Best places to stay in the South Luangwa

Best Places To Stay In The South Luangwa

Located in East Zambia's Luangwa River Valley, the South Luangwa National Park is one of the world's best wildlife viewing habitats. it is an area that must be explored if you are a keen safari enthusiast. Naturally, the rivers attract the highest concentration of wildlife, especially during the dry season which is where the majority of camps and lodges are located. These areas of the park can become quite crowded at times, although the further into the park you go, the most isolated you become and the less visitors there are.

South Luangwa has a variety of landscapes from open grassy plains to mesmerising woodlands. The differing habitats support a rich plethora of eco-systems which contains a fantastic variety of game, including all of the 'Big 5' and hundreds of species of birds. The South Luangwa is considered to be the home of the walking safaris with excellent guides who take you into the wilderness without the safety of a vehicle. Only then will you truly appreciate nature's true splendour and learn about all things great and small. Game viewing is phenomenal for most of the year, but it is at the peak of the dry season when it is at its best. On top of walking safaris there is also the additional option for nights drives to go in search of the more elusive nocturnal creatures.

The expert guiding is also mirrored by the expert accommodation options. With a mixture of rustic and luxurious camps and lodges, there is certainly a decision to be made about which style would suit you better. No matter where you choose though, the personal and professional levels of hospitality are second-to-none. Many of the camps have fantastic views with many overlooking the river or other water sources which will, of course, attract plenty of game. Below we have chosen a few of our favourites:

Chikoko Tree Camp

Run by Remote Africa as part of the infamous Chikoko Walking Trails, Chikoko is a camp that truly fits in with its surroundings; this is a stunning little bush camp. From the moment you see Chikoko there is an undeniable charm about the camp and staying there gives you that sense of adventure that only bushcamps can provide. The quality of guiding and walking on offer here is hard to describe – it is truly exceptional. Our favourite bush camp in the South Luangwa National Park….by quite a long way!

Chinzombo Camp

Representing a whole new league of design, style and elegant luxury hitherto unavailable in Zambia, Chinzombo is aimed at a new class of ultra discerning traveller - it is a real winner. Combining sophisticated contemporary design with indigenous building methods and materials, the individual villas appear to float and melt into the surrounding bush. With outstanding, award-winning guiding and fantastic game viewing, this place is very special.

Crocodile Camp

As with all of the Remote Africa safari camps, the standard of guiding and simple approach to safari accommodation is what sets this camp apart from virtually everywhere else. Guiding here is up there with the best in Africa. The camp is rustic and simple yet don’t be put off, Crocodile is actually finished to a very high standard. A safari connoisseur's choice and a camp from which so many other bush camps should learn lessons from!

Kaingo Camp

Overlooking the wild Luangwa River deep within the prime safari area of the South Luangwa National Park, Kaingo has a more relaxed and personal feel to it than most camps in Zambia and offers some of the best game viewing opportunities in the area. 

Kakuli Bush Camp

Views, views and more views – the setting at Kakuli is spectacular. The tents are fully enclosed and so overall, this camp is not as rustic as the sister camps Luwi or Nsolo. However Kakuli offers a great bush experience for those who want to feel a little more ‘secure’ – this is yet again a fantastic camp from Time and Tide.

Luwi Bush Camp

Described on the Time and Tides website as ‘simple yet extremely comfortable’, Luwi rather undersells itself! It is certainly extremely comfortable and although ‘simple’ that’s the last thing that crosses your mind on entering camp, it is a simply stunning bush camp! The rooms, especially numbers 1 and 4 are superb, the guiding is some of the best around and its character and charm are undeniable. This is a camp that offers a product every true safari enthusiast would relish. We love it and regard it as one of the best bush camps in South Luangwa.

Mchenja Bush Camp

Although the whole idea of a bush camp is to be in the bush, away from all luxuries etc., there is a market that doesn’t want to lose the luxury!  Mchenja caters for this market and does it damn well.  This is a great camp in a great location – standards of guiding are up there with the best of the Time and Tide (Norman Carr) camps and this would be an ideal camp for a couple of nights after roughing it elsewhere.

Nsolo Camp

Nsolo is one of the more historic camps in Zambia, it was sited by Norman Carr in the 80s and has since moved down the river bed and turned into a seriously good bush camp. The guiding is exceptional and character in camp tangible; one of our absolute favourites in the Luangwa. A truly stunning little camp.

Bilimungwe Camp

Bilimungwe, owned by The Bushcamp Company is a great little walking camp, well regarded as one of the best walking camps in the Luangwa. Adventurous safaris are guaranteed with award-winning guides, often spending subsequently large chunks of the day walking out of camp. It is one of the more elegant Luangwa bush camps – fantastic!

Tafika Camp

What a truly exceptional camp! Tafika is one of the remaining owner run camps in Africa with John and Carol Coppinger ever present. The result is a camp that genuinely cares for each and every one of its guests. The quality of guiding here is some of the best in Africa with Bryan Jackson, Isaac Zulu and Alex Phiri offering a level that is hard to beat anywhere; they have been guiding in the Luangwa for years. Couple these facts with the setting and the excellent game viewing on offer and you have one of the best camps in Africa. We absolutely love it.

Chamilandu Camp

As with so many of the Luangwa camps, Chamilandu is a wonderfully authentic bush camp; a style of property more uncommon in Africa, and the only bushcamp with just 3 chalets in the area. It gets our vote for having the most mind-blowing views from everywhere in camp. Chamilandu makes a good starting point before heading further south in the park to the other Bushcamp Company walking camps. By designing the trips this way, Chamilandu is viewed as a less adventurous option. But be under no misconception, this is a rustic, adventurous camp.

Chindeni Bush Camp

Recognised as one of the Luangwa’s more luxurious bushcamps, complete with writing desks and solid wooden furniture, Chindeni caters for a client who wants a secure tented camp, but one that also has a sense of adventure. In our view it lacks that sense of wild adventure that the Luangwa’s bushcamps are so famous for. Subsequently we prefer the other Bushcamp camps. However for clients wanting a more secure camp than many of the bushcamps can provide, Chindeni is a good option to combine with other Bushcamp Company walking camps.

Edward Selfe

Edward is a professional guide and photographer living full-time in the Luangwa Valley. First and foremost, he's a naturalist and his love is for the park, its inhabitants and the pleasure of being immersed in the park's wild places. He has built a loyal following of guests who like to be hosted by a guide who can lead walking and driving safaris and is also a professional photographer.
With 7 years of guiding experience in the South Luangwa National Park, he puts together tours which are both a classic safari and a specialist photographic experience. He plans each safari around making the best of the photographic opportunities on offer, but also ensures that even clients without cameras will enjoy the tour by sharing his knowledge of wildlife and animal behaviour. 

Kapamba Bush Camp

Out of the Bush Camp company this property is a slightly different design with concrete walls as opposed to thatch walls like the other camps but the location is stunning overlooking the Kapamba river and the guiding as ever is great. If you are looking for a typical bush camp old school camp this may not be the one for you but the open fronted rooms are a unique style in the Luangwa valley and the camp location offers excellent game viewing.


Kapani is currently closed. 

Kapani is certainly one of the best value lodges in the Mfuwe area of the South Luangwa. Built as a permanent lodge rather than a bush camp, Kapani is a great introduction to the Luangwa and is a superb option when booked in conjunction with Norman Carr’s bushcamps. There are a couple of seriously good guides here making Kapani a superb start to a safari, and a very affordable one at that.

Kuyenda, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Many clients travel to Kuyenda simply due to sharing their experience in the Luangwa with Phil Berry, one of the Luangwa's best and most legendary guides. He certainly is a massive reason to choose this camp over others. Leaving his excellent guiding and hospitality aside, Kuyenda is a great little camp and a favourite in the office.

Luangwa Safari House

In the office here we have previously put Luangwa Safari House forward for the Good Safari Guide awards for 'best private home in Africa'. Needless to say, we think it is exceptional! With all the luxuries you could ever need, and a fine balance with the surrounding environment, we think Luangwa Safari House is architect Neil Rocher's finest piece of work. The area and location is stunning; without doubt the best place in the valley for groups who don't want the bush camp approach to safari.

Nsefu Camp

Nsefu is certainly one of the better known camps in the Luangwa and with exceptional guiding standards you cannot be let down. The setting is stunning - the views are absolutely beautiful (up there with the very best in the park) and the lodge has a great old-fashioned character. Our only slight drawback is that due to Nsefu being a permanent lodge, it is not a true bush camp and therefore caters for a less adventurous clientele. However, for those of us wanting something more secure than Zambia’s bushcamps, then Nsefu is a good option.

Tena Tena

Having seen all the camps in the area and the fact it has been refurbished recently, there is no immediate ‘wow’ factor to Tena Tena when you arrive in camp. Tena Tena work on the experience more than the actual camp. Safari enthusiasts can really appreciate this camp with its great guiding and passion for the Luangwa valley itself which is infectious.


This is the newest of The Bushcamp Company's collection and we like it! It has a real essence of 'old Africa' and is a simple, yet charming little bushcamp with sweeping views over the Kapamba River and wonderful areas to explore on foot. It is miles away from Mfuwe - so it's wonderfully remote, but that also means it takes a LONG time to get there! We don't recommend staying here first, especially off a late flight; instead combine it with a couple of the other bushcamps preceeding Zungulila and you won't have to endeavour the 4 and a half hour transfer...

Chichele Presidential Lodge

Chichele isn't attempting to act as another Luangwa bush camp, it's a permanent lodge with bricks and mortar but it really does work. Here you'll find all the creature comforts in rather a colonial setting, so if you fancy the quality of a Sanctuary Retreat but a more natural camp, then Puku Ridge would be a better option for you. The game viewing in this area is top knotch, and you'll be looked after really well during your stay in the lodge.


Tucked away just before the park entrance gate, Flatdogs is a wonderfully affordable and super chilled option to explore this stunning part of Zambia. It's managed to move away from being a backpackers camp, now closing off the campsite, so we'd call it a luxury backpackers with the option to stay in one of the camp's permanent tents on the river with everything you need. They also have the option to stay in their comfortable chalets, ideal for families and couples. We think this camp is a winner, with superb river views, it's super relaxed, feeding times are flexible and you can do as much or as little as you want.

Lion Camp

Lion Camp is a hidden gem – its remote location in the north of the South Luangwa Valley means there are fewer camps and therefore less vehicles to be met on game drives; it really does feel wild.

Luangwa River Camp

Luangwa River Camp is located in a really beautiful setting on the main river and accesses the park from a different point to the main gate. It has had a face lift since Robin Pope Safaris took it over, they've done a great job and run a good ship. It just doesn't have that 'wow' factor we look for - it's awkward to get to, which arguably gives it that remote feeling, but then the game driving area is mainly Mfuwe and therefore the busy part of the park. There are more convenient options than this for exploring the main area of the Luangwa.

Mfuwe Lodge

We're a bit undecided about Mfuwe Lodge - it is inside the main gate which is a huge bonus and means the wonders of the park are right on the doorstep. However, it also mean the entrance road is also on the doorstep to one stretch of the chalets - avoid the 'buffalo' line or you'll have safari traffic disturbing you when you're trying to siesta. Having said that, it's a great lodge - it's on the big side and not to everyone's taste, so depends what you're after, but it's got some great guiding and works well as an overnighter before heading into the bush camps. It's also famous for the elephants walking through the reception later in the year - quite a spectacle!

Nkwali Camp

Nkwali competes with Norman Carr’s Kapani Lodge for title of the best  value camp in the Mfuwe area of the Luangwa. This area is a great introduction to the Luangwa due to the quality of game viewing on offer. However the camp is not an example of the bushcamp style that the valley is famous for. As a result we often book clients into Nkwali before a few days in bush camps. Overall, a great camp but one to be used in conjunction with somewhere else.

Puku Ridge

Although Sanctuary Retreats are renowned for slightly over the top camps and lodges, Puku Ridge is a proper safari camp in a seriously reliable park. The South Luangwa is known for its small, wild and slightly rough-round-the-edges camps; Puku Ridge is possibly a bit too neat, and therefore lacking in character for us, but it's very comfortable and its game location plays a big role in making this a good quality 4 paw camp.

More information about South Luangwa – Best Places To Stay In South Luangwa


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Where to stay in the Luangwa Valley

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