zambia or SA?

Jan 30th, 2005, 08:20 AM
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zambia or SA?

Help!! I am going to Afica with husband and wildlife obsessed 10 year old daughter in late August, begining of September. I had thought SA but now I am wondering if Zambia might be better. We have always loved jungle type scenery, will Zambia be more lush than the Kruger at that time of year?. If so will it be difficult to view game?. We could go for up to 3 weeks , should we do both?. Will Zambia be warmer. We are travelling from London so probably will have to connect in Jberg anyway. I had thought of doing some self driving in the Kruger and mixing staying at rest camps, with cheaper private camps to keep down the budget, does anyone have any recommendations there. Are you around Rocco can you ( or anyone else?) Give me some advice, ThanksY vonne
YvonneM is offline  
Jan 30th, 2005, 08:50 AM
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I'm out the door, but I will give a better answer later.

To answer one of your questions, Zambia will definitely be warmer in late August/early September than South Africa. You are probably 1,000+ miles north of Kruger National Park, where it will not really start warming up until probably October.

If you have never been on a game drive in the chilly weather, it is horrible. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, most of all a 10 year old child.

Depending on how many days you are willing to spend on vacation, there is so much to see in Zambia, from South Luangwa National Park, to the Lower Zambezi to Victoria Falls.

Check out this website, as it is the best for Zambia:
Roccco is offline  
Jan 30th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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To put distance in some sort of persepctive, Atlanta is 1,135 miles from Minneapolis.

Now, I am certainly not saying that Kruger will be as cold as Minneapolis, but it will definitely not be as nice and toasty as Zambia!
Roccco is offline  
Jan 30th, 2005, 10:35 AM
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This is interesting news Roccco, I actually took my daughter to the Masi Mara in July when she was 5, and it was cold in the morning, I think I disliked the cold more than her!!I still loved the experience though. I would really appreciate any further thoughts when you have some time. I really did fancy doing some driving myself so I wonder how that could work?
YvonneM is offline  
Jan 30th, 2005, 08:12 PM
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I was in the Sabi Sand in mid June 2003, staying a few nights at Djuma Vuyatela.

While the gameviewing was pretty good (nice leopard and lion sightings), once the sun went down at night, it was miserably cold. I mean my wife and I had our blankets pulled up to our eyes, and sometimes even completely over our heads! Our private plunge were rendered useless by the cold weather since they were unheated.

While June and July may be the coldest months in the Sabi Sand/Kruger area, I believe that August will still be pretty cool/chilly.

In comparison to that June 2003 visit to Djuma Vuyatela, prior to that (with a two night break in Joburg) we visited South Luangwa National Park for a 5 night stay at Kafunta River Lodge and Kafunta Island Bush Camp. I would estimate that the weather never dropped much below 60 degrees farenheit, and it still hit 80 degrees in the daytime! I had no problem enjoying their unheated swimming pool, yet the daytime weather was perfect enjoy to also enjoy their natural hot spring jacuzzi! While I didn't care for the food at Kafunta, they certainly have excellent facilities with their swimming pool and natural hot spring jacuzzi (that would be perfect for late August nights).

By August, you are probably looking at perfect nighttime temperatures and probably daytime weather in the mid to high 80's. Warm enough to flush out the game to the watering holes.

Kafunta would actually be very good for a 10 year old, in my opinion.

If your budget allowed it, you may also want to consider Robin's House, a private two bedroom house that Robin Pope Safaris has available. The typical charge for this, I believe, would be $500 pp for the first two people and then $250 for each additional person (maximum of five guests). However, this does seem to be more than double what Kafunta would charge and Robin's House is actually very closely located to Kafunta (I would think within a couple miles!).

I don't know if your daughter would be allowed to partake in walking safaris, as the age limit, at least at Kafunta, for this activity is 12 years old.

With 3 weeks available, you would have plenty of time to explore.

You would be well-advised to visit the southern (Luamfwa) part of the park. This is a very beautiful and isolated part of South Luangwa. You are about 3 hours south of any other game lodge that performs game drives. The only other camp anywhere near is Kafunta Island Bush Camp, about 30 minutes further south, but this is for walking safaris only.

Luamfwa is very reasonable at $190 pppns, with children 12 or under only $100 per night. So, you total nightly tariff would only be $480 per night.

I think 4 nights at Kafunta River Lodge and 4 nights at Luamfwa Lodge would be a perfect way to see South Luangwa for you, your huband and your daughter.

Besides South Luangwa, you could not go wrong in visiting Lower Zambezi National Park for at least 4 nights. Kasaka River Lodge is a very beautiful camp and is pretty reasonable at about $300 pppns for two adults (I don't know how much extra for a child). If you or your daughter love dogs, there is a resident Jack Russell named Vodka in camp! I know when I am away for awhile, I really miss my eleven dogs and will settle for any friendly dog at that point!

The Lower Zambezi is an incredibly scenic area and there are so many activities to do from morning and night game drives, to bush walks, to canoeing, to fishing, to sunset cruises and more.

Budget withstanding, you may also want to consider Kafue National Park. It features the Busanga Plains, and this ecosystem is supposed to be very similar to the same ecosystem found in the Okavango Delta. In this area you should come across plenty of lions and cheetah, as well as a plentitude of other game. The two most recommended camps (Lunga River Lodge and Busanga Plains Bush Camp) are a bit pricey, but they seem to be head and shoulders above any of their competitors in terms of quality.

Kafunta River Lodge (4)
Luamfwa Lodge (4)
Kasaka River Lodge (4)
Lunga River Lodge (3)
Busanga Plains Bush Camp (3)
Victoria Falls (2)

Alternately, drop Kafue NP, and spend six nights in Cape Town where it will be possible to enjoy some whale watching in Hermanus, the penguins at Boulders? Beach, visit a Cheetah Sanctuary where you may hold and pet tame cheetahs, and otherwise just enjoy one of the most beautiful cities
in the world for 5 or 6 nights.

Lastly, if you DO NOT want to visit South Africa, then there is a British Airways flight that goes directly into Lusaka, Zambia. This would shave off 4+ hours of travel time in each direction, but would require an overnight at the end of the trip in Lusaka, unless you caught a very early flight from either Lower Zambezi or Victoria Falls and maybe even from Kafue NP.

I suppose it would be possible to do some sort of national park/game reserve circuit in South Africa, but it would be at so much more commercialized (and expensive) places. You would probably have to combine Kruger NP/Sabi Sand with Phinda with Madikwe to take up even two weeks of your time. In my opinion, you would be best off doing safari in Zambia and saving South Africa for Cape Town and all that Cape Town has to offer.

I suggest that you spend some time putting together different possible itineraries and once you have a pretty good idea what you want, you should really contact a good South African tour operator. My experience has been that South African operators are usually less expensive than American or European tour operators. So far, I have been very pleased in my dealings with Taga Safaris.

Good luck!
Roccco is offline  
Jan 31st, 2005, 09:26 AM
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Waow , great advice I shall do as you suggest and try and work out an itinery around your suggestions. A couple more questions if I dare, where abouts are the best chance of seeing lions?, any suggestions on where to stayat Victoria falls? Thanks so much for all the time you put into answering both myself and others on the forum, Yvonne
YvonneM is offline  
Jan 31st, 2005, 01:48 PM
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You might wish to check out the age limits required for walking safaris, a staple of Zambia, just so you and your daughter are not disappointed.

Below is a link of planned itineraries for family safaris to South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. It could give you some ideas.

What a lucky young lady your daughter is to visit Africa (repeatedly) so early in life.

You'll have to have her log on to this site with her version of your trip report. I'd love to read it and I bet others would like to view Africa through the eyes of a 10 or 11 year old.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 31st, 2005, 05:30 PM
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To further answer the question of Zambia or SA, just for the sake of amusement, I made up two possible itineraries featuring each country.

For Zambia, I drafted the itinerary that I hope to partake in next September (it concludes with 5 nights in Zimbabwe).

For South Africa, to show the absurdity of some South African lodges pricing, I drafted an itinerary of 3 nights at Singita Boulders, 3 nights at Singita Lebombo and then finished off the itinerary with the same hotel that I intend to stay to conclude my Zambian safari, 2 nights at the 5* Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg.

Here are the results (rack rates featured), for a couple sharing.


Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa National Park (4 nights) $2,750 USD

Kutandala, North Luangwa National Park (4 nights) $3,200 USD

Kasaka River Lodge, Lower Zambezi National Park (4 nights) $2,280 USD

Victoria Falls Hotel, Zimbabwe (1 night) $350 USD

Makalolo Plains, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe (4 nights) $2,500 USD (there really are not any real rack rates for Zimbabwe right now, but the above number could easily be attained through most any agent)

Westcliff Hotel, Johannesburg (2 nights) $650 USD

ZAMBIAN/ZIM AIR TRANSFERS BETWEEN LODGES (assuming that most people who are able to afford either itinerary will have a free frequent flier flight to get them to their starting point) $2,000 USD


Luangwa River Lodge (4)
Kutandala (4)
Kasaka River Lodge (4)
Victoria Falls Hotel (1)
Makalolo Plains (4)
Westcliff Hotel (2)


Singita Boulders (3) $6,600 USD
Singita Lebombo (3) $6,600 USD
Westcliff Hotel (2) $650 USD


While this may be easy to shrug off and say, "Yeah, well that is Singita", it does not get much better at other Sabi Sand luxury lodges.

Leopard Hills is $1,800 per night for a couple.

Londolozi Tree and Bateleur is the same price as Singita.

Mala Mala's more exclusive Sable Unit is $1,500 per night and there are still 50 guests total capacity at Mala Mala (twice the limit of guests for the entire North Luangwa National Park which is 7 times larger than the Sabi Sand and probably 30 times larger than Mala Mala, assuming that Mala Mala accounts for 23% of the entire Sabi Sand.

I don't even follow the prices for lodges like Ulusaba or Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, as I would never consider staying there, but my guess would be that their prices are around $1,700 per night for a couple sharing.

While Zambia and Zimbabwe will not offer Sabi Sand luxury for the most part, it will offer an amazing safari experience, deep in the heart of Africa.
Roccco is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2005, 12:20 PM
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Hi again I just wanted to check with you Zambia veterins, will there be plenty of opportunity to see lions? ( in August) what about Cheetah, where in Zambia would be the best for each, or should I even think of may decisions....Yvonne
YvonneM is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2005, 12:38 PM
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Hi again Ive just read a few more posts and realised just how expensive Botwana is so back to Zambia, Should I be going to Kafue National Park to maximise lion viewing and leaving out North Luangwa as it is mostly walking safaris which my daughter won't be allowed on? Yvonne
YvonneM is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2005, 05:01 PM
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If walking safaris are out, then definitely skip North Luangwa. In July 2003 I was in the Busanga Plains area of Kafue at Busanga Bush camp for 3 nights. We watched a pride of about 8 lions on 2 of the 3 days and spent several hours with them--both day and night. We watched them hunt at night and they had a kill very near the camp which we heard take place during our dinner. We immediately interrupted ours to drive over to theirs.

I saw two cheetah, interestingly on a night drive, and two servals during the day. Also, a honey badger, hippo, vervets, baboons, roan at a distance, many puku, and lechwe. I did not see elephant because they remained in the forest and did not come out. Good birding. By September the lions should be spending more time in the trees, which is their habit. September would also likely have more antelope than July.

At Lunga River Lodge, also in Kafue, I spent two nights. Canoeing and motor boating on the river offered views of hippo, crocs, bushbuck, a tree hyrax, an
otter and good birding. On land we saw roan and sable at a distance and a serval. Two cheetahs were also spotted here, again at night. Others saw elephant on game drives. Walking is offered at Lunga, but there are many other activities too.

South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi both had more abundance of game. Kafue does offer remote wilderness, extensive time with the resident lion pride (when they can be found which is more often than not), the only opportunity to see cheetah in Zambia, and views of elusive antelope.

Both camps were great with Lunga being quite luxurious. One suggestion on travel logistics that I would make, especially with a child is: don't travel all the way to Busanga in one day, spend a night at Lunga first. To get to the airstrip in Lunga may take a couple of flights, depending on where you are coming from. Then it is a 2-3 drive from Lunga to Busanga, and not a leisurely game drive. I'd give the same advice on the way back. Leave Busanga and end up at Lunga River Lodge for another night as you exit Kafue.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Gosh - I hate to swim against the tide here, but I think I'm going to suggest that you go to South Africa instead. It will be colder, but IMO it will work out a little better with a 10 year old. I think Zambia will work better for her when she's 12.

Yvonne - you had mentioned in your first post that you wanted to do some self-driving and mix in some stays at rest camps to keep the costs down. Have you checked out Kavey's trip report? Do a search under The Long Report. That might give you some ideas for self-driving.

I know that Sabi Sands is commercialized, but there is some good game viewing to be had there (per your question, we saw lions and leopards, but not cheetahs, in August). For less expensive lodges in Sabi Sands, try Chitwa Chitwa (the Game Lodge has a triple room), Elephant Plains, and Nkorho. In Manyeleti, have a look at Honeyguide Camps. At their Khoka Moya camp they have a special program for children under the age of 12. Depending upon the size of your budget, also have a look at Ulusaba - they also have special children's programs.
dreaming is offline  
Feb 4th, 2005, 10:11 PM
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In your opinion, was your time at Lunga River Lodge worth it, in terms of gameviewing? Lunga River Lodge almost seems like a ploy by African Experience in order to prolong their visitors stay in Kafue.

The one thing that turned me off on Kafue was that I would need at least two nights at Lunga River Lodge, and for a transit point, it is a bit much at $450 pppns. I just do not understand why an airstrip is not built somewhere near Busanga Bush Camp, other than African Experience is making a 2 night stay at Lunga River Lodge a mandatory affair.

Those poor elephants are probably scared half to death to leave the forest due to poaching, especially since the season is so short in Kafue and once the game lodges end their season, it basically becomes poaching season, not just at Kafue, but in many African wildlife areas.

Anyway, as long as it remains a viable park, I would love to visit Kafue in the future, providing an adequate alternative lodging choice appears.
Roccco is offline  
Feb 5th, 2005, 02:40 AM
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I'm still considering my options and wonder if I should include Kafue or not, would I be better just to concentrate on the lower Zambezi, South Luangwa and the Falls. Is the game so greta in Kafue it shouldn't be missed? Yvonne
YvonneM is offline  

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