October 2, 2011 by admin

Four teenagers, Two weeks, No Wi-Fi, Facebook,Nightclubs or Shopping…

A recipe for disaster? Read on…

We hadn’t been to Africa since a wonderful holiday to Kenya nearly five years ago. So when an idle conversation with family friends turned into a firm plan to visit again I was charged with finding an itinerary that would suit all of us, including new activities for those who’d visited before, as well as a proper, classic safari for the first timers.

After a bit of head scratching Zambia and Malawi got the nod: Zambia for the wealth of safari activities on offer, and Lake Malawi for its reputation as a wonderful spot for post-safari relaxation.

We started in Livingstone, an area well known for adrenaline fuelled pursuits, and we seemed to have been there just five minutes before our lot were hurling themselves off a bridge, headlong into the Zambezi Gorge, attached only to spindly pieces of elastic. They loved it, can’t say I particularly enjoyed watching but it was certainly an exhilarating start. Pictures of the Victoria Falls do nothing to prepare you for the real thing – they are quite magnificent, and the spray, even when the water levels are fairlylow, is something to be believed. We got totally drenched. A sunset river cruise and island picnic lunch organized by Tongabezi, where we stayed for the two nights, was just a taster of what was to come.

Next stop was the Lower Zambezi National Park – an area I’ve wanted to see for a long time having heard others in the office wax lyrical about its abundant wildlife and beautiful setting. I’d plumped for Chongwe River House here, a stunning property which looks like something Fred Flintstone might have built. I’ve been fortunate to see a fair few wonderful African camps but this place is really breathtaking. On arrival you look right through the house, to the pool and garden and straight down to the Chongwe River beyond. For once that teenage expression of ‘totally awesome’ is truly accurate.

What Zambia offers over and above some other safari countries is a vast range of activities. Yes, there are great game drives, but you can also night drive and walk, and in the Lower Zambezi spend time exploring on the river too. We canoed a lovely channel off the Zambezi River. The two oldest had their own canoe and scared themselves witless when they thought they’d spotted a hippo close to their craft. Since we were in water only a foot or so deep, their imagination had got the better of them but it kept them alert (and obedient) the whole trip. Watching families of elephant ambling across the river in front of us was magical. Despite being out of season we managed to catch a few tiger fish, even the small ones look pretty ferocious. A 30kg vundu (a type of catfish) was hooked amid much excitement but managed to make its escape before it could be brought to the boat. After surprise bush suppers, an amazing lunch on a sand spit in the middle of the Zambezi – watching the chef clear the tiny island of a group of basking hippo was certainly a novelty – I was a bit concerned that we’d peaked only half way…

By Charlotte Opperman – family holiday August 2011

Charlotte and family finished their trip to Zambia in the South Luangwa and then headed to Malawi.