Chaminuka is a bush lodge situated in a private nature reserve just outside Lusaka.
Chaminuka: Our full report
Chaminuka Lodge is a modern safari lodge located in 10,000 acres of miombo woodland and savanna about 30 minutes’ drive from Lusaka airport. Built in 1978, it was originally a private home and was converted into a luxury lodge by its owner in 1998.
The lodge was built along the lines of an African village, but with a modern twist. From the outside, Chaminuka’s red-brick buildings look quite austere, but on the inside the concept of several buildings forming a ‘homestead’ surrounded by an outer ‘kraal’ is quite interesting.
Chaminuka’s owner is an avid collector of contemporary African art and artefacts, and the lodge houses over a thousand pieces of his vast collection, ranging from paintings and sculptures to large metal creations on the front lawns. Pieces of artwork can be found all over the lodge – in the main areas as well as in all the suites. The lodge’s colour scheme of neutral browns and beiges combines with a lot of wood and stone to act as a blank canvas for the brightly coloured artwork – taking Chaminuka from somewhere that could be a bit boring in design to a place that is quirky and arty.
The huge main lounge at Chaminuka is perched on top of a hill, with views over Lake Chitoka and the bush beyond. Floor-to-ceiling windows on all four sides, most of which slide open, create a feeling of light and space, and several carvings and pieces of artwork add interest. At the front, facing the lake, is a large balcony with stairs leading down to the swimming pool area. Inside, several seating areas are created by comfortable wood and leather sofas and chairs, scattered with cushions in African fabrics, and arranged around low tables. In one corner is a bar where drinks are available all day.
There are several other lounge areas at Chaminuka, locally known as ‘insakas’. These include the sunken winter lounge which has a large fireplace – a cosy place to unwind on a chilly winter evening.
Guests at Chaminuka have two dining areas: an indoor restaurant, and an outdoor area beside the pool, where breakfast and lunch are served in good weather. There is also a separate dining room for private functions.
Additional facilities in the main area include two libraries, one with a TV, plus a snooker room. Another covered games area, with a snooker and table tennis, is set near the tennis court.
Chaminuka has a large outdoor swimming pool, with a smaller children’s pool beside it. Both are surrounded by a fence so are relatively safe for families. There is also a jacuzzi, as well as a floodlit tennis court.
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Some of the original rooms are located close to the main areas and have a 1960s’ retro feel about them. These rooms have high ceilings, each with a skylight that fills the room with light, and their bathrooms have a shower over the bath.
The newer rooms are set away from the main area in blocks of six: three downstairs and three upstairs. Although these have slightly larger bathrooms, with a separate shower and bath, we felt that the original rooms had more character. There are ten inter-leading rooms which are ideal for families.
Chaminuka offers a wide range of activities. These include morning, afternoon and evening game drives in open 4WD vehicles led by Chaminuka’s own fully trained safari guides. Game here includes various species of antelope such as roan, sable, kudu, eland, bushbuck, lechwe, hartebeest and tsessebe, as well as the larger game such as buffalo, giraffe, elephant and zebra. Lion and hyena can also be seen in a separate enclosure. Bush walks are popular with birders – more than 300 species have been recorded on Chaminuka’s reserve. There is also horseriding, as well as boating and fishing on the lake, which is stocked with bream, catfish, tilapia and nchenga (similar to whitebait). We understand that there are no hippos or crocodiles in the lake, which should make the activities much safer!
With three villages, two schools, a church, a clinic and a pig farm on the property, Chaminuka supports over 700 people. It is possible for guests to visit these community projects. There is also a cheese factory on site and Chaminuka often serves a fondue for dinner with cheese from the factory.
Our viewDue to its location near Lusaka Airport Chaminuka is a good spot to either start or end a visit to Zambia. Although it is a safari lodge, with an extensive range of facilities and activities, it doesn’t offer a true safari experience. It doesn’t have the same intimate feel of some of the other safari camps in Zambia.
Ideal length of stay: 1–2 nights
Directions: Chaminuka is 30 minutes from Lusaka airport and one hour from central Lusaka. The lodge can arrange transfers from the airport or from the city.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast is a choice of a continental or cooked breakfast.
Lunch and dinner are both served buffet style, either in the restaurant or – at lunchtime – by the swimming pool. Lunch is often a barbecue and dinner a mixture of international and African cuisine.
Most of the vegetables are grown at Chaminuka.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £25-30
Drinks included: Drinks are included for guests booked on a full-board basis. Otherwise they are extra. Expect to pay around US$1 for a soft drink, US$2 for beer, US$35–$50 for a bottle of wine.
Riding holidays: Close to the country’s capital Lusaka, one of the many activities from Chaminuka is horse riding. Discover the 10,000 acres of the Miombo woodland or the village nearby, all on horseback, before coming back to your lodge and taking a relaxing dip in the pool.See more ideas for Riding holidays in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Chaminuka
Property’s age restrictions: None
Special activities & services: There is the swimming pool, tennis court, table tennis as well as snooker to keep older children occupied. Childminding is available using lodge staff, but parents should note that they will not have any formal qualification in childminding.
Equipment: Cots and highchairs are provided
Generally recommended for children: Expert Africa would recommend Chaminuka for children of five years and over.
Notes: Although the lodge is surrounded by a fence, there are still wild animals around, so children must be supervised at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: As well as direct-dial telephones in each room (international phone calls cost US$25 per minute) there is cellphone reception throughout the lodge. . WiFi is available in the main building. It is free for the first three hours and charged at US$2 per hour thereafter.
TV & radio: There is a satellite TV in each room.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a nurse based at the lodge for minor ailments. The nearest hospital is in Lusaka, which is an hour’s drive from Chaminuka
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: There are two guards on duty at the main gate at night and the lodge is surrounded by a fence.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers dotted around the lodge.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included and is complimentary.
Money: It is not possible to exchange currency at the lodge.
Accepted payment on location: Payment is accepted in Zambian kwacha, US$, pounds and euros cash. Visa, MasterCard and Amex credit cards are also accepted with a 5% surcharge