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Between December and June, the Luangwa Valley empties of people. Swollen thunder clouds gather and turn the bush into an unreal palette of greens and yellows. The rising rivers burst their banks, and pools of water appear inland.
Quite frankly, in most places in Africa, this would be a definite no-no if you were looking for a wildlife safari. But here in the Luangwa, there are many good reasons to venture out at this time of year. The birds go nuts with weird and wonderful breeding plumage, and many of the mammals are either giving birth or getting busy with all sorts of tricks to attract a mate. Animals quite often go a little loopy at this time of the year, overcome with all the bounty and full of the joy of life. This is also often one of the best times to see wild dog, a usually rare and special visitor. But even without all this action, the skies, the trees and flowers, and the rivers are astonishing in themselves.
This safari focuses around two of the very few camps that don’t close during this time, unable to handle the impossible logistics. Instead of battling flooded roads, you take to the Luangwa River by boat, serenely in search of animals and birds. The normally dry bush and giant stands of ebony offer the delightful opportunity to cruise gently down new channels, sometimes navigating between tree trunks. The camps are high above the water-line and when you’re not enjoying cruising around, you can relax and take in the scene from camp with a gin and tonic close at hand.
Rumour has it that Catherine Ronan used to be a spy. We find this slightly hard to believe as she loves nothing more than to divulge her travel secrets and infect other people with her enthusiasm.