Sarah Kingdom Experiences The Romance Of Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park with Zambezi Grande
The Zambezi River, the fourth longest in Africa, passes through several countries and countless wonderful places on its journey from source to sea. Emerging from the ground as a tiny bubbling spring in north-western Zambia, the river passes through eastern Angola, along Namibia’s north-eastern border and the northern border of Botswana, then forms the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe, before flowing across Mozambique and ultimately emptying into the Indian Ocean.
There are countless special places along this extraordinary river, but one of my very favourites has to be Zambia’s magnificent Lower Zambezi National Park. Found on the northern banks of the Zambezi, in the southeast of Zambia, the Park is 4,092km² of pure wilderness.
Out on the river early one morning, heading downstream, towards the boundary of Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, a whirring noise indicates my husband has just made his first cast of the day. Fishing for Tigerfish is a seasonal speciality of the Zambezi River and, at least as far as my husband is concerned, is one of the best safari activities of all! Tigerfish, somewhere between a trout and a piranha on the evolutionary scale, are equipped with large bony jaws and a mouths’ full of razor-sharp teeth.
Tiger fish are renowned for their speed, agility, and strong will to fight, and catching one is always a challenge. The Lower Zambezi is any sport angler’s dream destination. Twenty minutes after his first cast, and my husband is reeling in his first catch of the day, a 15.5lbs Tiger, which is soon followed by another, this time a slightly smaller specimen, who manages to escape before weigh-in.
Not a keen fisherman myself, I’ve preoccupied myself with the surroundings and scenery. The air is full of the scent of wild jasmine and clouds of queleas fly to the mainland, from the islands where they’ve been safely roosting overnight. Crakes, geese, storks, and herons wade and feed in the shallows, a pair of skimmers fly just above the water, their orange beaks dipping into the river, and a kingfisher dives repeatedly, doing some fishing of his own.
Hippos, with their nostrils, eyes, and ears poking up above the water, check us out as we drift past, and on the riverbanks, crocodiles warm themselves in the early morning sun. Delighted with the morning’s fishing and scenery, we slowly head back to the lodge, game viewing as we go.
Zambezi Grande Private Game Experience, poised high on the banks of the Zambezi River, is a luxurious, privately owned game lodge, just minutes upstream by boat, from the Lower Zambezi National Park. Recently the lodge embarked on a total redesign at the hands of Michele Throssell Interiors, and the result is something really special – full of old-world charm and style. What had been, a private holiday home, built in a Cape Dutch style, on the banks of the Zambezi, has undergone a stunning transformation.
There are 5 stunning, free-standing Superior Suites, all with their riverfront settings, expansive verandas, outdoor showers, and beautiful finishes. In addition, 5 smaller, but no less lovely, Luxury Rooms, all with contemporary finishes, provide all the comfort you could desire on safari.
The main area of the Zambezi Grande, with its cleverly chosen furnishings and fabrics, and carefully curated antiques and accessories, has an open-plan layout, ensuring there are river views from wherever you choose to stand, sit or recline. Every detail of the lodge has been carefully considered, and the result is a beautifully designed space in a stunning location.
At night, once the sun has set and darkness has descended, the magic of Zambezi Grande really comes to life and the lodge becomes an enchanting escape. We sat by the fire pit, drink in hand, and a blanket of stars overhead, and listened to the sounds of the wild all around us.
An elephant trumpeted, a hippo splashed, a hyena called, an owl hooted, and the crickets and cicadas buzzed and chirped. Gradually the world around us grew quiet. It was the perfect end, to a perfect day, in a perfect place.
The next morning, we were up early again, but this time not to fish. We are heading into the park itself for a game drive. We head downstream in the boat, heading for the park and our waiting game drive vehicle. The dramatic folds and wrinkles of the Zambezi escarpment flatten out as they come down towards the river and against this spectacular mountain backdrop, we pass islands and sandbanks. Migratory Carmine Bee-eaters swoop overhead, and a herd of elephants crosses the river in front of us.
We pass an island where two old male buffaloes have been trapped for months by the high waters and the threat of crocodiles. On another island, three similarly stranded female waterbucks look somewhat longingly toward the mainland. A pod of hippos stands on the riverbank, catching the morning rays, but seeing us approaching, they splash back to the safety of the deep water.
Leaving the boat behind we head off in our game drive vehicle. The Winterthorn forest is full of impressively horned, male waterbuck, kudu, with their trademark corkscrew horns, and herds of skittish impala. Monkeys jumped from tree to tree, while baboons foraged and groomed one another on the forest floor.
Further on 6 lions lay in the shade, crunching on the left-over bones of a waterbuck, the spoils of a busy night. Rounding another corner, we find a fallen Winterthorn tree that has attracted a herd of 20 or 30 elephants, who feast on the leaves, bark and twigs as we wait and watch.
It’s wonderful to watch so many elephants together; big and small, adults, adolescents, and babies, females and males, matriarchs, and bulls, all brought together by the unexpected feast of greenery. It’s a memorable moment and we head off in search of other wildlife, it’s one we won’t forget in a hurry.
Lower Zambezi National Park is one of Zambia’s best-kept secrets. The beauty of this place is that you can have it all in one place – game drives and walks, boat trips and fishing in the daytime, sundowners in style at sunset, and dining under a sky of unending stars at the end of the day – does life get much better than this?
Tell Me More About Zambezi Grande Private Game Experience
Zambezi Grande is a luxurious, privately owned game lodge on the banks of the Zambezi River, a short boat ride from the Lower Zambezi National Park. Zambezi Grande is the perfect destination for those seeking a 5-star escape with untamed safari experiences.
Activities on offer at Zambezi Grande include game drives, walking safaris, fishing, river safaris and cultural village visits, or relaxing by the infinity pool and watching the river flow by. Highlights of a stay include a sundowner cruise on the river, fabulous ‘bush dinners’, or indulging in an open-air massage at the riverside Spa.
+27 (0) 31 582 8315 (Reservations)
+26 (0) 970 839 287 (WhatsApp – Weekdays Only)
+26 (0) 779 998 211 (WhatsApp – Weekend Enquiries or Emergencies)
Rates start from:
Off-peak season 01 April – 30 June – Superior suite @ $700 per person sharing per night
Luxury room @ $550 per person sharing per night
Peak season 1 July – 30 November – Superior Suite @ $850 per person sharing per night
Luxury room @ $700 per person sharing per night
Zambezi Grande is currently offering a SPECIAL – ‘Stay 4 Pay 3 Deal’ and a ‘Stay 7 Pay 5 Deal’.