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Zambia Travel Report and Lodge Review

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  pippa Wednesday, 27 June 2007 09:22

Zambia Travel Report and Lodge Review

01. - 04. June 2007 TONGABEZI and SINDABEZI – Livingstone

01. – 03. June 2007 TONGABEZI

Very nice chalets and wonderful spacious houses like treehouse, dog’s house etc.
Very attentive “valet”
Poor meals (presentation and variety should be improved urgently so that the “luxury” standard of which the rates are based on can be maintained)
Poor “activities management” (one couple from Netherlands was left behind for the lunar rainbow; they planned the whole safari around lunar rainbow!). We ourselves got aware of the Lunar rainbow (full monn - months febr-june when the zambesi has got lots of water!) just by accident but were taken far too late to the falls so that we could not see the lunar at all! We left TONGABEZI at 20.20hrs for vic falls but when we finally reached the falls the lunar was gone – but they charged for thos activity!!!
Advise to wear decent walking shoes for vic falls was also false! Flipflops are the shoes for such a walk! The heli ride was due when we were on the way to the falls so that this had to be postponed till the afternoon. Overall impression of the activities management: rather poor!) I would rather book activities with a local tour operator in order to make sure my clients get what they want!

03. – 04. June 2007 SINDABEZI

Very nice open accommodation and very good meals!
1 night there is perfect as activities have to be done from tongabezi.

04. – 06. June 2007 STANLEY’s Safari Lodge

Very good accommodation, excellent staff and delicious vegetarian meals!
Activities from there are rather very expensive. No activity included in the rate. But this shouldn’t be a problem at all!
The cottage we stayed in should be only booked for clients with a rather high level of tolerance because there the guest might face a staff or visitor entering its room while he can be clearly watched while using the toilet as there is no door and the toilett faces the openness of the room! my bookings clearly state that this cottage won’t be one for our guests!

06. june zambian airways flight livingstone-lusaka followed by
06. June proflight LUSAKA to JEKI airstrip/lower zambesi

06. – 07. June 2007 OLD MONDORO

Very simple but somehow nice rustic chalets. The extremely friendly and communicative hostess Helen makes up for the lack of comfort.
Very nice location!
Very good meals and nice game drive.
Very good for walking safaris because of the open space only dotted mainly with winterthorn trees!

07. – 09. June 2007 SAUSAGE TREE CAMP

Spacious tents (reed walls with tent roofs) but based on the reed walls extremely high concentration of small flying insects after the lamps are on.
The walkway which leads parallel to the river along the honeymoon tents MUST be cut off for any trespassing because while making use of the bathroom one could not be sure there won’t be any trespassing – especially after dark. The situation was: while sitting on the toilet one could cleary watch the river flowing by as the wall were only approx. 1 m in heights! Makes the client feel uneasy especially after dark when he uses the bathroom.
Very friendly and communicative hosts
Very good activities! Anything can – nothing must! Extremely nice athmosphere!

09. – 11. June 2007 CHONGWE river camp

Very nice tents but somehow run done amenities (wardrobe etc.) which will be refurbished soon according to chris. No mosquito net! The staff insists on “mosquito proof tents” we all know there is no such thing like a “mosquito proof tent” in the world! Somehow amazing how camp owners jeopardize the health of the guests especially under consideration that mosquito nets don’t cost a fortune!
Good activities, good gamedrives.
Very poor vegetarian meals despite knowing well in advance of our request. Dinner was vegetarian starter but the “ordinary carnivore main course” just leaving the meat out which meant for vegetarians e.g. carrots and mashed potatoes! For a luxury camp this is inacceptable!
Site inspection chongwe house.

11. June 2007 pro flight royal airstrip – mfuwe / south luangwa

11. – 13. June 2007 NKWALI Lodge

Very comfortable accommodation.
Good activities and game drives.
Delicious meals and excellent staff!

13. – 15. June 2007 NSEFU Lodge

Very nice accommodation despite being a bit small when the mosquito nets are lowered in the evening.
Very good meals.
Good activities and gamedrives.
Very nice staff!
Site inspection of TENA TENA, luangwa house and robin’s house..
Very nice tents/no mosquito net.
good location.
Service and gamedrives cannot be estimated.

5. – 17. June 2007 KAKULI tented camp instead of the booked MCHENJE camp

On arrival we learnt that we won’t be accommodated at the booked and confirmed camp. Instead we had to stay at Kakuli tented camp which is very basic and cannot be considered a luxury tented camp at all!
No moskito nets.
Very basic open bathroom with only a couple of mats on the sand. Very limited space for bathroom amenities. No clothes hangers, neither rack nor wardrobe in the sleeping tent! Only 2 mini tables available for clothes, equipment etc.
Poor meals but very good snacks.
Good game drives despite some of the guides just drove and we found the game – especially the night drives! They did not watch out for tracks. The spotter just worked the spotlight. Site inspection of the other 3 norman carr camps of which only mchenje is to be considered “luxury” despite I have not experienced its service, meals, gamedrives.
Kakuli has a good location.
Based on our experiences we would not book Norman Carr camps because I cannot risk my reputation in case Norman Carr just shifts our clients from the booked camp to another simply because the originally booked camp has been overbooked.
The mchenje hostess insisted on kakuli camp and mchenje is almost equal in quality and amenities which is definitely not the case. If they have a rank I would rank kakuli and the other 2 camps 3 stars and mchenje 5 stars.

17. – 19. June 2007 MFUWE lodge

Very comfortable accommodation.
A good lodge at the end of a bush experience before leaving the country.
Good location at the lagoons for year round game viewing right from the rooms.
Acceptable meals.
No drinks included in the rate accept during game drives which is inacceptable at that rate! Even for dinner they offered no house wine.
Good game drives.
Very attentive staff especially when they saw my swollen lip as a result of a bee sting at the inner side of my lip which happened while staying at kakuli. the staff at mfuwe provided antihistamine tablets and ice to cool.
Gamedrive vehicles are rather uncomfortable. In case the lodge is packed they pack also the vehicles which means 3 pax in a row – no “window seat guarantee"! This is even more uncomfortable as photographers have to carry equipment on their lap and the person in the middle will bump into the others on end! For a lodge in that price range rather inacceptable!


Zambia seems to be an extremely expensive safari destination in view to “value for money”. Compared to Botswana which still has got a “luxury” label Zambia’s camps keep well up with Botswana rates (except mombo and some other wilderness camps) but obviously has neither the skill nor the experiences and attitude to provide luxury in most of the camps except nsefu and nkwali.

Tongabezi, chongwe and sausage tree have to improve either their service or their accommodation or both in order to play in the luxury league.
Old mondoro is not a luxury experience at all and will only be sold to hard core walkers who are willing to compromise on comfort.
Norman carr won’t be considered due to the reason I mentioned above.
e.g. freshl orange juice instead of double or triple concentrated juice should be available. None of the carr camps provided decent juices nor cheese board after meals.

Safari is about wildlife, meals and drinks. Is one of the mentioned 3 is not up to expectation the whole experience is at stake.

Gamedrives/Wildlife: I would consider the wildlife “average”. But this might improve during the drier months when the animals are forced to frequent the waterholes.

Very disturbing to me (and my clients): no buffer zone between the national park and the “game management area”.
Safarigoers pay a fortune to track and see the big cats and higher and lesser game. Especially when it comes to the cats, kudus, elephants……. it’s absolutely disgusting that one pays a lot of money in order to find and photograph a big cat etc. well knowing that the lack of these animals is based on the vital fact that they cross easily into the killing zone of the game management area. And a gracious cat might have been shot just the day before.

This educational has shown that it is essential to experience any camp in order to estimate its service, meals and drives in order to be marketed properly because especially safaris are enormously depending on good and consistent quality in every aspect.


Based on the experiences I have made during the educational I see very good chances for all robin pope camps. A very good combination would make improved chongwe and/or sausage tree together with nsefu and nkwali.

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