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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > September 2016 > A drive on the wild side

A drive on the wild side

Set off on a self-drive road trip beneath the big skies of Zambia: roaming among big game by day, pitching under the stars at night and casting off in a canoe at the road’s end
Camping beside an oxbow lake at Kalovia campsite, close to one of the largest hippo populations in Africa

RULES 47–54 OF THE ZAMBIAN Highway Code concern animals. They offer considered advice like: ‘Do not carry animals on vehicle roof-tops’; ‘If you have an animal in your car… make sure it cannot disturb you’; and, most concerning of all, ‘Be careful around larger game animals (which) may charge your vehicle, causing damage and endangering your life.’

For further study on this last point, an excellent resource is YouTube. On YouTube you can carefully identify hazards such as: monkeys prizing windscreen wipers off a Land Rover, a rhino enthusiastically sinking its horn into a Renault Mégane, an elephant flipping a minibus on its side. This is all required homework if, like me and photographer Phil Lee Harvey, you are about to set out on an 800-mile road trip across Zambia in a Toyota Land Cruiser, driving unsupervised among the big beasts of the African bush.

‘The important thing is to respect all animals’ suggests Mark Geraghty, a representative of 4x4 service Safari Drive, handing me the keys to said Land Cruiser in the parking lot of Lusaka airport. ‘The animals were here before you. Remember: in the wild anything can happen!’

Where most safari-goers travel in the company of a knowledgeable guide – on hand to deal with difficult situations, supplying complimentary mints in times of acute crisis – on a self-drive safari you are your own guide, driver, navigator, cook, first-aider and engineer. Some say self-driving heightens the best elements of safari: the dizzy sense of being truly alone in the wilderness; the tantalising proximity to things that can theoretically slice, stomp and poison you in terrifying and fascinating ways. There are few places better for such an adventure than Zambia: among the most sparsely inhabited countries in Africa, with remote swathes of forest and grassland bisected by mighty rivers and arrow-straight highways that stretch to the horizon.

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About Lonely Planet Traveller (UK)

Soak up the brilliance of the Sunshine State on a Great Escape to Florida, discover a little-known corner of Italy, dip in to Seville’s southern charms on a weekend break, have thrilling wildlife encounters on a self-drive adventure in Zambia, enjoy unique travel experiences on a modest budget, and much more
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