By: Tendai Bushe
Safari Season has come and gone but luckily, we were able to dip our toes in it. With Covid-19 still a genuine concern travel has slowed down significantly. Although the tourism industry has been hit, many operators in Zambia have remained opened, used the time to refurb or add on rooms and amazingly built entirely new camps!
We were excited to get back to the bush and explore. Fully vaccinated, with masks and sanitizer by our sides Moses and I happily ventured out to South Luangwa. We flew into Mfuwe International Airport on Proflight Zambia where we were warmly welcomed by a guide from Kafunta River Lodge. On arrival into Kafunta we were greeted by a gorgeous open view. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to cool off by jumping in the pool but we did enjoy our tour of the grounds and saw the two room types- standard and suite. We had a nice light lunch before heading off to Kaingo.
We visited two of the Shenton Safaris camps- Kaingo Camp, where we spent the night and Mwamba Bushcamp where we had a quick site inspection. The family atmosphere at Kaingo was very comforting, all the staff gelled well and the happy energy can be felt by the guests. The head chef presented every meal to us which added a personal touch and allowed us to ask questions. The use of local ingredients to create fresh and easy-to-enjoy meals is great. After being away from the bush for so long we really appreciated our game drives. The bar was set high as we saw lots of big game but more than that we loved exploring the hides and seeing wildlife and birds up close hidden away. It is not only a photographer’s haven but really a wildlife enthusiast dream.
Next up we went to Lion Camp, a luxurious lodge that ticks all the boxes for a chic African safari. The large main area with a pool table, full bar, swimming pool and lots of seating all around caters to all. Lion Camp does not have communal dining (even before Covid) so this is a great location for folks who want more privacy. The carefully curated menu (no repeats for guests ever- no matter how long you stay) and extensive wine list gives you the feeling of a 5- star restaurant. On our game drives the Lion Camp pride did not disappoint, we had seen them before a meal looking slim and exhausted and then the next day- after a meal, looking satisfied and happy! The little cub’s tummy was definitely poking out, it was adorable.
We went on to Tafika Camp, a classic owner run operation. The open thatch and reed chalets really get you to appreciate the bush and immerse in your environment. We chatted with Jen Coppinger and she gave us a lovely presentation on Remote Safaris and their ethos. Their approach to safaris is doing it at natures pace and we love that. We were able to do a short walk with them and the joy of slowing down to focus on the other aspects of the bush- bird calls, plants, animal prints etc is a beautiful thing. Remote Safaris is focused on nature and wildlife but also on the feeling of family and community. The meals are communal and hosted by one of the Coppinger family members and or a guide- it’s a great time to exchange stories and engage with other safari travellers.
Next, we visited a new camp– Shawa Luangwa Camp, which was built by Green Safaris in partnership with legendary South Luangwa guide Jacob Shawa. The camp itself is very Instagram-able, with a unique design and quirky rooms. There were elephants all around and it was nice to enjoy an outdoor shower to cool off while watching elephants do the same in a pool of water below. The environmentally friendly approach to safaris is a definite highlight. The magical feeling of silent safari in the electric vehicles cannot be explained. Being on a quiet vehicle allows you to truly enjoy the sounds of the bush and get close to animals without having to tun off the engine and possibly startle them. One thing I love is just driving through the bush and looking at the scenery. Even without the animals- looking at the trees, the different landscapes, the changing color of the sky as the light dances in the background is something special and doing that in silence was even more so.
Next, we went on to The Bushcamp Company where we had a long day travelling down South but my goodness was it worth it! Seeing 5 of the bushcamps was so interesting! The last time I was there, in 2016, seemed like a lifetime ago. I love how the bushcamps maintain the authentic bush camp feel but still incorporate modern touches. The only thing the camps have in common are the pizza ovens otherwise they are all different in aesthetic, vibe and feel. Speaking of Pizza, we enjoyed ours in the bush overlooking the river! Safe to say, all picnics are not made equal, this was a lovely experience. We ended the day at Mfuwe Lodge where we spent the night. A complete change from the bush camps the lodge has frills such as an air-conditioning in the room, a library on the ground along with a photo studio. The newly built director’s house is perfect for families and a great addition to the lodge!
We finished our trip with Sungani Lodge, a brand-new property that will open to the public in 2022. Please click here for a blog post on that.
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