What The Average Weight For A 16 Year Old Female Zambia: A True Grass-Roots Safari

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Zambia: A True Grass-Roots Safari

The key to a good safari is undoubtedly the quality of the guide and how the guest is received during their stay. Having been to Kenya and Botswana on previous trips, I experienced two of the best safari destinations Africa has to offer. I’ve heard that Zambia offers more grassroots safari and was therefore curious to see how it caters for those looking for a safari experience.

Arriving on the Lower Zambezi with a connecting flight from Lusaka and an overnight flight from London never fails to put you in the best position to start your trip. What helped was the hospitality of a confident host, at Camp Chiawa, in the form of Grant and Lindsay Cummings. Grant established Chiawa in 1989, the first camp in the Lower Zambezi National Park, and as a founding member of the Lower Zambezi Conservation Organization he has grown the camp and the park. His passion for the bush is evident from the moment you meet him. He encourages you to take part in every activity on offer to see how far the park has grown before you even see the tents. Grant’s enthusiasm was passed on to the rest of his team, as evidenced by our guide Joe. On our first night driving with him, we were lucky enough to come across a leopard who was stalking an impala. We followed the leopard carefully, making sure we didn’t hinder its hunt. We followed and Joe walked us through his hunting habits; how he stalked, how often he fed, all while driving through dense woodland…without any headlights! The cheetahs didn’t make it this time, but that didn’t matter because we learned a lot. Chasing such wonderful encounters is always going to be tough. Joe did it confidently, though, and instead of wandering around the park trying to find us something more exciting, he simply found us a clearing, turned off the engine, and slammed the huge Starry sky to comment. Of course, if an aardvark walks past me, I’ll name him “Super Guide,” but that requires a lot of luck.

From the Lower Zambezi, my travels took me northeast to North Luangwa and South Luangwa. Our accommodation in North Luangwa was at Kutandala, a simple reed and thatch camp next to the Mwaleshi River. This is the home of Rod and Gus Tether. Not only do they run and manage the camp, but they are also raising their two young sons in the bush, which is no mean feat. Kutandala’s focus is on walking and Rod is one of the best guides in Zambia. Tracking the lions on foot is an option but the lions aren’t around so we took a day walk to Mwaleshi Falls which was much more scenic and refreshing. Along the way, Rhodes pointed out and identified many birds and animals, and changed his walking route to watch a large herd of hippos wallow in the river, a spectacular sight up close. When we got to the waterfall, Rod’s eyes lit up like he was sharing one of his favorite toys with us. After a hearty BBQ, lounging in the afternoon sun, it’s hard to summon the energy to swim in the rock pool, let alone walk home.

Not to be outdone by Rod’s grilling skills, Gus whips up food that can only be described as miraculous in her humble jungle kitchen. Like many other camps, Kutandala has its own salad and vegetable garden on site, so delicious, fresh produce is readily available. However, I was really surprised when Gus made homemade sorbet and brandy shortbread as a pudding at lunch and then made homemade ice cream in an ice bowl later that night. I would challenge any London chef to produce food of such quality in such a remote location with such limited resources. Food is a big part of safari life and Gus’s food was some of the best I have experienced in Zambia.

Robin Pope Safaris is one of South Luangwa’s most successful events, and Camp Nsefu on the east bank of the Luangwa River is in the heart of a rich game area. Of course the wildlife has to be there, but a good guide will be able to find it and talk about it with confidence. Our guide in Nsefu was Kerry. This is the first female guide I have seen since I was piloted and guided by a four foot ten bush lady in Zimbabwe. She has proven herself to be an excellent guide so I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what Kerry can show us on the night drive. I heard she was good at birds so I decided to put her to the test. “How about seeing if we can find some owls?” I asked as we set off. In less than 10 minutes, Kerry found us an owl. “Where?” we both said, scanning the trees for a large, fluffy bird. “In the bushes over there,” Kerry pointed to the bushes about 200 meters away from the track. With the help of a large pair of binoculars, I located our owl, a pearly-spotted owl about the size of a pigeon. An impressive place! Later in the driveway, after the sun had set, we encountered a pair of porcupines, dimly lit by moonlight. We watched them for a while with the aid of our observation lights before I asked if we could get a little closer. Facing the steep river bank that we and our Land Cruiser would have to contend with, Carrey poised and embarked on a flawless demonstration of four-by-four driving. Kerry turned off his headlights as we approached. “I’m still learning,” she said. “Just last week, I found out that if you turn off your headlights, you can reach porcupines within 20 metres.” As a result, we got a really close look at these unusual animals.

Our final destination is Kafue National Park and Busanga Plains west of Lusaka, about an hour’s flight time. Busanga is the only place in Zambia where cheetahs can be seen on a regular basis. The vast plains that flood after December rains provide the perfect habitat for these sleek felines in the dry months, but finding them in the long grass takes the skills of a good guide. This time it was Lexon, who grew up in the area and knew the Busanaga inside and out, and along with his eagle-eyed spotter, Benson, made sure we saw the cheetahs.

When it comes to tracking cheetahs, guides living at the camp have a distinct advantage over regular guests who are only there for three or four days. The guide will know where the animals are and when they were last seen, but of course he still has to find them. I only had 16 hours at camp in Busanga, but Lexon and Benson eagerly took up the challenge. Sure enough, within an hour of arriving at camp, we spotted five cheetahs (a mother and her four one-year-old cubs) basking in the soft sunset light. A good guide takes the long view, and by keeping a mother and her cubs at a distance during the early stages, he earns their trust. The result was five cheetahs approaching the Land Rover for some of the best photo opportunities I’ve ever had.

I came back from Zambia and was very impressed with the quality of the guidance and reception. I found similar standards in all the camps I visited. I recently traveled to Botswana, certainly the most exclusive of all safari destinations, and to Kenya, visiting some of the most pioneering and conservation-minded ranches in Africa. While Zambia can’t match the crystal clear waters of the Okavango Delta or the game density of some of Kenya’s best reserves, for me it offers a uniquely African experience. The accommodation was comfortable without being overwhelming, the hosts were very nice and the guides can only be described as excellent. In Zambia, Natural Africa was allowed to take center stage.


[http://www.aardvarksafaris.com/articles-zambia-grassroots]

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