June is one of my favourite times of year in this part of Africa. Lovely warms sunny days with temperatures in the mid-twenties are complimented by cool evenings. Colours are still bright and the bush still green following the rains which usually finish around March.
By June, dwindling water supplies are drawing the wildlife closer to Zambia’s beautiful rivers providing excellent and easily accessible game viewing.
On this trip we visited Zambia’s three best known reserves, South Luangwa National Park in the East, Lower Zambezi in the south and Kafue in the centre area.
Compared to other top safari locations, Zambia’s parks are relatively unknown, visitor density is low and there are just a few relatively widely spaced safari camps, particularly outside of the central Mfuwe area of South Luangwa so you really do feel as though you are pioneers in wild Africa.
LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK
I have always loved this park both for its spectacular scenery and for the exciting range of safari activities on offer. The activities which are available at most lodges include, in addition to day and night game drives, boat safaris, canoe trips, tiger fishing, guided walks and sleep outs.
Unfortunately, you need deep pockets to visit with a night at most of the lodges within or very close to the park costs around US$1000 per night or more in peak season. The only lower budget options are outside the park in the game management area to the west, however in my opinion these are not worthwhile as visiting the park involves a long drive or boat trip.
Lower Zambezi has a huge elephant population which increases as the season goes on peaking at the height of the dry season around October. The sight of a herd of elephants enjoying themselves playing in the river or swimming out to an Island is unforgettable.
In common with other Zambian Parks the bush was thicker than normal for June due to late rains although this did not seem to spoil the game viewing.
We did very much enjoy a gentle canoe trip along one of the channels, a wonderfully relaxing way to see the wildlife and birds, although I suspect that eyeballing at close quarters the hippos and large crocodiles one meets along the way is not for those of a nervous disposition.
We started our visit at Chongwe River Camp, a lovely and very friendly camp in a beautiful location just outside the Western border of the Reserve, if the camp were further into the park where generally the game viewing improves the further East you go this might be my camp of choice, but its location and new higher price tag make it a less attractive proposition.
We gradually headed further east visiting or staying at all the camps in the park, at the top end is Sausage Tree camp which has recently been rebuilt to a very high standard and includes private guided safari activities as standard. Guests who like a lot of luxury and exclusivity on their safari will love it despite the hefty price tag.
Favourite camp – Amanzi Camp due to its high-quality accommodation, a great location in the best game viewing area of the park. Amanzi is a bit less expensive than some, Chiawa Camp is also a lovely choice.
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