Bushtracks explores other corners of Zambia, starting with Lower Zambezi National Park, which lies across the Zambezi River from Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park. With 100 miles of river frontage, it’s the river itself and its numerous islands, lagoons and floodplains that attract most of the wildlife, including approximately 50 mammal species and 400 bird species. Bushtracks offers an 8-day Wildlife Safari on the Zambezi River.
Safari highlights include guided river safaris to spot hippos, buffalo, elephants and prolific birdlife from water level perspective and night drives to see nocturnal creatures such as lions and leopards on the move. Guests spend their first four nights at the luxury Chiawa Camp, where safari activities include day and night game drives, bush walks, canoeing, game viewing by boat and fishing. On day five, guests go by motor boat 45 minutes downstream to the Old Mondoro Camp, also located on the banks of the Zambezi River and offering the same activities— however this camp has a more rustic wilderness feel. The safari operates May-October, Lusaka to Lusaka, and the all-inclusive price starts at $5,900 pp dbl.
Travelers have two air gateways into Zimbabwe from Johannesburg: to Harare and to Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is home to some of Southern Africa’s best wildlife parks:
- Zambezi National Park protects 56,000 acres along the shores of the Zambezi. Wildlife abounds, including hippo, crocodile, lion, elephant, giraffe and sable.
- Hwange National Park, the largest park in Zimbabwe and bordering Botswana, is a noted elephant sanctuary, and the huge mammals are sometimes spotted at waterholes in herds of up to 100.
- Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protects the regions where the Zambezi River slows its flow, creating small ponds that create perfect watering holes for elephant and buffalo, kudu and zebra; both big game drives and walking safaris are in style here.
African Travel offers a 4-day Wildlife of Hwange package from Victoria Falls, traveling to the national park by light aircraft. Travelers spend three nights at Somalisa Camp, an authentic 6-tent bush camp—with king-size beds and en-suite bath—blending Old Africa charm and elegance with an exclusive safari experience. Here, guests have a choice of game drives or guided walks. The cost for each of two persons sharing starts at $1,275.
According to Jim Holden, president of African Travel, Hwange is close to the Victoria Falls, “…offering a glimpse of authentic Africa with its varied wildlife and varied terrain. At Hwange,” he adds, there’s “… an opportunity to see the rare roan antelope, a beautiful antelope with long curving horns. It all makes for a great experience for the timechallenged, with a 2-day visit to Victoria Falls followed by the 4-day extension to Hwange.”
Also departing from Victoria Falls, African Travel offers a chance to experience all aspects of the African wilderness when traversing the Zambezi Valley on a 4-day Mana Canoe Trail Adventure. Clients float past hippos and elephants, encounter wildlife on foot, and bed down at night in a mobile camp on the banks of the river. This adventure, offered between May 8 and Nov. 15, is priced from $1,316 pp dbl.
“For the canoe trip, the highlight is wildlife viewing from the river rather than the land. The canoes are paddled down the Zambezi River separating Zambia from Zimbabwe, hugging the bank on the Zimbabwe side,” Holden explains. “This is a very different and unusual experience paddling quietly up to elephants and other wildlife and going with the current means very little exertion required for paddling. At night, you can experience the bush up-close and personal in a tented camp erected just for the party in the canoe trip—your very own piece of Africa if you like.”
African Travel: (800) 421-8907; africantravelinc.com
Bushtracks: (800) 995-8689; bushtracks.com
Expert Africa: (800) 242-2434; expertafrica.com / wildaboutafrica.com
Ilala Lodge: ilalalodge.com
Lion World Tours: (800) 387-2706; lionworldtours.com
Royal Livingstone Hotel: royal-livingstone-hotel.com
The Victoria Falls Hotel: (800) 745-8883; lhw.com
Zambezi Sun: suninternational.com
Headquartered in London, Expert Africa will be increasing its presence in the North America market, although according to McIntyre, his 17-year-old Africa specialist company already counts this market for 13 percent of its bookings.
“Our American clientele tell us they can’t find operators in the U.S. who can compete with our range of safari options, our knowledge and experience, our prices.” Adding that, “We have a niche in the U.K. as the market leader to Namibia, Zambia and southern Tanzania, and we’re in the top two-three companies for Botswana and Malawi. We are able to offer a great range of Africa safari options because everyone on our team spends two weeks in Africa every year, checking up on what we have, checking out new frontiers. And Americans like new safari frontiers; the U.S. travel trade likes new products to sell, and there is no shortage of both in Africa.” In addition to Zambia and Zimbabwe, those he talks about include: