A focus on conservation and high value / low volume tourism ensures that Zambia's wildlife is plentiful, National Parks are crowd-free, and a sense of natural wilderness prevails.
The South Luangwa National Park offers Zambia’s most prolific game viewing. In the dry season the banks of the hippo and croc-filled Luangwa River see elephants in their hundreds march down seeking water and shade under the majestic mahogany and ebony trees. Whilst game-viewing is generally done from open 4x4 vehicles, the South Luangwa National Park is also known for its legendary walking safaris which offer guests a more slow-paced and intimate way to connect with wildlife without causing disturbance.
Further south, lodges in the Lower Zambezi National Park offer canoe and boat safaris as well as game drives, before the waters of the mighty Zambezi river form a curtain of falling water at the world-famous Victoria Falls. An action-packed safari holiday in Zambia combines perfectly with chill-out time at lakeside beach retreats in neighbouring Malawi. Our handpicked Zambian and Malawian camps are mostly owner-run, offering guests a 'home away from home' experience, personal service, and expert guiding.
THE S&A TO DO LIST
- When visiting the Victoria Falls be sure to take a trip to Livingstone Island - access is limited but the views are unequalled (for the more adventurous a swim in Devil’s pool will be something you remember forever)
- In September the Carmine Bee-eater colonies on the banks of the Luangwa River are one of the avian world’s most spectacular sights
- Be sure to go out on a walking safari, “From a vehicle you see Africa, on foot you feel, hear and smell Africa”
When on safari in Zambia, a stay in one of the small remote bushcamps is to have your own special piece of the African bush all to yourself. Old Mondoro is owned by the Cummings family who have aimed to create the Lower Zambezi National Park’s only ‘proper’ bush-camp with an overall impression of rustic openness. In the South Luangwa National Park the pioneering spirit of the late Norman Carr lives on through Norman Carr Safaris which includes the four remote bush camps of Mchenja Camp, Kakuli Camp, Luwi Camp and Nsolo Camp, all offering an authentic African wilderness experience and some fabulous walking opportunities. Similarly The Bushcamp Company have succeeded in designing and building six bush-camps in the southern end of the South Luangwa National Park that all have a very different feel to them. Billimungwe in particular is quite different from its sister camps, the four rooms have a rustic feel, constructed of reed and thatch, and the open sided central area sits beneath a stunning Winterthorn tree.
The simple yet elegant Chiawa Camp was the first camp to be established in the Lower Zambezi National Park by the Cummings family and over the years has earned itself an excellent reputation, offering day and night game drives, walking, boat and canoe safaris. Guests at this owner-run and operated camp benefit from having an experienced team of long-serving staff (our excellent walking guide Paul had been with Chiawa for 10 years) who have perfected the art of welcoming guests in to what feels like a family home. 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. Anabezi Camp is located in the quiet eastern end of the Lower Zambezi National Park, and people who like their space will be right at home here – the eleven luxurious tents are 1000 sq feet and 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). Smaller sister-property Amanzi Camp is set on one a channel of the Zambezi a few kilometres downstream from the main camp and is of an equally high standard - with just eight beds it's a wonderful choice for larger families or small groups of friends. Chongwe River Camp's location on the confluence of the Zambezi and Chongwe rivers evokes the same peace and tranquillity 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 and drink in in the scent of wild jasmine on 4×4 game drives whilst tracking lion and leopard. Finally in South Luangwa, the crème da la crème, Chinzombo Lodge was designed by Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the architects behind North Island in the Seychelles. It is made up of just six villas, each with a private plunge pool and sweeping deck, hidden in the canopies of ancient ebony and mahogany trees.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
One of the Wilderness Premier Camps, Shumba Camp accommodates 12 guests in as much luxury as you are going to find in the Kafue. It is set in the central part of the Busanga Plains in the north of the Park. The rooms are joined to each-other and the central area by raised wooden walk-ways so you quite literally don’t touch the ground when you are in and around camp. Those looking to wander completely off the beaten track and have a traditional Zambian safaris will love Phil Jeffery and Tryone McKeith’s Musekese Camp, which consists of four simple tents each with bucket showers and flush loos, set on the East bank of the Kafue River in the central area of the Park. The North Luangwa National Park is unknown to most travellers - a 45 min flight north of Mfuwe Airport - and has a number of hidden secrets such as the stunning Mwaleshi Falls and the conservation of Zambia’s only black rhino population. Here we recommend Mwaleshi Camp which overlooks the Mwaleshi River (sandy and shallow so no hippos and wonderful to use on a walking safari) and is refreshingly simple and full of character. For a longer off the beaten track itinerary you can add in either the Chikoko Walking Trails or link with an experience in Liuwa Plain (think tree climbing lions, the famous Lady Liuwa and the home of Africa’s second largest wildebeest migration).
Set on a sweeping bend in the Zambezi about 10 miles upstream from the Victoria Falls, Tongabezi is Livingstone’s “original” private camp, built by Ben Parker who still lives on the adjacent plot. Tongabezi offers a variety of accommodation styles, but for those in search of something a little special there are 4 individually named and designed open-fronted houses as well as the Dog House which comprises of two large bedrooms and a separate living area with extensive deck and private pool overlooking the river. A short distance downstream, sister property Sindabezi Island offers a more rustic 'Robinson Crusoe-esque' camp set up under canvas. Both Tongabezi and Sindabezi come with an abundance of character, and are renowned for their innovative design, stylish décor and excellent cuisine as well as special touches like romantic dinners on the riverbank and floating lunches. The spacious elevated rooms at Sanctuary Retreats Sussi & Chuma are billed as ‘tree-houses’, as many of them are set in amongst the tree canopy overlooking. Finally, Thorntree River Lodge is the latest addition to the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and offers a wonderful connection to the bush having been completely rebuilt with an environmentally-conscious design. Just as our Zambia safari itineraries often start with time spent relaxing and unwinding around Victoria Falls, they often finish with time relaxing at a lakeside beach retreat in land-locked Malawi, a small but beautiful country affectionately known as the ‘warm heart of Africa’ for its friendly people and laid-back lifestyle. Here we can highly recommend beach retreat Kaya Mawa on Likoma Island where you can swim, dive, snorkel and sail in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Malawi or explore the island by bike and on foot.
Looking to extend your trip?
With so much on offer Zambia works as a stand-alone destination, but those looking for rest and relaxation can take a short hop across to the lakeside beaches of Malawi...