Places: Green Safaris Zambia and Malawi Trip, November 2021

1 December 2021

By: Emma Seaman

As I sit at my desk writing this blog about my wonderful trip around Zambia and to Lake Malawi with Green Safaris, it seems a world away, even though I got home just two weeks ago. During my trip I felt so free and hardly thought about covid. The PCR tests we did to leave Zambia to head to Likoma Island, and to leave Lilongwe to head home happened seamlessly and barely interruped our travels. I just hope and pray that the recent restrictions introduced due to this new variant are short lived. We look forward to having clients travelling again so that they have the chance to meet the incredible "people" in each of the special "places" as I did. It's always tricky to condense your experiences from these trips into a short and interesting piece so I have chosen to talk about a few key highlights from each place. I hope you enjoy!

Staying in the Nut House at Tongabezi and having this gorgeous space all to myself made me feel like one of the rich and famous. Honestly one of the best spaces I have stayed in over the years. I loved the décor! I know Ben probably helped select some of the beautiful art pieces, ornaments and trinkets. The Nut House felt more like a beautiful home than a lodge room. The swimming pool beckoned me as soon as I had unpacked. It was deep enough to jump in and long enough to do a few lengths. There is a gorgeous view to soak up also. My valet Edward made me feel welcome and took care of my every need. He had the right balance of being on hand to look after me and seemed to be around whenever I needed something but at the same time, he was discreet and I didn’t feel he was on top of me. I cannot fail to mention the very special farewell we had from Tongabezi with the school choir from Tutajane performing for us - there were quite a few of us in tears.

Livingstone island and Devils Pool was one of the best experiences I have ever had and I can’t wait to go back and do this again. Having watched people do this over the years from the safety of the Zimbabwean Side of the Falls, I always thought Devils Pool was for daredevils only! I can honestly say that I felt really safe and was in excellent hands with the Livingstone island team. Everyone was very professional- from our guide to the lifeguards who were in the water with us. They kept a close watch and guided us carefully the whole time to the water’s edge. Being able to experience the Victoria Falls during these dry months from Livingstone Island and Devils Pool is a must for everyone and I will definitely be highlighting this to all our clients. It gives you a totally different perspective of this Natural Wonder of the World and I could have stayed there all day. Thank you Green Safaris and thank you Livingstone Island team for opening my eyes to such an incredible lifechanging experience.

We had a very special two nights at Ila Safari Lodge, superbly looked after by Leah and her team. A wonderful setting on the Kafue River with each luxurious tent well positioned with incredible views. The highlights for me were the river cruise on the solar powered boat, finishing up with sundowners on the banks of the river, and a presentation from the Panthera Project on the work they are doing monitoring and protecting the predators in the park, a project supported by the Green Safaris Foundation.

Our visit to the Busanga and Chisa will be etched in my memory forever. I had forgotten just how amazing the Busanga Plains is.  I have to say that on our short game drive into camp with the wonderful Lexon I felt like I was on a movie set of a Disney Film with all the wildlife and birds giving us their top performances. We saw wattled and crowned cranes, fish eagles calling, big herds of sable, oribi, wildebeest, buffalo, zebra, big pride of lions, warthogs, lechwe and so much more. And this was just our game drive transfer from the airstrip! My only disappointment was that we weren’t able to stay a night here – in spite of trying to convince our pilot that he needed to have a technical at this point! Chisa is a delightful camp with a team of welcoming and friendly staff and the bird nest rooms are fun and well thought out. The best part is the nests offer incredible views over the Busanga.

Now, onto Shawa Luangwa Camp. My initial disappointment that we weren’t going to meet Jacob Shawa as he was out on a private safari was soon forgotten when I realized that we were in the hands of two other wonderful top guides in South Luangwa – Chris and Braston. The two excellent guides who know the South Luangwa inside out gave us an incredible two days in the park. Going on a walking safari with Braston was a highlight, I learnt so much from him, and I love his quieter and more humble approach to everything. As the day started to heat up we hopped onto our vehicle and continued with a game drive to see what we could find. We were so very lucky to come across a pack of 21 wild dog going down to the river for a drink before settling in for a sleep under the trees. We had a chance to watch them interacting with each other with no other vehicles around which was very special. The Shawa Bush Brunch on the banks of the Luangwa was one of the best I have ever had – amazing setting, delicious food and the nicest team of staff who make you feel at home and well taken care of.

Once again I was spoilt at Kaya Mawa as I stayed in Mainja Family House. A stunning two bedroom house with its own private beach – ideal for couples who want a bit more space and privacy or families. I love that each room at Kaya Mawa has a different character and something special about it – this highlighted to me the need to know our clients very well so we can recommend the right room for them. The beach and the lake at Kaya Mawa really is like being at the sea – the water was the perfect temperature and was crystal clear making swimming there a joy. The food at Kaya Mawa is probably the best I have ever had - yet because we were eating so much fresh produce from their home grown garden I didn’t leave Kaya Mawa feeling like I had overeaten!

It would be remiss of me to end this piece without making mention of United Air Charters and our pilot, Genaas, who is the owner. Not only was Genaas an outstanding pilot with smooth flying throughout with minimal turbulence in spite of flying in the November midday heat, getting us through the various airports quickly and smoothly, but he was also incredibly knowledgable about Zambia and Malawi and was able to share a lot of interesting and useful information with us throughout the trip. I look forward to working more with them in the future.

I am very excited about this Green Safaris Circuit and look forward to sending many of our clients to their lodges.

Tongabezi Welcome Card Tongabezi Nut House Devils Pool Ila Safari Lodge River Cruise Ila Safari Lodge Sundowners Chisa Chisa Busanga Camp welcome Walking with Braston Wild Dog in South Luangwa Brunch at Shawa Brunch at Shawa My Room at Kaya Mawa - Mainja Lunch at Kaya Mawa Dinner Setting on the Beach Swimming in Lake Malawi Katundu Workshop

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