Ten night itinerary, encompassing the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi
Zambia is one of our favorite countries in Southern Africa – it is here that that the walking safari was born! The diverse scenery ranges from Victoria Falls, to the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi Valleys. This itinerary encapsulates the finest national parks in Zambia. The game drives and walking safaris in South Luangwa combine perfectly with the water based activities of the Lower Zambezi National Park.
Welcome to Zambia. You will arrive into the bustling capital city of Lusaka. Your light aircraft flight will transfer you to Mfuwe, one of the main gateways into the South Luangwa Valley. Your guide will meet you for the game drive through the park to camp, so have your cameras at the ready so you can capture your first images of African wildlife and scenery.
South Luangwa National Park
The South Luangwa was declared a national park in 1972 and has long been regarded by safari enthusiasts as one of Africa’s best safari parks and home to the “walking” safari. This park is renowned as a prime wildlife destination, with an abundance of wildlife and exceptional guiding. The park supports large populations of elephant and buffalo and is renowned for its leopard and lion populations. The Thornicroft giraffe is found in the central region of the park while the Crawshays zebra and the Cooksons’ Wildebeest are found further north.
Four nights will be spent at Kaingo Camp – and owner run classic camp.
Overlooking the Luangwa River, deep within the South Luangwa National Park is this relaxed, personal and friendly camp offering fantastic game viewing opportunities. Kaingo camp is the creation of the Shenton family, which has a proud history of three generations of wildlife conservation in Southern Africa. Derek Shenton, who built and now runs this camp with his wife Juliet, is the son of Barry Shenton, a former Parks Ranger in the Luangwa.
Derek has developed Kaingo into a camp that is well known for exceptional game-viewing in a beautiful, yet relaxed atmosphere. In spite of numerous opportunities to expand they have kept the camp intimate.
Nestled discretely apart on the banks of the river, Kaingo’s six chalets were designed with the sole purpose of transporting you safely into the world of the Luangwa, without a single distraction.
Large fly-wired windows provide stunning views of the river; and the complete absence of generator noise, (the camp uses solar power), means nothing but the wheeze-honk of a hippo interferes with the sounds of a lions roar, a leopards call or the early morning ‘drumming’ of the Ground Hornbill. In addition to the indoor ensuite bathroom, each chalet has a stunning outdoor bathtub with shady views of a pod of hippos. A special feature of Kaingo is the unique individual decks built out over the river in front of each chalet. From this relaxing vantage point one can view game coming down to drink, basking hippo, aquatic birds, crocodile fishing, and daily elephant crossings. The large centrally located open sided sitting room includes a dining area, library and Kaingo’s renowned thousand year old lead-wood bar.
The beauty of this camp is the varied game activities on offer, ranging from morning and afternoon game drives, night drives, walking safaris and varied hide sits. This is the only camp in the valley to offer photographic hides. These hides provide fantastic photo opportunities, a must experience for everyone.
Enjoy the game drive options. Comfortable, high seats allow superb all-round vision and easy photography. The vehicles have been modified to assist photographers with camera rests, shelves and bean bags. The qualified and experienced guides will take you to game-rich areas deep within the park which are not commonly visited by other vehicles. The morning and afternoon game drives normally last around four hours. The evening game drive departs after afternoon tea. The guide normally stops for a sundowner at a special scenic location before continuing the drive into the early evening to observe nocturnal animals.
If you are a keen birder or photographer ask if you can experience one of the custom hides. Shenton have some ingenious hide options, from the carmine bee-eater hide, an elephant crossing hide, or a hippo hide. Why not enjoy an afternoon in the hippo hide, where hundreds of hippos congregate throughout the season. The hide is carved into the bank of the river. Cleverly designed camera props make this a photographers dream. Also watch resident crocodile that have learnt to snatch unsuspecting ox-peckers from the hippo’s back
Today you may decide on a walk. There are a number of beautiful walks from camp that highlight the specialties of the area. These include walking through ancient ebony forest, stopping at various waterholes and inland lagoons. Tracking cats is part of the walking safari around Kaingo, in the hope of coming across the Mwamba pride (36 lion split into smaller groups) and the area has approximately 10 resident leopards. Other big game you may expect to see include large numbers of elephant, hippo and giraffe. One of the unique features on a walk is the tea stop!
Another very special and memorable activity offered at Kaingo is the sleep out - up in the elephant hide. After dinner at Kaingo you are taken to your dedicated platform in the treetops for your overnight stay. A scout is positioned discreetly nearby.
Since it’s your last full day in camp relax sit back on your private deck and the myriad of birdlife, maybe elephants crossing the river, and hippos and crocodiles basking in the midday sun. There is a large beach on the river bank opposite camp, which attracts many animals and birds. Easy chairs are set up outside each chalet and on the viewing platform or ‘deck’ below the main dining area for a front row seat of this real life documentary.
Today will be your last opportunity to enjoy the activities and wildlife in the South Luangwa before you embark on your charter to the Lower Zambezi National Park. The charter flight is interesting as you fly over communal land and forests before reaching the rugged mountains of the Zambian escarpment, part of the great Zambezi Valley system.
The Lower Zambezi National Park is still relatively undeveloped, its beauty lying in its wilderness state. The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big parks, but the opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. The Park lies opposite the famous Mana Pools Reserve in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the Zambezi River is a massive wildlife sanctuary. The River’s edge is overhung with thick riverine vegetation, including ebony and fig trees. Further inland is a floodplain fringed with mopane forest and interspersed with winterthorn trees and huge acacias. The hills which form the backdrop to the Park are covered in broadleaf woodland.
Even though the Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of 4092 square kilometers, most of the game is concentrated along the valley floor. There is an escarpment along the northern end which acts as a physical barrier to most of the Park’s animal species. Enormous herds of elephant are often seen at the river’s edge. ‘Island hopping’ buffalo and waterbuck are common. The Park also hosts good populations of lion and leopard.
Four nights will be spent at this remote intimate wilderness camp – Old Mondoro
Old Mondoro is situated within the Lower Zambezi National Parks, overlooking a maze of hippo-inhabited islands, and a grove of Acacia trees from which massive elephant bulls constantly feed, this is perhaps the most beautiful site in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Combine this remote camp with a fabulous guiding team makes for a memorable safari. .
Old Mondoro has an open and adventurous feel, providing a perfect retreat after a day filled with excitement in the bush. Appropriately constructed of canvas and natural materials the four rooms are simply furnished but comfortable. Each tent has either a king size or two single beds, ensuite facilities comprising indoor flush toilet and washbasin and outdoor shower and huge splash tub, with views to the Zambezi River. Each room has a shaded timber deck complete with comfy daybed to relax and enjoy the views
Old Mondoro is located in the middle of the prime wildlife and habitat zones of the Lower Zambezi National Park, so you do not need to travel far to see wildlife (who often visits the camp!) and you are usually headed back to camp by the time any other vehicles start finding out what’s going on.
Game drives are the most effective way of seeing wildlife as you cover much ground and can get close to sightings without disturbing the wildlife. The activity is conducted in 4x4 safari vehicle. Each vehicle has bags for photography and can accommodate six guests, each with a window seat. The drives leave camp in the morning, stopping for mid morning coffee at a scenic view point, before returning for brunch. Your guide is an expert in the bush and will point out interesting subjects such as a flick of a tail or a curve of an ear, or movement. If one opts for a game drive in the afternoon, this will depart after high tea and then stop at sunset for sundowners (snacks and a drink, usually a cocktail, of your choice) before an experienced tracker assisting the guide switches on a red filtered spotlight and looking for the nocturnal creatures on a “night drive”. Night drives will return to camp before dinner
A walking safari is a very special wildlife experience. Taking advantage of the cooler weather this activity normally takes place in the early morning and are led by one of the professional guides and a Zambia Wildlife Authority armed “escort scout. The guides are trained naturalists who can not only identify spoor, birds, plants and insects but also explain in interesting detail how these all interact with each other, how each relies on each other in this, the great “circle of life”. Sometimes walks happen from camp but usually you will drive a short distance into more open country. After the walk, which will last between 1-3 hours, there is a short game drive back to camp, perhaps via a sighting one of our other vehicles has picked up.
Canoe trips, drifting in near silence past birds, crocs and a variety of mammals makes for an amazing experience of a lifetime. The canoes take either 2 or 3 people. All trips are led by at least one professional guide with current experience of that stretch of the river. All canoes are paddled by one experienced “back paddler”, usually a trainee guide. The best canoeing experience is to be had in the channels above camp, the Inkalange Channel above Chiawa and the Discovery Channel above Old Mondoro, both of which offer world class canoeing. Otherwise canoeing amongst the islands down the main river close to shore makes for an equally memorable experience.
Boat Cruises are another activity option, conducted on custom built, stable pontoon boats with a canopy that can be raised or lowered according to circumstance and powered by near-silent, outboard motors give guests the opportunity to see more of the river and perhaps more wildlife by being able to cover more area. Explore the main bank, islands and channels coming across fish eagle, heron, perhaps a buffalo lurking in the reeds, crocs and hippos sunning themselves, or elephant crossing the river – these are a relaxing way to enjoy wildlife viewing all the while in awe of the scenery. As the sun sets your guide will pour your cocktails of choice and serve you snacks before gently motoring back to camp or dropping you off at a waiting 4x4 to take you on a night drive.
Today relax and enjoy the final morning in camp, before you depart on your charter to Livingstone. This charter flight will take you via Lusaka before you continue your journey to Livingstone. You may be lucky to see Victoria Falls before you land at the airport. Your guide will meet you and transfer you through Livingstone town to Tongabezi Lodge, a secluded paradise to end your safari.
Victoria Falls presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur. Situated on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. Columns of spray can be seen from miles away. At the height of the rainy season, more than five hundred million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the two kilometer stretch of river, into the gorge over one hundred meters below. One special vantage point is across the Knife-edge Bridge, where visitors can have the finest view of the Eastern Cataract, the Main Falls as well as the Boiling Pot. Other vantage points include the Falls Bridge, Devils Pool and the Lookout Tree, both of which command panoramic views across the Main Falls.
Livingstone Town has created a fabulous playground, for thrill seekers, as well as lovers of nature, beauty and tranquility. Known by many as the ‘Adventure Centre’ of Southern Africa, there is no shortage of things for you to do. Many of the tourists visiting the Falls are in search of adventure-based activities and will enjoy white water rafting or bungee jumping, while others looking to relax may enjoy a relaxing sunset cruise or a ride with elephants. Everyone will want to tour the magnificent Falls.
2 nights will be spent at the beautiful Tongabezi Lodge.
Tongabezi Lodge is a hideaway on the banks on the banks of the Zambezi River, just upstream of Victoria Falls. The friendly team welcomes guests to a selection of houses and cottages, each beautifully styled with furniture and embellishments from all over Africa. Guests can dine beside the river or on their private terrace. This privately owned and run lodge combines exclusive ambience with legendary warmth and hospitality.
Tongabezi is a luxury lodge close to Victoria Falls situated on the banks of the Zambezi River. It was founded in 1990 by Ben Parker and the late Will Ruck-Keene, pioneers of eco-tourism in Zambia. Privately owned and run, Tongabezi combines romance and exclusivity with warm and attentive service. Each house and cottage has its own valet who takes care of guests throughout their stay. The River Cottages feature high ceilings, giant bespoke wood and glass windows and doors leading onto an expansive sustainable pine deck. The cottages are designed to provide a private haven where you every whim will be attended to by your valet.
The real beauty of the Tongabezi experience lies in its ability to set the scene and inspire a little magical romance in everyone. There is no set pattern to days at Tongabezi. Guests can do as much or as little as they wish, with game drives, bush walks and boating trips all included in the price. The majestic Victoria Falls can be viewed on foot in the national park, from inside the gorge, from Livingstone Island and from the air.
Today I would recommend a tour of the Falls, returning for lunch and then a lazy sunset cruise on the river maybe then followed by a romantic dinner on your private deck.
Your final morning of safari enjoy a last cruise on the river enjoying some of the birdlife before you head back to Livingstone airport to connect with your regional flight
Shared seat in plane charters Maun to Maun and interconnecting the camps
National Park fees
Lodge activities only. At Tongabezi national parks fees of $ 20 pp are to be paid direct
Safari does not include:
International or regional flights
Extra activities that are not the normal activities which are included in lodge rate
Items of a personal nature
Contact me for the rates or other tailor made safaris in Zambia.