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The chalets, which nestle discreetly into a rocky hillside, are also a delight. Accommodation comes in Spacious and Standard, but there was nothing ' standard' about our chalet – it had no front wall, for a start: just a couple of chairs in which to sit and admire the river snaking quietly through the valley below. This idyllic retreat is the work of Lari and Mike Merrett, who hail from Kenya and Zambia's Copperbelt respectively. The pair fell in love with the Mutinondo area in 1994 while exploring Zambia in search of somewhere to site a new conservation and tourism project. With encouragement from Chief Mpumba, the local leader, they forged ahead, employing local craftsmen to build the chalets from local materials. Today the Merretts live on the property and stay close to nature. Having spent considerable time exploring the area by foot and bicycle, they want visitors to experience the wilderness in exactly the same way. Their staff live near the lodge, too, and return regularly to visit their families in the nearby village, about 20km away. Ironically, in a nation famed for safaris, one of Mutinondo's main draws is the absence of dangerous big game, since it is this that makes hiking and horse- riding possible. That's not to say, however, that there is no wildlife: elephant and buffalo may have been driven out of the region long ago by poachers, but you might come across the odd kudu or klipspringer, while the area offers numerous gems for birdwatchers, with such specials as bar- winged weaver, red- and- blue sunbird and Lady Ross's turaco. It is also home to the world's largest edible mushroom, Termitomyces titanicus, which may span a metre across. The Merretts are working to minimise their impact on the environment: electricity is provided by a variety of solar- powered devices, as well as a wind generator, and the lodge provides solar- powered lanterns to help you find your way in the dark. They are also helping to create business in the local community. Lari, a jeweller, trains local villagers – who hail from the Bisa tribe – to make jewellery from locally- found gemstones; these are sold at the lodge. On our last afternoon at Mutinondo a friend and I jumped into a pair of inner tubes and drifted down the river. All was silent except for the rustle of the leaves. This, I reflected, was wilderness at its purest and most simple. Getting there Mutinondo Wilderness is located about 600km from Lusaka. Drive north to Kapiri Mposhi. Turn right at the Continental Oil fuel station 5km beyond Kapiri Town and continue for 364km, past Mkushi and Serenje, until you see Mutinondo signed on your right about 164km past Serenje ( just after a Kingdom Hall on your left). Continue down a dirt road for about 25km. Accommodation ( US$ prices indicative only) Standard chalets are K380,000 ($ 119) total for a single and K300,000 ($ 94) p/ p for a double; Spacious chalets are K500,000 ($ 156) total for a single and K380,000 ($ 119) p/ p for a double; rates include all meals, morning tea or coffee, canoes and horse- riding. Tents with beds and bedding Full board: K320,000 ($ 100) p/ p per night for a single; K260,000 ($ 81) for a double. Self- catering: K65,000 ($ 20) for a single; K50,000 ($ 16) p/ p for a double ( self- catering) Campsite: K 40,000 ($ 14) p/ p per night self- catering; bring your own tent. Details at www. mutinondozambia. com; email the Merretts at 2MWL@ bushmail. net. Cell for sms: ++ 260 979 862545 or ++ 260 978 198198 Mutinondo essentials November 2008 Travel Zambia 35 Zambia undiscovered Above right: Enjoy nature at your own pace, bathing in the waterfalls or hiking the woodland trails. Crystal- clear, crocodile- free rivers and waterfalls invite you to cool off after your exertions Pete Leoneonard ( 3) NTZ LUSAKA Kapiri Mposhi Mkushi Mpika Mutinondo Wilderness

Visitors to Zambia all too often bypass Lusaka. The country's capital is seen as an unavoidable inconvenience – an obstacle to be negotiated as quickly as possible en route to your safari. But what if you are stuck there for a day? Laura Manni, who has recently made Lusaka her home, takes Travel Zambia on a personal 24- hour tour of the city's burgeoning attractions. 6: 50 This is when the London flight touches down – a good time to start your Lusaka day. Once you've completed airport formalities you should be out by 8: 00am. Then why not hire a taxi? It will set you back anything from $ 30 an hour to $ 150 for the day, but you'll have the bonus of an informal local ' tour guide' who will reveal more than any travel guide can. Soon you'll be negotiating the morning traffic, watching the street entrepreneurs expertly dodging the vehicles as they sell everything from phone chargers to tomatoes, and the countless minibuses weaving alarmingly in and out of every unweavable space. 9: 00 By now you'll be wanting to find breakfast. To work up an appetite you could detour via some of Lusaka's most impressive buildings. Start with State House on Independence Avenue – the enormous and impressive residence of the Zambian president. Vehicles are not permitted to stop here so you'll have to admire it from the comfort of the taxi – though when the president is in residence all traffic grinds to a halt at 9am to allow for the changing of the guard. Then ask your driver to pass via the High Courts, which boast the best manicured roundabout in Lusaka. One of the lions in front was blown up by Rhodesian forces during the Bush War in the 1970s. 24 hours in LusakA Capital gains 36 Travel Zambia November 2008