Private North Luangwa Mobile Camping Safari

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Total Trip:

12 Days
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Countries Visited:

Zambia
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Places Visited:

Livingstone, Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, South Luangwa National Park, North Luangwa National Park, Mwaleshi River, Luangwa River
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
In Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park, luxury is in the experience. Vehicles cannot penetrate this wilderness, and the park is only open June to October, and only to visitors on foot. The Big Five roam here, along with a diverse cast of four-legged icons. You are completely immersed at mobile camps along the rivers, then astonishingly intimate on a private 6-day walking safari. It is perhaps Africa’s deepest and rarest connection with the big-game world. 

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Customizable Itinerary

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Day 1

Livingstone – Welcome to Africa with a Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River

A lodge on the Zambezi River provides a dreamy introduction to Zambia. Your spacious chalet is perched above the water, stocked with the décor from an old-world boutique hotel, and as luxurious as any accommodation in the country. You are greeted at the airport, and spend the afternoon resting at the lodge, looking out toward the hippos and watching the baboons swing past. A sunset cruise leads you into the night, cocktails and canapes served as the hippos emerge. Orange colors reflect off the water as dinner is served, a three-course culinary extravaganza that marries local flavors with Western styles. You keep cruising, inspecting the banks for the hippos out grazing, then return to the lodge for a quiet evening.

Please consider reading some of our travelers' reviews for Zambian safaris to learn more about this enchanting tour.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Dinner

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Day 2

Livingstone – Admiring Victoria Falls and Lounging on the River

You rise from bed to a relaxed morning, waking to the sounds of nature, settling into the atmosphere of the river. After the flight to Zambia, it is good to have a couple of days recuperating and getting over the jet lag, before setting off into the real wilderness. After lunch, you journey downriver to Victoria Falls, the mesmerizing mile-wide sheet of falling water that separates Zambia from Zimbabwe. Explore a series of self-guided walking trails, journeying parallel and beneath the falls, taking in the thunderous sounds as well as the awesome visuals. Return to the lodge, and tonight’s dinner is served on the banks of the river, beneath the branches of an ancient ebony tree.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 3

South Luangwa National Park – Game Drive Introductions to the Wild

It is a two-hour flight north to Mfuwe, an airstrip on the edge of South Luangwa, Zambia’s most famous national park. Mopane trees rise from the landscape, and you can spot leopards draped across their high branches. Floodplains extend, crossed by herds of zebras and wildebeests. Elephants rumble past, occasionally hooting upon their arrival, and giraffes and buffalos block the trail, slow and languid walkers in the wild. Next, you will find the lions, a pride of them basking on the grasslands, taking in the sun. Today is spent on game drives in South Luangwa, an introduction to the ecosystem and the animals that live here. On most African safaris, visitors arrive with a particular list of animals they want to see including the famous Big Five. A walking safari is about the atmosphere, not the checklist, and this first day is a chance to see many of the most famous species, leaving your mind free for the walking safari tomorrow. Your accommodation is at a luxury lodge in the park, and it is the perfect way to indulge before your real journey begins.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Flight

included

Transfer

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 4

North Luangwa National Park (Mwaleshi River) – Flying into Isolated Wilderness and Starting the Walk

Hop north in a four-seater plane, touching down on a dusty airstrip in the heart of North Luangwa. It is only a 60-mile journey, but going by vehicle would take a full day, such is the dilapidated state of the four-wheel drive trails. Start walking, tentative steps at first as you grow accustomed to the atmosphere. Baboons call from above your head, a herd of hartebeests stops and stares back at you, and two elephants are seen from across the floodplain. A herd of buffalos waits up ahead, and the guides immediately know that they are bachelor males, so you reroute and walk around. You will arrive at the camp for brunch and a few quiet hours, allowing the heat of the day to pass. After afternoon tea, you will head out once more, wandering the areas that vehicles cannot penetrate, exploring the raw authenticity of big-game Africa.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Flight

included

Activity

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 5 - 6

North Luangwa National Park (Mwaleshi River) – Where No Vehicles Go: Exploring the Big-Five Mwaleshi River Area on Two Feet

You will start walking early, maximizing the cooler hours when it is easier to walk, and the animals are more active. Giraffes lope past, and you follow their journey, admiring the colors. A vast herd of buffalos fills a floodplain, and now you get closer, creeping silently within 10 – 20 yards of the harem. Elephants dominate the banks of the Mwaleshi River, and you watch in awe as they splash in the shallows, using their trunks as snorkels, and intimately interact with other herds. Zebras and wildebeests are seemingly everywhere, and you walk with the herds. These animals would usually run from a vehicle, but the guides quickly teach you how to be a non-threatening and non-obtrusive presence in the park.

Each day you return to the camp for brunch before an afternoon walk explores a different area. The camp is simple yet comfortable. Your tented suite has a bed raised off the ground, chairs for lazily watching wildlife at the river, plus a bathroom with a Western toilet seat, and hot showers available. Luxury comes from the experience here as animals roam through the camp, coming to drink from the river below. Sporadic sounds occupy you into the evening, while each morning you wake to new prints in the surrounding sound.

Over these three days, some of the walks will specifically seek out black rhinos, bashful creatures that hide in the bushes. Trackers follow spoor and behaviors to keep you well clear of resident lions and leopards; however, there is a real thrill to finding evidence of their presence on your walks. A walking safari is never a race, and you will move slowly, inspecting the clues, learning about the environment, and immersing yourself in a rare world. Smells perforate, sounds echo, and the landscape holds you captive. Memories come from the animals and scenes you encounter, particularly how close you can get, but most of all, they are the result of the ambiance and the exclusive experience of walking in this big-game territory.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 7

North Luangwa National Park – (Luangwa River) – An Expedition between the Great Rivers of Africa’s Ultimate Walking Safari Destination

Begin your expedition, following the elephants, connecting the Mwaleshi and Luangwa rivers. It is a full day of walking, stopping for a picnic lunch beneath a lone acacia on the floodplains. The Mwaleshi area sees a trickle of visitors, but the section around the Luangwa River may only be seen by a small handful of foreign eyes each year, and it is almost certain you will not see other people here. Follow the prints, then relax at the fly camp, a more rudimentary camp on the banks of the river. Erected specifically for your walking safari, it has a basic but spacious sleeping tent with a raised bed and a separate washroom tent. It is not luxurious, but you will be lounging on the camp chairs in the evening as the elephants and buffalos wander nearby.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 8 - 9

North Luangwa National Park (Luangwa River) – Fly Camping and Walking in a Big-Game Landscape Rarely Seen by Human Eyes

These two days continue the safari program, with walks in the morning and afternoon, plus downtime through the hottest part of the day. Wake to hippos grunting and open the tent flap to watch them barreling into the river. A kudu herd ambles past, grazing on the grass around your camp, seemingly oblivious to your presence. Start walking, and you follow a herd of waterbucks, tracking them toward a lagoon that is populated by bushbuck. A standoff ensues, and it is fascinating to watch and listen to the interactions. Out on the open plains, you are surrounded by huge herds of impala and puku, animals that run from almost everything but do not feel particularly perturbed by your presence. Wildebeests canter toward you, beards flowing on the breeze, coming to inspect the mammal on two legs. Baboons and monkeys dominate the trees, another continual presence on this 6-day walking safari.

This Luangwa River area showcases classic Luangwa wildlife, similar to those more famously found in South Luangwa National Park. Leopard prints are seen in the sand, and you might encounter hyena or wild dog from a distance. By now you will understand the actions of buffalos and elephants, interpreting how they feel and what they will do next. This kind of knowledge has been around for millennia, passed down from the ancestors. Local tribes have coexisted with wild mammals, so it is not that unusual for people to be walking in the big-game bush, but very rare for foreigners to be doing so. Learning from the guides and trackers is a huge part of the experience, allowing you to feel and understand the nuances of this untouched safari landscape.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 10 - 11

South Luangwa to Livingstone – Relaxed Days on the Zambezi River

The journey away from North Luangwa showcases just how remote you were. First return to the airstrip for the charter flight to Mfuwe, where you connect on a scheduled two-hour flight back to Livingstone. Both these flights provide amazing vistas over the parks, swooping low over rivers, woodland, savannah and the open floodplains you have been exploring. Touch down in Livingstone and the final two days are completely at your leisure. Settle into the contemporary luxury along the banks of the Zambezi and spend languid days recuperating from your journey. Six days in such a remote world is energizing, inspiring you through such a rare connection with solitude and surreal wildlife. However, it is also good to go back to cold drinks in the fridge, hot showers on demand, and comfy bathrobes.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Flight

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 12

Livingstone – Departure

Leave Africa from Livingstone International Airport after breakfast. The airport is only a 20-minute transfer from your lodge.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

expand/close
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Trip Highlights

  • Explore a big-game landscape that is inaccessible to vehicles and rarely ever seen by human eyes, with six days of walking safaris in the exclusive North Luangwa National Park
  • Immerse yourself in the rhythm of the wilderness with mobile camps perched above animal-dappled rivers
  • Wander with the herds and gaze across at some of Africa’s giants, a North Luangwa walking safari making it possible for you to get relatively close to elephants, buffalos, and black rhinos
  • Follow the spoor of the predators and learn how to analyze animal behavior, knowing when to get closer and when to give the animals a wider berth
  • Rest and relax before the walking safari by spending two nights at an opulent lodge on the banks of the Zambezi, just upriver from Victoria Falls
  • Introduce yourself to the world of the four-legged giants with a day of game drives in South Luangwa National Park
  • After six days walking in the heart of the wild, you have two more nights back in Livingstone, returning to traditional luxuries before the journey home
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Detailed Description

Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is one of the finest in Africa, a haven of woodland and savannah, and home to both an abundance of famous animals and the wildlife diversity that makes a safari so enchanting. This park shares an unfenced border with North Luangwa National Park, and you can follow the Luangwa and Mwaleshi rivers into the North, entering a wilderness that has rarely seen human eyes. In the 30 years before 1984, it was only open to park rangers, and more than 30 years later, there is still no permanent lodge. There is an entry road, a stretch of sand in shocking condition, but very few other vehicle trails. In North Luangwa the only way to explore is on foot, making your own trails in a wilderness that is completely off Africa’s map. Making it even more exclusive, and for reasons of practicality and safety, the park is only open to tourism in the dry-season months from June to October.

On this private journey, you will enjoy Africa’s deepest and rarest connection with the big-game wilderness. North Luangwa is home to the Big Five, with the rare black rhino joining large herds of elephants and buffalos, plus prides of lions and stealthy leopards. You will be on foot, walking for six days around the Mwaleshi and Luangwa rivers. The mobile camps are simple but comfortable. You will spend three nights in a tented chalet with en-suite facilities, followed by three nights at a fly camp that is even deeper in the bush. You walk with the wildlife and, other than the guides, it is extremely unlikely that you will see another person during these six days. Most animals are frightened of the noise and size of a vehicle, but they do not run from you because, when you are on foot, you are just another mammal joining them on the savannah.

The Mwaleshi area has a classically African set of residents, including black rhinos, giant elephants, and huge herds of zebras and wildebeests on the grassy plains. At the fly camp, you are surrounded by iconic Luangwa life, notably large hippo pods and buffalo herds. Predators include lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs, and the whole park thrives with the wanderings of kudu, bushbuck, waterbuck, impala, puku, and other ungulates. The real highlight is not just the animals you see, but the atmosphere you can appreciate here. Every sound, every change in smell, every nuanced feeling in the air, there are few wildlife experiences on the planet that can provide such authenticity and intimacy.

You may wonder if it is safe to be walking around the mopane woodland with lions nearby  or to fly camp on a river bend when there are 10 hippos wading down below. Yes, it absolutely is. The Luangwa Parks pioneered walking safaris in Africa, offering the concept decades before it was possible in other countries. Every year since 1984, a handful of visitors have come to North Luangwa on foot and there have been no harmful incidents. After the walking safari, and after you have learned the behavior and spoor of the park’s animals, you will fully understand why it is safe.

Your team of trackers and guides have an exceptional understanding of this landscape and the animals that live here. They will show you how to track wildlife and how to predict the animals’ behavior. They will teach you when to creep silently closer and when to stand still. They, and their ancestors have coexisted with Africa’s biggest mammals on a day to day basis for generations, and it is their knowledge that keeps you safe. For an added layer of security, you are also accompanied by an armed ranger. Although rarely needed, one warning shot wards off animals encroaching on your space.

This exclusive safari centers on a private, 6-day North Luangwa walking expedition. After landing in Livingstone, you will spend the first two days at a luxury lodge on the banks of the Zambezi, a few miles upriver from the wonder of Victoria Falls. Then you will fly to South Luangwa, where game drives introduce you to the landscape and the wildlife. Your first days are deliberately relaxed, ensuring that you are energized for the walking safari. North Luangwa is so inaccessible that you must fly, a short hop north where the walk starts with three days around the Mwaleshi River. Continue with three days around the Luangwa River at a more simplistic fly camp. Following your walking safari, you will return to Livingstone and more classical definitions of luxury, with two nights of indulgence on the banks of the Zambezi. 

You may wish to browse our luxury Zambian safari page to gain further inspiration on planning your own Zambia tour.

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Starting Price

$5395 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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