Tag Archives: Zambia

In Search of Africa’s Ultimate Safari Destinations

In 2016, Jake Hoddinott and Donovan Rule set out on a mammoth overland trip through the wildest areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, with the goal of finding Africa’s ultimate safari destination. They visited South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. Their travels took them to many places off the beaten track. This was an unforgettable experience for them, and an inspiration for the rest of us. They were able to acquire a wealth of knowledge, so that we too can find the ultimate safari destination, without the trial and error they faced.

Here are some of the highlights from their unforgettable adventure.

Botswana

The Okavango Delta remains one of their all-time favourite places, not only in Africa, but in the world. The sheer bird and wildlife concentrations of the region is amazing. Here, one can watch elephants cross a crystal clear channel that’s just a little too deep for the youngest members of the herd, so that all that is visible are their wettened trunks. At the same time, you can enjoy a sundowner while casting a line for an African pike or a tackle-busting nembwe, all to the tune of the omnipresent African fish eagle. A truly unique experience!

Whilst Botswana has adopted a high-value, low-impact model with respect to tourism, making it a relatively expensive trip, the richness of its wildlife biodiversity is unrivalled, and the swamps are a truly special place.

Namibia

Namibia: Breathtaking landscapes, massive expanses of seeming nothingness… the rust-red sand dunes of the Namib, and oases of wildlife dotted throughout the country. Add in the feeling that, culturally and economically, you haven’t really left home, and Namibia becomes a very appealing option.

Zimbabwe

Chitake Springs is a truly wonderful Zambian destination. Unfenced camps, a real sense of wilderness, and one of the few wildlife parks that allow unguided walks make it a superb safari destination. And just 50km north, both the  Zambezi and the iconic Mana Pools can be found. Jake and Donovan didn’t see any other people during their stay, bar the Anti-Poaching Unit. This was possibly due to the time of the year that they visited, and a real sense of being in the wild pervaded. This made it a very special part of the trip, somewhat reminiscent of their time at Lake Tagalala in the Selous.

Zambia

Liuwa Plain National Park is unique, with rural communities continuing to exist within the park boundaries. It is a great example of a sustainable solution to Africa’s growing population and the potential human-wildlife conflicts that result. The local communities have a participatory stake in the park, and benefit directly from the tourism associated with the park, creating an ecosystem where people and wildlife co-exist. Liuwa is home to Africa’s second-largest wildebeest migration, and has been the site of many positive changes since African Parks began managing the park in 2003. These include a growing pride of lions, increasing cheetah numbers, and drastically-reduced poaching. Jake and Donovan enjoyed some incredibly special sunsets, observing massive lines of wildebeest, with thousands of black-winged pratincoles landing and taking-off in the ensuing dust cloud, all punctuated by the ubiquitous spotted hyena. The Zambian people were some of the friendliest they encountered, which added a wonderful warmth to the experience.

Tanzania

Ruaha National Park, Katavi National Park, and Selous Game Reserve offered up some truly incredible wildlife sightings, accompanied by a genuine sense of wilderness and solitude. Tanzania has some challenges- the traffic officials can become tiresome, and the park fees (USD denominated) are very high. When Jake and Donovan arrived, the parks had just added 18% VAT to all park fees under the premise that this would see an improvement in facilities. This was not something they could really attest to, as the facilities they encountered were extremely basic, if any were provided at all. However,  when it comes to a wilderness experience and wildlife densities, the parks of Tanzania’s southern circuit really are exceptional.

This is just a fraction of what Jake and Donovan experienced on their incredible expedition. The African continent has so much to offer, such wonders to see. Don’t you think it is worth your time to visit some of these spots for yourself?

Liuwa Plains: An Undiscovered Safari Paradise

Liuwa Plains National Park, situated in western Zambia, is truly a hidden safari gem. This remote park practically calls out for travelers to come and explore its vast open grasslands and seemingly endless horizons. Pristine and unspoilt, with wildlife spread out across the plains, the park makes for a real treat when out on safari. There is always something to see.

Delving into the history of Liuwa Plains, one will find that the park is one of the oldest in Africa, having been established in the late 19th century by King Lubosi Lewanika. It thus boasts a rather unique ecosystem, whereby the people of the plains and the wildlife co-exist in such a way as to preserve the rustic beauty of the park.

Dramatic thunderstorms are known to light up the ominous skies, contrasting with the green and gold of the plains. This makes for spectacularly beautiful photographic opportunities. But these breathtaking forces of nature are not the only reason to visit Liuwa Plains. The park also plays host to what is perhaps the best-kept secret in Zambia- the world’s second-largest wildebeest migration.

Thousands of wildebeest travel across Liuwa Plains each year, following the rains as they make their way across the plains. Along with the wildebeest herds, you will also find plenty of other animals, including zebra, oribi, red lechwe, and steenbok. These plains animals, in turn, draw predators after them. Look out especially for cheetahs and lions- their populations are slowly growing after being poached to near extinction in the park. Liuwa also has a well-established spotted hyena population.

What is the best time to visit Liuwa Plains? Although it is difficult to pinpoint an exact time, as the migration is dependent on the rains, the window is normally between August and December.

King Lewanika Lodge

When it comes to accommodation, Liuwa Plains is a little different. There is only one fixed lodge in the park, called King Lewanika Lodge. This luxury lodge is made up of six plush villas that are perched on raised platforms to maximise views of the surrounding plains. Five campsites make up the rest of the accommodation options in the park: Kayala, Katoyana, Kwale, Lyangu, and Sikale. Each is located in a different area of the park, and can accommodate up to 20 guests. Only 4 guests are allowed per campground, making the setting intimate and private, and allowing you to enjoy the expanses of solitude in peace.

Liuwa Plains Campsite

If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-track safari destination that abounds with untamed beauty, look no further than Liuwa Plains.

Zambia Lodges

The Southern African country of Zambia,  named for the mighty Zambezi River that flows through its borders, is a safari and nature treasure. It is home to 19 incredible national parks and reserves.

The safari accommodation found in the country is not only affordable, but are some of the best on the continent, each offering a unique experience, tailored to reflect the park or reserve they are located in.

These are some of the best Zambia lodges on offer:

 Gorges Lodge

As far as Zambia Lodges go, Gorges Lodge, located in the Victoria Falls National Park, is one one of the best. It offers stunning vistas over the Zambezi River from its perch above Batoka Gorge. Not for the faint of heart, the main lodge is set on the very edge of the gorge, 250 meters above the raging waters below.  The accommodation, ten stone and thatched chalets, is set against an indigenous garden backdrop, and each has a private deck from which to take in the stunning surrounds and wildlife.

Gorges Lodge is perfect for those with an adventurous spirit. Its location in the Victoria Falls National Park allows guests access to activities such as elephant back safaris, white water rafting and bungee jumping.

King Lewanika Lodge

For those looking for Zambia Lodges that offer something a bit more on the wild side, one need look no further than King Lewanika Lodge, right in the heart of Liuwa Plains National Park‘s vast grassy floodplains.

King Lewanika Lodge is the only fixed lodge in the park, and is made up of 6 luxurious villas. Each villa is raised above the surrounding plains, allowing for magnificent views of the plentiful wildlife of the area.

Mfuwe Lodge

If you would prefer a Zambia Lodge a touch more on the luxurious side, look no further than Mfuwe Lodge, the jewel of  South Luangwa National Park. It boasts every luxury one could wish for, and more. 18 bespoke chalets have private decks that look out over the banks of a lagoon.

The lodge features top-notch facilities that include a spa, outdoor gym, and excellent dining facilities. Also on offer are superb safari activities, such as thrilling night drives and guided walking tours.

Mfuwe Lodge is also known for its four-footed guests- a herd of elephants has tried checking in at reception before- a uniquely African event!

There are many more Zambia lodges to choose from, each with their own unique surrounds and offerings. Contact us to experience one of these magnificent lodges and enjoy the beauty Zambia has to offer.

What is there to do in Victoria Falls?

Victoria Falls in one of the most iconic travel destinations in Africa, and indeed the world. Magnificent and breathtaking, the Falls are known locally as the “Mosi-oa-Tunya”, or the “Smoke that Thunders”. The name refers to the smoke-like appearance of the spray that is generated as the mighty Zambezi River plummets 100m into the yawning gorge below. The Falls provide the perfect base from which to enjoy a variety of adventure and safari activities.

For the more adventurous, there are several hair-raising activities to try. The Victoria Falls Bungee Jump is one of the most incredible bungee jumps that anybody can experience. It is 111 metres high, one of the highest in the world. Its setting against the backdrop of the Falls only makes it more spectacular.

Adrenaline junkies can also have a go on the Victoria Falls Bridge Swing. The swing is done from the railway bridge that spans the Second Gorge of the Falls, linking the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Those looking for a more relaxed experience can enjoy a leisurely boat cruise down the Zambezi. Or, just take a tour of the Falls, simply to marvel at their brilliance.

The splendour of the Falls can also be witnessed from above. Soar above them in a helicopter or microlight aircraft. Aptly known as the “flight of angels”, this is one of the best ways to see the Falls.

Wildlife lovers will also find plenty to appreciate in the region. The area surrounding the Falls is a national park and protected area. Wildlife species are found here in abundance. Experience a safari in a unique way on a boat, canoe or horseback safari, exploring the channels of the Zambezi and the surrounding forest and riverine bush. Look out for species such as hippo and elephant. You can also embark on a traditional game drive into the adjacent Zambezi National Park, for a chance to spot the famous African big 5.

The Zambezi is also an excellent fishing destination. You can try your hand at catching one of the more than 75 species found in the waters, including the elusive tiger fish, one of the most sought-after fish in the world. Guided fishing tours are offered, and the boats are fully-equipped.

South Luangwa Walking Safaris

It is a place where time stands still and it feels like you are where “it” all began. South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is popularly described as a wildlife anchorage and is one of the best places to go on a walking safari.

Why South Luangwa?

Any respected game ranger, safari travel agent, bush enthusiast or wildlife blogger will tell you that it’s because the game populations found in this part of Africa are among the densest in the world. From the highest concentrations of hippo in the world, to one of the highest leopard counts in Africa, to the tens of thousands of carmine bee-eaters that nest in the sand banks of the Luangwa River, all find refuge in South Luangwa.

Why a South Luangwa Walking Safari?

Why would any sane person want to do a walking safari in an area with such an abundance of big game such as South Luangwa? Well, we believe that there are a few good reasons …

  1. You get a new outlook on what nature is all about

Think about how much you actually miss when you are on safari in a vehicle. When you are on foot, you are able to see exactly where you are going and what’s around you. You start to observe the “whole package”.

  1. You become part of your environment

It’s amazing how quickly a person adapts to life in the bush. You start zoning in on the natural environment around you. You become part of it and it becomes part of you.

  1. It’s all about the detail

Suddenly the world is just as much about micro as it is macro. You suddenly become aware of every little thing, from the tiniest bug to the beauty and mystery of a certain plant.

  1. You experience nature through 5 senses instead of one

Birdsong becomes more pronounced and you feel the wind on your skin. You smell plants and taste their fruits. You touch dung and feel the texture of bark.

  1. You de-stress properly!

There’s no rush, no traffic, and most probably no cellphone signal either. You have no other choice than to switch off and re-tune yourself with Mother Nature.

  1. The big thrill!

The thrill of encountering a large animal such as a member of the Big 5 on a walking safari is unforgettable.

A South Luangwa walking safari is the new frontier of safari. Go in search of Africa’s wildlife on foot in a remarkably beautiful environment- it will leave you with dinner table stories for life.  A South Luangwa walking safari can range from between two to ten days. The best part is that it is completely flexible. Guests have the option of going on game drives in place of or that form part of the walk in the afternoons and evenings. This allows you to get closer to the big cats like lion and leopard.

Custom-made walking safaris in South Luangwa are made to fit your particular requirements, so if you want to walk decent distances every day and avoid the sounds of motors, you can do so. You can even walk between different luxury bush camps, each with its own look and feel, and all situated in beautiful locations in vast private concessions in the south of the park. This means that you could spend every night in a new camp. Or, base yourself at one camp. The Safari Index team recommends enjoying each camp over a couple of nights. The bush camps on a South Luangwa Walking Safari offer simple luxury at its best.

The daily walks  last, on average, between 3-4 hours, but can be extended or reduced if required. After a long day of walking and tracking, you can sit back and enjoy sumptuous meals, while taking in the stunning views of the game-rich Luangwa river system around you. Or gaze up at the starlit African skies. There is nothing quite like it.

What are you waiting for? Get in touch with the Safari Index today. The Safari Index team of safari experts can help you plan the ultimate South Luangwa Walking Safari – it’s that simple.

Victoria Falls Lodges

 Located on the border of the Southern African countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls is one of the world’s most iconic travel destinations. Here, the mighty Zambezi River plunges 100m over the edge of the basalt cliffs, crashing into the gorge below in a breathtaking rush of raw energy and power. The Falls are known locally as the “Mosi-oa-Tunya”, or “The Smoke that Thunders”, due to the incredible amount of spray that is generated by the force of the water.

The Falls provides the perfect base from which to experience a host of exhilarating adventure activities. Go bungee jumping, with the backdrop of the Falls adding an extra thrill. Take a leap and swing off the railway bridge that links Zambia and Zimbabwe. Witness the majesty of the Falls from above in a helicopter or microlight airplane. There are also options for those looking for a more relaxed experience. Enjoy leisurely cruises down the Zambezi, taking in the sunset, or embark on a unique horseback safari in the surrounding area.

There are a variety of accommodation options for those wanting a Victoria Falls holiday, suitable for various guest preferences and budget ranges.

For those who prefer to holiday in the ultimate style, a number of super-luxury lodges are found in the area. Thorntree River Lodge enjoys a gorgeous setting on the banks of the Zambezi, upstream of the Falls. It features facilities such as private plunge pools, secluded outdoor showers,  WiFi access, and a gym and spa overlooking the river.

The Elephant Camp is set within its own private concession just 10km away from the Falls. It affords wonderful views of the gorges and spray of the Falls from its ultra-luxury canvas suites. Each suite also features private decks with plunge pools, as well as outdoor showers.

Mid-range to luxury options include the David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa. This resort-style lodge features various accommodation types to suit a variety of guest types, including families and disabled persons. Many of the rooms overlook the Zambezi, and the lodge has a full range of facilities, including a pool, spa and conference facilities.

Chundukwa River Lodge is another mid-range to luxury option. It is also set on the banks of the river, in a quiet, tranquil area. It is a 30-minute drive to the Falls, making it ideal for those who want to experience the Falls, but also unwind away from the crowds. Its African bush-style chalets are built on stilts with river views.

More affordable options include Greenfire Lodge Victoria Falls, which is located just outside of Victoria Falls Town. It features comfortable en-suite rooms, a sparkling pool, and a lovely garden.

Taita Falcon Lodge is also suited to the more budget-conscious. It enjoys a spectacular location above the Zambezi, overlooking the famous Batoka Gorge, just 11km from the Falls. Its charming grounds and gardens are home to a variety of plants and birds, with each en-suite room featuring its own private garden with outdoor showers.

Those looking for a self-catering option can stay at the charming and rustic Lokuthula Lodges, which feature fully-furnished units that are perfect for families and groups.