Last month we escaped a rather bleak northern hemisphere; both in terms of weather and headlines, to the seemingly unspoilt “Lost World” of the Lower Zambezi in Zambia. After a week visiting the camps along the banks of the mighty Zambezi, we returned home with an even better understanding of what makes this beautiful Park, with all its prolific water and land based activities, so unique. We also discovered that even the most amateur of anglers will be spoiled for choice with some of the continent’s finest fishing on offer. Read on for a quick Sally and Alice Travel Co. roundup of why a trip to the Lower Zambezi should be added to your ‘bucket list’…
PRIVACY – SAUSAGE TREE CAMP
There are certainly no public transport or Uber apps required at Sausage Tree Camp – the focus here is on offering a completely private (and spoiling) experience, and all guests are allocated their own private driver/ guide for activities. The opulent tented chalets come with vast open air bathrooms and river facing decks which are perfect for private candlelit dinners. As the name suggests, a stay at Sausage Tree Camp offers a good dose of humour (our ‘muchinda’/ butler ‘Clever’ greeted us off the boat on arrival with a firm handshake and a “Hi, I’m Clever”!) and a young, fun and professional team at the helm. Sausage Tree’s 25m west-facing infinity pool is without a doubt the best lap pool we have found in the bush and is made all the more special when the sunset reflects off the Zambezi, as pictured above.
ENDLESS SPACE – ANABEZI CAMP
“This tent is bigger than my apartment” was our travel companion’s first comment on arrival at Anabezi Camp, the latest upmarket camp to open in the Lower Zambezi National Park. People who like their space will be right at home here – the luxurious tents are 1000 sq feet and are raised on stilts with a private deck, plunge pool and views out to the river. In fact the eleven tents are spaced so far apart that the camp can justify having two different communal areas; Zambezi and Machika Deck, both with dining area, bar, chill out deck and swimming pool – it’s like getting two camps for the price of one. Being located the furthest east on the Zambezi, there is also the space to roam freely on game drives without crossing another camp’s path (the animals seem to be taking advantage of this too, with new prides of lion forming in seemingly uncharted territory). Overall, Anabezi is reminiscent of the luxury camps you’d expect to find in South Africa, and their breakfast menu wouldn’t look out of place in a trendy Kloof St café in Cape Town either.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE – CHIAWA CAMP
Not a self-service check in counter in sight here, and certainly no queuing for customer services! As the original camp in the Lower Zambezi National Park, the staff at the owner-run and operated Chiawa Camp have perfected the art of welcoming guests from the pontoon in to what feels like a family home. Guests here benefit from having an experienced team of long-serving staff at their beck and call – our excellent walking guide Paul had been with Chiawa for 10 years. There are nine beautifully decorated suites, all thoughtfully blending in with their tree-lined river or lagoon front location. Nothing is too much trouble here, with lots of extra touches and surprises thrown in, from floating lunches to a medley of game drives snacks and private bush dinners, and with the variety of activities on offer, and the excellent game viewing on your doorstep, it’s no wonder seasoned safari goers come back to Chiawa again and again…one guest we met during our stay visits Chiawa twice a year, for 3 weeks at a time!
SENSORY OVERLOAD – CHONGWE RIVER CAMP
It can take a while to adjust to life in the bush, and whilst guests certainly aren’t left to fend for themselves in the wild at Chongwe River Camp (besides being stripped of mod cons i.e. hair dryers, a phone signal and super high speed internet) there is something wonderfully authentic about this bush camp and its closeness to wildlife that forces you to slow down and really sync with your surroundings. Within a couple of days of waking up with the sunrise, dodging elephants on the path to brunch, dining under star-filled skies and falling asleep to the fanfare of hippos honking and reed frogs tinkling, the senses become more acute. Chongwe River Camp’s location on the confluence of the Zambezi and Chongwe rivers evokes the same tranquility you experience on the islands in Botswana’s Delta. Guests can canoe the channel as hippos bob underwater, drift downstream on aluminium boats spinning for tiger fish (waves clanking on the bottom as crocodiles slide off the riverbank nearby!) and drink in in the scent of wild jasmine on 4×4 game drives whilst tracking lion and leopard.
QUICK CITY FIX – LATITUDE 15
For those of you who are feeling nervous just thinking about being off the grid for so long, we are pleased to announce there is now a ‘soft landing’ available at the recently opened Latitude 15 boutique hotel in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. In a quiet diplomatic area of the city, this interior designer’s heaven comes alive at the weekend with well-heeled locals flocking to the cosmopolitan bar and trendy poolside terrace. Be warned: those with an addiction to shopping may want to skip this hotel, it is full of colourful local artwork, antique maps and ceramic wall hangings for sale. With this in mind, perhaps a stay here is best saved for the way home?!