Spirit of Africa – South Luangwa, Photographic Safari
Small Group Departure – Fixed date 18 September 2018
Welcome to our South Luangwa – Photographic Safari tour.
There is something very special about the Luangwa valley that has captivated travellers for decades. Having travelled extensively throughout Southern and East Africa, South Luangwa retains a charm, wildness, unparalleled level of guiding and an impressive density of relaxed wildlife that easily sets it apart from other reserves in Africa. It is somewhere that you will fall in love with and want to return year after year. Making this an ideal choice for our Photographic Safari to Africa.
Set in a broad valley, bordered by impressive hills and centred on the languid meandering Luangwa River, this place has a real hypnotic quality.
There is an abundance of exceptional camps within the valley and we have worked hard to select the camps that give us access to the best safari areas, the highest quality of guiding, an authentic safari experience and also stay true to our beliefs about responsible tourism, allowing us to deliver a truly exceptional experience to you. We have chosen Luangwa River Camp and Nsefu Camp to give you full exposure to everything the Luangwa valley has to share, combining the rich central area with the more exclusive Nsefu sector. Using two different zones of the park gives us vast opportunities for exploration and unrivalled variety for this luxury safari in Africa.
The height of the dry season, September, offers a dramatic time to experience this incredible national park. Expect increasingly hot days (from the mid-30s in August to mid-40s by late October) with very little humidity. The landscape is drying quickly, little water remains beyond the river, bringing together large congregations of animals hoping to quench their thirst. The heat and the dust add to the drama and make for a completely different feel to the atmosphere and the images we capture. It’s the time of year known for that classic ‘Golden African Light’.
For bird lovers, the ‘Carmines’ is a sight that should be on your bucket list. In fact, the vibrant colours and sheer numbers of birds make a visit to a Carmine colony an awe-inspiring sight.
We will embrace the true rhythm of safari – early mornings, siestas and sundowners followed by nights under the African stars. Taking our opportunities as they arise to photograph landscapes, plants, birds, insects and of course the incredible wildlife or anything else that might appeal to you.
Our safari focuses on truly connecting with the soul of Africa so that you may capture her essence in both your heart and your images. We allow time to properly observe our subjects, getting to know them and understanding their behaviour. Digging deeper, sitting longer and just enjoying the opportunity to truly immerse ourselves in these ancient lands.
We welcome photographers of all levels, instruction will be tailored to suit everyone’s photographic needs and interests. Non-photographers including spouses and friends are welcomed with enthusiasm and will equally be able to fully enjoy this African safari, which will appeal to anyone with an abiding love of nature and wildlife.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Flight quote available on request|
Return Internal connecting flights from Lusaka to Mfuwe.
|NOT INCLUDED|| Travel insurance and international flights|
Visa for entry into Zambia – British Nationals require a Visa to enter Zambia.
Discretionary gratuities for lodge staff.
Personal purchases & souvenirs
Optional pre/post tour add-ons or extensions.
Day 1 18th September: Arrival to Luangwa River Camp (-/L/D)
On arrival in Lusaka, we join our connecting flight to Mfuwe airport. We will be met on arrival at Mfuwe by Edward Selfe and staff from Robin Pope Safaris and transferred to our first camp. Depending on our arrival time we hope to have the opportunity to head out for an afternoon safari. However if it is late we will take the chance to relax in camp and get settled before enjoying a dinner together under the stars, ready for our early start the following day.
Day 2-3 19 + 20th September: Luangwa River Camp (B/L/D)
The days will slip easily into the natural rhythmic beat of the African bush. We will rise early with the sun and in eager anticipation for the day ahead. This allows us to take advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures and also the exceptional morning light for photography. We return to camp late morning for brunch and the opportunity to rest and relax, perhaps a siesta or keeping watch on the river for any passing wildlife.
Recharged in the late afternoon we head out again with our guides to see what new wonders the Luangwa will reveal. Of course no safari would be complete without the partaking of the customary sundowner, after which we will have a short night drive before we return to camp. On our return to camp we will enjoy an evening meal together and discuss the days events and review our experiences and photography whilst sitting under the stars, listening to the sounds of the bush.
Day 4 21st September: Transfer to Nsefu Camp (B/L/D)
After our morning drive and three wonderful nights at Luangwa river camp we will pack up, say goodbye to the staff here and head through to the next part of our adventure in the exceptional Nsefu sector of the Park.
We will arrive at Nsefu camp, where we will all have a chance to settle in and enjoy the scenes that unfold in the riverbed before heading out on our afternoon safari to explore this new area.
We will spend the next 5 nights at this truly authentic safari camp with its rich history and breathtaking location right on the banks of the Luangwa river.
Day 5-8 22 - 25th September: Overnight Nsefu Camp (B/L/D)
Day 9 26th September: Departure to Mfuwe (B/L/D)
Where Are We Heading?
South Luangwa is undoubtedly the jewel of Zambia’s national parks. It lies in the north-eastern part of Zambia and comprises some 9,050 square kilometres of unspoilt African wilderness. It marks the end of the Great Rift Valley, is one of the last remaining wilderness areas and possibly the finest wildlife sanctuary in Africa.
The park centres around the great meandering Luangwa River, with its ox bow lagoons, tributaries, riverine supported woodlands and large plains, all of which play host to huge concentrations of game including elephant, buffalo, leopard, lion, giraffe, hippo and over 450 species of birds.
The wildlife here really is extremely strong, especially during the Jun-Nov dry season, when the animals cluster along the river. The area has a particular reputation for lion and leopard sightings, but the sheer range of wildlife on view here really is very impressive.
Where Are We Staying?
We’ve chosen to partner with Robin Pope Safaris, renowned for their high-calibre of guides and exquisite range of lodges in the best locations in the park. We will start our trip at their exceptionally beautiful and luxurious Luangwa River Camp. This small and intimate camp sits nestled under an ancient ebony grove on the banks of the Luangwa River overlooking the game rich area known as the Luangwa Wafwa.
The accommodation offers subtly decorated bush suites under thatch each with ensuite bathrooms. Large sliding doors lead from the rooms to a private decked area affording great views over the river. The main lodge area has various elevated decked levels and a tempting double plunge pool to cool off in the heat of the day. Seating areas around the pool or in the shade of the open plan bar on the highest level all offer uninterrupted views across the river and into the National Park.
This base is ideally situated opposite one of the most productive game areas and offers us a unique access directly across the river by car, allowing us to avoid the crowds around Mfuwe gate. The combination of fantastic wildlife, knowledgeable guides, superb service and exceptional location make Luangwa River Camp an experience not to be missed.
From Luangwa River Camp we will head North to another of Robin Pope’s beautiful properties. Situated on a magnificent meander of the Luangwa River lies the historic camp Nsefu. This was the first safari camp in Zambia and is steeped in history. Being first also has its benefits as there is no doubt about it; this camp really is in the best location in the South Luangwa. Originally built in 1951, Robin Pope Safaris took over Nsefu in 1998 and barring some upgrades the rooms retain the same style and location to this day. Nsefu Camp offers us charm, history, exclusivity and comfort. The six original brick and thatch rondavels have been upgraded with en-suite facilities, but manage to retain their authentic safari heritage. From all the rooms you are able to enjoy what can only be described as the best view in the South Luangwa.
The bar and sitting area sit snugly between a large termite mound and lagoon, unobtrusive and cosy but making the most of the extensive wildlife that comes down to the lagoon to drink – lion and leopard can also be heard lapping away at the refreshing water in the evenings. From the dining room lunch can be enjoyed whilst watching large herds of elephants making their daily river crossing just upstream from camp. What could be better than sitting in a comfy armchair enjoying a delicious slice of cake whilst watching anything from Antelope to Elephant coming down to drink.
The camp is one of only two properties in the Nsefu sector, which allows for a completely different level of safari experience, one which is not only peaceful but packed full of activity and game to see. The Nsefu sector was first pronounced a game reserve in 1966 and has always been recognised as an outstanding game-viewing area.
Edward has been a keen photographer since the age of 10, learning from his Dad with an old film SLR. He moved to Zambia early in 2009, to pursue his love of wildlife and the outdoors. He has built up 9 years of wild-Luangwa experience and honed his knowledge of its astonishing array of life. He also holds Luangwa’s coveted Grade 1 walking licence, a credit to his exceptional understanding of mammal behaviour. Combining his two loves he has turned his passion into a successful wildlife photography and guiding business. Edward’s guiding style is one of ‘exploring with his guests’ and he loves nothing more than to discover new areas, try new techniques or sit and wait for a sighting to develop. As a highly skilled naturalist, he is as interested in wildlife as he is in photography.
Fiona moved to Africa just after finishing school and for almost 5 years she managed a Game Lodge in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park. During this time Fiona’s passion and knowledge of the intricacies and rhythms of the african bush became deeply embedded in her soul. She left the lodge to pursue her love of wildlife photography, travel and writing and has spent the past decade doing just that. She enjoys nothing more then sharing her love for her spiritual home, Africa and can often be persuaded to recount tales from her various adventures.
Raj has travelled extensively throughout Asia, Australia and Europe but in 2011 he discovered Africa and was immediately captivated by this vast and diverse land.
Raj has developed his photographic skills working as an Automotive and Motorsport photographer covering several endurance car series and formula 1. These skills he has found are readily transferred to his true passion of wildlife photography and capturing those action shots whether its a predator hunting or a bird in flight. He also has a love of photographing the night sky which has fascinated him since childhood.
Fiona’s photography is instinctive and creative which couples perfectly with Raj’s knowledgable technique driven approach and Edward’s in depth knowledge of this incredible area, its animals and his sympathetic approach to photographing his home.
We understand and celebrate that everyone’s eyes work differently and that people ‘compose’ the world through their eyes in very different ways. Our job on safari is absolutely not to tell people how to compose their images, but to allow them to explore compositions that appeal to them. In fact seeing our groups different interpretations at the end of each day is one of the best parts of our job. We will offer our experience to help you translate the image you see to the image you achieve.
Be prepared as our enthusiasm for Africa, her animals and people can be quite infectious. We want you to leave us ignited by our passion for Africa, for nature and more importantly for life, inspired by what you have seen and done and with memories to last a lifetime.
We Believe in Sustainable Responsible Tourism
For many years Fiona lived and worked in a South African National Park, which we still have close ties to now. She witnessed first hand and was often involved with working to tackle the challenges faced by the people tasked to protect the wildlife and the important habitats they depend upon. As a result we continue to actively support conservation initiatives around the world. We derive a lot of pleasure from spending time with these animals and in these environments so we believe that as photographers we have a responsibility to do all we can to help and support the continuing conservation of these animals and places and inspire others to do the same.
How Joining our trip will have a positive impact.
We will be making a donation on behalf of the group to Conservation South Luangwa (CSL), a charity working within South Luangwa with the communities and conservation partners in the protection of the wildlife and habitats of the South Luangwa ecosystem. They support anti-poaching patrols, a dog-detection unit, are involved with wildlife rescue & de-snaring and mitigating wildlife and community conflicts, particularly between elephants and local people.
We may have the opportunity to meet a representative from the charity whilst we are in the reserve to learn more about the importance of their work in protecting this eco-system but this will depend on their availability, their job is important and we prioritize that over our own desires. If you would like to read more about their valuable work in the area please visit http://cslzambia.org/
If there are any active citizen science programs running at the time of our trip we will work with Edward to ensure images from the group and relevant sightings records will be passed through, so we can help with any monitoring that might be happening in the park.
Robin Pope Safaris also actively support the local communities so through our stay and the revenue we bring we are able to help them continue their support. They are also a member of the “Pack for a Purpose” initiative. Which encourages visitors to use any spare baggage space to bring and donate useful supplies, a list of what is currently needed can be found by visiting the website www.packforapurpose.org/destinations/africa/zambia/luangwa-river-camp/ This can be a fun way to give back and also perhaps involve friends and family back home to donate and you bring it over. Let us know if you would like to do this and we can liaise on your behalf.
We highly recommend ensuring you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy
- We will be staying in a Malaria area, so please seek professional medical advice to ensure you have taken the necessary precautions prior to travel.
- You are required to have a valid yellow fever certificate to enter Zambia. Please make sure you carry your certificate with your passport to be shown on arrival.
- Please be aware of the reduced luggage allowance on the small aircraft transfer from Lusaka to Mufwe. It is advisable to use soft holdall style bags, this reduces weight and makes them easier to transport.
- Tipping advice – If you have enjoyed excellent service, you are more than welcome to reward staff with a tip, it is not compulsory. We suggest US$5 per person per night for camp staff and the same for guides as a good guideline but any gratuity will be greatly appreciated by the staff.
- If you are interested in possibly extending your trip, the region offers many options including visiting Livingstone to see Victoria Falls, or pop across the border to Malawi to visit Lake Malawi for something a little more relaxing. We are happy to discuss any options with you.
A comprehensive packing list will be provided on confirmation of your booking.