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“Luxury in the bush”

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Chinzombo - Norman Carr Safaris
Miami
Level Contributor
17 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Luxury in the bush”
Reviewed July 27, 2013

I was glad that Chinzombo was the last camp of the four that we visited in Zambia. It is gorgeous and comfortable--perfect for rest and relaxation, which is mostly what we did.

Our early morning game drive was uneventful until 8:30, but finally livened up. Our guide, Willie, suited us well and seemed to realize that we'd been "around the bush" a few times and didn't need to hear all the basics. One drawback is that there are lots of other camps and self-drivers sharing the same patch of the park--we saw a dozen or more vehicles during our morning drive.

My guided walk from camp was worthwhile in terms of both much-needed exercise and useful information. I think that one can never know too much about dung!

The camp itself was so inviting that it was hard to drag ourselves away. Our villa's deck had enough comfy lounge chairs and sofas that we could move from one to another and have shade all day. Note: be sure to look for sausage tree pods above and stay out of their line of fire until the staff can climb up and cut them down!

We enjoy lazy wildlife viewing from camp, but because the camp is set on a high bank of the Luangwa River, most of the animals you see are on the far bank--close enough to spot but requiring binoculars to see well. We were glad to find vervet monkeys in the trees above our villa and hear an elephant beside our villa one night.

The designers from South Africa have created stunning villas and public spaces, but in doing so forgot some practical elements. There are beautiful bath towels but simply nowhere to hang them to dry. Most of the space for hanging and stacking clothes is occupied by handsome leather boxes and decorative storage devices that are impractical for their purpose. Lighting is lovely to look at, but it's certain that no women were involved in the decisions about vanity illumination. There is a wonderful bathtub that would take hours to fill with its meager trickle of water, and the anemic water pressure in the shower makes washing your hair a long and vexing procedure. (The managers were aware and concerned and said that a solution was expected soon.)

Managers Wendy and Findlay, both Scots, are delightful and eager to please in their first experience with camp management. There was very little interaction among the guests, with each party having its own dining table. It appeared that both managers had to work extra hard to host tables and chat with guests, whereas in most camps, guests help entertain each other. The guides have been with the Norman Carr organization for many years and the staff was always friendly and helpful. We especially enjoyed Josphat, who seemed to be everywhere at once anticipating and attending to our needs.

The food was beautifully presented--sometimes delicious and always good enough. It seemed that the kitchen was still learning how much food to prepare since, on one occasion, lunch was nearly depleted by the time we arrived at 12:15.

Room Tip: Every villa in this gorgeous camp is well located, but if you want to minimize walking (while keepin...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Thank LKMiami
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Washington, D.C.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed July 26, 2013

What an experience! We could not have been happier with our three nights at Chinzombo. This was our first camp, on our first safari, and boy are we spoiled now. We arrived at Chinzombo just a couple weeks after it opened and were one of the first "non-industry" guests at the camp. What stood out for us was simply the level of service, which is beyond anything we have expereinced. The resident managers Finn and Wendy (Scots in Zambia because, why not?) attended to our every need and want to a fault. They really made the expereince for us, and by the time we were done my wife and I felt like we had been vacationing with friends, not with managers of the camp.

Our guides -- Abe and John ("the Baptist") -- were terrific. As first time safari goers Abe and John really took the time to explain what we were seeing and make sure that we would have the trip of a lifetime. What stuck with me, especially, is the true passion and care Abe and John had for their country, the wildlife and the park. This was more than "a job" for both of them, it was a passion and something they cared about deeply. That commitment and passion came through on every drive and walk we took. On our last day we took a morning walking safari where John spent a good hour slowly walking us around to a mother giraffe and her newborn calve to watch it nurse...it was truly special to see something like that from the ground on a walking safari. As a new camp that was not fully booked during our visit we had the luxury of private drives and walks every day, which allowed us to set our own pace and just enjoy ourselves without worrying about a larger group.

The rest of the staff was equally great, keeping the camp and rooms spic and span, the food and drink flowing, and having every need met.

Food and drink at the lodge each day was magnificent and evenings spent around the campfire with a glass of Amarula, a nice cigar, and the wonderful company of Finn and Wendy is not something we will soon forget.

If you are going to South Luangwa -- and you should -- I cannot imagine a better place to stay.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank biztraveler99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
392 reviews
383 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 706 helpful votes
Reviewed June 20, 2013

Got to spend three lovely nights at the brand new & divine Chinzombo. Arrived via dubai's direct flight to Lusaka, then to Mfuwe, past boys playing football as the sun was setting, families preparing for dinner, an hour drive later, arrived at South luangwa park and took the short boat crossing to chinzombo.

I have many fond & memorable arrival experiences but arriving under a blanket of stars while crossing a river full of hippos and crocodiles and then being warmly welcomed "home" by the very sweet, abercrombie & fitch looking assistant camp managers Finlay Hunter and his wife Wendy from Glasgow would be one of my top ones.

Of the 6 villas, 5 were ready but it was just myself and a couple that were there for the same time period. We called it the Finlay house party.

Chinzombo is fabulous, all the villas face the serene Luangwa river, each stylish villa comes with beautiful recycled composite timber decks, wifi, standalone bathtub, writing desk, huge bathroom, outdoor lounge area and plunge pool. The place defintely looks like it should be featured in a home decor magazine and yet you are in the bush, ie at night the hippos and elephants visit, I definitely heard them as the elephants drank out of the plunge pool, and the hippos make so much noise you feel like they are in bed with you.

Meals were mostly delicious and home made, lunches were the best as I tend to prefer more vegetarian meals, but breakfast cooked inches away from the Luangwa river via an open fire over sunrise while surrounded by wildlife was a great way to start the day, and dinner was a slightly more formal affair with a variety of choices for the three course meal, always beautifully presented, & accompanied by plenty of stories and decent wine.

Yet only a short one minute boat ride took us into the heart of Luangwa park where we did a combination of jeep rides and walking safaris, at times feeling like we had the park all to ourselves, though for people obsessed with seeing cats, not sure South Luangwa is the place to see them as we didn't see any, though I got to see plenty of my other fav animals. "Uncle" Shaddy our guide knew Norman Carr since he was a toddler and obviously knew his stuff, the man is a walking encyclopedia, his parents also worked for Norman Carr and his daughter is also working at Chinzombo.

In sum, a great choice for safari and rest, I don't think I've ever slept in a nicer "tent" (except for the Oberoi in Jaipur & Ranthambore.... But that would be an apple vs oranges comparison ).

  • Stayed June 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Anilegna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Chinzombo - Norman Carr Safaris

Property: Chinzombo - Norman Carr Safaris
Address: Luangwa River, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Location: Zambia > South Luangwa National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #22 of 46 Specialty Lodging in South Luangwa National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Chinzombo – the next generation of Zambian bush camps – “Wildly Luxurious” open June 2013.Back in the 1950’s Norman Carr dreamt of a unique way to experience the African bush; a way of interacting with the environment respecting both the natural landscape and local Zambian traditions - conservation through tourism. NCS is proud to take the next step in this continual process of innovation. Our architects, Silvio RECH & Lesley CARSTENS, the visionaries behind such gems as North Island and Little Vumbura, see Chinzombo as another step in the continued evolution of their luxury bush-camp design philosophy. Here, for the first time, modernist architectural forms are combined with the organic geometry and regional materials of indigenous Zambian building methods to create an entirely new type of bush-camp on the site of one of Norman’s original camps.Six spacious villas – one of which is designed to accommodate a family of five are nestled within the shade of ancient trees on a wildlife rich ridge which follows a C-shaped bend in the Luangwa River. Each villa is over 150sq meters, has it’s own pool and is equipped with wifi. The most senior members of NCS' legendary guiding team are based at Chinzombo. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Chinzombo - Norman Carr Safaris Zambia/South Luangwa National Park

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