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Destination Tiger!

Destination Tiger!

Travel info and tips to consider when planning your next tiger trip

Chris Wood is the owner and host of TigerFishingZambezi.com – www.tigerfishingzambezi.com

Choosing the destination for your next tigerfishing trip is part of the planning process that includes gear, time of year and who to take with (and who not) on your annual Zambezi adventure.

The Zambezi River traverses six different countries so lodge and river choices are wide and varied. We have choice! We offer a selection of packages ranging from R2 000 (all-inclusive) to some over R30 000 for the same river! Sometimes our valued clients do not understand how there can be such a vast difference in price. This article will seek to clarify this and offer destination options for the various budgets that our clients have.

It’s all down to careful planning, plus understanding the destination and the results you want to achieve.

UPPER ZAMBEZI

Most of our clients want the easy-to-get-to fishing destinations. Easy access means cheaper fares and getting onto a fish the day you arrive. No messing around with expensive charter flights or multiple flight legs just to get to your chosen lodge. From a logistics and costs point of view, Johannesburg to Victoria Falls or Livingstone airports is the easiest. There are daily flights to each destination, which are followed by an easy two-hour (maximum) road transfer to get to lodges that offer fantastic fishing.

Upper Zambezi nembwe

The further upriver you go, the more costs escalate as it becomes necessary to use charter flights. In addition, lodge rates are more expensive due to the high cost of getting supplies such as food and fuel in. However, it seems that the additional costs that clients pay could have a good return on investment when it comes to better fishing and bigger tigers ...

Most of the “easy-to-get-to” lodges situated on the Upper Zambezi do not offer any significant game viewing. One will almost always see hippos, crocs and spectacular birdlife, but other mammal species such as elephant and antelope are often scarce or even non-existent. The closer one gets to Victoria Falls and the Chobe area, the better the game viewing, but the average size of the tigers can be a bit smaller. If game viewing is on your “must-have” list, we have a selection of affordable, fantastic game/fishing safari lodges very close to Victoria Falls. A funny fact is that the majority of our clients turn down an opportunity to visit the magnificent Victoria Falls as a free option en route to their choice of lodge, preferring instead to get in an extra hour on the river – dedication indeed!

Happy guides make happy clients!

All of these lodges enjoy close proximity to towns and therefore offer reasonably priced extras, i.e. drinks bills that don’t kill the budget and good data connectivity.

MIDDLE ZAMBEZI

Houseboat on Kariba

The Middle Zambezi (Zambezi Gorge and Lake Kariba) can also be accessed by flights into Victoria Falls/Livingstone, but they are followed by a two- to three-hour road transfer to lodges and houseboats based in the towns of Binga and Mlibizi. One of our most popular lodges, Sidinda, is located right in the gorge, approximately 60 km below the actual Victoria Falls. It is wild and remote and reasonably priced, due once again to easy logistics. However, when clients request Kariba (town), logistics dictate much higher prices, as clients have to fly into either Harare or Lusaka and then transfer down (or up) to the town of Kariba by road or charter flight, which can be very costly. Kariba does however offer a great balance of fishing and game viewing, and there is nothing to beat chugging down a bitterly cold Zambezi while cruising around this magnificent lake on a chartered houseboat. This is still, in my opinion, one of the best fishing packages we offer.


Lake Kariba also offers island options, if spending time on a houseboat is not your idea of fun (I can’t think why!). The islands are all reasonably placed (and priced) and can be accessed by speedboat and/or a short air charter hop if you are in a hurry. The famous Kariba Ferry, which plies its trade from Kariba in the east to Mlibizi in the far west, will also drop clients off at some of the island lodges that we offer. It is a “slow boat to fishing” for anglers not in any particular hurry but who want to enjoy the full Kariba experience. It comes highly recommended if the ferry schedule is in line with your planned trip.

In the net!

From a fishing point of view, Lake Kariba can be fished successfully during most times of the year. If clients do not mind the additional costs involved with getting there, Kariba is an excellent choice.

LOWER ZAMBEZI

Moving down the river below the Kariba Dam wall, we get to the Lower Zambezi. This destination is one of our super premium-priced areas due to the cost implications of travel logistics. Harare or Lusaka is your first port of call and then a road or air charter will take you the rest of the way. Due to the lodges also being “game-rich”, we find that our SA fishing clients are competing against the international “high rollers” who are willing to pay megabucks for the opportunity to see the fantastic game animals that abound in this magnificent area.

We are always on the lookout for lodges and camps that are willing to focus on the fishing market and who offer value-for-money packages that appeal to the TigerFishingZambezi customers. We are hoping that in early 2016 we should be able to offer some new lodges that will package affordably in this area. For now one should expect to pay in the region of R26 000 upwards per person for a fly-in Lower Zambezi fishing adventure.

SO WHY USE A SPECIALISED TOUR OPERATOR TO GET YOU ONTO A BIG TIGER?

One common behaviour pattern we have seen over the years is for clients to try and make contact with the lodge owners directly to make a booking. There is a perceived benefit that the price will be better. Before you get all the information and quotes from an operator and then get hold of the lodge directly, consider this:

  • Lodges and camps rely on us to put “bums in beds” and therefore offer us better rates as we send hundreds of clients every season. The nightly rate you get from an operator therefore will never be more and will mostly be less than the rate you can get, plus you will have the added benefit of not having to phone another country to make your reservation or make an expensive international transfer to pay for your booking.
  • We know the right time of the year to fish each particular stretch of the Zambezi River and which method will produce results.
  • We match our clients’ fishing needs and expectations versus the amount of money they have to spend on a Zambezi River trip to give them the best value for their fishing buck.
  • We only work with quality lodges that have one thing on their mind – to get you, the client, onto big fish as affordably and professionally as possible. 99% of our lodges do not offer camping. In fact, let me be more accurate – 100% of our lodges do not offer camping.
  • Lodges will not accept rands; it is not a common currency up on the Zambezi. We absorb all the costs of making a payment to a foreign country as we pay our suppliers in bulk.
  • The airlines give us the best possible prices on airfares to enable us to make our packages affordable.
  • We have a proven track record with clients and lodges owners as we have been doing business in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana for 25 years.
  • We have stayed at all the lodges in our portfolio, slept in the beds, eaten the food, fished on the boats and caught some incredible fish. Some may use the expression, “a terrible job, but someone’s got to do it!” We do it so you do not have surprises when you arrive, plus we do it to enhance our knowledge of the area and the fishing. It is what we do and we share this knowledge with all our clients.
  • I am happy to meet all our clients at Mia’s, Randburg or Frontiers in Bryanston to discuss and help with any gear purchases. It is a free service for Johannesburg customers. Phone advice is offered free for all our customers in the rest of South Africa.
  • When the proverbial pawpaw hits the fan, you have the full support of me and my team to get things sorted. That is called service, which means nothing in this day and age until ... you don’t get it!