John Coppinger is the owner of Remote Africa and is highly-respected as a guide and operator in Zambia. With a reputation for bush adventure, whether on land or by river, he contributed some invaluable information on walking and mountain bike safaris for our active safari story – and detailed more about the Luangwa Valley as a destination for guests looking for memorable safari experiences.
What do you love most about the Luangwa Valley?
There is no other place I know where nature is so strong – there is very little commercial development along the entire length of the river. Being a floodplain, the mid-Luangwa becomes inaccessible during the rainy season and this gives time for nature and the wildlife to reign supreme.
What makes it a special place for mountain bike safaris/walking safaris - and what makes cycling and walking in this place so special to you?
Cycling and walking are similar in that one becomes a part of it all, unlike being on/in a vehicle and somewhat detached from the surroundings. There are obviously benefits to both for different people but being a part of it sharpens one’s senses and the subtle signs and minutiae of the bush, not to mention behaviour of dangerous game, become a lot more interesting, important, and enjoyable.
Tell us the story of how you ended up in Zambia. What drew you there? What has made your passion for these places so enduring?
Well, I didn’t ‘end up’ here…I was born here! My father introduced me to the Luangwa Valley in the 60s when he was surveying the Great East road and was based in Eastern Province for some months. The family would join him on long weekends and go down to the Valley for a few days. That’s when it all started for me.
The sun is setting. Tea, G&T, or beer?
Tea when I am with guests, beer when we get back to camp!
What is the first place that comes to mind where you would love to drink it along your route on one of your safaris? Why there?
Right at Tafika Camp which offers a magnificent vista.