A Zambian Mobile Walking Safari & Lake Malawi
A classic bush and beach combo based on one of Southern Africa's most unique walking safaris
From £6,340 per person, including flights within Zambia and Malawi

The South and North Luangwa National Parks are situated in Eastern Zambia, putting them close to the border with Malawi, which contains a certain famous and very large lake – were it not to contain fresh water and you had no appreciation of geography, yet stood on its shores taking in the sandy beaches, swimming, snorkeling and boating activity, you might be forgiven for thinking that Lake Malawi was indeed the sea! This itinerary shows how easy it is to enjoy a “bush and beach” holiday within the landlocked borders of Southern Africa. The Robin Pope Mobile Walking safari is showcased here (it’s one of the best walking safaris in Southern Africa), but there are many safari sequences that could precede a post-bush chillout beside the crystal-clear waters of Lake Malawi.

SEQUENCE:   Nkwali Camp  ♦  Mobile Walking Safari along the Mupamadzi River  ♦  Nsefu Camp  ♦  Lake Malawi

What's Included

  • Accommodation, meals and drinks, and all safari activities in the Luangwa Valley
  • Accommodation, meals and drinks, and non-motorised activities at Pumulani Lodge
  • All regional flights within and between Zambia and Malawi
  • Meet and greet service when transiting through Lusaka and Lilongwe Airports
  • All road transfers in the Luangwa Valley and in Malawi
  • Laundry services throughout

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1 - Arrival in Zambia

Arrive in Lusaka by air (usually from Johannesburg or Addis Ababa), then transit to an onward flight to Mfuwe, the small access airport for the South Luangwa National Park. There are usually either two or three flights to Mfuwe each day and those arriving internationally will catch either a lunchtime or late afternoon departure to Mfuwe. You’ll be met on arrival at Mfuwe and will be driven to Nkwali Camp (around 40 minutes), which overlooks the Luangwa River, in time for either afternoon tea followed by a game drive, or in time for dinner. It’s a good idea to spend two nights at Nkwali if your schedule allows, as you’ll have time to explore this area of the South Luangwa National Park on game drives and relax after your international travel in this traditional and stylish camp, before proceeding up to the Mupamadzi River for the mobile camping stage of your safari. For more detailed information on the Mobile Walking Safari, click … HERE


Overnight at Nkwali Camp on a fully inclusive basis

DAY 2 - Safari at Nkwali Camp

Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives from Nkwali, relaxing in camp in the middle of the day. The camp is located on private land in the Lupande Game Management Area, overlooking the central section of the South Luangwa National Park across the wide Luangwa River. The area offers superb game viewing and encompasses some lovely stands of acacia and ebony trees. Elephants often cross the Luangwa directly in front of the camp, or come to drink at the waterhole located very close to the thatched dining room at the back of the camp – the area is known for leopard, which sometimes roam along the river bank and can be spotted from the camp. The camp has direct access to the park throughout the year, either by boat or across the Nkwali pontoon, which is conveniently situated nearby.


Overnight at Nkwali Camp on a fully inclusive basis

DAY 3 - Commence mobile walking safari

Your walking guide will join you at breakfast, after which you will head north in a Landcruiser to start your mobile safari along the Mupamadzi River. The drive to your starting point takes you through the heart of the South Luangwa National Park, following bush tracks for around 90 kilometres, a journey that is deliberately not rushed as there is plenty to see on the way. En route to the mobile camp you’ll stop for a picnic lunch in the bush and make a stop to explore a section of petrified forest. Camp will have been set up in advance of your arrival, on a beautiful, spacious site positioned beneath two massive Winterthorn Trees.


Having settled into camp, enjoy refreshments, possibly a siesta if there’s time and you are inclined, before going out for your first walk in this corner of the park. You’ll end at a beautiful sundowner spot on the river, looking towards the Muchinga escarpment. Return to camp in the landcruiser (you cannot walk in the dark!) using the camp service track. Enjoy dinner beneath the stars in the clearing between the Winterthorn.


Overnight in comfortable, fully serviced walk-in tents on a fully inclusive basis

DAYS 4 to 7 - Mobile Walking Safari along the Mupamadzi River

The next four full days follow a similar pattern, commencing with a morning walk straight after breakfast, which is taken round the campfire just before sunrise. Watching the sun rise over the river as you sip tea or coffee and eat porridge from the poitjie pot or toast from the grill, all cooked over the Mopane wood fire, is a moment to treasure. The early morning is usually the best time to see game and these walks out from camp typically last between 3 and 6 hours, depending upon heat and the group’s inclination, with a break for tea, coffee, cake or biscuits in a shady spot.


Camp will be moved twice and you’ll usually spend one night in camp 1, then two nights in each of two encampments downstream – you tend to see more game downstream as the valley floor widens. On moving days camp is broken, transported and re-erected whilst you are out walking – you walk out from one camp and into the next, and can only marvel at the speed and efficiency of the background operation.


Each day the guide will have a route he’ll propose to follow, although very often the course of a walk changes in response to what you might encounter – there will always be much to observe, as well as to respond to. You’ll quickly learn that you become part of the ecosystem – the behaviour of animals will be in part driven by you and how you as interlopers behave. Tracking will inevitably become a feature of a walk at some point and having the opportunity to creep up on the resident pride of lions is an exhilarating experience. Even if you don’t find them, following calls, tracks and other signs, such as circling vultures, is riveting. Observing Elephant or a large herd of Buffalo that have come to the river to drink, whilst crouching or lying on a vantage point close-by, is similarly exciting.


Lunch is always taken back in camp followed by a well-earned siesta, although its easy to get wrapped up in discourse and find that lunch drifts into tea and the opportunity for siesta has disappeared – time really has little meaning up here! Enjoy an afternoon walk to another glorious sundowner spot and linger to take in the spread of stars before heading back to camp, a hot bucket shower and dinner ….. and so the cycle continues.


Overnight in comfortable, fully serviced walk-in tents on a fully inclusive basis

DAY 8 - Transfer to Nsefu Camp

After an early breakfast you’ll leave the Mupamadzi river in the Landcruiser, and transfer to the Luangwa River crossing point. This is a 4 to 5-hour drive. A few stops are made en route, the first being to quite the biggest Baobab tree you’ll likely ever set eyes upon, located on the Lundu Plain; further on, in the forest zone, a secluded dambo provides a good spot to take tea; you may be lucky and spot wildlife here and it is also a draw to birds. Enjoy a final picnic lunch with your guide on the bank of the Luangwa before you are taken to a designated crossing point where a boat will be waiting for you to ferry you across to the Nsefu sector of the park. Bid farewell to your guide!


Once across the Luangwa you’ll be driven the short distance to Nsefu Camp, which was the first game camp in Zambia, dating back to the early fifties, and which has been sympathetically restored and updated – it has a superb location overlooking a sweeping bend of the Luangwa river, in the game-rich Nsefu sector of the South Luangwa National Park. You have the option of enjoying an afternoon game drive here, although many will relish the chance to simply relax in camp, enjoy a hot shower, downtime, a siesta and very relaxed sundowners.


Overnight at Nsefu Camp on a fully inclusive basis

DAY 9 - Travel to Lake Malawi

The South Luangwa National Park lies very close to Zambia’s border with Malawi and it is easy to travel from your safari in Zambia to Lake Malawi. Following an early breakfast at Nsefu, you’ll be transferred to Mfuwe Airport in a safari vehicle, which takes around 1¼ hours. You’ll then fly to Lilongwe on a cross-border charter flight which takes 1 hour. Once through customs, you will be met in arrivals and shown through to board a seat rate air transfer flight to Monkey Bay, which takes 40 minutes. You’ll be met on arrival at Monkey Bay and be transferred directly to Pumulani Lodge by road, which takes around 20 minutes. Settle into your room overlooking the lake then enjoy refreshments and an afternoon activity.


Overnight at Pumulani (or Kaya Mawa) on a fully inclusive basis



If you would like to seek an alternative to Pumulani, we recommend Kaya Mawa Lodge, which is located on Likoma Island, halfway up Lake Malawi and close to the shoreline of Mozambique. The island is covered with mango trees and ancient baobabs, encircled by glorious sandy beaches & rocky coves. It has been rated by Condé Nast Magazine as one of the planet’s ten most romantic destinations in the world and offers a wonderful island escape.

DAYS 10 to 13 - Activities and relaxation on Lake Malawi

Pumulani Lodge is owned by Robin Pope Safaris, who also operate the mobile walking safari in the South Luangwa National Park, and who offer consistently high standards of service across their safari operations. The lodge enjoys an elevated position on the western side of the Nankumba Peninsula at the southern end of Lake Malawi. Five nights (four full days) is an ideal length of time to spend here to recharge your batteries after more than a week of dawn starts in the bush. This can be flexed or contracted according to preference of course.


There are a range of activities on offer for those who wish to do more than relax in the lodge environs, in the pool and on the beach. Out on the water, waterskiing, wakeboarding and tubing, sailing, kayaking, diving and snorkelling are all readily accessible.


The lake can be explored by boat, either very gently by joining either a morning breakfast cruise or a sunset cruise on the lodge’s 40’ traditional dhow, or more dynamically on one of the lodges’ two speedboats, which can whisk you off to secluded spots where you can jump out of the boat to snorkel or dive. For those who can sail, there are two dinghies which can be taken out onto the lake, and for those who can’t, a catamaran can be brought up to take you out for the day.


Land-based excursions are also possible – take a guided walk from the lodge up into the hills to enjoy views, as well as the wonderful birdlife. You can then walk down to the shore where a kayak will meet you for a gentle paddle back to the lodge. Or you can opt to cycle through the village and go around the point, where kayaks will again be ready to meet you.


At the end of each day, enjoy sundowners overlooking the lake, followed by an incredible night sky, with the hurricane lamps of night-fisherman being the only lights peppering the blackness of the lake.


Overnight at Pumulani on a fully inclusive basis

DAY 14 - International Departure

Enjoy a relaxed breakfast before departure. You’ll then be driven to the airstrip at Monkey Bay (around 20 minutes) where you’ll board a scheduled (seat-rate) air transfer to Lilongwe, which takes 40 minutes. Connect with your international departure – usual routes to London are either via Johannesburg or via Addis Ababa.



The whole trip was totally excellent! Angus was very patient with all our questions and worked hard to satisfy our requests. All the logistics worked very smoothly; the car, plane, boat was always on time, ready to take us to the next destination. The accommodations were all excellent, very comfortable and with outstanding service. The food was amazing! My special dietary requests were scrupulously honored. There was excellent variety in the food, generous quantities and the quality was excellent. We were amazed at the delicious meals baked in the underground ovens on our walking safari! But really the most outstanding feature of the trip was the high quality staff, especially the guides. They all knew the area really well and were very patient identifying birds for us non-birders. Jason Alfonsi, our walking safari guide, was especially amazing in his ability to track animals, identify insects, lead us to interesting plants and encourage us to try new things, like eating bits of trees and sneaking up on lions. Everyone we met was very friendly, encouraging, well-informed and professional. Probably the best indication of our enthusiastic satisfaction is the fact that we have already signed up to travel again in 2019 with Walks in Africa.

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