Offering a mix of walking and game drives, the Bushcamp Company’s safari camps combine days in the bush with nights at remote and exclusive bush camps. Each intimate bush camp has its own style and offers a different perspective on the wilderness. All set on the southern side of South Luangwa National Park, the camps are small and high quality with excellent guides and individual design.
Kuyenda Bush Camp is by far the simplest – run by Phil Berry, one of South Luangwa’s top guides and his partner Babette Alfieri. It’s situated next to the Manzi dry river bed, and within reach of a large variety of Luangwa Valley ecosystems, from mud flats to perennial springs, to dark and shady swathes of riverine forest and wide open dambos, often sheltering troupes of baboon. Kuyenda is an intimate camp with just four little reed-and-thatch chalets, each with large windows and a domed, thatched roof, and beautiful comfortable Italian beds and furniture. Lion are often seen resting in the sand river, their communication roars echoing through camp. Next is Chamilandu, a lovely small safari camp, set on the banks of the Luangwa river with views over the Nchindeni Hills on the far side. It’s in a grove of towering ebony trees which keep the camp lovely and shady and cool.
Each of the three chalets at Chamilandu is up on stilts, with an open front overlooking the river. They’re comfortable and spacious, and have private viewing decks – although the camp also has a small, thatched hide nearby overlooking a lagoon where animals often come down to drink.
From Chamilandu, the environments close to the camp are varied, including riverine forest, large open floodplains, mopane woodland and combretum thickets - great for leopard. Further south you will find Chindeni Bush Camp. This is one of the Valley’s most luxurious bushcamps, with four structured tents, each with a large veranda. The tents all overlook the permanent Chayumba Lagoon where you can find hippo, crocodiles, and a huge variety of water birds, as well as the animals which come down to drink each day. You can sit on the decks of Chindeni with a drink and just game view!
Alternatively, you can choose to walk or drive, and the walking safaris are lovely – excellent walking in pristine areas. We suggest walking in the mornings when the temperature is cooler, and taking 4X4 evening game drives, which, after the sun sets, become night drives, using a spotlight to find the nocturnal animals. Even further south, Bilimungwe is a very smart, intimate bushcamp built on a slight hill with each chalet overlooking a floodplain where you can find a variety of wildlife, from impala, puku and warthog to leopard and elephant. The main area is very close to a lovely waterhole which is often frequented by elephant families coming down to drink. The camp is in a riverine woodland environment with sausage trees, tall winterthorn and evergreen Natal mahogany trees.
Walking safaris are the main activities here, although daylight safari drives and night drives, with a spotlight to find nocturnal animals such as leopard and lion, and the smaller predators such as hyena, genet, civet and even serval. Kapamba has wonderful views over the shallow, Kapamba River. It has the feel of a remote, pioneering camp, and in keeping with the ethos of the Luangwa's original bushcamps, Kapamba has no electricity. The paraffin lanterns that light the camp at night lend a fairytale air to the cosy bush-camp feel.
The beautifully appointed bedrooms have carved wooden trunks, comfortable beds, palatial mosquito nets, and a small writing desk. A curved wall and light coloured curtain separates the en-suite bathroom from the bedroom. The bathrooms have a large sunken stone bath. In summer, when temperatures can be quite high, these are wonderful to use as a plunge pool in the heat of the day. The full front of the chalets is completely open, and leads out onto a private veranda. At night the front is closed by wrought iron gates, resembling a spider's web. Like Chindeni and Bilimungwe, Kapamba offers a mix of walking safaris and day and night game-drives. There is a chance to see the endemic Thornicroft giraffe, lion, leopard, elephant and occasionally wild dog.
The last camp is Zungulila Bushcamp. Right in the southernmost part of South Luangwa, Zungulila is built in a remote, unspoilt area with few roads, and concentrates on walking safaris. Game is good in this area, attracted by the natural spring which feeds the Kapamba River, which can be seen beyond the open plain in front of the camp. It’s an intimate little camp, with just four spacious en-suite tents, each with its own private veranda with small plunge pool overlooking the plain and the river beyond.
The daily routine to expect at the Bushcamps:
05:30/05:45 – early morning call
06:00 – light breakfast (cereals, fruit, muffins, toast, tea, coffee etc.)
06:30 – bush walk accompanied by our Guide, the SLNP Scout and a trainee guide who will take up the rear with a backpack, which has the flasks for the tea/coffee and biscuits break around mid-morning. The walking safaris are not route marches there are a lot of stops to examine spoor, plants, trees, birds, animals and just learn different things about the area and the animals in it.
11:30 – brunch back at The Bushcamps
After brunch there is the siesta time when the animals and people sleep in the shade – you can relax on the deck of your chalet or on the deck in the main area.
15:30 – call for tea
16:00 – afternoon tea
16:30 – afternoon walk to sundowners or a drive ... this will be decided by the guests in camp and also the guide (who has the last word on this!)
18:30 – night drive
20:00 – return to camp to freshen up before dinner
20:30 – dinner. After dinner our guide will walk you to your chalet