LUANGWA VALLEY, ZAMBIA (09/0) – In the 1950’s, Norman Carr, a tireless conservationist, pioneered walking safaris in Zambia’s Luangua National Park, a concept that today has been embraced in other countries, but the best is still found here. His legacy continues with Norman Carr Safaris, a company with a main lodge – Kapani – and four Bush Camps. Together, they combine sophisticated luxury and the simple rustic life of the bush.
Kapani, which means “place of mopane trees,” was built by Carr in 1986 and was his home until his death in 1997. It is located on an ox-bow lagoon and houses 20 guests in ten luxury suites, each with its own lounge and en-suite bathroom. Two lagoon houses with spacious rooms, elegant furnishings and private views are ideal for honeymooners. All beds have overhead fans and walk-in mosquito netting. A thatched building in the center includes a lounge that is cool in the hot months and warm and cozy in the cool ones. There is also a library filled with books on African wildlife and a large swimming pool for exercise or relaxing.
All dining is al fresco with panoramic views of the bush and the lagoon where game comes to drink. During the day, guests may simply relax in the comfort of a teak and canvas camp chair on the lawn, venture out on foot with a personal guard, or be driven in open safari vehicles to see an unspoiled Africa.
Norman Carr knew that to go on foot on a safari means that one instantly becomes part of the surroundings as all five senses come into play. There is a special exhilaration to being in an area with no roads or people – just wilderness.
The four Norman Carr Safari Camps have been set up so that a walk from one to the next is conducted at a non-strenuous pace with a fully qualified guide and armed game scout. The camps are rustic and situated in remote areas but they are comfortable and great for those who want to truly “get back to nature.” Guests may also opt to stay at one camp only.
Luwi Camp is made up of four grass and thatched bamboo chalets with polished mud floors on the banks of a permanent lagoon, usually filled with hippos. Deep within the Luangwe wilderness, wildlife is instantly visible from the camp. Meals are served al fresco with lunch under a shady tree and dinner under the stars.
Nsolo Camp is a very romantic camp next to a waterhole in the shade of a large grove of trees. Just three hours walk from Luwi, four open-front rooms are on a raised wooden platform with thatched roofs, en-suite bathrooms, and private verandas. Meals are served in the open and often are accompanied by the sight of wild life drinking at the waterhole.
At the confluence of the Luwi and Luangwa Rivers lies Kakuli Camp which contains five traditional walk-in tents with thatched roofs. A chitenga, an open-front tent with wide views of the river, contains the bar and dining area and is a great place to relax. Deep in the bush on an elevated stretch of river bank overlooking a wide grazing lawn, there is always the feeling that something exciting is about to happen. And most of the time it does. The views here are spectacular.
Mchenja is Zambia’s premier bushcamp and takes luxury to a level not usually found in the Bush. Set beneath a magnificent grove of ebony trees (Mchenja means “ebony tree”), five stylishly designed tents have thatched roofs, private en-suite shower and bathroom facilities. The camp overlooks a huge sweeping bend in the Luangwa. There is a small pool alongside the bar within the main chitenje which is built around one of the fallen Mchenja trees,. Guests seek cool refuge here during the heat of the day.
The great news is Mchenge is now open January 21 to March 31, during the Green Season. This is fast becoming an exciting time to be in the South Luangwe. While rivers are brimming and there is the occasional rain shower, game is plentiful and it is a superb time for photography.
Rates are $450 for a standard room at Kapani and $490 for one of the lagoon houses in the peak season. In the green season, the standard rooms are $370 and the lagoon houses, $400. The camps, open from June 1 to October 31, are $450, with only Mchenge open in the green season at $400. Rates are per person, per night, double occupancy and include accommodation, meals, airport transfers from Mfuwe, soft drinks, house wine, all game viewing activities, national park fees, laundry, and service. Norman Carr Safaris will also arrange safari packages from seven to ten days which could include stays in Livingstone. For additional information or reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 011-260-6-246015. The web site is www.normancarrsafaris.com