Wonderful Safari in Zambia
by Jacquie Stafford
Sunrise on the Zambezi River
My friend and I enjoyed a fabulous safari at a wonderful lodge in the Lower Zambezi in Zambia. I'm in tourism, so I planned and booked the tour myself. The objective was to introduce Mike (he lives in England) to the "real Africa" i.e. the proper bush. We were there at the end of November for 4 nights, just before they closed the lodge for the rainy season.
One of the best parts was game viewing from the river, which made our cruises extra special. One afternoon we saw two female elephants trying to rescue a tiny baby elephant that had slipped down a steep bank into the river. It was really funny to watch and the elephant body language when they eventually hauled the tiny thing back on to dry land was like "you silly child, don't EVER DO THAT AGAIN!" Then off they all went into the bush.
From the camp we saw lots of elephant and hippo, and heard lion and hyena in the night.
We had a drive in the Lower Zambezi National Park and saw a black mamba crossing the road right in front of us. The Land Rover came to a screaming halt and the mamba reared up - quite scary. That's the first one I've seen in over 40 years in Africa, so it was very special.
To add to the morning's excitement, when we got to the park gate we found we had been locked in! No-one knew we were in the park (all the lodges in the park had already closed for the season) and the conservancy people had padlocked the gate. A radio call for help (and fortified for the wait with a cold beer) resulted in the arrival of rescue a short time later.
We stayed at the Royal Zambezi Lodge which was totally stunning, especially as they upgraded us to a suite! We had a private plunge pool, huge copper bath and outdoor shower on the deck, plus a sala (a covered private area with a day bed). The rooms are basically VERY luxurious tents with a huge en suite bathroom. We had a butler to look after us, and most nights we enjoyed a private dinner on our deck - naturally with candles and wine.
The dawn woke us each morning at about 05h00 and we saw an absolutely spectacular sunrise every day.
There was a spa where you could have massages, steam baths, sauna, jacuzzi and various treatments. The the lodge management and staff were great and the food super too.
One of the best features of being on the river is the superb fishing - this time I caught 2 good sized ones (8 and 9 lbs respectively). On a previous visit I landed a 15 pounder!
Getting there is a 30 minute flight in a light aircraft from Lusaka and it's actually great fun landing in the middle of the bush. The place is so remote it's really wild and the peace is just wonderful.
The good news this year is that the lodge has a special on and price is quite reduced. Just remember though that this is absolute 5 star luxury and doesn't come cheap.
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We combined this trip with a visit to Livingstone and that's a must if you've never seen the Victoria Falls. Unfortunately at that time of year there was very little water coming over the Zambia side, but the Zimbabwe side more than made up for it. November is not the ideal time to visit this part of the world as the rains are about to start in the valley and the Falls are at a low level. Peak period is July to October, but June is pretty good too.
From a safari point of view I'd rate this trip an 8, however the accommodation definitely rated a 10. As I said, this is not the best time of the year and the animals had already started moving inland.
Highly recommended destination, especially for its chill out factor and fishing.