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Sensory Safaris: Zambia, Land of Majestic Rivers

 
For the traveller, Zambia is defined by her great rivers. Greatest of all - the Zambezi - metamorphoses between a tranquil expanse, cascading falls and haunting lakes on its journey to the ocean, all the while an artery of life to countless animals. In contrast, the Luangwa wends lazily past great elephant herds, lion and giraffe in looping twists and turns.

From April to November, you can disappear into a sequence of delightfully unpretentious camps and lodges, each in a handpicked patch of paradise. Walk, ride, canoe, fly or cycle in privacy on an expertly guided safari of a lifetime.
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South Luangwa 

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South Luangwa 

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South Luangwa 

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South Luangwa 

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South Luangwa 

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South Luangwa 

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South Luangwa 

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There’s something thrilling about walking where, moments earlier, an elephant passed by. Your guide exudes competence and seems equally at home as the pachyderm in this wonderland of tracks, trees and lagoons.

At every turn there’s something to gaze upon, some secret of the bush to be disclosed; a giraffe watching from behind a fig tree, a fish eagle thinking about breakfast, the track of a leopard in the sand.

The landscape opens as you reach the river. Upstream, elephant families drinking, playing, hosing themselves. Downstream a disturbed flock of birds launches noisily airborne. Midstream, a cacophony of snorting cavorting hippo – a dentist’s nightmare.

Walking into camp, ready for breakfast, and there it is sizzling, smelling like heaven. Hot coffee, fresh baked bread, bacon and eggs, fruit – the day is perfect and it’s barely started.
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Victoria Falls 

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Victoria Falls 

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Victoria Falls 

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Victoria Falls 

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Victoria Falls 

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Victoria Falls 

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Victoria Falls 

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Victoria Falls 

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Victoria Falls 

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Get deliciously drenched in a multi-sensory way. Standing there facing mid-falls, the ground hums and vibrates, torrents rage and roar, spray glitters and dances and seemingly all the world’s water cascades, slow motion, into a white haze.

Stand in front of it, raft beneath it, bungee before it, cruise above it and fly over it in plane, helicopter or microlight, but whatever happens, do not attempt to ride over it in a barrel.

Sipping a pink gin on the terrace of the Royal Livingstone Hotel is a forgivable post-colonial indulgence. Other favoured sipping spots are quirkily luxurious Tongabezi and among countless birds on Livingstone Island just above the falls.

Descend deep into the Batoka Gorge. Clamber aboard your inflatable raft just below Victoria Falls. Then, steered by an experienced crew, drift, crash and scream your way all day long through sixteen of the world’s most iconic rapids.
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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Lower Zambezi 

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Contender for “world’s best breakfast” has to be aboard Chiawa Camp’s motorised pontoon. This marvellous invention is a floating dining table with kitchen attached which putters up the Zambezi past bemused hippopotami while you enjoy breakfast and Buck’s Fizz.

At long intervals beside the Lower Zambezi are some of our all-time favourite camps; Chongwe, Chiawa, Old Mondoro and Sausage Tree. From these intimate, very comfortable hideaways you can enjoy the finest safaris Africa can provide.

From August to November, it’s elephant mayhem beside the Zambezi. Every elephant in Africa seems to have converged here, even walking through camp as if they own the place. Watch them, spellbound, as they swim and play with delight in the cooling river.

The thought of canoeing the Zambezi might seem reckless, but once you’re there, in the safe hands of an expert guide who knows every nuance of the river and its inhabitants, and you realise that the elephants aren’t that bothered about you, it really is one of life’s most wonderful experiences.
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