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First time in Zimbabwe & considering Kafue NP in Zambia. Help please with itinerary suggestions.


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We are planning a self-drive safari to Zimbabwe in May/June 2020. Having only done one other self-drive trip to Namibia & Botswana in 2018, which we absolutely loved, we are now planning a trip for May/June 2020. We are totally newbies. We had never driven a 4x4 before our trip to Namibia/Botswana, or camped with wildlife like this. We will be renting a 4x4 with RTT in Kasane, Botwana, spending a few days in Chobe, before heading into Hwange NP and then Mana Pools.  We live in New Zealand and this may be the last time we will visit this area. Our main interest is the wildlife!  Although the scenery is beautiful in NZ, we have very little wildlife here. 


This is the rough itinerary we have so far and are looking for suggestions that might help us improve it. As we will be returning the 4x4 to Kasane, we can either come back through Zimbabwe or I am now considering driving back through Zambia and going to Kafue NP on the way back to Kasane. 
 

If we don't go to Kafue NP, we will drive back from Mana in Zimbabwe, so day 29 onwards would be in Zimbabwe. 

 

Possible itinerary: Kasane/Kasane
1. Arrive Kasane ~ May 16th??    Airbnb
2. Kasane – pick up 4x4.  Senyati Camp 

3. Senyati – Chobe river boat trip, stock up  

4. Chobe ~ Ihaha  
5. Chobe ~ Ihaha  
6. Kasane (stock up) Senyati camp 
7.  Hwange NP – Robins; Cross border at Panda?

8.  Hwange NP – Robins – don’t book
9.  Hwange NP -Deteema 
10. Hwange NP - Deteema 
11. Hwange NP – Masuma dam 
12. Hwange NP -  Sinamatella 

13. exit park & go to Hwange to stock up;  Hwange NP – Main camp
14. Hwange NP – Guvala Platform

15. Hwange NP -  Ngweshla

16. Hwange NP – Ngweshla
17. Hwange NP – Kennedy 1 

18. Hwange to stock up; Chizarira NP – Mucheni View
19. Chizarira NP - Mucheni View
20. GacheGache
21. GacheGache 
 (is 1 night enough?) 
22. Kariba – stock up & camp
23.  Mana Pools NP -  Chitake 1
24.  Mana Pools NP -  Chitake 1
25.  Mana Pools NP - Chitake 1
26.  Mana Pools NP -  Mucheni 2 or 3
27.  Mana Pools NP -  Mucheni 2 or 3
28.  Mana Pools NP – Mucheni 2 or 3

29. ??
30. Cross border Chirundu - find a camp on way to Kafue??
31. Kafue NP??

32. Kafue NP??

33. Kafue NP??

34. Kafue NP??

35. Kafue NP??

36. ??

37. Victoria Falls

38. Kasane drop off 4x4
39. Fly out

 

Any help or suggestions are appreciated!!! 

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Peter Connan

Welcome to ST. Looks like a wonderful itinerary! I presume you have taken the time to read some trip reports here? They will tell you much more than any couple of replkes can.

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Hi Peter, 
Thanks for replying. I really appreciate it!
 I've only been a member for one day and I have read some Trip reports about Kafue but I'm still not clear whether it's worth it or not in mid-June. And if so, which part of the park to visit.   We definitely want to go to Hwange & Mana Pools, I'm just not that clear about going to Kafue NP and am hoping someone can help me make that decision. 
Living in NZ and being such newbies, there is so much to learn and sort through all the available info. 

Edited by debk
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Help please!  We did our first self-drive safari to Namibia and Botswana last year and loved it so much that we are now planning our next African adventure for May/June 2020. We will be renting a 4x4 with RTT in Kasane & returning it there.
So far our itinerary includes Chobe, Hwange & Mana Pools. Now we just need to decide whether we will travel back through Zimbabwe or to go north and visit Kafue NP on the way back to Kasane. 
I have only been a member for one day and have read some of the Kafue trip reports but am unclear whether it's worth going to Kafue in mid-June and if so, which part of the park to visit and which camps. We will have @ 7 -8 days to get from Mana to Kasane. 
Any help or suggestions are appreciated.

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Tdgraves

Hi @debk and welcome to ST

 

i have merged your two topics as they are essentially the same

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JulieM

Hi debK,

We are also in NZ, and we did a 4 month trip through southern and east Africa last year. We have visited all of the areas you mention including Kafue. I have to say we were underwhelmed with Kafue when we were there - lots of tsetse flies and hardly any game, so I wouldn’t particularly recommend it myself. I’d spend more time in Botswana if I were you - it was our favourite country for wildlife and for the camping. 

Feel free to PM me if you want to chat more. I wrote a trip report for our trip, but it was on another forum...

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Thanks, @JulieM. Will PM and would love to chat. 
Would also love to read your trip report. 

 

Edited by debk
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Peter Connan

Unfortunately I have not been to Zambia, and can't answer your primary question.

 

However, for 25 years, I had the incredible fortune to go to one specific place several times a year. And sometimes we saw lots, and other times we saw almost nothing. This is Africa. These areas are massive, and the game can move quite freely. When and where they move depends on a great many factors, most of which I believe are still not clearly understood.

 

If you want to be effectively guaranteed, you probably need to go to smaller private reserves like Sabi Sands and so forth. But they are expensive and relatively artificial. They achieve success with showing visitors specific animals by having relatively high densities of guides traversing the area, thus keeping fairly accurate tabs on the movement of the key animals.

 

This is just my two cents worth.

 

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Botswanadreams

Hello @debk to safaritalk.

 

If I would be you I would cancel a bit in Hwange. Sinamatella isn't be necessary in my opinion. From Masuma dam I would go directly to Ngweshla for 3 nights. Kennedy 1 covers the same area. Than go to Hwange main camp. With shopping in Hwange town it'll be a long drive to Chizarira. Be aware of this. Mucheni View is an incredible place. 

 

Kafue: for me always worth to visit - McBrides' Camp, Mayukuyuku Camp, KaingU Safari Lodge as a must, Konkamoya with the Hippo Campsite, all great places with campsites. Unfortunately as far as I know Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp closed the campsite. It'll be tricky to get to Livingstone. 

 

If you like take a short look to our homepage. Ok it was 2011 and 2012 that we were traveling to Zim and Zam. You have to struggle with Google English too. 

 

Have fun planing this adventure.  

 

 

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@Botswanadreams, thank you so much for your helpful insights. It's so hard to plan a trip like this as  Africa is so very different than any other type of camping we've done. 
re: Kafue. Have you done it in early to mid-June? And did you have a problem with tsetse flies? We haven't encountered them before but someone else suggested to skip Kafue due to them. 
Also, how long would you spend in each of the camps you mentioned? Are they usually accessible in mid-June? 
I'm doing my best to sort through all the info to make decisions as there is a lot to learn. 

Thanks again for your help! 
 

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Botswanadreams

@debk We traveled to both Zim and Zam in November. For Kafue all this Camps shouldn't be a problem in June because you can decide between the river roads and the main roads to get there. Two nights in each camp would be a must. So you have one day in between to discover the area. Tracks4Africa as digital map for a Garmin Navi for planing and traveling and the Brandt Travel Guides especially for Zambia are very helpful. Yes, Kafue has tsetse flies in some areas but not in the camps. That's Africa and when you like to discover such areas you have to live with it. The bit is a bit painful but with an Antihistamin gel you can survive.  

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@Botswanadreams, thanks for the info and your reassurance regarding tsetse flies. Still fine tuning our itinerary so your suggestions are appreciated! 

 

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Galago

@debk The Kafue is amazing but it's also enormous! Musekese Camp is exceptionally good both as a camp and for wildlife/ birds. There's a very large lagoon in front of camp which would still be wet in June and attracting a lot of stuff. There are tsetses in Kafue but Musekese has none in camp and they have placed traps over a very wide area so it's not too bad (and I react badly to the bites!). You have the option of game drives, walking and river trips.

KaingU is a good camp with superb scenery and good birding. 

You can read about Musekese in my recent TR Three Rivers Safari. I was there in October 18.  

Sounds like an amazing trip!

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Botswanadreams

@Galago Do you know if Musekese Camp also has a Campsite for individuell campers?

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optig

@Botswanadreams I can remember very well that Musekesi camp does have a self camping site for campers.Nonetheless it is one of the finest camps I have ever been to in all my safaris and I couldn't recommend it more highly enough in every way shape and form.You will love it,it is one place that without a a question I will be returning to.

 

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Galago

@Botswanadreams There's not a separate campsite. There are 4 x double tents. However, as @optig says, it's a superb camp and, if funds permit, you would do well to take time out from camping and to enjoy everything the camp has to offer, including the excellent guiding. It really is a tip top camp. 

I seem to remember that KaingU does have a campsite, but I was there in 2013 so worth checking if that's still the case.

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Thanks to everyone for your help and suggestions!  All this information and recommendations have helped with my planning. 

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tonypark

Hi Deb, I might be a bit late to this, but a couple of random points I'd like to make.

 

Re stocking up in Hwange town - it can be pretty dire there, supply wise, except for absolute basics.  I know you're going to the falls later, but maybe consider a day trip up there to stock up.  

 

Robins camp is great these days - privately run, great campsite with power, pool and new ablutions.  I'd also skip sinamatella as it's very run down.  Detema is fantastic.

 

As someone else has pointed out, make sure you allow plenty of time to do that road on the southern side of the lake as it is a shocker.

 

I had a great time in Kafue and actually drove up from the southern (Livingstone side).  Agree with the poijnt above that McBride's camp is excellent and see if Nanzhila Plains in the south of the park is still doing camping.  Ditto Konkomoyo lodge which has a rustic campsite on the edge of Lake Itezhi-tezhi, which was beautiful.  We had good game viewing there  - elephant, loads of sable, lichtenstein's hartebeest.  Heard lion a couple of times (very close at the lake), and had a brilliant leopard sighting on a boat cruise out of Mukambi camp in the centre of the park.

 

I've never stayed at gache gach.  We drove from Bing to Cjhizarria and loved it, but by the time we made it to Karoi the next day (after a long hard drive and two punctures) we were shattered!

 

cheers, Tony

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Cheers, @tonypark. Never too late to get good suggestions and advise. I am just finalising our itinerary and it continues to change with suggestions. 
Thanks for your thoughtful reply. 

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Whyone?

Again late to this, but how fixed are your dates @debk ?

 

The reason I ask is that wildlife viewing will not be great in Mana during May (particularly) / June...the park will still be very 'green' and game will be widely dispersed.  It is only really August / September / October that game becomes concentrated on the floodplain as the pools in the hinterland dry out.

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@Whyone?. Thanks for pointing that out. Unfortunately the dates are pretty fixed. I understand that we won't see as much as we would later in the year, but I am sure we will still have an amazing experience. 

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  • 1 month later...
luangwablondes

You might want to look at Matusadona. I believe that game viewing could be very good because of low water levels in the lake. I was there a couple times in the 90's and wildlife sighting was a no brainer(might want to check to see how the wildlife has fared in the ensuing years). Grazers and browsers move into the open flood plains, with predators hanging out nearby. There should be tracks(vehicles) into the flood plains, too. I haven't kept up with activities you can do with game scouts, like tracking lions on foot, hiking and camping in some areas where 'new' tracks towards the interior of the park have opened up in the past years. Also, the road to Karoi is in the process of being paved. Lucky you. When this road was a track, it was a miserable experience. I learned to take a working ferry that made stops along the way to Matusadona and Mibiza.

 

I had an amazing experience with a retired game scout. We went looking for a pride of lions. We tracked a herd a buffalo till we found the lions where they had downed a buffalo(s). With our backs to the lake, we watched as 20+ lions close and in a semi-circle in front of us, noisily dined on buffalo and fighting over meat and bone. Later I found out that the single shot rifle was not loaded and that he wasn't flush with bullets. 

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  • 3 months later...
Safari Nick

In my humble opinion Kafue is always worth the time. One of Africa's lesser known gems with plenty of good accommodation and camping options.

 

Cannot wait to get back there for another visit!

 

Good luck!

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