Thursday, November 21, 2013

Green Season in the Zambezi Valley

Ask most guides which National Park is their favorite and they will usually name the first park in which they worked because every wild place has it's own unique signature of sight's and sound's which are powerful reminders to us of the time we discovered our true calling. For me, that place has always been the Lower Zambezi Valley, which is still one of the few truly wild places left in Africa. From it's towering escarpments to the tangled jesse bush in the valley floor- it's wide sand rivers and seemingly endless floodplains- it all frames, what is undoubtably, the most beautiful river on earth.

Returning here always feel's like coming home for me and one of my favorite camps to visit is the Royal Zambezi Lodge on the Zambian side of the river, just above Lower Zambezi National Park. It is one of those rare places that manages to be a lodge that feels like a camp- it offers all the whistles and bells like a coffee bar, wi-fi, spa treatments and restaurant quality food but manages to retain an intimate feel, thanks to it's friendly management and excellent guides. 

One other member of the team you are sure to meet is a bull elephant, called Yale, who has made the camp his home and is usually to be found mooching around in the late afternoon. On my last visit, some of my guests got trapped in the shop for an hour while he stood outside delicately picking pods off the roof, which is certainly one way to boost sales! He has also been known to startled bathers who are enjoying the privacy of their plunge pool only to suddenly discover, what seems to be a large grey suction pipe, draining the water out from under them- (it seems he has developed a taste for filtered, chlorinated water!) Royal Zambezi is one of the few camps the Zambezi Valley that remains open all season, so if you are contemplating a trip in the green season this would be an excellent place to start.

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