Zambia - Best of South Luangwa
Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Carmine Bee-eater, Giraffe, Zebra, Cape buffalo, amazing landscapes
ALL OUR ‘BEST OF ZAMBIA’ SAFARIS ARE CUSTOMIZED AND BOOKED ON DEMAND ONLY. ORYX DOES NOT CURRENTLY OFFER ANY SCHEDULED SAFARIS FOR THIS ITINERARY, BUT WILL INSTEAD HAPPILY DESIGN A TAILOR-MADE PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARI TO THIS DESTINATION ACCORDING TO YOUR SPECIFIC REQUESTS AND REQUIREMENTS!
Day 1: Fly Lusaka to Mfuwe, Road Transfer to South Luangwa
Today we depart Lusaka, catching a scheduled flight to Mfuwe. Mfuwe airport is located in this small settlement, which functions as the main access point to South Luangwa National Park. Post arrival, we will be collected and road transfer of around 25 miles (roughly three hours) to the camp from the airport, with much of the drive in the form of a game drive as we route through the park to Nsefu Camp, where we will be spending the following three nights
Situated in the exclusive Nsefu Sector on a magnificent meander on the Luangwa River across which elephants often cross lies the historic camp Nsefu. Nsefu is one steeped in history and was built in 1951 and barring some upgrades the camp and rooms are still in the same place in the original style. The Nsefu sector was first pronounced a game reserve in 1966 some five years before the South Luangwa was even declared and has always been recognized as an outstanding game-viewing area.
Overnight Nsefu Camp
Day 2 and 3: Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa
The South Luangwa National Park covers approximately 9,050 square km of the Luangwa Valley floor, at an elevation that varies from 500m to 800m. Experts agree that South Luangwa is one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of game around the Luangwa River and its oxbow lagoons is amongst the most intense in Africa; an absolute feast for your camera lenses.
Located in the Nsefu sector of South Luangwa National Park, Nsefu camp is the oldest (and arguably most famous) in the valley, and is also the oldest safari camp in Zambia.
The South Luangwa National Park marks the end of the Great Rift Valley, one of the last remaining unspoilt wilderness areas and possibly the finest wildlife sanctuary in Africa – a claim which is not an overstatement. It is through this 9,050km2 National Park that the great meandering Luangwa River runs, with its oxbow lagoons, tributaries, riverine woodlands and large plains, all of which play host to huge concentrations of game including Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Leopard, Lion, Thornicroft’s Giraffe (a subspecies endemic to the valley), Hippo and over 450 recorded species of birds.
The Luangwa River is major tributary of the Zambezi River, however it is interesting in that the valley it is home to the endemic subspecies Thornicroft’s Giraffe, Crawshay’s Zebra and Cookson’s Wildebeest. Nsefu is steeped in history and was first pronounced a game reserve in 1966 some five years before the South Luangwa was even declared and has always been recognised as an outstanding game viewing area.
The controversial book “Eye of the Elephant” by Mark and Delia Owens did a lot to raise awareness about poaching in the valley, and this has subsequently been well controlled with the result being that game numbers are excellent. Nsefu has a reputation as being one of the best areas in the park to view Leopard, and with luck, we may get some superb photographic opportunities with these remarkable cats.
South Luangwa truly is a magnificent place, and having 4 nights to spend soaking up the atmosphere that only wild Africa can exude, we are in for a true safari treat!
Nights Nsefu Camp
Day 4: Road Transfer Nsefu Sector to Kaingo, South Luangwa National Park
This morning at a time to be advised and after game drive and breakfast, you will road transfer to Kaingo Camp. Overlooking the Luangwa River deep within the prime area of the South Luangwa National Park, Kaingo’s relaxed, personal and friendly atmosphere also offers its guests fantastic game-viewing opportunities within an area of incredible beauty and varied terrain.
Overnight Kaingo Camp
Day 5 & 6: Kaingo, South Luangwa National Park
Today is your first full day on this remarkable photographic expedition and we will thoroughly explore this incredible reserve over the next 2 days. The ecosystem surrounding the river is phenomenal and supports huge numbers of African Elephant, Cape buffalo, Burchell’s zebra and various antelope species.
The high density of predators provide some magical and potentially award winning photographic opportunities as they constantly battle to be the “ruler” of Luangwa’s predators. No less than ten individual Leopards hold territories in the vicinity of our lodge. As unpredictable as these wild Leopards can be, an incredible 95% of Kaingo’s guests get to see these stunning cats. They also have two very h2 Lion prides in the area, which they named the Mwamba Pride and the Hollywood pride, the latter getting their name due to the vast amount of time documentary filmmakers have spent following them.
Some of the sites around camp include the picturesque Fish Eagle Lagoon, large Ebony forests and the spectacular Lion Plain (the biggest plain in the valley a hugely productive grassland that teems with wildlife) bordered by the meandering Luangwa and Mwamba Rivers.
We will also explore the area around Mwamba Bush Camp. Here, the game is also excellent and will provide us with constant photographic subjects. Numerous species of plains game are abundant and include large herds of Cape Buffalo, Zebra, Eland and in particular, the endemic Cookson’s Wildebeest.
Predator sightings are frequent and the “Mwamba pride” of Lions, which consist of six beautiful lionesses and two classically dark-maned males, follow and hunt these vast herds. Fantastic Leopard sightings are also common due to the thick riverine bush along the Mwamba. This dense habitat attracts large numbers of Impala and Puku, the preferred prey of these elusive felines. Mwamba’s “Last Waterhole” hide is perched on an outcrop directly above an active waterhole. This waterhole is busy throughout the season, but is most spectacular from late September when all the other water in the area has dried up; providing fantastic opportunities to watch the various species of thirsty game coming in to drink. While the “stage” remains constant, the “players” constantly change throughout the day – it is very easy to while away the hours in this hide watching and photographing the ever-changing show.
One of the key elements that make photography at Kaingo so special is their six photographic hides.
Frequently used by National Geographic and BBC photographers, they provide a unique up-close-and-personal view into the lives of the area’s animals, enabling you to photograph them without disrupting their natural behaviour. These hides are well equipped for the needs of photographers, as they provide specialist bean bags, dust covers and even charging facilities.
“One of the wonderful features of Derek Shenton’s camps [including Kaingo] is the network of blinds he sets up each year to allow close-up views of hippos, elephants, and the other wildlife.
From his hippo hide, hidden in a corner of the Luangwa River, you are close enough to feel as if you are part of the pod – a truly unique perspective that is both a tribute to Derek’s ingenuity and to his superb knowledge of the Luangwa Valley” Frans Lanting – National Geographic
The elephant hides and hippo hides are close to camp, which afford visitors close-ups of these extraordinary creatures. Stork fishing parties, Southern Carmine Bee-eater colonies, majestic Martial Eagles and Red-billed Quelea in their thousands are among the birding highlights of the area. Close to 400 bird species and 60 different mammals have been recorded; seasonal highlights include the spectacular Southern Carmine Bee-eater colony and the magnificent photographic opportunities they provide for both the serious bird photographer and novice alike.
Nights Kaingo Camp
Day 7: Road Transfer Kaingo to Mfuwe, and Fly to Lusaka, and Depart for Final Destination of Choice
Today this incredible Zambian safari unfortunately comes to an end as we road transfer back to Mfuwe Airport for our flight to Lusaka, where this incredible African safari sadly comes to an end.