Adventure into Zambia
A boat and walking safari to remember

From babies, our ‘crew’ of three have been fortunate to spend many amazing holidays in Africa and every visit has included a much-anticipated game-drive based safari for our dose of wildlife. After visiting Mala Mala in Kruger – renowned as the grandfather of all safari camps, where you have a 95% chance of seeing the Big Five, it seemed impossible to do ‘better’, so we decided to try ‘different’. We’ve always loved our stays at Ant’s Nest, where you can horse-ride with the game (thereby enabling you to get much closer than you would in a vehicle); so continuing in the same vein, i.e. game-viewing but not from a 4WD, this time with the children that bit older and with Grandad in tow – intent on landing a tiger fish – we opted for more of a watery safari adventure!

We set our sights on Zambia, which has more natural water resources than any other southern African nation – not surprising as it is home to the breath-taking Victoria Falls and the mighty Zambezi River. However, one of the attractions of Zambia is that it’s great in combination with neighbouring countries, so we kicked off our adventure with a two night cruise on the Chobe River in Botswana. Instead of clambering in a 4WD at sunrise, we jumped into a small tender boat to explore our wild yet pristine surroundings. In fact, we discovered that we needn’t have left our ‘Chobe Princess’ to witness some amazing sightings considering the herds of elephants that crossed in our wake, literally.

Elephants, Zambia

We travelled by boat from Botswana into Zambia at the eye-opening Kazungula crossing, where these two great nations meet Zimbabwe. Our home-from-home for the next few days was the River Farmhouse at Waterberry Lodge, which worked perfectly for our needs on this cross-generational holiday. Big fans and supporters of the work the Lodge do in the local community, we were also keen to visit the community school established by Waterberry with the help of guests – it’s safe to say it was a really inspiring place and we loved the little touches reminiscent of our school days like name pegs with pictures! With half of the Zambian population illiterate and living below the national poverty line, projects such as this underline how tourism can really change lives. We’re humbled to be a part of it in some small way and can attest to the fact that as learning experiences go, this is one which will linger for a long time in the minds of our children.

From Waterberry, we drove to Livingstone, and the ‘Smoke that Thunders’ aka Victoria Falls.

Waterfall, Zambia

The adrenaline levels kicked up a gear as we found ourselves (minus Grandpa and Imy, our youngest) holding, or in my case, clinging, onto ropes in Angels’ Pool on the edge of the precipice that is Victoria Falls – all captured for posterity of course and proof for our teens that Mum and Dad can be cool and daring!

Next, we jumped on board a 12-seater aircraft which took us to the location that I’d been dreaming about – sister camps, Anabezi & Amanzi in The Lower Zambezi National Park, home to giant Tiger Fish, and canoe adventures on the river. Whilst the boys and I climbed into our water-borne chariots, Imy managed to land a Tiger Fish that put her brothers’ offerings to shame! One for the girls definitely!

Fishing, Zambia

We were grateful for the guides in our canoes, as it was rather disconcerting being at eye-level with crocs and hippos, especially when they quietly slipped under the murky waters…The flow of the river and call of the birds soon lulled us into relaxation though and spotting an elephant at ‘ground’ level was quite a revelation!

Our watery adventure concluded, it was time for another small plane journey and our final stop – game-viewing with a difference once more, but this time on foot, in the South Luangwa, famed for its walking safaris. Staying at Flat Dogs Camp meant we had river views and the company of munching elephants at every turn, with activities either vehicle or walking-based. With a touch of trepidation, the boys set off in their trusty trainers, whilst the girls settled in at Tribal Textiles, producing a pair of cushion covers, of which we are rightly proud. It was enlightening having the opportunity to chat to the team whilst we worked – we were reliably informed that the elephants can cause havoc for the villagers and even the local remedy of chilli-filled ping-pong balls is apparently not sufficient to halt their village explorations on occasion!

It’s quite a journey to Zambia but the rewards are rich. As a cross-generational trip for a family of adventurers it was spot on and gave us ample opportunity to store away some lovely memories of a safari with Grandad, who certainly landed his Tiger Fish with aplomb. Will’s little light on his snapchat location screen showed him far from his mates, but bragging rights for our boys were many; catching one of those famous Tiger Fish, perching on the edge of Victoria Falls, canoeing with crocs and hippos, elephants drinking from our swimming pool and now walking with lions. Cool. 

About the author

Bushbaby was founded by Abi in 2004, with the aim of helping families experience authentic and memorable long-haul holidays, whilst not compromising on style and comfort when travelling with young children in tow! Abi has travelled to over 60 countries with her husband Jim (who proposed at Everest base camp) and lives in Surrey with her 3 children.

Abi Shaw - Bushbaby founder and avid explorer!

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