Back in June, we spent two weeks on the trip of a lifetime – on safari in Zambia and relaxing on Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. The whole holiday was a surprise arranged by my husband (with expert guidance from Imagine Africa) for my 30th birthday and is a trip I will never forget.
The safari element of the trip was spent in the South Luangwa national park, in eastern Zambia. The park is home to over 60 species of animal and more than 400 different species of bird. The concentration of animals was incredible, made better by the limited number of vehicles we typically saw on our safari drives. The holiday really was a photography-lovers dream, although sorting through the many thousands of shots post-holiday was pretty time consuming!!
As the pictures show, we were fortunate enough not only to have sight of a large variety of animals (including some of my must sees – elephants, leopards, lions and wild dogs) but we often had the luxury of time to observe the animals, without being disturbed by other vehicles. A true highlight for me was witnessing the emotional intelligence of elephants, particularly in their interactions with other members of the herd.
During our visit to the Luangwa Valley, we stayed in both of Kafunta Safari‘s camps – Kafunta River Lodge and Island Bush Camp. The team at Kafunta are phenomenal – the hospitality was wonderful and most importantly the guides were first class. The knowledge these guides have is unparalleled and was invaluable in terms of the experience we had. I never would have thought it was possible to know the calls and sounds of so many different animals – not to mention being able to identify which animals had passed through a particular area and around what time based solely on the droppings on the floor.
Kafunta River Lodge is set in stunning surroundings, with the benefit of a spectacular lagoon and a dining area overlooking the flood plain. We spent a number of evenings enjoying dinner overlooking the lagoon, being “serenaded” by the hippos (of which there are hundreds in the Luangwa River) and their voices of angels.
By contrast, Island Bush Camp enabled us to enjoy the wilderness of the national park, including going on walking safaris – a true experience. There is something somewhat surreal (and a bit Jurassic Park) about putting your foot in an elephant’s footprint.
The whole safari experience was incredible and surpassed all my expectations. Not only were the animals fascinating but sunsets in Africa are beautiful beyond belief, with colours that I can only hope I will have the opportunity to experience again.
Our final stop before heading home was a few days enjoying the tranquility at Kaya Mawa, on Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. After a ride on the smallest plane I think I will ever sit in (beside the pilot I might add), we enjoyed a few days of true rest & relaxation in magical surroundings. I can honestly say, Kaya Mawa is one of the most beautiful and picture-perfect places I have ever stayed. We were able to go snorkelling in Lake Malawi’s fresh waters, take a bike ride to St Peter’s Cathedral and wander through the local village to see the beautiful handicrafts at Katundu.
This was my first visit to Africa and I totally fell in love with it, we are already considering where we might go next and have no end of recommendations from the people we met at Kafunta. The biggest problem will be deciding where, as the shortlist is currently looking pretty long.