Zambia - Dec 7-28 2011





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  1. #1
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    Question Zambia - Dec 7-28 2011

    Hi.
    I will be visiting Zambia with my wife & 4 year-old daughter for a 3 week self-drive holiday starting & ending in Livingstone. We are hiring a 4X4 from Hemmingways with roof-top tents. We are intending a relaxing trip with some birding & butterflying & plenty of general wildlife viewing. Wea re Australians & this trip is the conclusion of our 6 year stay in South Africa before heading off to another work contract.
    I'd appreciate some advice on the following questions:

    1. Accommodation in Livingston. Looking for self-catering camping in the general vicinity of Livingstone. Somewhere quiet, relaxed, uncrowded, & child-friendly. Possibilities include: the Bushfront lodge, Livingstone Safari Lodge, Peregrine campsite at Taita Falcoln Lodge (not much on web about this one). Any suggestions?
    2. How will the Falls be from the Zambian side? Will we need to head over to the Zimbabwe side to get good views at this time of year?
    3. We have South Luangwa NP on our itinerary, what other National Park would be recommended at this time of year? Kafue? Lower Zambezi? North Luangwa? What won't we see in South Luangwa that we need to try somewhere else?
    4. Areas we are looking at visiting include:Nkanga River Conservation Area - Choma (camping at Nansai Farm); The Forest Inn; Mutinondo Wilderness; Kapishya Hot Springs. Most of these stops are focussed on birding/butterflying.
    5. Recommended accommodation for South Luangwa NP. Again looking for somewhere quiet, relaxed, uncrowded, & child-friendly. Thinking of Wildlife Camp, Croc Valley or Track and Trail River Camp. Any recommendations or other suggestions?
    6. Where would you spend a quiet Christmas?
    7. Hemmingways offers a gps as an extra. Is it worth USD $7 a day? How useful will it be?
    8. If we are bringing in Rand, is it best to change everything to Kwachas, or will some US $s be useful also?
    9. Can we use a Mastercard anywhere at all?
    10. What are we missing?

    Thanks, Jeff.

  2. #2
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    Not Lower Zambezi.........LZNP is actually shut/ inaccessible. Only certain parts of the Kafue are accessible, but I think you should be OK getting to McBrides and certainly Mukambi, but some of the game drives will be altered due to the rains.

    All the SLNP camps are nice. I picked Wildlife, but the others looked fine too.

    Christmas? McBride's if they'll have you.

    If you are just sticking to the main roads then you don't need a GPS. At that time of the year you will be mainly on main roads, but even in SLNP a GPS is very handy.

    Rand is easy to change to kwachas, but most of the camps and park entry fees are payable in USD, so you must have those too.
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

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  3. #3
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    Jeff just a few pointers and some comments:

    Vehicle Hire: make sure the tyres on the vehicle is suitable for the areas you will be visiting. Most of these vehicles in Zambia are fitted with normal highway tyres and needless to say they are full of "snot plugs"

    Seems you are into your butterflies, then do yourself a favour a get THE BUTTERFLIES OF ZAMBIA. Available from the Lepidopterist Soc in SA and not expensive. What about Dragon Flies?

    Now for your questions:


    • Livingstone - Taita is excellent. Been to their campsite "Kanniedood" on a rocky hill, clean, good ablutions and shade in the summer. My preference. Excellent view of the gorge from the main lodge. You also cannot see your neighbors.
    • The Zambezi levels will be on the rise and depending on the level the falls can be good in Dec. Seeing that you will be moving on elsewhere, I would regardless of the sight from Zambia also venture across to the Zim side to capture the view from there.
    • The escarpment and the black cotton soil are going to be your biggest obstacles and depending on early rains you will in all likelihood not be able to reach SLNP via using the Mutinondo river crossing whilst NLNP is out of the question that time of the year. Thus visiting all the interesting places on the great north road and including a visit to SLNP during Dec over such a short period is a bit to much. You also have a 4yr old with you so don't take any risks.
    • My opinion is thus either the Great North Road or SLNP. If you decide Great North then you have to include Kasanka NP. Its bat time , plenty of birds, butterflies and dragons!!
    • My recommendation:


    • Fly in and get your 4x4
    • Skip Livingstone for later when river is higher
    • Travel up to Zambezi to Piet du Toits place on the Zambezi, Kabula. Visit the Sioma falls. (3 Nights)
    • Cross the Zambezi at Sitoti heading for Mukambi maybe sleeping over 1 night before reaching Mukambi (Transit 1 + 2 Nights) Still dry enough but might include some fun without real risk!
    • From Mukambi go on to McBrides. You should still be able to reach their campsite. You will have an opportunity to spot the Bohm's Bee Eaters and Black backed barbets. (3)
    • From there head on to Kasanka, and enroute sleep over at Forest Inn. Stock Up in Lusaka but don't sleep over. You can get to Forest Inn comfortably if you leave McB fore 9am (transit 1 + 3)
    • Then do the hot springs and Mutinondo on the way back to Lusaka where you stock up again before leaving for Livingstone (Hot Springs 2 + 3 Mutinondo)
    • Spend Christmas at Livingstone - Taita - Kanniedood Campsite (1 transit + 2 Nights) (You will have to play with the days a bit to get to Livingstone for Christmas)

    Or


    • Cutout the North and head for SLNP from McB
    • Depending on the rains that road from Chipata to Mfuwe can be very slow so you might need 2 days to get there and 2 days back and there is not really much to do/see between Lusaka and Mfuwe.
    • But then again SLNP is pure magic......pity 3 weeks is just not enough to see it all.
    GPS, I will get one even if it is just to record your trip for future memories. Hiring one ...well I don't know about that, depends on how up to date they are with their maps but then you wont be able to save your tracks. In a foreign country and on your 1st visit its always a plus!
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    Last edited by mfuwefarmer; 2011/11/20 at 02:45 PM.

  4. #4
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    Definitely Peregrine's at Taita Falcon, Kanniedood or one of the other three, as Bertie suggests - one of my favourite camp sites in southern Africa. If the lodge isn't full, ask if you can use the pool and bar facilities - the deck hangs out over the Batoka Gorge with jaw-dropping views. Faan and Anmarie, the owners, should be cool about you using the lodge facilities - maybe have Christmas dinner or lunch there.
    Mastercard is OK at some of the banks, but try and get a Visa card - almost all the ATMs are on Visa, not Mastercard. It makes life a lot easier. Cash dollars are useful as well.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfuwefarmer View Post
    • Cross the Zambezi at Sitoti heading for Mukambi maybe sleeping over 1 night before reaching Mukambi (Transit 1 + 2 Nights) Still dry enough but might include some fun without real risk!

    I'm not sure that the Sitoti ferry is still operating at this time of year, but Bertie is more "on the spot" than me. It shuts down when the river level rises enough to make to drive across the floodplain too risky, so you my be OK in December, but I'm guessing that there will be a risk that it will have closed.


    Mike
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

    "Mike for President" Freeflyd

  6. #6
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    Just an added note on the Mastercard issue: my bank, Standard, were able to issue me with a Visa debit card on the spot, no need to wait for it, so that we travelled with both versions.

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    If passing through Chipata you must stay at Mamarulas. Very nice place with restaurant, bungalo's, swimmingpool, camping on lawn under trees, and very friendly people.
    Pieter Swart.
    2011 Amarok Bi Turbo 4 Motion
    Julle ouens wat dink julle weet alles maak ons ouens wat alles weet die donner in!!!
    Dis 'n manne ding! As Swambo saamgaan kos dit twee maal so veel en dis net die helfte so lekker!!!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAG View Post
    [/LIST]
    I'm not sure that the Sitoti ferry is still operating at this time of year, but Bertie is more "on the spot" than me.
    Mike
    Early December is still fine as the real rain and flooding only starts end December onwards. In fact December the levels of the Zambezi is still relatively "low"! To give you an idea we have had only 62mm for the season so far so I dont think it will be a problem. I have crossed the Zambezi at Sitoti with trailer on Dec 27th 2008 (a year of flooding and heavy rains)
    Last edited by mfuwefarmer; 2011/11/20 at 06:21 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    Just an added note on the Mastercard issue: my bank, Standard, were able to issue me with a Visa debit card on the spot, no need to wait for it, so that we travelled with both versions.
    Yes cards do work and its a much safer option....but oh dear the surprise when you see the conversion a month later. BTW they still have to phone to get approval for transactions as they are using the manual slip system in 99% cases
    Remember basically you can only use your card at ATM's, Shoprite, P&P and Spar. A few of the larger hotel setups accepts cards but that is it.
    Last edited by mfuwefarmer; 2011/11/20 at 07:03 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfuwefarmer View Post
    Yes cards do work and its a much safer option....but oh dear the surprise when you see the conversion a month later. BTW they still have to phone to get approval for transactions as they are using the manual slip system in 99% cases
    Hi Bertie, I was mainly referring to ATMs here, where Visa is more prevalent than any other system. Funnily enough, in Mozambique the ATM rate was better than anywhere else when we were last there.

  11. #11
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    Hi,
    I dont think you would have problems in crossing the Zambezi at the Sitoti ferry point during December. The problem is not always the height of the water but the area around Senanga gets flooded in the rain season and opperating the ferry and dropping a vehicle on a road that is impassable makes no sence.
    We have been informed by Liuwa National Park that depending on rains they might be closing the Park mid December this year.
    We are in daily contact with the Park to inform our guests at Kabula on the recent developments.
    The new road (M10) is progressing at a steady pace and the new bridge at Maziba Bay will be completed by end 2013 if all goes well.
    The drill for the bridge foundations have arrived!
    Enjoy the festive season and your holiday!
    Pieter Du Toit

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I have much to think about. I think it makes sense to leave the falls to the end of the trip & head north immediately. I think South Luangwa is non-negotiable at this stage but thanks for some interesting ideas!

    @ Mfuwefarmer, thanks for the suggestion, I have Heath, Hancock & Newport's Butterflies of Zambia as well as Pinhey & Loe's much older book. I blog on Butterflies & other things at: http://zanature.wordpress.com/

  13. #13
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    Hallo Hobbes,
    Your images are absolutely amazing! Please forward me your email address I would like to talk to you about identifying butterflies on Kabula and Buffalo Island.
    Kabula Island is a 300ha undisturbed island in the Zambezi were i have seen some huge butterflies and many very nice colours.
    Kind Regards,
    Pieter Du Toit.
    [email protected]

  14. #14
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    Just a quick report back. Had an absolutely marvellous time in Zambia. Visited Pierre du Toit's lodge Kabula north of Shesheke on the Zambezi River. Weather was not super cooperative for butterfly hunting but was able to photograph & ID quite a few anyway. Then up to South Luangwa NP via Livingstone & Lusaka. Went via the Petauke Road which turned into an overnight adventure. The Hilux 4x4 from Hemmingways was extremely capable even in the hands of a novice. South Luangwa NP was excellent. Then across to Kafue NP where we had another wondeful time at Mukambi. Down to Livingstone via Lusaka - really long drive in one hit - for christmas.
    Now in Perth, Australia, heading to Brisbane on Monday. Hope to catch up there to do a full trip report with pics.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbes View Post
    Went via the Petauke Road which turned into an overnight adventure.
    Hi Hobbes,

    How long did that route from Petauke to SLNP took you? We are planning taking that route in July this year. We planning to leave Luangwa Bridge Camp in the morning, it is then +- 170km to Petauke, and from Petauke to SLNP another 180 km. Total 360 km.

    All this possible in a day? If getting to late and dark, possible to bush camp next to that route?

    Regards
    Henry

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry C View Post
    We planning to leave Luangwa Bridge Camp in the morning, it is then +- 170km to Petauke, and from Petauke to SLNP another 180 km. Total 360 km.
    All this possible in a day? If getting to late and dark, possible to bush camp next to that route?
    Regards
    Henry
    You haven't a hope of doing this in a day! Not a chance. I've heard of 10 hours from Petauke to Mfuwe.

    Mike
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

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