Chiawa Camp | Lower Zambezi National Park Luxury Zambia Safari Lodge

There’s a reason guests keep coming back to Chiawa Camp, a luxury Zambia safari lodge in the Lower Zambezi National Park. It could be the warm and friendly service, the unbeatable wildlife viewing, its fantastic views over the Zambezi River or its historical conservation ethos … or just that it combines all these, perfectly.

The place

From the small airstrip in the trees, a boat takes us along the Zambezi River to Chiawa Camp, weaving elegantly between half-submerged hippo. As we approach a bend, we see a flurry of activity at the river’s edge; a bask of crocodiles are gorging themselves on a hippo carcass. It’s both exciting and terrifying to watch, and after taking several action shots, we move off for more peaceful tableaus.The Lower Zambezi National Park is lush, with mossy green grass and riverine woodlands unfolding along the Zambezi River, which separates Zambia from Zimbabwe on the other side. Elephant, drawn by the rich fodder here, are a common sighting, but we’re thrilled to see a herd at the water’s edge so soon. This is a small taste of what can happen on Chiawa’s famed canoe safaris, and we’re now even more excited to try one.Further ahead we see the camp; nine timber, reed, and canvas tents spread across the forested hillside, along with a split-level main lodge. It’s just perfect.

From the small airstrip in the trees, a boat takes us along the Zambezi River to Chiawa Camp, weaving elegantly between half-submerged hippo. As we approach a bend, we see a flurry of activity at the river’s edge; a bask of crocodiles are gorging themselves on a hippo carcass. It’s both exciting and terrifying to watch, and after taking several action shots, we move off for more peaceful tableaus.

The Lower Zambezi National Park is lush, with mossy green grass and riverine woodlands unfolding along the Zambezi River, which separates Zambia from Zimbabwe on the other side. Elephant, drawn by the rich fodder here, are a common sighting, but we’re thrilled to see a herd at the water’s edge so soon. This is a small taste of what can happen on Chiawa’s famed canoe safaris, and we’re now even more excited to try one.

Further ahead we see the camp; nine timber, reed, and canvas tents spread across the forested hillside, along with a split-level main lodge. It’s just perfect.

The room

After a leisurely lunch in the main lodge, we recline in two comfortable armchairs on the upstairs viewing deck, enjoying a coffee as we overlook the confluence of the dry Chowe River and the deceptively-placid Zambezi (after our boat ride, we know better!).When we’re finished, we’re guided to our room, which has been upgraded from a standard to a superior, much to our surprise. What this means (of course we had to compare!) is that we have double the space, a separate lounge area and the entire length of the suite, including the bathroom, can be opened to look out onto the river.We walk across the beautiful raised dark-wood floors, noting the daybed on the verandah, and marvelling at the luxury of having this stylishly-furnished suite all to ourselves. The king-sized bed is draped romantically in mosquito nets, and as I sink into it, I can feel the soft touch of Egyptian cotton.I sit here awhile and stare out at the river and the floodplains, while my partner exclaims about the bathroom’s fabulous features: a claw-foot bath, twin sinks, the outdoor shower. But for me, it’s enough to simply be here, taking in the essence of Africa.

After a leisurely lunch in the main lodge, we recline in two comfortable armchairs on the upstairs viewing deck, enjoying a coffee as we overlook the confluence of the dry Chowe River and the deceptively-placid Zambezi (after our boat ride, we know better!).

When we’re finished, we’re guided to our room, which has been upgraded from a standard to a superior, much to our surprise. What this means (of course we had to compare!) is that we have double the space, a separate lounge area and the entire length of the suite, including the bathroom, can be opened to look out onto the river.

We walk across the beautiful raised dark-wood floors, noting the daybed on the verandah, and marvelling at the luxury of having this stylishly-furnished suite all to ourselves. The king-sized bed is draped romantically in mosquito nets, and as I sink into it, I can feel the soft touch of Egyptian cotton.

I sit here awhile and stare out at the river and the floodplains, while my partner exclaims about the bathroom’s fabulous features: a claw-foot bath, twin sinks, the outdoor shower. But for me, it’s enough to simply be here, taking in the essence of Africa.

What sets it apart

A small, family-run lodge, Chiawa Camp manages to be luxurious as well as excellently managed and run, while providing a sense of intimacy that makes us feel completely at home. We love that the camp has a sense of history – it was here that the Cumings family first explored the area, where they dedicated their lives to fighting poachers and where they established the first non-hunting safaris in the Lower Zambezi.A flexible approach to schedules and a diverse range of activities meant we could do what we want, when we wanted, and we enjoyed both a wonderful walking safari and had plenty of time to try our hands at tiger fishing.The creative dinners (including a moonlit meal surrounded by lanterns on a section of dry riverbed), passionate guiding and the choice of several viewing platforms and hides at camp ensured we had the safari of a lifetime.

A small, family-run lodge, Chiawa Camp manages to be luxurious as well as excellently managed and run, while providing a sense of intimacy that makes us feel completely at home. We love that the camp has a sense of history – it was here that the Cumings family first explored the area, where they dedicated their lives to fighting poachers and where they established the first non-hunting safaris in the Lower Zambezi.

A flexible approach to schedules and a diverse range of activities meant we could do what we want, when we wanted, and we enjoyed both a wonderful walking safari and had plenty of time to try our hands at tiger fishing.

The creative dinners (including a moonlit meal surrounded by lanterns on a section of dry riverbed), passionate guiding and the choice of several viewing platforms and hides at camp ensured we had the safari of a lifetime.

At a glance

  • Intimate, family-run camp with nine tented suites (including a honeymoon suite) in the Lower Zambezi National Park, with swimming pool and gym.
  • Superb river frontage, private dining available, private vehicles available (additional cost) and flexible schedules.
  • Game drives, night drives, walking safaris, bush sundowners, bush dinners, birding, canoeing safaris, boating, barge lunches, catch-and-release tiger fishing, two game-viewing hides and sandbank dinners.
  • Children aged eight and above are welcome, but canoe and walking safaris have a minimum age of 12. (Children may come from five years but are restricted from public areas.)

  • Intimate, family-run camp with nine tented suites (including a honeymoon suite) in the Lower Zambezi National Park, with swimming pool and gym.
  • Superb river frontage, private dining available, private vehicles available (additional cost) and flexible schedules.
  • Game drives, night drives, walking safaris, bush sundowners, bush dinners, birding, canoeing safaris, boating, barge lunches, catch-and-release tiger fishing, two game-viewing hides and sandbank dinners.
  • Children aged eight and above are welcome, but canoe and walking safaris have a minimum age of 12. (Children may come from five years but are restricted from public areas.)

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

Unlike some parks in Zambia, the Lower Zambezi National Park is accessible year-round. That said, the Southern African winter, or dry season, is the optimum time to visit for the best game-viewing and most agreeable climate (very little rainfall, and moderate temperatures). As water levels drop and vegetation recedes, wildlife (especially buffalo) congregates along the river. A particular highlight in August is seeing flame creepers in flower, while the tiger fishing improves as the dry season progresses. Less spray and mist means it’s also a wonderful time to visit the Victoria Falls.

The Lower Zambezi is arguably at its most beautiful in November, at the start of the summer green season. As water levels rise throughout the area, game tends to disperse and some peripheral safari roads may be closed. Rising temperatures could be a factor in your travel choices, but balanced against this is the chance to see new-born animals (and consequently, a higher likelihood of predator action). The birdlife – always excellent – becomes spectacular as migrant species fly in. Visiting Victoria Falls in this season ensures an intense experience.

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