Kapamba Bushcamp

Kapamba Bushcamp: Our full report

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

In the far south of South Luangwa National Park, along the shallow, seasonal Kapamba River, lies Kapamba Bushcamp, owned by The Bushcamp Company. With North Africa influence in its decor, bright colours and some new contemporary furniture, this is a stylish camp and a very comfortable base for your time in the bush.

Kapamba's central area is situated on the edge of the Kapamba River. Built of stone, it is open at the front to make the most of a beautiful view, and a has a tall thatched roof which makes the room feel cool and open. Wooden rafters and an earthy polished stone floor blend in well with the bush-camp style.

Inside, the lounge area features cushioned chairs and benches, and a coffee table with some 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. There's also a simple, yet well-stocked bar, and a self-serve tea and coffee corner.

Outside an extended wooden deck is the camp's focal point, a wonderful spot to watch the animals that come down to drink at the river. This is where the dining tables are set up for a candlelit dinner under the stars.

Kapamba has just four stylish stone chalets: two with large twin beds, and two with double beds, 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, palatial mosquito nets, carved wooden trunks and shelves which extend out of the moulded wall. All rooms now have lighting and a power socket for charging batteries by way of solar power.

A curved wall and a rustic woven curtain separates the bedroom from the en-suite bathroom. Each has twin basins, hot and cold running water, a flushing loo and – their main feature – a large sunken stone bath. These are massive and could almost be viewed as a small plunge pool – though they have been cleverly designed to fill in around six minutes. (There's a credible story about the size of these baths being specified in centimetres, but the builders erroneously building them in inches!) In summer, when temperatures can reach 40oC, guests sometimes fill their baths with cold water and use them as private plunge pools.

Each bathroom also has twin showers above the bath, with enormous brass shower heads. 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 can be closed for safety by large wrought-iron gates, which resemble a spider's web, but don't obstruct your view. When we visited in October 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 offers a mix of walking safaris and game drives (day and night) – and with advance notice walks between the camps can sometimes be arranged. Generally guests will do a walk in the morning and a drive in the afternoon. As there is only one guide based at Kapamba there is very little flexibility in this; in order to alter the routine, all guests would need to agree. This also means that at maximum capacity there can be eight people on an activity together.

We had two wonderful walks when we were last at Kapamba, which included 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 here includes the endemic Thornicroft giraffe, lion, elephant, leopard (which we spotted on both night drives) and occasional wild dog (which had been seen making a kill the day before we arrived – in early October). Plains game including impala and puku are also very common.

Our view

We found Kapamba to be beautifully furbished, the staff attentive, meals good and guiding excellent. If you don't mind the inflexibility of the activities, owing to the camp only having one guide, and are looking for a really stylish bushcamp, 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, Kiango or even the similarly luxurious Zebra Plains.

Directions: Kapamba is a three-hour straight drive from Mfuwe, in the remoter south part of South Luangwa National Park. Most visitors fly from Lusaka to Mfuwe (one hour) and then transfer by vehicle to Mfuwe Lodge (one hour) for a drinks/lunch/toilet stop. It's then a three-hour game transfer to Kapamba.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: The Bushcamp Company

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: On our visit to Kapamba in October 2010 we thought the food was very good.

A light breakfast is served on the main deck overlooking the river and watching the sunrise. Breakfast consists of cereal, toast, muffins and fruit, along with tea, coffee and fruit juice. Then set off on your early morning walk or game drive.

A buffet lunch is served in the dining room at around 11.30, once you've had time to freshen up after your morning activity. You can expect a meat dish, a choice of salads and freshly baked bread. On our recent trip, we had chicken breasts, lamb kofta, 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 15.30 for afternoon tea. There is usually a delicious home-baked cake or chocolate brownies.

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

Guests return to camp for a three-course dinner which is served at around 20.30 (depending on how long your night drive lasts). One night we had a tomato and cheese kebab to start, a delicious beef pie for mains, and a lemon tart for dessert. We also enjoyed garlic mushrooms, ginger and orange pork as a main course, followed by creme caramel. Dinner is always followed by tea and coffee, and 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 couples on honeymoon to Zambia. 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 her sister camps is a great way of seeing the bush. A typical itinerary would involve starting at Chamilandu, walking to Chindeni and then on to Bilimungwe; before ending with a few nights at Kapamba.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: Children 12 years and older are accepted

Property’s age restrictions: Children under 12 years of age are not allowed at Kapamba, unless the whole camp is booked out by a family. Children under the age of 16 are not allowed to walk in the park.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: The camp could put an extra bed into a chalet if a child would prefer to share with their parents. Alternatively, their twin beds are big enough for a child to share with an adult.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Communications: Radio communications only

TV & radio: No

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The closest doctor is at Flatdogs (a camp by the Mfuwe Gate) – which is several hours' drive away. For serious medical emergencies Kapamba has links to flying doctors, for access to a hospital in Lusaka.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guests are not allowed to walk around camp after dark as animals do roam around freely; a guide will escort you to and from your chalet. While we were at Kapamba there was an elephant in and around the camp.

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

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included but it does not cover your smalls. Washing power is provided in your bathroom.

Accepted payment on location: Kapamba cannot accept any payment at the camp. Payments (eg: for extras such as champagne) are made at Mfuwe Lodge. At Mfuwe Lodge you can use cash in US dollars, Euros, British pounds and Zambian Kwatcha. Visa and Mastercard are also accepted – though with an additional charge of 5%.