Old Mondoro Bushcamp

Old Mondoro Bushcamp: Our full report

Rooms
4 bush chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (98%) From 55 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
Late Apr to first week in Nov

Taking its name from the Shona word for ‘lion’, Old Mondoro is owned and operated by the Cumings family. It’s a small, relatively simple bushcamp situated in a remote area of Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, and overlooks reed islands in the Zambezi River where elephants regularly feed and hippos bask. With just four bush chalets, Old Mondoro has an exclusive, intimate atmosphere. Reed walls enclose each chalet on three sides whilst the front has just a waist-high wall, leaving the rest open to the view . At night, canvas flaps are rolled down over these 'windows' for safety.

Two of the chalets overlook the Zambezi River, whilst a third overlooks a small dambo or lagoon, and the fourth has a view of both these environments. Each chalet has a covered deck with a comfy day bed dotted with cushions and two armchairs set by a coffee table. During our last visit in October 2013, we spent a memorable siesta watching elephants feeding just metres from our deck.

Inside each chalet at Old Mondoro, you’ll find two single beds or a double, hanging space and shelves for clothes, a coffee table and canvas directors' chairs. An open-ended A-frame canvas roof covers the room, toilet and sink area, then a door leads to an open-air shower and huge stone bath with a view. One of the chalets has a second bedroom, so is well suited to a family.

Not skimping on comforts, Old Mondoro now has permanent hot water and electric lighting in the tents, and a very discreet socket for charging batteries, but in keeping with the camp’s rustic feel, the lights are never turned on for you and storm lanterns are dotted around the room in the evening.

Old Mondoro’s main area is a large, open-sided structure with a polished stone floor and canvas roof – lit at night only by storm lanterns. Expect comfortable wicker furniture, a small library of reference books and novels, and a fairly well stocked bar – as well as a communal dining table where we’ve enjoyed some fantastic meals on our numerous visits. Beyond is the campfire and – at the edge of the Zambezi River – the camp’s boat station.

This stretch of river bank is shaded by a beautiful grove of winterthorn trees. These give some respite from the heat and, with relatively little vegetation under them, good visibility for walkers. Walking safaris are a feature here, with excellent guides who have passed the Lower Zambezi National Park’s strict system of accreditation (Including practical exams) before they are allowed to lead walks. Given this, and the lovely open scenery, we’d highly recommend the guided walking safaris here.

In addition to walking, Old Mondoro Bushcamp offers a range of other activities, including day and night 4WD safari drives. This area is rich in wildlife and on one of our drives we had good sightings of lions, a leopard and to the great excitement of all in our vehicle, a serval. The guides told us that during the 2013 season, they’d spotted two pangolins and no fewer than 18 aardvarks – though sadly, none on our visit. The camp also lays on boat trips and canoeing on the Zambezi in two-man Canadian canoes. Guests who are out on the river in the afternoon will usually return to camp for sundowners before setting out on a night drive.

The area around Old Mondoro Bushcamp, in the far east of the Lower Zambezi National Park, is shared with only one other camp – the luxurious and somewhat bigger Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp. Thus, with just two camps in the vicinity, you and your guide can explore this wilderness with little disturbance from other vehicles.

Old Mondoro Bushcamp is situated quite a bit further downriver than its bigger sister, Chiawa Camp. Different environments and styles of camp make a combination of these two a popular choice.

Our view

Our view

Old Mondoro is a rustic camp of very good quality, which should suit safari enthusiasts looking for authenticity and exclusivity. Stay here for very good game viewing and excellent, informed guiding. We particularly recommend it as a lovely area for walking safaris in a part of the Lower Zambezi National Park that is shared with very few other visitors or vehicles.

Geographics

Location: Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: We recommend at least a three-night stay here to take advantage of the variety of activities on offer. Although you can make Old Mondoro your only stop in the Lower Zambezi, it combines very well with its sister camp, Chiawa Camp for a longer stay in the park.

Directions: After a flight of approx 35 minutes from Lusaka to Jeki airstrip, the transfer to camp takes around 50 minutes.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Grant & Lynsey Cumings

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Breakfast is usually eaten around the campfire at dawn, overlooking the Zambezi River. Various cereals, yoghurts, juices and fruit are offered. Porridge is cooked over the fire whilst fresh baked bread is toasted to order.

Brunch is usually a buffet served at around 11.00am. On our last visit in October 2013 we enjoyed an Asian-style meal of Thai satay noodles, stir-fried vegetables, and honey and sesame chicken with a poppy seed and cucumber salad, all rounded off with a cheeseboard. On previous occasions we've enjoyed more traditional dishes such as beef lasagne and local specialities such as bobotie (a South African dish made with lightly curried mince and egg). You can also expect freshly baked bread, usually still warm from the oven.

At afternoon tea, savoury and sweet snacks help fill you up till dinner time. We particularly enjoyed the savoury mini bagels with their tasty vegetable filling, and we weren’t the only ones who couldn't resist the moist carrot cake.

Dinner is usually served at about 8.00pm, after a spotlit night drive. On our last visit a delicious twice-baked cheese soufflé was followed by a main course of tender beef fillet on a bed of couscous and vegetables. The meal was rounded off with pear and pecan strudel served with one of the camp's specialties, Amarula liqueur ice cream. Delicious!

With advance notice, many dietary requirements can be catered for.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits, and a selection of South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and cellar wines are excluded.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Solo Travel: A small, remote bushcamp, Old Mondoro is a very friendly Zambian camp for solo travellers. Activities are in small groups, with excellent guides: canoeing, walking safaris and drives. Ask about the low season, when they will often waive the single supplement.

See more ideas for Solo Travel in Zambia

Walking safaris: In a quiet area of the Lower Zambezi, with shade from a canopy of beautiful, old trees, the top-notch walking guides help to make Old Mondoro one of the best camps for walking safaris in Zambia. Book early: it’s very popular!

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: Old Mondoro welcomes mature and responsible children over the age of eight years. However, there’s a strict minimum age of 12 for walking and canoeing, which is always offered at the discretion of the camp managers and guides.

Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age 8 years for staying at the camp.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: One of the chalets has two bedrooms, so is well suited to families.

Notes: Old Mondoro is an unfenced camp and is on the riverbank of the Zambezi. Dangerous wildlife wanders through the camp often, especially elephants during the dry season. Children would need to be closely supervised by their parents at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: There is a plug point in each room to charge camera batteries, and power should be available 24 hours a day. Note that there is not enough power to run a hairdryer.

Communications: The camp has radio connection with their guides and with its sister camp, Chiawa. Satellite email and phones are used for contact outside the surrounding area.

TV & radio: Old Mondoro Camp has no TVs or radio.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Water is pumped from the river. Drinking water is filtered and boiled. Water for the showers and baths is gas-heated, so hot water is available all day. The camp has flushing toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The camp managers and guides at Old Mondoro have first-aid training. In a medical emergency, guests would be evacuated by air to Lusaka and then potentially to Johannesburg.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guests are escorted to and from their chalets after dark in case of any visiting wildlife; and sometimes also during the day, especially during the dry season when there are often many elephants in camp.

Fire safety: Buckets filled with water are located outside each chalet in case of fire.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included, except for ladies’ underwear (for cultural reasons). Washing powder and a small line are provided in each bathroom.

Money: There is a small safe in each chalet. The camp does not offer any currency-exchange facilities.

Accepted payment on location: Any extras need to be settled in cash, preferably in Zambian kwacha, although small amounts of US dollars can usually be accepted.