Words by Kim Sparrow Photos by Karen Lowe
Our adventure began before we even arrived. Flying over the Zambezi Valley escarpment in a charter plane with an aerial view of the river provided a deeper understanding of the landscapes we were about to explore. The scenery was spectacular, Zambia already capturing our hearts, swept up in clouds and panoramic perspective.
The plane descends onto a private airstrip, the Royal Zambezi family waiting with eager anticipation and welcoming smiles. Transferring from plane to safari vehicle, we set off towards the lodge, almost immediately encountering wildlife as we drive through the GMA - Game Management Area - rich with variety. The lodge itself is located within the GMA with a backdrop of the escarpment, adjacent to the National Park, the Zambezi River and Mana Pools in the forefront. It’s wild.
Driving into camp we catch a glimpse of the solar panel project, ensuring the lodge is completely off the grid, upholding the ideals of ethical tourism. It was important for us to experience Africa with a safari operator that make choices which positively impact the environment - the solar panels reaffirming our decision. Our choices were also completely affirmed with the view of elephants wading through the river as we sat for lunch, beautifully prepared and presented on the deck under water misters to warn off the heat. Lucky, the barman, serves us his signature Mojitos with promises of the more we drink, the more we see - indulging in the sights and tastes of the lodge. We spent the afternoon doing just that. Life in camp is lush.
The tented suites are equipped with an all-encompassing comfort. With wildlife wandering freely throughout the camp itself, below and in between the rooms, we wonder how we are going to leave our plunge pools, experiencing a private safari from the deck, cool and accompanied by cocktails. Swimming in synchronicity with elephants in the distance is almost beyond belief. Bliss.
We managed to remove ourselves from the comfort of our suite, rejuvenated and ready to immerse ourselves in nature. First port of call, the Zambezi River. Accepting the silent challenge of the Zambezi tiger fish, we head out on a boat, fishing rods and determination in hand. With intimate knowledge of the ever-changing flow of the waterways, our guide and Lodge Manager Ewan directs us to where the arena awaits, tiger lurking beneath. With a strict policy of catch and release, we capture the fish in memory and lens, returned to its natural habitat - the ultimate win.
Sunkissed and windswept, we watch the sun descend as we float back to camp with the current. The mixture of relaxation and adventure is a cocktail in itself, drinking in the Royal experience of luxury meets wild.