Slow safari at Tusk & Mane, Zambia

by | 22 02 2022 | Africa, Hotels, Slow travel, Travel

Back to the real essentials of a pure bush experience in the Lower Zambezi

A simple and pure safari experience was what Luke Evans and Kyle Branch wanted to bring back to Zambia. The type of camp that takes you back to the old days of safari adventure.

“When I lay down in my king-size bed with fancy silk sheets after a successful day in the bush with my guests, I thought – wow, this is beautiful. But as I was lying there looking at my pictures, I just thought there is something that I miss…”

“I couldn’t see outside and I couldn’t hear a single thing. I had all this human influence around me and there was nothing from the bush. My viewpoint of what a safari should be like changed entirely from then onwards.”, Luke tells us on our first morning with him.

Luke and Kyle are two young men who have spent the past decade guiding travelers throughout southern and east Africa’s most sought-after sanctuaries. It was then, that they decided they wanted to do things differently; go back to the real essentials of a great bush experience.

The realization of that dream is Tusk & Mane at the banks of the Zambezi river. Classic tented safaris, exactly how they used to be – campfire, bucket showers and starry nights.

tusk & mane

Tusk & Mane is a mobile camp with Hemingway-style tents with a light footprint. A ‘back to the roots’ approach built around a great Zambian team, with guiding excellence, conservation ethics and authenticity at their core. With nothing but mosquito-netted tents between us and the surrounding wilderness, our time at Tusk & Mane felt like truly immersing in the wilderness, alluring to all our senses. Floor to ceiling gauze brought a welcome breeze during the hot October evenings, but also allowed the sounds of the night to drift in. A frogs’ chorus, the rumble of lions, and the snapping and creaking of tree branches as the elephants fed nearby were our after-dark accompaniment.  

“Sometimes, tourists arrive full of expectations. To be driven at high speed across the vast plains in search of the must-have Big Five and adrenaline-rushing wildlife interactions. Yet, they don’t take the time to take it all in. Nature has its own pace. We respect and embrace that and want our guests to experience what we call a ‘slow safari’.”, Kyle continues. The pace here is unhurried, with a barefoot luxury approach; excellent guiding, cold drinks, hot bucket showers, comfortable beds, homemade food and a real passion for this great Zambian wilderness. “And when we break the camp down at the end of the season, there is nothing left but wilderness itself.”, Kyle continues.

Activities are focused on bushwalking and canoeing, besides driving and boating. It is about reconnecting with nature, not taking away anything from the humble experience of the bush. A gentle canoe ride through the channels of the Zambezi River is also what gives us an undisturbed and uninterrupted experience. With the absence of the sounds of a running engine, we silently drift by somnolent hippos or wallowing elephants. Although the term ‘slow safari’ sets the scene for a steady pace, it’s the canoe safaris that give me a real sense of vulnerability and heightened adrenaline. On the water, crocodiles and hippos lurk beneath us out of sight, and elephant herds follow our journey from the riverbanks, with nothing but a couple of pieces of wood between us and the river. A thrilling yet wholesome experience, leaving me with a deeper connection to the world and wilderness around us.

A story by our founder @jesswintz

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