These are the spots where you and your favorite people can get together in complete exclusivity, without worrying about crowds, and enjoying a piece of Zambian wilderness all to yourselves. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be fending for yourselves! Quite the opposite, in fact, as the options we’ve found for you will have a team of staff, including a private chef, valet, and guide, that will be there to ensure your stay is carefree and comfortable.
If you are ready to escape civilization with your friends and family to have an unforgettable holiday together in wild Zambia, these are the places you will want to check out…
Victoria Falls and Livingstone Island
The Victoria Falls, known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya or ‘The Smoke That Thunders,’ is the world’s largest curtain of falling water and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. These impressive credentials have given the Falls iconic status and popularity among travelers who come from around the world to see them. You can take a tour around Livingstone Island, learning about its history and watching for a rainbow to shine above the Falls.
A natural plunge pool forms above the Falls and, depending on the water levels of the Zambezi River, becomes either Devil’s Pool or Angel’s Pool. Both offer daring swimmers the chance to experience a life-changing adventure that is completely safe. These are the kind of breath-taking moments that are made even more exciting when shared with friends and family.
Just a few miles upstream of the Falls sits an island retreat where you feel blissfully isolated from the rest of the world. Sindabezi Island can be booked out by small groups who would like to holiday on the Zambezi River in absolute privacy and peace. It is the only luxury bush camp in the area, with just five river-facing chalets and a relaxed main camp area that is great for kicking back and spending quality time together. Can you get anything more private than having an entire island to yourselves?
Sindabezi is barefoot luxury at its best. Eco-conscious travelers will be happy to hear that the camp is completely off-grid and runs off solar-powered electricity. From here, you can experience a good balance of adventurous and relaxing activities in the area during the day, including sunset river cruises and day safaris into Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Your own team of staff together with indoor and outdoor areas for relaxing and dining, and privately guided experiences are what place Sindabezi firmly within exclusive group travel.
Busanga Plains, northern Kafue National Park
The Busanga Plains is a hidden gem of northern Kafue National Park. There is an other-worldly feel to the area, which is characterized by seasonal floodplains that teem with antelopes, birds, and predators. Importantly, this remote wilderness is kept pristine because the safari experience here is so sustainable, with few visitors and minimal disturbance to the environment. This approach also benefits the wild residents that call it home, as well as small groups that want the privacy and tranquillity that comes along with such a secluded place.
It is known for large prides of lion that roam the grassy plains and hunt game animals of which there are plenty. Their main predator counterparts are cheetah, packs of the endangered African wild dog, and the slender serval. This Ramsar-recognised wetland system supports a variety of antelope, including the water-loving red lechwe, majestic sable, and the ever-elusive sitatunga. Look out for pods of hippo hanging about in the channels, which when water levels recede, bring out wildebeest, zebra, and buffalo. One of the best sightings is watching elephants walk out of the mist that rises from the plains each morning.
If leaving behind the busyness of life sounds like the perfect escape, then the elevated ‘Nests’ at Chisa Busanga Camp are ideal for your private safari getaways. The camp is located on a small tree-lined island and runs completely off solar power as do the game drive vehicle and mountain bikes used to explore the bush beyond. The word Chisa means ‘bird’s nest’ in the local language, and these four unique suites were inspired by the weaver bird nests that hang in the trees in the Busanga Plains.
The Nests are built four metres off the ground to give you a bird’s eye view of the plains, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your bed or private outdoor deck. You can spend as much time together as a group and in the privacy of your own nested treehouse as you wish. After spending time exploring the bush with a private guide, you can cool off in the plunge pool, watch the sunset from the camp firepit, and dine al fresco beneath a canopy of stars.
South Luangwa National Park
The southern part of the Luangwa Valley is one of the world’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries and is characterized by dramatic seasonal changes. With the onset of the summer rains, the brown and dry winter vegetation turns a dazzling green, almost overnight. The Luangwa River is the lifeblood of the South Luangwa National Park and the movements of wildlife coincide with the changing water levels and vegetation growth.
This wild and intricate ecosystem is bursting with life, like large herds of elephant and buffalo, antelope, and three endemic mammal species – Crawshay’s zebra, Thornicroft’s giraffe, and Cookson’s wildebeest. In fact, Thornicroft’s giraffe, a sub-species of giraffe, is only found in the South Luangwa. Nicknamed ‘The Valley of the Leopard’, it is well-known for having one of the highest densities of leopard in Africa, and sightings of this elusive big cat are frequent. They share the park with their carnivorous counterparts, prides of lions, African wild dogs, and spotted hyenas.
Shawa Luangwa Camp is a modern under canvas safari stay that overlooks the Luangwa River, with each tent hidden away beneath the shade, privacy, and quiet of the trees. This wilderness retreat allows small friend groups and families to enjoy exclusivity in the heart of wildest Zambia, as the bedrooms can be double or twin and two of the five couples’ tents convert into a spacious family tent. By using sustainable building methods, natural airflow and light are maximized in the tents, while the main camp area was built using the sandbag technique which significantly reduces the amount of cement needed.
Many consider a South Luangwa safari to be incomplete without a walking safari led by the much-loved Jacob Shawa, the legendary Zambian guide after whom the camp is named. But if exploring the bush by foot is not quite your thing, boat cruises on the river and solar-powered electric game drive vehicles are equally great ways to get around the park. There are incredible memories just waiting to be made while on a group safari in South Luangwa.
Why share the wilderness when you can have it all to yourselves on one of Zambia’s private safari getaways?
All images courtesy of Green Safaris.