Top Experiences – Zambia

February 19th 2019  |  Travel, Zambia  |  by  Jess Hills
Top experiences Zambia Lion at sunset

We love Zambia. It’s one of our real ‘go to’ countries and always exceeds expectations. You’ll find intimate bush camps, magnificent safari houses, brilliant walking and canoe safaris. The national parks here are scarcely visited – it’s one of Africa’s under the radar beauties, chock full of adventure and thrilling wildlife encounters. Here’s a round-up of some of the Aardvark Safaris’ teams top experiences here.

Lucinda – Boating through the ebony groves in the Luangwa wet season

There is something magical about drifting through flooded ebony groves normally explored on foot or by vehicle. As the wet season builds, the South Luangwa Valley takes on a totally different feel with migratory birds arriving, plants and trees in full bloom, and plenty of baby animals around.

Boating through the ebony groves towards Nkwali Camp, Robin Pope Safaris

Boating through the ebony groves from Nkwali Camp, Robin Pope Safaris

Rich – Private supper on an island in the Zambezi

We’d only arrived at Tongabezi in the late afternoon, but by just around sundown were on an island in the middle of the Zambezi River with chilled wine, a sumptuous picnic supper, being serenaded by honking hippos and splashes as pied kingfishers dived for their own meals.

Sunset picnic at Sindabezi

Sunset picnic at Sindabezi

Roxy – Walking under the spray at Victoria Falls.

We all know it’s spectacular but little actually prepares you for the majesty of the Victoria Falls in full flow. It’s a bit like walking through an almighty car wash, which isn’t for everyone, but the incredible power and huge plume of spray is 100% more impressive.

Taking cover at Victoria Falls

Taking cover at Victoria Falls

Charlotte – Arriving at Chongwe River House

How often have you opened the front door to reveal an elephant at the bottom of the garden? That’s what took our collective breath away as we arrived at Chongwe River House for a four night stay on a family safari a few years back. The spectacular dining room gives way to an open sitting area with views over the terrace, pool and finally river – which is where the elephant was happily splashing about.

Not your average back garden, Chongwe River House

Better than your average back garden, Time + Tide Chongwe River House

Francis – Sleep out in the Luwi River bed

As the sun sets over Zambia, open a cold beer, salute the end of another amazing day in South Luangwa, and enjoy the aroma of dinner cooking on the barbecue. There is no one else within miles, the camp is as simple as it’s possible for it to be, and your bed is a mattress on the sand under a mosquito net canopy. Later, gradually fall asleep under countless stars, listening to the myriad sounds of the Zambian bush, hoping to hear the coughing call of the leopard, the distant roar of a lion, rumbling elephant, and the mournful whoop of a hyena. Nocturnal birds such as fiery necked nightjars, pearl spotted owlet and insects add to the layers of sound and sensations, making this, for me, the very best way to sleep in Africa.

Sleep out on the Luwi River bed, Norman Carr Safaris

Time + Tide Return to the Wild sleepout on the Luwi River

Jess – Watching wild dogs hunt in the South Luangwa Valley

Some lovely guests at Nsolo (I spent a season there in 2017) asked me to join them on their afternoon drive and John, our guide, headed straight for the Luwi Riverbed where he had seen wild dog on a walk that morning. We spent an hour and a half just enjoying the dogs’ company as they slept through the last hours of heat. As dusk fell the dogs started to rouse, with by lots of play fighting and falling back asleep, before they eventually moved off to hunt. The speed once they start moving is remarkable and we struggled to keep up with them on the river road as they headed off, at only a trot, down the riverbed. We were lucky enough to watch them try to catch an impala. It was particularly amazing to see these dogs turn from a family, with so much affection for each other, to hunters with their necks extended and hackles raised. It was a definite ‘I’m never leaving’ moment.

Wild dog in the South Luangwa, Nsolo Camp, Robin Pope Safaris

Wild dog in the South Luangwa, Time + Tide Nsolo Camp, Robin Pope Safaris

Jess – Boating down a mirror-like Kafue River to KaingU Safari Lodge

The owners and staff at KaingU are some of the loveliest people in the industry and having missed them on my last visit to Kafue I decided to take a little holiday after my season hosting at Nsolo. It was right at the end of the season and the skies were full of dramatic thunder clouds, but as we arrived on the banks of the Kafue River to meet the boat to camp the sun came out and it was like looking into paradise. The rocks and trees in and around the river were reflected pristinely and the ripples from the boat hardly disturbed the image. Rock pratincoles completed the most perfect arrival into camp.

KaingU Camp’s lovely river-side location

KaingU Camp’s lovely river-side location

Lucinda – Sundowners on Liuwa Plains

When working here, I was asked by Robin Pope, who was guiding the group, to set up sundowners at a particular lagoon, which I duly did. I don’t think even he could have imagined what a spectacular evening it would turn out to be; with our chairs facing the sunset and the sky turning pink, squadron after squadron of pelican came out of the horizon and landed immediately behind us on the lagoon. If one of us had stood up I think their landing gear would have skimmed our heads. Whilst the 1,000 or so pelican were coming into roost we also had about six African skimmers feeding on the channel to our right, the pink of the sky reflected in the water. It was hard to know what to look at.

Any questions?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

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