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“Unforgetable experience”
Review of Nkwali Camp

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Nkwali Camp
Certificate of Excellence
UK
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Unforgetable experience”
Reviewed August 17, 2007

I have just returned from a visit to Robin Pope Safaris in the South Luangwa National Park of Zambia. What a fantastic and memorable experience staying in the Nkwali, Nsefu and Tena Tena camps as well as undertaking the mobile camp and walking safari. The accommodation throughout was exceptionally good albeit there were no on-suite facilities on the mobile camp! The food throughout was wonderful - the only criticism could be there was just too much of it! The quality and standard of care was first class and nothing was too much trouble for the staff. The number of staff far exceeded the number of guests and their main concern was the safety, satisfaction and happiness of their guests. The organisation was superb and veryone was just so helpful. If you like seeing the environment and wild animals close up whist at the same time experiencing luxurious treatment and care then Robin Pope safaris is for you. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

  • Liked — The sheer luxury of the camps
  • Disliked — Difficulty sleeping with wild animal noises!
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Peter6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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98 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (16)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Bournemouth
Level Contributor
12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
Reviewed June 2, 2007

We went to Nkwali as the 1st part of our Honeymoon in Africa and loved it there. Each camp we went to had a different feel to it. Nkwali was great as the 1st part of our trip. The service was great, everyone was so friendly and we were made to feel so welcome.
The accomadation here is rustic, but still to a high standard. And the food was good.
There was so much great wildlife on this trip - make sure you take a decent camera - we got so many fantastic shots.
Words cant describe how much i loved this trip and i cannot wait for the day when i can return to Zambia.

  • Liked — amazing wildlife
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank EmmaLouise1978
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cologne, Germany
Level Contributor
172 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 141 helpful votes
Reviewed June 19, 2006

robin pope safaris 20 - 22 may and 24 - 31 may 2006 nkwali, tena tena and nsefu....now before i launch into this i do want to point out that most of the people we met were thoroughly enjoying their trip with RPS. they are a no doubt a very professional and slick operation. safety standards are very high. their game viewing vehicles are the best equipped (rests and bean bags for photographers etc) and most comfortable we have ever been in. all the accommodation is very nice indeed. if they didn´t have the reputation as being one of, if not indeed THE best, operator in africa we would possibly have been less disappointed. as it stands we weren´t too thrilled. we have had some fantastic guides in the past and are generally, because of a deep interest in all things "wild", perhaps more discerning than many guests. that being said we don´t demand constant predator sightings and are perfectly happy spending hours viewing impala or ele behaviour (love it!!), birding, looking at plants or insects. we are fascinated by termites for instance....and an enthusiastic guide will find us very easy to please. we were particularly disappointed at RPS with the guiding. with the exception of obi at nkwali (usually looks after guests staying at robin´s house) who was wonderful and a couple of very pleasant drives with rocky from tena tena we had some mediocre and very lacklustre guiding......we had a lot of different guides here - also unfortunate. activities in general seemed to be planned around transfers (not necessarily your own), meals and other "pressing" logistics considerations rather than the opposite way round. this can be understandable should not be the norm. to be fair we were there early season and this was most noticably a transitionary period. tena tena and nsefu were just opening. first fly camping trips of the season starting and preparations for early season mobiles underway too. rates are lower at this time too - so maybe we should have expected this....who knows.

oddly and very annoyingly smoking is tolerated in game viewing vehicles. for two days (!!)we had a gentleman in our vehicle who smoked a pipe constantly. we had objected strongly...we go to africa to enjoy the scents of the bush not to inhale somebody elses poison! the same gentleman was asked to sit at the very rear of the vehicle but this didn´t improve matters hugely since he then couldn´t hear the guide and bellowed questions (very nice chap but LOUD believe me!!) at the worst possible moments. imagine having two honey badgers right next to your vehicle (!!!) just a split second.....a roar from the rear...and they´re gone. yupp - i know i can´t blame RPS for that, but the man was really a plague...

anybody who receives the RPS monday newsletter would expect that the atmosphere to be warm, almost chummy......not really i´m afraid. i often got the feeling that we were tolerated rather than truly welcomed. all very professional and courteous of course. there were a few issues which i´ve also addressed here that we´d spoken our minds about - admittedly i can be blunt - and i do realise this probably didn´t help, but all the same.......

they have an odd camp host system here (maybe it´s the same at other upmarket camps in the valley?) of employing attractive, young and very charming ladies known as "caterers". this year´s influx arrived on the same plane as we did from heathrow and some had had no previous personal experience of africa at all. they do work and try very hard but on a day to day basis i would personally prefer to address any comments regarding our stay to a weather beaten old africa hand.....to, at the very least, someone who knows the difference between a leopard and cheetah.....but then this isn´t their fault is it?

would have loved to have met resident dog researcher kelly mentioned so often in the monday dispatches, or at least heard how the studies progress. we do have more than a passing interest (to say the least!) but no doubt she´s glad of her privacy. and there wasn´t anybody else around with time to tell us more. sorry to anybody who might have hoped we had more to report.


nkwali (two stays here 20-22 may and 24-26 may)

[--]

setting here is stunning. there are some truly gorgeous old ebony trees and the chalets are strung out along the river bank. they´re completely open-fronted airy structures and should be great for enjoying the view . they´re comfortable and very well fitted with much thought having gone into providing little extras like bathrobes and sarongs (which is a good thing since altho privacy shouldn´t be a problem if guests kept to paths BEHIND the rooms as was no doubt originally planned, we unfortunately had a constant stream of people walking back and to across the front of both of our our chalets on both of our stays here during siestas. there are curtains but who wants to shut out the view? we did point this out to staff. but gave up after we spotted a VERY senior member of the team escorting clients this way. disappointing, unnecessary and most annoying) bathrooms are lovely and fortunately very private. unless that is you object to a bird, gecko or an odd frog or two observing your ablutions! we thought they were great - especially the little "loo hut"......

lovely deck, open lounge and bar with enchanting river views

there´s a large and very nice pool. no view unfortunately (it had originally been the pope´s private facility and is consequently well hidden) but good changing facilities etc. you need to find a member of staff to escort you the 3 minute stroll here.......let them know how long you want to stay and and you´ll be picked up on the dot and trotted back safely to your hut. i really meant it when i said they take safety seriously here!

professional and informative welcome

"camp" and facilties immaculate

catering fair (did hear one amusing comment from a guest who found them very reminiscent of school)

hospitality team efficient and polite and rarely seen

safari factory nkwali....only six chalets you may think - is the hub of the RPS empire. you feel just how much is going on behind the scenes. the prevailing atmosphere is "busy busy" and doesn´t make for an intimate experience. robin´s house, luangwa house, visiting promotors and journalists, travel agents.....you never really know who or indeed how many "guests" might show up in the camp. an example.........we were rushed back to camp one evening shortening our evening drive to find the riverside deck beautifully set out for dinner.... oh how lovely!!! wrong......this wasn´t for the guests but for visiting journalists and promotors. we were allowed to have drinks with these illustruous visitors and then politely herded to the rear of the camp where we were served our dinner. tactless and a bit tacky i would say! this was also the only time during our 9 day stay with RPS when we caught a glimpse of either of the pope family.

activities and guiding see general comments re RPS above..........from nkwali park can be accessed from camp by boat, pontoon or drive via main gate which should be an advantage. theoretically you can choose between walks, drives and full day trips into the park which sounds marvellous. this often works well but is of course dependent on the number of guides and vehicles to numbers of guests (see note above on visitors) we sadly didn´t get the opportunity to do anything but game drives.....but then we had been encouraged to believe that we´d have lots of chances during our 5 days in the nsefu area.....so we didn´t worry unduly
our drives from nkwali using the area accessed from pontoon or by boat were often rather short and generally quite disappointing. there was really very little game around find. other guests on the same days taken to the busier (and at this time of the year more game rich) central mfuwe area via main gate were more fortunate with their sightings. yes - we did request a change in area, no this didn´t happen until i had a burst of temper back at camp. sorry kim! things did improve a little then, tho there were still strange incidents including a guide "missing" a 200 strong buffalo herd. i´d assumed that he was just trying find a better spot stop. we had afterall been looking for (? give me the wheel!!) these animals for over an hour....we continued and were then told it was too late to go back before lunch. you guessed....at camp we waited over an hour for another vehicle bringing visitors in just for lunch...
obi, a great guide, saved RPS honour here by taking us on a few longer and very interesting drives indeed. these were unfortunately marred by puffing billy and his pipe who i mentioned previously. one truly interesting sighting does spring to mind......we saw (with obi) a baboon chase down, kill and feed on a vervet monkey! shame the honey badgers were frightened off.....

  • Stayed May 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
22 Thank judithlorraine123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NY
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed June 8, 2006

A view to die for..truly!
magniicent guiding and game to be seen by foot and also by vehicle.
Food and accomodations was a little spartan for the price but the safari made up for that.
Avery busy camp indeed in a beautiful park......my only fault would be the value for money...perhaps I am used to more luxurious rooms

  • Stayed January 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Safarinut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney Australia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed May 31, 2006

Nkwali Camp on the Luangwa River is a dream. It is owned by Zambia legend Robin Pope, and the location of the camp, with each of its tents facing the beautiful Luangwa River, is superb. The tents are solid structures, with their own facilities. They are very comfortable, and safe from the animals that wander through the camp. Meals are well cooked and served in an open dining room. The atmosphere of the camp is very friendly, and the service is good, but never intrusive. The commitment of the owners to their guests and to the local community is clear, and it made us feel very welcome in the camp, and in Zambia.
The emphasis is on seeing the animals and birds in the nearby South Luangwa National Park, and the knowledge and professionalism of the guides makes a stay at Nkwali an unforgettable experience.
We highly recommend Nkwali.

  • Stayed April 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank cocoaSydneyAustralia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Worcestershire
Level Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed June 15, 2005

We went for our honeymoon and stayed at 2 of Robin Pope's camps. Everything was magnificant the food the people. You were treated like part of the family and the accomadation was lovely. I would recommend anyone to go

  • Stayed September 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Puzzles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Nkwali Camp

Property: Nkwali Camp
Address: Robin's private land, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Location: Zambia > South Luangwa National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #19 of 43 Specialty Lodging in South Luangwa National Park
Hotel Class:3 star — Nkwali Camp 3*
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nkwali Camp is small, taking only 12 guests, with a great atmosphere. The rooms on the banks of the Luangwa River have ensuite bathrooms with showers open to the skies. The hippos will serenade the dinner on the deck during moonlit dinners and elephant will feed outside the rooms at night. Open all year we boat directly into the park. Robin Pope Safaris has highly trained guides, new vehicles and a ratio of one guide/vehicle per 4 guests. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Nkwali Camp Hotel South Luangwa National Park
Nkwali Camp Zambia/South Luangwa National Park

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