A long weekend at Flatdogs in Luangwa Valley
The power of the engines boosted us into the air and we were on our way to Mfuwe Airport the gateway to Luangwa Valley in Zambia. We were lucky enough to get a direct flight from Ndola Airport – a short one hour flight to the middle of the bush.
It was a first class experience on the 18-seater Proflight, as we were quickly whisked off the aircraft and reunited with our Flatdogs safari lodge guide and driver.
Flatdogs Camp in South Luangwa National Park
The sun was setting and we could see the orange light burning through the gaps in the trees as we made our way to the Flatdogs camp. Within 45 minutes, we were delivered directly to our chalet and given a safety and orientation briefing. It was important to remember that we should only walk to and from the bar/restaurant at night with a guard, because wild animals roam around the camp. All we had to do was shine a torch outside and a guard would escort us to the bar. The two-bedroom chalet felt more like a house as the four of us shared a kitchen and had two dining areas. Mum and I took the bedroom upstairs with the view of the Luangwa River – a highlight was drinking our morning coffee in two reclining chairs watching the monkeys and birds from the comfort of our room. My sister and her husband took the ground floor en-suite room.
Extensive Food Choices in Flatdogs Camp
The Flatdogs menu was extensive and impressive – we enjoyed halloumi and salad starters, chicken burgers and steak. The steak was juicy and perfectly cooked, and the pasta dishes were excellent. If you had the space, you could have ordered a chocolate brownie and ice cream. How they offer so much choice in the middle of the wilderness is astounding.
(For food lovers, visit our local Zambian food blog page)
After dinner drinks were served in a spacious open-air bar – a great selection of South African wines won’t disappoint. We managed to drink the bar dry of our favourite rose – although this says more about our wine-loving fellow travellers than the camp’s wine stocks!
Plans were devised for the following day, half of us went on the village tour, and the other half decided to go on the early morning game drive that leaves at 5:30am.
Chundu Village Tour – authentic village life experience
Flatdogs support Chundu Village, as part of their CSR activity and all donations help towards building wells and boreholes. The village was an hour away and we were greeted by the head of the village, Edmond Chundo and introduced to the group leaders. It was the warmest welcome ever with big smiles and excited children running around as they showed us how to cook the traditional nshima dish (maize meal) and we got a glimpse into one of their round huts with handmade beds. It was remarkably cool in the hut made out of mud with a thatched roof – it was a cool respite from the 32-degree heat.
After our tour, we were treated to a traditional dance with singing and drums – the joy and rhythm was enchanting and a real highlight of the trip. The energy and enthusiasm is infectious and before we knew it, we were dancing very badly with them.
Back on the road to Flatdogs camp we stopped to take a photo of two women at their well.
Project Luangwa: Support National Park Communities
Along the same road, we made time to visit Project Luangwa, this charitable organisation was set up by some of the major safari operators in the vicinity of the South Luangwa national park , to help off-set some of the challenges between wildlife and poor subsistence farmers, who can see their crops devastated overnight. The organisation also aims to help the local community in and around South Luangwa improve their economic prospects through developing schools; supporting girls and boys by encouraging both self-esteem and self-reliance; providing training facilities and helping to get more children into school through sponsorship.
Good Cause Shopping in South Luangwa
In true style, we managed to squeeze in some shopping for a good cause on the way back to camp. I bought some beautiful linen at Tribal Textiles – ethically handcrafted home décor that supports local wildlife conservation.
You can’t leave Luangwa Valley without stopping at Mulberry Mongoose. The Mulberry Mongoose workshop is not far away from Tribal Textiles – a fascinating experience as you can watch local craftswomen use snare wire recovered from poaching traps to create jewellery designs inspired by the African bush. Each jewellery purchase supports the courageous team and their families, and raises funds for local conservation efforts to protect the incredible Zambia's wildlife. A shop less ordinary indeed.
Spotted Wildlife in Luangwa Valley
And after a rather busy day, an indulgent late afternoon poolside session ensued, with a five star drinks service. I got acquainted with a screwdriver – a cocktail made up of vodka and orange juice - perfect in the heat.
Our friends in the other group excitedly told us about their early morning game drive. We thought they were making it up… as they regaled stories of seeing a leopard and her cup, lions, wild dog, giraffes and loads of other game.
An unforgettable wildlife safari
When we managed to get up early and go on an early morning game drive we saw some rare wildlife sightings. A suckling baby warthog with her mother and a baby Thornicroft giraffe with wobbly legs, our guide told us that the giraffe was only a few days old. The evening drive was magical but I won’t tell all since you have to come to Luangwa Valley and see it for yourself !
Sadly it was time to head home the trip was not long enough. I will be back!
Tanya Willliams, December 2021
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