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Escorted Luxury Safari in Zambia from 31st October to 8th November 2016

8 nights in-country, one in Lusaka and seven in South Luangwa National Park

Interactive itinerary with images HERE

Chinzombo at dusk

We will mainly be exploring South Luangwa’s northern sector, which only experiences about 20% of the visitor traffic of the Central Sector and is considerably more remote. 

It has substantial tracts of riverine forest and seasonal marshlands set amongst an extensive network of oxbow lagoons along the main river, with a correspondingly rich and varied range of wildlife.  It is very reliable for lions, leopards and elephants, particularly throughout the June to November dry season.

Using small camps, with expert guides and camp managers, with unusually good walking safari and night vehicle safari we will experience the best South Luangwa has to offer.

At the end of the dry season the wildlife viewing should be at its absolute best, with the animals congregating around the few permanent water sources and the river. All three of our camps are based on the river bank, the first two in the northern sector in the national park, the last in the central sector, opposite the national park with it’s own private access to the park via boat. Despite being outside of the national park, animal activity around and in camp is high.

Our daily program is basically to rise early, have breakfast (cooked or continental, up to you, or both) and head off. You can choose between walking or vehicle-based game viewing. The quality of either is unsurpassed. The morning activity lasts 3 to 4 hours, in the middle of which we break for refreshments and snacks. On return to camp a hearty brunch awaits us.

The middle of the day is hot, especially this time of year. It can be spent wallowing in the pool at Mchenja or Chinzombo (which has a main pool and private pools for each villa), or observing the animals around the camp, using the hide, or down in the river.

In the afternoon, around 3.30 PM, we convene for high tea (or G&T) before mounting the vehicles for a game drive. At sunset we stop for a sundowner, and then proceed to drive in the dark for a couple of hours. Although predation can happen any time of day, these first two hours of darkness are prime time for a kill. It’s also the opportunity to see the shyer nocturnal species that elude us during the day. Most nights you will be lulled to sleep by the sound of hippos munching on nearby vegetation.

lion hunting buffalo

Itinerary:

31 October:  1 night in Lusaka at Latitude 15

 1st and 2nd Novmber: Mchenja

3rd, 4th, 5th November: Kakuli

6th and 7th November: Chinzombo.

 

MCHENJA

Mchenja, meaning "ebony", occupies a stunning setting beneath a magnificent grove of ebony trees on the banks of the Luangwa River. Mchenja is a luxurious, elegant and stylish tented camp overlooking a huge sweeping bend in the Luangwa, Zambia. Each of the five specially designed octagonal tents has their own private en-suite open air bathroom plus Victorian style baths with river view.

Leopard at MchenjaThe beautiful central chitenje (lounge) is built around one of the old fallen Mchenja (ebony) trees and guests can cool off there in the camp’s plunge pool. Brunch is taken in the shady lounge but dinner is more often served on the river bank under the stars. Guests staying at Mchenja can choose whether they want to view their wildlife on foot or from an open gameviewing vehicle.

In addition to the ebony grove at camp there are two other stunning groves close by, as is the case with Kakuli, the gameviewing in this area is superb and night drives are usually very worthwhile. These groves are favourites of the elephants, and a nearby hide is also available for our use during midday down time.

John Kasonga is the guide/manager at Mchenja and his encyclopedic knowledge of the plants, animals and small things of the Luangwa will make your safari one to remember.

KAKULI

Once known as the Luangwa River lodge, Kakuli is a tented bush camp with spectacular views on the banks of the Luangwa River which makes for perfect Zambian safari accommodation. It is the only true bush camp open for the green season.

Lion in tree

Kakuli means old buffalo bull - it was the nickname affectionately given to Norman Carr by the local people of the valley. This beautiful camp has four traditional walk-in safari tents each with en-suite bathrooms made with natural materials. The bar and dining chitenje (lounge) is constructed of reed and thatch forming the centre point of camp. The entire camp is on an elevated stretch of river bank overlooking a wide grazing lawn which follows the Luangwa River until it meets the confluence of the Luwi River.

A lovely thatched chitenje acts as the centre of camp. It is on a wooden deck overlooking the grazing lawn that leads down to the two rivers and is a perfect spot in which to relax and watch the wildlife meander by; the views from Kakuli are spectacular.

This area of the Park is renowned for offering guests some of the best game viewing opportunities in Zambia. African safari activities from Kakuli can be a mixture of game drives and walking safaris; guests are able to decide each day if they want to venture out on foot or with the vehicle.

Kakuli tent viewMost evenings however, you will want to explore the area after dark. This stretch of the Luangwa is bustling with predators and the best time to see them in action is during those first few hours of darkness.

This is the camp used for the Rivers and Rainbows green season boating and walking safaris; its elevated position stays well above the flood lines. At this time of year the river is high, we gain access by boat and activities are either on the river or on foot in the drier, sandy areas that surround camp.

Aubrey Njobvu has been the guide/manager at Kakuli for many years and no-one knows the resident pride of lion, local leopards, wildlife habits and hidden wonders around Kakuli like he does.

CHINZOMBO

Chinzombo Safari Camp is wildly luxurious, designed by award winning architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens. Chinzombo brings previously unseen levels of comfort, style and to elegance the Luangwa Valley in Zambia.

Chinzombo tentThe camp is super-luxurious but retains its bush feel with grass and canvas walls and spacious living areas that melt into the exquisite surroundings of the beautiful, tranquil site.

Gigantic, ancient shade trees offer peace and tranquility for guests staying in any one of the six stunning villas, one of which is a family suite with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, perfect for families or small groups. Each villa has its own private pool, cooled sleeping areas, and massive bathroom.

The camp is set within 60 acres of private land with Luangwa River frontage; the views from its riverside location which teems with wildlife, plus the private, direct access into one of the most game rich areas of the National Park all combine to make this a truly special place.

Chinzombo bathroom viewWildlife can be seen both in camp and out on the river directly below. Attracted by the shade, the cool lagoon and the seed pods which fall from the ebony trees, elephants are regular vistors and they can often be seen at very close quarters. Hippos and vervet monkeys can also often been seen around camp. A particular feature is a local leopard called Alice, who often walks through the camp on the prowl for pukus and impalas, occasionally providing guests with an unusually intimate and convenient sighting

NORMAN CARR SAFARIS

Throughout its history, Norman Carr Safaris has always innovated. The first camps, the first walking safaris, the first community projects, the first bush camps, the first all Zambian expert guiding team, the list of firsts is a long one! And they continue that tradition being the first to bring this level of design and luxury innovation to the Luangwa allowing the creation of unique and exclusive adventures for the most discerning of guests.

The lodges are all privately owned and operated by Norman Carr Safaris, a company with an unrivalled safari pedigree in the area. In the 50’s when everyone else was hunting animals with guns, Norman Carr decided to set up the first photographic safari camp. People thought he was nuts getting people to come look at the animals but depriving them of the chance to shoot them and take them home stuffed and mounted. As time has shown, he was ahead of the game. During the time he ran the business, Norman Carr first trained his guides to the highest standards, and then set up training programs to ensure that this was maintained. The standards of guiding today are excellent. The ability of the guides to deliver wildlife experiences, and their intimate and encyclopedic knowledge of the inhabitants of the park that we are privileged to visit is truly excellent.

I was last with them in May 2015, in the green season, a couple of weeks after the end of the rains, when the grass is still long. In three nights I witnessed lions killing twice and a leopard kill once. I wanted to see Wild Dogs (my favourite land mammal); my guide found me a pack of 12 fooling around with some zebra at sunset.

$4390 per person sharing, $490 park and concession fees. $600 return domestic airfares. 

Included:

Internal flights, accommodation for 8 nights, with breakfast at Latitude 15, fully inclusive in South

Luangwa, South Luangwa National Park fees, guiding,  photography coaching from the safari leader.

Not included:

International flights, visas, dinner at Latitude 15.

Deposit and Balance: 50% deposit required to secure the trip. Balance 60 days before departure.

Cancellations and refunds: We recommend that you take out travel cancellation insurance to cover you in the event of you being unable to travel. 25% of the trip cost is non-refundable. If cancellation occurs 61 days or more before departure 75% of trip cost is refundable. 60 days prior to departure 0% is refundable.

About South Luangwa National Park

Called by some as one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, South Luangwa is one of Zambia's main draws. This 9,050-sq km park is centered around the Luangwa River and is home to one of Africa's largest concentrations of wildlife.

Thanks to its inaccessible location, South Luangwa manages to combine immense density of wildlife with limited visitor numbers, and it's also one of the few national parks that allow night safaris. However, visitor numbers are steadily marching upwards, and the best time to visit is right now — before it becomes the nextKruger or Serengeti. The seasonal floodplains create an environment that supports a huge diversity of wildlife including over 100 species of mammals and over 420 species of birds as well as many reptiles, insects, amphibians and plants.

South Luangwa is home to a dazzling array of wildlife. You'll see hipposand crocodilesas soon as you cross the bridge over the Luangwa River, and elephantsare hard to miss along the river's banks. Thornicraft's giraffe, with white legs and faces, and Crawshay's zebra, without the brownish "shadow-stripe" of common (Burchell's) zebra, are both endemic to the park and easily spotted. Herds of buffalo roam the park, along with several prides of lions. The density of leopards is among the highest in the world, although spotting these nocturnal creatures can be tricky. All sorts of antelopes abound: impala are ubiquitous, the puku — rarely seen outside Zambia — is almost as common and there are plenty of waterbucks and bushbucks too.

Zebra can be seen running in small herds of about a dozen. The difference between Zambia’s zebras and those in the south and east of Africa are in the stripes. Here they are evenly spaced as opposed to broad light stripes with a faint shadow stripe in-between. Thornicroft’s giraffe is a sub-species that is only found in the Luangwa valley. Cookson’s wildebeest is another species unique to the area.

LThe park has 14 different antelope species, most of which are easily seen on game and night drives. Watch out for the elusive bushbuck, preferring to inhabit densely covered areas. The common duiker is not that common near the Luangwa River but inhabits the back country of the Luangwa Valley. The largest of the antelope is the eland, usually near the Nsefu sector of the Park. The most numerous antelope is the impala, these gregarious animals can be seen in herds all over the Park. Not to be confused with the puku, of similar size but a much fluffier buck with a rich orange coat and also prolific.

Perhaps the most beautiful is the Kudu, with its majestic spiral horns and delicate face. Although fairly common, they’re not always easy to find due to their retiring habits and preference for dense bush. Reedbuck, roan, sable, hartebeest, grysbok, klipspringer and oribi are all here but not prolific in the central tourist area of the Park. They tend to stay deeper in the remote parts towards the Muchinga escarpment.

 

The hippopotamus is one animal you won’t miss. As you cross over the bridge into the park there are usually between 30 and 70 hippos lounging in the river below and most of the dambos and lagoons will reveal many. There is estimated to be about 50 hippos per kilometre of the Luangwa River.

 Lions are commonly seen in South Luangwa National Park and it is the only place in the world where they are known to kill hippos. The lion prides here include up to 20 animals and other more furtive predators abound too, as well as leopards there are jackals, serval and caracal. 

 

 

Birdwatching is superb in the Valley. Near the end of the dry season, when the river and oxbow lagoons begin to recede, hundreds of large waterbirds can be seen wading through the shallows. The red faced yellow billed storks move along with their beaks open underwater, disturbing the muddy liquid with their feet until the fish flop into their mouths. The pelicans tend to operate in lines abreast, driving the fish before them into shallows before scooping them up into their beak pouches. The striking 1.6m saddle bill stork makes quick darting movements into the water. Then there’s the marabou stork, great white egrets, black headed herons, open billed storks and the stately goliath heron that can stand in the same position for hours before pouncing. Of the most beautiful are the elegant crowned cranes, with their golden tufts congregating in large flocks at the salt pans.

 

Around the same time, just before the rains set in, in November, the palearctic migrants from Northern Europe and the intra-African migrants arrive to exploit the feeding opportunities that the warm rainy season brings. These include the red chested cuckoo, white storks, European swallows, swifts, hobbies and bee-eaters, as well as birds of prey such as the Steppe eagles and Steppe buzzards that come all the way from Russia. A special sight is the hundreds of brightly coloured carmine bee-eaters nesting in the steep sandy banks of the river. 

The ever-present sounds of the birds in the valley takes some getting used to. An early caller is the ground hornbill, looking like a well-dressed turkey, but emitting the sound of a deep base drum. Also to be heard is the melodious Heuglin’s robin, the shrill cry of the fish eagle, set to the background cooing of doves.

 

 

About your safari leader:

Christopher passed the Field Guides’ Association of South Africa examination in 2006 whilst living in South Africa. He has guided in South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana, and started Indigo Safaris in 2011. He is also a well-published freelance photojournalist (with seven cover shots to his name) and writes for a number of international and field-leading publications. Although his speciality is underwater, he is more than proficient in less challenging environments too and will happily try and pass on his knowledge. He is a dab hand with a wok, potje (three-legged cast iron pot), frying pan, or braai (barbecue) grill. He likes glasses of wine with dinner and used to own a craft brewery in France.

 

US:1-800-295-0428 

UK:+
447713342729

skype: christopherbartlett

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