South Luangwa leopard by Richard Toller

Zambia & Malawi Small Group Safari

Tour Length16 days
Priced from pps $3041 R44074 £2302 2690 A$4295 C$4082 NZ$4422 Full pricing info
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Summary of this Exclusive Small Group Camping Safari

  • Max. Group Size 12 Travellers
  • Departs from Livingstone, Zambia
  • Ends at Lilongwe, Malawi
  • Accommodation Lodge & Camping Combo
  • Transport Small Overland Vehicle / Open 4x4 Game Viewing Vehicle
  • Wildlife Elephant, Exceptional Birding, Leopards, Lions & More
  •  See Departure Dates

Quick Itinerary Overview

This small group safari journeys to famous natural highlights and relatively unheard of destinations in Zambia and Malawi. Most nights include en-suite accommodation with five nights spent camping, one of which is a night of bush camping on an island in the Zambezi River. 

Highlights on this Zambia & Malawi Small Group Safari include:  

  • Victoria Falls visit & Lower Zambezi River canoe trip
  • South Luangwa National Park – game walk & 4x4 game drives
  • Mulanje Massif – tea plantation tour & hike
  • Liwonde National Park – boat cruise & game drive
  • Lake Malawi & Mumbo Island – snorkelling & beaches 

This budget safari offers a real African experience, calling for a level of participation and a healthy spirit of adventure!

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Itinerary for this Tour

Day 1: Livingstone – Zambia

On the first day of this Zambia & Malawi Small Group Safari we meet up at the lodge in Livingstone at about 14h00. Livingstone is located on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls, the largest sheet of falling water in the world.

After being briefed on the journey ahead we visit the massive waterfall to watch as it plummets 108m into the gorge below. The grand scale and sheer power of Vic Falls are unforgettable, giving rise to its fame and a plume of mist up to 400m high. We return to the lodge after admiring the roaring waterfall, known as Mosi-O-Tunya, which means the 'Smoke that Thunders'.

Tonight we eat out at a local restaurant (own account) where you can sample traditional Zambian food, before retiring to your comfortable safari tent for a good night's rest.

  • Meals included: none
  • Activities included: Entry fees to Victoria Falls
  • Accommodation: Lodge – twin share en-suite safari tents / swimming pool, restaurant & bar
  • Optional Activities: Sunset cruise, scenic flights & many more

Day 2: Kafue River – Zambia

Today we have a long drive ahead of us as we travel to the Kafue River, one of the main tributaries of the Zambezi River. Our drive takes us through the rolling hills of southern Zambia into the Zambezi Valley, where our next lodge is set.

Arriving at the leafy lodge we enjoy sundowners on the deck overlooking the quiet Kafue River.

  • Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch
  • Accommodation: Lodge – twin share en-suite rooms / swimming pool & bar
  • Travel: 505 kms / about 8 hours (excludes stops for sightseeing & lunch)

Day 3 & 4: Lower Zambezi Canoe Trip – Zambia

On day three we set off down the wide Zambezi River in canoes. We spend the day paddling along the mighty river, soaking up the wild scenery and passing local villages lying on the riverbanks. While canoeing we look out for wildlife and birds along the river course, where common sightings include hippos and crocodiles.

Night three is spent camping on Elephant Bones Island, one of the uninhabited small islands dotting the Zambezi River. We take all the equipment and our own water supplies with us, setting up a basic camp in the bush. There are no ablutions facilities, so it is a really simple back to nature experience. We sleep in two man dome tents with mosquito netting and mattresses.

In the morning we pack up after breakfast, taking all our rubbish with us as we paddle on. We canoe into a game-rich area where a variety of large animals are usually encountered. Along the way, we stop for lunch, preparing a meal to be enjoyed in the wilderness.

In the afternoon a motorboat meets us and we are transferred back to the lodge along the Kafue River.

  • Meals included: Breakfast (x2), Lunch (x2) & Dinner (x1)
  • Activities included: Full day canoeing trip on Lower Zambezi River (with local river guides)
  • Accommodation: Wild Camping (day 3) & Lodge – twin share en-suite rooms / swimming pool & bar

Day 5: Lusaka & Luangwa River – Zambia

Today we drive north to Lusaka, the capital city and economic heart of Zambia. We stop off in the bustling city to top up on supplies for the next stretch of the road, getting a sense of modern urban life in Zambia.

Then we proceed on the Great East Road running to Chipata in the Eastern Province of Zambia. Our route takes us through open wilderness and rural areas where we pass little villages and market stalls.

We arrive at our next stop, a campsite along the Luangwa River, in time to watch the sun set over the African bush.

  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • Accommodation: Campsite – good ablution facilities, hot showers, bar
  • Travel: 380kms / about 6½ hours (excludes sightseeing & lunch stops)

Day 6 - 8: South Luangwa National Park – Zambia

Day six takes us into the South Luangwa National Park, one of Africa's finest game parks and the top wildlife destination in Zambia. We drive into the game-rich Luangwa Valley, making our way to our next secluded lodge beside the Luangwa River. Here, we stay in comfortable chalets nestled in the trees along the river and lagoon, visited by various animals including hippos and elephants, as well as birds.

During our stay in Luangwa Valley we explore the South Luangwa National Park and the neighbouring game management area, on game drives and a guided game walk. Game drives are conducted in open 4x4 safari vehicles and include one night drive. On the night drive we use a powerful spotlight to find our way in the bush and search out nocturnal wildlife.

South Luangwa is famous for its walking safaris, being known as the place where African walking safaris originated. The game walk is a thrilling and rewarding experience, offering opportunities to encounter large game on foot and get up closer to the flora and fauna. In some rainy seasons the game walk is not possible, in which case we embark on an additional game drive.

South Luangwa is known for its abundance of wildlife, especially its excellent leopard sightings. Other common sightings include lions, buffalos, elephants, hippos, antelopes, zebras, Thornicroft's giraffes, baboons and Cookson's wildebeest. South Luangwa Park offers exceptional bird watching, attracting some 400 species, from raptors to palearctic migrant species.

On the afternoon of day eight you have the chance to set off on an optional (own expense) game drive or game walk in Luangwa Valley. There is also the option of visiting a local village (own expense) to gain insight into Zambian culture and rural life. Alternatively you can take it easy at the lodge, swimming in the pool and watching for wildlife and birds in the natural surroundings.

  • Meals included: Breakfast (x3) & Lunch (x3)
  • Activities included: South Luangwa National Park entry fee, game walk & two game drives
  • Accommodation: Chalets - en-suite, swimming pool, restaurant & bar
  • Travel: 480kms / about 8 hours (excluding sightseeing & lunch stops)
  • Optional Activities: Extra game walks & game drives

Day 9: Lilongwe & Kuti Wildlife Reserve – Malawi

This morning we leave the remote wilderness of South Luangwa, driving east to Chipata. Reaching the city of Chipata we cross over into Malawi. Malawi is known for its friendly local people, earning it the moniker of 'The Warm Heart of Africa'.

Once in Malawi we head to the busy capital, Lilongwe, for fresh supplies. Then we return to the wilderness, this time in Kuti Wildlife Reserve. We spend the night camping in the 2000 hectare reserve, keeping an eye out for animals and birds. Zebra, waterbuck, kudu, sable, impala, wildebeest, giraffe and warthog are commonly sighted, as well as vervet monkeys, baboons and a variety of birds.

End the day with laid-back sundowners on the deck overlooking the natural wetlands.

  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • Activities included: Entry fee to Kuti Wildlife Reserve
  • Accommodation: Campsite – good ablution facilities, hot showers, swimming pool, restaurant & bar
  • Travel: 390kms / about 6½ hours (excluding sightseeing & lunch breaks)

Day 10 & 11: Mulanje Massif – Malawi

On day ten we visit a tea plantation in the lush Thyolo area to see how the tea is grown, harvested and produced.

Then we drive to our lodge at the base of the Mulanje Massif, an impressive granite massif created by magma flowing to the earth's surface about 130 million years ago. Mount Mulanje reaches 3002 metres tall at its highest point, Sapitwa Peak - the tallest mountain in Malawi. Rising up sharply over the surrounding plains, the massif consists of some 20 peaks forming a plateau of elevated grasslands intersected by deep, densely forested ravines.

We set off on a walk in the Mulanje Massif on day 11. Exploring the scenic area on foot, we visit mountain streams and flowing waterfalls in the towering green hills. Known as the ‘Island in the Sky’, Mulanje is often shrouded in mist, peeking out of the rain clouds that are formed by its tall peaks. This wet micro-climate formed by the tall massif feeds most rivers in the southern region of Malawi and perhaps explains the presence of humans dating back to the Stone Ages.

Keep an eye out for the rich flora and fauna of the region, from black eagles to blue monkeys and the endemic Mulanje cedar, which reaches up to 40 metres tall. Spend the evening soaking up the peaceful mountain setting and leafy gardens at our delightful lodge.

  • Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch
  • Activities included: Guided walk on the slopes of Mount Mulanje
  • Accommodation: Lodge – twin share en-suite rooms
  • Travel: 350kms / about 5½ hours (excluding stops for sightseeing & lunch)

Day 12 & 13: Liwonde National Park – Malawi

Next we travel to the southern shores of Lake Malombe, to Liwonde National Park. This 548 km² national park is home to abundant wildlife, including the largest elephant population in Malawi.

In Liwonde we take a boat cruise along River Shire to spot game from the water and we explore the grassy plains, woodlands and valleys on game drives. The boat cruise is ideal for watching hippos and crocodiles, which are plentiful, as well as spotting a variety of birds. Bird species include brown-breasted barbet, fish eagle, Pel's fishing owl, Livingstone’s flycatcher, Lilian’s lovebird and many more. On our game drive we might encounter black rhinos, leopards, hyenas and a variety of antelopes, such as kudu, sable and bushbuck.

Evenings are spent at our camp tucked away in the trees and bushes along the wide Shire River in Liwonde National Park.

  • Meals included: Breakfast (x2), Lunch (x2) & Dinner (x2)
  • Activities included: Boat cruise and game drives in tour vehicle
  • Accommodation: Campsite – shared facilities, bar, restaurant
  • Travel: 190kms / about 3 hours (excludes stops for sightseeing & lunch, and game drive to camp)

Please note:

You have the option of upgrading to chalet accommodation at extra cost, upon arrival at the lodge (subject to availability).

Day 14 & 15: Lake Malawi

Travelling north on day 14, we reach the next highlight of this Zambia & Malawi Small Group Safari - Lake Malawi. Malawi's top travel destination, scenic Lake Malawi is a favourite thanks to its sandy shores, water activities and friendly locals. This massive Great Rift Valley Lake is also called the 'Lake of Stars' because of the twinkling lights of fishing boats at night.

We head to Lake Malawi National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the southern tip of Lake Malawi. Here we take a boat cruise out to our next lodge, located on Mumbo Island, close to Cape Maclear. During our stay on Mumbo Island you are free to enjoy optional water activities, explore the boulder-strewn island and relax on a sandy beach cove. The lodge has snorkelling gear and kayaks that you can use for exploring and watching the marine life. Lake Malawi is best known for its colourful, endemic fish species, including numerous cichlids.

The last few days of our trip are for taking it easy on the pristine island, enjoying the sunshine and beauty of this remote tropical setting.

  • Meals included: Breakfast (x2), Lunch (x2) & Dinner (x2)
  • Activities included: National park fees and taxes, boat transfers, kayaking and snorkelling gear
  • Accommodation: Resort – twin share rooms (reed or canvas with thatched roofs) with en-suite bathrooms & hot showers.
  • Travel: 160kms / about 3 hours (subject to road conditions & excluding border formalities & sightseeing stops)

Please note:

The lodge only has seven rooms, which may affect the single supplement options (depending on the size of your tour group).

Day 16: Lilongwe – Malawi

On our last day we leave the Lake of Stars behind, retracing our steps to Lilongwe, after breakfast.

Arriving in Lilongwe, relaxed and inspired, our adventure finishes at about 11h00 when we part ways. You can be transferred to the airport on the final day at 11h00 should you have an onward flight to catch.

  • Meals included: Breakfast
  • Travel: 260kms / about 4 hours (excluding sightseeing stops)

Tour Accommodation

On 10 nights we stay in en-suite accommodation, sleeping in chalets, rooms or tented rooms. The remainder of the nights are spent camping, with all equipment provided (except sleeping bags).

This tour includes one night of bush camping where we camp on an island in the Zambezi River. There will be a bucket shower with water heated on the fire and a pit latrine. We camp in two-man dome tents, measuring 2.2 x 2.2 x 1.8 metres, and sleeping mattresses are provided. The tents are fitted with mosquito nets and all camping equipment is provided. You will need to bring your own towel and sleeping bag.

Tour Transport

We travel in a 12 seater safari truck built to handle the rough roads of Africa. In South Luangwa National Park an open-sided 4x4 vehicle is used for game viewing.

Travel Style

This is a limited participation tour, which means that clients are required to assist the crew with some tasks and chores. Everybody on the tour helps to set up camp and take it down again on the camping nights, pack the truck and clean up. When the crew prepares meals clients assist with the washing up on a rotational basis.

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+Where does the tour go to?
+Included in the Tour Price
  • transport in a 12-seater safari truck
  • game drives in open-sided 4x4 vehicles
  • 10 nights of en-suite chalet, tented lodge & guesthouse accommodation
  • 5 nights camping (tents, mats & chairs included)
  • 15 breakfasts, 14 lunches & 7 dinners (most prepared by the crew)
  • tents, mats and chairs
  • airport transfer to Lilongwe Airport
+Not Included in the Tour Price
  • sleeping bag
  • flights & airport taxes
  • visas
  • airport collection transfer
  • travel insurance
  • personal items
+Departure Dates

Unless a guaranteed departure, this tour requires a minimum of 4 travellers before departing.

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