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Hotel Highlights

  • Incredible posititon on the Lower Zambezi river
  • Luxury tented rooms with outdoor bathrooms
  • Animals wandering freely around you

Overview

Elephants, water buffalo and monkeys are standard fixtures at the classic luxury safari resort, Chiawa Camp hotel in Zambia. Surrounded by lush savannah, the nine handosme tented suites with dark wood interiors include indoor and outdoor showers and baths and a private deck from which you can watch the amazing wildlife at your doorstep. It’s an all-inclusive affair, with morning and evening game drives, drinks whenever you’d like them, and Afro-Euro cuisine served at mealtimes.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Chiawa Camp with us:

A private candlelit dinner floating on the Zambezi

Facilities

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Chiawa Camp hotel - Lower Zambezi - Zambia

Need To Know

Rooms

Nine tented chalets.

Check–out

12 noon, but flexible.

Rates

Double rooms from $1991.38, excluding tax at 16 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of $85.00 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates include all meals and drinks, day and night bush drives, game viewing by boat, and park fees.

At the hotel

Rooms have roll-top baths, outdoor showers and private decks.

Our favourite rooms

All the chalets have similar facilities and locations, but the Honeymoon Classic tent has a double roll-top bath. Superior Safari Tent I is the most private; its bathroom, on a raised timber deck with thatched roof, has a very outdoors feel. Luxuriate in the bath with voyeuristic monkeys, baboons, elephants and antelope for company!

Poolside

There is an unheated plunge pool with sunloungers.

Packing tips

Bring suitably robust footwear for bush walks. A 200mm telephoto lens is the minimum required for decent wildlife photos.

Also

There is a library, well stocked with books on the local wildlife.

Children

Over-eights are welcome (extra beds are $325 a night). Exceptions can be made for younger children on request.

Food & Drink

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Chiawa Camp hotel - Lower Zambezi - Zambia

Hotel Restaurant

Breakfast is at sunrise. A light lunch is served at 12 noon and dinner is served at 8.30pm, subject to game-watching activity. The table d’hôte menu features Afro-European fusion food.

Last orders

Normally 10.30pm, due to the sunrise start the following morning. Drinks are included in the price of the rooms.

Room service

Any meals can be cooked to order and served in the rooms, given sufficient notice. Each room has a two-way radio to order food with.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Practical. Anything zebra-print would be a mistake.

Top table

All tables have fantastic views of the river.

Local Guide

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Chiawa Camp hotel - Lower Zambezi - Zambia
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

The Lower Zambezi National Park combines both plain and river habitats and contains a mezmerising array of wildlife. River safaris are the best way to see elephants, buffalo, hippos and a wide range of birdlife. Fish eagles can be seen and heard for miles around. A day-long canoe trip is a wonderful experience. Ask staff to arrange boat trips or walking excursions.

Night drives may well result in a sighting of civet cats, porcupines and genets. The region also contains many big predators such as lions, leopards and cheetahs. The Lower Zambezi National Park also has a wild dog conservation programme and this is one of the best places to see these rare creatures.

+ Enlarge
Banks of the Zambezi

Chiawa Camp

Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia, 10101

Planes

It’s remote, but the hotel can be easily reached from Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. The city’s international airport is served by carriers including British Airways (www.ba.com) and South African Airways (www.flysaa.com). From Lusaka, the easiest way to reach the resort is by a 30-minute transfer flight to the Jeki airfield, from where guests will be transferred to and from camp via an 80-minute drive or a combined drive and boat ride through the national park.

Automobiles

The drive from Lusaka will take three hours (though road quality varies), followed by a two-hour boat ride through fishing villages and the national park.

Reviews

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Chiawa Camp hotel - Lower Zambezi - Zambia

Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Tangible excitement mounts as the engine revs; Mrs Smith gently squeezes my hand; final checks are done. ‘Hear it's going to be a bumpy ride,’ says the co-pilot to the captain in his warm Lusakan twang. Mrs Smith feigns confidence but the squeeze noticeably becomes a clamp. And we're away! The six-seater rockets down the runway of the 'international' airport; departures are a slightly …
Read more

Chiawa Camp

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Tangible excitement mounts as the engine revs; Mrs Smith gently squeezes my hand; final checks are done. ‘Hear it's going to be a bumpy ride,’ says the co-pilot to the captain in his warm Lusakan twang. Mrs Smith feigns confidence but the squeeze noticeably becomes a clamp. And we're away! The six-seater rockets down the runway of the 'international' airport; departures are a slightly less formal affair here than where we began this adventure back in Blighty.

Confident or nervous, the flight takes my breath away, the Lower Zambezi National Park stretching as far as the eye can see in any direction. The high peaks of the escarpment lead down to the savannah plains surrounding the river – Zambia to the left, Zimbabwe to the right; just remember to keep cameras to the ready at all times. After much begging of the pilot to do a Top Gun-style fly-by (I know, clearly an Eighties kid at heart), I got to have my dream come true, only this time it was of a bloat of hippos gently cruising round the river we were buzzing instead of a control tower. Mission accomplished.

Much to our disappointment, we were denied the opportunity of the high-speed river transfer, and dodging crocs while sipping cocktails, as the required air strip was having another layer of dirt put on it to make it more ‘all weather’. Instead we had the pleasure of long, hot, dusty midday ride, our snooze only being rudely interrupted by wild dogs. This was an auspicious start, however, as many bush aficionados never get the chance to see these rather ugly mutts. We parked about three inches away from some of Africa’s most vicious killers. (They kill in seven out of ten hunts, according to that wealth of information driving our convertible, no-doored Land Cruiser.)

The camp itself is set right on the banks of the Zambezi –, the only permanent building being the most important: the bar. This thatched two-storied affair gives you a spectacular viewing platform and somewhere to enjoy a romantic breakfast. For the time being, we were shown to our tented suite and given the rules: ‘Now remember, there are no fences around the camp so, after dark, you have to be escorted everywhere you go.’ Mrs Smith and I exchange glances. What, pray tell, is stopping the lions during the day? As we learnt during our stay though, one of the greatest pleasures of being in the bush is the sense of space, the lack of constraints, the freedom from the BlackBerry and all that.

We were greeted by a view from the suite’s dark mahogany deck of a dry river bed leading to the Zambezi, with buffalo, hippos and impala casually basking in the afternoon sun. The deck doubles as an airy bathroom so that you can enjoy the spectacle from the roll-top bath or the outdoor shower. (Luckily the loo benefits from a strategically placed partition.) Despite its wild setting, our suite wasn’t short on luxury, with acres of bed shrouded in mosquito nets, and a soft white couch to collapse on after a day out searching for game. The 1920s fans and bedside lamps even have back-up battery power in case the mains fail.

‘Echo, Charlie, Alfa, Foxtrot – Zulu Chief to base, over.’ Yes, the child managed to get his dirty mitts on the radio. Our guide promptly arrived to escort us to dinner and no more was said on the less-than-adult use of the radio. I could see he found it funny though by that smirk on his face – or was it the ‘safari look’ I had tried to achieve on the clothing front? Cocktails were served at 7pm and dinner was a communal matter, which, despite our initial misgivings (us being Londoners of the traditional ilk who don’t even dare look at others), was a riot of conversation and much mirth.

This is the heart of the camp where Grant and Lindsey, our hosts, spin yarns of life in the bush to us city-dwellers well into the wee hours (trust me, 11 o’clock in the bush is late). As we sipped Amarulas on ice, the air was filled with the ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ of a very jealous audience.

The next day, we headed out early on a game drive. Don’t even get me started on the pride of enormous lions with piercing yellow eyes that just stare maliciously straight through you, or the profusion of thousand-year-old baobab trees staffed by fish eagles, crying like Frodo’s Ring Wraith nemeses. This fantastic experience was followed by an invitation from a wonderful Swiss couple (travelling with their own private pilot, no less) to lunch out on the Zambezi – service immaculate, setting flawless, food just right and drink free-flowing.

Over lunch, your evening preferences are taken: ‘What would you like for dinner, sir? Game drive or canoe down the river?’ Except this evening was no ordinary one. I had a few plans up my sleeve and co-conspirators in the two-staff-to-one-guest camp were not hard to come by. Mrs Smith had hit a milestone – her fourth decade beckoned – and where better to celebrate it than in such a place?

We spent a magical evening watching the sun set while elephants swam across the fiery red river. As darkness fell, the Land Cruiser collected us downstream for a night drive and a mission to fulfill my entirely unreasonable demand to see a leopard. Within an hour there he was, a magnificent sight in the headlights of the jeep, chasing his own tail. This was very shortly exactly what we appeared to be doing.

Joe, our previously infallible guide, seemed to be completely lost. We stopped to get our bearings. ‘What’s that?’ shouted Mrs Smith. ‘Ssshhh, looks like poachers,’ whispers Joe. ‘Sorry guys, we need to check this one out.’ Hearts beating wildly, we round the corner and bang – before us is one of the most beautiful settings for dinner I have ever seen. Everyone is there and smiling at our surprise. Encircled by lanterns, we sit down at a table laden with delicious food as the smoke from the braai rises into the night sky and an African choir bursts into song.

The Guestbook

Reviews of Chiawa Camp from Smith members

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