Other types of trips
There's a lot of hype about mobile walking safaris. Perhaps images of Livingstone or Stanley striding through deepest Africa with an entourage of trusty porters and guides are to blame. I don't know. But these days, let's be honest, it is somewhat different. The term 'mobile safari' is overused.
It used to mean that you set off with all your kit on the backs of porters and camped where you stopped. Think, for a moment, of the consequences of this. You'll realise that it resulted in either very basic camping stops with few facilities, or more comfortable camps requiring a safari of enormous cost. It also required total freedom to camp where you like, which is now limited and controlled by the National Parks Board for very good reasons.
Although the term 'mobile safari' is often abused, there is one operation in the Luangwa that comes close to running a proper mobile operation and that is Robin Pope's Mobile Safaris.
In Africa, the term 'fly-camp' usually means a simple campsite with a camp fire and a small, very simple tent. This is obviously a far cry from the luxurious en-suite tents of most modern safari camps – but camping like this out in the bush, with nothing around you apart from the darkness, does have a real appeal for many cosseted travellers. They're ideal for the thrill of no-frills camping in the bush; there's certainly no better way to get close to the wildlife at night.
Lodges have operated fly-camps in some areas of Africa for years – most notably the Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania – but they're new to the Luangwa for 2004. As they start, there's only one company offering them, though it's likely that others will follow suit in time.
River safaris are only possible around February to April, depending on the water level in the Luangwa River; then this is the only way to get around most of the park. See When to go, in Chapter 5, for more comment on the wet season – but from that you'll realise that the rain is usually in short, sharp late-afternoon bursts. The rest of the day is often sunny – for photographers the clarity and quality of the light is simply amazing. So if you've been on safari quite a bit, but only seen the Luangwa (or southern Africa) in the dry season, you should to make a trip during the rains. The place comes alive with animals and plants you just don't see in the dry season, and the birdlife is phenomenal. You won't see the density of animals that you'll find in October, but you will have some amazing sights – like the Nsefu stork colony in full flow.
Only one operation runs river trips at the moment: