"Travelling in September was very hot with temperatures up to 103 F for much of the time. The tributaries to the Luangwa River were all dried out and the area has had poor rains for the last three years. However we saw loads of elephants, a herd of 700 Buffalo, two prides of lions, 7 different Leopards and a cub (amazing), loads of Impala, Bushbucks, Kudu, Puku, Waterbucks, Warthogs, Baboons, Vervet monkeys, giraffes, zebra, hippos both in and out of water, hyena and loads of fabulous birds. We watched interaction between elephant families which was fascinating. Also saw a pride miss two kills with the cubs appearing to be frightened and then attempting the final chase and missing. We saw three very recent kills by leopards (within 20 minutes or less). We saw the lioness coming back from a kill to collect cubs and males but on reaching the kill a hyena had taken the majority of the kill as the other lioness had disappeared, they did have a kill that night and we saw the interaction of the pride eating. Cubs were eating with the male watching before he decided it was time for him to eat. An old elephant died whilst we were at Chamilandu. A lioness was there first followed by three Hyenas. Then the vultures (three types) having a wow of a fight!! On day 2 the Hyena was inside the elephant fighting off the vultures. Once the vultures had their fill they moved into what I would call a flightpath mode in the sun so that they could warm up again for take-off to go for a drink in the Luangwa River. Not seen that before. Then along came two male bulls who spent over 40 minutes going round the dead elephant, smelling, feeling trying to lift the trunk. Very moving and emotional.
We stayed at three camps – Chamilandu, Kapamba and Kuyenda. All slightly different. However all beds in the camps were of the same standard and very comfortable. There was no electricity in Chalimandu or Kuyenda but Kapamba had power cells electricity. None of the locations had fans or electric points in the rooms. However they all had chargers at a central pointy. Lighting in Chamilandu and Kuyenda was provided by little solar lights which lasted very well. There was no running hot water at Kuyenda. One asked for warm water to be put into the shower bucket and in the morning a large copper jug was delivered with hot water for shaving. Wonderful.
"A fantastic holiday which worked very well."
In all the camps we were offered driving and walking or a combination of both. We always drove on the first morning and afternoon/evening drive and then walked/ drove thereafter. It was more an amble for up to 3 hours as by 9.00 am it was getting very hot. We would get back to the lodge by around 1030. Then have a very good lunch at 1100. We then had a siesta to either 3.00/3.30 or 4.00 dependant on camp. We found the 4.00pm tea at Kapamba a little late. Change over to camps happened after lunch. Our longest drive was 2 hours – Kapamba to Kuyenda.
As in all cases the manager of each location is vital. The overall admin back at Mfuwe Lodge is carried out very efficiently by Aimee and her team. She is American. At Chamilandu the camp was run by an American Lawyer called Ty who was taking a year out from work. She was great and very good. George the cook was outstanding producing 5 star food. James, a white South African with a mainly English accent (educated privately near Durban and persuaded some American that it was Pims O’Clock somewhere in the world. The Americans were converted to Pims) was an outstanding guide. Very dry sense of humour, very good on background stories and very caring. He was passionate. I think the best guide of all the safaris we have done.
It was a shock going to Kapamba as we were the only two there. The camp was being run by Jacob who was standing in as manager. He spoke little English and there did not appear to be the same warmth as at Chamilandu. However the main manager, Julius came back the next morning and things improved dramatically. The guide Fhaniel and his sidekick Sebastion were very good and funny. Local men and Julius has been to England to help develop his career. Sebastion was training to be a guide and came unusually from a largish town in the north. Julius enjoyed a lot of interaction and we delayed walking one day as we watched the pride of lions feeding and missing a kill due to a Giraffe’s eagle eyes. We also walked through a family of giraffes with only 5 to 10 yards from them.
"Without doubt it has been the best safari we have ever been on."
Kuyenda was special as Phil Williams and Babette Alfriedi were in camp. He set up the Kuyenda and Chamilandu originally and then sold out but they still manage Kuyenda. He came to north Rhodesia in 1962 as a ranger and guide but then worked on the anti poaching side as well as helping develop the tourist safaris. She is American and worked in the late 60s in New York organising Americans to go to Zambia. She persuaded her boss she had to visit Zambia. Met Phil and the rest is history!! She also ran the logistical support for his anti poaching forays. They split their time in Zambia and Santa Fe where her daughter runs the specialised travel company that Babette set up. They run a great place at Kuyenda. The guide Susio was very good but very shy and quiet. It took some time to get to know him. He was the weakest of the three guides but still first class. On our last night we were on our own and we had a fascinating time discussing the issues Phil and Babette went through. Sadly he has Parkinsons and I am not sure how much longer he will be able to go on."