Zambia - Dec 26th to Jan 13 report

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Feb 2nd, 2006, 05:58 AM
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Zambia - Dec 26th to Jan 13 report

Here is a brief report on our trip. Realize this was our first Africa trip.

Left Toronto to Lusaka via BA Dec 26th. Arrived Dec 26th and immediately flew to Mfuwe.
Stayed 9 nights at Robin Pope Safaris
Then transferred to Livingstone (via Lusaka) and stayed 5 nights at the Livingstone Safari Lodge.
Then transferred to Lusaka for 2 nights at Chaminuka.

Flights: External was with BA, business class. Would not have been happy if I actually paid for the business class (we were point-upgrades). Cabin cramped, and BA successfully trashed a lot of our trinkets we came back with (even with proper bubble wrap packing).

Flights: Internal - Airwaves/Zambian (same thing now). Good flights, but when they say "be there 1 hour before", you best be there since they are known to leave 1 hour early. Inflight service was good for such a short flight, but use the washroom before you board because the Beech 1900D uses the bucket system.

Mfuwe: Robin Pope Safaris - Damn these guys were the best! Great food (and lots of it), great people, great guides, great accom. and would bend over backwards for you. Toured the village they support, seen 4 of the big 5 the first night, and seen so many things we started getting bored of them. Only ever had 5 to 6 people per vehicle, even with the lodge full, and the new house built. The new house they built was HUGE luxury (we visited it, didn't stay though). We HIGHLY recommend them.

Livingstone: Livingstone Safari Lodge - really a campground with big cabins. For the price ($55USD/day/per.) they were good, but coming from RPS to here the difference was apparent. Tried really hard though and were a great financial alternative to the Royal Livingstone ($300/day/per). Good dinners and people. For the price, a good result.

Livingstone activites:

Bundu rafting/boarding - great safe trip, had a blast - don't buy the photo CD as the one we bought was unreadable in any PC. Bring $$ for the winch after the full day trip.
Botswanna day tour - great, pricy, but great. Cannot remember who it was with.
Falls/Market tours - good, get your guide to watch the packing of trinkets, bring them to the car, and help with conversions/negotiations. They tend to be cabbies offering an extra service. When at Livingstone, check the airport and museum trinket prices as reference. Once the market people know that you know what they should go for, it is easier to get them for a reasonable price.
Royal Livingstone massage/lunch: even if you are not staying there, they will let you in to hang out and get these - good relaxing option.
Rhino walk - good. Got real close to them. If you are already on a lot of gameviewing, then just do the 1hr rhino viewing, forget the walk.
Elephant ride: SafPar - not up to expectations. Nice welcome, briefing, ride was good, but 1hr elephant interaction was over after about 5 minutes. Interaction was feeding kibble to the ele's then a nice snack while we waited to a 10 minute DVD to be created so we could watch it. Of course they were offering it for $40USD. Would rather have had more time with the ele's than the snack, and forget the DVD.

Lusaka: Chaminuka - Not bad - lots of ammenities (A/C, pool, etc.) Food was good/really good, and a lot of animals (private park). Did not like the caged lions and hyenas - I can see that at home. Cheese factory visit was good. A little overrated for a quick visit.

Pros: RPS, Airwaves, Livingstone Lodge, Bundu whitewater
Cons: British Airways bag handlers, SafPar Ele ride interaction
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 03:20 PM
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drehburg, I leave June 16th from Vancouver to Botswana and then 5 nights at RPS camps, Tena Tena and Nsefu. Great to hear you loved RPS camps. Where did you stay? I also was planning on doing the elephant ride as I heard from previous posts it is worthwhile. I am booked at Chaminuka for our last night, but am thinking of changing to either Intercontinental or Taj Pamodzi. Do you think the cost is worth it for one night?
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 03:57 PM
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Thank you for the report. Glad you enjoyed the Robin Pope experience. Did you do the mobile safari?

Can you tell a little more about the rhino walk? The rhino must have made your 5 of the big 5.
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:47 PM
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santharamhari
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Hi! My response is regarding the white water rafting trip with Bundu adventures........go get the dvd of the ride.......very good footage of your trip!!!

The climb into the gorge and out of it is tough......even if you dont have money for the winch.....you can pay them later at their livingstone office. If you do the half day trip, climbing up is the only option........it's not easy, but worth it!!!
 
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 03:34 AM
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raelond - we were at Nkwali, as it is the only camp open at this time. Apparently Rocky will be heading up Tena Tena, and that was our main guide, so you should be in for a good time. Really, all the staff for are visit were the same people you will interact with for yours - you'll like it. As for Chaminuka for one day, for the price you may just want to switch to the hotel. You will see a few new grass eaters, but after RPS (and probably Botswanna), you will be gamed out. Save the cash IMHO. The ele ride was fine, but I wished it was going to be better. If you have never done one, I guess you should try it out (we did one in Thailand and I think that may have spoiled us since it was great).

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Feb 3rd, 2006, 03:38 AM
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atravelynn,

No mobiles this time of the year, but the Nkwali base was just fine to operate from.

As for the rhino walk - yes it was great to see the rhinos to complete the big 5 - really neat creatures that we got to see up close. The "walk" part of it is ok/good, but after seeing so much with RPS, seeing zebras and impalas again was overkill. The only other different thing we seen in the walk was the inbred giraffes, but we seen plenty with RPS. The walk would be good if you had not yet done extensive game viewing on the trip, otherwise, IMHO, I would go for the 1 hr. rhino visit, see them, and then go explore other activites in the area.
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 03:41 AM
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santharamhari,

I guess the Bundu DVD would have been fine, however, after the 2 person $250, the swim trunks (never thought to bring those - d'uh!) at $30 per, 2 t-shirts at $15, and then the lift at $18, I was a little tapped out.

As for the winch, we had no money and the guide/operator was really good about letting us forward along payment. Just tell the guide to tell him when you get to the top While the climb out may be a "thing" to do, after rafting and boarding, you may feel a little too exhausted (boarding really takes a lot out of you).
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:49 AM
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adeewebstr
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Is the SafPar elephant trip the same as Zambezi Elephant Trails?
 
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:50 AM
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adeewebstr,

I am not sure
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