Reviews of Chongwe River Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
OK - but not perfect
The "Albida Suite" is very good. Excellent accommodation, and a good concept. But - they do need to keep to that concept, and not invite others in the camp to dine, as happened on our second night.
We were not very impressed with our guide ("Leve" ?): he didn't see a lot and ended by dropping us at Sausage tree at 9.00am, which caused some consternation.
Logistics leave a bit to be desired (plerase call if you want more details)
We asked for a walk, and were told that "ZAWA don't allow walks because the elephants are beoming too skittish". But no problems at Sausage Tree - over to you.
Beautiful setting, sparse game at this season
The overriding memory of Chongwe will be the elephant in camp. We saw several every day, some almost too close for comfort! The staff were always on hand to advise what to do with the elephant when they came in close. The activities on offer were varied, although mainly water based.
As Lisa [Ed: Lisa is one half of this couple!] is not keen on water it was possible for her to go with the vehicle & have her own private game drive on 2 occasions when Chris went canoeing (the vehicle then collecting the group from further up river).
Going to Lower Zambezi Conservation to see Zamma the orphan baby elephant was a highlight. Silky the impala who lives around camp always turned up for her cornflakes at breakfast & was found indside a tent one day sleeping by the bed!
The food was good - however, although a good vegetarian option was provided each day for lunch, at dinner this seemed to be forgotten & the veggie option was simply the meat dish minus the meat.
While the proximity of the river meant this was a great area for birds, there was a distinct shortage of mammalian game apart from elephant & impala (presumably because the drought had meant that those animals that could had moved up to the hills in search of grazing).
Wonderful camp site and staff
Has to be one of the lovliest locations for a camp site. Would be a great experience without the addition of game.
A visit in september saw the constant attention of elephants in the camp to eat pods from the winterthorn trees. A very relaxed, warm and hospitable camp. Take it at the pace you want - lots of activities on land or water or just sit overlooking the river and let the game come to you!
Quality of food was excellent and probably the best of all the camps we experienced.
Close Elephants at Chongwe!
The venue and amazing closeness of wildlife( almost touching distance for elephants outside the tent!) gave a special feel to the experience.
the variation in activities using the river was great and staying for a few days great care was taken to offer alternative types of activities.
Chongwe is a brilliant camp on the Zambezi
We had an unusually long stay at Chogwe - 8 days. We love game drives but thought we might get fed up with nothing but rattling game drives. But it did not work out like that.
We did a lot of walks - Duncan is brilliant. In the evening we sometimes did half cruise or canoe and half game drive. We went fishing, which we don't, and caught a 50lb Vundu and an 8lb Tiger Fish, and enjoyed seeing them swim away after the photos. Cruising and fishing mean you can get up later than 5.45am - an advantage when you are making a longer stay. We enjoyed the Bush Camp for one night, and would recommend it for two.
The staff are very helpful, and will accomodate whatever activity you choose. The food is worthy of a 5 star restaurant - Russell is a superb chef.
Our only concern about Chongwe is the wild elephants in the camp each day. Inexperienced guests, especially children, might get into difficulties. Other than this we thought Chongwe was a wonderful camp, and we will go back.
Expert Africa comments
Chris, the owner of Chongwe, comments that Chongwe are in the process of hiring a few “full time ele-minders” for daytime as well as nighttime duty. Basically their job will be to usher guests safely around any ellies in camp.
The camp’s very aware of this issue, and is trying hard to address it; it's particularly acute towards the end of the dry season - and 2007 has been a very dry year in the Lower Zambezi.
We were welcomed to camp by Oliver the elephant who frequently wanders through camp!
When we first arrived, apart from the 2 of us, there was a party of 12 Italians who spoke little English. We were given a lot of support at dinner and sat with the staff, which made it easier for us.
We loved the location of the camp. Being able to sit outside our tent and look across to the other river bank and see elephant, hippo, crocodile, buffalo, warthogs and a variety of birds was spectacular. We had neither fished or canoed before, and really enjoyed these activities.
We were also taken to see a 6 month old orphaned elephant being cared for at Conservation Lower Zambezi, and shown around the site. It was interesting to hear about CLZ's education programme and how they teach local school children about the bush and poaching etc.
We were very lucky to have 2 walking trips with Duncan, the head guide, who was not only an excellent guide but a lovely person too.