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28 Travel Zambia May 2007 Zambia undiscovered the swamp. The sight of a dugout floating eerily through the early morning mist on glassy waters gives the area a memorable primeval feel. Finding shoebills is easiest at the end of the wet season, around May to June. In the dry season, from September to November, game drives navigate the expansive plains to view antelope and the plentiful birdlife concentrated around pools and river channels. Night drives might also encounter such nocturnal residents as civets, genets and side-striped jackals. Bangweulu is where David Livingstone met his end, succumbing to blood loss and fever during a fruitless search for the source of the Nile (this wetland actually drains into the Congo basin). A large monument to the great explorer stands in forest at the edge of the swamp, about an hour’s drive from the gate of Kasanka. Kieran Dodds Mutinondo and Shiwa Ng’andu Ever felt frustrated on safari at not being able to wander off and explore the wilderness around you? The very wildlife you’ve come to see can cut you off from its equally impressive habitat. Northern Zambia’s Mutinondo Wilderness offers a solution: 10,000 hectares of private miombo woodland, teeming with wildlife – but none of it dangerous, so you can hike, horse-ride, swim and canoe at your whim. Set on a plateau west of the Luangwa Valley, Mutinondo’s woodlands are interrupted only by massive granite whalebacks and a river so clean you can drink it. Passionate conservationists Mike and Lari Merrett acquired Mutinondo in 1995, and have built their intimate lodge on eco-tourism principles, supporting the community while protecting its natural heritage. The thatched en suite granite chalets have open sides overlooking wooded hills, while a campsite borders a rocky wooded outcrop. Guests feast royally on local produce, with vegetables grown by villagers. Peace in every guise is on offer, from riverside tranquillity to hilltop elation. Here is Africa shorn of the 21st century, beyond the confines of camp or Land Rover. There are over 60km of tracks on which to discover butterflies, birds, antelope and exquisite plants – from prehistoric cycads, to fat pink proteas, hot red aloes and, during the rains, umbrella-sized mushrooms. You can also enjoy art or jewellery-making lessons, learn crafts with neighbouring villagers or take a gentle horse-ride for sundowners, before struggling to take in the hordes of stars. Or simply stroll out and touch Africa as it’s been for centuries. Elegant eccentricities The Merretts were not the first to be inspired by a personal vision of Zambia’s wild north. In 1921 the Shiwa Ng’andu estate was carved from the bush by Edwardian eccentric Sir Stewart Gore-Browne, who had a utopian dream of creating his own benevolent fiefdom. Though the farm thrived during Gore-Browne’s lifetime, it was crumbling by 2002 – which is when grandson Charlie and his wife Jo took over and began its restoration. Today they oversee a flourishing community, farming livestock and game, and welcoming guests to the original Tuscan-style manor house. Approached down imposing avenues of trees, this is the place to indulge every aristocratic fantasy. History is tangible among the stone staircases and wood-panelled corridors. Take tea in the drawing room hung with original portraits, or on the terrace above sculpted gardens; browse the library’s ceiling-high shelves of leather-bound books; or explore the family chapel before sundowners beside the lake after which Shiwa Ng’andu is named. After traditional English dinner in the dining room, adorned with exquisite rugs, silver candelabra and game trophies, sleep it all off in a vast four-poster bed. Around the grounds there are guided game and birding walks, boat rides and fishing trips, or you can soak in nearby Kapishya hot springs. Staying here offers an intimate glimpse into one family’s fascinating history and, like Mutinondo, another rich alternative to ‘safari Africa’. Stephanie Debere Sumbu National Park This may not be the middle of nowhere, but you can certainly see it from here. And for those in search of wildlife off the beaten track, Kasanka: charter flights from Lusaka/Mfuwe; self-drive (4WD) via Kapiri Mposhi; all-inclusive or self-catering accommodation at Wasa Lodge or Luwombwa Fishing Lodge; camping; bookings through Kasanka Trust (www.kasanka.com) Bangweulu: charter flights from Kasanka/Lusaka; self-drive (4WD) from Kasanka; tented chalets at Shoebill Camp; advance bookings essential (www.kasanka.com). Mutinondo: 25km off Great North Road; accessible year-round by 2WD; chalets, camping and activities at Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge (www.mutinondozambia.com). Shiwa Ng’andu: reached via Mpika-Isoka road; full board and activities at Shiwa Ng’andu Manor House (www.shiwangandu.com); chalets and camping at nearby Kapishya Hot Springs (email2mark@bushmail.net.). Sumbu: charter flights to Kasaba Bay Lodge; by road (4WD) from Kaputa or Mporokoso; by boat from Mpulungu (book through lodges); all-inclusive accommodation at Kasaba Bay Lodge (naturelink@mweb.co.za) or Ndole Bay Lodge (ndolebay@coppernet.zm). For tours and other destinations in northern Zambia try Thorn Tree Safaris (www.thorntreesafaris.com). Practicalities THORNTREE SAFARIS ZNTB

May 2007 Travel Zambia 29 Zambia undiscovered Sumbu National Park is well worth a visit. Perched at the very north of the country at the foot of Lake Tanganyika, Africa’s deepest lake, the park covers over 2,000 km2 of diverse habitat, both above and below the waterline. Mammal fauna is rich and diverse, though not always easy to find. Dense mashito swamp thickets may yield glimpses of shy sitatunga and rare blue duiker, complementing occasional sightings of roan, sable, eland, hartebeest, buffalo and zebra. More common are bushbuck, warthog and puku, all of which can be spotted on the beach from your sun-lounger. Elephant, lion and leopard boost the reserve’s ‘big five’ credentials, though these are seldom seen. Birdlife is abundant in the forests and riverine thickets, and includes East African species such as bare-faced go-away bird and red-cheeked cordon-bleu. Were it not for the snorting of hippos and the constant patrol of super-sized crocodiles, the snorkelling would doubtless also be fabulous, revealing a host of endemic cichlids much sought after by the aquarium trade. Getting to Sumbu can be an adventure in itself, since there are no scheduled flights to Kasaba Bay, the nearest airstrip. However, the two active lodges in the park are also accessible by boat from Mpulungu, across the lake. Activities include lake cruises and water-skiing, as well as walks and game drives. THORN TREE SAFARIS “Were it not for the snorting of hippos and the constant patrol of super-sized crocodiles, the snorkelling would doubtless also be fabulous.”With Lakes Mweru and Mweru W’Antipa nearby, not to mention the spectacular 221-metre high Kalambo Falls on the Tanzanian border, a trip to Lake Tanganyika offers the adventurous traveller some rich rewards. Jake da Motta Sights and sounds of northern Zambia: beach retreat on lake Tanganyika (above); colonial splendour at Shiwa Ng’andu (opposite, below); Kundabwika Falls. Lower Zambezi NP Kasanka NP South Luangwa NP North Luangwa NP Luambe NP Sumbu NP Lusenga NP Lukusuzi NP LUSAKA Kitwe Ndola Chipata Isoka Kasama Mpulungu L. Bangweulu Chirundu Kapiri Mposhi Mkushi Mfuwe Mpika