They have a variety of activities like watching cheetah’s run, and cheetah interactions, lion interactions, and elephant rides. They’ll pick you up from your lodge/hotel as the place is pretty out of the way. My first trip to Livingstone I did a cheetah interaction and my second trip I did an elephant ride. I’m a little conflicted, and want to research the place more. I’ve heard rumors that they don’t treat the animals very well. What I heard was just rumors, but I know there are a number of places like this across Africa that do animal interactions where they sedate the animals so that they will let tourists pet them. I didn’t know about this when I went the first time and did the cheetah interaction. It makes me feel a little uncomfortable inside. Like I said I’m not accusing this place of that, I don’t know enough about this specific organization. I just know that it is happening in other places like this one. I’d say if you’d like to go here, just do some of your own research, and make your own conclusions.
Victoria Falls is the number one must see if you come to Zambia. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Entering the park on the Zambian side is about 7 kwacha for locals and about $10-20 for foreigners. There are curio shops, and little cafés right inside the entrance. As you’re walking through the park there are three trails… well four really. One goes up by the river before the falls, depending on the time of year is how far this trail goes. The main trail goes right in front of the falls, during high season you get SOAKED. Do not bring phones or electronics on this path, my friend lost his new iphone this way. They also sell rain coats and other bags to wear to stay dry but I think its such an amazing experience to just get soaked by the falls and to feel the mist hitting you. But I realize that experience is not for everyone. This path also leads to a bridge right in front of the falls, walk slowly as it is slippery when wet. It leads to an island/mountain/hill where you can get views of the Zimbabwe side of the falls, and the walkways on the Zimbabwe side. The second trail is more of a hike. It goes straight down into the first gorge to what is called the boiling point. From the bottom you can see where all the water from the falls comes together to push through a small opening. Seeing the strength of the water is truly incredible. Hiking this trail takes about 40 minutes each way. Bring water, and take breaks if needed. The third trail goes along the back of the gorge for more of a distance view of the falls. You also get a nice view of the bridge here, the one the first trail goes over, as well as the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Beware, we got to the end of the trail and there were men reaching through the fence trying to sell us bracelets, and to get us to come on a tour, it was a little creepy, so we just walked away. Another warning, on the boiling pot trail, and the last trail I discussed there are a lot of monkeys (baboons? Some sort of primate). They are known for steaking things from tourists, they’re definitely not afraid of people. DO NOT bring shop rite bags on the trail! The monkeys know that they contain food and they will be stolen from you. Hold on to your passport and wallet well when on this trail. The trails here are also not like those in America where there is a guard rail to keep you from falling off the edge of a cliff. You will fall off if you get to close to the edge and slip. I was trying to get a picture near the edge and slipped on the loose gravel and realized how easily I could have slid farther. Be careful and use common sense. The falls are highest in March-June, and lowest in October-January. High or low it is still incredible to see, it’s one of the 7 natural wonders of the earth and the pride of Zambia.
Chaminuka Game Drive
We went on an afrternoon game drive with them. It was nice, about an hour. We saw a number of different deer and antelope, and giraffes. We heard another group saw elephants but ours didn’t. Those in the group with me weren’t all that impressed with the enclosures the big cats were kept in. They had lions and cheetahs. We were told they had dozens (hundreds?) of acres to roam, but all we saw were them in a small area. We may have come at a bad time though when they were moved into smaller enclosures for a good reason I don’t know. I’d say if you’re already at Chaminuka for something else than go for it, but I wouldn’t come to Chaminuka specifically for the game drive, there are better parks.
Visit their site for more details: www.chaminuka.com
Lilayi Elephant Nursery
I’m gonna preface this by saying I did not do the game drive, or see any of the animals, besides the babies in the nursery. I simply went to see the baby elephants. They are SO cute and if you love elephants I would recommend going to see them and spending the afternoon just watching them. That being said, if you have seen elephants before and are not totally “in love” with them, maybe see what else Lilaya has to offer. The part where you see the baby elephants is just a small enclosure that you climb up into a tree house like structure to watch them. They’re very cute, and I’m glad I saw it, but it was an excursion that was given to me for free, I’m not sure I would have gone there on my own otherwise. It’s a little bit of a drive outside of main Lusaka.
Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage
This fun little destination is on the edge of Copperbelt Province, between Chingola and Solwezi. Chimfunshi takes in rescued Chimpanzees and cares for them and gives them a place to run around, climb, and just be chimps. Check out the website below for more specific information about what they do, download the booklet for prices and more specifics about the visit. I went for only one night but would recommend staying for about two. We saw everything in one day but it felt a little rushed. If you’re taking the bus from Chingola to Solwezi just tell the driver you’d like to be dropped off at the Chimfunshi turnoff and they should know the place. For about 100 extra Kwacha you can organize to have a ride for your stay. This includes pickup and drop-off from the turnoff, as well as a van to drive you around the park. The enclosures are a distance away so its worth the ride unless you really like walking and have a lot of time to kill. Its totally worth it. When leaving it is really easy to hitch on the road to either Solwezi or Chingola. There is no cell phone service at Chimfunshi, but you can buy internet at reception or just enjoy the company of those around you for a day or so! The group I went with did basic self-catering camping for the night at $15 per person. We brought tents and sleeping bags because, well, camping. When we got there we were surprised to see a large tent set up with multiple beds, mosquito nets, sheets, and pillows inside for us to “camp” inside. So it is not necessary to bring camping gear. We brought our own food and were able to use their kitchen, pots, pans, and cutlery. Just make sure you clean up after yourself as a lot of people share that space. The toilets are drop-toilet style, but have a toilet seat cover and a light inside. A fire is set up everynight so it might be fun to bring some marshmallows and chocolate to share.
We got to see three different enclosures. There are hundreds of chimps and they all seem healthy and happy. The workers are extremely knowledgeable about all the chimps, knowing their names, and any special needs they might have, I suggest picking their brains, they have a ton of good stories! We watched the chimps get fed sugar cane, and brought into the buildings to be fed lunch.
In the afternoon we were brought to the farm to meet the woman who started Chimfunshi. She’s a sweet old woman in a wheelchair that talks about how she started the program. If you have her book I would bring it to get it signed.
They also offer opportunities to do long term volunteering there. I would definitely recommend visiting Chimfunshi if you are in the Copperbelt or Northwest province visiting.
Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve
Going here was a nice, cheap, day trip from our lodge in Nkhata bay. We met our tour guide at the lodge. Normally I’d advise against just spur-of-the-moment going with the first tour guide who approaches you. It could have very easily been a fraud. But, lucky for us he turned out to be a somewhat decent guy. He picked us up from the lodge in the morning and drove us to the park. We got stuck in a giant puddle on the way and the driver needed to pay some people to help push us out. The park had beautiful scenery. Malawi is beautiful in general, but there was something special about this place. We saw one elephant, some monkeys, some deer-like creatures and hundreds of Hippos. We saw one hippo walking through the woods. I never realized how truly big hippos were until I saw this one! I thought I was in Jurassic park or something. We spotted about a hundred hippos in the lake. We got out of the car and started walking towards them. We were able to get pretty close. Our guide got closer and seemed very excited but my friend and I stopped when they looked at us and started standing up. I know I can’t outrun a hippo. We ate lunch overlooking a beautiful valley, drove around a bit more but didn’t see anything and started back. Now I would say you should go to this park if you love hippos.. but the road leading up to the park we saw a few people carrying pieces of hippo meat that had been poached. Our wonderful tour guide even stopped to see if he could buy some, and that’s when I saw a giant hippo graveyard. So the park I wouldn’t give the highest review for conservation, or variety in animal population (as it was mostly hippos). Our guide was very enthusiastic, cheap, and friendly, but his enthusiasm at buying poached hippo meat threw me off a bit. It was a nice change of pace, and a chance to leave the lodge and see more of Malawi though. I’d recommend going to Vwaza if you’re in the area, catch a nice deal, and don’t have the biggest problem with hippo poaching.
Cresta Mowana Lodge
This lodge is built around a giant Baobab tree, and is right on the Chobe River, north of Chobe National Park. All the rooms have balconies with beautiful views. You can even spot some warthogs running around. This lodge was paid for me by family that was visiting, but I’m guessing the prices are pretty steep (you can check their website below). The rooms are comfortable. They have mosquito nets, a shower, and a tub with hot water. The staff are very helpful and friendly. The lodge has a log cabin feel with thatched roofs. There is a real nice pool and balcony bar area. There is a gift shop, but everything seemed very expensive. The dining area was beautiful and the food was amazing. It is buffet style and offers different game meat every night for you to try out. The only thing I wouldn’t give 5 stars to was the spa. I only got a massage but it was very painful (although that could have been because my back was so bad), and she started massaging areas I asked her not to. But I would definitely recommend this Lodge to anyone who is visiting the northern part of Chobe park, has the money and wants to splurge on a real nice place.
Botswana – October 2017
Botswana is one of the countries I definitely want to go back to. It’s a huge country with so many places to see and I feel like I just stepped in with one foot and came back out. I was only in the Chobe area for about three or four nights. I crossed the border by boat from Zambia (near Victoria Falls on the map). Going through customs was pretty painless it took only about a half hour, I was also with a tour guide so that might have helped. Watch out for all the guys trying to sell overpriced jewelry at the border, they’ll say anything to get you to buy something. This border crossing is very interesting because at that point in the Zambezi River you can see into four different countries from the same spot (Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe).
We did three game drives through Northern Chobe; two morning drives and one afternoon drive. The park is so beautiful. We went in October, and even though it was dry season there was still plenty of life around the park, and water in the river. We saw elephants, kudu, antelope, monkeys, giraffe, zebras, hippos, a ton of birds, and even some lions. The guides we had from the lodge were very knowledgeable and friendly, and I felt they really respected the animals and their habitats.