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“Truly wonderful bush camps in a beautiful location”
Review of Tafika Camp

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Tafika Camp
Reviewed January 12, 2011

I had promised ourselves a true walking safari and so, to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversay, we booked to stay at Remote Africa Camps:Tafika, Chicoco and Mwaleshi and we were not disappointed - Tafika is a lovely, unpretentious lodge in a beautiful location on the Luangwa river. The rooms are excellent: we stayed in the 'family room' , set right by the river - it is very comfortable and spacious, and has a huge sausage tree growing through the open-air bathroom, At night we were entertained by the sounds of elephants/hippos munching on its fruits. We also stayed in the 'Honeymoon' suite, which is set on the edge of the camp and is also a beautiful, spacious room. The staff here are fantastic, as is the food, The whole camp is overseen by Heather, who does an amazing job making sure every guest has a great time. The game viewing was excellent here, with large herds of elephant, regular leopard sightings on night drives and the highlight was to see a pack of African wild dogs, which was a first for us. We also did the microlite flight with John which was just a stunning experience - do not leave Tafika until you have done this!
We moved on to Chicoco Tree Camp for a few days walking. We had the camp to ourselves and had an amazing time with Alex our guide, who looked after us extremely well. He was very professional and explained the safety procedures to us very clearly, so we felt totally at ease and confident whilst out walking. We saw lion and elephant as well as a host of plains game too. The rooms at Chicoco are set up in the tree line, very attractive, but completely open at the front which might not suit everyone. How the chef manages to create such wonderful food in such a remote, rustic camp I can only wonder, but he doesa wonderful job, as do the rest of the camp staff here.
For the last 3 nights we flew up to Mwaleshi Camp in the North Luangwa - the flight itself is a bit of an adrenalin rush, as you take off in a 4 seater plane, not much bigger than a mini! Mwaleshi Camp is set on a bend in the Mwaleshi River - it is remote and rustic, but absolutely charming - the rooms are pretty basic with dirt floors and open at the front (not for the fainthearted when the lions roar at night!) but comfortable and very attractively situated along the river, where a 'resident' elephant could be spotted most days - we loved this camp and again, apart from our last night, we had the camp to ourselves. Stephen was our guide, very ably helped by Special, whose local knowledge was second to none. We were again extremely well looked after by all the staff. We had read that the game was much more skittish and therefore hard to spot up in this area, but we saw so many animals here, including a leopard whilst walking one morning. To sum up, these camps are extremely well run by John & Carol Coppinger and their amazing staff. We had a truly memorable holiday here and I would not hesitate to recommend it. This is not over-the-top luxury for the sake of it, but extremely comfortable with great food and service, lovely staff - a geniune African experience. Thank you all for a wonderful time.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank nandi64
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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61 - 67 of 83 reviews

Reviewed September 26, 2010

Couldn't fault our stay. Everything runs like clockwork.
We saw loads of leopard and lion,day and night.
What we thought was good was the use of round dining tables to make conversation over mealtime so easy.
The transfers were well handled, including our canoe trip with our cases.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Brewersfriend
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 18, 2010

We stayed at Tafika, Chikoko and Mwaleshi camps in August for a truly wonderful eight night walking safari experience. We've often done walking in the wilds but the South and North Luangwa camps set up by Remote Africa Safaris are exceptional. Expert guides, delightful bush sites with good staff and cooking allow a total and tranquil immersion in a magnicent african experience of trees, grasses, birds, wildlife, skies and landscapes, accompanied by many contacts with zambian people. Thank you!

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled with friends
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Thank shiluvane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2010

Our stay at Tafika was a huge success, and we have stayed in other bush camps previously so have some experience. The staff were excellent, knowledgeable and friendly. the accomodation was very comfortable and the nights were enhanced by the sound of hippos chewing right outside our 'tent'. The atmosphere is very relaxed but with a high respect for the safety of the guests. The food was very good indeed. Microlight flights are offered by the owner and take place early in the morning. It's an exciting and unforgettable experience to fly low over the bush in the dawn light but book ahead as this is a popular option. We asked to go to the local village which is supported by the owners and were entertained by the school children. It's a good idea to take some pens or pencils and stickers and give them to Carol, at the camp. She will ensure they get to the right place. We had a couple of nights at the satellite bush camp which we loved. We were few in number and the early morning guided bush walks, complete with armed guard, were just beautiful. It was very hot, so we were inert for a lot of the day, and the rooms are a bit stuffy. Again, the food was excellent, ask to see the kitchen, the chef is a miracle-worker!

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled with friends
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1  Thank SandyLDN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 6, 2010

We have been to Kenya, S Africa and Namibia several times, but the Tafica camps are the best of them all. We have been twice, so far. John and Carol Coppinger have a stable team with massive experience, and Brian and Alex are great guides to be with.The setup is non-pretentious. Comfort and food are excellent. The Tafica main camp is small and personal. The bush camps at Chicoco and Crocodile have only 4 rooms each for walking. The Malweshi camp is so isolated in North Luangwa that you never see or hear anyone else.The real joy for us was being able to get out of a 4WD and walk in the wild. This is totally different and while the animals are more distant the sights, sounds & smells are stunning. The guides and scouts are very careful with safety, but occasionally a close encounter will certainly double your heart rate. Then there are the plants, birds, small animals etc where the knowledge of the guide shows their place in African life. It is simply a priviledge to walk with Ernst, Isaac and Stephen and we hope to go back soon.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank greycatox
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 14, 2009

The journey to Kutandala is , in itself , an adventure . Access is via Lusaka from where a small plane takes you to Mfuwe in the Luangwa Valley , a tiny quintessentially African airport where the majority of your fellow safari enthusiasts will be met & ferried to their various camps in the south Luangwa national Park .But for the fortunate few who have chosen Kutandala , there is still some way to go .Chances are you will be on your own . A single prop. 4 seater plane , possibly with you in the co-pilot's seat, heads due north , a 40 minute flight over " miles & miles of bloody Africa ". The pilot flies low intentionally , the iconic serpentine Luangwa river dominates the landscape , elephants & hippo clearly visible . The 40 minutes pass in a flash . " Coming in to land " we are informed , but where ? There is nothing but bush & scrub -and then we see it , a tiny clearing , a solitary vehicle in the blazing sun . We over-fly the airstrip to ensure it is animal-free, then land in a cloud of dust with the odd exhilerating bump-welcome to the north Luangwa . We are met by Samson , top local man , huge smiles , cold drinks ,open truck .Kutandala we learn is a one hour game drive away, there will be much to see . So there is , & then we are there -on the banks of the Mwaleshi river , tributary of the Luangwa .
Opposite , on the other bank ,is the stunning camp of Kutandala , 4 widely spaced thatched chalets almost hidden under huge trees. Paddling across the river in water the colour & temperature of warm tea, you are entering the home of Rod & Guz Tether -and family , they are rearing their 3 small children in this paradise .The library is under a tree , dining room & separate dining area similarly situated . The open-fronted chalets are a delight, built from local reeds & grass, bucket showers , modern loos , all of which are removed at the end of each season in early November , re-built every May.
Walking with Rod is the order of the day , a joy & a privilege -& very exciting too with the ever present possibility of close encounters with lion , buffalo & elephant -& others . Arguably Zambia's leading birder , his passion & enthusiasm for the bush & all its mysteries , are palpable & infectious whilst most comments are laced with humour . Walks in the early morning & late afternoon ,interspersed with sleepy mid-day wallowing in the river , glass in hand , binocs at the ready .Sundowners around a blazing log fire , superb meals created by the elfin, impish Guz , testament to her talents as a chef of Cordon bleu standard .
Their season is short, May to November , dictated by the rains & access . If you can take the heat , come in October when the buffalo herds number 1000 & more , lions ever-present , wildebeest herds , constant elephants , carmine bee eater colonies -and some times , wild dog . Do try & stay for at least 4 nights , but if this is not possible , you can always return to this magical place -many do & no wonder .

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank KakuliScotland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 9, 2009

Tafika is a truly excellent safari camp in a stunning and remote location in South Luangwa National Park (NP). Prior to our visit we were a little apprehensive following a recent negative review on Trip Advisor. Our experience could not, however, have been more different. From the moment we arrived, we were made to feel very welcome by the owners John and Carol and this continued through all camp staff. The guides in particular (Stephen on one morning drive only and Alex/Brian for the remainder of our 5 night stay) are exceptional and a class above any guiding that we had previously experienced on previous safaris to Kenya and Tanzania. This was also the case with regard to the trainee guides who acted as spotters during night drives.

The weather conditions in the park in October are difficult, particularly for those trying to acclimatise from a wet and cold Yorkshire with very hot dry conditions. The safari day is therefore designed to maximise wildlife opportunities whilst making conditions for guests as comfortable as possible. This means an early morning drive from c. 6-11 and then a late-afternoon drive which extends for a couple of hours or so into dark from c.4-8:30. This is perfect and the game viewing that we experienced was both varied and superb. We saw in excess of 40 species of mammal during our stay and too many birds to mention. The leopard viewing in particular was outstanding and the guides clearly have a great understanding of the behaviour of this species. As such, we saw eight different leopards during our stay including two nine month old cubs and mother feeding on a recently killed impala – something which will stay with us forever. Other highlights included wonderful views of serval, civet, genet, porcupine, greater kudu, lions, large numbers of elephant, hippo, crocs, buffalo, puku, impala etc. – the list goes on.

In terms of other aspects of the camp, the food is excellent and we particularly enjoyed the fact that meals are taken communally with 6-10 persons per table including guests, owners and guides. This makes for great conversation and we were fortunate to have some wonderful fellow guests during our stay which made for great company and some memorable evenings. The accommodation is likewise excellent and in large reed huts which are replaced each year. Each has en-suite facilities, shower, large bed etc. and are amazingly comfortable particularly when the remoteness of the camp is considered.

In terms of other activities, the microlight flight which John offers is a must. I am a nervous flier at the best of times but the views are so spectacular that there is no time to be concerned. We would also recommend a visit to the local school/village. The owners have worked with the local community for many years, particularly in improving education and the school is very pleased and proud to show visitors around. Our visit was one of the great memories of our stay and 2009 holiday generally.

In terms of other advice for travellers, we were a little concerned prior to our visit that South Luangwa is promoted as the home of the walking safari and that we may be pushed to follow suit. Whilst I understand from other guests that the walking safaris from Tafika are exceptional, we personally love the game drives. We need not have worried and game drives are taken each morning and afternoon/evening and at no time did we feel pressured to go on a walking safari. In reality, Tafika therefore offers something for everyone whether it be those like us who prefer game drives, those who love the walking safaris or those who want a combination of both. Much is also said about the remoteness of South Luangwa and that few other vehicles/people will be seen. Whilst this is certainly true of Tafika which operates in a remote part of the park it is not now true in other parts of the park which are being used by increasing numbers of safari operators. Whilst we encountered only one other vehicle during our 5 days, it is understood that multiple vehicles are now common in certain other parts of the park, particularly those closer to the main airstrip. We would therefore recommend Tafika or a similarly remote camp for those wanting to experience the true remoteness of South Luangwa.

We combined the trip with the Lower Zambezi NP (Chiawa Camp – also reviewed). Whilst the two camps are very different, both are exceptional in the particular safari experiences which they offer. Together with the very different landscape of the two national parks, the camps provided a very diverse and superb safari experience which we would recommend to anyone.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank CharlieUrlayNook
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tafika Camp

Address: Mfuwe, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Location: Zambia > South Luangwa National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #23 of 43 Specialty Lodging in South Luangwa National Park
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Home to John and Carol Coppinger, the founders of Remote Africa Safaris, Tafika is a small, first-class camp standing on the banks of the Luangwa, on the remote north side of the beautiful Nsefu Sector of South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Tafika's guides are amongst the most experienced in the Luangwa valley. 4X4 safaris (day and night drives), walking safaris, unique cycling safaris and cultural visits to a nearby village are on offer. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tafika Camp Hotel South Luangwa National Park
Tafika Camp Zambia/South Luangwa National Park

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