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Robin Pope Walking Safaris - A Modern Day Adventure

Walking with RPS in South Luangwa National Park

Alistair

Alistair

Africa Specialist
Published on

23 Nov 2021

Read time

5 minutes

Rps Walk Saf

In these days of constant communication and the never-ending beeping of smartphone updates there still exists the ability to find raw adventure and be able to do it in absolute comfort. For those searching for this unique, wild and exclusive experience; Robin Pope Safaris offers one such adventure still possible in this day and age. Away from cars, people, electricity and most excitingly cell phone signal and internet their mobile walking safaris offer a total escape from day-to-day life and a feeling of being totally at one with nature. This modern-day adventure occurs in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, a wildlife paradise often referred to as one of the greatest unspoiled nature biospheres remaining today and widely regarded as the home of the walking safari. South Luangwa is the highlight of eastern Zambia. Initially founded as the Luangwa Game Park in 1904, and converted to a reserve in 1938. The impressive park covers an area of about 10,000 square kilometres of the Luangwa Valley, with its western and north-western edge dominated by an escarpment, and the southern border mapped by the mighty Luangwa River, there's no shortage of dramatic and fascinating topography in this stunning game-rich park.

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Walking in Zambia - its good for the sole!

The Robin Pope Mobile Walking Safaris have long been associated with the best wilderness experience, not only within South Luangwa National Park, but also when compared to the amazing walking available in the rest of southern Africa. Operating since 1990 they claim to be the original walking safaris in Africa, something that many operators are now seeing as an essential cog in the holistic safari experience. Totally unique, they scrap the confines of the game drive vehicle for a pair of walking boots as you venture out in the wilderness, where so much lies in store. All walks are led by a highly experienced guide and always accompanied by an armed game scout, thus giving you the utmost safety during this adventure.


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Meet the locals

This safari sets off from the authentic but opulent Nkwali Camp which commands a beautiful riverside spot and heads north through the National Park on the 05 road – appropriately named as it is a straight road heading at 05 degrees. The further north from Nkwali you get the fewer other safari vehicles you will encounter and very soon the feeling of complete isolation sets in – a humbling feeling when you are in the African bush.

The drive up to the mobile camp takes from between 3-6 hours depending on your guide and what you see so lunch is a packed variety en-route. Don’t be disappointed though, as soon as you arrive at your new bush home the chef will have most likely prepared a delicious cake freshly baked in the ground oven and the rest of the team will be there ready to welcome you with cold flannels and drinks. Again, a surreal feeling of isolation deep within the African jungle but in complete comfort and happiness!


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You feel your hear beat this close

The moderately sized walk-in tents have camp cots and solar lights which offers all the comforts that you need but remaining simple and to the point, this is a completely mobile camp after all. After an energizing cup of tea and a large slice of still warm cake, it’s time to head out for a short stroll, after all it’s what you’re here for. A great way to stretch the legs after the long car journey is exactly what is needed as well as giving you a great amuse bouche of what is in store for the next 4 days. Arriving back in camp for a well-earned sundowner is a great feeling. Relax as you await the room attendants warming the water up over an open fire, getting the water to the perfect temperature before filling up your bucket shower and gently whistling so that the guide can let you know that the shower is ready. Once everyone is freshened up a hearty 3 course dinner with tasty wine is served is served under the stars, after which the party drowsily retreats to their tents for their first night of sleeping under canvas.


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Comfy and functional

The mornings come round all too quickly and if you are not woken by the birdsong, your room attendant will gently knock on the canvas door to your tent and fill up your water basin outside with fresh water. Meanwhile the team starts cooking the toast and porridge on the campfire and the waiters pour out the tea and coffee.

Rps River Drinks
And relax!

The nights are always filled with a chorus of the sounds of the bush and in the mornings the staff and the guides excitedly discuss what they heard on the telegraph and from what direction. The guide will use this information to determine which way to head off after breakfast. The cooler mornings present the opportunity to walk for longer and so the morning walk is always the longest of the day. The pace only as fast as the slowest person in the group, although this is certainly no yomp through the bush and you will stop very often to have a look at various flora and fauna: from the lion ants busying themselves at the start of their day or investigating spoor and it’s freshness. Walking in single file and generally in silence, the guide leads the way along with an armed scout, closely followed by the gaggle of eager guests with the essential tea bearer bringing up the rear.

Rps Mobile Food
Fab food!
Bush Breakfast
Bush breakfast

As you are enjoying your mid-morning cuppa (probably along with another slice of the incredible lemon drizzle) in the peace of the bush with the chatter of the local residents in the background, things are much more frantic back at base. The entire team not on the walk will be busily breaking down the entire camp and packing everything up onto the enormous truck and relocating to the next camp. Once on site everything will be unpacked, the camp will be completely rebuilt; your tent exactly as you left it. Water will be collected, fires lit and everything will be ship shape (possibly minutes) before you stroll slightly stunned and unaware into your new camp.


Rps Mobile Truck
Time to move the camp!

During your 5 day safari you will usually move camp 3 times which enables you to experience and explore far different areas along the Mupamadzi river in the northern reaches of the South Luangwa. The river is a beautiful clear running sand river which is heavenly to wallow in during the heat of siesta time. As with anywhere these waters acts as a source of life for all the animals in the area and attracts everything from the small to the large, don’t be alarmed though as the animals are not accustomed to moseying on down to join you whilst cooling off!


Rps Sundowners
Bliss!
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The remote northern part of the park

As you are in one of the remotest spots in this paradise the game is not as used to human folk as they are in the busier, central areas of the park meaning the game can be a little skittish or wary of you, which adds the charm. From a safety point of view when walking it is not always the best way to see animals when they are habituated and don’t run away, however, you are in the wild and walking through the bush offers up close encounters with everything from ants to lions. Your guide and scout will be constantly tracking the animals, taking a sense of the wind direction, noise and approach are all things that in everyday life we take no notice of. However, up in the northern extremities of the park all of these are integral to a successful sighting. Sneaking up on the (not dangerous!) animals downwind using the bush as cover so that they don’t see your silhouette and sitting in the shade of a bush waiting for the animals to come down to the water to drink.

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Lions are scared of humans on foot

It really is an incredible adventure and one that is always started with a certain amount of apprehension akin to the early evening dance floor but ends with total enthusiasm and wanting of more – the late night dance floor! All good things must come to an end and these adventures finish with a night at Nsefu Camp. Bags are packed and guests head back down the Romanly-straight 05 road back to what now is considered civilisation, the less very wild sector of the park. The last night here is spent in what is the original safari lodge in the park, steeped in history and again set beautifully on the Luangwa River. A decongestion chamber between the wild northern sector of South Luangwa and proper civilisation.

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Home sweet home

A walking safari is a wonderful experience and one that is almost impossible to properly describe on paper, let alone do one justice. So, if you have a love of nature and want to explore the bush in absolute serenity then this is absolutely the modern-day adventure for you.