Luangwa Valley Walking Safaris in Zambia, Southern Africa
No matter where you go – in urban or wilder settings – the seasoned traveler knows you can only get to really know your surroundings by walking them: not just to get your bearings, but to discover the sights, sounds and smells that are unique to that place. Although four-wheel-drive safari vehicles are inextricably linked to the image of the classic African safari, many safari-goers are taking their adventure to another level entirely by selecting a destination and camps which have perfected the art of the walking safari. Beyond connecting with the wilderness you’ve traveled so far to see, you have the added advantage of staying active on your vacation.
One of our favorite destinations is the Luangwa Valley in Zambia, where Norman Carr pioneered walking safaris in the 1950’s, preferring the traditional way of exploring the surrounding wilderness. Every detail – from guide training to bush camps – is aimed at helping you become a part of your surroundings. You are alert to the sound of breaking branches and animal sounds, and smaller details reveal themselves, like subtle changes in the foliage and the presence of insects.
Creating these types of encounters with Africa’s wildlife requires skill in tracking them, and attention to safety in the bush. The level of training required before qualifying as a walking guide and the guide’s partnership with highly trained armed scout means you can get close to big game on foot, like the safari hunters of old, but in safety and also without impacting the wildlife in any way.
Our preferred Zambia walking safari can incorporate up to 4 comfortable bush camps in a walkable circuit, carefully chosen for their special beauty, wildlife importance and varied settings. The distance between each bush camp can be covered in 3-5 hours, depending on the wildlife along the way, and your desired pace. A high level of fitness is not required, but guests must be 12 years or older to walk in the park. Creature comforts, like tea, are on offer, and you arrive at your camp to find a cool drink awaiting you, and your bags in your tent.
While the camps vary in setting and appearance, they share in common the use of natural materials and their limited space of no more than 12 beds, allowing you to enjoy this pristine wilderness without distraction. Camps offer welcome luxury after a day’s adventure, whether you stay at historic Nsolo Camp, with its four spacious chalets on raised decks, to the newly opened Chinzombo camp, with architect-designed villas featuring private pools and cooled sleeping areas.
And, most importantly, what might you see? The Luangwa Valley has one of the highest concentrations of biggame in Africa, including: large pods of hippos and crocodiles basking on the Luangwa River; carnivores such as leopards, lions, hyenas, caracals, serval, side striped jackals, and wild dogs; primates like baboons and vervet monkeys; and nocturnal species like genets, civets, mongoose, porcupine and honey-badgers. Bird-watching is also superb with over 470 species recorded in the Valley.
To see what a Zambia Walking Safari can look like, look at Bushtracks’ Highlights of Zambia safari, or call one of our expert planners at 1-800-995-8689 to begin designing a South Luangwa Walking Safari.
The first version of this article was posted on 4 Mar 2014 at 4:26 PM.