One Stop Wonders – Zambia
With many African countries offering a wonderfully rich variety of experiences, it’s easy to plan an incredible safari holiday in one destination. Maximising your precious holiday time by minimising your travel once you reach Africa makes a lot of sense, especially if you are travelling with children. Many lodges are located in areas with diverse surroundings and have so much to see and do that there’s more than enough to keep you entertained for a week in one spot.
Second in our series of blogs recommending our top “travel and stop” destinations we’re exploring the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. Zambia stakes a claim as the home of the modern walking safari and, unusually, allows both walking and night drives within its national parks. With areas where boating and canoeing is also possible, this is one of the countries that offers at least as many safari activities as any other. Where better then to relax in one place and really get to know it.
The Lower Zambezi National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, nestles between an imposing mountain escarpment to its north and the mighty Zambezi River to the south. A week’s stay here allows you to take on various safari activities that allow you to explore the area or simply take some time off to relax by the pool or sit on your verandah and appreciate the views whilst spotting wildlife on the Zambezi River.
Elephant and buffalo are common here and move freely over the river between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Large herds of impala with kudu, zebra, wildebeest and waterbuck are all prominent. The woodland of the park is home to the predators such as lion, leopard and spotted hyena and if you’re lucky you may see a wild dog roaming. In the river itself, hippo pods relax and crocodiles bask in the shallows and on the islands. In the past few years, the park has been gaining a reputation of aardvark sightings.
Many camps and safari lodges in Zambia are small with a team that’s been working together for years; you will often leave camp with feeling of leaving a friend’s house rather than having stayed in a hotel.
The newest lodge in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Lolebezi is set on half a mile of private river frontage so you can wake up to the sound of the calming river sounds. The lodge itself is a fascinating mix of African craftsmanship and modern design with a significant use of recycled materials. There is an abundance of things you can do here from safari drives and waking safaris to experiencing the Zambezi from canoe or boat (it’s worth noting that while they can go out in a boat, children under 16 cannot go canoeing or on walking safaris). The lodge has a special Ngwana Camp for kids offering nature walks, cookery and bush craft.
This is a great place to stay a little longer, with a gym and spa for fitness or relaxation on days where you may want to relax in camp. There’s also a pool to relax by with a book if the gym and spa sound like too much activity!
Chiawa sits in the southwest of the Lower Zambezi National Park and looks across the Zambezi to Mana Pools in Zimbabwe. It has a long history but now embodies everything that is luxury without losing its original ‘bush feel’. Chiawa has eight Meru-style tents and one larger safari suite, a swimming pool and safari shack; it’s the perfect place for a family with older children to call home for a few days. Being an open camp, you can enjoy wildlife from your lodge or out on safari both on land and water, keen anglers can also get a chance to go tiger fishing on a catch and release basis from late August to mid-November.
Recently Chiawa have changed to red light night drives, which cannot be seen by wildlife. This allows the guide to not disturb the wildlife and change their behaviour in the way a white light would. Instead, you get to view uninterrupted wildlife during the night, possibly hunting their prey or enjoying their kill.
Time and Tide Chongwe River Camp
At the confluence of the Zambezi and Chongwe rivers is where you will find Time and Tide Chongwe River Camp in an area of outstanding wildlife where lions, leopard and wild dog are prevalent. In this area you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Samango or blue monkey. Although they are not rare, they inhabit humid and forested areas, and the Chongwe area is one of the most accessible areas in Southern Africa where they can be seen. There is so much to do here you will never be bored, if you haven’t had enough of the sounds of Africa during the day you can enjoy a night sleeping under the stars in the sleep out hammock.
For those with bigger families, Chongwe River House, which sleeps eight easily, is a real home from home. You get exclusive use of the two story, four-bedroom private house with a private pool and spacious indoor and outdoor lounges. As well as the amazing wildlife and beautiful scenery your day is completely tailored to your family’s needs with a dedicated staff and guiding team looking after your every need.
We would be delighted to help you plan a safari encompassing any of the destinations mentioned here. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.