May 2007 Travel Zambia 47Shenton Safaris is Zambia’s leading Wildlife and Photographic Operatorwww.kaingo.com firstname.lastname@example.orgCome and join the professionals on safari.“An African safari how it really should be experienced” – Andy Rouse, star of Animal Planet’s “The Wildlife Photographer”“Derek Shenton’s network of photographic blinds are both a tribute to Derek’s ingenuity and to his superb knowledge of the wildlife of the South Luangwa” – Frans Lanting, National Geographicinfo@pulseafrica.com www.pulseafrica.comTel UK: + 44 20 8995 5909 Tel South Africa: + 27 11 325 2290Private walking safaris through ‘real’ Africainfo@AfricaMushroom Lodgeand Mushroom Presidential Houseand HouseSouth Luangwa National Park*Mushroom Lodge offers comfortable, rustic but modern accommodation in 12 secluded chalets set under Ebony trees along the Mfuwe Lagoon.*Mushroom House, a favourite retreat of former President Kaunda, boasts 5 luxury bedrooms overlooking the Mfuwe Lagoon.Great options for your Luangwa safari...Visit: www.mushroomlodge.com Tel: +260 6 246116/7 Email: email@example.comContact your Africa travel specialist or email firstname.lastname@example.orgNow iN Zambia!
48 Travel Zambia May 2007 Inside view Why are Zambia’s walking safaris so special? First, safety: each walk has both an armed scout and a guide. The scout deals with animals, leaving the guide free to look after the guests. If the guide had a gun, he wouldn’t be able to do both jobs. Second, our training: we study everything, from insects and spoor to plants, reptiles, birds, even taxonomy. Finally, the bush itself is very, very good – especially here in South Luangwa. It’s not too thick and has a plenty of game. Which do you prefer: walking or wheels? Actually I prefer guiding on foot, because I tend to see lots more stuff: insects, flowers, things that you totally miss when you’re driving. It gives you more to talk to the guest about. What are the risks? Buffalo, elephants and lions can all be very dangerous if you come upon them without warning – though with lions, it’s only if you meet a mating pair, when the male is full of testosterone. We try to avoid thickety areas, for buffalo, and long grass, which can hide mating lions and snakes. The most important thing is to keep your group together: my job is not only to look for animals, but also to make sure that no one is lagging behind or wandering off. Has guiding changed since you started? The standard of training has improved, and each year it is rising. Many of us older guides are involved in the training and examining. When I started you were never examined on things like butterflies. Also most of our guests now come with very good cameras. So not only must you know everything about the bush, you also need to be aware of lighting and angles, and be sensitive to the photographers’ needs. What make a successful walk? Clients are all different, so what makes a walk successful is finding out their interests. Early on I dish out the information about what we’re seeing, and then watch to see what most interests them. I can then target my walk accordingly. If we come across lion tracks and manage to track down the pride, it is always very exciting. We have a good success rate, with two big prides in our area. What makes a good client? A good client is one who is very interested in everything, and who interacts with you and gives you feedback. I love questions! It is rewarding for me when I sense the guest appreciates what they have seen and what you’ve told them. Very quiet clients can be hard to work with, as you can’t figure out what they want or whether they’re enjoying themselves. Clients who don’t follow instructions are worst: they can put everyone in danger. What is your favourite walk? I like riverine areas. You tend to see more, and there is plenty of shade when it gets hotter – both for you and the animals. Here I like starting at Kaingo Camp, moving through the mopane woodland where there’s chance of finding our Mwamba pride, and then walking back through the ebony forest to the river. Any special tips for clients? Pay attention to the little things. You’re not likely to get so close to the big animals on foot as you would on a drive and it’s the little things that bring the bush to life – from the crawling termites to the tracks and droppings. There is just so much to see and learn. Have you now seen everything? Every day is different in the bush. One time we took a tea break beside a lagoon and two warthogs wanted to come and drink where we were sitting. They came so close – about two metres away in the end. So you never know what you’re going to get. There is always something new. There’s plenty left! Walking safaris were born in Zambia, pioneered by the legendary Norman Carr. Today the country is still hailed by safari aficionados as offering Africa’s best on-foot wildlife experience. Patrick Njobvu of Shenton Safaris’ (www.kaingo.com) has been guiding in South Luangwa for 15 years. He spoke to Travel Zambia about his work. Walking the walk Patrick Njobvu shows clients around his Luangwa backyard. ALL PHOTOS MIKE UNWIN