Lower Zambezi – Accompanied Photographic Safari
Small Group Fixed Departure – 1 May 2018
Welcome to our Lower Zambezi – Accompanied Photographic Safari tour.
The Lower Zambezi offers a safari for the more adventurous types, those looking for an authentic and experiential African safari, where the location, quality of the wilderness experience and the guides entrusted with your care take precedence.
The national park is at the heart of a very important conservation area which also includes Mana Pools across the river in Zimbabwe. It contains magnificent scenery, centred on the mighty Zambezi River, whose meandering waters are bordered by broad grassy floodplains and impressive stands of open mahogany and ebony forests.
The area contains excellent densities of wildlife, notably large herds of elephants and an impressive collection of large bulls, buffalo, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, hippos and crocodiles. There are also good chances for interaction with wild-dogs and an impressive bird list of 400 species that all gather to create a mesmerizing wilderness.
Our safari coincides with the end of the rainy season as the region moves towards the drier winter months. It offers us the possibility of more lush green landscapes, cooler temperatures, some lingering migratory birds coupled with even more exclusivity as the camps are only just opening for the season, having been shut since November.
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.
We focus on truly connecting to 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 also welcomed with enthusiasm and will equally be able to fully enjoy this safari, which will appeal to anyone with an abiding love for nature and wildlife.
We must, however, apologise right now as it is highly likely once you have experienced the beauty of this dynamic land you’ll want to return again and again and again.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||London Heathrow|
Return International Flights from London Heathrow to Lusaka, Zambia (other departure airports available at a supplement).
|NOT INCLUDED|| Travel insurance|
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.
|Pre and Post tour extensions||Post and pre tour extensions available – Please contact us for further information|
Our Adventure begins as we depart London Heathrow, for our flight to Lusaka, Zambia.
Day 1: Arrival to Old Mondoro (-/-/D)
We arrive in Lusaka and connect with our flight to Jeki airstrip in the Lower Zambezi National Park. This is a short flight of roughly 20 minutes.
We will be met on arrival at Jeki airstrip by staff from Old Mondoro Camp and transferred to the camp. This is a short transfer through the reserve. That afternoon after we have had a chance to settle in, relax and freshen up we will head out for our first foray into the Lower Zambezi.
Day 2-7: Overnight Old Mondoro (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 will be revealed. Of course, no safari would be complete without the partaking of the customary sundowner, after which we will enjoy a night drive, looking for nocturnal creatures as we make our way back to camp.
On our return to camp, we will enjoy a beautiful evening meal and discuss the day’s events and review our experiences and photography whilst sitting around the camp fire, under the stars, listening to the sounds of the bush.
The African night sky truly is a wonder in its own right, offering an opportunity to view the milky way in all her glory. So on at least one evening, we will spend time after sunset photographing the night sky. Exploring long exposures, star trails and other dramatic effects that can be achieved after dark. This will not be of wildlife but will focus on astral scenes.
Where Are We Heading?
The spectacular Lower Zambezi National Park, located in southeastern Zambia covers 4,092 square kilometres of pristine wilderness. It was only declared a National Park in 1983, and the Cuming’s Family, who own and operate Old Mondoro and Chiawa Camp brought the first tourists to the Park in just 1990. Having previously served as a private park of the Zambia president, it has been protected from mass tourism, thus sustaining its pristine wilderness to this day and as a result, offers one of the finest African safari experiences there is.
On the opposite bank is Zimbabwe’s famous Mana Pools National Park, and the Lower Zambezi itself is ringed by a much larger game management area (GMA). Because there are no fences between the park and the GMA, animals can roam free across the area, creating a vast expanse of protected wilderness, that boasts breathtaking vistas of the Zambezi River, as well as its lush riverine surrounds. It is not uncommon to see enormous herds of elephant along the riverbanks, as well as leopard, buffalo and lion. The park offers a wonderful collection of habitats, which are home to a superb diversity of animals. The best part of the Lower Zambezi Park and its surrounding GMA is the remoteness. Unlike other Southern African parks, this one has no paved roads and it is unlikely you will encounter many other safari vehicles.
Its distinguishing features are the rugged escarpment to the north, the river itself, and its numerous islands, lagoons and floodplains. This rich and diverse habitat is home to a spectacular array of Zambian wildlife. Abundant water, food and shelter give rise to one of Africa’s healthiest elephant populations, vast herds of buffalo, prides of lion, leopards, hyenas, jackals, hippos, crocodile, zebra, various small carnivores, omnivores and antelope, totaling some 50 mammal species and over 400 species of birds have been recorded in the valley. Absent from the Lower Zambezi are giraffe and wildebeest which never occurred here, as too are rhino which were sadly poached to extinction from the region. Occasional wild dog sightings are experienced as these come and go (April/May and Sept/Oct are the best times to see them if you will).
Wildlife viewing in the Lower Zambezi is extra special as you are often afforded the opportunity to watch many of these creatures at close quarters from, in and around the river.
Where Are We Staying?
We’ve chosen the exquisitely beautiful owner-run Old Mondoro as our home and base for the duration of the trip. Renowned for its high-calibre of guides and their extensive knowledge of the African bush, they will ably assist us as we explore this incredible reserve.
Old Mondoro is the Lower Zambezi’s most intimate and private safari camp, exuding a charm and charisma that epitomizes a truly african bush camp experience. The camp is constructed of canvas and natural materials allowing it to blend seamlessly into its remote and beautiful location. It has an open and adventurous feel, but is perhaps not for the faint hearted, as it offers us the opportunity to be completely immersed in the bush.
Sitting on the banks of the mighty Zambezi river, overlooking a maze of islands inhabited by hippo, and set in a grove of Acacia trees from which massive elephant bulls feed, this is perhaps the most beautiful site in the National Park and certainly one of the most remote.
There are just 4 rooms, accommodating 8 guests, each of which enjoys a shaded sun deck with incredible views over the river, ideal for watching wildlife come and go whilst we relax in camp. The beds are elegantly draped with mosquito nets and each room has ensuite bathrooms and outdoor showers as well as electric lighting. As darkness falls canvas blinds are rolled down and secured to offer privacy but not cut you off from the cacophony of sounds that make up the orchestra of the night.
Fiona moved to Africa just after finishing school and for just under 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 knowledgeable technique driven approach.
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.
Firstly we will be making a donation on behalf of the group to incredible Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ). This charity was set up thanks to cooperation between the Zambia Wildlife Authority and the safari operators in the valley who were concerned to established sustainable long-term protection for both the valley and its wildlife. To this day Old Mondoro remains one of the anchor donors. CLZ works within the national parks and its surrounds, with its established anti-poaching teams, a comprehensive selection of community support and education initiatives to reduce wildlife conflict and provide opportunities for the local people, as well as providing research and wildlife monitoring within the park. 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://www.conservationlowerzambezi.org/
If there are any active citizen science programs running at the time of our trip we will work with the guides at Old Mondoro 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.
Old Mondoro and its sister lodge Chiawa actively support the national park and the local communities in many ways so through our stay and the tourist revenue we bring we are able to help them continue the support they bring to the area. 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 https://www.packforapurpose.org/destinations/africa/zambia/chiawa-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 Jeki. 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. We are happy to help discuss, plan and book any extensions you may wish to consider.
A comprehensive packing list will be provided on confirmation of your booking.