Zambia’s Raw Beauty & Wild Reserves (Part 2)

In Part One of her travels, Jenny took us to two of our favourite Victoria Falls lodges: Tongabezi and Sussi & Chuma. In this post, Part Two, she shares her experiences in the Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa.

Zambia is an excellent safari destination: vast, game-rich reserves; small camps in beautiful settings; and some of the best guides in the business! Yet even the country’s best-known park, the South Luangwa, is relatively unexplored. The low visitor numbers add to that feeling of being in the true African wilderness and make Zambia a top choice for an authentic African safari.

Lower Zambezi National Park

The flight from Livingstone to Lusaka takes just over an hour, followed by a light aircraft hop into the Lower Zambezi. Lying just across the Zambezi River from Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, this wild and scenic reserve is known for its large herds of buffalo and elephant, rivers full of hippo, and good predator population with regular sightings of both leopard and lion.

Chongwe River Camp
Chongwe River Camp has a peaceful setting in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi.

Chongwe River Camp

Jenny spent the night at Chongwe River Camp, which has a really beautiful setting on the bank of the Zambezi. Elephant feed on seed pods and tree branches, and hippo are often seen wandering around (the camp is unfenced).

Chongwe’s nine Classic Safari Tents each have a thatched roof and shaded veranda overlooking the river. For families or friends travelling together, there’s the Albida Suite: two bedroom tents on either side of a shared lounge and dining area, as well as a private plunge pool. At the time of Jenny’s visit, there were three families staying at Chongwe River Lodge!

That said, this is a great option for honeymooners too, particularly the spacious Cassia Suite. Built in the same style as the Albida Suite, it also has an outdoor (canopied) lounge and dining area, plunge pool, and small but well-stocked bar. Both suites have butler service.

Tented luxury at Chongwe
Chongwe’s tented lounge, and a lovely brunch on the riverbank.
Activities at Chongwe
Game drive with a leopard sighting and boat trip back along the river.

The morning started with a delicious eggs-and-bacon breakfast cooked over the fire, then it was time for a game drive. Driving around Jenny only really saw vehicles from Chongwe River Camp, no one else. The game viewing was good too: a leopard, lion, lots of elephants, hippo and a fair amount of giraffe were amongst the sightings.

South Luangwa National Park

Unless a direct charter flight is booked, travellers currently have to go back to Lusaka before flying to South Luangwa. This is set to change in June 2017, when Proflight launches a direct service between the Lower Zambezi and Mfuwe Airport (the gateway to the South Luangwa).

The South Luangwa is famous for walking safaris and remote bush camps. Jenny stayed at three of these camps, all run by Norman Carr Safaris.

Breakfast in the South Luangwa
Days at the bush camps started with breakfast cooked over the fire.

Norman Carr Bush Camps

Jenny highly recommends these camps for more adventurous travellers who really want that feeling of being in the wild. Chalets are built of reed and thatch and, lying in bed at night, you can hear hippo and elephant munching on the other side of the walls.

Even at the most basic of the three camps, you’ll still have tasty meals, chilled drinks, and comfortable beds made up with crisp linen. But it is very simple with food cooked over the fire, outdoor bathrooms lit by the moon and faint glow of a lamp, and no fences anywhere!

These camps are built for walking enthusiasts. The distance between them ranges from around 10 to 18 km (6 to 11 miles) and guests can opt to walk or be driven from camp to camp.

Luwi Bush Camp in the South Luangwa
The most basic of the three, Luwi Camp, with its en-suite bathroom.
Nsolo Camp
Nsolo Camp’s chalets are slightly larger and have a lounge area.

Game viewing was good at all the comes, although sometimes Jenny found that they had to do quite a bit of driving before they came across one of the Big 5, wild dog or hyena. But it was well worth it, the game rangers were fantastic and their knowledge of the smaller animals, birdlife and vegetation are outstanding!

All in all, Jenny’s Zambia safari was a wonderful trip which she thoroughly enjoyed.

If you have any more questions, you can drop us an email or take a look at more South Luangwa lodges.