Bilimungwe Bushcamp

Bilimungwe Bushcamp: Our full report

Rooms
4
Traveller's rating
Good (90%) From 6 reviews
Children
ages 12+
Open
15 May to 01 December

Bilimungwe Bushcamp is a stylish camp run by The Bushcamp Company, in the remote southern section of the South Luangwa National Park. Set on a low rise surrounded by wildlife, it was completely rebuilt in 2011, with each chalet overlooking a group of shady waterholes where impala, puku, warthog, elephant and baboons are often seen coming to drink.

The central area at Bilimungwe is a thatched, open-sided structure, which is raised on wooden decking between the trunks of tall winterthorn and Natal mahogany trees. There is a comfortable lounge area with cane furniture and African-print cushions, as well as a dining area and well-stocked bar. Down a few steps is another deck with built-in seating, scattered with cushions, creating a quiet area overlooking the waterhole.

Bilimungwe Bushcamp has just four chalets, huge, stylish structures set beneath shady, evergreen Natal mahogany trees, which help to keep the rooms cool, even through the hottest months. Each chalet is constructed of reed and cane under a tall thatched roof, and raised up on a wooden platform. Inside, all is light and airy, with brightly coloured African textiles adding a splash of colour, yet they still retain an authentic bushcamp feel, with half-height mosquito-gauzed reed walls allowing uninterrupted views and a free flow of air through the chalet. Two of the chalets have twin beds and the other two have doubles.

To one side of each chalet is a seating area with contemporary round cane chairs and a low table set with nature books and magazines. Doors that can fold away completely lead outside onto a massive deck, which runs the length of the chalet. Here, a couple of chairs provide a relaxing spot to view the waterhole from the privacy of your deck.

A reed wall separates the bedroom from a spacious bathroom, which has a flush toilet, twin basins carved into a polished piece of mahogany, and a large open shower. A door from the bathroom leads to an outside open-air waterfall shower, beautifully crafted, and separated from the front of the chalet by a high curved stone wall.

Bilimungwe Bushcamp traditionally considers walking safaris to be its main activity, although equal weighting is now given to day safari drives and spotlit night drives. Two activities a day are the norm – usually a safari walk in the morning and a game drive in the afternoon, combined with a night game-drive. Note, however, that Bilimungwe usually has one guide in camp at any one time, so it's usual for all activities to done as a group. Hence what you do and when will depend on the other visitors as well as yourself. So stay here for at least two or three nights to be fairly sure of doing some walking as well as some 4WD safaris.

The riverine woodland environment around Bilimungwe, with its tall winterthorn, sausage and evergreen Natal mahogany trees, would contrast well with the open plains and low rocky hills found at its sister camp, Kuyenda, to offer an interesting and varied safari experience.

Our view

Bilimungwe manages to strike a balance between being rustic yet stylish, without compromising at all on comfort and quality. For those looking for a wilderness bushcamp, with good guiding, then Bilimungwe is an excellent choice.

Geographics

Location: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: We recommend a two- or three-night stay at Bilimungwe. Note that the camp combines naturally with one or more of its sister bushcamps: Zungulila, Kuyenda, Chindeni and Chamilandu or Kapamba as well as Mfuwe Lodge

Directions: Bilimungwe is approximately four hours’ game drive from Mfuwe airport, through the South Luangwa National Park.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: The Bushcamp Company

Staff: The head guide at Bilimungwe is Manda Chisanga, who in 2006 was joint-winner of Wanderlust magazine's Paul Morrison Guide of the Year. Manda is a fantastic all-round guide, in his element when guiding a walk where he spends time explaining everything from how claw marks in a tree trunk show a leopard's routine to the medicinal properties of plants. Click here to read more about Manda's award and how he chose to spend his £5,000 winnings within the local community.

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The meals offered at Bilimungwe are of a good standard. Don't expect gourmet but do expect an array of well-presented, delicious dishes.

A buffet breakfast is usually served in the main area in time to watch the sun rise, before heading out on a morning activity. It might include cereals, fruit, muffins, hot porridge and toast made on the fire.

The morning excursion usually ends at about 10.30am so brunch is often at around 11.00am, although this is flexible and can be altered if you see something exciting out in the bush. Brunch is served in a variety of locations; on our last visit, in September 2012, we enjoyed a barbecue overlooking the Luangwa River, about 50 metres from camp. Dishes usually include a variety of salads, freshly baked bread, a meat option and fruit salad for desert. Our barbecue was delicious with the choice of chicken, farmer's sausage and beef shish kebabs – or a combination of all three!

A three-course dinner is usually served at about 8.00pm. We enjoyed tomato and black bean soup, served with freshly baked rolls, followed by pork goulash with carrots, green beans and rice. The meal was rounded off with a tasty sticky date pudding.

In between meals you will need to save room for homemade biscuits with morning tea, fresh cakes with afternoon tea, and tasty snacks with sundowner drinks.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included in the rates, but note that fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs are charged as extras.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Birdwatching:

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Zambia

Walking safaris: Walking Safaris with award-winning guide Manda Chisanga are interesting and informative - he is particularly knowledgeable about medicinal properties of plants. The landscape is varied with stretches of riverine woodland, miombo woodlands, and open 'dambos' or waterholes.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: Children 12 years and older are welcome at Bilimungwe. Children under the age of 12 can be accommodated on request and if the family group takes over the whole camp. Walking is not permitted for children younger than 12.

Property’s age restrictions: Children under the age of 12 can be accommodated at Bilimungwe on request and if the family group takes over the whole camp. Walking is not permitted for children younger than 12.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: Some of the rooms can be fitted with an extra bed to accommodate a child sharing with their parents.

Notes: Bilimungwe Bushcamp is unfenced so dangerous animals do roam through the camp. Children must be under the constant supervision of their parents.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Communications: Bilimungwe has 24-hour radio contact with its sister camps in South Luangwa and with its base at Mfuwe Lodge.

TV & radio: Bilimungwe has no TV or radios

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a doctor based at Mfuwe Lodge, Bushcamp Company’s main base. For more serious medical cases it is possible to arrange a medical evacuation.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guests are escorted to their chalets after dark.

Fire safety: Bilimungwe has a central borehole with a nearby tap and waterhoses available in case of fire.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A complimentary laundry service is included. Items are hand washed by male staff and then line dried. This does not include ladies’ underwear, which you would need to wash yourself; washing powder is provided in the bathrooms.

Money: No currency exchange is available.

Accepted payment on location: We recommend you carry US dollars for tips. In the unlikely event that payment for anything else is needed, this would be arranged through Bilimungwe's sister camp, Mfuwe Lodge.