Snow Leopards of India

MTT Director is fortunate enough to spend time in India throughout 2020 and 2021 after a 20 year absence. India has remained one of her favourite destinations after Africa for both wildlife and culture. Therefore, it is not out of the MTT wheelhouse to offer its first 10-Day Snow Leopard safari in February 2021, beginning and ending in New Delhi. The 2021 trip is full at 10 participants, although a waiting list is open in the event of a cancellation. This same itinerary can be booked as a fully independent traveller or if you form your own discreet group.

Lying north of the Indus River at the head of the Ulley Valley, the small village of Ulley in Ladakh, India stands at almost 4,000 metres above sea level. The Ulley Valley has only recently been developed for snow leopard tracking, but it has quickly gained a reputation for observation of the cats. That being said, snow leopards are a difficult sighting. According to the Snow Leopard Lodge, Ulley village's only homestay, and our accommodation on this safari, there is a 60 % chance of seeing a leopard between November and April, which is when snow leopards and their prey descend to lower elevations. Ulley's population of snow leopard is estimated around 10 individuals. We remain six days in Ulley to maximize our chances of spotting one.

There is other wildlife to see in this Himalayan paradise: Siberian (or Asiatic) ibex; Ladakh urial (a native wild sheep with long legs and relatively small horns); and Himalayan fox and wolf. Among the bird highlights are Chukors (a ground-dweller and national bird of Kurdistan); Tibetan partridges; Red-billed choughs; Golden eagles; Lammergeiers; Bearded vultures; and Himalayan griffon vultures.

The Snow Leopard Conservation Trust

The trust works in five of the 12 countries where snow leopards are found - China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Pakistan. Collectively, these 5 countries contain over 75% of the world's population of wild snow leopards. Ulley, Ladakh, India is one of the Snow Leopard Conservation Trust's bases. The Snow Leopard Trust works through a local partner organization led by local staff members. They conduct snow leopard research, lead community conservation programs, and negotiate policy decisions with local authorities.


Ladakh belongs to the Jammu and Kashmir region of Northern India. Leh is its capital and largest town. It is the historical capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh. The Leh Palace, the former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, was built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace in Tibet. Ladakh is Buddhist country with brightly coloured prayer flags fluttering in the wind and long 'Mani walls' covered in carved prayer stones, stupas and chortens. There are many Buddhis monasteries called gompas.

The Snow Leopard safari is going ahead Feb 21-27, 2023.
Watch this space or the Mama Tembo Tours Facebook page for the trip report.

Between March 01 and 05, 2023, we travel to Bera, Rajasthan, for leopard sighting. The story goes that Bera's leopards descend from leopards which migrated into the area from nearby Kumbhalgarh National Park. In Bera, the Rabbari villagers, who are predominantly shepherds, and the leopards co-exist peacefully.

Tiger Safari 2024

I went on tiger safaris in the 1990s in both India and Nepal. At the time Bengal tiger populations were under extreme threat. Fast forward to 2022. Tiger populations in India are estimated to have grown 40% since 2015. Conservation efforts have made a difference.

It is time to plan another safari to see these beautiful cats. Estimated month for this safari will be March 2024. I am working on an itinerary which combines the best possible opportunities for tiger sightings with India’s remaining wilderness where we might also see sloth bears, leopards, Indian Wild dogs and rhino. National parks and tiger reserves on the short list are Kanha, Pench, Tadoba and Satpura. There is a lot of information to digest and destinations and camps from which to choose.

We need a minimum of 14 + days for this tour. The trip is open to eight people.


Special 2023 Zambia Itinerary for JourneyWoman.com

Eleven nights/Twelve days Luxury Lodge Safari to South Luangwa National Park & Victoria Falls, Livingstone.

Find the tour details here


Botswana by Road

Botswana is an easy destination to combine with its neighbours, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. It's a half-day's drive from Livingstone, Zambia or Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Kasane, Botswana, gateway to Chobe National Park.

Both Livingstone and Victoria Falls operators can arrange day or overnight trips to Chobe for those with limited time. Better yet, consider a more leisurely road trip through Botswana beginning in either Zambia or Zimbabwe on a circular itinerary which follows the main roads and minimizes the risks of traversing Botswana's sand traps. (Between Chobe National Park and Savuti is one such sandy route.)

This itinerary includes Chobe National Park; Nata Bird Sanctuary; Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (for the zebras in April/May and the meerkats all year-round); the Boteti River (April/May for the zebra migration); the Central Kalahari Game Reserve; Maun (Okavango Delta), where you leave the car for a fly in and out stay at a lodge or for a mobile glamping safari in Moremi Game Reserve); and the Okavango Panhandle (a less visited area of the Delta on its western fringes and fantastic for birding). Exit the panhandle at Namibia's Caprivi Strip and turn west for Namibia's Etosha National Park (an overnight journey from this point) or east for Bwabwata National Park and Zambia or Zimbabwe. Consider a minimum of 16 days for this itinerary.


Gabon: Loango North and Lope National Parks

MTT has provided Gabon travel arrangements to fully independent travelers for years and continues to do so. Gabon's international reputation belies the reality that it remains one of the most tourist-challenged countries in Central/West Africa.

There have been recent changes for Loango National Park, all of them positive. There is a new tented camp, Louri Lagoon, which along with Tassia and Akaka, Loango Lodge's original satellite camps, provides stress free accommodation when compared to ownership issues which has kept the mother lodge in limbo since 2010. A family of habituated western lowland gorillas are ready for observation. There is a chimp research project to visit.

Loango National Park protects diverse coastal habitat, including the Iguela Lagoon, the only lagoon ecosystem in West Africa which has protected status. Loango consists of 15,550 sq. kms of grasslands, beaches, forests, mangroves, swamps and salt marshes. There are over 600 documented bird species. Its home to Forest elephant, Forest buffalo, Red River hog, Sitatunga antelope, chimpanzees and Western lowland gorilla, all living against the spectacular backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

There are positive changes in Lope National Park as well. Currently, a suggested Gabon itinerary combines Loango North with Lope National Park where a research team has re-collared mandrills. This allows visitors, if they purchase permits, to track these animals with the scientists. The male mandrill is at his most colourful during mating season which stretches from May to late August/early September.

There are two seasons to keep in mind while planning a Gabon visit, especially to Loango North. December through March is a short, dry period when wildlife such as elephant and buffalo are drawn to the coastal areas for the salt in the ocean. June through September is the long, dry period when wildlife moves inland to the Akaka area for water.



Book as a fully independent traveller.

In 2019, MTT offered its first cultural tour of Angola which focused entirely on the sparsely populated southern provinces of the country and the tribes who live there, among them the Muila; The Mucubal; The Mucuis; The Cuepe; the Himba and Nguendelengo.

MTT Director, who accompanied the group, was impressed enough to add Angola to her destinations. Go to Angola for tribal peoples; spectacular scenery; excellent food; and all-round diversity. Nor is Angola as expensive as it was in the past.

Write for your tailor made itinerary.


14 Day Bespoke Zambia Safari: Three National Parks & Off the Beaten Path Zambia

There remains a great deal of nostalgia in the way the travel industry markets Africa. Africa the way it was, so the branding goes. The real Africa is the here and now, not what it was 100 or even 10 years ago, and it waits for you outside your safari lodge any time you want to see it. It is why I love traveling by road through Zambia. This 14-day itinerary includes three national parks and is the right mix of adventure and comfort.

For more information on this road trip, see Leslie's article under Travel Writing.

Email for suggested itinerary and Current pricing.

13 DAY BESPOKE ZAMBIA SAFARI: A winning combination of the Busanga Plains + South Luangwa National Park

Busanga is simply one of those magical and remote African destinations which should be on every safari-goers TO DO list. South Luangwa is Zambia's signature national park with first class wildlife observation and infrastructure. Together they are a winning combination of Zambia nature travel. Furthermore, this itinerary includes two locations in South Luangwa so you will leave with a true sense of the Luangwa Valley's diversity. We also offer the 8 - Day Busanga sector of this itinerary on its own for those with time constraints, or for anyone who wants to pair it with another Zambia location, such as southern Kafue National Park or Lower Zambezi National Park.

Email for suggested itinerary and Current pricing.


10 Day Bespoke Zambia Safari: Victoria Falls (Livingstone) and North & South Kafue National Park

Kafue National Park is one of Zambia's primary national parks. It is also the country's oldest and largest, twice the size of South Luangwa in the east, and divided into northern and southern sectors by the Great West Road. Each sector can be visited independently, but this ten-day loop, beginning with Victoria Falls in Livingstone and ending in Lusaka - or undertaken in reverse - allows you to see Kafue National Park in its entirety. .

Email for suggested itinerary and Current pricing.


10 Day Bespoke Zambia: The Great North Road

The Great North Road was originally envisioned by Cecil John Rhodes during British colonial rule as stretching from Cape Town to Cairo, a Pan-African highway linking the continent from south to north. This grandiose project's success proved elusive, but the section of The Great North Road through Zambia lives on. This is adventure you miss by flying. Travel Zambia's Great North Road to two of its best wilderness areas - Mutinondo and North Luangwa National Park. Enjoy the historical tour of Shiwa N'gandu's manor house and the hot springs just outside your room at Kapishya. Relax in Lusaka as our guests at MT Cheza.

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Lodge to Lodge Self-Drives in Zambia & Its Neighbours

MTT's "Drive Zambia" itineraries see the country with a Zambian driver/guide behind the wheel. For those who prefer the adventure of doing their own driving, but not the worry and time which goes into planning, MTT creates the perfect self-drive itinerary with 4 x 4 vehicle and accommodations arranged in advance. We collect you at Lusaka airport. Your vehicle is waiting at your Lusaka accommodation. Next morning, hop in your 4 x 4 and be on our way. It's that simple. By staying at established lodges and camps and partaking in their game activities, you will not miss out on the expertise of the accredited guides at your accommodations. Nor will you miss out on night drives, a privilege which is denied (with good reason) to self-drivers in Zambia national parks.


Step off the safari lodge regimen for a few days and enjoy them in a private cottage for two which overlooks the Luangwa River. Although located 40 kms from Mfuwe (gateway to South Luangwa National Park), MU's two cottages are just 8 kms from South Luangwa National Park's most southerly gate of Lusangazi so you can still game drive or go on a guided walk. Or you can simply soak in the view from your cottage of the Luangwa River and the elephants, buffalo, and other wildlife which come to drink there. The big attraction here is privacy and control. If you are tired after a week of lodge drums calling you to meals and shared game drives, but you still can't bear the thought of returning home just yet and leaving the bush behind, then a few nights at Malama Umoyo might be right for you. New as of 2021: Malama's new owners have constructed a new dining and bar area which allows them to fully cater meals for guests. The new dining area consists of a thatched structure with deck with great views overlooking the river and flood plain. Self-catering remains an option as well.



You can fly in and out of the increasingly popular Liuwa Plains National Park or you can undertake a bigger adventure and drive via Kafue National Park on the outbound journey from Lusaka and return via the Upper Zambezi River and Livingstone/Victoria Falls. MTT is big on circular routes which eliminate time-wasting back-tracking. This is a fabulous circular journey around little-explored Zambia. By driving, you cross the 34 km causeway and engineering marvel of 26 bridges which now link in under one hour's drive the western Zambia city of Mongu with Kalabo, gateway to Liuwa Plains. Before this causeway it took four to six hours by boat. This is a life-changer for the people of Western Zambia. It improves access to the Liuwa Plains National Park for us too, without detracting too much from its magnificent isolation.

MTT arranges all the logistics: transportation, camping equipment, meals, guide for Liuwa, as well as all the other accommodations along the way. Liuwa's camp sites are lovely and come with a camp assistant who provides cut firewood and hot water for camp showers. Best times for Liuwa: April/May and October/November for the wildebeest migration.

Sunsets are always memorable on an African safari, but even more so in Liuwa Plains.

2021 update: Sibika Camp, a self-catering accommodation, is now open at Liuwa. Situated in the south of the park, Sibika is nestled within a small woodland overlooking a pan which is particularly productive in the wet season when there's abundant birdlife. Each of the four rooms is roughly 100 metres apart, providing complete privacy. Each has a private deck with an uninterrupted view onto the open plains. A main decked area is fully equipped with fridge, stove, basic utensils & cookware. Activities are self-drive game drives.


Twenty years ago, on a visit to Lake Tanganyika on its Tanzania side, I recall thinking that the lake's clear waters spoiled me for any other lake in Africa. In either country, Lake Tanganyika is indeed a gorgeous place. The steep escarpments bordering the lake are magnificently green in March, the end of the rainy season. You can fly Lusaka - Ndola - Kasama several times a week, from where transport is arranged for the 1.5-hour drive to Mpulungu, the jumping off point for the 2.5-hour speed boat to a lake side lodge. Or you can choose to drive from Lusaka. In MTT's comfortable 4 x 4, you can combine Lake Tanganyika with other Northern Zambia highlights such as Mutinondo Wilderness; Kasanka National Park; Kapishya Hot Springs; and North Luangwa NP. If you drive, you can more easily include a stop at Kalambo Falls on the Zambia/Tanzania border (Kalambo is Africa's second highest waterfall at 220 meters) as well as a visit to the town of Mbala and its Moto Moto Museum, which is one of MTT's personal highlights of a safari in Zambia's far north. Here you will learn from competent museum guides that Kalambo has one of the longest histories of human occupation in Sub Saharan Africa. The excellent quality of this little museum, so far from Zambia's capital where it could and should receive more visitors, is a mystery and one of those gems when you stumble upon it.

Zambia's far north feels a world away from the well-honed hospitality industry in Zambia's national parks. A good level of Africa travel experience is required.


The dates of many Zambian festivals are unreliable, making attendance difficult for international visitors. However, there are a few exceptions which MTT can arrange for you.

The Nc'wala festival of the Ngoni people of Eastern Zambia is held the last week of February. The Ngoni trace their origins to the Zulu people of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The Nc'wala ceremony honours ancestral spirits and commemorates Ngoni victories in tribal wars which took place during their migration north.

The Kulamba festival of the Chewa people of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, is held the last weekend of August. The Chewa chiefs from three countries converge on the festival grounds where the Chewa King emerges from self-imposed seclusion during which he has meditated and communed with Chewa ancestors. The chiefs pay homage to their King through gifts, music, and the famous Nyau dancers.

The Likumbi Lya Mize festival of the Luvale people of Northern Zambia is held over several days in late August, culminating on the last Saturday of August.

The Luvale are thought to have originated in Sudan, migrating south to Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo before settling in Angola and Northern Zambia. Their festival, which honours this rich cultural heritage, was first held in Zambia's Zambezi District in 1956 and is considered to be among Zambia's oldest ceremonies. Today, the Likumbi Lya Mize is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage event because of its unique, masked dancers known as Makishi.


Mwinilunga is already on international birders' radar. The ecology in Northwest Zambia combines one of the country's largest wet and dry evergreen forests with miombo woodlands, Kalahari sands and grasslands. One of Zambia's top birding guides has recently opened a bush camp and a fly camp in this far western corner which will prove a great destination for not only dedicated birders, but for Zambia's visitors who seek off the beaten path travel. Those travellers might just get drawn into birding as a result. The guide's fly camp in Nyachisala Forest is for spotting Vermiculated fishing owl; Spot-breasted ibis; Spotted thrush-babbler; Bamboo warbler; Shining-blue kingfisher; Compact weaver; Rufous ant-thrush; and Grey-winged robin. MTT has designed several interesting itineraries by road which begin in Lusaka, work their way northwest via some interesting stops along the way - Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage for chimpanzees for example - and which, on the return, transit through North Kafue National Park, weather and time of year permitting. The Likumbi Lya Mize festival of the Luvale people which is held over several days in late August, culminating on the last Saturday of August, can be included in a Northwest Zambia safari. You need time for these itineraries! Give yourself at least 14 days.

Savé Conservancy, Zimbabwe

The Savé Valley supports one of Africa's most important African wild dog populations. A visit here can offer unparalleled viewing opportunities. Wild dog denning season is typically June through early August.

For more information on Savé, see Leslie's article for Travel & Leisure Zambia magazine under Travel Writing.

Email for information on how to see Savé Conservancy's wild dogs.

Cultural Tour of Nigeria

A recent visit to the British Museum where I saw the Benin Bronzes collection (which, rightly or wrongly, have not been returned to their rightful owners), got me thinking about Nigerian art. I lived in Cotonou, Benin, a few years ago, which isn't far from the Nigerian border and megacity Lagos. Nigeria's cultural influence was definitely felt throughout this area. Nigeria is largely bypassed by visitors more interested in nature tourism, but I think Africa's giant must be worth a look for its Yoruba, Hausa and Fulani cultures, among many others. Let's undertake a cultural tour of Nigeria. MTT will accompany any first group to Nigeria to learn and learn and fine-tune any itineraries for future fully independent MTTZ travelers.

Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, Central African Republic

The tropical forests of the Congo Basin comprise the world's largest rainforests after those of the Amazon Basin. They are among the last of their kind on the planet. Sectors of these forests are protected as national parks in the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon, and are home to Western lowland gorillas, forest elephants and buffaloes, bongo and sitatunga antelopes, giant forest and red river hogs, leopards, African grey parrots and many different monkey species.

Throughout 2020, Sangha Lodge in the Central African Republic offers 7-night, guaranteed, small group departures. Activities focus on gorilla trekking, forest elephant observation at Dzanga Bai, pangolin conservation, and the indigenous people called Ba'Aka. MTT can assist you in joining one of these groups. Write us for available dates.



Tanzania is where MTT's love affair with Africa began some 20 years ago, so it continues to keep its place as an MTT favourite. True, Tanzania's northern safari circuit is very busy, but it is a huge tourist draw with good reason. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park are UNESCO World Heritage sites. You will see a great deal of wildlife which makes Tanzania an excellent choice for first-ever and family safaris. And there are ways to manage the press of visitors in Northern Tanzania if you know where to go and where to stay and are willing to pay for more intimately-sized camps in more remote areas. MTT Tanzania bespoke safaris focus on diversity of accommodations and activities, and the correct balance between remaining on the well-trodden safari route in order to experience the highlights and the route less trammeled in order to find privacy and uniqueness. If you truly want to get away from the crowds, then try Tanzania's southern and western safari circuits, the Selous Game Reserve, and Ruaha and Katavi National Parks.

"Voodoo" Festival, Benin

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On January 11 every year, Benin celebrates its Voodoo Festival. One of the best places to observe the festival is in Ouidah, a town an hour's drive from Cotonou. CNN has called this festival one of Africa's top five festivals not to be missed. Festivities begin two days before the main festival. There are private celebrations happening in and around town and MTT seeks permission for any of its travelers to attend them.

Voodoo originated in Haiti during French colonial times, but its foundations are the tribal religions of West Africa which incorporated ancestor worship, singing, dancing, drumming, and spirit possession.

These ancient beliefs were brought to Haiti by slaves in the seventeenth century who were captured mainly from the Dahomey Kingdom. The word 'voodoo' derives from the word 'vodu' in the Dahomey language of Fon and means "spirit." In Haiti, the slaves created a new religion which combined West African beliefs with Haiti's indigenous beliefs and it is this colorful melange of ritualistic spectacles that they brought back to Africa and which forms the core of voodoo today.

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