Zambia insights, anyone?

Dec 28th, 2007, 06:12 PM
  #1  
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Zambia insights, anyone?

I have been researching and planning for a Zambia safari in 2008 and am seeking insights and inputs. I am considering the following itinerary, which would string together 3 packaged safaris by different operators:

Wildlife Safaris mobile “Kafue’s Rivers & Plains:”
3n Lufupa Camp
3n Musanza Tented Camp
1n Lunga River Lodge

I cannot find any direct references to this mobile package in the archives, but have found Akin’s 11/2007 thread and Marksafari17’s 10/2006 thread, both of which had good things to say about Lufupa. Couldn’t find any real detail, other than basic location info, for Lunga and Musanza.

Kafunta Safaris, South Luangwa:
2n Kafunta River Lodge
3n Island Bush Camp
1n Kafunta River Lodge

A search turned up threads from Roccco (06/2003), Dreaming (08/2005), and GreenDrake (10/2006), all of which had good things to say about Kafunta.

Remote Wildlife Zambia, Portered Walking Safari in North Luangwa:
1n Delia Camp
4n camping in the bush while on a camp-to-camp walking safari
1n Nkalamo Camp

The only info on this operation that I could find is MrBob’s 03/2007 thread which has some general info provided by luangwablondes (and others) but is not a trip report. Haven’t been able to find anyone who has actually done this walking safari.


So, my question is whether anyone has done, seen a trip report for, or can provide additional insights particularly on the WS Kafue mobile and the RWZ NLNP portered walking safari.

Also, my timing is likely to be sometime in July, August, or October. Any opinions or advice as to best time to go?

Many thanks…
rickmck is offline  
Dec 28th, 2007, 07:50 PM
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Hi Rick,

In addition to the reports you have mentioned,

I think Lynn had a trip report from the Busanga plains area from awhile ago. I also remember a photo thread from Skimmer featuring lots of roan and lions, also from the Busanaga plains area.

Recently, Nyama has mentioned the Busanga plains camp. Can't remember on which thread, though .....

Hari

HariS is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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I published some photos of Plains Camp in the "Return of the rustic bush camps" thread, http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35087947, but this is neither Wilderness Safaris nor Kafue's Rivers & Plains.

Musanza is located about 6 kms east of Shumba, so wildlife sightings should be similar to Shumba, Kapinga, BBC or Plains Camp. It's a rather rustic bush camp. Game drives are limited to small areas up to mid-August.

Lufupa Camp is a new camp west of Lufupa Lodge. Activities are slightly different from old Lufupa Lodge, no extended night drives, and I'm not sure from reports if they made cruises on fantastic Lufupa River from here. Nevertheless, very good game area (with lots of tsetses at some spots).

I have never been to Kafunta (too many Germans there, and as a German I really don't need this on safari...;-)).

rickmck, if you publish a mail address I could send you some WS photos of Musanza and Lufupa Camp.
nyama is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 08:10 PM
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nyama, thanks for those details and the offer of photos which can be sent to [email protected]

Cheers & Happy New Year

rickmck
rickmck is offline  
Dec 30th, 2007, 07:33 AM
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nyama, I just saw the photos you sent through, thanks very much! RE your comment "Game drives are limited to small areas up to mid-August." Is this due to high water conditions? From your photos, water doesn't look like an issue at Musanza, but Lufupa is right on the river...
rickmck is offline  
Dec 30th, 2007, 11:07 AM
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rickmck, water is no problem at Lufupa, but it's a big issue in the plains. During wet season the whole plains are flooded, and it take some time before the water disappears. During my last visit in mid-August 2006 game drives were still restricted to a small area along the main channel. BBC, Kapinga, Plains Camp and Shumba shared all the same small game drive area. Musanza is on the other side of the main channel and thus offers more exclusivity. Not good if you're after roan or even sable which often requires a larger area to explore. If you know how to read between the lines, WS newsletters reported the same situation for 2007. However, if the water is gone, things change were very quickly and the plains become a big dust bowl. IMO best time for a visit to the plains is mid-August to mid-September.
nyama is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2008, 06:40 PM
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ttt

This had fallen way down into the 80's, so I thought I'd raise it ttt thinking that it may have been lost over the holidays and there may be others out there with insights to offer... If so, Thanks! If not, please pardon my indulgence! Either way, thanks Hari & nyama!
rickmck is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 06:00 AM
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Rick - I remember a young Italian couple that did the Remote Wildlife trip. I am fairly sure that is the only report posted here on that camp as I always have my eyes open to any North Luangwa report. He posted photos and a report, but Fodors's search engine did not turn it up. I responded to his report and my name in search engine also did not turn up in the Fodors search. Finally went to Google and that worked:

http://tinyurl.com/2tfnrt

As to your targeted months for South and North Luangwa, I think you will have excellent game viewing in any of those 3 months.
GreenDrake is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 07:26 AM
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No experience with the places you listed. I was 3 nts Busanga Plains Bush Camp & 2 nts Lunga River Lodge (I think that's the name). I went in July and had some good sightings. Lions day and night were the highlight. Four night-time cheetahs, and 3 daytime servals. I saw roan and sable, but not very close.

I'd recommend Sept or Oct over July.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 08:51 AM
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To avoid any name confusion: we have "The Plains Camp" run by Mukambi, and "Busanga Bush Camp" (or short "BBC") once run by Ed Smythe/African Experience and now in the Wilderness Safaris portfolio.
nyama is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 07:18 PM
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Thanks, all, for the responses, especially thanks to GreenDrake for the link. The report and the photo link there was really nice and reinforces my interest in the NLNP walking safari. However, the operator has indicated that the 70 km camp-to-camp walking safaris are limited to June and July because it gets too hot later in the season. I'm not going to argue with him, but that is likely too early to suit my plans. I am also thinking that the vegetation is likely to still be pretty prolific at that time. Seeing as how you can't cover nearly the area on a walking safari as in a vehicle, and that -- in any event -- the expectations of game viewing are considerably reduced for a walking safari, I am wondering just how productive a July trip would be. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the other benefits of a walking safari but, after all, I would still be hoping for some good (and exciting) wildlife sightings. Any opinions on July? Should I press for an August itinerary at least (if Sept & Oct are really too hot to handle)? Thanks for any further opinions...
rickmck is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 08:09 PM
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July in N & S Luangwa has been good on a couple of trips. In fact one July I was in N. Luangwa, the rains had come late so I was told it acted more like June. We still had good viewing, all on foot. I was also told that anybody who had stayed 4 or more nights had found lion on foot. I saw 3 lions on foot. The 3-nighters did not all get to find the lions due to less time to look.

It did not seem that the vegetation impaired viewing.

Busanga Plains in July did not allow close viewing of the antelope herds. The elephant were all still in the forests so there was no ele viewing. As it gets hotter later in August, you could also expect to see the lions in the trees, I was told. We spent a lot of quality time with the lions, but not in the trees.

I can understand how walking into the midday to get to the next camp could become nearly intolerable later in the season. At stationary walking camps you can control how long you stay out and when you go out, so walking can continue later into the dry season.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 08:12 PM
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All other operators in the Valley offer walks and bush camping at least until end of September. If August is already too hot for the Remote Wildlife walk then it's really strong walking and emphasis isn't on game watching.
nyama is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 08:35 PM
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While visiting Busanga Plains in September I saw a whole pride of lions climbing up a big fig tree, 5 females and 2 males. 3 lion cubs were running around on the ground, meowing loudly because they couldn't get up. An unforgettable picture. This fig tree (a landmark in the Plains) can't be reached before end of August.
nyama is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 08:42 PM
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Nyama,

I think I know the tree!
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 09:45 PM
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Interesting the comment about being too hot later on.

We, by choice did not do a walking safari from camp to camp, but took day walks. We went in early Oct., and while it did get hot in the afternoons, it was quite pleasant at night and cool in the mornings. We are quite happy with our decision to do day walks and canoe trips rather than be committed to walking evey day.

It gave us the best of all worlds, we think. Because as much as we enjoy walking, we also realized our chances of seeing predators and other large, potentially dangerous animals like buffalo and elephants up close was far better from a vehicle. Having said that, I do understand some camps do their walking in the mornings and still provide for afternoon and night drives.

Also, you might also consider the Lower Zambezi among your options. We now have been twice and I cannot reccommend Chiawa and Old Mondoro Bush Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park highly enough. Very different from South Luangwa, which we also loved.

Sure it it was partly luck, but we saw leopards every day, in our 8 nights total there, and not just the usual leopard-lounging-in-a- tree scene. And, as described in the Chiawa newsletter, there were even more amazing sightings during the year than even we saw. Also canoeing as well as walks and night drives. And, rarely another vehicle.

So, two trips to Zambia in two years, the second even more amazing than the first. I'm torn. I have to see more places in Africa, because Fodorites rave about so many of the other countries. But it's so hard to imagine anything better than our experiences in
Zambia.

Jim

steeliejim is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 12:35 AM
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Rick,

My NLNP knowledge is perhaps a bit outdated (last there in 1999) but if you cannot get the type of walk you're after I suggest you give Mwaleshi or Kutandula a try.

Tell them you're a keen walker and whatever else your preferences are and they will do their utmost to fulfill your expectations.

Rod & Guz the owners of Kutandula are a fantastic couple - Nyama knows them well.

They ran Mwaleshi when I was there and I rate it as one of the best walking safari camps/experiences.

I've done many walking safaris and I'm not talking about those little doddle walks offered in other areas.

I was there in Aug' and we walked +/- 35 K's a day. Plenty of game and the heat didn't bother me.

Geoff.
GeoffG is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 08:26 AM
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Kutandala is my favorite Africa camp. I am going back there the first few days of August. Last time we did some walks that Rod characterized as "leg stretchers" which would be the opposite of doddle walks, I am thinking.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 08:53 AM
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I'm not sure if "leg stretchers" are the opposite of "doodle walks". Sounds more like "warm-up walks" to me.

Kutandala is high on my list for 2008, combined with walks at Chitake in Mana Pools. But who knows? Maybe I'll find myself in Loango/Gabon...
nyama is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 09:04 AM
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Walking from Mana Pools all the way to Gabon would be a leg stretcher and a half.
atravelynn is offline  

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