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LOWER ZAMBEZI JUNE 2021


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marirangwe

Despite being Zimbabwean born, and growing up there, I had never visited Mana Pools. And so ironically and many years later as a resident in the USA, a visit to Mana Pools had become part of my 'bucket list'.

For various different reasons during the the time of coronavirus it was easier to plan and visit the Lower Zambezi in Zambia than it was Mana Pools in Zimbabwe. And so I thought 'close enough'.

I left Philadelphia on the 7 June on Qatar Airways, through Doha to Johannesburg, and then on to Lusaka on Airlink. I spent a night at Wild Dogs Lodge in Lusaka before flying into Jeki on Proflight.

I was the only passenger on a four seater aircraft between Lusaka and Jeki, where I was greeted by driver/guide from Chiawa Camp, who took me down to the River, and then by boat upriver to Chiawa Camp.

 

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I spent 3 nights at Chiawa, and then went on to Anabezi for 12 nights. Both camps in my opinion are 5 star. Chiawa was a little more formal. Staff wore masks and guests did the same. My temperature wa

Despite being Zimbabwean born, and growing up there, I had never visited Mana Pools. And so ironically and many years later as a resident in the USA, a visit to Mana Pools had become part of my 'bucke

The mornings in the Lower Zambezi Park in June are cold. You will need to layer with clothes and jacket prior to the morning drive and keep a jacket handy on the evening drives too. The days are gorge

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marirangwe

I spent 3 nights at Chiawa, and then went on to Anabezi for 12 nights. Both camps in my opinion are 5 star. Chiawa was a little more formal. Staff wore masks and guests did the same. My temperature was taken once a day in camp. The tents at Chiawa were refurbished I believe in 2020, and they were very comfortable. Chiawa ask that you do not walk between your tent and the main area at any time of the day. The tents have a radio which you use to call an escourt any time you want to meander from your room. An escourt will arrive almost immediately after you call to take you to the main camp decks.

 

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marirangwe

The mornings in the Lower Zambezi Park in June are cold. You will need to layer with clothes and jacket prior to the morning drive and keep a jacket handy on the evening drives too. The days are gorgeous. Temperatures during my visit, apart from early morning and evening, ranged between the mid 70's (F) to lower 80's. Not quite warm enough to make use of the swimming pools or sun bathe, but very comfortable non-the-less.

 

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marirangwe

To back track a little. On the basis of what I saw and experienced I highly recommend Wild Dogs Lodge as a stop over, or even for a few days before or after a safari. The grounds and chalets are lovely. They are close to the airport and picked me up and returned me to same. I think I was the only guest at the time, but the small restaurant and bar took my orders and fed me a light lunch and dinner through breakfast the following morning before taking me back to the airport for my flight into Jeki.

Guest numbers were very low. At both Chiawa and Anabezi there were no more than two-three tents occupied at any time. At Anabezi I was the only guest on at least one night. Guest service at both camps was superb. The staff were delightful. Food was very good.

 

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marirangwe

Hope you enjoy the report and photographs as I have enjoyed the many reports that members have taken the time and effort to post. I am still sorting photographs and will post same as available.

I consider myself a keen amateur photographer. My equipment on this trip was the Canon 7D mk 2 coupled with the older Canon 400 mm 5.6 zoom lens (without image stabilizer) and the Canon ef-s 24 mm f/2.8 stm for wider shots/landscape.

 

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marirangwe

Please feel free to message me if you plan a trip to same destination and have questions. Also I welcome photo critique and or tips/recommendation in regard to photography. Thanks.

Poor focus on these, but second photo includes water buck, baboon, crocodiles, egyptian goose, and birds, all in the same scene.

 

 

 

 

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marirangwe

The dambo's are so scenic. Ringed with massive trees like the Winter Thorn and Mahogany and invariably hosting  lots of the waders and other birds. They're nice to stop and park off at, for a cup of coffee in the morning or a G&T in the evening.

 

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Caracal

Am enjoying following this TR @marirangwebut confess to a tinge of envy being in homebound Oz!

Just wondering how full the Qatar flight was and what protocols you had to go through with tests etc. at the airports.

Have you posted in the Introductions section?

Looking forward to more.

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Kitsafari

Thank you @marirangwe for an enjoyable start to your TR! always wonderful to partake in someone else's trip, especially in this restricted travel days in my part of the world. 

 

I echo @Caracal 's questions on QA and the gamut of protocols you had to run through in doha and lusaka. Im also curious as to why you didn't do a direct flight from doha to lusaka and instead flew through J'burg? 

Chiawa looks very comfortable and very pleasant but I wonder why guests needed escorts during the day to the main tent? typically camps don't do escorts during daylight unless wildlife is really prolific in the camp itself?

 

 

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NSY

Thanks in advance for this TR

I am looking forward to this not least as booked in Anabezi next July. It is a pity there are not direct flights from UK to Lusaka as there used on my last trip to Zambia.

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Toxic

Thank you for sharing - looking forward to seeing more!

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Biko

Thanks for sharing, so good to read and see your experiences.

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marirangwe

@CaracalI flew business class with Qatar so did not get to assess how full the main cabin was. Premium cabin was at about 70% capacity I'm guessing. It was the same on all legs of the trip and the return flights.

As far as testing and protocols I was apprehensive prior to the trip. In fact I questioned myself constantly as to  whether it was worth the hassle and risk. However I had no problems at all. I armed myself with a rapid PCR test timed to get me all the way through to Lusaka. (within 72 hours) and also my CDC card that showed I had received both inoculations. The proof of inoculation was for Zambia, who had just revised their requirements prior to my trip. Zambia classified South Africa as high risk and because I was coming through Johannesburg that would have meant mandatory quarantine on arrival UNLESS I could show proof of being FULLY vaccinated. At Philadelphia on departure, at the check in counter Qatar took a long hard look at my negative covid test before handing it back to me. On arrival In Johannesburg staff check your covid test certificate while you are waiting in line to go through the immigration counter. Airlink checked both my covid test certificate and my CDC innoculation card the following day, at the check in counter on departure to Lusaka. On arrival in Lusaka I had my temperature taken as soon as I entered the arrivals hall, and then payed for my entry visa, and got my passport stamped. I was through to baggage claim literally within 10-15 minutes. (I was the first passenger off the airlink flight). No one in Lusaka asked for any documentation pertaining to test/inoculation. I can only assume airlink had entered proof of such in the system and therefore I was good to go.

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marirangwe

@KitsafariQatar has only just added the direct flight between Doha and Lusaka (and on to Harare). At the time of booking and travel this was not an option. Both Ethiopian and Emirates fly into Lusaka, however these airlines do not fly out of Philadelphia, which is my home airport. An Emirates premium class air fare is also more than twice the cost of same on Qatar. With regards an escourt at Chiawa. Although the camp sits directly on the banks of the Zambezi, thick bush abuts the back of the camp and I'm told its common that lone buffalo hang out in this thick bush and often wander into camp, behind the guest tents. The old 'dagga' boys are grumpy and can be very dangerous if surprised by a person on foot.

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marirangwe

@NSY I think you are going to enjoy Anabezi. As I have said the early mornings can be very cold on the safari vehicles. Be prepared. July may be a little colder still, than June was on my trip. The early morning mist coming off the water in front of camp is lovely, and the days warm up nicely by late morning. By the time you leave next year there may well be the option of a direct flight from the UK into Lusaka.

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marirangwe

The back of one of the tents at Chiawa Camp.

 

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marirangwe

Maribou Storks 'fishing' in the receding waters in one of the dambo's. And squabbling over an old stick for some reason.

 

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The warthog never hung around. I managed this shot of a boar and youngster, but nine out of ten sightings all you saw were the distant back end as they disappeared.

 

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marirangwe

Chiawa Camp have a policy of rotating guides. This meant that I had three different guides on the game viewing drives and on an early morning walk. All guides were personable and keen to share their knowledge of the Fauna and Flora and also the history of the area. Some of them are great story tellers, with plenty of humor interspersed with the narrative. I was the only guest on game drives because I was only one of three or four guests in camp at any time. I did share the bush walk with a young couple from California, USA. I think it was their first visit to Africa and I was very pleased for them in that they got to see Wild Dogs on one of their drives, and were very excited in telling me about it afterwards. I understand there is only one fairly large pack in the park at this time, and they roam up and down the full length of the valley, but were in the area around Chiawa at the time I visited. This meant I did not get to see them as I was only at Chiawa 3 nights before moving to Anabezi, at the other end of the park, East, a good distance down river from the Chiawa Camp area.

 

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linjudy

@Mariamarandu, thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures! We were just at Chiawa about a month ago and every day I wish we were still there :). I'm curious about the rotating guides. They mentioned that this was their policy, but we had the same guide for our entire 3 day stay, Chris, who was funny and excellent. Did you have different guides for different activities, or just a different one every day?

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NSY

Love the photos especially one of bird walking of the top of termite mound.

Is it a Swainson’s Spurfowl?

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marirangwe

@linjudy I had different guides on different days and also different guides between morning and evening drive on the same day. I had no problem with this at all. However if I were booked in for a longer stay I may have preferred the same guide. I spent 12 nights at Anabezi, following my stay at Chiawa, and had the same guide throughout the 12 nights. I was in fact guaranteed private guide and vehicle at Anabezi. This worked very well for me. Chris was my guide on the walk I took at Chiawa, together with an armed ranger from the Wildlife Services Department.

@NSY Thanks. Yes I believe that is a Swainson's, though I'm not very bird smart.

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marirangwe

Herewith a few more miscellaneous photographs taken around the Chiawa Camp area, and then its on to Anabezi Camp down river.

 

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marirangwe

I generally do not eat breakfast on safari. I drink a cup of coffee (or two) before leaving camp, and then coffee again on the morning stop. At both Chiawa and Anabezi lunch was served between noon and one p.m. rather than a brunch being served a little earlier. And so this was my first meal of the day, with the exception of a couple of mornings when I did not go out and then ate breakfast a little later in the morning at leisure. And so it was on the fourth and last day at Chiawa. Although there was time for a morning game drive, I opted out and spent the morning in camp with a leisurely breakfast, before departing at around noon.

Chiawa put me on a boat and we sped downriver to Old Mondoro, sister camp to Chiawa. When I was told the day before that I would transit through Old Mondoro to Anabezi I asked if I could get a brief tour of the camp and this was very graciously agreed to.

Old Mondoro currently is managed by a South African couple. The hostess met me with a cold drink and showed me around while my guide and vehicle from Anabezi waited. My impression of Old Mondoro was Old Africa. The camp is small and rustic but looks oh so comfortable. A place you can put your feet up without a care in the world. The camp sits on the banks of the river like most others do, under towering riverine trees. Old Mondoro appears to occupy a particularly scenic spot on the river, with an island in the river directly in front of camp. I imagine beautiful sand banks exposed here later in the year, after the water level drops. Alas I took  no photographs of the camp.

Below are some introductory pictures of Anabezi.

 

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marirangwe

 

 

 

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marirangwe

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