Kapamba Bushcamp

Kapamba Bushcamp: Our full report

Rooms
4 stone chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (94%) From 10 reviews
Children
Best for 16+
Open
mid April to 2 Jan

In the remote far south of South Luangwa National Park, along the shallow, seasonal Kapamba River, lies Kapamba Bushcamp, owned by The Bushcamp Company. With North African influence in its décor, bright colours and some contemporary furniture, this is a stylish, intimate camp.Kapamba's central area is situated on the edge of the Kapamba River. Built partially of stone, it is open at the sides and front, and has a high thatched roof which makes it feel cool, even on a very hot day such as when we last visited in October 2013. Wooden rafters, an earthy polished stone floor and a few contemporary, moulded chairs blend in well with the bushcamp style.

Under the thatch, the lounge area features cushioned chairs and benches, and a coffee table dotted with wildlife books and magazines. Bright cushions and Moroccan lanterns lend a modern African look. Two long wooden tables are in the dining area, but are sometimes moved outside for meals under the stars. There's also a bar, a self-serve tea and coffee station and a pizza oven which, about once a week, is fired up ready for homemade pizzas at lunchtime.

Outside, an extended wooden deck is the camp's focal point, with a seating area that makes a wonderful spot to watch the animals that come down to drink at the river. On warm evenings, this is where the dining tables are set up for a candlelit dinner.

Kapamba has just four stylish stone chalets: two with large twin beds, and two with doubles, which act as 'honeymoon suites'. That apart, the chalets are identical – all are well-designed and attractively decorated, and each has a spacious en-suite bathroom.

The bedrooms are beautifully appointed with very comfortable 'built-in' beds draped with mosquito nets, carved wooden trunks, and shelves that extend out of the moulded wall. All rooms have lighting and a socket for charging batteries by way of solar power.

A curved wall with a rustic woven curtain separates the bedroom from the en-suite bathroom, which has twin basins, flushing loo and – the main feature – a large sunken stone bath with enormous twin shower heads above it. These baths are massive (there's a credible story about their size being specified in centimetres, but the builders erroneously building them in inches!), though they have been cleverly designed to fill in around six minutes. In summer, when temperatures can reach 40 degrees C, guests sometimes fill their baths with cold water and use them as private plunge pools. Hot water, courtesy of a wood-burning 'donkey' boiler, is available during siesta and before dinner, but has to be requested in the morning.

The full front of each chalet – one side of the bedroom and the bathroom – is completely open, and leads onto a private veranda. At night, the front will usually be closed for safety by large wrought-iron gates, which resemble a spider's web, but don't obstruct your view. On one visit in 2010, we were able to watch elephants feeding outside in the middle of the night.

Like its sister camps, Kuyenda, Chindeni, Chamilandu and Bilimungwe, Kapamba Bushcamp’s activities are a mix of walking safaris and game drives (day and night) – and with advance notice it is sometimes possible to walk between the camps. Generally guests will do a walk in the early morning, when it’s cool, and a drive in the late afternoon, culminating in a night drive back to camp. As there is usually only one guide based at Kapamba there may be very little flexibility in this, as in order to alter the routine, all guests would need to agree. It also means that at maximum capacity there can be eight people on an activity together.

We had two wonderful walks on a previous visit to Kapamba, learning quite a lot about bush-survival skills – which trees travellers can get water from when lost in the bush; which berries to eat; how to find directions by looking at weaver birds' nests etc. And as ever, walking allows you to appreciate the smaller things, which you don't always get to see from a vehicle.

Notable game in the area around Kapamba includes the endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe, lion, elephant, leopard (which we spotted on two separate night drives) and occasional wild dog (which on one visit had been seen making a kill the day before we arrived). Plains game including impala and puku are also very common.

Our view

Kapamba Bushcamp is beautifully furnished, the staff attentive, meals good and guiding excellent. If you don't mind the inflexibility of the activities, owing to the camp usually having just one guide, and are looking for a really stylish bushcamp in a remote location, then this would be a great choice.

Geographics

Location: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: A very usual trip would be to combine Kapamba into a series of camps on this south side of the park, including a few nights at a couple of its sister camps: Kuyenda, Chindeni, Chamilandu and Bilimungwe. However, for more variety we'd suggest that you consider combining Kapamba, and perhaps one of its sister camps, with some of the camps on the northern side of South Luangwa – perhaps Tafika or Kaingo.

Directions: Most visitors fly from Lusaka to Mfuwe (about one hour) and then transfer by vehicle to Mfuwe Lodge (a further one hour) for a drinks/lunch/toilet stop. It's then a three-hour game drive through the park to Kapamba.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: The Bushcamp Company

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Although we didn’t have a chance to sample the food on our most recent visit in October 2013, on previous visits to Kapamba we found the food to be very good.

Before setting off on your early morning activity, a light breakfast is served at sunrise on the main deck overlooking the river. Breakfast consists of cereal, toast, muffins and fruit, along with tea, coffee and fruit juice.

A buffet lunch is served in the dining area at around 11.30am, once you've had time to freshen up after your morning activity. You can usually expect a meat dish, a choice of salads and freshly baked bread. On one of our visits, we had chicken breasts, lamb kofte, lentil salad and beetroot salad, followed by fresh melon. There was also a different variety of bread each day – our favourite was the rosemary bread.

Before the afternoon activity everyone meets on the deck at around 3.30pm for afternoon tea, usually accompanied by a delicious home-baked cake, cookies or chocolate brownies.

Sundowners are served whilst out on your game drive with a drink (or two!) of your choice and some snacks.

Guests then return to camp for a three-course dinner at around 8.30pm. One evening we had a tomato and cheese kebab to start, a delicious beef pie for mains, and a lemon tart for dessert. We’ve also enjoyed garlic mushrooms, with ginger and orange pork as a main course, followed by crème caramel. Dinner is usually topped off with tea and coffee, and perhaps an Amarula nightcap.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Drinks included: Most drinks are included at Kapamba, but champagne, and specially imported wines and spirits would be an additional cost.

Further dining info: No.

Special interests

Honeymoons: Kapamba's beautiful chalets are perfect for adventurous honeymooners. Their honeymoon ‘suites’ are private and spacious, with stunning big baths – ideal for a romantic evening. Private meals can also be arranged on your deck – all adding to a memorable stay.

See more ideas for Honeymoons in Zambia

Walking safaris: Walking safaris between Kapamba and its sister camps are a great and easy way of seeing the bush. A typical itinerary would involve starting at Chamilandu for two nights then walking to Chindeni for a couple of nights. From there it's a short walk to Bilimungwe, ending with a few nights at Kapamba. Each walk would last around three or four hours.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: Children 12 years and older are welcome at Kapamba. Children under the age of 12 are welcome, by prior arrangement, if the family group takes over the whole camp. Walking in the park is not permitted for children younger than 12.

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

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: Kapamba could put an extra bed into a chalet if requested. Alternatively, their twin beds are effectively small doubles, so a child could share a chalet with its parents.

Notes: The camp is unfenced and wildlife can freely wander through. Children must be under the supervision of their parents at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: Lighting and battery-charging facilities are provided through solar power. There are plug points in each room for charging batteries, but these are not sufficient to power a hairdryer.

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

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: The bath, showers and handbasins are plumbed in. Each chalet has a flushing toilet.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a doctor based at a lodge in the Mfuwe area, a few hours’ drive away. In an emergency, it is possible to arrange medical evacuation by air to Lusaka, and potentially to Johannesburg.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guests are escorted between the main area and their chalets after dark by a member of the Kapamba team.

Fire safety: Kapamba has fire extinguishers in the main area and by every chalet.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A complimentary laundry service is included. Items are hand washed by male staff and then line dried, so ladies' underwear is excluded. Washing powder is provided in the bathrooms for this purpose.

Money: No currency exchange is available. There are no safes in the rooms, but if you’re concerned then small items could be given to management for safe keeping.

Accepted payment on location: We recommend you carry US dollars or Zambian kwacha if you’d like to leave a tip. In the unlikely event that payment for anything else is needed, this would be arranged through Kapamba’s sister camp, Mfuwe Lodge.