South Luangwa has been dubbed as one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The intense concentration of animals around the meandering Luangwa River, and its glittering oxbow lagoons, is one to be rivalled in Africa.
The Luangwa River is the most undisturbed major river system in Africa and is the life-blood of the 9,059 km2 South Luangwa Park. The now famous ‘walking safari’ originated in the Park, which hosts a myriad of wildlife, bird and vegetation, and is still one of the finest ways to experience Africa’s pristine wilderness first-hand. The changing seasons enhance the richness of the park, ranging from; crispy, bare bushveld in the winter, to lush, green wonderland in the summer months. There are 60 different animal species, and over 400 of Zambia’s 732 species of birds appear in the Park, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, so there is plenty for the birdwatcher to spot whatever the season! Zambia’s vegetation is diverse and magnificent, and an interest in the exotic plants and wildflowers can greatly enrich any safari-goers experience of the bush especially on foot. The more common trees found in the valley include the mopane, leadwood, marula, and the magnificent tamarind tree. However, there are also some ancient baobab specimens and several large ebony forests to admire.
While still offering the most authentic, immersive and connected safari experiences, Zambia is incredibly well connected with easy international flight connections into Lusaka. There are international connections from Dubai, Istanbul, Johannesburg and Nairobi among others to create a seamless travel network of accessibility around the world. Multi-stop safari adventures are also popular and if you were considering adding beautiful remote Zambia to your itinerary there are flights to Kigali to see the Gorillas, Namibian desert, South Africa to enjoy the Kruger, the wine lands, or a beach stop in Mozambique, and even Tanzania and Kenya for an East-African safari experience.
There are a few locations worth looking at for a memorable Zambian safari and to ease your search here is a breakdown of some of the most breathtaking lodges we recommend.
North & South Luangwa
It is the realness of the experience, that dash of adrenaline associated with standing downwind of an elephant and catching its unmistakable scent that make walking safaris unforgettable.
Mwaleshi Camp, located in the vast wilderness of North Luangwa National Park, is a 45 minute flight from Mfuwe Airport. Hidden within a secret, scenic bend of the Mwaleshi River 10km upstream of the confluence with the Luangwa River, the camp is a truly special place, unlike any other. An intimate setting with just four thatched chalets rebuilt annually out of natural materials, en suite bathrooms open to the stars and uninterrupted views of the spectacular Mwaleshi River, the camp offers you a genuine feeling of solitude and seclusion. Life in camp is comfortable yet refreshingly simple.
There are few roads in this remote area and the majority of activities are done on foot, following existing animal trails. All your senses become attuned to the surrounding bush as guests experience the variations in the magical diversity of the area. Walkers enjoy the limitlessness freedom of Africa on foot, accompanied by an experienced guide, and an armed National Park scout. Thanks to the availability of a vehicle – used for collections and drop offs – attractions further afield are available to be explored, such as the Mwaleshi Falls which is located upstream of the camp.
Mwaleshi Camp is seasonally operated. It is open annually from the 15th of June to the 31st of October
Exciting news – the brand new Takwela Camp opens has opened!
Hippos have been overseeing the construction of Remote Africa Safaris’ Takwela Camp in the remote North Luangwa National Park. Building work is almost complete in time for the new camp’s opening on the 22nd July.
Each camp is unique and in a spectacular, wildlife-rich location deep inside its respective National Park. Each is run to the same high standards that have become synonymous with the Cumings family’s multi-award winning safari operation. And, each camp is certified carbon neutral!
The well-being of their guests, the wildlife, habitat and surrounding communities take absolute priority; and you are assured of an authentic, memorable safari adventure, in the care of the very best guides on personalised and varied safari activities. With Chiawa, your safari is not only a fulfilling investment in yourself but also an assurance of a more secure and enriched future for these rare wildernesses, their vulnerable inhabitants and those that rely upon them.
If you are looking for the ultimate Zambian safari, where only the best will do, then Chiawa Safaris is for you.
“Chiawa” – Soli language for the one who shares, an appropriate name for such a camp that also honours the local people and their traditions.
The family owned and operated, multi-award-winning Chiawa Camp is located in the stunning Lower Zambezi National Park, along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. Zambia’s premier luxury safari camp, Chiawa, offers a diverse range of activities, including game drives, game walks, boating, canoeing and angling, all in the company of Africa’s finest guides. Each of the luxury tents boast spectacular views over the Zambezi River and its vast array of resident wildlife including elephant, lion, leopard, hippo and much more, which occupy this gorgeous region of Zambia.
The creative culinary team are a highlight at the Chiawa Camp, ensuring meals of the highest standards featuring beautiful and enhanced seasonal menus. Along with Chiawa’s renowned dedication to its guests, staff, local communities and conservation, allow yourself to share in Chiawa’s passion, so that you can enjoy one of Africa’s finest safari camps and the wildlife adventure of a lifetime.
“Mondoro”– Goba language for lion. The camp name honours a mythical white lion that used to prowl nearby – although “Old Mondoro” is long gone his descendants still roam the wilderness of the Lower Zambezi, wild and free.
Owned and operated by the Cumings family of Chiawa Camp, the concept of Old Mondoro is simple – to provide guests with an authentic, intimate Zambian safari that concentrates on the wildlife and bush experience, whilst not forgoing any creature comforts or service.
Whilst the luxuries and bush-sophistication of Chiawa Camp are undeniably appealing, guests will also enjoy the intimate, ‘back to the bush’ atmosphere of Old Mondoro – a unique example of Lower Zambezi National Park accommodation. As such, combining these two camps makes for the most rewarding visit to the Lower Zambezi. The best of both is the perfect combination between Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro. A 5-night combo from US$ 3 490 per person sharing (plus Park and Conservation fees US$ 100 per night.)
That said, Old Mondoro is a destination in its own right that also offers some of the most prolific leopard sightings to be had in Africa – no one could want for more.
Chindeni Camp is in an enviable location on the edge of a lagoon where hippo chortle and elephant wallow. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful tented camps in the South Luangwa and there’s something about sleeping under canvas that ignites a sense of adventure in everyone. At Chindeni you can combine that thrill with style and comfort in one of its four opulent tents. Gaze out from your private veranda onto the lagoon which attracts birds and animals from miles around.
With stripped wooden floors, four-poster beds, cosy sitting rooms, en suite bathrooms and vaulted canvas ceilings, Chindeni’s spacious tents are so inviting you could be forgiven for never wanting to leave your room. Especially when you can see so much wildlife just by stepping onto your own private deck jutting out over the lagoon.
Whether you are in the mood for intrepid exploration or perhaps some more sedentary wildlife viewing, Chindeni will deliver. Avid game viewers and birdwatchers can set out on superb walking safaris, game drives, night drives and scenic sundowner trips in the surrounding area. Or you can just park yourself in a deckchair at camp and watch the abundance of game that is drawn to the lagoon.
Chindeni is open from June to December.
At Bilimungwe the traditions of the African bushcamp meet elegance and style to create a stunning camp that feels like it has grown organically out of the surrounding landscape. Nestled beneath a huge mahogany tree, the heart of Bilimungwe is the cool, shady lounge area that looks out over one of the camps three waterholes. Settle down in a cosy armchair with a sundowner and relax as you watch an enviable display of spectacular birds and animals that clearly feel as comfortable here as you do. With the open waters of the Luangwa River also on your doorstep and a nearby plain where leopard prowl, it’s clear that this is a nature-lovers paradise, and with Manda Chisanga – Bilimungwe‘s award-winning resident guide – to lead you, you could not be in better hands.
A brand new opportunity offered by The Bushcamp Company is that guests now have access to complimentary yoga and meditation in addition to game drives and walking safaris in the bush. The program is flexible and available to guests of all skill levels. Group sessions are typically during siesta time when the sun is at its hottest, enabling guests to mindfully relax prior to their evening game drive.
Guests can request a personal 2-hour yoga/meditation session instead of a game drive. The Registered Yoga Teacher joins The Bushcamp Company fresh from a residency in Denmark.
The “new” Puku Ridge, located well inside the incredible South Luangwa National Park, is a collaboration between its new owners, Chichele Safaris, and the Cumings Family of Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro. Its position is spectacular and secluded, overlooking a wildlife-rich floodplain and waterhole, where there’s seemingly always something to see on one of the South Luangwa National Park’s prime sites.
This well-known and much loved camp’s facilities, service and guiding are being upgraded to the highest of standards for which the Cumings Family’s own Lower Zambezi safari camps have become renowned. Unique in design but traditional in outlook, it is being completely rebuilt with a lighter footprint and blends in beautifully with its natural surroundings.
Elements from the Luangwa bush camps of old have been combined with traditional village life and authentic, local art works complement crucial creature comforts making for one of the most appealing and welcome safari camp launches for many years.
Previous guests of the old Puku Ridge will feel that everything has changed, but nothing has changed, as many special touches from the past have been retained.
Last but by no means least is probably one of our favourite camps within the South Luangwa – Chinzombo. This wonderful camp lies on the banks of the Luangwa River, Chinzombo‘s six luxuriously spacious suites snuggle close into the South Luangwa’s bush. Very private, each suite has a huge bedroom with an even larger bed, en suite shower and bathroom as well as a very relaxing seating area outside with your very own plunge pool – all you need to worry about is the cheeky monkeys who often come by daring each other to drink out of the pool, they are great entertainment when relaxing after your game drive.
The accommodation at Chinzombo is extremely comfortable and the main areas are huge and very comfortable. It has been designed so that guests are able to soak in the surrounding views. At breakfast time you will often see elephants crossing the Luangwa River, sometimes taking time to enjoy a bit of a play whilst being weightless in the water.0