Big Game & Walking Trails Safari, Zambia
Day 1 – London Heathrow to Johannesburg, connecting to Lilongwe.
Day 2 – 2 nights, Tafika Camp
Tafika Camp, bordering South Luangwa National Park Early morning arrival into Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport where you remain in transit and connect with the onward morning South African Airways flight to Lilongwe, Malawi. On arrival into Lilongwe, connect with the early afternoon light aircraft transfer to the Mfuwe Airport in Zambia. Afternoon arrival into Mfuwe where complete entrance formalities and collect your luggage after which you are met by a representative from Tafika and transferred through to camp, arriving in the late afternoon. Spend two nights at Tafika in a double/twin chalet. Your days are at leisure to enjoy game viewing activities hosted by the experienced Tafika guides. Tafika nestles in the shade of giant leadwood trees, on the eastern banks of the Luangwa River, just to the north of the wonderful Nsefu sector of the park. The camp accommodates up to 14 guests in six comfortable and spacious grass and thatch chalets, each with en suite open-air bathroom facilities (one of the chalets is ideal for families and includes two separate bedrooms with a shared bathroom). Each chalet has 24 lighting and plumbed hot water, though they otherwise return an authentic bush feel. The camp is owned and run by ‘old’ Luangwa hands John and Carol Coppinger, and as Tafika is their ‘home’ the camp has a very established, personal feel to it with an intimate and social atmosphere. Game-viewing is by open four-wheel drive vehicle (day and night) and on foot, whilst cycling safaris and visits to the local village are also possible. There is now Wi Fi at Tafika, though strong connectivity should not be assumed. The camp has a hide towards the rear of the property overlooking a small pumped waterhole which offers good photographic opportunities and more recently they have added a hide which focuses on a nearby Carmine bee-eater nesting site which is very active in September/ October each year.
Luangwa Valley – Introduction
The Luangwa Valley forms the southern end of the Great Rift Valley and the floor is about 1,000ft lower than the surrounding plateau. Through the centre flows the Luangwa River which is fed by dozens of sand rivers during the rainy season, causing it to become a raging torrent. It frequently alters its course from season to season, causing many ox-bow lakes to form. These lakes are very important to the ecology of the valley and account for the high carrying capacity of the park. The north Luangwa National Park covers an area of 4,500 sq. kms, but is usually closed to the public. The southern park covers an area of 9,000 sq. km and is the park most frequently visited by tourists. Both parks are situated mainly to the west of the river, though the southern does extend across the river in two places (Nsefu and Luamfwa). On the eastern bank, a third national park, the Luambe, also exists, but it is small, covering an area of only 250 sq. kms. The Luangwa Valley has long been known as one of Africa’s premier wildlife regions. Elephant, although slightly smaller than their southern African savannah counterparts, are plentiful, as are buffalo (in huge herds), kudu, waterbuck, puku, impala, bushbuck, warthog, and reedbuck. Giraffe, the Thornicrofts (endemic to the region), are commonly seen in the southern sector of the park, and the Cookson’s hartebeest in the northern sector of the park. However, the park is perhaps best known for its predator populations, in particular lion and leopard, the latter of which are seen three days out of four. The birdlife of the Luangwa is equally exceptional, with over half of the total Zambia species (around 700) being recorded here. Commonly sighted species include: crowned crane; carmine- and white-fronted bee-eaters; Lilian lovebird; purple-crested turaco; white-winged widow; paradise whydah; whitebrowed sparrow weaver; spoonbill; white-crowned and three-banded plover; striped, brown hooded, giant, pied and woodland kingfisher; knob-billed and white-faced duck; Egyptian and spurwing goose; yellow-billed, saddlebill and openbill storks.
Day 4 – 4 nights, Chikoko Trails
Chikoko Trails, South Luangwa Valley After breakfast, head off on your four night walking trail, with your professional guide from Tafika. Four nights are spent on trail, in a twin/double bush chalet. Chikoko Trails is an adventurous walking safari operated through a remote northern section of the South Luangwa National Park. The trails are operated and guided by nearby Tafika Camp, and the two bush camps used on the trail, Crocodile and Chikoko, are re-built each season from local materials. Accommodation at Crocodile Camp is in three thatch and reed chalets facing out over a dry ‘dambo’ or small lagoon, through which runs the seasonal Crocodile River. Each chalet has en suite facilities including a flush loo and plumbed shower (from a tank), and there is a central dining chalet. Chikoko’s accommodation is in three unique open chalets about ten feet above the ground on raised platforms. Steps lead up to the bedroom and balcony which has fantastic views out across the grasslands. Under the bedroom at ground level is a spacious bathroom, including a flush loo and shower. There is a fourth chalet which is all set on one level (without steps) which is usually used by the guide, but is available if needed (but only three chalets will be utilized at any one time, thereby restricting the number of guests to six at any one time). There is a central area overlooking the seasonal Chikoko channel. Both camps are rustic in style and offer a very ‘close to nature’ experience – Chikoko in particular has a wonderfully ‘wild’ atmosphere. It is usual to spend nights in both camps, and walk between them, however on shorter trails (2 nights) it is possible that you would stay in just one camp. Trails are usually a minimum of two nights in duration (though single nights on trail can be arranged on request) and cater for a maximum of six participants at any one time. From mid-July each month (when water levels are low enough) Crocodile Camp will have a vehicle based at the camp which is used solely to access a more remote area for walking. Specialist walking guides from Tafika Camp are knowledgeable and experienced and host all walking safaris. Whilst it is possible to undertake a walking trail as a ‘stand alone’ safari, it is usual to combine Chikoko Trails with a stay at Tafika Camp, which offers a more traditional safari experience including game drives and night drives. The Luangwa Valley was the first area in Africa to actively encourage walking safaris, initiated by Norman Carr. Away from noisy vehicles, it’s like being in another world: the sounds and smells of the bush are suddenly noticeable and you become more aware of the butterflies, insects, reptiles, flowers, fruits and birds which make up the ecosystem. Walking is not strenuous in the Luangwa, but it is exciting. Game concentrations in the area around Crocodile Camp and Chikoko are high and walks can encounter big game at any time. You will be accompanied by an armed game scout as well as your experienced Tafika guide.
Day 8 – 2 nights, Tafika Camp
Complete your walking trail and arrive back at Tafika Camp in the late morning or in time for lunch. A further two nights are spent at Tafika, in a double/twin chalet. Days are at leisure for further game-viewing activities.
Day 10: Time to return to the UK
An early morning drive after which you are transferred by road back to Mfuwe Airport in time for the early afternoon Proflight flight to Lusaka. On arrival in Lusaka, proceed to the international departures where you check-in and later connect with the afternoon South African Airways flight to Johannesburg. Arrive in Johannesburg, remain in transit and connect with the evening South African Airways flight to London Heathrow. Overnight in flight.
What is included?
- International and regional flights on South African Airways (economy, ask about upgrades)
- Ground and air transfers as specified
- Twin/double accommodation on board basis mentioned
- Game-viewing activities
- Park/conservation fees
- House drinks
- Laundry throughout on safari
- UK, South Africa, Malawi and Zambia international airport departure taxes
- Visa fees (Zambia US$50.00)
- Travel insurance
- Optional tours and excursions
- ZAMBIA Domestic Passenger Safety charges (US$5.00 per person for domestic flights, US$6.00 per person for helicopter/microlight flights)