Chikoko Tree Camp

Chikoko Tree Camp: Our full report

Rooms
3 chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (99%) From 65 reviews
Children
OK for ages 12+
Open
1 June to 31 October

Chikoko Tree Camp is an exceptionally small and intimate bushcamp that overlooks the seasonal Chikoko River – a scenic, winding channel lined by shady ebony trees. It is set in a remote area of the South Luangwa National Park that is exclusive to walking safaris; there are no vehicles here to break the silence, and other visitors are rare.

Accommodation at Chikoko is in one of only three rustic, two-storey reed chalets – so the camp accommodates just six people when full. Upstairs, the bedroom has a canvas roof and a lovely view through one ‘wall’ which is completely open, while downstairs is a private bathroom with a handbasin, flush toilet and shower. There is no glass in any of these reed wals, just open spaces for windows.

Meals at Chikoko are communal and very relaxed, taken either outside or under the thatched but open-sided central area. The kitchen team produces the most impressive cuisine from the simplest of bush kitchens, with the oven being just a hole in the ground! The well-stocked bar is always open on a help-yourself basis; cushions are scattered across wooden chairs and benches; and a couple of directors’ chairs are set above the sand river. It’s all very relaxed.

Chikoko Tree Camp is one of Tafika's two satellite walking bushcamps – together sometimes known as the Chikoko Trails Camps; the other is Crocodile Bushcamp (sometimes called ‘Crocodile River Camp’).

As Chikoko's activities encompass purely walking safaris, and as no vehicles are allowed in this area, your luggage will be carried to and from camp by porters. (They'll walk separately; they won't be with you when you walk to camp.) You can easily walk between Tafika and Chikoko, or Chikoko and Crocodile, in three to four hours. During the dry season the river is sometimes shallow enough to walk across; otherwise you'll be ferried across in a small boat.

Walking safaris from the camp normally last about 3–4 hours, and are fairly leisurely, with a mid-morning or afternoon break for tea. The terrain is reasonably flat but occasionally uneven – so it's a good idea to bring sturdy shoes. That said, the focus is on seeing the area's great wildlife, and only a moderate level of fitness is necessary; these walks aren't designed as route marches or endurance tests!

The walking safari guides from Tafika are shared with Chikoko Tree Camp – guaranteeing the very high level of knowledge and experience that is a hallmark of this operation.

Most guests arrive here from either Tafika or Crocodile Bushcamp as part of a longer walking safari which starts and perhaps ends at Tafika, and which can either visits both Chikoko and it’s sister-camp, Crocodile Bushcamp. Alternatively, if you want to venture further, then Tafika and its bushcamps combine well with their more distant sister camp, Mwaleshi Bushcamp, in North Luangwa National Park.

Our view

Chikoko appears to be very simple and rustic, yet this belies a comfortable bushcamp run in a very high-quality way. Specifically, the walking guides are amongst the most experienced and best in the business, and the you’ll be amazed at the quality of food here given the simplicity of the kitchen. The emphasis at Chikoko is on walking safaris, and if you like these, then we would highly recommend it.

Geographics

Location: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: If you want to plan a South Luangwa walking safari including Chikoko, then it usually works best to start at Tafika for 2–4 nights, then head to one of the bushcamps – either Chikoko Tree Camp or Crocodile Bushcamp for a few nights each. Often trips will then return to Tafika for a night or two at the end – although some will finish with a visit to Mwaleshi in the North Luangwa. For more specific ideas and actual examples of trips like this, with prices and full details, click on some of the links to safaris on the Trip ideas tab, above. To see if there’s space, check Chikoko’s availability here.

Directions: From Mfuwe, it is approximately 1½–2 hours by road to Tafika. A flight from Mfuwe to Lukuzi airstrip (near Tafika) takes 15 minutes. From Tafika you walk to Chikoko, taking about 3 hours.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Remote Africa Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: A light breakfast is usually served around the campfire, before the morning activity, while lunch and dinner are served either outside or in the main area.

On our most recent visit, in June 2013, we did not stay long enough to enjoy a meal – but having stayed here many times over the years, the food has always been consistently excellent. We did, though, pop our heads into the little bush kitchen to meet the chef, Patson. He showed us the 'oven' – just a hole in the ground, as ever - where he does all of his baking, from biscuits and cakes for tea to fresh bread!

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. Fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs are charged as extras.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Solo Travel: Chikoko Tree Camp is an amazing choice for a solo safari holiday. Enjoy fantastic walking safaris with no vehicles or other people around. Solo travellers will be happy to hear that Chikoko only charges a very low single supplement.

See more ideas for Solo Travel in Zambia

Walking safaris: Chikoko Tree Camp is run by Remote Africa Safaris, one of the Luangwa's most experienced walking safari companies. The camp is dedicated to walking safaris and camp-to-camp walking trails are the norm (your luggage is carried separately for you).

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: ChikokoTree Camp welcomes children 12 years and older.

Property’s age restrictions: Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to take part on a walking safari.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: Children must be under the constant supervision of their parents. Children under the age of 12 years are not allowed to walk in the South Luangwa National Park.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Communications: There is no cellphone reception here although the camp is in constant radio contact with Tafika – which has excellent communication facilities.

TV & radio: None

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a doctor in Mfuwe, about one hours drive from Tafika. For more serious emergencies Tafika has links with a flying doctors service.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Your guide, as well as the camp staff, are all in camp with you.

Fire safety: There are sand buckets outside each chalet as well as in the main area.

Extras

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 each room. Note that clothes are hand-washed and coal-ironed – so we suggest that you don’t ask for very delicate items to be laundered here.

Money: No exchange facilities are provided.

Accepted payment on location: No money is required at Chikoko. Any payments may be made at Tafika which accepts cash payment for any extra’s in UK pounds, US dollars, euros and Zambian kwacha. They are not able to accept credit cards or travellers’ cheques.