Shenton Safaris Review

by Ruth
(Worcestershire, UK)

Kaingo - Leopard

Kaingo - Leopard

I went on a 150th birthday safari. Two friends and I all hit the big 5-0 together, and kindly let my husband join us on the celebratory holiday, most of which was organised by a friend in Livingstone.

Safari Destination

We travelled in, and spent 3 delightful weeks in Zambia, Namibia (Caprivi) and Botswana (Chobe). The South Luangwa (Zambia) section was the final safari, and had a lot to live up to after the previous impressive experiences, but it managed to do so.

We made our own arrangements for the travel, flying from Livingstone via Lusaka to Mfuwe in Luangwa, a bit of an adventure in itself, particularly with all the bush fires.

We stayed several days with Shenton Safaris in their small but well equipped Kaingo camp, and the experience was great.

The guides were knowledgeable, the camp comfortable and the surroundings incomparable, deep in the South Luangwa National Park. Most of the time we felt as if we had the whole park to ourselves.

Wildlife Highlights

On arriving in camp, we were greeted with "Have a quick drink if you like, but there's a leopard in the tree just outside camp if you want to go and take a look."

Did we want to....?? The leopard had killed an antelope (a puku, I think) and dragged it up the tree. We watched him for some time in daylight, and noticed he was very aware of us and growled and hissed alarmingly. However, the real magic came that evening when we went back to watch; he was much more relaxed at night, and we sat for a good hour just enjoying this magical creature.

We were joined by a semi-circle of hyenas arranged tidily behind us and dribbling in anticipation of any morsels dropped by the leopard!

We saw pretty much everything we had hoped for and more, lions, elephants, hippos galore, Thornicroft's giraffe, wonderful birds, including the Pels fishing owl, which I believe avid twitchers would die for! At the smaller end of the scale, we were delighted to see honeybadgers, and the elephant shrew fascinated us, as did the bush snake dangling in the tree by the camp kitchen.

Night driving found us a dramatic lion pride hunt. Three beautiful lionesses stalking impala - girl power!

There had been a hippo fight shortly before we arrived, and there was sadly a corpse in the river just in front of our chalet. However, this did mean that as the days progressed, more and more crocs arrived until they were stacked 3 deep on the riverbank. Shining a torch across at night revealed some 200 pairs of glowing red eyes.

The hippo hide provided amazing opportunities for close encounters, particularly as, sadly, the rains had not been so good that year and there was quite a concentration of animals for the time of year.

'Sundowners' at Fish Eagle lagoon were wonderful, the play of light on the lagoon kept us oohing, aahing and snapping photos for all we were worth.

Finally, the "trademark" walking safaris were everything we had hoped for: eyeball to eyeball with the elephant matriarch and her herd across a stream was unforgettable and romantic. Sitting down on our packs, lined up watching the Cooksons wildebeest who were in turn lined up watching us was more a comedy moment, but equally memorable.

Accommodation & Advice

Kaingo camp, approached through a magical ebony grove, is in the heart of South Luangwa: the chalets flank the river, and are simply but tastefully furnished. I don't think the frogs in the bedroom or the large and cheerful gecko in the lavatory are standard issue, but they probably should be.

Our tips for people planning their own safari are - take advice, sun cream and far more film/memory cards than you think you'll need.

Ruth's Safari Details:

Rating: 10/10

Safari company used: Shenton Safaris (make an enquiry)

Park visited: South Luangwa National Park in Zambia

Date of safari: May/June

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  • Comments for Shenton Safaris Review

    Click here to add your own comments

    Aug 28, 2008
    S Luangwa - Shenton Safaris
    by: Anonymous

    My wife and I agree with 10/10 rating. It's not cheap, but it's top value. Arrangements went without a hitch. Food and accommodation well ahead of expectation. Personal service in camp and in the bush was outstanding. Thank you Shenton safaris - we'll be back!

    Aug 28, 2008
    A Great Safari
    by: Mike and Mimi Thompson

    This past July was our second visit with Shenton Safaris and it was as good as the first, maybe even better because we had Patrick as our guide the whole week. We really enjoyed our walking safaris with him. We love both camps but are leaning more towards Mwamba because we love the outdoor showers! However, the hippos at Kaingo are the best. What we appreciate is that we still feel that we are in Africa. The service is superb and the game viewing is outstanding.

    Oct 10, 2010
    A real safari experience (DREAM TRIP)
    by: Russell Nicholson

    I've visited Zambia in 2008, and had a good trip in many ways, i.e. the quality of camps, the guiding standard and the range of game seen, and specifically the animal species I did observe were good specimens... For some people on safari, that may not be too important, very much a case of, if you've seen impala or zebra, that ticks the box... What you need to read between the lines for is how the South Luangwa N.P. has such a good balance and more importantly this interacts to give this park its very just reputation, and my 2010 trip was truly outstanding. I spent time at Kaingo and the Mwambd bush A truly magical experience with Derek Shenton and his team...Derek's passion glows like nothing else, he has a fantastic activity range and the photographic hides offer truly "AMAZING" oppurtunities for professional and amateur, and if you just want to put down your camera and thoughts...just simply immerse yourself in the magic of just being so close. For me the carmine bee eater hide is so mesmerising you won't want to leave...these truly stunning birds are a joy to watch... The carnival kings of the Luangwa riverbanks... The game drives are very good... the guides and driver adjusting position to give you THE "SHOT" is done on request.. And the walking safari brings you such a different perspective on the wildlife.. A thrilling encounter with hyenas crunching the bones of a buffalo kill... I was sitting on the ground watching from about 150 yards away... So engaging to see these things from ground.. now when it comes to an african safari, I think that there is one animal that most people would want to see, it's the lion... Well the prides in this area are superb, collectively this numbers nearly 40 lions... I spent many an hour watching some truly beautiful interaction between the two youngest cubs... So playful...and at the other end of the spectrum.. these playful and heart warming scenes have a role to play.. The lifeskills needed to survive, all brought to life the next day on a buffalo kill... A true scene of African bush life you couldn't ask for. So many memories a really fantastic experience. Kaingo has an idyllic setting deep in the S.L.N.P. on the riverbank, overlooking great hippo pods, the ethereal cry of the fish eagle echoes along the river... Truly magical. Derek has the pride (Mwamba lions) and a true passion. Very special place.

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