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My first TR - a return to South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Parks


Tdgraves

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Tdgraves

My first trip report.

 

As there has been a plethora of TRs to South Luangwa in the past few weeks (@@TonyQ, @@Safaridude, @@ZaminOz to name but a few), I will try and keep my words brief at the risk of repetition.

 

Zambia was the first place we ever went on a full time safari and is therefore the first place we have revisited. Our trip in 2009 (supposed to be a once in a lifetime holiday) was planned to coincide with my husbands 40th birthday and was therefore the excuse for the vast expense! We had seen Sausage Tree Camp on a travel programme years previously and after requesting the brochure, realised it would have to be far into the future (as STC is very expensive). Given that Chris was born in Luanshya, it seemed rather fitting to be back in his birthplace(ish) 40 years later. As we currently cant stretch to a Botswana tour (it is on our list though) and are not keen on crowds (Kenya), this year meant a repeat visit somewhere. We have just moved house and any sensible couple wouldnt have then gone on a blow-out safari, but we had DIY-ed ourselves in (or should that be DYI do yourself in) and needed a break! There is nothing as relaxing as getting up at 5am every day ;). We booked in June or July I think (hoping that we could get away without a fix, I guess) but very late for peak season. So I rang Expert Africa and asked them where the best value safari was that they could offer us. They managed to beat their 2009 price, but largely because we stayed outside the park in LZNP, I think. However, they went out of their way to keep a repeat customer happy.

 

We flew on the now cancelled Heathrow to Lusaka BA overnight flight on a Friday. I would say that it was 99% full, including business and world traveller plus, but what do I know about the airline business? After being whisked through security, there was a short wait until out flight to Mfuwe. Just enough time to pay for the bags to be overweight (see http://safaritalk.net/topic/11519-beware-proflight-excess-baggage-criteria/?hl=%2Bbeware+%2Bproflight) and have a coffee surprisingly good cappuccino in the terminal (and they take Dollars). Luckily it was a larger small plane (very technical I know), as my husband gets travel sickness L

 

Itinerary 2013

SLNP 7 nights: Nkwali 2, Tena Tena 3, Nsefu 2, with Robin Pope Safaris (discount for staying 7 nights or more)

LZNP 5 nights: Chongwe River Camp (as everywhere inside the park was full due to the late notice as an aside, they are already pretty much full in Chiawa for next year)

 

Comparison from 2009

 

Itinerary 2009

SLNP 8 nights: Kapani 3, Nsolo 2, Kakuli 3, with Norman Carr Safaris (I think....)

LZNP 4 nights: Sausage Tree Camp 2 (no space for 4, despite booking 9 months in advance!!), Chiawa 2

 

Dates exactly 1 week earlier in 2009

 

Weather much colder in 2009: As we stepped off the plane in Lusaka, there was definitely a chill in the air and I needed 6 layers on a morning game drive for the first few days (but I am a girl) and it was noticeably cold getting out of bed in the mornings. However, there it was heating up day on day. This year was hot getting hotter and very dry.

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Tdgraves

Day 1

We were met in the terminal at Mfuwe for the short drive to Nkwali, with one other passenger and we had an enclosed vehicle, which was nice after travelling all night. We had a lovely elephant sighting right outside camp to welcome us to Zambia. Difficult to photograph though, given all of the branches.....

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stokeygirl

Ha, ha, another case of there's no such thing as a "once in a lifetime" safari.

 

When was your trip? You mentioned you booked in June/July but I can't see the dates of the trip.

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Tdgraves

@@stokeygirl you are right - at least now we can afford it (sort of)

I thought that I had included the dates - 6-19th September

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Tdgraves

Nkwali is situated on a beautiful site, right on the rivers’ edge. The bar area is open and leisurely bird watching is excellent. The dining “room” overlooks a small lagoon, but there was not much water left in it, given the exceedingly dry season.

 

We arrived in time for a quick shower before lunch and a brief siesta prior to our first game drive proper. The rooms have been discussed elsewhere on ST, but are spacious and airy.

 

The most noticeable difference between 2009 and 2013 was the lack of water. The pontoon was not required to enter the park, we just drove across: the water barely halfway up the tyres. This probably meant that there were more vehicles entering the park here rather than the Mfuwe gate. You can see this by the tide mark on the eles legs

 

 

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Safari Cal

Great start and don't worry about other peoples TRs, just go for it... I was soundly told off for taking that approach! :D The Baby Elephants photo is fantastic.

 

I used to live in Waterbeach (moved north in 2008), great memories from living in the Cambridge area.

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@@Tdgraves

Great start - I am looking forwards to this

Don't worry about other reports - it is at a different time, you will see different things, but also we will be getting your response to it, I think all of that helps people get a broader perspective on a park. I always enjoy reading different reports of the same area to get a better understanding of what it is like - so don't hold back.

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Tdgraves

Great start and don't worry about other peoples TRs, just go for it... I was soundly told off for taking that approach! :D The Baby Elephants photo is fantastic.

 

I used to live in Waterbeach (moved north in 2008), great memories from living in the Cambridge area.

 

Thanks @@Safari Cal - I just didn't want to be repetitive

We only moved in January, so I haven't explored that much yet - too much DYI!!

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Tdgraves

@@Tdgraves

Great start - I am looking forwards to this

Don't worry about other reports - it is at a different time, you will see different things, but also we will be getting your response to it, I think all of that helps people get a broader perspective on a park. I always enjoy reading different reports of the same area to get a better understanding of what it is like - so don't hold back.

 

Thanks @@TonyQ it seems like you all have the same opinion. Now I'll have to start writing the next part

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Soukous

@@Tdgraves you've got us hooked - waiting for more

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Tdgraves

PS @@Game Warden perhaps you could correct my title typo?

 

thanks Matt - speed typing in my haste

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michael-ibk

A very enjoyable start, look forward to your experiences. Nearly every trip report here covers areas that others have already described in prio reports. Doesn´t matter, everyone has different writing styles, experiences and perspectives that are "fresh" and make every new report fun to read.

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Tdgraves

@@Tdgraves you've got us hooked - waiting for more

 

Thanks @@Soukous now I have to try uploading to the gallery as I'm not sure I like the reduction in resolution - that'll be my wekend sorted then ;)

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Tdgraves

Day 1 Nkwali continued

 

 

Was planning on inserting a video here, but it loooks as if I have to upload it to YouTube first....

 

It was a fairly quiet drive, I think because we didn’t cover much distance. It was just nice to be back out in the bush. We saw a nice Martial Eagle sitting in a tree, but it just too far for the lenses to cope with.

 

Lovely to see a Puku again though.

 

 

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Tdgraves

There has been a fair amount of chatter on ST about how busy it is in the Mfuwe sector of the park. We didn’t really see many other vehicles, apart from at the river crossing. I think we saw more last time when we were staying at Kapani, as we entered over the bridge.

 

 

And no sooner had we started the night drive, than we found this splendid fellow resting at the side of the road. We had the better part of the sighting, as when the next vehicle arrived, he left! This is Chris’ picture as his camera has a better sensor for low light.

 

 

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Safaridude

Outstanding @@Tdgraves

 

Thanks to you I can get my Luangwa fix again. Very interested to hear and see more about "the other side" of the river.

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stokeygirl

@@Tdgraves if you were entering via the Nkwali pontoon (or driving across at the same place if the river was low enough) then that's not the Mfuwe sector of the park.

 

If you look at a map, the pontoon goes into an area of the park around Chichele Presidential Lodge and Puku Ridge. I just call it the Chichele area- you probably saw Chichele Lodge which has lots of white buildings on a hill. That area is a fair bit to the south of the main gate, and is a lot less busy as there are only a few camps there (Chichele, Puku Ridge and Kuyenda), and a few camps that use the pontoon. I like that area a lot, and it is a lot less busy than the Mfuwe sector, which is the area you would have been in if you entered via the bridge and the main gate.

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twaffle

Looking forward to reading more. Learning a lot about these Zambian parks which is good.

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Tdgraves

@@Tdgraves if you were entering via the Nkwali pontoon (or driving across at the same place if the river was low enough) then that's not the Mfuwe sector of the park.

 

If you look at a map, the pontoon goes into an area of the park around Chichele Presidential Lodge and Puku Ridge. I just call it the Chichele area- you probably saw Chichele Lodge which has lots of white buildings on a hill. That area is a fair bit to the south of the main gate, and is a lot less busy as there are only a few camps there (Chichele, Puku Ridge and Kuyenda), and a few camps that use the pontoon. I like that area a lot, and it is a lot less busy than the Mfuwe sector, which is the area you would have been in if you entered via the bridge and the main gate.

 

Thanks for the clarification @@stokeygirl - that makes much more sense!

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Tdgraves

Looking forward to reading more. Learning a lot about these Zambian parks which is good.

 

Dear @@twaffle I don't think I can live up to your epic TRs but I am surprised that you have never been - you absolutely must go, ASAP!!

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@@Tdgraves - yeah! another South Luangwa trip report. You're doing great! I am looking forward to the rest!

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