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Far & Wild Zambia Trip

We visited South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Our team share their highlights.



Marketing Exec
Published on

16 Oct 2023

Updated on

12 Jan 2024

Zam Fam

In October, the Far & Wild team arrived home from an incredible trip to South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

Some of us were seasoned safari experts, while others were stepping foot on African soil for the very first time. There was so much to discover, from the thrill of walking safaris to the magic of starlit nights in the bush. One thing was for certain we all returned from our trip with a love for this exceptional safari holiday destination.

The team shared their personal accounts below...

Flatdog Camp
Flatdogs Camp

Our Africa expert Lucie planned our trip (impeccably) to Zambia and top of her must-visit list was Flatdogs Camp, situated on the banks of the Luangwa River followed by the legendary Robin Pope’s Nsefu Camp in the Nsefu sector of South Luangwa.

Lucie talks in more detail here about both camps…

" I absolutely loved revisiting Flatdogs, it was my third visit over 10 years, and lovely to see so many team members still there – Flatdogs really is a family! It was my first stay in the Treehouse, which was just glorious – waking up at dawn to a rose-pink sky and birdsong with nothing between me and the wild but a mosquito net is my idea of happy heaven.

Nsefu Camp is an iconic safari camp located in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. It is special in many ways, not least because of its historical significance: it was one of the first camps to be established in the valley, and as such it occupies an outstanding position on a sweeping bend of the river, with huge views both up and downstream. Simply stunning.

Established in the early 1950s by Norman Carr, a pioneer & legend in the world of African conservation and responsible tourism, the camp retains a strong sense of nostalgia. It still comprises just 6 modest Rondavels (chalets), which may not appeal to all safari goers. However, in my opinion, the heritage and breath-taking location, more than compensate for slightly smaller accommodation. The Nsefu sector in which the camp is located forms an extension to the National Park and is on the opposite bank of the river. It’s home to exceptional densities of game and is exclusively traversed by Robin Pope Safaris so guests can be sure of an exclusive experience with very few other vehicles in this part of the park.”

Flatdogs Camp

Nsefu Camp

Alone with a leopard
Leopard sighting in South Luangwa National Park

Although delayed in joining us in South Luangwa, our MD Ali certainly chose the right day to arrive for a game drive. He tells all below…

"Due to some inclement weather in London, my stay in South Luangwa National Park was shortened to a mere single day.

The ‘Valley’ as locals refer to it, is renowned for its leopard, now claiming to have a higher density than the famous Sabi Sands in the Greater Kruger. Leopards are a prized asset wherever you are game viewing as they tend to be reclusive and match this with incredible camouflage. When you do come across one it's normally already got a few spectators snapping away and they tend to be in or near cover and don’t often hang around too long – a bit like a grumpy dad at a kids party!

The leopard we managed to see on this trip was a huge male. He was lying about four meters from the track in the shade of an acacia bush, biding his time and dealing with the midday sun – it was 38 degrees. He was more than content with our presence (and only our presence as we were completely alone) and was lazily grooming himself and making sure that he was rightly looking like the star of the show as the cameras ‘papped away’. After the occasional rollover and scratch, he became more alert as he caught the scent of a small family of Kudu that wandered past about 30 metres behind, but it was too hot to even contemplate that. So, he rolled over onto his back exposing his beautiful white belly and went back to sleep ignoring the smiling, whispering tourists and the beaming guide. We had him to ourselves for over 30 minutes before we decided to move on and leave him in solace, ready for the night-time activities. A truly memorable experience"

Check out our Classic Zambia Safari Trip

Walking Safari
Walking Safari in South Luangwa National Park

Gemma who recently joined the marketing department at Far & Wild talks about her first time in Africa and being thrown in at the deep end with a walking safari.

"The moment you step onto the African continent, you're met with an overwhelming sense of anticipation and wonder. I couldn’t help but feel a rush of excitement, tinged with a touch of trepidation for what was ahead, especially every time the words ‘walking safari’ were thrown around! I couldn't quite believe this was actually a ‘thing’.

I soon found out that going on a walking safari can be a profound experience. Away from the sounds and safety of the safari truck you quickly connect with the earth beneath your feet, the rustling of grasses and scents of the wild become a heightened part of your sensory experience. The thrill of being on the same level as the creatures you encounter, with no vehicle separating you, is both exhilarating and humbling. We were extremely lucky to see elephants and lions on our walking safari at Nkonzi Camp, you also tune into the details you might miss in a vehicle; like a perfect footprint left in the sand just minutes before by a hyena or lion.

A walking safari is a dance with nature and a reminder that in the African world, you're merely a visitor in a realm where animals rule! "

See our Zambia Walking Safari Trip

Birders Paradise
Lilac Breasted Roller

Anna from Operations and Marketing talks about discovering a hidden passion while on safari in Zambia...

"When I first set out to go to Zambia, I had no idea I'd be bitten by the birdwatching bug. I started out beyond excited to see elephants and lions and other big game, and ended with pestering our guides with endless questions about the phenomenal number and variety of birds we saw.

South Luangwa National Park is like a living orchestra of birds. The lilac-breasted rollers absolutely stun you with their amazing colours, and African fish eagles appear at random turns, watching the riverbanks for potential prey. Even on the night safaris, there are an abundance of birds to discover like the adorable African Scops Owl we saw peacefully perched on a long-dead log.

Everywhere we went in the park, there were more incredible birds, like the southern carmine bee-eaters with their flashy plumage and saddle-billed storks soaring through the sky. It was like a real-life bird documentary, and (unfortunately for my co-workers) I couldn't get enough. I ditched my camera for binoculars and started trying to catalogue every bird I saw. Now I’m back in the UK, I can't stop talking about my birding adventures in South Luangwa. It's amazing how one trip can turn a casual interest into a full-blown passion."

Three Rivers Camp
Our founder Ben with he team at Three Rivers Camp

Although our founder, Ben, knows Africa incredibly well, Zambia was a first for him, he talks about his first impressions here:

"I’m an East African and I have a superiority complex. In my eyes, no 24 hours on safari can be quite as good as being in Laikipia in Kenya or Ruaha in Southern Tanzania. This trip to Zambia reminded me that it's not a competition, and of just how rewarding the experience of visiting different African countries can be. Zambia was friendly, gentle, welcoming, and incredibly rural when compared to fast-paced Kenya or South Africa for example – and the culture of hospitality had a flavour all of its own.

I've always associated South Luangwa with the remoter bush camps that often offer the option of sleeping out on an elevated deck under the stars with nothing but a mosquito net. And our experience of doing this – at Kafunta’s gorgeous Three Rivers Camp did not disappoint. I fell happily to sleep to a choir of incredibly out-of-tune hippos, sawing leopards and chomping elephants in the trees around me. Wow!! These really are the experiences we travel for. I loved it!”

Three Rivers Camp

Hyena Game Drive

Our stay in South Luangwa National Park was punctuated by extraordinary moments, both unexpected and memorable. Louise our Travel Co-ordinator remembers very different encounters with a playful baby hyena and a hungry hippo...

"One of the most memorable moments for me was on a morning game drive from Flatdogs Camp, when a small, four-legged furball ran briskly across the road in front of our 4x4 – an adorable baby hyena. Hot on its heels was its much larger mother, chasing anxiously as a human parent might when unsuccessfully attempting to bring an unruly toddler under control.

The exhilaration of this unexpected, fleeting encounter was not in the least bit dulled by my lack of sleep the previous night – a hungry hippo had vacated the nearby river to feed and chomped right outside my tent for what felt like an eternity, making quite a racket as it shuffled through the dry leaves. Despite it keeping me awake, I revelled in the hippo’s presence and peeped through my tent’s mesh windows for a long while in the pitch darkness, able to make out its huge form thanks to the bright moon shining overhead. The thrill of standing a mere few feet from such a powerful and potentially dangerous animal – separated only by a sheet of canvas – is a feeling I’ll never forget."

These are just a few snapshot highlights, to find out more about our trip and what the team got up to, call us today on 01768 603 715.

If you'd like help organising a trip whether a South Luangwa Walking Safari or a romantic bush and beach combination, we'd love to help you.


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