Step off the plane in Zambia, and you will probably be a little tired from the flight. Zambia is not really close to anywhere, and that is part of the appeal as you can escape into a world that has not been polluted by modern noise and excess. Nature has always ruled, and within 30 minutes of stepping off of the plane, you will discover the power of these expressions of nature. Stand before Victoria Falls and watch millions of gallons of water metronomically pour over the edge while you listen to the growling thunder that confirms nature’s authority.
This is nature untouched and untamed, a monument that will help you to settle immediately into the rhythm of this two-week safari. You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to the falls, and it will be a 15-minute walk to a number of viewpoints. Later in the afternoon, the guide will transfer you to Tongabezi Lodge, a stunning waterfront property that continues this immersion in the serene ambiance of Zambia. Exquisitely located and built from local wood, this is the first of five handpicked lodges on this safari. Take your time, enjoy dinner as hippos are grazing nearby, and watch the stars slowly transform the night’s sky.
Day 2 - 3
Relax, take your time and enjoy breakfast on your balcony or you can enjoy it by the lake at a table nestled beneath the shade of an ebony tree. There is nothing planned for this morning so that it will just be you and the wildlife enjoying each other’s company. Baboons may swing past to say hello as hippos grunt as if vying for attention. Coffee and fresh juice are served with uninterrupted views over the water as you take it all in. After lunch at the lodge, you will be transferred by boat to Sindabezi Island for a beautiful journey that will give a glimpse of the wildlife that occupies the banks. It will be blissfully quiet, and your thatched suite will be hidden amongst the trees at the river’s edge.
For the next two days, it will be rare to see any other people beyond the local staff that will serve you, but there is a lot to experience depending on your mood. Explore the Zambezi in a canoe and gain a first-hand perspective on how the hippos quarrel over their wading space or return to Victoria Falls to helicopter above them. Cruise along the Zambezi in the morning, travel up to the lip of the falls and see where the intensity of the spectacle is inescapable. You could also cruise the Zambezi at sunset as it glows golden while you sip cocktails. There are also options for a private picnic on another island, along with fishing excursions: both are included in your package. The guides will discuss potential options, and you will be able to tailor these two days to your interests.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 - 6
Your small plane will follow the curves of the Zambezi River and fly east to the World Heritage wetlands. As with the last three days, your accommodation will be on the water with the spacious Chongwe River Camp perched on the confluence of the Zambezi and Chongwe rivers. Lounge chairs and a swimming pool provide the dreamy views, and there’s lots of wildlife passing through. Buffalos occasionally swim across the river, zebra kick up water as they canter along the shallows, while elephant herds dot the banks with their enduring grace. The Lower Zambezi National Park is a place of abundance, a site of permanent water that attracts animals from hundreds of miles around. Safari is easy here, and you will not need to travel far in order to see the big mammals.
Rivers and channels form a maze that can be explored in a canoe while walking trails connect a series of lakes. Game drives follow rugged tracks, bumping you into a wilderness where elephants and lions thrive. The itinerary is flexible, and you will create a personalized daily program with a private guide. Some like to maximize their time on the water, others prefer game drives that reach the park’s remote corners. Others cannot get enough of walking safaris while some find more than 20 minutes to be a little frightening. It is hard to know you will like if you’ve never been on safari before, which is why a privately guided safari is so important in Zambia.
Walk through the wilderness with an armed guide and follow the huge elephant footprints to the lakeshore. Your heart rate will rise as you watch the herd from a safe distance, the matriarchs squirting cooling water over their backs. On another day, you will be following a pride of lionesses, five of them stalking a zebra herd as sunset colors light up the sky. In the gloom, you can make out the kill and listen to the haunting crack of jaws ripping bones from the carcass. Out on the water, you can spend an hour admiring a hippo pod and come to understand how size controls almost everything in the wild. Whatever you plan for the day, your safari never stops just because you are back at your camp. Just sit back and enjoy the wildlife that wanders along the banks, barely 20 meters from your raised vantage point.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7 - 11
A short flight to Mfuwe and you will see why it is important to go on a safari in different national parks. The landscapes of South Luangwa are entirely different, made up of singed grassy plains, open photogenic valleys and tracts of remote woodland. The region is dry and dusty, which forces animals to stay within easy reach of the park’s lifeblood, the Luangwa River and its tributaries. These five days of safari will be split across two exquisite Norman Carr bush camps in the heart of the park. Both stand over the river for dreamy game viewing without leaving the camp. Chalets are nestled beneath the trees have sublime en-suite bathrooms that are open to the stars while the canvas walls allow the sounds of South Luangwa to lull you to sleep.
These five days will be all about immersion in the wilderness and the natural theater of Zambia’s flagship destination. Like the Lower Zambezi, you will be free to create your own daily itinerary from a wide range of potential activities. Nighttime drives are a must, and you will go in search of leopards as the spotted hunters prowl in the dark, pouncing on lechwe, wildebeest, zebra, bushbuck and other antelope. Your guide will find them with a roving spotlight, and then all artificial light is turned off, and your eyes will adjust to the gloom. Sounds will then be your guide, and when the light returns, you will see the leopard bounding off with a carcass.
Walks are exquisite, and they can take you far from any vehicle trails and into landscapes that will delight you with their primitive atmosphere. Your guides will teach you how to track animals, how to recognize all of the different clues and creep safely towards giraffe, buffalo, gemsbok and other ungulates. Game drives will follow the clues left by the big cats while also introducing you to South Luangwa’s endemic species. Cookson’s wildebeest gallop past in the morning hours, their infectious enthusiasm lingering long in the memory. Thornicroft giraffe will showcase the photogenically bright markings, and it will be easy to get lost in the tight stripes of Crawshay’s zebra.
This is a destination of drama and charm. Watch as baby elephants chase away warthogs, their trunks throwing up dust as they swirl on the ground. Find cheetah cubs hiding in the grass, tucked into the nurturing bosom of their mother. Listen to two male lions roaring and then jump quickly into your safari vehicle to explore what they are quarreling about. Some days you will lie in and spend a morning amongst the diaphanous soundtrack of the wild. Other days, you will explore the plains at sunrise to find fresh lion kills and energetic migratory herds. For five days, there will be nothing artificial, and you will escape to where elephants are your neighbors and every moment can bring surprise and enchantment.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12 - 14
A short flight via Lilongwe and you will be immersed in another ancient landscape. Mango trees flourish along the banks of Lake Malawi, bougainvillea and the odd baobab envelop Kaya Maya camp, and your detached hut will have glorious vistas over the water. Your private deck has direct access to the lake, and the clear waters are a haven for easy snorkeling. There will be no need for shoes and little use for time here, something that’s epitomized by the camp’s name. Kaya Mawa translates as “maybe tomorrow,” a recognition that once you arrive, it is okay to lounge around and not feel any guilt whatsoever.
Lake Malawi connects three countries and hundreds of miles of rugged escarpments. Likoma Island provides views out onto the mainland, yet also has its own treats. Take a bicycle or quad bike and marvel at St Peter’s Cathedral, an enormous structure built by missionaries from stone imported from Britain. Enjoy the friendly welcome at a local village to see first-hand the laid-back lifestyle that makes Malawi such an idyllic destination. Nothing is ever rushed here, and while that does not impress UN rankings on economic development, you will find the Malawian people to be amongst the most optimistic and hospitable on the planet. There is a reason that the country is nicknamed the “warm heart of Africa.”
Back at your camp, there will be options for sailing on the lake, guided snorkeling excursions, and walks through the native forest. But mostly, these last three days are about lying back and savoring the serenity. Eat dinner with your toes in the sand, watch sunsets paint the sky, lose yourself in the rhythm of the island, and enjoy the classic waterfront escape. You will be at the sort of destination that could hold you captive for weeks on end, although three days is just about right to immerse you in the atmosphere without letting you slip too deeply into island life.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
You will depart from the region at Lilongwe International Airport via a short flight from Likoma Island. Even at the airport, you will come to notice the laid-back atmosphere that makes Malawi and Zambia such memorable destinations.
Zambia and Malawi share a similar atmosphere. Serenity reigns and encourages you to settle into the cadence of nature. Traditions live on and grace every journey with the charm of ancient Africa. Photogenic settings compel and confound, from lakes back-dropped by rugged hills to Victoria Falls as they rumble metronomically. Animals have the right of way, and you may spot elephants along the main road, or baboons swinging deftly past your lodge. When you head into the wilderness, you will discover an escapism that moves beyond traditional definitions. Of course, it is all tranquil and cut off from the rest of the world, but a getaway to Zambia and Malawi is also imbued with a magical sense of connection. You do not just escape; you are transported into a faraway natural theater where lions and hippos rule the landscape, and a soporific lullaby echoes towards the stars.
To explore the atmosphere will require time. Your mind needs to slow down, and your body must adapt to the rules of nature. A few days gives you a glimpse, but two weeks provides an immersion and enables you to uncover diverse destinations. This handcrafted safari uses four bases, each a celebration of their own distinctive atmosphere, albeit being dramatically different on the eye. Eight days of big-game safari are included, each individualized to your interests and mood. Exquisite camps and lodges provide the getaway resting space, and you will continue to see wildlife when not in a national park or on a safari activity. Perhaps best of all, these destinations keep you away from other tourists and vehicles to ensure that the escapist rhythm is never interrupted.
Start at Victoria Falls and Tongabezi Lodge, a salubrious riverfront destination for recuperating from the flight. Then spend two nights on Sindabezi Island, a tranquil escape that is enhanced with activities on the water and at the falls. Fly above the Zambezi River for days spent in the Lower Zambezi National Park, a dreamy expression of Africa’s wetlands. Walks provide exhilarating hours with the ungulates while day and night game drives lead you to lions and other giants. Canoe safaris will expertly unravel the subtleties of the wetlands. This is a place of abundance, and you will rarely have to travel far to encounter most of Africa’s famous mammals.
Inspiring and intimate, South Luangwa has long been one of Africa’s best safari destinations. Choice sets it apart as you could spend the day exploring remote corners that rarely ever see people, or you could follow a more relaxed itinerary around the camp. Nighttime game drives bring stunning moments with the park’s famous leopards, while walks can be anything from 20 minutes to two days. With spectacular accommodation that overlooks the Luangwa and Luwi rivers, you will have five days to really savor the scale and beauty of this huge national park. For big game encounters, there are few more expressive destinations on the continent. And for enchanting evenings, there is nothing like a roaring fire and the Luangwa soundtrack.
Complete your safari with a short flight to Lilongwe and three days on an island in Lake Malawi. Silence will bring on new meaning here, and you will quickly succumb to the atmosphere. Remove your shoes, forget about time, dip your toes in the sand and watch the lake’s waters change color with the sun. Every day, all meals are included, and the culinary standard will far exceed what you would expect in such remote destinations. A wide selection of soft drinks and alcoholic drinks alike are part of the safari along with all transfers and the flights between destinations. Learn more as you read safari reviews of Zambia from our other travelers for further inspiration.
$6745 per person (excluding international flights)
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