Zambia: affordable dream safari for Sharon

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Sep 7th, 2005, 12:33 PM
  #121
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
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cooncat,
sorry busy day and I couldn'r get around to it earlier.
1) Spare wheel. I travle alone 99% of the time and frankly have never felt that emotion. In the smaller camps I have found folks are only too pleased to meet other strangers to share an experience. Remember you'll be out on drives with those folks and share many new sights together. The camp staff will also spend more time with you ensuring that you are comfortable and NOT left out. my feeling is that at the larger camps the chances of drifting into a corner are greater and make it a lonier experience. Ok if you get a bratty family, thats just bad luck, but from experience these remote places tend to attract "birds of a feather', which by default means you are highly likely to encounter some adventurous and friendly people. Go small!

2) Humidity in May. The luangwa Valley is quite far inland and at a reasonable elevation, high humidity is not the norm, certainly by may the rains are on the way out so you can expect hotter drier conditions. And if they aren't completely over late afternoon storms and maybe a degree of mugginess. I say a 30% chance of humidty at about 30% too.

3) Foilage hiding the game. Yes naturally, however because you'll be in avehicle the guides can manouvre you to better photographic positions. While on foot you are less able as you need to keep wind etc in your favour. I also don't encourage close quarter photgraphy on foot, the animals can spook quite easily.

Shout if you need more savvy insights.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 02:29 PM
  #122
 
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Savvy insights indeed. Thank you again! Please check back from time to time - I may have more questions. Thanks for the input. Truly appreaciated!
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Sep 7th, 2005, 02:57 PM
  #123
 
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Hi Sharon,

Take a look at this thread for lots of feedback on being a solo traveller

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34651510

There seems to be a split amongst solo travellers on the small camp/larger camp question. I tend to prefer larger camps (5-6 rooms) as opposed to 3-4 room camps -- with more people, it's less likely that one large party will dominate the camp. I had a very bad experiences where a large family group effectively took over a camp, and I definitely felt like a fifth wheel. I'm fairly easy going, but It doesn't matter how friendly you are if all they want to talk about is family matters and mutual acquaintances back hom (in this particular case, I found myself wishing they had stayed home). At the same time, I would avoid any really large camps, where a single person could get 'lost in the crowd' (not really a problem in Zambia).

When it comes to temperatures, try to get numbers rather than people's opinions on whether or not it's hot, humid, etc. One person's lovely sunny day can be another person's unbearably hot one. 'Humid' for someone from a dry area (like California, Nevada, etc) is very different from 'humid' to someone from the Deep South. My guides in Botswana were wrapped up in fleeces and gloves whilst I was sitting there in shirtsleeves thinking it was pretty warm.

Take note of which days you find comfortable (or unbearable) at home, and find out the temperature and humidity for those days. That will probably be your best gauge for your personal temperature preferences.

I've found that although it can be somewhat easier to see the animals later in the year (August) my photographs from trips earlier in the year (June/July) are a lot better -- there's not as much dust, and the animals are in better condition. I like having a bit of green in my photos, and later in the year everything turns brown.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 7th, 2005, 04:19 PM
  #124
 
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Hi Julian~ So it seems to me that you're saying there is a bit of green left in June and July. That's good. The perfect timing for me would be when it is not really green season but not totally dusty and dry yet. Right in between!

Honestly I'll probably end up going later - June/July or August/Sept. It sounds like walking safaris might be more dicey in late May. What I probably need to do is get some pricing for mid-late May and then later in the season in order to see if it's worth the savings.
Also, for what it's worth, I am not obsessed about this solo travel thing. I do it all the time. (As you know.) But safari travel does seem a bit more intimate - I mean how can you go back to camp and NOT want to share experiences and such - so it is something I feel a need to sort out, I guess. It would be horrible to be in your situation, no one wanting to include you. I have a feeling mkhonzo is on the same wavelength smallish camps and not the 40-people plus lodges. Anyway, I'm going to go and check out Mitch's camp recommendations in the first post on this thread. I love it that this has gotten so much interest/input! Rocco will be jealous!

Take care,
Sharon
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Sep 8th, 2005, 05:24 AM
  #125
 
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Hi Sharon,

Yes, there is a bit of green left in June, though the bush is starting to thin out a bit -- IMO it's the best of both worlds. As you know, my main interests are photography and game-viewing, and I've found that the end of June/beginning of July is, for me, the ideal time to take a safari. Having been to the same reserves in both June/July and August/September, I definitely prefer the former. My photos from the later trips are a bit monochromatic (everything is brown and dusty), though I enjoyed some wonderful sightings (including wild dog at Londoz -- very rare!).

You may be able to get low-season or shoulder-season pricing in June (though it probably won't be as cheap as May).

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 8th, 2005, 06:38 AM
  #126
 
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Julian - Have you ever posted photos?
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Sep 8th, 2005, 07:26 AM
  #127
 
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Hi Sharon,

I sent you an email off-list about the photos -- I've never gotten around to figuring out how to post them online.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 13th, 2005, 03:21 PM
  #128
 
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mitch,

I thought it was the perfect combination to stay at one lodge inside the park (Puku Ridge) and another camp just outside the park (Luangwa River Lodge).

Although they may not look too far on a map, trust me, they are each in very separate areas and offer totally different possibilities.

For example:

Luangwa River Lodge - close enough to the Nsefu sector that I was provided with a private 12 hour game drive that provided me with my first ever Cookson's Wildebeest spotting.

Also, LRL by being just outside the park, offered very convenient activities such as providing me with a visit to each Chipembele and South Luangwa Conservation Society, also just outside the park.

Additionally, it is worth noting that lodges just outside the park are usually less expenise than lodges/camps inside the park, except in the case of Kafunta Island Bush Camp which offers an excellent value despite being located inside the park in a very exclusive area down past Luamfwa.

I also found the same to be true in Lower Zambezi. Kasaka and Chongwe are both great camps and an excellent value.

However, a place like Chiawa Camp, while more expensive, is located within the park, and this does put you right in the middle of the action. I imagine that like at Puku Ridge in SLNP, that the game drives truly begin right from camp. At Puku Ridge, we saw lions each morning right from camp...well, duh, it wasn't hard to track them down once we did start our morning game drives.

Staying at a camp inside the park and outside the park is a wonderful balance in my opinion if a person is wanting to stay at two camps/lodges in LZNP or SLNP. I would advise those visiting both parks to start with SLNP and finish with LZNP, since LZNP offers so many activities (I really missed the Tiger Fishing and boat cruises once I was in SLNP).

My recommendations for an affordable safari would be:

LZNP - Chongwe Camp (you will all love the photos I have taken right in camp)
SLNP - Kafunta River Lodge possibly combined with Kafunta Island Bush Camp

I have my own recommendations for a pure luxury Zambian safari but those will come later!
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Sep 13th, 2005, 03:31 PM
  #129
bwanamitch
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Welcome back, Rocco.

I've missed your postings. We should discuss these issues when I'm back from my trip. I look forward watching your photos (especially those of you 'in action').

Mitch
 
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Sep 13th, 2005, 06:19 PM
  #130
 
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Rocco - I've been trying to be patient, since you're not even really done with your trip! But I'm needing some advice about camps/regions and I can see you've got some opinions! I was already thinking Chiawa for LZNP. Anyway, tons more questions, so enjoy the rest of your time in Africa and then be ready. If you've been catching up with the posts, you'll see that I've been trying to get my Zambia trip nailed down for next year! I need your input! OK, until then, you two enjoy!
Sharon
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