ZAMBIA: 290,587 SQ/MI:You have 11-days in Zambia and there are 290,587 square miles to explore; what to do? If you want to see Victoria Falls and wildlife in varying landscapes, 11.7 recommends this Zambia itinerary. And here's why.
Zambia is one of the most underestimated countries on many fronts. It has rich cultural offerings and prolific wildlife areas unknown to most. Three areas that top the list are Livingstone for Victoria Falls, the South Luangwa Valley for walking safaris and the Lower Zambezi for a wide variety of land and water based wildlife-viewing activities.
In this itinerary, we’ve put together these three areas and picked lodges that are just right and can provide the best possible experience. Zambia is the definitely the un-hyped, underestimated underdog; and you can’t help but rout for the underdog.
Day 1 & 2
LIVINGSTONE / VICTORIA FALLS AREA
Upon arrival in Livingstone, you are met and transferred to Tongabezi Lodge. Tongabezi Lodge is an elegant, secluded riverside camp on a sweeping bend of the Zambezi River. The lodge consists of five luxury open-air houses and six cottages, all of which are only feet from the water and have spectacular views across the river. Built of local material, every room is unique in design and set amongst the camp's ebony and acacia trees. Each has its own valet who takes care of guest throughout their stay and acts as a private concierge.
During your stay here there is a possibility that you will see herds of elephant drinking along the banks of the Zambezi and hear the hippos grunting throughout the day. Dinner each evening will be served in the stunning dining area overlooking the river.
The following optional activities are available:
- View the magnificent Victoria Falls where the Zambezi River opens out into an extravaganza of roaring, spray-tumbled water, known to the locals as “mosi oa tunya” (the smoke that thunders). Few sights are as awe-inspiring and the ground shakes and rumbles with the force of the water.
- Spectacular bird watching
- Take a sunset cruise to a private island for sundowners.
- Game viewing through Mosi oa Tunya National Park
- Visit historic Livingstone – the craft market and the Livingstone Museum noted for its artifacts that belonged to David Livingstone.
- Visit a local village
- Guided canoeing down the Zambezi River
- Horseback riding along the Zambezi River
- Visit Livingstone Island for brunch or high tea and take a plunge in Devil’s Pool on the edge of the falls.
- Helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls
- Microlight flight over the Victoria Falls
- Grade 5 white water rafting
- Bungi jumping
- Visit Zambia’s first “Elephant Camp” which offers a once in a lifetime insight into these gentle giants. RideMadinda, Marula, Lewa, Danny or Bop on an exclusive Zambian Elephant Safari through riverine vegetation and beautiful scenery in the Mosi oa Tunya National Park
Day 3 & 4
SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast and the morning at leisure, you are transferred to the Livingstone Airport to board your flight departing for Mfuwe (via Lusaka). Upon arrival at Mfuwe, you are transferred approximately three hours to Chindeni Bush Camp (with game viewing and beautiful scenery along the way).
The South Luangwa National Park, located in the eastern part of the country, covers an area of 3500 square miles. It is renowned for its beauty and varied habitats, which support one of Africa’s richest concentrations of game and birdlife. Over 50 species of large mammal and some 400 species of bird thrive in this last haven of wild Africa. During your stay in the South Luangwa Valley you are bound to see the large elephant herds of up to 50 individuals, an abundant number of buffalo, fourteen antelope species and Thornicroft’s giraffe, unique to the Valley. This area is also known for its healthy population of leopard and lion. The meandering Luangwa River with its many ox-bow lagoons and shady ebony groves forms the eastern boundary of the Park while the spectacular Muchinga escarpment dominates the western horizon.
The recently redone Chindeni Bush Camp is one of the Luangwa's most luxurious, well-furnished bush camps and is known for its stunning views. Its elegant and immense tents come complete with a large bedroom and attached sitting room, bathroom and private wooden veranda. There is an open-air central dining/bar area on wooden decking, overlooking the permanent Chayumba Lagoon. The lagoon attracts a large variety of game including elephants which are a delight to watch as they drink and the little ones play in the water. The camp also over looks the Nchindeni Hills, which provides spectacular sunsets.
The South Luangwa offers several ways to experience wildlife. You can walk to discover the secrets of the bush, led by experienced naturalists and accompanied by an armed game scout. Game drives are conducted in open 4x4 vehicles by knowledgeable safari guides. Special game viewing seats provide excellent viewing and opportunities for photography. Night drives set out in the afternoon. Later, after watching the sun set over the river with a sundowner in hand, the drive continues with a powerful spotlight. The nocturnal world of the bush unfolds – from owls and genets to hunting lion and elusive leopard.
Day 5 & 6
SOUTH LUANGWA VALLEY
After an early breakfast at Chindeni, set off on your walking trail to Chamilandu, arriving in time for hearty brunch. Chamilandu Bush Camp is a stylish camp with raised chalets on timber platforms above the Luangwa's banks. These have sweeping 180-degree views of the river- wake up in the morning and watch the sun rise over the hills from your bed. The chalets are fitted with wrought iron, brass and natural fabrics - luxury and comfort in the heart of the African bush.
During your stay in this area you continue to explore the valley by foot. The guides will introduce you, not only to the obvious delights of the big five, but also to the more complex and fascinating details of wildlife activity and habitat on the ground. They also provide insight as how to track spoor, to listen for warning sounds of predators approaching, to know and distinguish medicinal plants, etc. Game drives are also available.
LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK
After a short morning game walk, you are driven to Mfuwe Lodge for brunch with game viewing on the way. You are then are transferred to the Mfuwe Airport where you board your flight for Royal Airstrip in the Lower Zambezi. Upon arrival at Royal, you are met and transferred to Chongwe River Camp.
The camp is situated on the confluence of the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers (opposite Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park). Under a complete canopy of huge Winterthorn Acacias (Albidas), it is such an unrivalled site that David Livingstone used it twice on his travels of the north bank of the Zambezi. The chalets are well appointed Mulati tents under thatch, with a luxury open-air attached bathroom. All fittings are made from natural materials found near the lodge.
Powerboat or canoeing safaris are available from the camp anytime, and are manned by expert guides who steer you as you explore the numerous interesting channels and islands in search of the many photographic opportunities that invariably arise. Fishing for the world-renowned "Tiger fish" is also available. You also have the option to take game drives or game walks in the Lower Zambezi National Park which is remote and unspoiled with a diverse range of eco-systems, offering stunning scenery and varied wildlife viewing.
The Park is home to large herds of elephant and buffalo and lion are common. Regular plains game sightings include kudu, zebra, impala, warthog, bushbuck and baboons. There are large pods of hippo in the river directly in front of the lodge, as well as crocodile. Wild-dog and leopard do occur in the Lower Zambezi National Park, but are not commonly sighted. The diversity of birdlife is impressive, as is the setting with the river against the backdrop of the escarpment.
Chongwe River Camp
LUSAKA/ IN TRANSIT
After your morning game activity, you are transferred to the Royal Airstrip for your scheduled charter flight to Lusaka on onward.