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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

36 Travel Zambia May 2007 Zambia has a bewildering variety of attractions. Sometimes it can be hard to decide exactly where and when to go, especially as every season offers something different. The map below locates a few highlights, covering each month of the year. Some are well known, others more offbeat. March: Victoria Falls in full spate The Victoria Falls are at their most spectacular in March and April, at the end of the rainy season. This is the time of peak flow, when the upper Zambezi’s huge river catchment has finally worked its way downriver to the Falls. The river thunders over the lip at a rate of up to 750 million litres a minute, creating a cloud of spray visible from kilometres away and nourishing a small rainforest on either bank. From up close the power of the water is awe-inspiring. Bring a raincoat. June/July: looking for leopards, Kafue June and July are the coolest months of the year in Zambia. Leopard sightings are more frequent during this time, since the cats are more active by day – often hunting in the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. Later in the year, when the days are much hotter, they tend only to be up and about after dark. Leopards are widespread across Zambia, with both Kafue and South Luangwa National Parks offering among the best and most reliable sightings anywhere in Africa. November: wildebeest migration, Liuwa Plain The remote Liuwa Plain National Park lies along the upper Zambezi floodplain in far western Zambia. November rains transform its flat grasslands into lush grazing that draws a huge gathering of herbivores, including zebra, tsessebe and up to 30,000 blue wildebeest. Few visitors witness this spectacular phenomenon, partly because getting to Liuwa remains a serious expedition. The park is accessible from June to November. Now under the management of African Parks (www.africanparks-conservation.com), its visitor profile looks set to increase. Vakacha Around Zambia · itineraries · safari news · travel tips · a helping hand April: Ku-omboka festival, Western Province The Ku-omboka is the best known of Zambia’s cultural festivals. It usually takes place around Easter, as long as water levels are high enough. This colourful ceremony celebrates the annual ‘moving home’ of the Lozi people, away from the flooded Zambezi floodplain eastwards onto higher ground. The King retreats with his court on a royal barge to his high-water residence at Limulunga, followed by a retinue of smaller craft bearing other dignitaries. When the fleet reaches its destination, the feasting and celebrations begin. KAFUNTA SAFARIS DAVID ROGERS ZNTB TONGABEZI Around Zambia Mwinilunga Solwezi Limulunga Mongu Kaoma Livingstone Kazungula Victoria Falls Zambezi River Kafue River Liuwa Plain NP Sioma Ngwezi NP West Lunga NP Kafue NP