The eight chalets at Chongwe River Camp all have great views...
Chongwe River Camp: Our full report
Chongwe River Camp is located at the confluence of the Zambezi River and its tributary, the Chongwe River, which forms the western boundary of the Lower Zambezi National Park. The camp stands in a game management area that reaches a further 80km west along the Zambezi. This means that although it is outside the (unfenced) park boundary, the camp is still situated in a very productive wildlife area.
The location of Chongwe River Camp is one of the most picturesque of any camp in the Lower Zambezi valley. On this west bank of the Chongwe River is a large grove of tall winterthorn trees and the camp stands under their shady, cool canopy.
Chongwe River Camp has eight safari tents with en-suite bathrooms set along the river bank. Each tent is on a polished concrete base and covered by a separate canvas roof to help keep it cool during the hot summer months. (Read more about the safari tents at Chongwe River Camp...)
At the south end of the camp lie the private Albida suites. Two spacious tents that share a private lounge, dining area, swimming pool and campfire. (Read more about the suites at Chongwe River Camp...)
The newest addition, the Cassia suite, opened August 2008 and it also has its own private lounge and pool. Where the Albida suite accommodates a group of four family or friends, the Cassia suite is designed to be a private hideaway for two.
Larger groups may prefer to stay just down the river at the stunning, four bedroomed Chongwe River House. This is a totally private house with its own chef, vehicle and guide – perfect for those who want total exclusivity and flexibility this is a great choice. (Read more about Chongwe River House...)
Chongwe River Camp's main area is covered by two large canvas marquee-style roofs suspended from the trees above. The bar is a popular gathering spot for lively conversation before dinner and the comfortable lounge with its colourful cushions and small library is a cool place to relax during the day. There is a continuous supply of tea, coffee and juice available and a good selection of books to browse through in the library. You will also find points here to charge batteries.
In front of this, overlooking the camp's jetty, is the outdoor dining area and campfire, which is surrounded by comfortable wooden armchairs. On one of our previous visits, we were treated to the sight of a leopard drinking on the opposite bank just after our own afternoon tea break here!
Separate from the main area is a refreshing swimming pool a sturdy fence designed to keep the elephants out!
Numerous activities are on offer from Chongwe River Camp. Boat trips and canoeing can be done on the Zambezi River, whilst only canoeing is offered on the slower moving Chongwe River. Fishing is possible on a strictly 'catch and release' basis: the local specialty is the fighting tiger fish. Sizeable catfish and bream are also caught, and the best months for fishing are April, September and October. Day and night safari drives both in the park and in the game management area are offered. If staying for a few days, opt for a full-day excursion into the Lower Zambezi National Park; this encompasses a variety of terrains and includes a sumptuous and lengthy picnic lunch.
Walking safaris are recommended, especially to the north where the foothills of the Zambezi escarpment form the Chongwe Falls. In this area you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the elusive Samango or Blue monkey (Corcopithecus mitis). Although not rare, as these monkeys prefer humid, forested areas making this one of the few more accessible pockets in southern Africa where they can be seen.
Other species usually only found in this little-visited area of the Lower Zambezi valley is the diminutive klipspringer, which prefer the rocky outcrops found in these foothills, and bush pigs which prefer the forested areas.
The birdlife is also particularly good around Chongwe River Lodge, with sought-after species including Schalow's and Livingstone's turacos, Pel's fishing owl and ospreys.
Our viewChongwe is a great camp with a stunning location and it is good value! For the quality you get it is a very good price, especially when comparing it to the other camps located within the Lower Zambezi National Park. That said, Chongwe has recently taken over Kasaka which is a more rustic camp located a little further from the park – for those on a tighter budget this may be a better option.
Ideal length of stay: A three-night stay at Chongwe River Camp is ideal in order to enjoy the full range of activities offered, though you could easily stay longer.
Directions: A light aircraft flight from Lusaka or Mfuwe takes guests to Royal airstrip. From there it is a 20-minute road transfer to camp.
Owner: Chris Liebenberg
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Meals at Chongwe River Camp are delicious, wholesome and of a high standard. Breakfast is usually a buffet, which guests can help them selves to and then sit at the communal breakfast table. There is always a good variety of cereals, yoghurts, juices and fruit. Porridge will be warming over the camp fire and toast is made to order. There is usually an added treat – we have had scotch pancakes on previous visits and this time we had granola, with a fruit salad topped with yogurt.
Lunch is usually a relaxed affair. A buffet table often includes a selection of salads, fresh bread and a hot dish. We have enjoyed chicken sosaties (shish kebabs), quiche, rice salad, Mediterranean salad, a large green salad and freshly baked bread. For those who like a little spice – try the homemade 'Chongwe Chilli'.
Dinner is often a three-course meal served at the big communal dining table set under the stars. When we stayed we started with butternut soup and fresh bread rolls, followed by beef fillet in garlic or peppercorn sauce, mashed potatoes and a selection of vegetables. Desert was and orange and lemon tart – delicious!
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All drinks available in Chongwe's well stocked bar are included in the price.
Honeymoons: The Cassia suite at Chongwe River Camp offers the perfect combination of a private hide-away and the chance to join other travellers on excursions guided by knowledgeable, professionals. The secluded suite overlooking the confluence of the Zambezi and Chongwe Rivers has its own lounge, plunge pool and outdoor claw-foot bath.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Zambia
Birdwatching: The bird life seen around Chongwe River Camp is exceptional. Fish eagles cry; carmine and white-fronted bee-eaters nest in cliffs, giant and malachite kingfishers flit along channels whilst herons fish. Special species include the red-winged pratincole, crested guinea fowl, Verraux's eagle, trumpeter hornbill, osprey, Pel's fishing owl and the stunning narina trogon which visits in the summer (Oct – Apr).See more ideas for Birdwatching in Zambia
Wildlife safaris: A guided walking safari from Chongwe River camp into the foothills of the Zambezi escarpment could produce sightings of the Samango or blue monkey (Corcophithecus mitis). Although found in pockets throughout south, east and central Africa, this species prefers humid areas with abundant water and tall trees making this is one of the only easily accessible spots in the Lower Zambezi to find them.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Zambia
Attitude towards children: The minimum age welcomed at Chongwe is 8 years. Walking activities are only possible for children aged 12 and above. Although the decision on whether youngsters aged between 12 and 16 can join walking activities at the discretion of the guide.
Equipment: The Albida suite has two rooms separated by a private lounge and plunge pool. Accommodating up to four guests, this suite is ideal for small family groups. Larger families may prefer Chongwe River House, which is a four bedroomed private house situated just a little down the river.
Notes: Parents should be aware that the camp is unfenced and dangerous animals pass through exceedingly frequently. (During the dry season, there are elephants wandering around almost constantly.) Children should be supervised at all times.
Communications: Email facilities are available for guests on request, though those with their own laptops can make use of the WiFi around camp. There is no cell phone reception around Chongwe River Camp.
TV & radio: No
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The guides at Chongwe are trained in first aid. For more serious inflictions guests will be taken to Lusaka by light aircraft.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Night watchmen are on duty in that camp after dark to escort guests back to their tents safe from wildlife.
Fire safety: There is a fire extinguisher in the camps kitchen. Water hoses are available throughout the camp in case of fire.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is offered at the camp and included in the price. This does not include ladies smalls which cannot be washed by the camp staff for various reasons. Washing powder is supplied in each room for guests who wish to hand wash any items.
Money: A stay at Chongwe River Camp includes all meals, drinks and activities. It is possible to purchase a cap or t-shirt bearing the camp's logo, but otherwise the only additional cost would be any tips or gratuities.
Accepted payment on location: Payment in cash in US Dollars and the local currency, Kwacha, are preferred. Though you can also use Visa and Mastercard with a 5% surcharge. Amex and Travellers' cheques are not accepted.