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False 44 Travel Zambia May 2008 Lodge life Why a safari house? Perfect for large families with small children or groups of friends Fun activities for children while parents can relax Secluded and private All activities tailored to the wishes of the group Private guide, chef and hostess will cater to every whim wild wood and river pebbles. The riverside area is excellent for game viewing and Chongwe is famous for the elephants that regularly wander through camp in search of lunch. On the upper Zambezi, near Livingstone, Tangala House is the only safari house to come complete with three friendly dogs. This house is the family home of Ben Parker, the owner of Tongabezi Lodge, and has an informal, child- friendly ambience. Although secluded, Tangala is close enough to Livingstone to take advantage of the activities there, including trips to the Mosi- oa- Tunya National park and Victoria Falls, which lies just 15km downstream. Shiwa N’gandu in northern Zambia represents the dream of an English soldier, Sir Stewart Gore- Browne, who built this grand manor house to bring ‘ a little piece of England’ to a remote corner of Zambia. Using local materials and labour, he established an estate complete with workmen’s cottages, a school, clinic and a workshop. After falling into disrepair following Sir Stewart’s death, the house, with its four bedrooms still retaining the original wood panelling, was lovingly and painstakingly restored by his grandson Charlie and wife Jo. Today families staying here can enjoy a dip in the Kapishya hot springs, and sample all manner of was a challenging project and testament to the determination of the team: twenty- five enormous leadwood trunks, each weighing up to six tons, had to be transported one by one to form the support for the enormous thatched roof. Inside, a spectacular chandelier dominates the twelve- metre high main living area, while each of the four bedrooms is designed to a different theme: the Coral bedroom has a hand- made copper bath; the Blue Agate bedroom is styled with recycled sheets of sandblasted aluminium. Chongwe River Safari House, located in Lower Zambezi National Park, was also built from scratch. Like Luangwa Safari House, it was designed by the architect Neil Rocher, the imagination behind Kenya’s famous Shompole Lodge. With its extraordinary, fantasy- inspired architecture, this house has been described as ‘ like something from the set of Lord of the Rings.’ The house is set at one end of a grove of winterthorns, overlooking the Chongwe River – a tributary of the Zambezi – and has the towering Zambezi escarpment as its backdrop. Designed to be ‘ organic’ in nature, its flowing curved walls are embedded with The delights of safari houses are many and various. Top left: Learning tracks and signs at Robin’s House ROBIN POPE SAFARIS Top right: Family comforts at Luangwa Safari House ROBIN POPE SAFARIS Bottom left: Colonial opulence at Shiwa N’gandu SHIWA N’GANDU Bottom right: feeding the chickens ROBIN POPE SAFARIS

False May 2008 Travel Zambia 45 outdoor activities, from horse- riding and fishing to nature walks round the estate. Alternatively, family history enthusiasts can explore Shiwa’s fascinating archives, collated by Jo, and get lost in the story of the house and its surroundings. Flexibility is the watchword with all five houses. Each can play host to a large family, where treats might include nature walks, visits to local schools and villages, elephant dung paper- making, and fishing lessons or face painting. Alternatively the house offers perfect seclusion for a honeymoon couple wanting privacy and moonlit dinners under the stars. Nothing is dictated: whether guests want to have a lie- in then a big fry- up by the pool, or prefer to leave at the crack of dawn for an all- day drive in search of wild dogs, the entire trip can be tailored to their every whim. ‘ Returning at the end of a busy safari day is like coming home,’ reads one comment in the guest book at Robin’s House. And you can see why: the fire is lit, the dinner is in the oven, and cold drinks are served on the deck under the stars. Dinner is a lively family affair, as the day’s adventures are relived. But later on, when just a faint glow from the spirit lanterns remains, the laughing of the hippos and the soft ‘ prrp’ of the Scops owl is all that breaks the silence. Expert Africa can put together a de luxe family safari that takes in three of the houses described here. The ten- night package, dubbed the ‘ Bushbaby Safari’, includes three nights at Shiwa Ngandu, four nights at Luanwga Safari House and three nights at Chongwe River Safari House and costs from £ 4200 per person all- inclusive – including international flights. Find out more at www. expertafrica. com Bushbaby safari Lodge life SAFARI HOUSE LOCATIONS 4 2 3 1 5 1 Robin’s House 2 Luangwa Safari House 3 Chongwe River Safari House 4 Tangala House 5 Shiwa N’gandu Top left: Lamplight and moonlight at Robin’s House ROBIN POPE SAFARIS Top right: Exploring the bush ROBIN POPE SAFARIS Bottom left: A pool with a view at Luangwa Safari House ROBIN POPE SAFARIS Bottom right: Glorious seclusion at Tangala House TONGABEZI