Zambia safari: South Luangwa National Park & Bangweulu Wetlands

An adventure to a far-flung corner of Zambia with Travel & Leisure

Where
ZAMBIA
When
June to July
How long
7 nights
How much
From £5,985pp
why
EPIC WILDLIFE; OFF THE BEATEN TRACK; SUBLIME WALKING; BRILLIANT GUIDING
staying in
AUTHENTIC BUSH CAMPS

Two of Africa’s great rivers rise in Zambia – the Congo and Zambezi. Travelling from the Luangwa Valley to the Bangweulu Wetlands gives a sense of them both – and showcases just how different they are.

Rod recently travelled back to his old haunts in Zambia with Travel & Leisure magazine.

The Luangwa is classic big-game country – where lions prowl the savannah, following great herds of buffalo while leopard and wild dog pursue smaller prey. Where elephants and giraffe abound, and the rivers and lagoons are fat with hippo. Also home to many authentic and sometimes raw but comfortable bush camps. All comfortable and authentic, these camps always provide a unique and brilliant bush experience. The camps are simple affairs and revolve around getting out on two feet in sensational remote locations. Simple, they are but you’ll still enjoy a hot shower, a proper bed with crisp sheets and delicious food cooked in earth ovens.  

The Bangweulu has an altogether different vibe, more enigmatic but no less impressive with masses of wildfowl and tens of thousands of lechwe living in the place where there the “water meets the sky”. Also the stronghold of the shoebill – one of the most sought-after birds in the world and we found the expedition to see them certainly takes some doing and a fair bit of wading!

Quotations taken directly from Travel & Leisure article from their August edition.

Headline photo: Patrick Njobvu.

IT FELT LIKE I WAS ENTERING A DRAMA IN WHICH HUMANS HAD DECENT PARTS, BUT NOT NECESSARILY LEAD ROLES.”

- Travel & Leisure

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South Luangwa

Walking in big game country

“We began in Big Five territory, at South Luangwa Natural Park, where the family-run Shenton Safaris operates two long-established camps. One of the oldest national parks in Zambia, South Luangwa is an outstanding model of the traditional relationship between tourism, community, and wildlife.”

South Luangwa

Sleep out on the banks of the Mwamba River

“Our home in South Luangwa was Mwamba Camp, a cluster of thatch-and-bamboo huts on the banks of the Mwamba River, which runs along the park’s eastern edge. Each of the four guest chalets is open to the sky, allowing night breezes to take the place of air-conditioning. From my bed I stared upward, through a mosquito net and a layer of mesh, to branches seemingly hung with stars. The whistling of tree frogs and the whooping of hyenas made up the soundscape until dawn, when doves and coucals took over and I was summoned to breakfast.”

South Luangwa

Walking in the Luangwa

The Luangwa Valley has earnt a well-deserved reputation for brilliant walking safaris – the opportunity to strike out of camp with your expert private guide with a chance to track big game on foot is an experience not to be missed. Leopard are particularly abundant here with other star attractions including lion, wild dog, Thornicroft’s giraffe and thousands upon thousands of hippo. Find out more about walking safaris in Zambia.

Bangweulu Wetlands

A short hop to the swamps

“Bangweulu is a miraculous, 2,300-square-mile expanse of marsh in northern Zambia. It is also one of the last homes of the iconic, elusive shoebill—a prehistoric-looking bird with an eight-foot wingspan found only in the remotest swamps of Africa. Few people have seen one.”

Bangweulu Wetlands

A front row seat

Shoebill Camp is perfectly positioned on the banks of the expansive Bangweulu Wetlands standing on a rare piece of dry land. The camp is alive with birds and the sounds of thousands of lechwe sloshing through the shallow waters makes for a peaceful, relaxing stay in camp.

Bangweulu Wetlands

Time in the swamps

“I did love Bangweulu, utterly, from the first moment. I loved the meditative peace of the place, the state of primordial simplicity it put me in. I loved the volleys of birds that busy the air and the outlines of the fishermen punting their canoes. From across the reedbeds, I caught the cries of waterfowl and the distant voices of fishermen, women, and children (many of whom, I was told, have never seen a motorized vehicle).”

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Our experienced travellers include:

Alex Edwards
Alex Edwards
Olly Williams
Olly Williams
Rod Tether
Rod Tether

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.

Reviews

First class. Experts in the holiday adventure field. Great to deal with

"First class! Natural High are experts in their field. All the boxes are ticked which leaves you to travel without any worries. Excellent destinations, superb accommodation and all the logistics are taken care of. Natural High tailor holidays exactly to your needs. Would highly recommend and we will be using Natural High again."

Anonymous

Perfect family Safari!!

"Our family Kenyan safari trip to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary was perfectly planned by Catherine from the moment we landed in Nairobi, to our last day. We traveled to Ol Malo in Laikipia, Lewa House in Lewa Downs, and Tangulia Mara in the Maasai Mara. Each place offered incredibly talented and informative guides, and gracious, loving staff. The variety of animals we saw was breathtaking. Our grand daughter celebrated her 14th birthday with special pancakes and singing in Ol Malo, and then a beautiful candlelit dinner under the starry night in Lewa. Our 50th wedding anniversary was celebrated at Tangulia Mara with an amazing day watching the migration of the wildebeest in the Maasai Mara, and beautiful intimate dinner party and dancing with the entire staff during the evening.
Thank you, Natural High, for the best trip of our lifetime!"

Anonymous

Fantastic Zambia holiday - South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi

"We cannot thank Natural High and Catherine enough for such a fantastic holiday. During the planning, Catherine answered endless questions from our family and supported us every step of the way in coordinating our separate itineraries (which can't have been easy when we were a party of 11 and all travelling from different locations!). The South Luangwa has become our favourite Africa destination - and Flatdogs our favourite camp! Catherine was very thoughtful in arranging extra surprises for our group as we were celebrating a special birthday. The staff at Flatdogs treated us so well, and they were very open to letting us have large family dinners at various locations around camp. The guides were so enthusiastic the entire week!
We had our own separate holiday afterwards for just the two of us at Chongwe River Camp in the Lower Zambezi. Catherine was so supportive and flexible in helping us identify a suitable camp within an easy distance of Flatdogs, which also provided a different range of activities (boat safaris, tiger fishing and canoeing in addition to game drives!).
All in all a brilliant holiday (Flatdogs and Chongwe were the perfect combination), and everything went so smoothly. We are very much missing enjoying our G&Ts whilst watching elephants in the sunset...!"

Edgar & Alexandra Bailey CR

Absolutely amazing Family Celebration at Flatdogs!

"Outstanding service from Catherine who really understands what we want from our holiday. Catherine always goes the extra mile to choose the very best camps for us; to make sure all arrangements are in place; and to make sure we are treated as special guests when we arrive. This trip was an extra challenge given the size of our group - 11 with age range from 4 to 64 and wide range of "Africa experience" and in choosing Flatdogs, she made the best call possible - it was an amazing trip and could not have been better! Jess, Adrian and all the staff made sure our stay was fabulous; the guides were superb; the accommodation wonderful; and the "treats" -sundowners; brai; pimms; picnic; evening meals together (with hippos, bushbabies and elephants in attendance) and drinks at the fire were all that we could have hoped for - all in all, a really special family holiday."

Anonymous

outstanding organisation and service

"really know the regions they deal with well, excellent organisation of our trip, great understanding of our needs, flexibility and quick follow up, outstanding local representatives, very good pricing. we used them before and will for sure do again."

VCA

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