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34 Travel Zambia May 2007 Lodge life Sindabezi. This is a genuinely exclusive retreat, with electricity replaced by the more rustic charms of wood fires, hurricane lamps and hot bucket showers. By night the sights and sounds of the river lap at your doorstep. Book the whole island and you also get a private guide, boat and vehicle. Further upstream, t....................he Islands of Siankaba Lodge (www.siankaba.net) is another island paradise – in this case, two islands connected by overhead walkways. The ......................tented chalets are raised into the forest canopy, with private balconies over the river. The honeymoon suite, a recent addition, is hidden away for greater privacy. There’s nothing so rustic at the River Club (www.wilderness-safaris.com), which is all Edwardian-style elegance and creature comforts – right down to the massage tent overlooking yet another glorious sweep of the Zambezi. This makes a perfect location for amorous indolence, and honeymoon-enhancing suggestions from the owners include moonlight croquet and original Zimbabwean port: no doubt a winning combination. Bush brides Most lodges in South Luangwa National Park offer something extra for newlyweds. Space and privacy are the themes at Robin’s House (www.robinpopesafaris.net), where not only do you get the whole house to yourself, but also a private guide and vehicle with which to seek out the area’s abundant game. Robin Pope Safaris has also put together a wedding package,.,.,.,.,.,.,. catering for either a private ceremony for two or a more formal affair for up to 60 guests. Romance is guaranteed, with an altar beneath the shaded magnificence of an ebony grove, plus the whole package of bubbly, banquet and bouquets. Before retiring to the sumptuous honeymoon suite, the happy couple can enjoy special sundowners on the Luangwa in a canopied, flower-strewn banana boat. Mchenja (www.normancarrsafaris.com) offers a true bush camp honeymoon. Each of its five individually designed tents, overlooking the Luangwa, has an inside roll-top bath and an outside shower. With a maximum “Your meal arrives by canoe to the grunting applause of hippos.” THE BUSHCAMP COMPANY CHONGWE RIVER CAMP ROBIN POPE SAFARIS WILDERNESS SAFARIS

May 2007 Travel Zambia 35of ten guests, the camp has an intimacy that, the owners suggest, conjures an air of honeymoon romance, whether you’ve been married for a week or a decade. Excellent game viewing includes one of the densest leopard populations in the whole valley. ...Kapamba (www.bushcampcompany.com) is unusual among Luangwa lodges in that it stays open until December. Each of the camp’s four open-fronted chalets looks onto the Kapamba river, and honeymooners will be especially drawn to the double-sized sunken stone bath in each, allowing them to unwind while watching the hippos below. No detail is spared: look out for the handmade, elephant-shaped soap bars. If it’s alfresco pampering you’re after, then Kapinga Camp (www.wilderness-safaris.com) offers bush massages in the wilds of Kafue National Park. The intimacy of the camp, beneath statuesque fig and mahogany trees, contrasts with the sweeping vistas of the surrounding Busanga Plains. With a maximum of six guests, honeymooners are assured of privacy and personal service. Honeymoon treats include a private dinner next to the plunge pool, and if you need a break from staring at your loved one, then this is the best part of Zambia in which to spot a cheetah. Further south in Kafue, with a very different landscape of granite outcrops and meandering river, Kaingu Lodge (www.kaingu-lodge.com) offers a delightfully original retreat. The secluded honeymoon chalet has its own private garden beside the river deck, and the “double bubble” bath comes with champagne and aromatic candles. These lodges are just a selection. Many other operators offer similarly gorgeous surroundings and an outstanding personal service. Several will also put together a honeymoon package that takes you around the country – and, if you fancy a spot of beach, on to neighbouring Lake Malawi. If you can’t fit them all in first time round, then just follow Elizabeth Taylor’s example: her famous safari honeymoon to Richard Burton was just one of eight. Newlyweds in Zambia are spoilt for romantic choice (clockwise, from top left): a bridal banana boat on the Luangwa with Robin Pope Safaris; sundowners by lantern with the Bushcamp Company; an exclusive island hideaway at Sindabezi; Zambezi twilight Bedouin-style at Sausage Tree Camp; bath time bliss at Chongwe River Lodge; and pampering with a view at the River Club. Shenton Safaris (www.kaingo.com) offer a novel alternative for nerveless honeymooners who want to ‘go bush’. A wooden game-viewing platform, nestled high above the ground between an ebony and a sausage tree, doubles as an arboreal bridal suite. This ingenious construction is set in a riverine grove overlooking the Luangwa, just a kilometre downstream from Kaingo Camp. As the other guests retire to their chalets after a sumptuous dinner, you are driven out to the platform and, effectively, abandoned up a tree for the night. In case of nocturnal emergencies, a scout spends the night parked discreetly nearby. For a sheer, raw immersion in the bush this experience takes some beating. I had fruit bats flapping round my head and a giant eagle owl at eye-level. The starscape, framed through the branches, was immense, and the dawn, when it came, magical. Despite the nightlong cacophony – which included elephants crashing about below and, at one point, the breathy grunting of an alarmingly close leopard (leopards climb trees, don’t they?) – I slept like a baby, lulled by the treetop breeze. My ‘bedroom’ was stripped down to the basics of bed, mosquito net, washbowl and hurricane lamp. But I couldn’t have been more comfortable. All I lacked was a bride. Tree’s company TONGABEZI SAUSAGE TREE CAMP MIKE UNWIN