48 Travel Zambia November 2007 N kaniNkaniVakachaVakachaNkaniNkaniVakachaVakacha Budget/DIY (US$2000–3,500) For the self-drive, self-sufficient visitor travelling on a budget. Cost includes 4WD vehicle and camping hire, based on four people sharing. All activities extra. Days 1–4 Livingstone Arrive Livingstone. Spend three nights at one of many campsites or budget hostels in and around town (e.g. Jolly Boys, Fawlty Towers, Zambezi waterfront). Choose from numerous activities, including white-water rafting, river cruises and bungee-jumping. Or simply relax and enjoy the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls. Days 5–6 Lechwe Lodge / Lusaka Collect your rental vehicle and drive northeast towards Lusaka. Stay one/two nights at Lechwe Lodge: a mid-range lodge on the Kafue River c.90 minutes from Lusaka, with walking and riding; or one/two nights at a budget camp closer to town (e.g. Pioneer Camp). Visit markets and museums on a city tour. Days 7–13 Kafue National Park Drive west to Kafue National Park, entering by Nalusanga Gate. Spend three nights at campsite in northern sector (e.g. Lufupa), followed by three in southern sector (e.g. Mukambi, Chunga, Puku Pans, Kaingu). Activities (available at lodges) include game drives, guided walks and boat trips. Wildlife includes elephant, hippo and good predator sightings. Prolific birdlife. Day 14 Livingstone Return to Livingstone, leaving Kafue south by the Dumdumwenze Gate. Drop off your rental vehicle. Enjoy a final night by the Falls after your safari. So how much will your safari cost? The budget-conscious traveller has many economical options. Equally, the sky’s the limit if you want to splash out. Experienced tour operators will tailor-make a tour to suit your wallet. Meanwhile the following rough itineraries give you some idea of what to expect. Prices are per person and do not include international flights. Deluxe (US$8,000+) Treat yourself to a no-expenses-spared safari of a lifetime, with exclusive personal service and top guides. Days 1–4 Busanga Plains, Kafue National Park Arrive Lusaka. Direct transfer to Kafue, then helicopter flight to Busanga Plains for four nights at two upmarket lodges (e.g. Shumba, Kapinga). Explore woodlands and floodplains on game drives and boat trips. Wildlife highlights include numerous antelope species, lion, leopard, cheetah and possible wild dog. Prolific birdlife. Days 5–9 South Luangwa National Park Direct flight to South Luangwa National Park. Spend three nights at a top-end lodge (e.g. Tafika, Tena Tena, Kapani), followed by two nights at an exclusive bushcamp (e.g. Mwamba, Bilimungwe, Mchenja). Walks, drives and night drives. Wildlife highlights include elephant, lion, leopard and endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe. Days 10–12 Lower Zambezi National Park Direct flight to Lower Zambezi National Park. Spend four nights at a top-end lodge (e.g. Chiawa, Chongwe, Sausage Tree) on the banks of the Zambezi. Explore the river on game drives, walks and by canoe. Wildlife highlights include hippo, elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rich birdlife. Days 13–14 Livingstone/Victoria Falls Fly to Livingstone for two nights at a top-end lodge on the banks of the Zambezi (e.g. Tongabezi, Islands of Siankaba). Relax in style after your safari and enjoy the spectacle of Victoria Falls. Numerous activities available. With thanks to Expert Africa: www.expertafrica.com Itineraries Left: Yellow-billed storks and Thornicrofts’ giraffes visit the riverfront at Wildlife Camp, South Luangwa. MIKE UNWIN (2) Mid-range (US$3,000–4,500) The best of the country without breaking the bank. Days 1–5 South Luangwa National Park Arrive Lusaka. Transfer by air to South Luangwa National Park and spend five nights at a mid-range camp on the banks of the river (e.g. Wildlife Camp; Flatdogs). Watch wildlife, including elephant, buffalo, hippo, giraffe and lion, around camp and on optional walks, drives and night drives into the park. Highlights include excellent leopard sightings, endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe and spectacular carmine bee-eater colonies. Days 6–10 Lower Zambezi National Park Transfer by plane to Lower Zambezi National Park. Spend five nights at a mid-range camp (e.g. Ana Tree) on the banks of the Zambezi. Explore the river and its backwaters by game drives, on foot and by canoe. Highlights include plentiful hippo, elephant and buffalo, plus all principal predators, including possible wild dogs. Also rich birdlife and dramatic scenery. Days 11–14 Livingstone Spend four nights at a mid-range hotel (e.g. Royal Zambezi Sun) beside the world famous Victoria Falls. Choose from a wealth of activities, including white-water rafting, river cruises, bungee-jumping, microlighting and game drives in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Or simply relax and enjoy the river and the Falls.
November 2007 Travel Zambia 49 The heart-pounding sight of a leopard padding silently through the beam of a spotlight, the dramatic theatre of lions on a kill, the childlike awe at seeing an elephant for the first time: these are what safari memories are made of. But no matter how captivating the sights, it is often the subtle sounds that best capture the intimacy of the bush. Bird song, baboon chatter, the rumble of elephants: all tell stories that our eyes may never witness. Derek Solomon has set out to capture these sounds by designing and installing a special sound system in a safari vehicle. A highly sensitive parabolic microphone is linked to an amplifier with headphones attached for all the guests. Instead of hunting for images with binoculars or spotlight, Derek scans the land for sounds. When he picks up something of interest his phenomenal knowledge means guests have the language of the bush translated for them. Bird song is no longer merely a pretty tune, it is the contact call of a red-billed oxpecker flitting over the backs of buffalo, or a white-browed robin-chat proclaiming its territory deep in the heart of a thorn bush. And it is not just our understanding of birds that is illuminated by sound: the lives of mammals take on new meaning too. ‘Listening to elephants is most magical,’ says Derek. ‘We can’t hear the infrasound, but we can pick up their low rumbles. Sometimes a group of elephants will all suddenly walk away for no apparent reason; with this sound system you can hear the matriarch telling them to move.’ Such insights bring a new dimension to a safari and a deeper understanding of Safari Solomon’s sound safari Derek Solomon, one of South Luangwa’s best known guides, is an expert in wildlife calls and communication. Huw Williams joined him on a novel new safari to see how he shares this knowledge with guests. Taking your own wheels into the wilderness? Tricia Hayne offers a few tips for first-timers. Maps tend to show tantalising short cuts that could save you hours, but the smooth gravel surface of the first 1km rarely lasts. Ask yourself why it’s not signposted, then take the longer route. life in the African bush, even for the most experienced visitor. Contact the Bush Camp Company to arrange a sound safari with Derek: www.bushcampcompany.com Remember that a GPS works in a straight line; it doesn’t do corners – even if you’re apparently heading 180° in the wrong direction. A map, of course, does recognise bends. But whoever worked out the distances might well have been using a GPS, which explains why you drove 250km when the map said 210km. If you must drive off road, remember that rocks lurk beneath that tall grass, ready to gouge a hole in your sump. Zambia burns throughout the year, somewhere. And that might just be the road you’re trying to negotiate, so watch out for your tyres. Wherever you are going, work out how long it’ll take you, then allow at least another hour; you’ll usually need it. Minimum impact code Don’t forget to take your binoculars on night drives. They work perfectly well in the beam of a spotlight, and you will need them for a proper view of smaller nocturnal creatures, such as owls or bushbabies. Top tip Don’t feed wild animals: This breaks down their fear and encourages dependency. ‘Problem animals’ may have to be destroyed. Stay on the road: Don’t chase off-road after wildlife or short cuts. Tracks cause soil erosion and retard plant growth. Also, you may well get stuck – or worse. Hygiene: Dig your pit toilet deep and fill it in when you move on. Burn used toilet paper. Never wash with soap in a river or lake. Rubbish: Remove all your waste and any other waste you find. Keep a supply of bin bags. Burn and bury biodegradable waste. Firewood: Bring your own, if possible, or buy wood from camps. Never chop branches from living trees. Local community: Be respectful and sensitive. Ask permission to camp and pay fees where required. Don’t take photos without consent. Self-drive self-help When travelling independently, always aim to minimise your impact on the environment. ANNA DEVEREUX-BAKER MIKE UNWIN Pearl-spotted owl and white-browed robin chat (below): both prominent voices on a sound safari. WILDERNESS SAFARIS