Kuyenda is one of the last true bush camps in South Luangwa National Park.
Kuyenda Bushcamp: Our full report
Kuyenda is one of the more rustic and traditional safari bushcamps in South Luangwa National Park – with a clear emphasis on excellent guiding. It's situated under a grove of evergreen Natal mahogany trees, next to the Manzi River – which during the dry season is usually only a sandy riverbed. This area is good for game viewing, whilst also being in a quieter part of the park.
Kuyenda is run by Phil Berry and his partner Babette Alfieri, and most visitors return here because of their personalities, their charm and the warmth of the welcome. Phil is one of the most knowledgeable guides in Africa, and has lived in the bush for nearly 40 years. He has an active, inquisitive mind which he has turned, over this time, to his great passion – the bush – keeping meticulous notes on all the information he gathers. Phil is a renowned expert on the endemic Thornicroft's giraffe, and is able to recognise over 200 individuals by their neck markings.
Although activities at Kuyenda include day and night game drives, and there is plenty of wildlife to make both productive, the main focus is on the walking safaris. We think that Kuyenda Bushcamp is situated in one of the best areas of South Luangwa for walking. There are a variety of areas to explore including open plains with quicksand bogs, palm islands, the banks of the Luangwa River and salt springs. There is usually plenty of wildlife to see, too: walking here really is a big-game safari.
Phil Berry's knowledge of the area makes him a fascinating guide on the occasions he leads a walk. However, if Phil isn't guiding then one of the other guides from the Bushcamp Company accompanies the walk. All the Bushcamp Company guides who have led our walks have been very good.
There is usually only one guide at Kuyenda at any given time, and the camp takes eight guests – so activities are normally done as a single group. The usual format is a morning walk, followed by an afternoon and night drive - although exactly which happens when will depend on the other visitors as well as yourself. Stay here for at least three nights to be sure of doing some walking and some 4WD safaris.
Kuyenda Bushcamp has four reed-and-thatch chalets - and these are amongst the simplest rooms of any of our camps in Zambia. Three have views of the Manzi River bed from their large mesh-covered windows. The fourth, set a little away from the rest, overlooks an open plain favoured by herds of impala and puku and occasionally visited by buffalo and elephant.
These views can also be enjoyed from the comfortable beds, above which are hung mosquito nets. Each room also has a hanging rail for clothes, a few comfortable chairs, and a large, wooden trunk at the end of the bed. A pair of canvas chairs stands outside.
At the back of each chalet at Kuyenda is an open-air bathroom with a flush toilet, twin basins and a drum shower, which is filled on request.
Kuyenda's thatched main area is deliberately simple, which adds to its charm. It houses the bar, a sitting area with comfortable white sofa, a well-stocked library and a dining table. A portable washstand and canvas basin to wash away the dust from the day is located nearby, and a campfire overlooks the plain beyond.
Our viewWe are lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the bush, and we love Kuyenda! The chalets are very rustic (no mod-cons here!) but comfortable and quite spacious. However, don't come to Kuyenda for the rooms – come for the walks, as the environment around here offers tremendous variety; the game, which is prolific and very relaxed; the hospitality, which is warm and feels more like staying with a family than at a hotel; and above all ... for the guiding, which is top-notch.
Ideal length of stay: Three nights is the ideal length of say at Kuyenda. This bush camp combines well with any of its sister-camps, Chindeni Camp, Chamilandu Camp, Bilimungwe Camp or Kapamba Camp. We also often combine it with Tafika, which is another small camp, with top-notch guiding, which is in a contrasting area of the Valley, much further north.
Directions: Kuyenda is reached by taking an hour's flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe Airport. From here it is about at 45-minute drive to Mfuwe Lodge, where you will often break for lunch before a two-hour game drive through South Luangwa National Park to Kuyenda camp.
Owner: The Buschcamp Company
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food standard at Kuyenda Bushcamp is very good. Expect meals such as you might find at a good pub restaurant or country hotel where everything is fresh and home cooked.
Breakfast is usually served as a buffet before the morning activity. A variety of cereals is on offer along with porridge, toast and fruit.
Lunch is also a buffet, incorporating a variety of salads, a meat dish (and a vegetarian option if requested) and a pie or quiche followed by fresh fruit. During our most recent visit in October 2010 we enjoyed home-made fish fingers, sausages, bean salad, avocado and tomato salad, a large green salad and babooti, the South African version of a cottage pie. For dessert we had papaya and melon slices.
Dinner is usually three courses and is served either in the main area or out on the plain, under the stars. The starter is often a delicious soup such as butternut or chicken and vegetable, served with fresh bread rolls. In previous visits we've had pork fillet with yoghurt and chive sauce served with aubergine bake, potato wedges and a selection of vegetables, and chicken and mushrooms in white wine sauce served with mashed potatoes and mange touts. Dessert has been a delicious lemon tart and, on another occasion, a crèpe filled with passion-fruit coulis.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Kuyenda has a fairly well-stocked bar. Most drinks are included, apart from Champagne and premium imported wines and spirits.
Walking safaris: The area around Kuyenda Bushcamp is one of the best walking areas in South Luangwa; thanks to a variety of environments and plentiful wildlife. Walking with the renowned Phil Berry (one of Zambia’s best and longest-standing guides) in his own backyard is always an added bonus!See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Kuyenda concentrates mainly on walking safaris, and for safety reasons it's not possible for children under 12 years old to walk in the national park. Children aged 12–16 years may be able to join walks, but this is only at the manager's discretion.
Generally recommended for children: We don't recommend Kuyenda Bushcamp for young children at all – it's really a camp that's best suited to adults. Like most camps in this sort of area, neither adults or children can walk around the camp on their own at night as animals roam through regularly: a guide will escort you to and from your room. On our last visit to Kuyenda Bushcamp there were hyena, elephant and buffalo in and around the camp during the night.
Notes: Kuyenda bush camp is unfenced, and big game wanders through regularly, so any children would have to be closely supervised at all times by their parents.
Power supply: Solar Power
Communications: Kuyenda Bushcamp is always in contact with its sister camps and the office at Mfuwe Lodge.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a first-aid kit available at Kuyenda. The various safari operations in South Luangwa National Park sponsor a doctor who is based in the valley, and available in case of anything serious.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The camp managers have a lock-up facility and we recommend you hand over your valuables to them for safe keeping.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the camp's kitchen and outside each room. Hoses are available elsewhere in the camp in case of fire.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is provided. Washing powder is available in all the chalets for guests who wish to hand wash any smalls or delicate items.
Accepted payment on location: No currency or payment is accepted in camp and is unlikely to be necessary, as almost everything is included in the cost. A central tip box is available and we recommend US dollars for this purpose. If there is a bill to settle then it is easiest to use US dollars cash at Kuyenda. However cards can be used at Mfuwe Lodge as you leave the park.