Zambia & Malawi: River Safari and Beach Adventure | Fauna Travel

Zambia & Malawi: River Safari and Beach Adventure

Cruise on the Zambezi at Chiawa Camp / Courtesy of Chiawa Camp

11 Days

This 11-day safari itinerary takes you to two of Zambia’s great rivers, the Zambezi and the Luangwa, for one of the best wildlife experiences in Southern Africa. Zambia is the home of the walking and canoe safari, which immerses you directly into the wild like no other activity can. End your safari on the blue-water beaches of Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. It’s an ideal trip for couples or honeymooners looking for a wild and romantic safari adventure.

Zambia often flies under the radar but is a perennial favorite of true safari connoisseurs. It is one of Africa’s safest and most affordable safari destinations, and the wildlife experience is unparalleled. Zambian itineraries start in either Lusaka or Livingstone, which can be accessed via direct flights from Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, or Dubai. If you have additional time, we suggest starting your journey with two nights at Victoria Falls.

Day 1-3: Lower Zambezi National Park

Camp: Chiawa Camp

Arrive in Lusaka from your international flight in the morning and make the short air transfer to Lower Zambezi National Park. Take a short game drive from Jeki airstrip to Chiawa Camp, one of Africa’s finest family-run safari camps. 

Chiawa Camp / Courtesy of Chiawa
Chiawa Camp / Teagan Cuniffe / Courtesy of Chiawa

Chiawa has an excellent commitment to sustainability with an eye towards understated luxury. Safari tents include large four-poster beds and large decks with shallow plunge pools. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing in your tent before a sunset cruise along the Zambezi River. There is no better way to end your first day on safari than with a cocktail, watching herds of elephants drinking along the river.

Wake before dawn for breakfast and your safari activity of choice. The Lower Zambezi is an adventurous wildlife lover’s dream and the world’s most exciting canoeing destination. Expert guides can paddle you downriver for close-up encounters with elephants and other wildlife. Off the water, you can also enjoy game drives and walking safaris. The park has large herds of elephants and buffalo, along with predators such as lions, leopards, and wild dogs. 

Explore the park for two days. On your last night, consider booking the Chiawa Star Bed, perched high above the Zambezi River.

Day 4-6: South Luangwa National Park

Camp: Time + Tide Luwi

Luwi Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia / Courtesy of Time + Tide
Leopard near Luwi Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia / Courtesy of Time + Tide

Depart early on your scheduled flight north to South Luangwa National Park. Upon arrival at Mfuwe Airport, drive two hours deep into South Luangwa National Park. Time + Tide Luwi Camp is a simple yet elegant tented camp located under tall mahogany trees along a dry riverbed in a remote area of the park. Aside from the guests in the four tents, you will likely not see anyone else around.

This remoteness makes it our favorite camp to base walking safaris in South Luangwa. You will see elephants on foot and can photograph hippos in the nearby oxbow lake. There is also a high chance of seeing leopards. The Luangwa Valley is called the “Valley of the Leopard” because it has one of the highest densities of the big cats in Africa. Game drives are also available at the camp, but the skill of the Zambian guides gives you the flexibility to leave the vehicle and follow a lion on foot if you come across fresh tracks.

Luwi Camp is rustic but stylishly decorated, and you will appreciate a cold bucket shower and a comfortable bed on a hot Zambian afternoon. After two nights in camp, consider spending your final night sleeping in the bush under the stars again before departing the next day.

Day 7-11: Likoma Island, Lake Malawi

Hotel: Kaya Mawa

Sailing at Kaya Mawa / Courtesy of Green Safaris luxury Malawi beach resort
Lake Malawi at Kaya Mawa / Courtesy of Green Safaris

After breakfast, enjoy a final game drive through the park on your way back to Mfuwe Airport. From there, fly to Lilongwe, the capital of neighboring Malawi. After clearing customs, board your charter flight to Likoma Island in the northern section of Lake Malawi. 

The crystal blue waters of the massive lake are home to a diverse array of fish and one luxuriously bohemian beach resort, Kaya Mawa. Spend the next four days on the island, relaxing under the baobabs along the quiet white sand beach.

Kaya Mawa provides a range of aquatic activities to fill your days, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and fishing. Lake Malawi has no elephants or hippos so you can swim anywhere without concern. If you prefer a more laid-back experience, you can unwind at the restaurant or spa or simply lounge on your deck while enjoying the picturesque waters. Additionally, we suggest taking a self-guided bike tour of the island, allowing you to explore at your own pace and interact with the friendly locals.

Day 11: Departure

Return to Lilongwe on a charter flight in the morning. From there, continue to Lusaka, Zambia, for your international flight home.

Contact us to start planning your journey into the wild.

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