Reviews of Kakuli Bushcamp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Kakuli Bushcamp review
Loved the location but there were problems. The place was infested with mosquitos and wasn't helped that the flooring of the accommodation had huge gaps. Although these had been plugged with mud earlier in the season, this had dried and fallen out, consequently mosquitoes just came up all the time. Tried tucking the mosi net of the bed into the mattress at night - still got substantially bitten.
There was also a laundry problem (something we experience in all the Norman Carr camps) with laundry getting mixed with other guests and they getting ours. But more annoying was someone ironing a non-iron brand-new shirt leaving it burnt and ripped. Then folding it in such a way that I didn't notice until I got to the next camp. Resolved later with Christina who agreed to pay for a new one, but should have been admitted to and dealt with immediately.
Kakuli Bushcamp review
Average host. We walked to Kakuli with another guide (Lawrence) who was very good. He changed the focus slightly away from poo and concentrated on birds. He was an excellent mimic.
We came across an elephant on the walk and Lawrence immediately made sure we changed direction to move away so that the wind was not blowing our human smell towards the elephant. We were definitely not getting close. In the brochures Norman Carr shows a group of people that look about 30 metres or less from an elephant flapping its ears. According to our guide this would not be allowed to happen. Again our disappointment and annoyance that the walking safaris were misrepresented.
Unfortunately on arrival at Kakuli we were told that our guide for our stay was again to be Julius. Part of the safari experience is to have different guides. As it turned out we had Julius at Kapani as well which meant we had the same guide for 5 of the 9 nights. As Julius was the worst of the 4 guides we had we were not very pleased. We did not feel that we could ask to change the guide.
Expert Africa comments
Close encounters with wildlife whilst on foot can occur, and so whilst these camps use only their most tantalising images in their marketing literature, the portrayal is not entirely incorrect. The managing director of Norman Carr Safaris noted that the company takes their guest’s safety very seriously as is evident by their excellent record over the past 60 years. He comments that it is something that neither he nor his guiding team will compromise on. The areas in which they offer walking safaris are completely wild and unfenced and so, whilst it is possible to walk in these areas, one must never forget that the animals here are wild and can be unpredictable. This priority over safety is also Expert Africa’s experience of walking safaris offered in our portfolio, including those done with Norman Carr Safaris. Having said that, this doesn’t mean that you don’t sometimes get close to wildlife. Whilst on a walking safari, you may find yourselves upwind of animals when generally they will smell you and run away; sometimes you’ll be downwind of an animal which won’t have seen you or smelt you and if the guide deems it safe you can creep closer; and sometimes you’ll come across an animal unexpectedly and if they haven’t seen or smelt you, your guide will often ask you to duck down and sit still so that you can safely watch – this can be from quite close by!
Fantastic location and great game
We thought the location was fabulous with the views over the river and also great for game drives with plenty to see and not many other vehicles. a good place to come after Nsolo and really nice to be able to walk from Nsolo into the camp.
Aubrey, our guide, was fabulous. He was so good with my nephew and nieces, telling stories and really engaging with them, even putting them on the spot and testing if they had listened to him! They loved him (as did the rest of us).
Minor point about food, snacks on sundowners were not always vegetarian.
Hippos on the Luangwa
Arrived at Kakuli to find that we were the only two guests. Sarah was our wonderful host and Aubrey our guide for what was effectively a private safari.
Experiences too numerous to mention, unforgetable moments continued to pile up, however very close encounter with hyena cubs outside their den with one curious cub coming within feet as we sat on a log and watched deserves a special mention.
Kakuli Bushcamp review
Kakuli has a bush camp feel to it, though it was certainly a more substantial lodging than other bush camps. The chalets/tents were very large with a quite spacious bathroom/dressing area. The hot water was provided by on-demand water heaters (powered by firewood), but required about 15 minutes to heat up for the shower. There were flush toilets, complete with resident tree frogs, and plenty of room for luggage. Tap water was completely potable.
The beds were comfortable. The chalets were a combination of reed and thatch with canvas walls. There were also two chairs out on the front porch with a nice view overlooking the river. There are quite a number of hippo and crocs in the river to watch from the tents, and you can hear the hippos calling all the time.
The chitenge was nice with a bar and a verandah that looked out on a marshy area near the river. We saw plenty of hippos, and a pride of lions in this area one morning.
As with the other camps the food was good and plentiful. Hosting was good. Sarah was very nice – she was attentive, personable, and looked after whatever needs we may have had.
The guiding here was very good. I was guided by Aubrey, and he is very knowledgeable and has plenty of good stories about his years of guiding. Easily one of the most personable guides I had during my safari. Kakuli is a walking camp – they do walks as the morning activity and drives as the afternoon activity.
I had 3 walks during my stay – one morning we stalked a herd of buffalo and spent some time sitting with them. On another walk, we had the previously mentioned group of lions walk by during breakfast, and we left immediately to follow them. Aubrey and the scout did fairly well tracking the lions and we sped along fairly quickly to keep up with them before falling behind. The last morning, I walked to the transfer point across the river, and along the way we visited a hyena den where we were able to get within 15 feet of a hyena pup.
Game drive vehicles were again standard Landcruisers with 3 rows of seats. There were pockets in front to hold belongings – big enough for a pair of mid-size binoculars, but not much else.
The ground in South Luangwa is rather broken in areas, so I recommend a sturdy pair of hiking shoes/boots and perhaps a walking stick.
Beautiful bushcamp on the river
We spent 3 nights here and for two we were the only guests....lucky as usual! We had all the camp for ourselves as well as Glenn and Simon and the rest of the staff (sorry but we are bad at remembering all the names!).
Being the green season we were taken to Kakuli by boat and we were a little anxious to be so close to all those hippos (millions of them probably!) but the landscape was so beautiful that we soon relaxed.
We like walking and Simon took us for a walk every morning (escorted by Shimek a scout from the park). We saw thousands of birds and lots of mammals as well. One day we stopped for a rest and watched a giraffe with her baby standing about 100 metres from us. unexpectedly (for us) they did not move for quite a long time and simply kept an eye on us. Another day we met a hippo in a small pond hidden by the bushes, this was quite amazing and we did not feel unsafe at all as we were always under strict control of our guides. We simply stopped and when Simon signalled we walked very quietly and the hippo did not even move. Even so, this was quite thrilling!
In the boat safari we saw hippos doing all kind of things and as I said thousands of birds everywhere. Impala and puku are really endemic! Elephants are also in good numbers, despite being scattered in the green season.
We loved the camp as it is small and rustic but perfectly comfortable (I loved the open bathroom in particular). The main area where meals are served is absolutely fantastic. We enjoyed our early morning coffee with the camp team. Perhaps I should not call them "staff" or "team" as they really made us feel like being with friends! Glenn is a perfect host, always looking after us, extremely friendly yet professional. We deeply enjoyed his company (on top of his professional skills of course) and his nice thoughts- he organized a romantic dinner for us on our veranda for our last night there.
Our tented room was fantastic with a view on the river. We saw two hippos mating just sitting there after lunch. It was amazing as we had never seen that before. Food quality was as good as at Kapani (despite being so remote) and we enjoyed the communal meals a lot. Once again the vegetarian options were always tasty.
We wish we will be able to go back in the dry season and walk between camps.
A real bush experience at Kakuli
The bush walks were slightly compromised by marshy and boggy areas but we were loaned wellington boots by the camp staff and still managed to come face to face with lions whilst we were on foot. Our guide Aubrey was very professional and was able to give us many insights into some of the less obvious aspects of bush natural history.
The camp staff were attentive and friendly and provided us with excellent and varied meals. The camp manager Glen obviously has a good eye for detail and has built a relaxed and efficient camp team. A highlight was one evening when rounding a remote bend in the river to come upon a sundowners bar laid out on the river bank with the camp staff in attendance, a white table cloth laid and candles lit.
Kakuli Bushcamp review
Having arrived on foot from Nsolo our greeting by Glenn, the assistant manager was casual as he was more concerned with serving drinks to the guests at the bar. Our tent no 1 was close to the kitchens, with accompanying noises, and we found to our horror that there were thick woollen underblankets on the beds, hardly conducive to a good night's sleep in hot temperatures. Glenn confessed that he had also removed his blankets on his bed on arrival in Camp.
There was also a restricted view of the river from our tent. We asked to be moved on our second night and Glenn recommended tent no 2 which had a fine panoramic view of the river, and we had a much more comfortable night. There was a thatched building below the tents for a closer view of the wildlife with comfortable seating and some coffee table books to enjoy.
The high spot of our holiday was the guiding by Aubrey whom we found to be very informative with the knack of introducing and descriibing an animal, the flora and fauna of the bush in a simplistic way. He often illustrated his points with explicit actions. The walks beside the river were beautiful and the scenery was impressive. On our last morning Innocent from the kitchen joined us as our tea boy and it was he who spotted two lions which prompted Aubrey to lead us in their direction. Innocent was the only tea boy we met who used a kettle to boil the water for our tea.
We were impressed with Lovemore, who was such a courteous and helpful waiter, particularly on our second evening when he was watchful over us as we ate our dinner on our veranda with Ned the elephant nearby. The Brunch meals were delicious and we were impressed with the loaf in the shape of a crocodile! On the second evening one of us asked for cheese and biscuits in place of dessert and whilst we were on our night drive the chef made the biscuits.
Kakuli Bushcamp review
Highlight of our Zambian stay, Night drives were superb.
Aubrey is a great guide. In the that context should add on our first night at Kakuli (Sep 8, 2010) there was an incident when our safari vehicle, driven by Aubrey was (briefly) stuck in the sand while we wanted to get a better and closer viewer of a pride of lions. One of the other tourists in the vehicle (an English lady whose name I don't remember) became very agitated and in the following days requested a different guide (which she got) and said the Aubrey acted in an "unprofessional" manner during the incident.
I am concerned that she might have passed her opinion to the management at Norman Carr and that this might have a negative impact on Aubrey's situation. In particular, I want to say that my wife and I were present for the entire (brief) time while the vehicle was stuck and that during that entire time we can say with confidence that Aubrey acted in a 100% professional and appropriate manner. Not for a moment during that time did I feel unsafe or frightened. If you want more details from me about this, please feel free to contact me. On the other hand, if the hypersensitive lady never did register a complaint to you than do feel free to completely ignore these comments.
I have also sent an email to Norman Carr regarding this.
The best sundowner ever!
Kakuli was our last camp in South Luangwa. We arrived in Kakuli form Nsolo with a morning walk between the two camps: 3.5-4.0 hours are needed to do this, but it is really a nice experience to do.
In Kakuli, with Aubrey, our guide, we had a nice morning walk, where we tracked, hearing her roaring, a lioness, and also two very nice night drives, where we are able to spot leopards, lions, hyenas, giraffes, porcupines, civets and many other animals. But the best thing was the sundowner of our last night in South Luangwa: Glen organized this at a lagoon, where we arrived just for the sunset, a wonderful african sunset in a fantastic location, where we had drinks and popcorn prepared directly on the fire! Definitely the best way to end our safari! Thanks Glen and all the staff!
But the Valley had for us a last surprise on the way from Kakuli to the airport, where I spotted a leopard hanging on a branch of a tree just on the road: a nice way to say goodbye to South Luangwa!