Walk of Life
A Zambian company invests in the protection of South Luangwa National Park and its surrounding communities, all while creating the premier destination for wildly authentic walking safaris. By Haley Beham
There is scarcely a place in Africa as simultaneously wild and untamed as Zambia.
The nearly 300,000-square-mile nation boasts 20 national parks, yet only a fraction of the tourists seen in its neighboring countries. With plentiful wildlife and a reputation for the continent’s top guides, a safari in Zambia is as authentic as they come.
South Luangwa National Park is relatively untouched by man and employs fierce conservation practices. As a result, it’s teeming with wildlife. The Luangwa River is the lifeblood of the park, with large numbers of a variety of species, including zebras, lions, elephants and Africa’s highest concentration of leopards gathering around its tributaries and oxbow lagoons.
The best way to experience this pristine corner of the world is on a walking safari. Here in one of the world’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries, the wilderness is so unspoiled, it’s as if you’re blazing trails for the first time. And no one delivers a better walking safari in this unsung destination than The Bushcamp Company.
Founded in 1999 by Zambia native Andy Hogg and Italian-Malawian Andrea Bizzaro, The Bushcamp Company offers intimate safaris spread throughout the southern portion of the park in remote locations far from other tourists. From a main lodge to six exclusive bush camps (each accommodating no more than eight guests), the result is a highly personalized experience.
Mfuwe Lodge is The Bushcamp Company’s award-winning 18-chalet heart, set in an area of the park renowned for its prolific game. Giraffes, hippos, buffalo, antelopes and crocodiles are frequent visitors to Mfuwe’s lagoon, just below the lodge. But it’s best known for a group of local elephants that walks up the stairs and through the lobby every November to get to the wild mangoes growing nearby. Herds of these curious and seemingly friendly elephants can reach up to 70 strong, a number that speaks to the park’s conservation practices.
Each of The Bushcamp Company’s six unique bush camps tastefully blends luxury with a traditional aesthetic that celebrates the spirit of safari pioneers. Chamilandu’s chalets, for example, are set on stilts, while Bilimungwe’s lie under majestic mahogany trees and embody the feeling of a slow safari. Chindeni is set on the edge of a permanent lagoon and has won awards from Condé Nast Traveler as a top resort, not only in Africa, but the world. The camps are stylish, but the main focus is on the guides and safari experience itself.
“Wear an Ele. Help save an elephant.”
Created by Andy Hogg, The ELE Collection was inspired by the elephants that walk through Mfuwe Lodge each November in search of wild mangoes. Each pendant can be customized with ethically-sourced diamonds, rubies, Zambian emeralds, silver and gold.
Proceeds from the jewelry sales fund two different projects: Conservation South Luangwa’s wildlife programs, including anti-poaching programs, de-snaring, aerial surveillance and detection dogs; and The Bushcamp Company’s “Commit to Clean Water” project in the local community.
The camps all lie within 60 miles of Mfuwe Lodge. They’re the only properties in the area, so you won’t see any other vehicles traversing the region. Intrepid travelers can also make a walking circuit between the camps.
South Luangwa National Park offers a diversity of experiences from canoeing to night drives. And while game drives are on offer to round out your experiences at each camp, the main event takes place on foot. Their motto, "From a vehicle you see Africa. On foot you feel, hear and smell Africa," shapes their approach to the safari.
The guiding principle of The Bushcamp Company is a commitment to the wildlife and the people in South Luangwa. Since its beginning, The Bushcamp Company has made it a priority to provide tourism’s benefits to the people of Zambia and to educate them on the benefits of conservation.
Currently, The Bushcamp Company sponsors, funds and organizes projects that promote better education, health and employment for the people living in the remote areas around the properties. They sponsor students, pay teachers’ salaries and have built classrooms and staff housing. In addition to sponsoring 350 local schoolchildren, they feed more than 2,000 students each day, which has contributed to improved concentration, energy and overall health. They even take local children on game drives. Is there a better way to teach children about the benefits of conservation than showing them the purpose?
The company’s commitment to Zambians doesn’t end there. In 2014, it started the “Commit to Clean Water” project to drill boreholes in remote villages to provide safe, clean drinking water. They support a tree-planting program which adds approximately 500 trees a year; they raise funds to assist anti-snaring patrols through the sale of curios made by local craftsmen from snare-wire retrieved from the bush; it employs solar technology throughout its properties; and it donated a light aircraft used for surveillance and monitoring to Conservation South Luangwa, a privately-funded charitable organization that works with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife to reduce the conflict between humans and wildlife.
The Bushcamp Company’s impact on the local wildlife and communities of South Luangwa National Park is far-reaching, resulting in a wildlife sanctuary that continues to offer an unrivaled safari experience for generations to come.
Pro Tip: Download The Bushcamp Company's app before your trip for photographs, sounds, and facts about the wildlife of South Luangwa National Park. dykapp.com - Haley Beham, Web Marketing Coordinator