NOT ALL WALKING SAFARIS ARE ALIKE. THE SECRET OF REALLY GOOD BUSH WALKING IS WILDERNESS, WHERE YOU CAN NOT SEE OR HEAR JEEPS, BOATS OR PLANES - CROSS ROADS OR ENCOUNTER CAMPS
THIS EXPEDITION TAKES YOU INTO THE REMOTE FAR NORTH OF THE SOUTH LUANGWA NP TO SPEND FIVE DAYS FOLLOWING THE PERENNIAL MUPAMADZI RIVER IN THE COMPANY OF ONE OF ZAMBIA'S MOST EXPERIENCED GUIDES
Sniffing out a really good walking safari is perhaps a little trickier than it may first appear. Many countries in Africa offer walking safaris and the majority of camps in countries famed for walking safaris will offer them, however not all walking safaris are equal.
We sometimes hear people say "walking is about the little stuff - the birds and the bugs" but it really doesn't have to be all about footprint and faeces. The best walking most definitely takes place within Big Game country, that is pat of the allure.
EVERYTHING IN AFRICA BITES, BUT THE SAFARI BUG IS WORST OF ALL”
Arrive by light aircaft at Mfuwe Airport and transfer to Nkwali Camp on the banks of the Luangwa River. Here you will meet your fellow expediton members, the group size is limitted to six participants, and be briefed by your guide. Take a drive in to the National Park and start getting familiarised with some of the Luangwa fauna.
TO YOUR FIRST CAMP
After an early start and hearty breakfast you'll head off on your journey up to the Mupamadzi, following the 'O5 'road named for it's compass bearing. Having crossed the Luangwa River on to the west bank of the Luangwa (which is where the lion's share of the park is) you'll initially encounter quite a few vehicles and many tracks, however as you keep moving north you'll notice that these gradually fall away and the feeling of remoteness becomes ever more palpable. With a packed-lunch en-route you'll arrive in your first camp in the mid-afternoon, in time for a quick sortie on foot before nightfall.
YOUR MOBILE WALKING CAMP
The next few days are entirely dedicated to walking and you need not set foot in a vehicle again until after the trek is complete and it's time to return to base. The camp will be packed up and moved while you are out on foot, typically three times in five nights. This is no small task given that you'll be sleeping in walk-in style Meru tents with twin beds, a bucket shower and a long-drop loo. There's no electricity in the camp, just paraffin lamps and torches. The days will fall in to an easy rhythm - waking early to sip coffee by the campfire before heading out in the cool morning air and walking until mid to late morning, back to camp for lunch and then out again in the afternoon.
Days 4 - 6
WALKING THE MUPAMADZI
All Luangwa's star attractions can be found in this sector of the park including, tantalizingly, historical cheetah sightings on the Chifungwe Plain. Leopards, lions and elephants well outnumber people up here and the game remains wild and skittish due to lack of habituation through any permananent human presence.
Today it's back down the "O5" and in to the Nsefu Sector, one of the few tranches of park on the east bank. Look out for roan and hartebeest in the beautiful mixed-mosaic woodland en-route. Nsefu is Zambia's oldest camp and amazingly, given the capricious nature of the river and its ever-changing course, is still standing on a spectacular sweeping bend of the Luangwa River. There's the opportunity for a drive in the evening - perhaps up to the Chichele Salt Pans with the chance to tick off any of the species that you may have missed on foot (the Salt Pans are particularly good for seval who hunt in the reed marshes).
After breakfast it's a game drive through the park and down to Mfuwe Airport for your flight back to Lusaka and onwards.
A NOTE FROM ROD
MY LOVE FOR THE LUANGWA
I was incredibly fortunate to operate, together with my wife Guz, our own little walking-specialist camp in the Luangwa for a dozen years from 2001 to 2012. It was called Kutandala and built annually on the banks of the Mwaleshi River up in the North Luangwa NP. The Mwaleshi, like the Mupamadzi here, is a perennial river, a tributary of the Luangwa which they both join. These tributaries are quite different in character from the main river on which 90% of the camps are sited. Being shallow and clear they are almost entirely devoid of hippos and crocs, the Luangwa being fat with both, which makes fording by foot easy and refreshing (vehicles are another matter as they tend to get seriously stuck in the soft sand). This is walking country at its best - lots of game, no people, just miles and miles of untouched wilderness.
While we ran Kutandala it sometimes felt that we were fighting a rear-guard action against the pressure to 'upgrade', the need to make everything larger, more solid and even more comfortable. Having spent the last few years travelling across Africa, staying in scores of camps in a dozen countries, I've come to realise just how rare and precious these gems are - little camps, absolutely specialising in their art-form, pushing against the rising tide of 'progress' and keeping a little bit of paradise pristine. Proper luxury.
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All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.