On our 3.5 week perambulation around Zambia and Malawi, we stayed at some great Lodges and Camps (and one very poor campsite...), but Chiawa was the (very well hidden) gem of the trip.
Two things set it apart. Service and setting.
Other sites had really very good service, but Chiawa had excellent service down pat. Little things set a place apart, like all the staff knowing and remembering guests' names, all four of the management turning out to welcome us and say goodbye, thinking to have our car cleaned. Small things individually, but taken together it says, "We care and want your stay to be special".
You could argue that the Cumings are lucky with the setting, but I'd say they chose it well. I beleive the Cumings family were instrumental in forming the Lower Zambezi park and have helped nurture it since. Which ever it was, luck or hard work, the setting is superb. The mighty Zambezi is an impressive river, and to look out at it from the Camp is delightful. To be able to canoe and fish on it, in safety and accompanied by knowledgeable guides, tho' is just fab. In our all too short stay (our hired Land Rover let us down enroute..) Chiawa staff squeezed in two canoe trips, one downstream from the camp, one downstream to the camp, and two morning's fishing for (and catching!) Tiger fish, as well as not one, but two leopard sightings. Impressive stuff.
Combining these activities with filling camp fire breakfasts of porridge (with whisky or without), toast, fruits and cereals, lunch menus that wouldn't look out of place in a London restaurant., and dinners that included a candle lit bush braii in "Bedrock Canyon" mean the inner man (and woman) is well satisfied, before siestas and sound nights' sleep in the huge and very well appointed semi-permanent tents. The tented accommodation features, big, comfortable double beds and large, adjacent, bathrooms with baths and showers (inside and outside), and a couple of sofas from which to sit and watch the river flow by. Escort staff to walk you to or from your tent might sound OTT, but with elephant roaming around the camp, it is actually quite reassuring. And all the better when they point out the leopard we'd have missed, 50 metres away in the river bed.....
We will return, as so many have before us..
Leopard (tent 7) had a corner plot, overlooking both the Zambezi and the dry bed of the Chiawa river...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.