Lion roam the Busanga Plains near Shumba Camp.

Zambia | Remote Floodplains & River | 7 Nights Kafue National Park & Lower Zambezi National Park

Kafue and the Lower Zambezi, being accessible yet remote enough to ensure an intimate experience for safari-goers in the know, are great choices for a Luxury Zambia safari. Enjoy staying at the exclusive Shumba Camp and Chiawa Camp and encounter more wildlife than you can imagine.

Three nights at Shumba Camp

From above, the network of waterways that spread across Kafue National Park reminded me a bit of the Okavango Delta, a theme that only continued when we took a short mokoro ride to our camp, set on a tree island in the heart of the wildlife-rich Busanga Plains. After a warm welcome at Shumba Camp, we enjoyed a drink in the elevated dining area and bar, mesmerised by the sweeping views across termite and fig-studded plains to the miombo woodlands. Later, once settled in our suite, we lazed at the swimming pool until it was time for sunset campfire drinks and the first of many memorable dinners.We decided to spend our second day exploring the wetlands of Kafue on a game drive. We told our guide we were eager to see Kafue’s famous tree-climbing lion, and so off we set in search of them. It was easy to get distracted though, with so much else to see: Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, lechwe, puku, countless birds and even an exciting (although unsuccessful) cheetah hunt. Our guide was explaining the unique behaviour of animals in Kafue when he stopped mid sentence and pulled over. Lion tracks. Moments later we saw her, a beautiful lioness sprawled over a tree branch, legs akimbo!After a great day of wildlife sightings, we woke on a high, excited now to see the plains from above. After pulling on warm clothes while downing coffee, we made our way to the multicoloured hot-air balloon, which was in the process of, well, ballooning with hot air.Soon we were flying low over a mosaic of grasslands and water, passing large herds of puku and lechwe, the latter taking fright and stampeding off. Two magnificent male lion, several hippo and a Champagne breakfast rounded off an excellent morning. After a relaxed afternoon, and still hungry for more action, we headed out a night drive to see Kafue’s nocturnal creatures. The rest of the evening flew by watching the chef cook as we discussed the next phase of our adventure.

From above, the network of waterways that spread across Kafue National Park reminded me a bit of the Okavango Delta, a theme that only continued when we took a short mokoro ride to our camp, set on a tree island in the heart of the wildlife-rich Busanga Plains. After a warm welcome at Shumba Camp, we enjoyed a drink in the elevated dining area and bar, mesmerised by the sweeping views across termite and fig-studded plains to the miombo woodlands. Later, once settled in our suite, we lazed at the swimming pool until it was time for sunset campfire drinks and the first of many memorable dinners.

We decided to spend our second day exploring the wetlands of Kafue on a game drive. We told our guide we were eager to see Kafue’s famous tree-climbing lion, and so off we set in search of them. It was easy to get distracted though, with so much else to see: Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, lechwe, puku, countless birds and even an exciting (although unsuccessful) cheetah hunt. Our guide was explaining the unique behaviour of animals in Kafue when he stopped mid sentence and pulled over. Lion tracks. Moments later we saw her, a beautiful lioness sprawled over a tree branch, legs akimbo!

After a great day of wildlife sightings, we woke on a high, excited now to see the plains from above. After pulling on warm clothes while downing coffee, we made our way to the multicoloured hot-air balloon, which was in the process of, well, ballooning with hot air.

Soon we were flying low over a mosaic of grasslands and water, passing large herds of puku and lechwe, the latter taking fright and stampeding off. Two magnificent male lion, several hippo and a Champagne breakfast rounded off an excellent morning. After a relaxed afternoon, and still hungry for more action, we headed out a night drive to see Kafue’s nocturnal creatures. The rest of the evening flew by watching the chef cook as we discussed the next phase of our adventure.

Four nights at Chiawa Camp

After breakfast in the bush, we hopped aboard a light aircraft for a journey that showcased the incredible scenery of the Lower Zambezi National Park.From the small airstrip, a boat took us along the Zambezi River, filled with the gnarled shapes of crocodile, some of which we saw devouring a hippo carcass. Seeing several inviting, open-fronted tented suites nestled against the shore told us we’d arrived at Chiawa Camp. Once at the split-level mess area, stretched over the forested hillside, we could look back down over the mighty Zambezi and its mossy green grass and riverine wetlands. Hungry ourselves now, we went straight to lunch, then set out for an afternoon game drive. We were rewarded with the sighting of a herd of elephant; how our guide saw it while he expertly navigated through the diverse terrain, we’ll never know.The next day we decided a change of pace was in order, and we ventured off on foot for a Lower Zambezi walking safari. We discovered dung beetles making their slow passage, a wary giraffe – identified by our guide as a Thronicroft’s giraffe due to its striking colouration – and hundreds of birds. We picked up porcupine quills, and followed the tracks of a leopard. I had mixed feelings when we didn’t see him, part relief and part disappointment. Later that evening, we mingled with the other guests around the campfire, sharing our safari experiences.We were slightly nervous of canoeing the Zambezi the next day, but our guide assured us that it was perfectly safe. We photographed fish eagles perched on trees, waterbuck with enormous horns and hippo basking on sandbanks. It was so serene that I felt drowsy, until we came across a herd of buffalo at the water’s edge, which quickly got me snapping pics again. Lunch was served on a sandbank, while vervet monkey swung across leadwood trees and a yellow-billed kite soared above. As we headed back, we saw eland and zebra on the banks, while Goliath herons stalked frogs in the shallows.Pleased that the lodge only allowed catch-and-release fishing, we decided we’d try catch a tiger the next afternoon. We anchored and began casting, but the fish only stayed hooked for a few seconds. It was nearly time to head back when a feisty tiger fish tore the line off my spool, leaping into the air and fighting with storybook strength. Fortunately, it didn’t have much stamina and we managed to reel it in, taking a quick photograph before releasing it back into the Zambezi. A fire awaited us back at camp, and we shared stories of our terrific catch long into the night.

After breakfast in the bush, we hopped aboard a light aircraft for a journey that showcased the incredible scenery of the Lower Zambezi National Park.

From the small airstrip, a boat took us along the Zambezi River, filled with the gnarled shapes of crocodile, some of which we saw devouring a hippo carcass. Seeing several inviting, open-fronted tented suites nestled against the shore told us we’d arrived at Chiawa Camp. Once at the split-level mess area, stretched over the forested hillside, we could look back down over the mighty Zambezi and its mossy green grass and riverine wetlands. Hungry ourselves now, we went straight to lunch, then set out for an afternoon game drive. We were rewarded with the sighting of a herd of elephant; how our guide saw it while he expertly navigated through the diverse terrain, we’ll never know.

The next day we decided a change of pace was in order, and we ventured off on foot for a Lower Zambezi walking safari. We discovered dung beetles making their slow passage, a wary giraffe – identified by our guide as a Thronicroft’s giraffe due to its striking colouration – and hundreds of birds. We picked up porcupine quills, and followed the tracks of a leopard. I had mixed feelings when we didn’t see him, part relief and part disappointment. Later that evening, we mingled with the other guests around the campfire, sharing our safari experiences.

We were slightly nervous of canoeing the Zambezi the next day, but our guide assured us that it was perfectly safe. We photographed fish eagles perched on trees, waterbuck with enormous horns and hippo basking on sandbanks. It was so serene that I felt drowsy, until we came across a herd of buffalo at the water’s edge, which quickly got me snapping pics again. Lunch was served on a sandbank, while vervet monkey swung across leadwood trees and a yellow-billed kite soared above. As we headed back, we saw eland and zebra on the banks, while Goliath herons stalked frogs in the shallows.

Pleased that the lodge only allowed catch-and-release fishing, we decided we’d try catch a tiger the next afternoon. We anchored and began casting, but the fish only stayed hooked for a few seconds. It was nearly time to head back when a feisty tiger fish tore the line off my spool, leaping into the air and fighting with storybook strength. Fortunately, it didn’t have much stamina and we managed to reel it in, taking a quick photograph before releasing it back into the Zambezi. A fire awaited us back at camp, and we shared stories of our terrific catch long into the night.

What sets it apart

Our luxury Zambian safari was unforgettable in every possible way, with both lodges positioned to offer the most beautiful scenery imaginable and the closest possible wildlife encounters. From the grassy Busanga Plains to the wetlands of the Lower Zambezi National Park, we discovered an infinite sense of space, freedom and stillness, while the waterholes, endless plains, serene rivers and oxbow lakes of these two very different parks allowed us to observe nature in perfect silence and solitude.Whether we were walking, canoeing, hot-air ballooning or on game drives, the guiding was excellent and we could enjoy more unusual sightings, like of the celebrated tree-climbing lion. And a flexible approach to schedules meant we could really immerse ourselves in the safari experience, without having to worry about returning for set meal times.We loved sitting at the campfire after our day’s activities – sharing stories that were embellished with every telling – as we watched that huge orange sun sink below the horizon. Dinner was always a treat, served outdoors on a sandbank, in the open dining rooms and at our suite. We were astonished every time that the chefs were able to prepare such delightful food amid all this wilderness.It was wonderful having completely private rooms to escape to, where we could reflect on our time in the wild in perfect solitude, as we watched the shadows lengthen on the verandah. As the first stars appeared, the sky seemed bigger than anywhere else in the world and the only sound was that of the African wild: the roar of a lion, the cackle of a hyena or the screech of a jackal. With no unnatural light, the stars glittered in all their glory, and you could simply be present, feeling part of Africa’s many miracles.

Our luxury Zambian safari was unforgettable in every possible way, with both lodges positioned to offer the most beautiful scenery imaginable and the closest possible wildlife encounters. From the grassy Busanga Plains to the wetlands of the Lower Zambezi National Park, we discovered an infinite sense of space, freedom and stillness, while the waterholes, endless plains, serene rivers and oxbow lakes of these two very different parks allowed us to observe nature in perfect silence and solitude.

Whether we were walking, canoeing, hot-air ballooning or on game drives, the guiding was excellent and we could enjoy more unusual sightings, like of the celebrated tree-climbing lion. And a flexible approach to schedules meant we could really immerse ourselves in the safari experience, without having to worry about returning for set meal times.

We loved sitting at the campfire after our day’s activities – sharing stories that were embellished with every telling – as we watched that huge orange sun sink below the horizon. Dinner was always a treat, served outdoors on a sandbank, in the open dining rooms and at our suite. We were astonished every time that the chefs were able to prepare such delightful food amid all this wilderness.

It was wonderful having completely private rooms to escape to, where we could reflect on our time in the wild in perfect solitude, as we watched the shadows lengthen on the verandah. As the first stars appeared, the sky seemed bigger than anywhere else in the world and the only sound was that of the African wild: the roar of a lion, the cackle of a hyena or the screech of a jackal. With no unnatural light, the stars glittered in all their glory, and you could simply be present, feeling part of Africa’s many miracles.

Day 1–3

Game drives from Shumba Camp offer the opportunity to see cheetah. © Wilderness Safaris

You’ll be met as you disembark from your international flight at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, and assisted through customs and immigration. After a scheduled light-aircraft flight to Kafue, you’ll take a transfer to the Lufupa River. A mokoro will then take you to Shumba Camp, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 4–7

The Lower Zambezi National Park is at your disposal when staying at Chiawa Camp. © Classic Portfolio

After a mokoro trip from Shumba Camp, you’ll take a transfer to the airstrip. A scheduled light-aircraft flight will take you to Lusaka, and another to the Lower Zambezi. After a transfer to the Zambezi River, a boat trip will take you to Chiawa Camp, where you’ll spend four nights.

Day 8

Your Zambia safari will take you to a land of wild beauty.

After a boat trip from Chiawa Camp, a transfer will take you to the airstrip. A scheduled light-aircraft flight will then take you to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, to connect with your international flight.

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