Following on from our feature on ‘How to plan the perfect safari’, in Issue 82, we asked five leading tour operators to share some more specially prepared itineraries to help you organise your adventure in this glorious southern African country
1 On the road: the best of Zambia
Day 1: Arrive Lusaka, transfer to Mama Tembo Cheza, a private guesthouse on a five-acre wooded plot in a quiet, rural area of the capital.
Day 2: Take a half-day or full day-tour of the city; there are also some lovely walks and do-it-yourself birding around the guesthouse.
Day 3: Fly to Mfuwe, gateway to South Luangwa National Park. Here you have a choice of accommodation: either Kafunta River Lodge, which overlooks a game-rich flood plain, or the four-tent Nkonzi Camp, which is inside the park itself.
Days 4-5: Morning and afternoon/night drives, plus the opportunity to take a walking safari and, if staying at Nkonzi, a full-day game drive.
Day 6: Transfer by vehicle through the game-rich Nsefu sector of the Luangwa Valley to Luambe National Park, arriving at Luambe Lodge, which overlooks one of the Luangwa River’s largest hippo pods – in time for an afternoon game drive.
Day 7: A full day to explore Luambe National Park. Activities include: game drives, walking safaris, birding and hippo watching.
Day 8: A six-hour scenic drive between Luambe NP and North Luangwa NP, which takes you through rural Zambia; stay at Buffalo Camp on the Mwaleshi River.
Day 9: As there are limited game tracks in North Luangwa, walking safaris are the main activity in this true wilderness.
Day 10: Drive up the Luangwa Valley escarpment to exit the park, heading for Kapishya Hot Springs on the private Shiwa Ng’andu Estate. The 100 sq km estate offers good walking and horseback riding. Birding is also excellent.
Day 11: Take a tour of the Shiwa house before spending the rest of the day enjoying the beautiful gardens, swimming pool and hot springs.
Day 12: A five-hour drive to Mutinondo Wilderness, a private preserve of indigenous woodland. September is the month known for the miombo flush, when the forests turn red and yellow.
Day 13: Explore the Mutinondo Wilderness on foot. A guided, full-day hike down the escarpment to Mutinondo Waterfalls can be arranged in advance.
Day 14: Drive back to Lusaka along the Lusaka Great North Road.
Recommended by Mama Tembo Tours
2 A sense of adventure
Day 1: Fly from Lusaka to Shumba in Kafue National Park. Transfer by game drive/mokoro to Shumba Camp for your four-night stay.
Days 2-4: Kafue is vast, remote and utterly wild, and Shumba is the perfect camp from which to explore it. Panoramic floodplain views are dotted with herds of puku and lechwe. Several lion pride territories meet here at the ‘lion’s camp.’ Activities include day and night game drives, and when the Busanga Plains are covered in water, you can enjoy game viewing from the water.
Days 5-7: Fly to Chiawa Camp in the Lower Zambezi, your home for the next three nights. Located on the banks of the Zambezi River, Chiawa Camp holds the prime position in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park. Activities include day and night game drives, bush walks, canoe and boat trips and fishing.
Day 8-11: Fly to Chinzombo by Norman Carr Safaris for four nights in the South Luangwa. The 60-acre riverside location teems with wildlife and has direct access to the national park on the opposite riverbank. South Luangwa is renowned for its walking safaris, which Norman Carr pioneered.
Day 12: Transfer to Lusaka for onward connections.
Recommended by Pulse Africa
INSIDER TIP: Float high above the Kafue plains in a hot air balloon, the best way to see this scenic and remote ecosystem while looking out for wildlife below. Pulse Africa
3 Let’s go for a walk
Days 1-5: Transfer to Mfuwe in the South Luangwa. Your safari will start before you even arrive at Nkonzi Camp, with the journey taking you through villages before entering the park itself. This intimate tented camp is set on the dry Mushilashi River and has this area of the park pretty much to itself. Game viewing is a mixture of walking and driving safaris, with the emphasis placed on exploring the area on foot.
Days 5-9: Your drive from Nkonzi Camp will follow the eastern bank of the Luangwa River upstream for some four hours to the little-visited Luambe National Park. Luambe Camp, your home for the next four nights, sits on the bank of the Luangwa River and gives you exclusive access to this park.
Days 9-11: Transfer to Livingstone, where you will stay at Chundukwa Camp, situated on a high bank commanding wonderful views of the Zambezi River. There are numerous activities in the Livingstone area that can be arranged from camp.
Day 11: Transfer to Livingstone International Airport for your onward connections.
Recommended by Zambian Ground Handlers
4 It’s a wild, wildlife
Days 1-4: If you’re in search of wildlife, look no further than Tafika Camp. The camp is located just outside the Nsefu Sector of the South Luangwa National Park and offers some of the finest leopard sightings in Zambia, not to mention the wealth of game that roams the park. Additional activities include microlight flights, mountain bike safaris, walks and visits to Mkasanga village.
Days 4-7: Transfer to the Lower Zambezi for three nights at Old Mondoro. With only four rooms, the camp is the smallest on the Lower Zambezi and enables guests to experience perhaps the most intimate part of the park.
Days 7-10: At a scarcely believable 22,000 sq km, Kafue National Park is home to a variety of habitats that result in a great diversity of wildlife. This is where you’ll find Shumba Camp. The intimate camp of six luxury tents offers the chance to explore one of Zambia’s relatively unknown parks. A particular highlight is the lion viewing. Activities include night drives and boating when the plains are covered in water.
Day 10: Take the final chance to spot game on your way to the airstrip as you fly back to Lusaka. Alternatively, fly to Livingstone and add a few days in the Victoria Falls area.
Recommended by Rhino Africa
INSIDER TIP: The Luangwa Valley has long held a reputation for being the best place to view leopard. However, it is now finding itself being surpassed in terms of the number of quality sightings by the Lower Zambezi. Zambian Ground Handlers
5. Going bush
Days 1-4: Arrive in Lusaka and connect by air to the Lower Zambezi National Park, where you will spend three nights at Chongwe River Camp. Activities include day and night game drives, canoeing, fishing, walking safaris and even the chance to sleep out under the stars.
Days 4-7: Connect with scheduled air transfer to Mfuwe, gateway to South Luangwa National Park. Transfer to Mwamba Bushcamp, situated in the Luangwa Valley, for four nights. The area is particularly suited to exploring on foot – with very few other visitors and an abundance of wildlife around every turn.
Days 8-10: Transfer through to the southern sector of the park for three nights at the Chamilandu, a classic bushcamp comprising three stilted chalets in a remote wilderness location. An array of habitats and lagoons provide ample game viewing opportunities by vehicle, on foot or even relaxing in the camp’s hide.
Day 11: Transfer back to Mfuwe for your scheduled flight to Lusaka and onward connections.
Recommended by Safari Consultants