Renowned safari journalist and expert Lisa Grainger recommends her favourite African camps, from savannahs teeming with Big Five, to star-lit desert wildernesses.
Recommended place to stay:
Time + Tide Chongwe
Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia|timeandtideafrica.com|
Official star rating:
On the peaceful Chongwe River, a few minutes from the busier Zambezi, this property (four bedrooms, sleeping eight) is the most architecturally innovative safari house in Africa – a thatched, Gaudi-esque creation with a pool, shaded deck and big living areas for families to spread out.
Because it’s right on the riverbank, elephants and hippos often stroll by, while beautiful birds flit through the trees. There’s an ‘out in the bush’ feel, with the security of a house.
Treats include waterfall showers, private guides and chefs and excellent game sightings, from bee-eaters to some of the Big Five beasts.
The chef, the guides and the staff are all privately hired, so the entire experience can be tailor-made, from meals to times of activities – the big draw is not having to wake and live by a set safari-lodge schedule.
It’s ideal for private groups who want something a bit different.
Game & game viewing
There aren’t many other places in Africa where you can get quite so intimate with quite so many hippos – or see animals in the water at such close range.
There’s great night-viewing, too, when lions, hyenas and leopards can be spotted, alongside smaller creatures such as bush babies. Over 370 bird species are present here.
Safari activities here include river cruises by boat and canoe, game drives, and bushwalks – guides are well-versed in both bush crafts, as well as river activities.
Walks are accompanied by an armed National Parks ranger. Wild dogs are occasionally seen, as they pup in the hills above the valley.
There can be few more beautiful places to fish. Tiger fish here are fighters (and great fun to catch – and release) while the vundu grows as big as 40kg. You can also sleep out under the stars from July to October.
Chongwe is 35 minutes’ flight from Lusaka or 90 minutes from Livingstone, then an hour’s game drive from the airstrip.
Taking the kids
Staff are happy to look after children in the house, teaching skills like animal-track identification around the house, and biscuit-making. The standard minimum age for kids is eight.
Local conservation & community
Staff are generally local, and help to educate their local villages in conservation. The camp is involved in Conservation Lower Zambezi, the local NGO, and supports two schools.
Guests are invited to the local Goma village to visit the Chieftainess, and experience life in the Chiawa Cultural Village.
Food & drink
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