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:
Old Mondoro Camp
Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia|www.chiawa.com|
Official star rating:
One of the best family-run camps in Zambia, Old Mondoro was started by the Cumings family, who also run the renowned Chiawa Camp.
With just four tents, this reed and canvas camp is incredibly intimate – and set right on the Zambezi River, which is surrounded by seriously wild game from big cats to hulking elephants – that regularly hang out between (very thin-walled) rooms.
There are few views as pretty as those from the bathrooms (of elephant munching leaves a few feet away, lion passing by). This is untouched Africa; you feel the wilderness, being so close to big beasts – it’s not for anyone who’d be worried about creatures watching them in the bath.
The set-up might look raw, but the guiding, food and service are of a standard you would expect in a city, not under a tree.
Game & game viewing
This is one of the best places in Africa to see game from the water: buffalos, snorting hippos, dinosaur-sized crocodiles. Expect to see lions and, sometimes, elusive wild dogs.
This isn’t a tame reserve: it’s untouched Africa, and on walks, ramblers often come across one or two of the Big Five (and a croc or two).
Birds are magnificent and on night drives, aardvark and nocturnal creatures are often seen. If you want to see leopard spots up close, you need binoculars.
Canoeing here is not just excellent exercise, but a great way to see wildlife close up. Not for sissies: the pods of hippo are big – as are the crocs.
There’s excellent tiger fishing along the Zambezi, as thrilling as elephant tracking.
Guides & guiding
The training, initiated by the Cumings in the area, ensures that guides are local, professional – and expert. They regularly win Best Guides in Africa awards and offer excellent bush walks; the guides know the fauna, flora and the habits of every creature.
Local community & conservation
Old Mondoro is one of the most involved of all safari camps in conservation, education, Aids prevention and community involvement. The training, initiated by the Cumings in the area, ensures that guides are local, professional – and expert, regularly winning Best Guides in Africa awards.
Taking the kids
While children over 12 are accepted, this is a very wild bush camp, with big predators all around, so children have to be responsible and well supervised.
The camp is a 30-minute drive from Jeki airstrip, and a 35-minute flight from Lusaka.
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Food & drink
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