Escaping the World: The Offbeat Zambian Adventure for Safari Aficionados

A 12 day trip to Zambia 
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Zambia does safari differently. Remote multi-day walks track unique mammals, intrepid overland adventures connect contrasting worlds without another person in sight; you’re submerged in wildernesses that haven’t been seen or documented. Handcrafted for safari aficionados and those that have visited Africa before, this exclusive 12-day journey reveals three Zambian parks that are arguably the best-kept secrets on the continent: North Luangwa, Kafue and Liuwa Plain.  

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Lusaka, North Luangwa National Park, Kafue National Park, Busanga Plains, Liuwa Plain National Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Lusaka – Relaxed Overnight in the Capital

Lusaka has evolved rapidly in recent years, and first impressions are of its changing facade and contemporary design. While Zambia’s capital isn’t big on charm, it’s become a very modern city that’s filled with all the necessary comforts. You’ll be greeted at the airport and transferred to a luxury property close to the airport. The guide can take you to modern shopping malls for anything you might need to stock up on. From tomorrow, it’s going to be 11 days in the wilderness, so this quick overnight stop ensures you’re fully equipped. It’s also a necessity so that you can catch the early morning flight to North Luangwa tomorrow.

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer

Day 2: North Luangwa National Park – Starting the Adventure on Foot

Serenity drifts through a remote escarpment as you start the journey on foot. Slow footsteps take you across a savannah of iconic red soil, small wisps of dust accompanying every step into the wild. Cookson’s wildebeests are scattered along the horizon, an endemic species that delight with their relentless enthusiasm. Elands soon become a common landmark while Lichtenstein’s hartebeests match the rustic color of the earth. Buffalo herds grace the trails, and you take instruction from the guide, learning how to distinguish dangerous bachelor males from the far less aggressive harems. Blue monkeys swing by, and the horns of sable antelope have you captivated for hours. You won’t find the Big Five here, but the inimitability of life is on a different scale.

It’s a 70-minute flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe in South Luangwa. You stay on board for the short aerial connection to North Luangwa airstrip, where you drive for an hour to the start of the walking trail. You leave the vehicle trail behind, heading out into a savannah that hasn’t been disturbed by wheels. Such an array of ungulates attracts a healthy predator population, notably large prides of lions. Trackers walk ahead of you, inspecting the landscape for signs of their presence, while guides keep you on open stretches where hunting is difficult. Over these three days, you’ll learn how to understand the landscape, each of your senses alive to what’s happening in the wild.

What’s Included: accommodation at a mobile camp, domestic flight, airport transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 3 – 4: North Luangwa National Park – Magic and Mystique on Africa’s Ultimate Walking Safari

Wake to the sounds of the bush, perhaps the rustling of endemic Crawshay’s zebras or the hooting of a nearby baboon troop. The sunrise paints the sky as you eat a hot breakfast and watch animals emerge along the horizon. Spend roughly three hours on the move, the cooler morning hours by far the best time to be walking. Ungulates are active, and you follow their movements, heading deeper and deeper into the bush. By 10:30 – 11 AM it’s time for brunch and a rest beneath the trees, perhaps a siesta on a rollout day bed. Rest points are chosen for their views, and you’ll still be able to enjoy a whole host of wildlife.

The walking time is usually shorter in the afternoon, tracing a route towards the mobile camp. These exclusive-use camps are fitted with all the necessary comforts, including proper beds, hot showers, and Western toilet seats. Camping chairs are set around the evening’s fire, and the dinner table is set beneath an impossibly starry sky. It’s just you and the wild, so the sounds are magical, every flittering note drifting towards your remote location. Then, the route brings you to the only permanent camp in this walking-only area, via a short game-drive transfer. Here you can really wash off the dust and enjoy an enhanced level of luxury.

What’s Included: accommodation at a mobile camp and luxury camp, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Kafue National Park – Immersed in the Untouched Charm of the Busanga Plains

Some safari landscapes are easily captured on photographs. Take the Serengeti as an example, the iconic image being open grassland consumed by wildebeests and zebras. Capturing the Busanga Plains would take many rolls of film. It’s got far too much going on for a single image. Cramped clusters of wild date palms and sausage trees sit on a flat grassland, their branches dotted with tree-climbing lions and epic herds of red lechwes and pukus. A maze of narrow rivers creates corridors of hardwood forest before the waters spill out into a carpet of lush grazing land during the rains. One moment you’re looking over a swamp, watching sitatunga hide beneath the waterline and hippos open their jaws. The next moment, you’ve found a cheetah beneath a fig tree, and then you’re crossing a grassland of innumerable wildebeests.

After the chartered flight, you spend a full day around the Busanga Plains in the north of Kafue National Park. As the Lufupa River meanders into the swamps, these lush plains bring a wonderful profusion of antelopes, with each habitat bringing another interesting character: bushbuck and defassa waterbuck, very rare grysbok and vast herds of red lechwe, duiker, reedbuck, eland, kudu and more. As dusk approaches, you follow one of the local lion prides, deadly hunters that use the cloak of darkness to attack nervous herds. Accommodation for tonight is in a luxurious camp that’s open to the sounds of prowling lions. Listen closely, and you’ll be able to identify the piercing roars and what they symbolize.

What’s Included: accommodation at a luxury camp, domestic flight, airport transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 6 – 7: Kafue National Park – An Overland Safari Adventure Connecting Irresistible Landscapes

The river has less influence towards the southern half of the park. Here you find less grass and a more Kalahari-style habitat that stretches out for thousands of square miles. While the wildlife isn’t as abundant as on Busanga Plains, this area evokes the thrilling atmosphere of an intrepid overland adventure. You’ll drive from north to south, a one-way journey that seeks out the surprises that very few people have ever encountered. You can see the same type of animals as yesterday, although not in such a concentrated space. Among the charms are packs of wild dogs and some of Africa’s finest encounters with wild cheetahs.

Like in North Luangwa, mobile camps provide comfort without ever breaking the ambiance of the landscape. You’re fully immersed, and it’s unlikely that you’ll see more than a couple of other vehicles throughout these two days. Patience is rewarded. Inspect the bushes closely and find lion cubs annoying their mother. Track the skittish movements of puku and see a cheetah stalking its prey. Keep following the paw prints towards a raucous battle over a zebra carcass. Sometimes you disappear into a kaleidoscope of the Miombo woodlands, finding elephants and primates that aren’t afraid of the vehicle. Other times, you follow the rivers beneath thorn thickets and buffalos, then onto grasslands that celebrate nature’s excessive colors. The whole adventure is private and two days gives you enough time to move at a relaxed pace and still experience the range of habitats.

What’s Included: accommodation at a mobile camp, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Liuwa Plain National Park – Remote and Wild in Western Zambia

There’s a thrilling sense of anticipation as you land on Liuwa Plain. The park’s first luxury camp was only established in 2017, as was the scheduled flight service that started bringing visitors to this park in the very west of Zambia. For centuries, it’s been inaccessible, which meant it escaped the pillaging and destruction that accompanied the colonial settlers. This is a land that’s truly untouched. It’s been a game reserve since the start of the 19th century when the king of Barotseland established it as a private hunting ground. Back then, the locals were responsible for looking after the animals for the king. There’s never been a point in over 200 years where the wildlife bounty was looted. And thanks to recent improvements in infrastructure, this national park has become a viable safari destination.

Buffalo and elephants occupy the distinctive golden plain, joining large numbers of zebras, sitatungas, tsessebes, red lechwes, roan antelopes and oribis. Tens of thousands of wildebeests perform their own annual migration here, following the lush sweeps of grass after the rains. Not only is this a world that isn’t known to tourists, it’s barely understood by researchers and hasn’t been featured on any wildlife documentaries. You’re journeying into a world that even the guides are only just beginning to understand, immersed in Africa at its remote and primitive best. Accommodation is in the new luxury lodge, and you’ll explore on customized game drives.

What’s Included: accommodation at a luxury lodge, domestic flight, airport transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 9 – 11: Liuwa Plain National Park – Immersed in Africa’s Most Exciting New Safari Destination

There’s always excitement in such an unexplored destination. Wildebeests stretch for miles, and an assortment of predators keeps them company, particularly a ferocious cast of hyenas. Animals aren’t used to the vehicles, so there can be a tense stand-off when you encounter the lions, who have a reputation for defending their territory with loud roars and shows of aggression – this is one of the reasons that the only way to currently explore Liuwa Plain is on daytime game drives. Cheetahs and leopards are expertly tucked away in the grass, their spotted fur a perfect camouflage. It’s a challenge to follow them, both for you and the antelopes. So there can be some moments of pure drama as the cats pounce, seemingly from nowhere.

The lodge operates a four-night stay, so there isn’t much flexibility over the program. However, such a vibrant yet untouched landscape deserves at least this much of your time. Rather than quickly ticking animals off the list, the experience is focused on admiring and understanding animal behavior that hasn’t been changed by safari tourism. You can follow herds for hours, watching the subtle interactions between individuals. You’ll get to encounter curious antelope and really get to know their behavior. And after four nights, you’ll probably want to stay longer, enveloped by this rare and exclusive piece of Africa that’s yet to be tamed or influenced.

What’s Included: accommodation at a luxury lodge, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 12: Liuwa Plain National Park to Lusaka – Departure

From Liuwa Plain, there are only two flights out a week. With such limited use, you might be able to imagine how the wildlife is dotted around. From Liuwa Plain, you’ll fly back to Lusaka where you connect with your homebound flight.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Price 

Your custom trip package will include accommodations, transportation within the country, guided tours and activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. 

Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates!