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Following the hippo trails
Newsletter / 07 Aug 2020

Following the hippo trails

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Moving through July

July has been a month of movement and we’re looking forward to updating you on the trails we’ve been following.

Walk Luangwa 2020

The Luangwa walk kicked off on the 27th of July, starting from Marula Puku, the research base camp in the North Luangwa National Park. Lions appeared ten minutes into the walk on day one which set the tone for the next few days. Two days walking through the North Luangwa National Park yielded amazing wildlife encounters including black rhino (cow and calf!), elephant, leopard, buffalo, kudu, wildebeest and lion amongst a host of other smaller game. Following spiraling vultures onto a lion kill on day two kept the adrenaline pumping which continued well into the night with lions visiting the campers on several occasions.

For the first few days, the walkers were joined by Ed Sayer, project manager for North Luangwa Conservation Project, and other figureheads from the conservation project included Paimolo Bwalya and Davies Mbilishi, commanders in the rhino and elephant units and Joyce Chiluba, an officer and master handler from the canine unit.

The walkers were dropped at the Lubonga/Mwaleshi confluence and followed the Mwaleshi river until it disbursed into the Luangwa. The route for the rest of the walk follows the Luangwa through several game management areas, Luambe National Park and South Luangwa National Park. Mana and Matt (from Conservation Storytelling) have been interviewing key figures within the communities along the way, including Chief Nabwalya.

The Remote Africa team is fully invested in the walk – John joined the walk for three days from Takwela to Luambe, Alex led the walk as far as Tafika after which Amon has taken over, Jen joined for two days in the South Luangwa and Nick will walk the entire distance. John was joined by friend and colleague, Nick Aslin, from Zambian Ground Handlers who have also been excellent supporters of the walk. Rona and the chefs worked to ensure food and frozen meals were supplied for the first half of the trek and the walkers even met Teddy (right) during their walk – by pure chance in the middle of the bush! – the chef responsible for cooking most of their frozen meals.

The walkers were primarily camping the first half of the walk, but have been accommodated in a few camps along the way including our Takwela and Tafika Camps and Luambe Camp in Luambe National Park. It has truly been a combined effort with all operators and projects contributing wherever possible. For the second half of the walk they will enjoy the hospitality of many other camps as they follow the hippo trails south and interview the conservation project leaders and communities in the South Luangwa.

Please share news of the walk with family, friends or anyone who you think would like to follow the adventure on @walkluangwa2020



To contribute to the initiative please do a walk yourself and tag @walkluangwa2020 and/or make a donation to the cause.

Thank you to so many of you who have donated! We appreciate the support.

over 200 km trekked – 10 days down – over 6000GBP donated
27th July – 13th August 2020

Funding recipients include the Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), Conservation South Luangwa (CSL), Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), the North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP), the Tafika Fund (Remote Africa), Community and Conservation (The Bushcamp Company), Project Luangwa and the Chipembele Wildlife Conservation Trust.


Before starting off on his adventure, Alex and the team in the north made great progress on Takwela. We’re very excited by the new shape Takwela is taking. We hope you will all come and visit our, once again, new camp in the North Luangwa with Alex when travel is possible again.

Tafika Fund

The classroom building at Mkasanga school is going really well and the roof has started going up. We look forward to the finishing touches with windows and doors being added in August. We are extremely grateful for the support of our generous funder who has continued to support this project throughout the pandemic.

New kids on the block

Although our focus has been fixed on preparations for Walk Luangwa, we’ve snuck in some game viewing patrols to maintain an ever-important presence in the park. On one occasion Nick and the guides saw two new lion cubs in the salt pan pride which sparked much excitement.

Another huge highlight was an aardvark spotted in the early hours of the evening marking the first aardvark sighting at Tafika for 2020.

Sadly not all newcomers are welcome too close to camp, like this black necked spitting cobra. When these guys appear they are gently relocated far into the park so their beauty can be appreciated at a distance.

Cycling safaris

During a visit to Takwela, the Coppinger family diverted on to a lovely cycling trip from Shiwa Ng’andu estate (also known as the iconic Africa House) joining Ernst (a family friend and past RAS guide) down the Muchinga escarpment of the Luangwa Valley in the North Luangwa. The cycle weaved along the stunningly beautiful Lufila river, the northern boundary of the North Luangwa National Park until we reached the Luangwa River. Camping along the way and exploring a new part of the North Luangwa was fantastic. Moffat joined the team as driver and backup, not quite the same as leading on the Chikoko Trails but a fun experience nonetheless.

We’re looking forward to our next cycling goal in August which will add mileage to the Ride4Rangers initiative. Join us on your own trails by logging some kilometres on the bike for a great cause.

Whatever trail you chose, we hope it brings you joy and fresh air. We will continue to follow the hippo trails on foot and on the bikes – which always end with a spectacular view over the Luangwa River.


As of the 4th of August, Zambia has 6793 known covid-19 cases with 55 covid deaths and 118 covid-associated deaths (Eco-Tourism Association of Zambia).

Airports remain open for business. Applications for tourist visas are now possible with pre clearance with the Ministry of Health and Immigration before arrival. Travellers must arrive with a negative Covid-19 test certificate and are required to fill out a detailed form before landing. Different airlines may have their own transit requirements so please check with your airline. Travellers are screened upon arrival and symptom-free travellers may continue without any quarantine requirements.

Kenyan and Ethiopian airlines are flying into Zambia. Emirates are reportedly starting to fly into Zambia again in September.

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