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Zambia Safari

Mwaleshi Camp

North Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Mwaleshi is a walking safari bush camp in North Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Return to North Luangwa Camps & Lodges                     Image © Remote Africa Safaris

View images of Mwaleshi Camp: Mwaleshi Images

MWALESHI CAMP RATES: Mwaleshi Camp Rates

Mwaleshi Camp is situated on a scenic bend of the Mwaleshi River, a clear water perennial stream feeding the Luangwa river in North Luangwa National Park, a remote area of Zambia renowned for its large population of lion, huge herds of buffalo and endemic Cookson's Wildebeest. The remoteness of the North Park is enhanced by the lack of roads. Miles from anywhere, the outside world melts away as nature surprises, delights and soothes the senses.

This remote and rustic camp is for the safari enthusiast who wants to feel the earth beneath their feet. Game viewing at Mwaleshi is only on foot, led by a highly skilled and armed ranger, but bring a bathing suit for the occasional refreshing dip in the Mwaleshi at the Mwaleshi Falls.

The North Luangwa and Mwaleshi are not for everyone, but for those seeking a true wilderness experience in a remote and intimate safari camp, under the guidance of some of Zambia's most experienced 'bush folk', it's hard to imagine a camp more perfect than Mwaleshi.

The North Luangwa National Park is a 35 minute flight from Tafika or 45 from Mfuwe. Notable differences to South Luangwa are the remoteness (very unlikely to encounter other visitors), large population of lions and hyenas, and the beautiful clear Mwaleshi river in which you can safely bathe.

Mwaleshi Camp is seasonally operated from 15 June to 31 October.

Accommodation            For images of Mwaleshi Camp, click Mwaleshi Images
Mwaleshi is a grass pole bush camp which accommodates up to eight guests in four thatched reed chalets. The four chalets are hand built and finished with local reeds in hues of orange and gold in harmony with their surroundings.

The walls at Mwaleshi Camp are built only half way up and are then open to the ceiling, giving that inside/outside feel. The chalets contain large comfortable beds and en-suite flush toilets but no running water, which is provided in jugs for use in hand basins. There are two shared use showers with views across the river and if you have never tried an outdoor shower, you will love the feeling.

There is no electricity in camp and lighting is provided by solar storm lanterns but the sun does provide power for refrigeration.

All the chalets at Mwaleshi Camp look towards the Mwaleshi River where the presence of hippos is announced by charismatic grunting. The nights in the Luangwa are pure magic - secure beneath cool cotton sheets and a mosquito net, you are lulled into deep sleep by distant lion grunts and hyena whoops fading into the night.

Staff and Dining
Mwaleshi boasts an excellent manager/guide, bush chef, armed escort scout and a well trained camp staff.

Meals include an early morning light buffet before departing on your morning game viewing activity, a buffet lunch and a delicious dinner under the night skies in the company of fellow guests and guides. After dinner, guests usually gather for drinks around the fire to conclude the day.

Game Walks
All safaris at Mwaleshi Camp are conducted on foot, which is the traditional way of exploring the area. Excellent guides lead the way through this scenic area bisected by the Mwaleshi River and one travel writer rated a swimming trip to the Mwaleshi Falls as one of the 'Top highlights in Zambia'.

With virtually no roads in the entire North Luangwa National Park, almost all game-viewing is done on foot, accompanied by a highly skilled guide and an armed game scout. Guests should not expect to see as much game as they would at camps offering game-drives, but the encounters are more intimate, and the sense of wilderness unrivalled. The birding here is also fantastic.

All safaris are led by very experienced guides - dedicated conservationists with a special talent for sharing their love of the bush with others.

Bangweulu Swamps
Trips to the Bangweulu Swamps, famous for the Shoebill Stork and thousands of Black Lechwe can be organized from Mwaleshi Camp.

The Luangwa Valley
The beautiful Luangwa River is the source of water for most of the wildlife in the Luangwa ValleyThe Luangwa Valley is a beautiful, mostly untouched wildlife sanctuary in the heart of Southern Africa. It is an extension to the Great East African rift valley, the main arm of which runs to the east of Zambia, containing Lake Malawi. The Luangwa River rises from the dramatic Mafinga Mountains in the northeastern corner of Zambia, which reach up to 7,500 ft above sea level. The flat-bottomed valley runs from northeast to southwest and is clearly defined to the west by the beautiful Muchinga escarpment.

All in all, the ecology of the Luangwa Valley is extraordinary.

Dramatic seasonal variations, a dynamic river system, fertile soils, lush vegetation, prolific wildlife, a perpetual contest between the elements, hunter and prey. These are the inter-related ingredients that comprise the Luangwa Valley and engender its unique atmosphere. This is classic Africa.

The valley experiences two distinct seasons, the Dry Season from May to November, and the Green Season from December to April.

The Green Season: The build up of huge banks of cumulus clouds brings an atmosphere of excitement and promise to the valley. When these life-giving clouds break the tension by spilling their bounty over the parched landscape the relief is vibrantly tangible. Almost overnight the valley is transformed into fresh green parkland and there is an overwhelming sense of regeneration. Temperatures fall away from their October peaks.

By March, the entire valley has been completely transformed. The meagre stream has become a brown, surging torrent 200 metres wide, the deciduous woodland is luxuriantly green, the grassland is almost impenetrably dense and the impressive concentrations of elephant, buffalo and hippo disperse over a large area. Most of the valley becomes waterlogged and inaccessible. The spectrum of bird life has also changed. In October and November a number of migrants arrive, contributing new colour and sound to their summer haven. Heronries abound and the yellow billed storks form a spectacular breeding colony containing several hundred nests.

The Dry Season: By May the last rains have fallen and the blue sky is clear but for a smattering of puffy white clouds. Ground water is still plentiful and the vegetation is thick, but areas that have been unreachable throughout the rains now start to become accessible. During June and July temperatures fall to their lowest, although they would rarely go below 10/11 degrees Centigrade. The days are glorious - warm and sunny. Thereafter the thermometer rises until the heat is alleviated by the onset of the next rains, which usually arrive in November.

October is normally the hottest month with maximum temperatures of about 37 degrees Centigrade. There is virtually no precipitation during this season and by October virtually all outlying water has dried up. The valley's herbivores are irresistibly attracted to the riverine belt and endure great hardship during their agonizing wait for the fresh rains. It is a time of plenty for the carnivores and the concentration of game around the river makes for particularly good game viewing.

Cookson's Wildebeest, a species endemic to the Luangwa Valley in Zambia
The Luangwa is home to most of the big game - lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and hippo are abundant. It is notable for two endemic species: Thornicroft's Giraffe and Cookson's Wildebeest. Cheetahs have been recorded but are rare. Black rhino, although once common, are sadly no longer seen. There are few, if any, rivers in Africa that contain such a high concentration of hippos and crocodiles. Night drives reveal many fascinating mammals including civet, genet, mongooses, bushbaby, serval, porcupine and aardvark.

Over 400 hundred species of birds have been recorded in the Luangwa. Close to Mwaleshi, specials include White winged babbling starlings and Fulleborn's Longclaw. At Tafika (sister camp to Mwaleshi located in South Luangwa National Park) the large flocks of Crowned Cranes and the Yellow billed stork breeding colony are incredible sights. Pel's fishing owls and Bat hawks are also regularly seen.

The Owners
John Coppinger
John Coppinger was born and raised in Zambia, educated in Zimbabwe and then worked his way round the globe from the diamond mines of South West Africa (now Namibia) to the oilfields of the North Sea and Iran. He returned to Zambia in 1984 to pursue his lifelong dream to work with wildlife. After 12 years of working in the Luangwa Valley he and his wife Carol created Remote Africa Safaris in 1995. Their two children, Christine and Jenny, were both born and raised in the Luangwa Valley and Tafika Camp in South Luangwa remains their home.

Carol Coppinger
Carol Coppinger was born and raised in South Africa. She qualified firstly as a Radiographer and subsequently attained a Computer Science degree. She was first introduced to the bush in 1981 when she joined John on an extended safari through the region. She sacrificed a promising business career and moved to the Luangwa with John in 1984. Both her children were born and raised in the Valley and Carol home schooled them at Tafika until 2001 when they entered boarding school. In addition to this impressive feat she keeps the company accounts, supervises the camps' catering and re-supply, manages the Mkasanga School Fund and runs a clinic. In her spare time she entertains the guests!

The Source of the Luangwa Safari with John CoppingerJohn Coppinger has for many years been obsessed with reaching the source of the Luangwa River - a river he has worked alongside for twenty years. This river (that many know as a shallow, meandering, wildlife paradise) rises in the Mafinga Mountains on the border of Zambia and Malawi. In November 2002 John finally made it to the source (a tiny clear water pool high in the Mafingas) and, in conjunction with David Foot of the Nyika Safari Company, would now like to offer the opportunity to others to reach the source of this famous river on a "Source of the Luangwa Safari."

John and David are offering two departures in 2004 (one in June and one in October), each lasting approximately 2 weeks in duration. The safari will take in the Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve and the Nyika National Park in northern Malawi before a two night hike to the source of the Luangwa. David will lead this section of the safari before the safari continues into the Luangwa Valley first stopping at Mwaleshi Camp in the North Luangwa National Park and ending at Tafika in the South Luangwa National Park.

The intinerary is as follows:
Kazuni Safari Camp, Vwaza Marsh (2 nights)
Chelinda Lodge, Nyika National Park (3 nights)
Source of the Luangwa Hike (2 nights)
Chelinda Lodge, Nyika National Park
Mwaleshi, North Luangwa National Park (3 nights)
Tafika, South Luangwa National Park (3 nights)

The safari rates are fully inclusive of all accommodation, meals, safari activities (except horseriding on the Nyika), drinks, laundry, park entry fees and all domestic air and road transfers starting and finishing in Lilongwe.

This safari would suit anybody who would like to visit these great game parks and in particular perhaps those who already know and love the Luangwa Valley. However participants will have to be fit and used to hiking as it is an 800 metre ascent to the source and camping will be rough and simple on top of the mountain. In June there will be a wonderful clarity of light in the mountains of Nyika and the Mafingas so ideal for photography whilst in October game viewing will be top class being late in the dry season and there will be the added attraction of the wildflowers of the Nyika as well as the migratory and forest birds in the highlands of the Nyika and the Mafingas. On the exploratory trip to the source, four Sharpe's starlings were seen - a new record for Zambia!

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For History and General information about Zambia, click More Zambia
For further information about the National Parks of Zambia, click Zam Parks

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