Jump to content

Lower Zambezi - September 2013


Recommended Posts

Trip Report, Lower Zambezi NP, Zambia. September 2013

This is my first trip report, so please be kind.




First, where are we? Lower Zambezi is in the far south east corner of Zambia. It is on the banks of the Zambezi (!), opposite Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, and just before the river flows into Mozambique. There are two air strips serving the park, and it’s only a short flight from Lusaka. Here is a map:





There are about half a dozen lodges strung out along the river, and the park does not seem at all crowded. We stayed for five nights at Sausage Tree camp, which is round about the middle of the park. We stayed in late September, when it is getting rather hot. The beauty of being by the river is that is does keep things just a few degrees cooler.


The main action in the park is in a fairly narrow strip along the river. Most of the regular Zambian wildlife is there, with the exception of giraffes, though leopards are hard to find. There is good birding there, though we needed an excellent guide to find it. There are also birding areas further back from the river (though be prepared to do battle with tsetse flies!)


Sausage Tree Camp


Sausage Tree is a fairly typical good Zambian lodge. There are (I think) seven two person “tents” spread along the river, and a central dining and bar area. . One slight difference from some other camps is that you are assigned a “butler” who look after you, your tent, your washing, and so on, for the length of your stay. There are a lot of elephants in the camp. Indeed, each tent has a two way radio so that you can summon a vehicle of the walk to dinner looks too hazardous. This one was in touching distance.




This is a view of the dining area from the river:




And our home for our stay.




The camp is well managed, and has a variety of activities. As well as the usual game drives (day and night) and walks, there is fishing, canoeing and “safari drifting”, by boat. The camp has sufficient guides that it’s usually possible to do what you want when you want, though it helps to give a bit of notice. Rather than do a day by day account, I think I’ll treat each activity in turn (except for walks, which I can no longer do, though I have in the past and they are very pleasant).


Game Drives


Probably not too much to say, here. There are lions, of course.






And little




And other African animals and birds.


























*** Cheat Alert ***

Fishing for tigers (fish!) is great fun, but I failed this time, so here is one from an earlier trip. Best to let the guide take the hook out – those teeth are coated with anti-coagulant, one scratch and you’ll bleed for a day or more.








Canoeing I along the Chifungulu Channel, a side branch of the Zambezi.




The red flowers are from the chifungulu vine, which gives the channel it name. The trip lasts around half a day, with just yourself and a guide in the canoe. You can either paddle yourself, or, if you are like me, sit in the front with a camera and let the guide do the paddling.


You’ll see lots of hippos:
















And if you are lucky the rare five legged elephant (ladies, look away now).





And whatever else may be around. Highly recommended!






“Safari Drift”


That’s my name for it. You go out on a boat on the Zambezi, preferably in the afternoon, just drift down and see what is around. Then, sundowners in the middle of the river, and motor back to camp (or, if you prefer, you can probably be picked up by a car for a night drive). Perfect end to a day.



















I strongly recommend Lower Zambezi as an add-on to a dry land safari trip. Probably four or five nights is sufficient, and I would ideally do it at the end of the trip. Sausage Tree is an excellent camp, though I’m sure there are others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Loved the picture of the back-lit hippo with his reflection in the water. Pictures of animals shot from the low level of a boat give a welcome change in perspective. Enjoyed the trip report. Thanks for posting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You asked us to be kind, but can we just be thankful instead? Great summary of Lower Zambezi - I know feel I know everything I need to decide when to go there. Well before the end I was thinking "What a great place to end a safari" and then you said it! Some great pictures in there too. Really an enjoyable read, and since I have never been to Zimbabwe, I really appreciated the map.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice succinct report. Some lovely images.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You asked us to be kind, but can we just be thankful instead? Great summary of Lower Zambezi - I know feel I know everything I need to decide when to go there. Well before the end I was thinking "What a great place to end a safari" and then you said it! Some great pictures in there too. Really an enjoyable read, and since I have never been to Zimbabwe, I really appreciated the map.


Zambia!!!!!!!! :o


Never post anything on the internet after midnight!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting your TR and photos. I particularly liked the feeding yellow billed storks and the photo of the ele striding through the water at Chifungulu.


Carmine bee-eaters are a particular favourite of mine, although I have yet to see them. The photo of the backlit hippo is a thoughtful study.

Edited by Treepol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We loved Sausage Tree as well and in fact you caught the tiger fish in my boat, I recognize the front. The canoe trip while very exciting I'm not sure was very safe.... Small channel filled with nervousness hippos.


Thank you for bringing it all back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not many reviews of Lower Zambezi so thanks for this, very nice to read.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@PCNW you were correct to be nervous, the woman in the canoe in front of me was flipped by a hippo when we were there in 2009 - very scary


@@twaffle - there will be another one soon when I finish my tr (currently on last day in SLNP)...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Tdgraves prior to my trip I had seen a documentary about canoeing on small channels on the Zambezi river where the young bride was killed and another incidence where a woman was badly injured. I have a video of a hippo charging us. But I use the fail safe method of believing that if I can't see them then they can't see me. I focused on my shoes and paddled as fast as I could.....and it worked!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@PCNW @@Tdgraves @@PCNW


This is definitely one of those situations where you are very dependent on the skill of the guide. At one point the guide was not certain of the mood of one of the hippos, so we got off, walked and towed the canoes round that part of the channel. The risk did seem worth it to me - but then we weren't flipped. (Though definitely less hairy than the rafting below Vic Falls :o - I guess a few of you on here will have done that!)



Link to comment
Share on other sites

The most worrying thing was that when they radioed back to camp for the land rover to pick us up, the answer to our location was "in the usual place"......

This rather suggests to me that it is too common an occurence. We didn't go canoeing at our recent stay in Chongwe and have been wary of hippos, even in large boats ever since


As an aside, the lady who was "bumped" (such a ridiculous term for an aggressive and violent behaviour) had a lifelong fear of being attacked by hippos and her husband had spent weeks convincing her to do it. Needless to say, their minibar (which I am not sure that you have mentioned in your TR @davidedric), had to be topped up!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lovely TR @@davidedric

Lower Zambezi can be a lot of fun. I've only been once, on a 4 day canoing trip but keep promising I will go back.

I was with a group friends, all tour operators from around the world, and remember canoeing in amongs the hippos and our guide (the wonderful Herman Miles) being terrified that something would happen to us because if antything did happen he would lose his agents from UK, Australia, Canada and USA all in one fell swoop.


It was quite something to canoe past a sandbank and see a hippo standing out of the water looking down at us. Thankfully he didn't jump in until we'd passed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Thank you for this - very enjoyable (though the later added stories of hippos are less so!)

I really like the drift photos - lovely light on the waterbuck in particular

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great report on land or drifting. Your tiger fish is not cheating, just poetic license. Thanks for sharing both sharing and rekindling memories. You taught me why chifungulu is so named. Wasn't that a magnificent canoe outing on the channel?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy