False May 2008 Travel Zambia 49 Nkani Vakacha Downstream with the lion man Looking for something different on safari? Philip Dickson ventures out on the Kafue River with Chris McBride, Africa’s legendary ‘ white lion’ man. VISA VALUES On 26 January Zambia’s tourist visa policy changed overnight, reports the African Travel & Tourism Association ( ATTA). The visa fee waiver policy was abolished with immediate effect and, at the same time, the price of visas was raised. The cost of single- entry visas is now as follows: UK nationals: US$ 140 Other EU members: US$ 50 USA nationals: US$ 135 Canada nationals US$ 55 This decision has caused some consternation in the travel and tourism industry, which at present is lobbying the government for change. ‘ The cost of these new visas is high and the lack of a visa- waiver for bona fide tourists is a real hit,’ says Chris McIntyre of leading UK tour operator Expert Africa. ‘ Sadly, it may put visitors off safaris in Zambia, and be self- defeating.’ Details at: www. zambiaimmigration. gov. zm ( Zambian Immigration Department) or www. atta. travel ( ??????????????????????????? African Travel & Tourism Association). As the cool early morning haze hangs eerily over the Kafue, we drift silently downstream in a boat reminiscent of the African Queen, listening intently to avoid an unwelcome collision with any of the imposing pods of local hippos. Our vessel, the Fish Eagle, is as bizarre as its name: an ancient banana boat, seemingly built from tin and thatch, that takes us right into the intimate lives of the riverine wildlife. ‘ Look,’ exclaims McBride, pointing to the river bank, as crocodiles devour the underside of a half- submerged hippo carcass, surfacing only to gulp down large chunks of rotting flesh before diving again for more. Meanwhile squadrons of skimmers swoop low over the river scooping out fish with their trailing bills, while on the bank a skittish leopard laps hypnotically and elephants graze amongst the shadowy papyrus beds. Lion expert and author Chris McBride, best known for bringing his extraordinary discovery of South Africa’s rare white lion cubs to the outside world in the late 70’ s, has since relocated to Zambia’s Kafue National Park. Here, with his wife Charlotte, he runs the rustic McBrides’ Camp in the northeastern section, an isolated wilderness characterised by its maze of oxbow lakes and vast floodplains. Now 65, McBride is still obsessed with lions, and there is a charming – almost Victorian – character to his energetic eccentricities. Puttering downstream to a remote fly camp close to the ‘ golden’ pride’s territory, we pass sluggish crocodiles basking benignly on the sandbanks beneath the warming sun. Fly camping in Zambia is wild and intimate and the Fish Eagle delivers us right into the raw heart of the bush. The only concession to civilisation here is a long- drop loo and a bucket shower, and the local wildlife rarely encounters humans. Bushwalking through the crackling miombo woodland and open savannah soon lulls you into nature’s own rhythm. At night, under the colossal black vacuum of a moonless sky with only a campfire for solace, deep chest- heaving lion roars both terrify and tantalise for the day ahead. The Fish Eagle at dawn DID YOU KNOW? The number of tourists visiting Zambia is estimated to have increased by 6.4 percent to 805,059 in 2007. Chris McBride DAVID GODNY Game viewing and access is best during the dry season from June to October. Details at: www. mcbridescamp. com SAFARI DAVID GODNY FOR THE RECORD We apologise for the following two omissions in Travel Zambia 2: The photograph of lions on page 1 was taken by Juliet Shenton. McBrides’ Camp ( www. mcbridescamp. com), not mentioned in our ‘ Rainy Season round- up’, does remain open throughout the rains.
False 50 Travel Zambia May 2008 Nkani Nkani Vakacha Vakacha Luangwa Wilderness Lodge is offering guests a limited and exclusive opportunity to make a practical contribution to conservation. During September, well- known and respected elephant expert Dr Olaf Behlert ( also chairman of Conservation Luambe, the owners of Luangwa Wilderness Lodge), will visit the lodge to oversee the latest phase of its wildlife monitoring programme. This includes capturing data on the area’s resident leopards via a collaring project. Guests will be able to accompany Olaf and his team during their vital work, which has witnessed a dramatic increase in animal numbers in the park. With Luambe still essentially under development, every visitor to the park can play a role – not least by staying at the lodge, which contributes a percentage of all visitor fees to conservation and community projects in the area. Find out more at www. luangwawilderness. com and www. conservation- luambe. com Many National Parks claim to offer ‘ the real Africa’, but few can compare with Kafue for sheer size and wilderness. After years of neglect and under-investment, some exciting developments are returning this magnificent park to its former glory. Tim Henshall reports on the latest. Photographer’s tips Everybody can be a better photographer. The answer is not technique or equipment, but the human eye. Cameras are tools that take pictures, but only people make photographs. The ‘ technique’ of photography is a trade or craft, just like carpentry or knitting. The ‘ art’ of photography is about just one thing: ‘ seeing’ the picture. We can train ourselves to ‘ see’ the picture better. Try looking in a whole new way at every image, scene or event you come across. As you go about your daily life, whether at home, at work or even in the pub, try taking photographs in your head. Soon ‘ seeing’ will be second nature. Then, putting a camera in your hands will put you in a sort of ‘ seeing zone’. As one of photography’s greats, Dorothea Lange, explained it: “ A camera is a tool that allows those without one to see.” Stephen Robinson is a Zambia- based photographer who specialises in nature and environmental subjects. His Spirit of the Land project explores Zambia’s landscapes and the people who depend so directly upon them. For more of his work visit www. spirit-of- the- land. com ( and see p36– 39 of this edition). Konkamoya Lodge, located on the banks of Lake Itezhy Tezhy in the southern sector of Kafue, opened early in 2008. This intimate camp, lovingly created by the Cooke family, consists of just three chalets and thus ensures a very personal experience for nature lovers. Game viewing is conducted in an open 4WD vehicle, on foot or by boat on the lake itself. Fishing, as you might expect, is a speciality, as are canoeing safaris, and there’s a definite thrill to gently floating on the lake while elephants wallow nearby. The Cookes also offer excursions to their fly camps within the park. Konkamoya joins independent lodges around the park, including Kaingu Safari Lodge and Nanzhila Plains Camp, to form the Kushiyana Collection. This collection, which means ‘ variety’ in the local Nyanja language, has been refined ahead of a relaunch later this year. Each camp is situated in a spectacular and distinct location, from the eastern riverine bush of Kaingu to the sweeping savannah of Nanzhila Plains and lakeshore of Konkamoya. Together they offer the complete spectrum of Kafue’s diverse landscapes and attractions. Details at www. cookesafricansafaris. com and www. kushiyana. com More firsts for Kafue SAFARI Watching hippos on Lake Itezhy Tezhy TIM HENSHALL Dr Behlert examines a sedated leopard LUANGWA WILDERNESS LODGE Hands- on in Luambe A unique chance to get involved with wildlife conservation awaits visitors to Luambe National Park ( northeast of South Luangwa NP), reports Tim Henshall.