It is no secret that The Luxury Safari Company Team have a strong soft point when it comes to Zambia. We love everything about this land locked country – we like to call it Botswana’s lesser known little sister, and we have all been in that situation when we wish we could have met a certain person years before – well now is your chance to meet that person, or in this circumstance, visit that country you will admittedly kick yourself if you don’t!
We will start with our perfect Zambia itinerary: beginning your adventure on the banks of the lower Zambezi River and combine Chiawa Camp with Old Mondoro (Chiawa’s bushcamp situated a short boat transfer away from Chiawa, this is truly the only way to be transferred, by boat with stunning scenery all around you. There is something calming being transferred effortlessly by boat and will arrive feeling refreshed and calm, ready for the next adventure).
Then, this itinerary has become better within the last few weeks with the new knowledge we have of Chiawa and Old Mondoro taking over what was once Puku Ridge and Chichele in the South Luangwa. So, after your few days in the Lower Zambezi, you will catch a small plane back to Lusaka, or directly to Mfuwe where you will be taken by road transfer to what will be a newly revamped Puku Ridge or Chichele. These much-loved camps are hidden deep in the heart of the South Luangwa and are known for their amazing views and superb game viewing but in recent years have needed a bit of TLC. The Luxury Safari Company having visited both Chiawa, Old Mondoro, Puku Ridge and Chichele know this is an extremely exciting opportunity and new challenge for those taking on the refurb, we are confident we will not be disappointed. Puku Ridge will be closed from July 2018 with a reopening taking place in May 2019. Chichele will be running on an ‘as is basis’ for the next 3 months before closing its doors in October 2018 for renovations.
Talking of renovations, Chiawa has had a bit of face lift with their front of house – the sitenje and dining areas of Chiawa Camp have been completely dismantled and rebuilt, still maintaining a similar exterior, the interiors have undergone a fresh new look. A large new dining decking with more expansive views of the stunning Zambezi River, new and extremely comfortable furnishings with more ‘nooks and crannies’ to lay back and relax in. The décor now involves the story of how Chiawa Camp came about. It pays homage to the people of Zambia and the wonderful staff, the history of the Cummings family within Africa along with the incredible work and contributions the camps have made towards conservation.
The team at Chiawa and Old Mondoro have undergone a fascinating refresher course for the guides. The fantastically knowledgeable Lex Hes brought some wonderful insights to the guides from both camps and knowing how important it is to have superb guides, we are excited to experience what the guides have learnt from this refresher course – every days a school day!
With all these new things taking place within the Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa, it is hard to believe there is more news to tell you about. But of course, we will, as they are to do with the wonderful and frequent animals sightings that have been witnessed in and around the camp. A small, and very rare, Pangolin was spotted not far from Chiawa Camp along with a ‘riveting but tragic scene’ of a large male lion toying with and eventually killing a juvenile baboon, like many a feline, playing with their food. There have been a further 21 lions identified around the Chiawa Camp area including cubs and a new male lion.
Even within camp there have been some fabulous images caught on the night cameras – from leopard and lions wandering straight through camp, to hippos chomping on grass within the boughs of the trees next door to the rooms. A breath-taking scene of more than ten hyena fighting with a lone lioness was witnessed one night and luckily the lioness escaped unharmed. Near Old Mondoro, two male lions were witnessed eating a crocodile they had recently killed. There have been several Aardvark sightings at Old Mondoro as well, this is more than usual for so early on in the year, but still fabulous none the less.
Along with multiple wild dog sightings, a small baby elephant calf, elegant secretary birds and wood owls being sighted, we really cannot wait for Puku Ridge and Chichele to open their doors next year, imagine what wonderful wildlife will be waiting for you there!