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.
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.
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. .
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.
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.
MALAMA UMOYO, MALAMA CHIEFDOM, EASTERN ZAMBIA:
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. Don't worry about the self-catering requirement: MTT will take care of your transportation, supplies and guiding. www.malama-umoyo.com
LIUWA PLAINS, WESTERN ZAMBIA:
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.
LAKE TANGANYIKA, NORTHERN ZAMBIA:
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.