Zambia is fast developing an outstanding reputation for game-rich safaris and adventure-filled holidays, and this luxurious 9-day allows you to discover why wildlife enthusiasts give it top marks.
Beginning at Royal Chundu – the first Relais & Chateaux property in the country – on the banks of the Zambezi River upstream from the iconic Victoria Falls, you have two nights to enjoy the many exciting activities on offer, from river cruises and white-water rafting to game drives and tiger fishing. Next, you fly to the Lower Zambezi National Park, where the luxurious Chiawa Lodge will host you as you enjoy thrilling wildlife encounters on game drives in the park and by canoe on the river. The adventure continues as you are whisked off to Puku Ridge Camp in South Luangwa National Park, famed for its high numbers of predators and density of big game.
Perfect for seasoned safari goers and newcomers alike, this journey creates a seamless blend of adventure, gorgeous scenery, variety of activities and incredible wildlife encounters coupled with superior lodges and service.
Visit the iconic Victoria Falls
Stay at Zambia’s first Relais & Chateaux property
See rarities like Thornicroft’s giraffe, Cookson’s wildebeest & Crawshay’s zebra
Guided safari walks & canoe safaris
2 photographic hides in strategic locations
15km of private riverfront to enjoy
Excellent wildlife viewing & fantastic birding, including Pel’s fishing owl
Type of Accommodation
Zimbabwe Victoria Falls Zambia Victoria Falls, South Luangwa National Park, Lower Zambezi
2 nights at Royal Chundu, 3 nights at Chiawa Camp, 3 nights at Sanctuary Puku Ridge
Day to day itinerary
Fit for royalty
Arriving at Livingstone International Airport, you are whisked to the gracious sanctuary of Royal Chundu, perched on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, upstream from the magnificent Victoria Falls on a 15km stretch of private waterway that is protected by two sets of rapids. The lodge is in perfect harmony with its surroundings, where the combination of stone, thatch and wood creates a sanctuary in a grove of shady trees, offering panoramic views across the water and a cluster of small islands.
An ideal place to relax and watch the world go by, you can observe hippos jostling in the water, listening to the gurgling of the river as it slips quickly by. A late afternoon cruise is the ideal way to explore the river, look for wildlife coming to drink and admire the scenery in the beautiful light of sunset, which paints the sky in a kaleidoscope of colours.
The next day, you sip a freshly brewed coffee and watch the mist curling off the Zambezi in shafts of sunlight. With a full day ahead of you to enjoy Victoria Falls, you are spoilt for choice. The highlight must be the Falls themselves: where the Zambezi plunges over a crack in the earth’s crust and roils into the narrow gorge below. Close to the edge, you feel a rumbling symphony of sound and spray wash over you in an awesome display of nature’s power. It is little wonder that these falls, one of the Natural Wonders of the World, are known to local tribes as ‘The Smoke that Thunders’: the spray is visible for miles around and the noise can be heard from some distance away.
A host of other activities is available, depending on your interests. Game drives in the national park reveal a myriad of species including white rhino, and the river affords some excellent sport fishing, or you can test your mettle with a bungee jump over the gorge or take to the water on a rafting trip!
The Lower Zambezi
You depart for the airport after a delicious breakfast on the terrace. Shortly after takeoff, the enormous Zambezi Valley opens out below you: edged by a towering escarpment, the river glistens in the sunlight, beset on either side by its wide floodplains and dense forests.
Perfectly positioned in a grove of evergreen mahogany trees, Chiawa Camp blends into its surroundings effortlessly. Built on raised decking, the flowing open space of the thatched main building leads out to the broad sweep of the river beyond, framed by tall trees and the cobalt arch of the sky. An upstairs viewing deck is a perfect sundowner spot, and a secluded pool area overlooks the flowing waters of the Zambezi.
Activities at Chiawa are varied and exciting, with a choice of game drives, guided walks, canoeing and boating to allow you total immersion in the Zambezi Valley experience. Elephants and buffalo are usually never far from the water, and the sight of a herd arriving at the river to drink is always a scene to behold: the older generations keeping a close watch on the youngsters, often forming a protective phalanx around them to ward off the ever-present danger of an ambush by crocodiles or lions.
The dense woodlands support a great many herbivores – including near-endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe, Cookson’s wildebeest and Crawshay’s zebra – and these are always followed by the large cats and hyenas. With the help of your guide’s eagle-eyed vision and years of experience, the flick of an ear or a tail suddenly reveals a supine leopard where once there was only a tangle of vegetation, or a lion pride deep in the shade of a thicket.
Safari walks are a speciality of Chiawa Camp. Following game trails worn smooth by the endless passage of hooves, feet and paws, you have only the sounds of the wilderness around you, only the aromas and sights of your surroundings. This leads to an engagement of the senses that can be extraordinary in its intensity: your vision becomes clearer, smells and sounds sharper, the earth below your feet more grounding.
The South Luangwa
Your flight north to South Luangwa National Park passes quickly and soon you are touching down at Mfuwe Airport. Arriving at Puku Ridge Camp, you will find a stylish lodge on a rocky hillside overlooking the Kakumbi Floodplain with probably the best views in the Luangwa Valley. The plain is noted for its particularly nutritious grasses, which attract a wide variety of wildlife, including herds of the medium-sized puku antelope. Ample seating and a series of rock pools lead to the swimming pool, all overlooking a floodlit waterhole.
In the crisp morning air, a sense of vitality permeates South Luangwa – dew sparkles on the grass and in the cooler temperatures animals are still active. Breathe in the aromas and atmosphere of the wilds as you head out on a game drive. Watch a herd of elephants lumber to the river’s edge to drink and observe their intricate family dynamics; watched over by the matriarch, the youngsters jostle and shove each other until their exuberance is quelled by a sharp trumpet from an elder. The tiny calves are not yet able to fully control their trunks and comically attempt to mimic their mothers, while a teenage bull might try and challenge a larger cousin in an attempt at dominance. It is easy to spend hours watching the behaviour of these amazing pachyderms – after a short while they turn and, silently as ghosts, melt back into the forest.
Explore the dry riverbeds, saltpans and grasslands of the area, and revel in the freedom of the wilds, the aromas of the earth, the birdsong, and the gentle breeze in your hair. You come across a pride of lions lying supine in the shade of a tree. As the sun sinks, one by one they sit up and survey their surroundings before getting up and greeting each other by rubbing heads. A few low growls emanate from the sleepier cats but eventually they are all alert. In the golden glow of the setting sun they appear magnificent and proud, gazing out over their domain. As the sun dips below the horizon, they stand up, shoulder to shoulder, and lope off into the gathering dusk, uttering low growls and moans. With goosebumps and a grin, begin the drive back to camp, using a spot light to search for nocturnal animals emerging into the night.
Bid farewell to Zambia…
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the terrace before bidding Puku Ridge a fond farewell. You then take your last game drive through the park to Mfuwe and the airport for your onward flight to Lusaka. Driving through this pristine landscape, the memories of the last few days come flooding back: the wildness and the beauty, encountering animals in their untrammelled natural habitat, your first thrilling sighting of a leopard…
8 nights accommodation,Transfer from Livingstone Airport to Royal Chundu,Scheduled charter flight from Royal Chundu to Chiawa Camp,Scheduled charter flight from Chiawa Camp to Puku Ridge,Scheduled charter flight from Puku Ridge to Lusaka
International flights,Airport taxes,All meals and drinks not specified,Tips and gratuities,Items of a personal nature