Dennis was gracious enough to grant me this interview about his Lower Zambesi National Park safari and his enthusiasm shines through in the answers he gives about the experience.
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|Which safari company did you travel with?|
Chachacha safarisWas it a pre-designed itinerary or tailor-made for you?
It was a pre-designed Lower Zambezi tour. I stayed at the hostel there in Lusaka, then we all took off first thing in the morning and drove down to a whole world of different experiences on the Lower Zambezi river.How did you find out about Chachacha safaris?
I found them on the internet. When I do these trips with Habitat I do a lot of research and that's where I found them. We stayed at Fawlty Towers [hostel in Livingstone, Zambia] which is affiliated with Chachacha so I got their information there as well; they had a few brochures.And what did you think of their performance for your Lower Zambezi safari?
I was very impressed. The whole team that was involved right from the start, were really good. Being from Canada - they haven't dealt with a lot of Canadians before.
We were driving out with the jeep, and my wallet fell out of my pocket (it's a rough ride). I was sitting right at the back so it fell onto the road. I got to the next stop and told the driver John that I must have dropped it, I wasn't sure where it had fell out - it was a good half hour's drive. He went back and found it, it was lying in the middle of the road near a village. He brought it back… I was just amazed that he found it. That was right at the start, so I was really impressed.
Then we did the canoe trip on the Lower Zambezi, which was just overwhelming. You're going down the river with all the critters on the side - crocodiles, hippos and all that, elephants… it's quite an impressive show.Did you ever feel threatened by the crocs or hippos, while on the canoe?
No. They go through quite a safety routine. I think the only way you would be threatened is if you didn't do what you're told. They're pretty clear on what they want and how to avoid these things. So you'd have to purposely go out of your way to have a problem, I think.
Even one place when we were walking, an elephant came out and he gave us sort of a blast, like a rush but I don't think anyone in the group ever really felt threatened.What was the size of the group on the Lower Zambezi tour?
I was alone but in total we were 8. We camped, the tents were set up for us, they cooked every meal for us. I think everyone suffered from over eating! I was amazed at the meals that they had, because it was just cooked over an open fire. Even the campsite we were at, we had hot showers there… it was very impressive.
|Please describe the Lower Zambezi accommodation|
They were just dome tents, but we did have a little cot inside so at least you're off the ground. We had our own sleeping bags. I have to say it was a step up because when I was with Habitat we slept in a village, and it was on a concrete floor. So for me, it was luxurious!
For what we were doing, I think it was quite appropriate. They're very clear about what you should expect, staying in tents and so on.Was the camp you stayed at permanent with a fence around it?
Yes, it was a fixed camp. I don't know if there was a real fence around it - it was actually quite large. They had a few semi-permanent thatched structures there and I think the animals could get in if they had to. But my own feeling is that the animals were not going to bother you if there's a large enough group there. There was always enough lights at night in this lower Zambesi camp, they light the pathways with a candle or gas type of thing.
|What did the meals consist of?|
We had sausage and eggs, cereal was always available, juice, fruit - that sort of thing. Dinner time there was always lots of meat, vegetables. For me, coming from Canada, all this stuff like vegetables were quite new too, it's different from what we get. I didn't know the names of it all but it was very good stuff. It was all pretty impressive.
|What was the wildlife highlight of your trip?|
I think the sheer number of elephants we saw, I was quite impressed with that. We saw hyenas, zebra, impala, buffalo, and large numbers of hippos, crocodiles, birds of all description - it was just absolutely amazing when we were there on the Lower Zambezi river, actually over powering.
|What was a typical day of your safari like in terms of the things you did?|
You'll have breakfast which will take about an hour, or hour and a half. Then you have two choices: you either have a walk or they drive you out for half an hour and then we took a walk about for a couple of hours. Then we'd come back for lunch or we'd stay out for lunch - they'd always have everything planned to the letter.
After lunch we'd usually have a break for about 2-3 hours, for sort of a siesta. We'd go out for another drive, come back for supper and go out for a night drive. Outside of the siesta we were pretty busy all day. At night there was usually a campfire with sing-alongs or something… so it was a very full day. Each and every day of this Lower Zambezi tour was really packed… there wasn't a moment to spare, it seemed.
|Were there any disappointments?|
Well, I'll tell you I'm going with them again this year. I'm leading another trip for Habitat for Humanity so one of the things I've done with my team, I've given them the website along with what I do know, so a large number of the people of our group are going on a safari to South Luangwa with Chachacha.
|What was the most useful piece of equipment that you took with?|
I'd have to say the flashlight that I had. I did have a pretty good sleeping bag. I never even used a mosquito net because the tents were sort of sealed, they were secure enough that way, I had it with me but I didn't use it.Were you taking malaria tablets?
Yes. When we were in the village, it was more prone to mosquitos, I don't know why. I used Larium.
|How would you rate your Lower Zambezi safari out of 10?|
I'd give it a good 9, I'm sold! There isn't a whole lot they can do better than what they had. I was more than pleased, I was impressed.
|Safari Location:||Lower Zambesi National Park in Zambia|
|Safari Company Used:||Chachacha safaris|
|Duration:||One week in July|
|Traveller Details:||Dennis Mitschke, Canada|
|Rates & Availability:||Plan your own safari. Make an enquiry|