It lies in the scenic river valley between rolling hills of a hazy escarpment and the mighty Zambezi River. On this remote section, the river has calmed down after its hectic journey over the Victoria Falls and through the Kariba Dam and now flows calmly but insistently towards Mozambique and the sea. The river acts as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and on the south bank opposite the Lower Zambezi National Park, is Zimbabwe's equally wild Mana Pools National Park. The park has three main habitats: the riverbanks overhung with a thick fringe of foliage and large mahogony acacia and 'upside down' baobab trees; inland floodplains lined with mopane forest and interspersed with winterthorn trees and reed islands harboring a myriad of wildlife; escarpment hills covered in broadleaf woodland. The park covers a wide area but the escarpment acts as a kind of barrier keeping most animals in the bottom of the valley. This park is so beautiful that it is hard to know which to admire more, the scenery or the animals.
There are some impressive opportunities in this park, to get close to animals from a canoe or boat. Most large mammals in the national park congregate on the floodplain, including buffalo, numerous elephants, lions, leopards and many antelope, crocodiles and hippopotamuses. Baboons and vervet monkeys thrive here with their main enemy being the leopard. Bird watchers will be thrilled at the colorful array of birds including kingfishers, lovebirds, parrots and hornbills, and also upon hearing the distinctive 'cry of Africa' from majestic fish eagles. Fishing is very popular in the Zambezi and the 'striped river dog' or tiger fish, attracts anglers from all over the world. They can be caught on fly, spinner or bait. The best time to visit the park is mid season from June to September, but all lodges and canoeing operators are open from April to November. Kayila lodge is open all year. Fishing is at its best in September / October.
How to get there
The existing lodges and canoeing operators provide the best access to the park. They all offer pick-ups from either Lusaka or Chirundu or Kariba in Zimbabwe. The Chongwe River demarcates the western boundary of the park and can be accessed from Chirundu along a rough road (4x4 recommended), crossing the Kafue River by pontoon just beyond Gwabi Lodge. From April there will be a pontoon that crosses the Zambezi from Luangwa Town to Kanyemba in Zimbabwe and to Zumbo in Mozambique.
1. Kayila Safari Camp is on the Zambian bank of the Zambezi River in its own 10,000Ha private concession, overlooking the Mana Pools National Park.
2. Ana Tree Lodge is located within the National Park.
3. Mvuu Tented Lodge located in an attractive setting on the banks of the Zambezi is a fully catered camp with the option of self catering.
4. Kanyema Lodge is the newest lodge in this area. Five bungalows and the romantic honeymoon suite forming the lodge are discretely located on the river bank under the shadow of wild mangoes and huge trees.
5. Sausage Tree Camp offers superb comfort in a rustic setting on the banks of the River.
6. Chongwe River Camp is found at the Chongwe River and Zambezi confluence, opposite Mana Pools.
7. Kasaka River Lodge is a beautifully situated lodge on a raised section of the Zambezi River bank with excellent views.
8. Kiambi Safari developed an eco-sensitive camp situated near the confluence of the Kafue and Zambezi Rivers.
9. Redcliff Zambezi Lodge is sited on the banks of the lower Zambezi much further down, beyond the eastern edge of the park.
10. Chiawa is located right on the banks of the Zambezi River, in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park and with the mountains of the Zambian Escarpment as backdrop; it is difficult to imagine a more idyllic setting for a safari camp.
11. Kulefu Camp is positioned deep in the game-rich Lower Zambezi National Park and overlooks one of the permanent channels of the legendary Zambezi River.
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