Chichele Presidential Lodge
Chichele Presidential Lodge: Our full report
Chichele Presidential Lodge was originally built in 1972 as the holiday home for the former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda. From a commanding spot on the top of Chichele Hill, it has stunning views over South Luangwa National Park, the Luangwa River and the Chindeni Hills. It is a solidly-built lodge with a more colonial feel than most.
After major refurbishment, Chichele Presidential Lodge was reopened by Mr Kaunda himself in April 2011. Now an upmarket luxury safari lodge, it has ten spacious, air-conditioned suites with double or twin four-poster beds draped with mosquito nets. Two of the suites are interleading and some of the rooms can adapted as triples. There's also a smaller room with a single bed.
Each room has two cream-covered armchairs and a coffee table set with a few books on Zambia. Tea- and coffee-making facilities are supplied, as well as a small fridge stocked with milk and drinking water. This can be filled, on request, with your favourite drinks. A large wardrobe houses two dressing gowns as well as a digital safe; rush matting covers the polished-cement floors.
French doors lead onto a private veranda set with a couple of chairs and a table where you can sit and enjoy the views.
In the large en-suite bathroom there's a ball-and-claw roll-top bath as well as a separate shower cubicle. Twin washbasins are set into a wooden top beneath wood-framed mirrors, and framed bird prints hang above the bath. The toilet has an old-fashioned cistern set up on the wall with a pull chain. Africology soap, shampoo and shower gel are complemented by a selection of fluffy white towels.
The main area at Chichele is spacious and airy with overhead fans for hot summer days and a large fireplace for cool nights. The décor is colonial with lovely pieces of furniture and even an old gramophone player as well as a baby grand piano. African baskets and framed old maps and prints are on the walls.
Large comfy armchairs and sofas divide this room into separate seating areas: one with a zebra skin rug on the polished concrete floor; another featuring a large leather chest with a game of bao on top. A glass-fronted bookcase displays a selection of old books as well as useful bird and mammal books. There is a small selection of children and adult games here, too, while another room is dominated by a large pool table.
Pre-dinner drinks can be enjoyed at the well-stocked bar in the corner of the main living area or in a comfy armchair by the fire. There is also a small curio shop selling a selection of safari clothing, locally made jewellery and some local crafts.
Outside is a large covered veranda where most meals are taken. Enjoy the view whilst you enjoy your meal! An indoor dining room is used when the weather is not good enough to sit outdoors.
Chichele also boasts a large swimming pool with sunloungers and umbrellas: a lovely spot to relax, admire the view and cool down between game activities.
Activities at Chichele Lodge concentrate on day and night 4WD game drives with a professionally trained safari guide. The lodge is located in the quieter game-drive area south of the Mfuwe Main Gate, with drives taken near the Luangwa River and in the surrounding woodland. On our recent visit we found the guiding to be very good and we were lucky enough to have two separate leopard sightings within an hour of leaving the lodge.
The area around Chichele is also well suited for walking safaris. Walks are taken with an armed game scout as well as an experienced guide based at the lodge. A separate programme of activities can be arranged for children.
Our viewChichele Presidential Lodge is a good-quality child friendly lodge. Its air-conditioned suites with solid walls and windows will suit those who prefer more 'hotel-style' accommodation; it's very different from the rustic-chic bush-camps which are more typical of most camps and lodges South Luangwa National Park.
Ideal length of stay: In order to take advantage of the facilities at Chichele, a stay of 3–4 nights would be ideal.
Directions: The nearest airport is at Mfuwe, a 90-minute drive from Chichele.
Owner: Sanctuary Retreats
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Chichele is of a very high standard. When we visited in April 2011 we had a candlelit dinner on the veranda. The starter was a twice-baked cheese soufflé, followed by fillet steak with pepper sauce, served with a potato cake and steamed vegetables. This was finished off with either chocolate pudding or cheese and biscuits.
Breakfast is normally served before the morning activity. A buffet table is laid out with an assortment of cereals, fresh fruit and fruit juices as well as freshly baked bread. A cooked breakfast is also available to order.
On returning from the morning activity, brunch is served on the veranda. This is generally a selection of salads and a hot dish such as barbecue chicken or a quiche, and is followed by a dessert.
Afternoon tea is served at about 4.00pm and consists of both a sweet and a savoury snack.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are included.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome.
Equipment: Cots are available at Chichele, but not highchairs.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Chichele for children as there is a lot for them to do here. However it is worth mentioning that the camp is not fenced and game does wander through day and night. Children need to be supervised by their parents at all times.
Notes: Children under 12 years are not allowed on safari walks. There is a special menu for children, who generally have their meals earlier than the adults.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is WiFi in the main area and a laptop is available for guests to use. There is also cellphone reception at the lodge.
TV & radio: There are no TVs or radios at Chichele Lodge.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Security measures: There is a doctor available at Flatdogs Camp which is about an hour's drive from Chichele. The lodge is also linked to a medical air rescue service.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all of the suites as well as in the main areas.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included and there is no additional cost. It is normally returned on the same day.
Money: It is not possible to exchange currency at the lodge.