Zambezi Safari

A small safari lodge on the Zambezi River provides a world-class African safari adventure.

Zambezi Safari

Overview

Lower Zambezi National Park has escaped the spoils of tourism. Protected by the Zambian government, only lodges within the park can ply this stretch of the Zambezi River. So we see little human activity here. In this glorious setting of our African safari adventure, we'll indulge in the comforts of two intimate riverside camps - the top-rated Chiawa and Old Mondoro - with unforgettable safaris by vehicle, boat, canoe, or foot...and a chance to hook Africa's notorious tiger fish.

Zambezi Safari

"The Lower Zambezi is one of my favorite parks in Africa. The animals roam freely in great numbers and there are only a handful of lodges scattered along the banks. I've been there four times and would go back in a heartbeat."
—Dave Parker, Managing Director, Orvis Travel

  • Thrill to game viewing in the unspoiled wilderness of Lower Zambezi National Park.
  • Set out in search of wildlife by safari vehicle, boat, canoe, or foot with eagle-eye guides.
  • Indulge in the comforts and services of Chiawa Camp, one of Condé Nast's Top 10 safari lodges.
  • Spot lion, elephant, leopard, hippo, water buffalo, and other iconic game.
  • Enjoy a leisurely stay amidst tranquil forests, hills, riparian flood plains, and the mighty Zambezi River.
  • Fly-fish on the Zambezi on September and October departures.
  • Maximum 8 guests.

Weather & When To Go

This safari operates from June 1 through October 31. July through September is “high season” and the days are dry and not too hot. This is the cool, dry season in southern Africa, when it can easily drop into the 40's at night. The water on the river can be a little higher in June, but the weather is usually very nice. October is the warmest month with temperatures in the 90's during the day, but it cools down at night. Game viewing is excellent every month the safari operates.

Itinerary

Day 1 | Lusaka/Lower Zambezi National Park

In Lusaka, Zambia, meet your bush plane for a thrilling flight into the wild. As we soar over the mile-wide Zambezi River, we often see hippos, water buffaloes, and elephants in its waters or along its banks. Our guides meet us at the Royal airstrip and we’ll journey to Chiawa Camp via rugged 4x4 vehicle and boat. Along the way, we may spot lions, hippos, and elephants.

After our journey and lunch, take some time to rest up. Later, we head out on our first game drive, a skilled naturalist keeping his senses keen to signs of animals. We’ll stay in the wild for 2-3 hours after sunset in hopes of spotting some nocturnal hunters, then return to Chiawa for dinner.

Chiawa rests under a grove of mahogany trees in the middle of big game country. The Zambezi River – a mile wide as it passes here – is our constant companion and its waters attract a large array of wildlife. Your safari tent is spacious and has all the amenities. The dining room and bar overlook the river.

Days 2 - 4 | Chiawa Camp

Chiawa Camp has been voted one of Africa’s Top 10 Safari Camps by Condé Nast and has won numerous other awards. You’re about to discover why. Its aim is to provide a superb safari experience while conserving the surrounding wildlife and habitats – and they do so in a luxurious yet relaxed atmosphere with personalized service – all in a breathtaking setting.

A typical day at Chiawa, from game drives to tiger fishing. The beauty of our safari is its flexibility. We won’t hold you to rigid activities; rather, each day presents a choice of game drives, nature walks, a pontoon cruise, canoeing, catch-and-release fishing, and birding. You might also opt to relax at the camp. If it’s angling that brings you here, this is perhaps the best spot in Africa to catch tiger fish in September and October, one of the strongest fish you’re ever likely to hook. In fact, Chiawa is featured in Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die by Chris Santella.

There is a rhythm to each day in the bush that begins with a light breakfast at the campfire just after sunrise. Then, you have your choice of safari activities until lunch. We relax at camp during the hottest part of the day. After mid-afternoon tea, we set off again by land or by river, and return for a four-course dinner.

Should you choose to angle for tiger fish, we often find them in countless pools and cutbanks near our camp. Our fishing barges have room for two anglers with comfortable chairs for spectators or family. A guide will position you in an ideal spot and give you some tips for catching this notorious fighter.

Day 5 | Transfer to Old Mondoro by Riverboat

We have our choice of activities this morning, including another fishing excursion. After lunch, we embark a riverboat for an hour-long transfer to Old Mondoro Camp. As we journey downstream, we’re cruising through floodplains and past lagoons and islands that attract 50 species of mammal and 400 bird species. We might spot hippos, crocodiles, water buffalo, and other wildlife. We arrive at our next camp in time for an afternoon game drive.

Days 6 - 7 | Old Mondoro

Welcome to the classic safari experience! The Old Mondoro camp harkens back to a time when safaris were not accompanied by the whir of motors and the harshness of electric light.

We visit Old Mondoro because we find Africa to be at its most serene here, a step removed from the ultra-luxury camps and a rewarding complement to Chiawa. At Old Mondoro, we savor the authentic and remote safari that focuses more on the overall bush experience, and provides a closer look at one of Africa’s finest wildlife sanctuaries.

An open and adventurous feel amidst unrivalled comfort. Old Mondoro recalls the mobile tents of East Africa that – unattached to cumbersome generators – were relocated and rebuilt to follow wildlife migrations. Each “bush chalet” sits on a temporary platform. And though this approach may seem rustic, you’ll have en-suite facilities. By day, your tent is open to the elements. By night, canvas walls drop for privacy, and paraffin lanterns cast a warm and comforting glow. Like Chiawa, Old Mondoro sits on the Zambezi River.
We don’t need to go far to view incredible wildlife. Nearby, within sight of our camp, massive bull elephants often feed on acacia trees and hippos loiter on a maze of islands midstream. But if you do choose to set out, the open woodlands here make for ideal walking safaris, which Old Mondoro typically offers in the morning. These leisurely “micro-safaris” were pioneered in Zambia, and they provide a rare opportunity to step out of a vehicle and feel a real connection to the African wilderness. We often spot elephants and water buffaloes, and our guides are highly trained and armed for your safety.

All in all, Old Mondoro provides an uncomplicated safari experience, yet one that does not sacrifice comfort or amenities.

Day 8 | Depart

After breakfast, we board our 4x4 vehicles and drive to the Jeki airstrip along the Zambezi. En route, we have a final chance to spot wildlife. Upon arrival, we fly back to Lusaka, where our journey ends.

Activities

Activities at Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro

Viewing African wildlife is the heart of this safari, and you can walk, drive, canoe and cruise in riverboats with outstanding guides who know all the nuances of tracking wildlife. With forested hills, flat flood plains, and the mile-wide Zambezi River, there are habitats for a very wide variety of animals and birds. You will see elephant, hippo, lion, fish eagles, and much more on game drives early in the morning, throughout the day, and after sunset. There are canoes for excursions on the Zambezi where it stays cool even in the warmth of mid-day.

Fly fishing - the best time for fly fishing is from late August to late October, when the resident tiger fish spawn, although you might land one in other months. Serious anglers will want to reserve a boat and guide for exclusive use (an extra $650 per day fee).

Lodging

Chiawa Camp

Located right on the banks of the Zambezi, Chiawa has 9 spacious tents on raised platforms, each a suite with a deck overlooking the river, a well-appointed bathroom, and indoor and outdoor showers. It accommodates only 16 guests and the staff devotes personal attention to everyone.

It’s owned and operated by the Cummings Family, who built it as one of the first camps in Lower Zambezi National Park. They treat you like old friends, and willingly share the knowledge of the park gained over decades of game drives.

There’s a thatched roofed open-air dining room with a veranda, a bar, and a campfire area for swapping tales over a cocktail under the moonlight. Both the bar and the dining room overlook the river, and they are in an excellent spot for game viewing of the animals that come there to drink.

Old Mondoro Camp

The Shona word for lion is Mondoro and the name Old Mondoro derives from the local legend of an old, white lion that used to frequent the area. Although the old white lion has long gone, Old Mondoro Bush Camp reflects the wild spirit that lives on in his descendants that still roam free in this unique part of Africa.

The camp is set in a grove of Acacia trees on the banks of the Zambezi River in the Lower Zambezi National Park. It is a beautiful site overlooking a maze of hippo-inhabited islands and channels.

It lodges 8 guests in 4 “bush chalets”, resting on temporary slabs. Each has en-suite facilities with flush toilets, and canvas bucket showers and washbasins. Paraffin lanterns provide natural lighting. The bush chalets are left with open views during the day, and at night canvas drop-down blinds with windows are lowered to provide more privacy and security. All bush chalets have outstanding views of the Zambezi or the Old Mondoro lagoon.

The Main Tent, which serves as a lounge and dining area, rests under a Winter Thorn tree and next to a Sausage Tree overlooking the Zambezi. A traditional bush kitchen supplies outstanding meals and fresh bread baked daily from a homemade oven. The entire experience is unpretentious and uncomplicated, but promises a unique safari that gives guests the best bush experience possible.

Pricing & Dates

Pricing & Dates for Zambezi Safari

7-night safari

2014  
$3525 June 2014
$4725 July 1 - October 31, 2014
   
$595 park fees
$625 round trip flight from Lusaka to the landing strip in the park
   
$2850 children 8 - 15 years old, sharing a tent with two adults
  17.5% single supplement applies July 1 - October 31 only
   
$650 per day fee applies for private fishing boat and guide; highly recommended for serious anglers

Orvis Travel Exclusive Departures:

August 31 - September 7, 2014 | October 4 - 11, 2014

Included:

Accommodations; all meals and beverages; guided game drives, canoe trips, bush walks, boat safaris, and angling; daily laundry; and transfers from Royal airstrip to Chiawa Camp, to Old Mondoro, and to Jeki airstrip.

Not included:

Air or river transfers to/from Lower Zambezi National Park; angling permits; visa fees; hotels and meals in Lusaka; and tips to crew and guides.

Reviews

Overall: 5.0/5 starsShow Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 4 reviews

5 stars 5-star:
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4 stars 4-star:
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4 of 4 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Incredible! - 10/7/2013
    By: from Slippery Rock

    The Zambezi trip to Chiawa and Old Mondoro was an incredible experience that far exceeded what I had expected. The service provided by the Orvis travel staff was excellent. Not only did they make all the arrangements with the hotels, lodges and transportation in-country, they arranged it so that at each point of the trip there was someone to assist you, get you to the next point in your trip and assure your comfort and safety. The staff members at both lodges were amazing. They were friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. In addition, they took care to keep everyone safe and enjoying the experience the entire time. The food was fabulous and the facilities where rustic, but very nice and comfortable. The guides were absolutely amazing. I have never experienced such knowledgeable guides. They were also extremely friendly, professional and seemed to love talking about their country and the animals. The activities available at both lodges were wonderful. You could stay at the lodge and relax, swim in the pool (Old Mondoro), go on game drives, canoe, fish, do walking safaris or take river cruises. Whatever you did, just at sunset, you were treated with a “sundowner” drink and snack. It was almost like you were all toasting the sun as it began to sink below the horizon. We did game drives almost every morning, afternoon and night. I saw elephants, baboons, lions, leopards, waterbuck, impala, exotic birds, crocodiles, hippos, hyena, kudu, buffalo, springbok, civets, warthogs, mongoose and jennets and in abundance. In fact, the abundance of animals was totally unexpected and breathtaking, especially at Old Mondoro. It seemed that everywhere you looked there were animals of several species interacting with each other and their environment. We also went canoeing on the Zambezi River and did a walking safari. It was a real experience to be on foot walking through the bush not knowing what you might come across next. While I hadn’t really expected to enjoy the latter two activities much, in fact, they were wonderful and I would do it again without hesitation. It gives you a different perspective of the environment and animals around you. We did fly fish on the river and the fishing was good, but the real draw is the wildlife which is constantly fascinating. You don’t even have to leave the lodge to see some of the animals. There were times when I looked just outside the "tent" to see elephants, buffalo, impala, warthogs and waterbuck nearby. Each night I fell asleep listening to a cacophony of exotic sounds in the night. It was magical. I cannot recommend this experience highly enough. I wish I could go back tomorrow!

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    First Rate - 11/8/2012
    By: from Montana, USA

    I would recommend going on this trip if you like nature and wildlife, along with the feeling of stepping back in time; when life was easier and the world was new. Everyday was like being granted an experience that will live in my memory for a long time. Exceptional fishing, I personally caught close to 30 fish-most of them being tigerfish, including an 11 pounder.

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Zambezi tiger paradise - 10/12/2011
    By: from Western Australia

    Tigers in Africa? Yes Sir - with fins!. Just got back from three fabulous weeks in Botswana and Zambia gamewatching and flyfishing for tiger fish (imagine trout on steroids). Chiawa and Old Mondoro are fabulous destinations - well run, comfortable and excellent service all round. The guides at Chiawa know a lot more about flyfishing - and where the fish are likely to hang on the Mighty Zambezi. Mondoro is charming and there are big fish to be had - just direct the guide not to bait fish at the same time! Caught 19 tigers between 2 and 8 lbs over two days - lost as many again. 8wt plus, fast sinking line, steel trace and big decievers in blue and white or red and black were the go.

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Tiger Fishing in Africa - 6/5/2008
    By:

    By plane and truck and boat my son and I found ourselves in heaven. Chiawa Camp, set aside the Zambezi River, was the perfect mix of adventure and comfort. Tiger fish caught on the fly, night safaris halting to celebrate the day with a cocktail mixed on linens draped over the truck's hood, extraordinarily intelligent and well-informed guides, candlelit dinners under the stars in a dry river bed, and then more fishing. Truly amazing and two of the best weeks of our lives.

Contact the expert at Orvis Travel:
Abby Liell
Zambezi Safari
800-547-4322
Mon-Fri, 9am - 5pm (ET)

Orvis Travel Exclusive Departures:

August 31 - September 7, 2014 | October 4 - 11, 2014

Orvis International Travel

800-547-4322 | 802-362-8790
orvistravel@orvis.com

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