South Luangwa Walking Safari

Known to locals as simply ‘the South Park’, eastern Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park was initially founded in 1904 before being declared a national park in 1972. The impressive butterfly-shaped park covers an area of about 9050 square kilometres (3,500 sq mi) of the Luangwa valley floor, and lies anywhere from 500 meter to 800 meter above sea level. With its western and northwestern edge bounded by the Muchinga Escarpment, and the southern border lined with the meandering Luangwa River, there’s no shortage of dramatic and fascinating topography in this stunning game-rich park.

Highlights of Luangwa include:

• Pristine, almost untouched habitat
• Incredible diversity of habitat, from bare bushveld to oxbow lakes and
riparian woodland
• Kind and friendly people of Zambia
• Over 60 mammal species, including local specials like Crawshay’s Zebra and
Thornicroft Giraffe
• Four of Africa’s famous Big Five mammals (no rhinos)
• One of the best places in Southern Africa for spotting Leopard
• Over 400 different bird species, including 39 birds of prey

South Luangwa is also recognised as the birthplace of the now famous ‘walking safari’ and is probably the finest way to experience Africa’s pristine wilderness first-hand. While animals will generally ignore you in a vehicle, when you’re on foot, they recognise you as another type of animal. Observing them from a safe distance is an exciting and unforgettable experience. Travelling through the park’s lush landscapes on foot also means that you have time to stop and appreciate the smaller things in nature, from exotic insects to animal tracks to the smell of things and beautiful flora. Walking also means you are free to go where safari vehicles simply can’t, allowing you to explore area not seen by anyone else. You will probably learn more about Africa and her inhabitants on this safari than you will learn in your whole life from books and the internet.

The armed guides that accompany you are highly trained and have extensive knowledge of not just the fauna and flora of the area, but also know the bush’s finer signs intimately. A safe distance from any big animal sighting is always maintained and respect for wildlife is the unbreakable number one rule. You are, however, guaranteed some fantastic encounters and sightings. A moderate level of fitness is required for this safari, as the distance covered per day is about 10km (6mi) a day, but with frequent stops.

This 8 day/7 night walking safari starts at Mfuwe International Airport in eastern Zambia, from where you will be picked up by your local guide and transferred to your home for the first three nights of this safari, Tafika Lodge. Nestled on the banks of the Luangwa river, Tafika Camp’s thatched chalets sit under the shade of giant sausage trees. Built from locally sourced reed and thatch, these elegant suites are equipped with en suite bathrooms and outdoor showers. From the comfort of the camp, watch as elephants and hippos come for a drink and bath in the meandering river while you sip on a cold drink. Split your safari time between lengthy morning walks and evening game drives on the reserve; and with each exploration of Luangwa’s habitat more of its ecological wealth is revealed. Walk under the professional leadership of your guide, an armed parks reservist and caterer, who supplies a warm beverage and snack during your mid-morning tea break, and is an extra pair of eyes to spot animals!

After three fantastic nights at Tafika we will set off on a 4 hour walk to Crocodile River Camp, your luggage portered to your next Luangwa home for you. This is the first of two camps you visit forming part of the Chikoko Trails, which occupy a remote section of the South Luangwa National Park and are accessible only by foot.

Set beneath a tall grove of ebony trees overlooking a large open pan, this rustic camp comprises reed-and-thatch chalets which are rebuilt every year after the rains and accommodate just six people in total. A true remote and private experience, and yours for the next two nights! Your morning walk lasts about four hours, departing just before sunrise and returning around 11am.

This is followed by a shorter afternoon walk of about two hours, which begins at 4pm and arrives back at the camp before sunset. Crocodile River Camp’s homely atmosphere and dedication to all things wildlife (further enhanced by the friendly and knowledgeable staff) allows this laid-back riverside sanctuary to take on the kind of surreal quality that is arguably unreplicated anywhere else in the world.

Leaving Crocodile River Camp after two nights you take a 4-hour walk with your guide, armed parks reservist and tea bearer and arrive at Chikoko Tree Camp before lunchtime. Once again your luggage has been portered on your behalf. Situated 8km upstream from Tafika on the banks of the Luangwa River, this undeniably charming camp is also just a few hundred metres from the Perekani crossing point where Livingstone proclaimed his love for the Luangwa valley. Even more exclusive than Crocodile River Camp, three romantic mopane wood, reed and thatch chalets are built high in the trees affording spectacular views of the seasonal Chikoko River, acacia grove and surrounding wildlife.

As at Crocodile River Camp, the focus here is on complete immersion in the wilderness with no vehicles to break the silence and just a handful of other visitors around, if any at all. Your daily routine is much the same as at Crocodile River Camp, consisting of a morning and afternoon walking safari in the glorious Luangwa valley. Between walks relax in your open-fronted chalet overlooking the floodplain and watch as animals – sometimes in their hundreds – walk directly across the floodplains and through the camp.
Leaving Chikoko after two nights you take a 4-hour walk with your guide back to Tafika Camp, all your luggage portered for you. You are then transferred back to Mfuwe Airport from where you board your connecting flight homewards after an fantastic African walking safari.

This walking safari(run yearly from the start of June to the end of October) can be done as a stand-alone option, or as an extension onto one of our existing African safari trips. Some of our safaris that can be combined with this walking safari include:
• Etosha, Caprivi, Chobe & Vic Falls safari
• Kavango-Zambezi Adventure
• Zimbabwe Explorer
• Best of Zimbabwe safari
• Experience Zimbabwe safari
• Malawi Wildlife Safari
• Any extension to South Africa’s Kruger National Park or Cape Town

For more information on this active safari or for any other related queries, please email us at info@naturetravelactive.com

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