Chamilandu stands beside the Luangwa River, and has 3 chalets raised up on stilts.
Chamilandu Bushcamp: Our full report
On the banks of the Luangwa River, in the southern area of the South Luangwa National Park, Chamilandu Bushcamp is set in a shady grove of tall African ebony trees. The owners of this small, stylish bushcamp have invested in making it both tasteful and very comfortable, whist clearly they’ve also tried hard to retain a ‘bushy’ feel with chalets which are very open to the outside.
There are just three spacious chalets at Chamilandu Bushcamp, each set well apart, with uninterrupted views of the river and to the Nchindeni Hills beyond. Each is thatched, and raised about two metres off the ground on a timber platform. There are reed walls on three sides but the front of the bedroom is completely open, leading to a private viewing deck where comfortable chairs face the river. Although still very African in style the interiors are both contemporary and chic. Black mosquito netting works well with the neutral colour scheme and high-quality but simple furniture. Each room has a king-size bed, or two small double four-posters.
A curtained doorway leads through to an open-air, en-suite bathroom, where a low front wall ensures a great view over the Luangwa River. Each bathroom has double basins, a flush toilet and a large open ‘his and hers’ shower. Discreet solar panels behind each chalet provide lighting and hot water.
At the centre of Chamilandu, just metres from the riverbank and enclosed on three sides by a waist-high reed wall, is the main area. Here, contemporary furniture, such as hanging wicker chairs, moulded wooden stools and low-slung sofas, is set on sandy floors, reinforcing the camp’s rustic feel. A dining table is surrounded by directors’ chairs, and there’s a well-stocked bar and small library, too. The high thatched ceiling provides a convenient roosting place for epauletted fruit bats, which you'll often spot hanging from the rafters.
Overlooking the river, the campfire is lit in the mornings to cook porridge and toast at breakfast, and in the evening as a gathering place for pre-dinner drinks. Away from the river, a substantial thatched building on stilts serves both as a hide, with a vantage point overlooking a small lagoon where animals often come to drink in the heat of the day, and as a shady lunch spot. .
Activities from Chamilandu Bushcamp consist of walking safaris and day and night game drives in a variety of environments, including riverine forest, mopane woodland and open floodplains. These attract a diversity of wildlife, from plains game such as Crawshay's zebra and impala, to wetland animals like puku and waterbuck, as well as the shyer species that prefer the riverine thickets, like kudu and leopard.
Many guests at Chamilandu choose to walk between Chamilandu and one or more of its sister bushcamps, which include Kuyenda to the north, and Bilimungwe to the south.
In camp, where there is usually only one guide, activities are generally done as a group – with a maximum of six guests. So this isn’t a camp where you have great individual flexibility about your activities; the one on offer is the one favoured by the majority of guests. Since the choice of each activity will thus depend on other visitors as well as yourself, we suggest a stay of at least two or three nights at Chamilandu to be fairly sure of doing some walking and some 4WD safaris.
In passing, we’d observe that having the whole camp take all meals and all activities together is great if you like your fellow guests, as is often the case; it’s more challenging if you don’t get one well with some of the other guests, or your wildlife interests are very specific and different from those of the group.
On our most recent visit to Chamilandu, in September 2012, we had an early-morning game walk following an open floodplain scattered with relaxed herds of puku, impala and zebra. That afternoon, following another walk and sundowners along the riverbank, a vehicle was sent to collect us to complete the activity with a night drive. We were fortunate enough to see a leopard stalking a small herd of puku across an open clearing – although on this occasion he was out of luck. Our fellow-guests were delightful!
Our viewWith just three large chalets, and a remote location, Chamilandu is a lovely intimate bushcamp where you don’t need to compromise on 'luxury'. You will, though, need to be comfortable being part of a group for the time that you’re here – taking meals and activities all together – and this having slightly less individual freedom over your activities than is often the case in South Luangwa’s better camps.
Directions: AFrom Mfuwe Airport, a game-drive transfer through South Luangwa National Park takes approximately three hours to reach Chamilandu Bushcamp.
Owner: The Bushcamp Company
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food served at Chamilandu Bushcamp is good quality, imaginative and tasty, made up of a variety of dishes using fresh ingredients.
At breakfast, usually eaten around the campfire before the early-morning activity, porridge and toast are prepared on the open fire and a buffet table is set up with a choice of cereals, yoghurt, fruit, spreads and juices.
At around 11.00am, after the morning activity, a buffet brunch is more like lunch than breakfast. In September 2012 we had a selection of Thai-style chicken strips, a leek and onion quiche, and beetroot, carrot and bean salads. Dessert was a tasty and refreshing fruit salad in Pimms with mint.
For afternoon tea, we were spoilt with a freshly baked chocolate cake before our second activity.
A three-course dinner is served after the evening game drive. On our last visit, we enjoyed a starter of creamy mushrooms on toast, followed by beef fillet with a mustard sauce on a bed of parmesan mash and green beans. The meal was rounded off with a delicious sticky toffee pudding.
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, but fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs are charged as extras.
Attitude towards children: Chamilandu is happy to accommodate children 12 years and over.
Property’s age restrictions: 12 years and older are welcome at Chamilandu. Children between the ages of 12 and 16 may join guided walks at the discretion of the camp manager.
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: No. Chamilandu is a remote bushcamp with quite an adult atmosphere so is suited only to older children with a high degree of maturity. Those with children may prefer to stay at Mfuwe Lodge, which is more suitable for family groups.
Notes: Chamilandu is not fenced, allowing animals to pass through the camp. These animals are wild and can be dangerous, so children must be under their parent's supervision at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Communications: Chamilandu has 24-hour radio contact with its sister camps in the South Luangwa and with its base camp at Mfuwe Lodge.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a doctor at Mfuwe Lodge, sponsored by the various safari operators in South Luangwa National Park. Chamilandu has links to a flying-doctors service for serious emergencies.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to their chalets after dark. There are no lock-up facilities in the rooms so we recommend that you hand any valuables to the manager to keep in the camp's lock-up facility.
Fire safety: Water hoses and fire extinguishers are available throughout the camp in case of fire.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A complimentary laundry service is included, but this does not include ladies’ underwear; soap for this is provided in the rooms. Note that clothes are hand washed and coal ironed.
Money: No exchange facilities are provided.
Accepted payment on location: The usual currency for tips is Zambian kwacha or US dollars. In the unlikely event that payment for anything else is needed, this would be arranged through Chamilandu's sister camp, Mfuwe Lodge.