The South Luangwa National Park is famous for its outstanding wildlife, world-class safari guiding and its gorgeous safari camps that are among the best in Africa. But safari is not the only thing that makes this place very special indeed. Here are our top 10 insider tips for the best things to do in the South Luangwa that aren’t safari – Part 1
1. Eat out
We know it can be difficult wrenching yourself away from the regular meals served up by your safari lodge. But if you fancy experiencing something different, head to Dorphil’s Restaurant in Mfuwe Village. This friendly little place is run by Dorica, a lovely local lady with an enterprising spirit. We love the chicken schnitzel, but the beef stew and the chargrilled chicken are also very good. You need to order ahead and bring your own bottle. Opposite the Mayana shopping centre : +26 (0)966 860859
If you just fancy grabbing a coffee, head to the Kakumbi Green Market. This little place serves hot drinks, softies and locally made peanut butter cookies. Alec, who runs the shop, can tell you all about the conservation friendly It’s Wild products on offer, and you can browse the small bookshop, or buy an intricately made hanging mobile to remind you of Zambia’s beautiful birdlife. Next to the Oasis fuel station : Open Monday-Saturday 07:30-16:30
2. Shop at the market
An African market is the perfect place to get an authentic cultural experience. Mfuwe’s market is small by Zambian standards, but it’s still a fun and eye-opening adventure. Seek out Charity, one of the local marketeers with good English, and she’ll help you discover everything from pumpkins to Mopane worms. Don’t miss the opportunity to buy baobab fruits if they’re in season; your lodge can prepare a delicious drink from them
If you have time to explore, nip across to Uncle Petty’s Grocery store and marvel at the thousands of products intricately stacked up to the ceiling. Centre of Mfuwe Village, open Monday-Saturday.
3. Create your own one-off African textile
Tribal Textiles is an iconic name in the South Luangwa; they’ve been employing local artists and creating unique fabrics for over 25 years. Something that not many people know is that you can join them for an ‘Art Safari’ to design and make your very own African textiles. You can either use their distinctive flour and water resist technique, or try your hand at screen printing to create a cushion cover or wall hanging, all in the vibrant surroundings of their workshop. One of the artists is on hand to help you and you can choose your own paint colours. Afterwards you can shop for artisan gifts in their large store, or explore the community craft market.
You need to give 24 hours’ notice for an art safari. 6 kms from Mfuwe Airport : Art Safaris available Monday – Friday +260 216 245137 or +260 216 245162 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.tribaltextiles.co.zm/about/art_safari.html
4. Support conservation
One of the greatest threats to South Luangwa’s amazing wildlife is the steadily increasing human population in the area. Chipembele Wildlife Conservation Centre are leading the way in conservation education here, offering award winning educational support to local schools to help motive young people to protect the environment and wildlife around them. They have an absolutely outstanding education centre that you can visit for free. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just for kids; you will leave informed and inspired, and your safari experience will be all the richer for it.
Chipembele is off the beaten track and you will need a full morning or afternoon to visit. You also need to get in touch beforehand to arrange a time to visit. 20 km from Mfuwe Village : +260 216 246108 or email@example.com www.chipembele.org/where-we-are/
5. Watch the moon rise
Coming from the overcast UK, I didn’t see a moonrise until I visited Zambia. But one you’ve seen one, it really is addictive; there’s something fundamentally magical about watching the moon rise over the timeless African bush, especially if you have a G&T to hand. TimeandDate.com will tell you the timing of the moonrise – it’s best viewed between 17:00 and 18:30, when it glows an incredible golden yellow colour from the setting sun. If you happen to visit during a supermoon phase, you’re in for a real treat and some incredible photos.
Moonrise is best viewed from the south bank of the Luangwa River so that you can watch the reflection too. Marula Lodge and Croc Valley Camp both offer a good view east, and friendly bars from where you can buy that all-important G&T.