Mwaleshi stands beside the Mwaleshi River, in North Luangwa National Park
Mwaleshi Camp: Our full report
Towards the south of the walking-only area of North Luangwa National Park, Mwaleshi Camp is a lovely, rustic little safari camp standing beside the crystal-clear Mwaleshi River.
Mwaleshi Camp is exactly how a true bushcamp should be. Simple, rustic, unpretentious yet extremely comfortable, this camp is in an area renowned for its wildness, and huge herds of elephant and buffalo. The camp is run gently by Ernst Jacobs, the resident guide (and a keen amateur watercolourist!) with his small team of staff.
Mwaleshi Camp is 10km from the Mwaleshi River's confluence with the main Luangwa River. During the dry season, when Mwaleshi is open, the river here is usually shallow enough (often just a few inches deep!) to be safe and very refreshing to cool off in.
The chalets at Mwaleshi are constructed afresh each year from reed and thatch. They have solar-powered electric lanterns for lighting, hand-basins, en-suite flushing toilets and bucket showers (hot water available). You'll always find a mesmerising camp fire at night, for drinks and stories after dinner. And never be in any doubt that this really is the wild African bush!
Mwaleshi is one of the most remote camps in Africa; it's the ultimate wilderness retreat, far from anything resembling the modern world. The wildlife around the camp is abundant, with a particularly good population of lion and buffalo – as well as large herds of the endemic Cookson's wildebeest, which are relatively rare in the more oft-visited South Luangwa National Park.
The main area is a simple thatched open-sided 'chitenje' overlooking the river. This has a polished wooden bar with barstools at one end, and a semicircular seating area in the middle. Here you will find a small library with a selection of wildlife and painting books, and some comfortable sofas. At the other end is a round table for dining.
Outside the chitenje, raised and facing the river, are a number of directors' chairs, a swinging hammock and a bird bath surrounded by two hippo skulls. Steps cut into the riverbank lead to a firepit set right on the edge of the river, then right by the river itself, there are two well-placed sunloungers.
Activities here focus solely on walking safaris; Mwaleshi doesn't offer game drives. Walks from the camp normally last about 3-4 hours, and are fairly relaxed. There's usually a stop for refreshments in the middle, like mid-morning tea, cake and refreshingly, fresh fruit! The terrain in North Luangwa National Park is fairly flat but it is occasionally uneven – so if you come here bring sturdy shoes. Your walks will set off to see, and possibly track, some of the area's great wildlife; these aren't designed as endurance tests or route marches – so only a very modest level of fitness is required!
Mwaleshi is run by Remote Africa Safaris, and it combines very naturally into a longer trip including its sister-camps: Crocodile Bushcamp, Chikoko Tree Camp and Tafika. All of these three camps lie towards the northern side of the South Luangwa National Park; Crocodile Bushcamp and Chikoko Tree Camp are purely small walking camps – very much like Mwaleshi – whereas Tafika also offers 4WD safaris and night drives. Keen walkers will often arrange for a week in South Luangwa, with a walking safaris between the three camps there, followed by a 3-5 night stay at Mwaleshi to experience the 'North Park'.
A major feature of all of these camps is the high standard of guiding found here. Mwaleshi's guides are amongst the most experienced in the whole Luangwa Valley – which guarantees the exceedingly high level of knowledge and experience that draws many of our travellers back to these camps on a regular basis.
Ideal length of stay: In the dry season, Mwaleshi is probably best combined into a longer trip which also visits its sister-camps in the South Luangwa National Park – Crocodile Bushcamp, Chikoko Tree Camp and Tafika. As the most remote of these very remote camps, Mwaleshi is often visited last. During the green season, Mwaleshi is closed – as North Luangwa is very difficult to accessible. To check if Mwaleshi has space on the dates for your safari, click on the 'Live availability' link on the right-side of this page.
Owner: Independent / Owner Run
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Meals at Mwaleshi usually followed the format of a light breakfast, before our morning walk, then brunch on our return, a tea-time snack before our evening activity, and then a full three course dinner at around 7.30 pm.
Brunch is a serve-yourself affair, with a variety of dishes on offer. When we were last there, we loved the breaded chicken with a garlic dip and vegetarian quiche on the first day, and 'devils on horseback' (sausages wrapped in bacon, with a slightly sweet compote) with stuffed potatoes on the second day.
All brunches were served with freshly baked bread and a great selection of salads and fresh fruit.
Suppers were slightly more formal – on our first night we had a delicious chicken dish with dauphinoise potatoes and on our second night, this time dining under the stars on the bank of the river, we had carrot soup, followed by beef ghoulash and rice, and banoffi pie.
Meals are served either in the main 'chitenje' (open-sided dining area) or by the side of the Mwaleshi River, and the food on our last visit was of a very high standard – consistently delicious and very well presented. The camp can cater to special requests, if some notice is given.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Yes - soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included in the rates. Note that fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs, are charged as extras.
Birdwatching: The birding here is varied and Mwaleshi's guides are consistently top-notch. Whilst it shares most of its flora and fauna with South Luangwa, you will find a few bird species here that do not occur in South Luangwa, including the white-winged starling, the chestnut-mantled sparrow weaver, and the yellow-throated longclaw.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Zambia
Walking safaris: Mwaleshi is dedicated to walking safaris; it is one of Africa's top walking camps. It is run by Remote Africa Safaris, one of the Luangwa Valley's most experienced safari companies. North Luangwa National Park is a walking park – the game is prolific and there are many superb walking areas. Walks from Mwaleshi usually cross the river a few times.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia
Wildlife safaris: The game in North Luangwa National Park is very similar to that in South Luangwa – although you will find more Cookson's wildebeest here, and generally better populations of eland and hartebeest. Giraffe are notable for their absence, but buffalo are more numerous here; lion seem slightly more common (and in larger prides) as the result. Then there are the re-introduced black rhino!See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Older, sensible children are welcome.
Generally recommended for children: Recommended for mature children above the age of 12 who have had previous walking experience in Africa.
Notes: There were a few tsetse flies about when we last visited, so parents need to be aware, as children tend to react more than adults to the bites.
Power supply: None
TV & radio: No TVs or radios – this is a particularly remote Bushcamp. Communications from here are not easy at all.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The closest doctor is in Mfuwe – a 50 minute flight from Mwaleshi, then a road transfer of approximately 25 minutes.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all common areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included