15 December 2016

ZAMBIA - MY LATEST OBSESSION

Being a travel maestro is undeniably the best job in the world. Who wouldn’t want to spend their lives exploring new lands, immersing themselves in new cultures and having the pleasure of sending clients to experience the same magic? It’s a happy job! In fact for me it doesn’t feel like a job. The only down side is as a mother to a four year old fairy it’s never easy to leave, but luckily she’s a daddy’s girl and experiences like this are so deeply enriching, so I’d suffer the heartache again in a heartbeat. Especially for Zambia - here’s why.

Last month I spent ten very hot days exploring the contrasts and intricacies of the legendary South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Victoria Falls regions.

Nature never guarantees, but South Luangwa is known for two things – walking safaris and tracking big game on foot. Sure, game drives cover more ground, but being lead through the bush by an experienced, armed guide absorbing the sights, sounds and scents of the surrounds is in my humble opinion incomparable. But, if that’s not ‘up your path’ you can easily opt for drives here instead and feel just as fulfilled. The Luangwa River - the most intact major river system in Africa is the life-blood of this region attracting a profusion of animal and game. And the camps in the area are fittingly small, intimate and owner-run, tying in well with the surrounds.

We stayed at two camps here. Tafika – a remote and owner run luxury bushcamp and part of the Remote Africa Portfolio, where the focus was on bush walking. I can still hear the soft crunching sound of our boots and the gentle voice of our knowledgeable guide, armed tracker and tea bearer who by the way, rubbed sticks together to boil water for our tea break! We mountain biked to the local village where we were acquainted with the fruits of labour from the Tafika Fund’s efforts and to end it all off we were privy to a vibrant and emotive show performed by the local children incorporating sustainability themed poems and dances.

The second property we stayed at was Kapamba – one of the six exclusive rustic bushcamps operated by The Bushcamp Company – all very unique and easily combined. Highlights here were undoubtedly the unexpected – from bush drinks on the Kabamba River, to a 28 wild dog pack sighting, a flock of Carmine Bee Eaters, an impala kill and pizza making in the bush (who would have thought). But, the experience that brought tears to all of our eyes was the Seka Group’s theatrical performance, depicting the art of community and sustainability. One of their most prevalent projects is their ‘commitment to clean water’ creating boreholes for the local communities along with a host of educational and feeding schemes at local schools – causes close to Caroline’s heart.

Tips - their sister camp Mfuwe Lodge located just inside the main park gate is a resort-style lodge perfect for cooling down, connecting to wifi and contradictory as it made seem, watching the legendary elephants wander past. It's very much a seasonal region, so wouldn’t suggest venturing here outside the so May to November months.

Next we flew down to the Lower Zambezi region - a playground of contrast between river and bush where we tried all activities on offer – fishing, walking, boating, canoe, river cruise and game drives. We stayed at two camps here – Chiawa – a premium camp with all the bells and whistles, brilliant guides and a range of activities. Their sister camp is Old Mondoro, sixty minutes downstream, a place where elephant and buffalo roam freely through the camp, frankly, leaving your room is enough of a game viewing experience to get your fulfil your bush fix. Both Chiawa and Mondoro are completely committed to sustainability and operate on solely on solar, which make them that much more special. And they combine well together in an itinerary.

We ended our trip outside Livingstone close to Victoria Falls where we stayed at The River Club - a colonial property fittingly owned by a passionate historian who told fascinating tales of Zambian heritage. Croquette lawns, an expansive library, spacious suites fitted with four poster Victorian style beds and unequalled views of the thundering Zambezi River paired with sunset G&T’s, made this place perfect ending to a phenomenal trip. It’s about 40 minutes to The Victoria Falls an activity which is all included as part of your stay.

We are passionate about Zambia and is a place that’s won my heart. So much so, that it has the potential to tarnish future trips. Perhaps it was the level of service, guiding and activities given their remoteness. Perhaps it’s because it’s so refreshingly unspoilt, untamed and ‘untouristy’. Or perhaps it’s the commitment these properties have to the community, wildlife and environment.

We look forward to sharing this special place with you on your next African adventure.

 

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