KAZA Trip 2018 – Zambia

The ‘Sleeping Giant’. That’s what many local people call Zambia, and once you start traveling into the vast interior, you soon understand why. Only 15 million people in one of Africa’s largest countries – think the size of mainland Europe and you get an idea – with Kafue National Park alone way bigger than Belgium, for example.

Tourism has become the 3rd biggest income generator in the country, but yet you still feel as if you are lost within some great blank space on the map. After our first few days here on the #KAZA Transfrontier Conservation Area Media Trip, I’ve come to realize this is unarguably Zambia’s greatest selling points: space.

Unlike neighbouring Tanzania or Kenya, you will have the national parks and conservation areas pretty much to yourself. No game viewer traffic jams; no elbowing into the line-up to get a photo; no queue-jumping rage at the lion kills … Sure, you may have to work a bit harder for your wildlife experiences, but they will be 100% uniquely yours.

The landscapes are pretty diverse, too, with everything from vast swathes of #miombo woodland and arid savanna, to big-ass gorges, World Heritage Site waterfalls, gargantuan rivers and shimmering wetland lakes the size of inland seas. And the main entry point, unsurprisingly, is at Livingstone, on the edge of the world famous #MosiOaTunya, or the ‘Smoke that Thunders’.

If you are planning a visit to #Zambia this is a pretty good place to start, with excellent tourism infrastructure, jaw-dropping views, countless lodges and adrenaline experiences, and of course one of the world’s ‘Seven Natural Wonders’. And in my opinion, the best way to experience the full might of the tour de force of Mother Nature is from the #DevilsPool.

An early start from @ahahotelslodges and a zig-zag boat trip darting downriver amidst rocky islands and somnambulent hippos get you to the edge of the the falls, where the mist billows skyward from the belly of #Batoka Gorge. Even in dry season, it is an awesome (in the real sense of the word) sight to see one of Africa’s greatest rivers cascading over the edge of the plunging cliffs separating Zambia and #zimbabwe.

Once there, you don your board shorts and swim through an eddy stream to an outcrop overlooking the falls. A short scramble gets you into the ‘Devil’s Pool’ proper, with the full might of #VicFalls thundering by you a few meters to your right. Imagine a natural jacuzzi whirlpool, separated from a 100m odd drop onto the razor sharp rocks on the gorge bed, and you may get an inkling of the aqua adventure awaiting you here in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park.

And breathe. Then fast-forward via #bushcaravan aeroplane – with Ignatius dodging the odd cumulonimbus stack – to the @GreenSafaris #IlaLodge, situated right on the edge of the langurous #Kafue River. Here life slows down while you gaze out over pods of hippo lazing in the cool waters, on sorties to spin for African pike amidst rafts of river grass, or while cruising the banks as you scan the riverine forests for the more than 225 species of bird occurring naturally here.

We had a park the size of #Kruger to ourselves, give or take a couple of other tourists at our lodge. There are of course a few other establishments, but if you compare the 15 lodges here to the 3000 around #KNP, you can but shake your head in amazement.

And so day flowed into night, with the baritone hippo chorus and deep base UUUUMMFF of distant lion punctuating the dark-time hours. Morning morphed into midday heat beating down, with unreal magic hours making for sunsets beyond compare.

Tomorrow we head for #SiomaNgwezi Park on the border with #angola, and a whole new set of wilderness experiences here in the #KavangoZambezi#TFCA, the largest of all the TFCAs in southern Africa. Kudos to @USAID_SAfrica, @Boundless_ZA and @Peace_Parks for their massive support of the #KAZA Project

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