October 7th - 17th, 2023
An authentic slice of Southern Africa life from the women to the wildlife
Image courtesy of Tongabezi
Many, including Zambians, have called Zambia authentic Africa as it harkens back to another era on the continent. From safaris to sleeping under the stars to village visits and dancing in the dark, time seems to have stood still in this seductive southern African country.
Aside from the bygone ambiance, Zambia has also managed to remain off the radar. Unlike many other African destinations, game drives feel intimate, and camps feel undiscovered and unto themselves, only adding to the allure. However, a buzz is building into a notable hum as savvy travelers descend upon this destination to experience a country with a rich conservation and responsible tourism history. It’s also peaceful yet culturally diverse, with more than 70 tribes living seamlessly side by side. It sounds like a utopia.
With Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, in residence, it may be. Come to see for yourself and experience Zambia while it still feels wild and beautifully untouched.
October 7th - October 17th, 2023
Group size: 10
Deadline to book - Space is extremely limited in Africa, particularly small lodges. The demand for Africa is off the chart right now. If interested, email immediately to Secure Your Spot. A deposit is required. Once the deposit is in, payments can be made over time. Inquire for more details.
Gallery credits: Village Girl-Ted Alan Stedman/Leopard-Karen Loftus/Deck-Tongabezi/Baby Elephant- Karen Loftus
About the Trip
There are so many alluring elements to this evocative spot. If you’re going for the game, you might see the big five before breakfast on a drive or on foot, as bush walks were made legendary in this land. Regardless, the sundowners and the scenery will steal your heart.
The camps are rustic yet luxe, while the city sleepover in Johannesburg is downright decadent. The culture and cuisine are top-notch in all spots, and the guides are incredibly impressive.
Village visits are rich, interesting, and immersive. The women and girls we will be privy to throughout this trip are well worth celebrating and will inspire.
(This is the most intimate WAT trip with a max of just ten. If you're looking for up close and personal, it doesn't get any better than this. Space is very limited. An early commitment is highly encouraged in order to secure your space.)
Dates - October 7th - October 17th, 2023
Days - 10 Days/9 Nights
Size - Maximum of 10
Style - Adventure, Empowerment & Culture
Needs - 20% deposit due asap to hold your spot. Extremely limited space in the small boutique lodges.
Treats - Safari, Women’s Empowerment, Village Visits
Accommodations - Chic Boutique in City & Luxury Lodges on safari
Host - Karen Loftus, "Lofty"
WAT's Adventuress in Chief
Fees - $9,787 USD
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1 | Johannesburg
Upon arrival at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg - South Africa’s largest city and the gateway to the rest of Africa - you will be met and transferred to The Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa, where you can enjoy the rest of the day and the evening at your leisure.
Set among lush acres of landscaped gardens, it’s easy to see that this 5-star boutique hotel was once a luxurious private residence. Located in the heart of Johannesburg, a mere 6 km from central Sandton and 20 km from Johannesburg's city center, this urban oasis offers the upmarket traveler luxury and convenience.
Image courtesy of The Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa
The Fairlawns has created an intimate and private atmosphere where the world’s most discerning and prestigious personalities have been known to converge. Their chic suites are individually decorated in varying themes ranging from Eastern influence to French provincial with a nod to South Africa’s recent history. The Balinese-style spa and gardens are pitch-perfect places for relaxing, rejuvenating, and restoring after a long journey into Jo’Burg. You have the day and the night to decompress and explore the grounds' expanse or the city's sprawl.
(This day, you are on your own, and activities are at your own expense, be it dinner, drinks, spa treatments, or any excursions.)
Day 2 | Johannesburg
After an early breakfast at the hotel, you will have a private guided tour and a full-day excursion in Johannesburg. You will visit Vilakazi Street in Soweto and the Mandela House Museum. Vilakazi is one of South Africa's most famous streets – the only one in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners, Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela. Other stops throughout the day include the Hector Petersen Museum and Memorial Site, The Apartheid Museum, Soccer City – home to the opening and closing functions of the Soccer World Cup and Maboneng, where you will be privy to a two-hour hop-on, hop-off, street art, and graffiti tour.
Johannesburg’s Inner City is quickly becoming a graffiti and street art destination. Top artists from around the world are arriving in Jozi to paint while local and international travelers are flocking to Jo’burg to witness this thriving and edgy graffiti culture and the new hip hub of Maboneng, home to a slew of ethnically interesting restaurants, lively rooftop bars and plenty of shopping options.
We will finish this rich and interesting day with a visit to the very trendy Neighbourgoods for top shopping with local South African designers. We’ll also indulge in a hip mix of the city’s best foods in the robust market, which celebrates Johannesburg’s ethnic diversity.
This evening we finish in Maboneng, where we will celebrate Johannesburg’s food, fashion, and the feminine force in this South African city. Details regarding the night’s welcoming event and the guests involved to follow.
Day 3 | South Luangwa National Park
After early morning breakfast at the Fairlawns, you will be transferred to the O.R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg, where you will take your scheduled flight to Mfuwe via Lusaka. Upon arrival in Mfuwe, you will be met and transferred to Mfuwe Lodge, where you will stay for the next three nights.
This rustic-chic retreat is an award-winning safari lodge set in the most prolific game area of South Luangwa. It is set inside the park; a mere five minutes drive from the main gate. Set beneath a canopy of ebony and mahogany, its eighteen air-conditioned chalets are arranged around the banks of two lagoons.
This region of the park is known for its prolific game - giraffes, hippos, buffalo, antelope, and crocodiles are constant visitors to Mfuwe Lodge's lagoon. The timing of our visit is pitch-perfect as October-November local elephants regularly wander through the lobby. They are lured by a wild mango tree nearby.
The game-viewing potential at Mfuwe Lodge and the surrounding area is second-to-none. Walking safaris can be arranged on request, but the majority of outings are game drives.
On these exclusive Mfuwe Lodge game drives, you will be taken away from the busy Mfuwe sector, which means you may have packs of wild dogs and elusive leopards in trees all to yourself.
The long-time guides and lodge managers know the bush like the back of their hands. You could sit and listen to them and take in their many tales from day into night. With a little luck, they may be dining with us over dinner to share a tale or two.
Upon your arrival at Mfuwe Lodge today, lunch will be served in the buzz of it all, on deck. Over lunch, we will be privy to a special guest who will join us to discuss her and a local organization's work with local girls in the village. It includes all from life skills to avoiding abuse to increasing low self-esteem and staying in school to train women to support themselves when they have little or no scholastic education.
After lunch, we will be attending a local Girls' Empowerment meeting with our guests in the village. A game drive follows as does dinner on the deck, a great finish to your first day at Mfuwe.
Day 4 | South Luangwa National Park
It's an early rise and shines at this very exclusive retreat. It’s a game drive, followed by lunch on the deck. Then you have the afternoon to yourself to kick back, relax, nap, read, or write.
Also another option is to grab a massage at the Bush Spa on-site. There is nothing quite like an herbal soak in a Jacuzzi, or a massage with the surrounds of the wild nearby. It's a true sensory experience.
Before our drive, we will meet with a local woman who has successfully repurposed local materials and employed women from the village to make jewelry. We will have tea in the garden with her. An opportunity to shop will follow. The later afternoon game drive or bush walk will follow.
No need for TV here, as bush theatrics, go well into the night here. Each of Mfuwe's thatched chalets includes a private deck for you to use as your wildlife viewing perch. Birders, beware, as you’ll find hours of entertainment watching the prolific bird populations that make this area their home. This is prime real estate in the bush.
Enjoy the African ambiance in the camp and the steely, soul-sating silence of the bush. It's unlike anywhere else in the world.
Soak in the spacious pool on-site. An afternoon tea and game drive to follow, as well as a seductive sundowner in the bush before we head back for dinner on the deck. It’s a perfect day and yet another authentic slice of African life in the bush.
Day 5 | South Luangwa National Park
There will be an early rise and shine this morning. We want to rise before the animals retreat, as this is often the best time for game viewing. Coffee, conversation, and once-in-a-lifetime sightings will have us all a-buzz in the bush.
Reflection on the deck after, along with plenty of coffee, is what is in order and on offer after the morning drive. You have the late morning to yourself before lunch.
This day, we will be breaking bread with another great storyteller. She is an esteemed female in the area, a highly celebrated wildlife biologist, and a globally known lion conservationist who will share her story and important work with us and the young women in the region.
You will have some downtime before the afternoon tea, followed by a bush walk or game drive before your final dinner at the lovely Mfuwe Lodge deck.
Day 6 | South Luangwa National Park
After a morning game drive and breakfast at Mfuwe, you will be transferred to nearby Kafunta River Lodge, where you will stay for the next three nights.
Before arriving at the lodge, we will stop by a local village. This local village is home to the Kunda tribe, who migrated from the Luba area in Congo in the first half of the 19th century.
Today the villagers continue to live similarly and traditionally. An intimate tour led by a woman from the village is a window into the local life. Depending upon the day, the activities and who is around and about in the village will dictate the nature of our visit, what we see and experience, and whom we will meet. There is nothing staged here. It is a true slice of local life.
Image courtesy of Robin Pope Safaris
Kafunta River Lodge is owned and operated by Anke & Ron Cowan, who has made the Luangwa Valley their home for the past 20 years. The ten-room lodge is located on the floodplains of the Luangwa River, away from the buzzier area near the park's Mfuwe gate. During the peak season, the lodge accesses the national park via its pontoon. Exclusivity reigns supreme again!
In addition, Kafunta is well-known for its excellent food, splendid hospitality, and rustic-luxe accommodations. Their tented camps and river chalets are expansive and well-decorated with lovely outlooks.
Day 7 | South Luangwa National Park
Image courtesy of Ted Alan Stedman
The heart of this lodge is the spacious bar and outdoor dining area. Built around a semi-evergreen wild mango tree and thatched in the traditional style, it offers superb panoramic views over the Luangwa River and the South Luangwa National Park.
Adjacent to the bar is an infinity pool and the only natural hot spring tub in the Luangwa Valley. This unique hot tub is fed from a source on Kafunta’s grounds, offering a constant temperature of 38 degrees.
You don’t have to leave the comfort of the lodge, let alone your chalet, to see the drama of the bush unfold here. Kafunta has beautiful sweeping views across the river, with the large deck looking out over marshland and a waterhole. With the hippos bathing, antelope drinking, warthogs playing in the mud, towers of giraffes waltzing by, and elephants splashing about, it is a hub of activity day into the night. Keep your camera handy here.
A late afternoon game drive will follow at Kafunta.
Day 8 | South Luangwa National Park
Image courtesy of Robin Pope Safaris
An early rise and early game drive kick off the day at Kafunta. South Luangwa National Park is arguably one of the best places in the world to see cats. Their famously high concentrations of leopards make it the place to spot one of the most elusive of the big five.
They have their fair share of iconic lions as well. From the hugely popular Garlic and Ginger, two very pale ruling male lions with ginger manes, to the 13-strong female-only pride, to the stars of Lion Country: Night & Day, the Hollywood Pride.
In addition, South Luangwa has a fantastic diversity of game, from the unique Thornicroft Giraffe to the massive elephant populations, not to mention the 40 thousand plus hippos and huge crocs who can regularly be seen lounging on the Luangwa River itself.
Before this afternoon’s game drive, we will again visit with the women and girls in the village to conduct a workshop. Guests are welcome to come along, or they can opt to stay back and relax on the property. The late afternoon game drive will follow. Then it’s dinner and drinks on deck for your final evening at Kafunta.
(All activities and visits are optional throughout your trip.)
Day 9 | Livingstone, Victoria Falls
Image courtesy of Tongabezi
After an early breakfast at the lodge, you will be transferred to the airport for the scheduled flight to Livingstone (via Lusaka). En route to the airport, we will be stopping by Tribal Textiles for a talk, a look, and a shop, if interested.
Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to the highly lauded (Conde Nast Traveler Gold List 2018) Tongabezi Lodge where you will be staying for the next two nights.
With a personal valet or a bush butler, you are sure to be spoiled day into the night while staying in one of the six private chalets or one of the five river cottages. The list of activities is endless at Tongabezi and in the surrounds as the property is on the Zambezi River, upstream from the thundering Victoria Falls.
Image courtesy of Tongabezi
Once we arrive, a special meal will follow. This lunch will be a fun one with Vanessa - one-half of proprietors Vanessa and Ben - a female member of her staff and a young female student from the local school, the one Vanessa started over 20 years ago. We will see the female perspective in Zambia from varying angles and from several perspectives.
After lunch, we head to the neighboring Victoria Falls, known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya or “the smoke that thunders”. Located on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe, it is one of the World's Seven Natural Wonders. Combining both the height and the width it is the largest waterfall and the largest single sheet of flowing water in the world.
An evening sunset cruise follows the Falls with dinner and drinks back on the property. You can expect nothing but the best when it comes to meals on-site as the Tongabezi Lodge and their nearby Sindabezi Island share four chefs, two pastry chefs, and two full kitchen teams, many of which have been trained internationally.
Day 10 | Livingstone, Victoria Falls
You are free to sleep this morning as we are not chasing the game on an early morning drive. A leisurely breakfast on the property is followed by a visit to the school Vanessa started years ago. The morning starts with an exchange of stories with the young female students, and later again with a local group of women, we are meeting in the village.
Lunch back on the property follows, as does an afternoon on your own. Tongabezi has an endless list of options and activities to take advantage of on-site and in the area. You are free to go full tilt on the property and or arrange on your own any number of things in and around Vic Falls. The choice is all yours for your full and final day in Zambia.
Another alluring option, after ten action-packed days in South Africa and in Zambia, is to kick back and relax on the property, in the pool, on the Lookout or Hangout, in your cottage, or on your veranda as no other property warrants a wind down quite like this one. It’s easy to see how Tongabezi has been touted number five Best Safari Lodge in Africa, among other accolades.
Day 11 | Livingstone, Victoria Falls
Image courtesy of Tongabezi
Today you will be transferred to the Livingstone airport to check in for your international and connecting flights.
Until we travel together again…
Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa
There are so many bells and whistles to this opulent property. Set in a portion of what once was a ten-acre estate complete with rolling hills, stables, and horses, The Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa today still provides that same secluded and stately ambiance. It’s a go-to for the business and the jet set alike, with its close to the airport and situated in the sophisticated enclave of Sandton’s Morningside Manor suburb.
It is quite the respite after a long journey into Jo’Burg. Be sure to take advantage of the Balinese spa and their incredible cuisine. You’re sure to have a deep and restful sleep in one of the chic suites, be it the Euro inspired courtyard, or the premier, the latter reflects a different part of South Africa’s history.
Mfuwe Lodge is an award-winning safari lodge set in the most prolific game area of South Luangwa. The perfect place to enjoy excellent game viewing
With immediate access to South Luangwa National Park, the premier park in Zambia and one of Africa's best national parks, Mfuwe's eighteen private safari chalets are arranged around the banks of two lagoons.
The open-plan reception, lounge, dining, and bar areas have a warm, welcoming atmosphere and are furnished in a contemporary African style, complementing its natural surroundings.
The herd of elephants that wanders through the open-air lobby is the icing on the cake.
Kafunta River Lodge
The Kafunta River Lodge is a classic Zambian safari lodge.
With immediate access to South Luangwa National Park, the premier park in Zambia and one of Africa's best national parks, Kafunta’s eight private safari chalets overlook the game-rich floodplain and the Luangwa River beyond that.
Their eight Afro-chic chalets with thatched roofs and raised wooden platforms are tastefully decorated and were refurbished in 2014.
The hot tub, spa and massages, and late-night fodder around the fire pit each night add to the allure of this oasis.
This iconic lodge is the pitch-perfect finish to this trip, as it remains one of the most sought-after luxury camps in Zambia. Nestled on the riverbanks of the Zambezi, Tongabezi Lodge is a mere 12 miles upstream from the thundering Victoria Falls.
Their recent renovation has only upped the already-raised ante. However, the real luxury on site here is the lovely staff, exceptional service, and the warmth and stories from proprietors. The setting is majestic, like nothing you have seen on safari. You can top this off with the buzz of activities and the many amenities on the property and nearby, allowing for an intense dive into the ambiance and the experiences at hand.
*All images of Zambia are courtesy of Karen Loftus, except for accommodations and if otherwise stated.
Accommodations, Rates, Availability
SHARED ACCOMMODATION: $9,787 USD
Pricing is based on a shared double occupancy room. 20% of the cost needed asap as deposit in order to confirm your booking.
Please note: Payment must be made in full by April 30th, 2023.
Availability - This ultra-exclusive program welcomes a maximum of 10.
Email us ASAP to Secure Your Spot! Space is extremely limited. This trip will sell out.
Karen Loftus is a well-known and respected luxury travel and lifestyle writer and photographer with a sense of humor, a wicked sense of adventure, and an insatiable appetite for off-the-beaten-path endeavors.
She hit her international stride twenty-plus years ago as an award-winning feminist playwright. She was also a groundbreaking international comedian in the US, Europe, Asia, and The Middle East.
She also ran her nonprofit, Body Comedy, where she used humor to heal. She worked with thousands of survivors of physical and sexual violence, women, and children in many facilities, juvenile halls, prisons, and shelters.
Ten years later, Karen ended up on Hollywood's red carpet, interviewing the celeb set and writing about travel, fashion, beauty, food and wine, and the Hollywood lifestyle. Since then, she has traveled to seven continents and 70+ countries while working as a writer and photographer.
Her compelling and entertaining stories have appeared in Vogue, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Robb Report, American Way, Hemispheres Magazine, The NY Daily News, The Globe & Mail, South China Morning Post, The Gulf News, Huffington Post, and Men's Journal among many others.
This serial entrepreneur has produced comedy tours and theatrical events worldwide through her production company, Goddess Productions, and lifestyle and fashion-driven events through her event company, The Lofty Style Lounge.
Lofty loves hitting the road, sharing her wild stories and entrepreneurial endeavors with other women. She speaks at college campuses, conferences, and corporate events.
In addition to WAT, she arranges well-curated travel for individuals and groups under her travel advisor umbrella, Lofty Traveler. Lofty Traveler is a part of Cloud 10 Travel - An Independent Affiliate of Cadence Travel, a Virtuoso Agency.
I’m a huge fan of Africa. I have been there a number of times, to eight different countries, a few several times over. When asked which African country is my favorite, I liken it to choosing children. I love them all but for very different reasons.
As far as digging deep into the culture and communities, I think you are hard-pressed to find any place that does it better than Zambia. In my previous travels there, with every lodge that I stayed in, I was able to see the direct recipient of a portion of our travel dollars and how it was being spent, be it a village well, a school, or a women’s group that benefited from our being there.
On top of village visits, we on this Women’s Adventure Travel trip are privy to several special visits that have been scheduled with incredible women of influence and the local girls. So much planning and orchestrating has gone into the arranging of it all which is why I don’t think I could have picked a better kick-off for this. I am truly over the moon about this trip.
We are fortunate to be spending quality time with locals--diving deep into their community. After a trip like this, you will have a better sense of the people and the place. You will feel it. I call this ‘sand on your hands.
As is true on any Women’s Adventure Travel trip, you can always opt-in or out of as much or as little of these activities as you’d like. Kicking back at the lodge is always an option. The game drives, sundowners, and excellent dinners on deck are all in order. These special visits and events are but an added, unbelievable bonus for those looking for some sand.
Regardless, with a start in South Africa, which may very well be my all-time favorite country, followed by a very intimate trip with a mere 6-10 participants in the city, the villages and on safari in the rustic-luxe land of Zambia with serious community immersion, phenomenal lodges, a spirited staff at every turn and great game throughout, this is truly a trip of a lifetime!
I hope to see you in the jeep!