On safari in Zambia. Or Kenya. Or Tanzania. Or Rwanda. Surely this is one of life’s greatest travel experiences for adventurous women. Justine Glen, the founder of Reis Voyage says travelling to Kenya on her own in 1995 was one of the best decisions she’s ever made. Spending the next 15 years travelling in Africa and living in Tanzania was full of life-changing moments. Inspired, she started her own travel company.
Safaris can be group experiences or your own amazing adventure.
In February, Justine and her client Teresa set off on safari in Zambia, to find out why the remote national park of South Luangwa is so special.
In Justine’s words:
Landing on African soil again stirred the emotion of being back home after never actually being away. Walking off the plane and making our way through immigration the process was ever so quick. Our Proflight journey from Lusaka to Mufwe had been pleasant. Tiredness we felt from our long journey turned into excitement and anticipation.
On arrival in Mufwe we were greeted by the friendly face of our guide. The drive to the South Luangwa national park gate was full of lush green farms and a familiar smell of “nyama choma”, (grilled or roast meat) tickling our senses.
Baboons greeted us at the park entrance with their playful demeanour and unruly antics. Enroute to camp we came across many of the “puku” (medium-sized antelope). After a small boat transfer across the Luangwa river we arrived at Chinzombo, the newly renovated camp of Norman Carr luxury African safaris.
Walking up from the jetty we arrived to the welcoming smiles of Yaliwe and her team, instantly making us feel at home. The camp rooms were spacious, with stunning interior decor and our own plunge pool.
Our stay at Chinzombo was full of tasty cuisine, chatty and cheeky baboons and happy families of mongoose. Hippo pods dotted the river in front of camp entertaining us with their huge yawns and massive teeth. Daily morning and afternoon game viewing experiences brought a different highlight and fascinating birdlife. We soon became very familiar with the sounds of the ring-necked dove and its tune of “work harder” or “drink lager”.
This season brings a changing landscape of brilliant green lush vegetation and high flowing rivers, quite a contrast to the dry and harsh landscape of safari season, between the months of May to October. Elephants were abundant and loved wallowing in the mud or camouflaging themselves behind the trees. Young calves were full of character and noise. The never ending efforts of trying to control their trunks was mesmerising.
Night game drives were highlighted by a young hyena sniffing out a leopard kill high in a tree branch above. Sitting among circling lions preying on unsuspecting impala for their evening meal had us in absolute awe.
Venturing up the Luangwa River to our next camp Kakuli, the hour-long boat ride was comfortable. Our guide Jon was a wealth of knowledge. The small cozy bush camp offered us that remote and authentic adventure that we were looking for. Breakfast time we would be greeted by the smile of our camp chef “Mr Million” who would later tell us stories each night of “Why the hippo has no hair” and “Why the giraffe has a long neck”.
In Kakuli each day brought a new highlight and experience – we never had two days the same. We found the cookson’s wildebeest, crawshay’s zebra and thornicroft giraffe. The wildlife and photographic opportunities were endless. We finally took a ream of hippo yawning shots! Oh, and of the magnificent bull elephant who kindly came up to our vehicle to check us out.
Our camps were intimate and pure bush style luxury. We had all the amenities from home and more. The six rooms each had their own plunge pool so we were able to have a dip in the afternoon, cooling down from the midday heat. The camp staff couldn’t have been more hospitable. We enjoyed wonderful cuisine and the daily sundowners of gin and tonics.
Our professional guides and game scouts were knowledgeable and impressive. Every day we embarked on a learning and discovery mission. Showing us much more than we could have ever imagined, or expected. Our stay included accommodation, meals, standard drinks, laundry, two guided safari activities each day, park fees, airport transfers to and from Mfuwe, and inter-camp transfers.
ON SAFARI IN ZAMBIA BITE SIZE INFO
- South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia, the southernmost of three national parks in the valley of the Luangwa River, is a world-renowned wildlife haven
- Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life-blood of this 9059 sq km park
- 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction
- Justine Glen, the founder of Reis Voyage works with various companies and speaks the local language Kiswahili. It has given her a wealth of knowledge and expertise on how to experience an African safari
- Images courtesy of Reis Voyage and Norman Carr Safaris.