST SAFARI coming up soon.
Thanks for CAMP name.
David
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Jul 3rd, 2004, 08:54 AM
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Hi David,
Wildlife Camp is next to South Luangwa NP, so actually quite a long way from VicFalls! There are flights of course-- through Lusaka. If you have the time and are adventurous, I believe you could take a train from Livingstone to Lusaka, then buses from Lusaka to Mfuwe. (But the last section from Chipata to Mfuwe is not comfortable from what I've heard...be prepared. From the sound of it, you might even be driving?

More info on Wildlife Camp: They run a "main camp", and the bush camp. My comments were specifically about the bush camp, which I loved. The main camp is nice too-- you can either rent a chalet with ensuite facilities, or a tent, and use their shower/toilet block...or bring your own tent. The chalets are a bit of a walk from the tent area...rather secluded, no frills, but comfortable. (Unlike Flatdogs, there are no cooking or refrigeration facilities at the chalets. So you end up eating at their restaurant or bar. Restaurant food was good, but its only open limited hours (vs. Flatdogs where they cook to order all day long.) The tents are clustered together, so you don't have a "alone in Africa" feeling, however. I rented a tent, and while it was comfortable for one person, it would have been very small for 2 people with gear...so better to rent 1 per person!
Check the website for current prices at the main camp. It's a good deal... My only issue with Wildlife Camp is that their group game drives are very crowded-- vehicles are always full, with 3 people across every row. This is tough for photographers. Also, WC is a long way from the park entrance, and that makes the game drives very very long. (Unlike the other upscale camps, they don't have access to a pontoon that shortens this trip.) There are often many animals, especially ellies and giraffes around WC, but there is a fairly long drive between their property and the park. So I really enjoyed my walks in the area, but would prefer to do game drives in the park from another camp.

Now the bush camp option is the really special one here...to do it you must stay at the main camp the previous night, because you leave at 6am on your walk to the bush camp. It's an easy, leisurely walk, and you arrive in time for a cooked lunch, that has been prepared for your arrival. Hot bush showers, long-drop toilets, and nice sized tents with cots and duvets...its very comfortable, and wonderfully quiet and remote. Then an afternoon walk, dinner and drinks by the fire...and a walk back to main camp (by a different route) after breakfast.

I think that most clients stay at the bush camp only one night, but we asked if it was possible to stay longer if arranged in advance for future trips, and they said yes, upon request they would arrange this if at all possible. (Given scheduling constraints, etc.) So you'll need to specifically ask for this, and arrange in advance. I WOULD NOT just arrive and hope they could do this...

I believe that with some advance notice, they can also arrange for you to do walks in SLNP...they need to arrange a scout and guide to do this, so advance notice is a good idea here, too. (I spoke with someone who did this, and he had a great time.) Note sure what the price is for this, as their normal "scheduled" morning walks are just on Zambia Conservation Society land adjacent to to the park. Still, I think I had super walks there, and so did the other folks who did this while I was there...

For folks who are interested, here is my comparison with Flatdogs, the other low-end option in SLNP:

Wildlife Camp Pluses and Minuses
+Lovely site, rustic feel
+Secluded chalets
+Great walking area on their land
+Bush camp with walk experience is super
+Really nice, interesting guests
+Nice pool and bar area for relaxing
+good food, but restaurant only open limited hours
-games drives long and crowded
-no cooking/convenient refrig in chalets
(there is a food storage areas and campfire areas by the tent camping area)

Flatdogs Pluses and Minuses
+Chalets have adjacent refrig and cooking facilities
+Chalet rooms a newer, brighter
+Restaurant cooks all day to order, good food
+right next to Park entrance for game drives, so drives are more comfortable
+if you play your cards right by signing up for times when there aren't alot of passengers, you might arrange great uncrowded game drives-- cheap.
+ internet service available! and satellite TV and music at the bar! (for those times when that is what you want...otherwise this is a minus!)
+Flatdogs bar & restaurant is the watering hole of choice for locals-- again, this does make it not a wilderness experience...
- not a wilderness experience (but they warn visitors about this... just know what you are getting)
- lots of overlanders and self-drive folks.. so can be pretty active. If you sign up for a drive when they are busy...will be crowded.

So that's the scoop...hope it helps!
tashak is offline  
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Jul 3rd, 2004, 11:45 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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OK THANKS, it does help. It's not for me. At first it appeared to be like the public sites I use in kenya. Which would be just fine. But I had my own truck and crew. We could come and go as we pleased. At times there were other campers around. No problem, everyone minded their own business. Mostly they wanted to know why I alone had these 3 guys taking care of me and had all this stuff!! They thought I was someone special. Not even close,lol.
Anyway, glad you mentioned all this.
I believe my zimbabwe guide knows R.POPE. Maybe I could hook up with one of his things. But it is not till SEPT 2005. Just throwing things out there for now.
Thanks again.
David
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