Zambia is a true gem and such a wonderful sense of the road less travelled…. My trip started off in the Lower Zambezi at Chiawa Camp. This wonderful lodge has seamlessly woven together warm hospitality, meals that make the taste buds sizzle and a rich experience that ranges from game viewing to fishing, canoeing along one of the channels to walking under a grove of mahogany and acacia trees. Chiawa Camp has nine gorgeous, open-fronted canvas tents on wooden decks under the shade of a grove of giant mahogany trees. The tents are spread out along the river and up a flood plain area, each with a unique view.
Throughout our stay, the staff where amazing in creating special moments …one that particularly comes to mind, was having lunch on the boat, in the middle of the Zambezi River while watching a herd of elephant wade across the river and the young one’s discovering the use of their trunks, which was cause for much entertainment.
But then again, having a night cap, under the Milky Way, while taking in the sounds of the bush, is also hard to beat…. The game viewing was full of adventure and excitement, as we saw several leopard sightings including mom with her two cub and not to mention a pride of lion basking in the mid-morning sun!
Just downstream from Chiawa, located in an open Faidherbia Forest, is their sister camp Old Mondoro. This camp is a simpler affair than Chiawa, yet with no comfort spared and has an olde world charm about it. And by combining these two camps, one has the best of both worlds.
The next part of my journey took me to the privately owned and managed camps of Remote Africa Safaris, namely Tafika, Mwaleshi Camp and Crocodile Camp. Tafika Camp is the base camp,nestled in the shade of giant Leadwood trees. At each of their camps, one had a sense of being welcomed into their “home” and invited to experience the bush in the true sense of the word.
Tafika, provides amazing views of the river with plenty of opportunity to see elephants and hippos wallowing. I loved the organic ease with which wildlife and community intertwined. Locals that we met both in camp and in the village shared their story and love for their country with so much passion and humility, that one is left with much to ponder and be grateful for. When not relaxing in the hammock under the tress, one can be out enjoying a walking safaris, cycling trails, a visit to the local community, day & night game drives. A special treat was also visiting their organic vegetable and fruit garden! And the “Magic” spot under the large tree (only spot for wifi) at the end of the garden was the perfect spot to chat with loved ones and make some new friends!
Just across the river from Taffika is Crocodile camp and Chikoko Tree camp. These two exclusive bush camps are home to the Chikoko Trails. A walking safaris is offered between these two camps. It’s a fantastic bush experience in this remote part. While on foot, it was exciting to know that our path was well-worn by elephants and hippo alike. I also enjoyed the smells of the bush, literally the essence of the bush. And it was fascinating having our guide share his incredible knowledge of the flora and their medicinal uses.
Mawaleshi Camp is truly the most remote, secluded and magical camp! Located on the Mwaleshi River, in remote North Luangwa Valley. The camp has 4 chalets constructed purely from natural materials but with all the comforts of en-suite facilities. Mwaleshi is primarily a walking camp. On foot one can engage with the bush using all the senses, learning about a variety of animal spoor, tracks, fauna and flora.
In the evening, the day comes to a perfect end, under the Africa night sky, to the sounds of the hippo’s downstream, the warm glow of the fire and the reflections shared by one’s travel companions. Priceless! A special memory here was, lying on the river bed (safe with no hippo or croc in site !) – feet in the water and soaking up the warmth of the sun, while listening to the sounds of the birds and running water. Simply refreshing for the soul!
My trip ended back in the South Luangwa Valley, where I experienced several different lodges within the The Bushcamp Company portfolio. There are 6 exclusive camps in the remote South Luangwa National Park. Each camp is secluded, intimate and offers an unrivalled safari…whether it be on foot on in open safari vehicles.
Kuyenda Camp, embodies the authentic charm of olde world Africa and is a cluster of thatched grass huts and gives one a sense of being back in nature.
Chamilandu, has a prime location on the river. The hide offers the perfect view of the wildlife coming down to the river. The exquisite tree-houses are stylish and spacious.
Chindeni, was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful tented camps. Sleeping under the canvas, just seems to ignite adventure. The tents are stylish, comfortable and the great views from your private deck, is the perfect spot for a gin-and-tonic! I loved the spacious communal area and the late afternoon antics of the monkey’s was cause for much entertainment.
Bilimungwe, a stunning camp that effortlessly combines elegance and African tradition. The wildlife and birds that come down to the waterholes right in front of the communal area, is a special treat. This camp is also home to their Award Winning guide, Manda Chisanga – a man passionate about conservation, the wildlife and upliftment of his community. It was inspirational having his as our game ranger.
Kapamba Camp is in a remote corner of the South Luangwa National Park. I loved the spacious suites with a sunken bath – the ultimate indulgence. I enjoyed the cleaver use of wrought-iron open shutters that allow one to feel safe (when drawn closed at night, so there are no unwanted visitors) and enjoy the sounds of nature. Not to mention the unhindered view of sunrise from one’s bed!
Zungulila Tented Camp, a fabulous classic Meru style tented camp with great views of the river. Thoroughly enjoyed the informative walking safari through some amazing wilderness.
Our stay has so many precious memories from the soundtrack of bathing elephants, to the rather vocal discussion that resident monkeys were having in the tree outside my tent, seeing a pack of over 20 wild dog, to wading through the river in the evening, to where chairs had been set up for sundowners; to watching a local drama company from a nearby village entertain us on the river bank before dinner with a play about folklore, African traditions and conservation. Fishing… And not to mention, the fun we had with the surprise “make your own pizza” lunch set on the river bank… the pizza oven was ready and chef’s on standby to guide us in creating our own special pizza.
And last but not least, visiting the Bushcamp Company’s local community charity projects was inspiring! The first visit was to one of the school where they feed 2000 pupils a day (over 2 school)s. The program gives the pupils’ families the security of knowing that their children are receiving necessary nutrition, giving them energy not only for school, but also for the often arduous journey to and from home (10 km each way); they also sponsor over 350 local school children to attend school. There is a tree planning program, where about 500 trees are planted per year, which is essential to the ecosystem and conservation. And recently, they initiated the drilling of 15 boreholes to provide clean drinking water in local villages. Truly living up to their motto “charity begins at home”
Thank you to The Bushcamps Company, Remote Africa Safaris and Classic Portfolio for hosting me