The ultimate, get away from it all, chic, luxury safari, perfect for somebody searching for a pristine, untouched Africa with five star luxury accommodation. Start your safari adventure exploring a completely beautiful and pristine wildlife area –the magnificent Liuwa Plains National Park, run by the fabulous NGO African Parks who are saving the last bastions of wilderness in Africa, restoring them to their former glory.
This safari combines the finest wildlife experiences of Liuwa Plains with the most beautiful ocean in Madagascar staying at the opulent Miavana, praised by Forbes magazine as their 'place to go next'.
This remote park in the far west of Zambia is untouched wilderness, which, to the ardent bush-lover, is its main fascination. The rewards of the Liuwa Plains National Park are simply wonderful, of not only having the park to oneself but to be able to explore the whole area of 3,660 square kilometres.
The new King Lewanika Lodge opened in April 2017 and has been conceived by renowned designers, Silvio Rech & Lesley Carstens, who have designed a number of fabulous properties in Africa and the Indian Ocean. There are six luxury chalets, slightly raised off the ground and in addition a two bedroom family chalet, for a total of up to 15 guests.
Activities include day and night drives, guided walks, canoeing and boating (at certain times of the year). There is also a fascinating evening lecture and, for those interested, a conservation participatory drive with the Zambia Carnivore Programme research team.
One of the highlights is that Liuwa Plains has the second largest wildebeest migration in the world, with the wildebeest calving in October to December time. There are up to 40,000 wildebeest which migrate over seasonally flooded grass plains dotted with forested islands.
In November, with the onset of the rains, the massive herds of blue wildebeest arrive from the North West of the park, traversing the plains in their thousands, very often mingling with zebra along the way or congregating around the pans and water holes.
At this time of year carpets of flowers explode around the pans. Throughout the season you will find over 330 species of birds, including several rare ones, clans of up to 50 hyena, where you can sit for hours at their den watching these captivating animals.
The plains are perfect for cheetah, plus herds of tsessebe and zebra. You might be lucky and spot the pride of lions that was led by the famous lion “Lady Liuwa” before her death in 2017.
For many years Lady Liuwa was the sole lion remaining in Liuwa, until African Parks successfully reintroduced lions to the park. If you are extremely fortunate you might even spot the wild dog which are occasionally found here.
Liuwa is home to five of the fastest, largest, rarest antelope: eland, roan, tsessebe, oribi and red lechwe. The serval, jackal, wildcat, cheetah as well as hyena and lion are the main predators found in this area.
The birdlife is abundant and the incredibly dramatic storms and lightning rising up on the horizon, contrasting with the gold and green grasslands, create amazing views and fabulous opportunities for the keen photographer. Several birds migrate here during the rains and massive flocks can be seen as they migrate south.
Some of the more noteworthy ones are the white bellied bustards, red billed and Hottentot teals, secretary bird, yellow throated longclaw, sooty chat, long tailed whydah, fish eagle, tawny eagle, Martial Eagle, woodland kingfisher and pink throated longclaw. The plains are dotted with woodlands which also make for excellent birding.
From May to July, you find flocks of hundreds of wattled and crowned cranes, pelicans, skimmers, plus herds of red lechwe scattered across the plains. For the keen birders there are also two endemic sub species: eastern clapper lark & pink billed lark. You also find flocks of 100 plus black egrets and African skimmers, plus black winged pratincoles around the pans, in their tens of thousands.
The game is spread out across the plains, but to come upon a stalking cheetah, a huge herd of blue wildebeest, or a pride of slumbering lions in this forgotten part of Africa is particularly fitting because of its totally un-commercialised and natural state.
Here you find fascinating history and heritage as this is one of the oldest protected areas in Africa, originally proclaimed by King of Barotseland in 1880s. It is home of the Losi King & Barotse Royal Household.
The Losi King moves Palace between February and April, depending on the flood, in a ceremony called the Ku-omboka (this means coming out of the water). The King is paddled by 100 oarsman in a massive black & white canoe from his low palace (Lealui) to his high palace (Limulunga). To witness this is a simply incredible and unforgettable sight.
The season at King Lewanika Lodge runs from April to the end of June and October to the end of December. With its untouched wilderness, luxury accommodation, huge flocks of unusual birdlife and fascinating herds of wildlife, the Liuwa Plains are well worth a visit.
From Zambia, you will be flown by private charter to Diego Suarez Airport in Madagascar where you will have a 20 minute helicopter transfer to Nosy Ankao Island, to stay at the gorgeous Time + Tide Miavana Lodge.
In the northern waters, you will find the island of Nosy Ankao, part of a five-island archipelago. Time + Tide Miavana is a brand new property which opened in December 2016 and is situated on the western side of the island. It offers panoramic ocean and beach views, stunning white sandy beaches and sparkling turquoise waters.
Miavana has 14 villas, with one, two and three bedrooms, looking out along the islands pure white sandy beaches. These stunning villas have also been designed by Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens.
From the villas, you are able to step from your private decks out onto the soft powdery sand, where you can watch the glorious sun sets and gaze out at the unspoilt views. You can also stroll along the beach or try your hand at fly fishing from just outside your villa.
In the main lodge at Miavana there is a French garden, wine cellar and a “chamber of curiosities” filled with an interesting selection of finds from around the garden from lemur skeletons to cannon balls! There is a swimming pool and bar and dining area nestled in the sand, surrounded by lush green vegetation.
The ‘Blue Safari’ guided water activities provide a fascinating insight into this area and you can explore the beaches, aquamarine bays, lagoons and channels of the archipelago. You can snorkel in the shallows or go diving in the clear turquoise waters.
The island is surrounded by pristine coral reefs and you can go deep sea-fishing beyond the reef, kite surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, jet skiing, plus dolphin and whale watching. You can also go for a bicycle ride or even for a night walk in the rain forest.
There are resident turtles, so spotting them is a rare treat, especially if they are laying their eggs! You can also take a helicopter flight to the mainland in search of lemurs, whilst trekking through the rainforest, as well as learn about the resident population of lemurs now residing on Nosy Ankao as part of a conservation project.
The aim of Miavana is to protect and conserve the island’s susceptible natural resources, provide employment for the local communities and offer world class marine and land activities for guests. With its unspoilt location, lavish accommodation, marine paradise and fabulous beaches, Miavana is quite unlike anything else found in Madagascar.
If you would like more information please do feel free to contact me.
Images courtesy of Time + Tide King Lewanika Lodge and Time + Tide Miavana.
Image of hyena with lillies and the Losi King copy right to Noeline Tredoux. Image of hyena group, of three cheetah (headline image) and wildebeest group copy right to Will Burrard-Lucas.