Zambia safari: Lower Zambezi & the Kafue

Zambia's two great rivers - superb wildlife in pristine wilderness

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Where
ZAMBIA
When
JUNE TO OCTOBER
How long
7 NIGHTS
How much
FROM £4,750 PP
why
THE ZAMBEZI VALLEY IS AMONGST AFRICA'S RICHEST AND MOST CELEBRATED SAFARI LANDSCAPES. 300KMS AWAY SITS THE GARGANTUAN KAFUE NP ONE OF LEAST EXPLORED AND MOST REWARDING WILDERNESSES ANYWHERE
staying in
Authentic Safari Camps

VERY FEW PEOPLE COMBINE THESE TWO FABULOUS AREAS DESPITE IT BEING EMINENTLY POSSIBLE. START IN THE WORLD FAMOUS ZAMBEZI VALLEY WHERE STUNNING BIG GAME SIGHTINGS ARE VIRTUALLY GUARANTEED BEFORE HEADING TO THE WILDS OF KAFUE WHICH IS STILL BEING EXPLORED.

THE LOWER ZAMBEZI OFFERS A SUPERB 'BIG-GAME FIX' FOR ANY SAFARI AFICIONADO, SWIMMING ELEPHANTS, STALKING LEOPARDS AND GREAT PRIDES OF LION ARE FREQUENT. THE KAFUE HARBOURS MORE SPECIES OF ANTELOPE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE ANY ANYTHING THAT IT LACKS IN MAMMAL CONCENTRATIONS IT MORE THAN MAKES UP FOR IN VARIETY.

The Lower Zambezi and Kafue are two spectacular National Parks - and are spectacularly different. Marrying the two on the same expedition within the space of a week can produce a sublime experience. 

Starting in the Zambezi where sightings of Africa's most iconic mammals are virtually guaranteed, the guiding is superb and the means to get around - boat, canoe, on foot and by jeep (day and night) is wonderfully varied before heading on the wild, remote and relatively little visited Kafue National Park.

You could of course spend a week in the Lower Zambezi alone, but the truth is that after a few days it's likely that you'll have encountered most of the headline species and while it may be fun to see them again you could instead do something completely different... 

It's hard to exagerate just how different the Kafue is from the Lower Zambezi, sure lots of species of mammals and birds occur in both parks but very few trees do and the whole environment has a distinct feel to it and the game behaves.  

This is a safari of contrasts - designed to give you a good sharp dose of all the big stars before leading you down the path less travelled with a sense of real exploration.”

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DAY 1

IN TO THE LOWER ZAMBEZI

It's a emarkably short hop from Zambia's bustling capital city Lusaka by light aircraft, over the escarpment down to the Zambezi Valley. Dominated by the massive, meandering, mighty Zambezi River which you'll see first from the air - and likely some wildlife too.  

DAYS 1 - 4

EXPLORE THE LOWER ZAMBEZI

Jeki landing strip is inside the park so from the moment you land you are in the thick of it. Driving to the Potato Bush Camp in an open vehicle will serve as an introduction to the resident mammal and bird species. The Lower Zambezi has an unusually diverse range of means of game-viewing at its disposal as the main channels of the river are navigable. You'll probably want to drive somewhat as that provides the best opportunity to see many of the terrestrial mammals but be sure to get out on the river, either by boat, or if you are feeling particularly brave, canoe and you can also try your hand fishing - Tiger Fish and giantic catfish known as Vundu being the most sought after. Like all Zambian National Parks it is also possible to undertake a brilliant walking safari. Find out more about walking safaris in Zambia. 

DAY 4

TO THE KAFUE

It's the short hop back up to Lusaka and then on to the Kafue. You can either drive of fly to the Kafue and we'd recommend driving at least one direction as it is good tar for much of the way and gives a real feeling of journey and how the environments fit together. 

DAY 4

TO THE KAFUE

Musekese Camp will be your base for the next four nights and you'll immediately notice a change in atmosphere. The Lower Zambezi camps are pretty smooth, verging on the formulaic and the LZNP operators seem pretty confident that most people would want to visit their park and will have a great time there. Tourism in the Kafue is much more in its infancy and the feeling of passion amongst the guides is palpable - there's an almost evangelic zeal to prove to you that you've come to a great place and it is utterly charming. 

DAY 4 TO 8

GETTING UNDER THE SKIN OF ONE OF AFRICA'S GREAT PARKS

You certainly have to work harder for sightings in the Kafue than the Lower Zambezi but that is part of the fun - it's more participatory and less vicarious - and the park never fails to surprise, just when you feel that you are seeing very little you'll happen across a herd of sable or a perambulating cheetah. Like the Zambezi the Kafue River is navigable by boat (not generally canoe) and this is a great way to get deep in to the riverine thicket - and you can throw a line in if you wish. The walking safaris are particularly rewarding and it's often worthwhile combining walks and drives in order to cover more ground.

A NOTE FROM ROD

INSPIRATION

Within Zambia's guiding fraternity there's a great chasm between "Valley folk" (being the Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi) and "Kafue folk" -  each of whom, endearingly loyal to their own patch, will extol the virtues of their surrounds, likely belittle the alternative somewhat and never the twain shall meet. 

Me, having spent over 20 years in the Luangwa, I am a Valley person through and through and was guilty as charged of proclaiming it God's own country during my time there. Truth be told though I wasn't spending much time in the Kafue because, by definition, I was busy in the Luangwa - and I think that this is probably true of most of the guides, they often haven't spent long enough in the "other" place to make a properly informed opinion of it.

I've been fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time in the Kafue since living full time in the Luangwa and each time I went in I genuinely felt I was discovering somewhere new. The feeling of making authentic and worthwhile observations is very strong and pretty unusual in this day and age. Precisely because it is huge and little visited not every lion pride has a name and you really can expect the unexpected.

The naysayers (aka Valley folk) might say the game is dispersed and the standard-bearers will retort that there is more variety. Both are right - and the obvious way to get the best out of both worlds is to experience both, it's that simple - yet surprisingly few people do.

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Our experienced travellers include:

Rod Tether
Rod Tether
Alex Edwards
Alex Edwards
Vanessa Janion
Vanessa Janion

It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.

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.

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