4.5 of 5 Stars
Nkwali Camp is a Robin Pope camp located approximately 40 minutes via road transfer
from the Mfuwe Airport. It is set on a private conservation located on the banks of the Luangwa River, just across from the South Luangwa National Park. Nkwali is a small intimate and authentic bush camp. For us this was an ideal start off point for yet another safari in Zambias' South Luangwa. It's location is ideal as it is near enough to main gate but offers much more intimacy than the far too large Mfuwe Lodge and keeps things more low key and personalized than the many lodges in the area. Additionally there are no "greenies" here, the people in this camp seemed to understand they were on safari not at a spa or zoo. It can be along trek to get to SLNP from the US and this is a good place to stop for a night or 2 before heading deep into the park for your safari.
There are six ground level chalets. Each chalet is constructed with (3) bamboo woven walls and a thatched roof. One side of the chalet is completely exposed offering views of the riverbanks below. Our chalet had a large bed with the typical mosquito netting protection hanging above. There are no closets in the chalets, only a couple of shelves and a couple of hangars in which to hang clothing on a couple of hooks on the walls. The chalet has an open en-suite bathroom complete with double basins and dual shower heads. The showers being located under the trees and open to the sky above. I do not recommend leaving toiletries out (or anything else for that matter) as the baboons may very well steal them from your bathroom, especially if they are shiny items. We pretty much kept everything in our duffles as we only spent our first night on arrival here and then headed deeper into the camps in SLNP, but we did return for 2 more nights before heading to other parts of Zambia and I must admit a closet with some kind of lock to prevent the baboons from getting in would be a good idea for the chalets. Being the chalets are completely exposed on the riverbank side, at night for "protection" from the wildlife that comes and goes through camp, there is a grid-like wrought iron and woven set of panel doors that are pulled together to "close" the open room fronts. Of course they are still open on the top to allow the views of things outside in the night. We actually had a family of mongeese walking around our chalet and a very young hippo eating grass right outside our patio (no mother around) at night and could see him in the moonlight. During the daytime hours there are chairs and a table to sit out on your patio to watch the animal life coming down to the river to drink.
The bar and lounge area is an open air thatched roof structure and is quite large with a deck platform that extends out overlooking the river. There is a telescope for better viewing on the platform deck. Plenty of seating for a camp this small. Tea is served (along with all the goodies) in this area. Dinner and brunch are served in the Dining Area (another thatched roofed building) and it is family style. The food was excellent and they accommodated my husbands odd dietary requests without any problems.
The small "infinity" pool area is located next to the dining area and overlooks a small waterhole and the bridge that accesses camp. There are several chaise lounge chairs for sunning in the day by the pool. Throughout the day smaller antelope and of course the baboons come in and drink at the waterhole and play on the bridge.
Game Drives and walks are both offered in camp, as are other activities that take you into Mfuwe. We had asked for "special" arrangements to meet with some people in Mfuwe and the staff at Nkwali accommodated our requests. In fact they went out of their way for us (Thank you my brother Daudi!). After spending our initial few hours in Mfuwe meeting some friends from our previous trips here, Daudi took us on a short game drive closer to Main Gate - but in a direction few head, as we only saw 1 other vehicle during our drive. Within the first 30 minutes we saw 3 leopard, a female and her daughter with a kill still on the ground and a short distance away was a male with a kill he had just dragged up a tree. Wow what a start to our trip to SLNP. After a wonderful breakfast, we departed the next morning for our next camp about 4 hours away and saw all kinds of animal life en route. We returned to Nkwali for 2 additional nights at the end of our stay at SLNP, sadly Daudi had to take a walking group to Tena Tena and we had a different guide. On our game drives the last few days here, it was during "dry" season when the river is at its lowest so they drive the vehicles directly across the river without entering through the main gate area. There is a "loop" on the other side of the river within SLNP where a number of Robin Pope and Norman Carr safari vehicles do game drives. I noticed that the game was sparser here, so on our final 2 drives we requested to go in through the main gate area and how glad we were, the game in that area (again not in the same direction as most vehicles go) was incredible. We even found a rock python hiding up in a tree, an animal my husband has looked for on all our trips sine 2004 and had been elusive up until now. We found him thanks to our wonderful guide's hunch!
I would HIGHLY recommend Nkwali as a camp to start off your journey into SLNP. The staff is excellent and RPS did a fabulous job in keeping the true safari experience feel in the camp so close to main gate. We will definitely return and we may even do a walking safari to Nsefu and Tena Tena instead of returning to our favorite SLNP camp next trip, or maybe we will incorporate them all. Thank you again everyone for yet another incredible safari!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Many places claim to be "among the remaining wilderness areas" or "one of the last wildlife sanctuaries"; South Luangwa National Park lives up to both and more. The Luangwa Valley is vast, remote and home to both people and a truly impressive variety of game. The South Luangwa Park is 9050 sq. kilometer; with the river, its tributaries and the riverine strips being the focus of the wildlife viewing. There are diverse habitats, from huge ox bow lagoons of varying stages of maturity, woodlands, ebony groves, grassland and thickets, that host a great variety of wildlife. The birdlife is also excellent with over 450 species to be seen. Nkwali is located on the banks of the Luangwa on a magnificent meander in the river overlooking the National Park where leopards roam along the bank and can often be spotted from camp. Situated on Robin Pope Safaris’ private land outside the park there is a private game viewing area behind camp as well as exclusive access into the park either by boat or across the pontoon. The six chalets with bamboo woven walls and thatch roofs offer a rustic luxury opening up to magnificent views of the river as well as open air en-suite bathrooms. Nkwali offers understated elegance, seclusion and superb service. Nkwali is dominated by an enormous ebony tree around which the bar is moulded. It is this tree which, when Robin and Jo Pope found it cemented the location of the camp. From the bar deck cantilevered over the river a cool drink can be enjoyed whilst watching the sun set over the Luangwa. The six chalets are spacious and during the day are fully open to wonderful river views, in the evenings the Constantia grill doors are pulled together to close the open room fronts. The en-suite bathrooms are spacious with double sinks and showers from which you can enjoy the enormous African skies. Set back from the river on a lagoon are the dining room and swimming pool from which guests are often treated to elephants and other game coming down to drink during the day unperturbed by our presence. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Nkwali Camp Hotel South Luangwa National Park
- Nkwali Camp Zambia/South Luangwa National Park