Mchenja Bushcamp overlooks the Luangwa River
Mchenja Bushcamp: Our full report
Mchenja Bushcamp is Norman Carr Safaris' flagship and most luxurious bushcamp. It's a beautiful camp in a lovely setting within an ebony grove, beside a bend of the Luangwa River. We loved Mchenja Bushcamp when we recently visited in June 2010! The whole camp, including all the rooms, has lovely wide views of the river, and is cool and shaded under the grove of tall ebonies and sausage trees around it.
The main lounge-and-bar area is cleverly designed and quite unusual; it incorporates a tree that looks as if it's falling into the dining area. The lounge has comfortable chairs and sofas as well as a small library. The bar is well stocked with soft drinks, spirits, beer and wine; we were told to help ourselves when we wanted to!
The deck of the sitting area extends outside the thatch, with a recliner, a couple of comfortable chairs and a sofa to relax upon. On the deck, under the thatch, there's a small shaded plunge pool. This is deep enough to completely submerge in, but not large enough to swim in.
Mchenja is a small camp with only four tented chalets. Each is a big and very comfortable octagonal tent, designed to be light and airy - wide canvas windows let the breeze through. The en-suite, open-air bathroom has a (hot & cold) shower, a flush toilet and hand-basin in the corner.
The guiding here is good – Levy Banda, the camp manager, has been with Norman Carr Safaris for 17 years and trained under Norman Carr himself. He was ably helped by a superb camp hostess and a great team.
Mchenja is in a good game area and offers both walking safaris and 4WD safaris (with more-or-less equal emphasis on both). As with most of the South Luangwa, sightings of lion and leopard are fairly common (we stayed just a night, but had a good lion sighting in that time), and birding highlights of our stay here included juvenile saddle-billed and yellow-billed storks and some fish eagles.
Generally the game drives either head north, towards Kaingo Camp and the Lion Plain area – or you head south into the north side of the park's main network of roads around Mfuwe Lagoon. The walks usually meander in and out of the ebony grove, which runs roughly parallel to the course of the main Luangwa River.
Our viewMchenja Bushcamp is small, and rather more luxurious than most of the Luangwa's other bushcamps. So makes a fantastic and relaxing end-point for a safari in South Luangwa. We really liked the atmosphere here – it is smart but really relaxed and unpretentious, which is a difficult balance to get right.
Ideal length of stay: Ideally about 3 nights – and Mchenja Bushcamp combines well with its sister-bushcamps, Nsolo Bushcamp, Kakuli Bushcamp and Mchenja Bushamp - and, of course, trips will often start and/or end (or both) at Kapani Lodge.
Directions: Fly to Mfuwe and transfer to camp. About 2 hours easy drive (part through villages, part safari) from Mfuwe Airport.
Owner: Norman Carr Safaris
Staff: Camp manager and guide – Levy Banda. Guide: relief guides are brought in from Kapani to help out when the camp is full Guide: relief guides are brought in from Kapani to help out when the camp is full (we had Brian from Kapani during our stay in June 2007) Chef: Stanley assisted by Andrew
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our visit in June 2010 the food was excellent and the house wine was of a good quality.
A light breakfast is served at sunrise on the grassy rivers edge, before your early morning activity. There is a good selection of cereals, porridge, homemade flapjacks and biscuits as well as toast cooked on the open campfire along with tea, coffee and fruit juice.
Brunch is a buffet and is served in the main area at about 11:30 - there is usually a hot and cold choice. On one of many trips, we had a quiche and lasagna along with a selection of salads followed by fruit salad.
After a midday siesta, everyone gathers for afternoon tea and delicious homemade cake before heading out for their afternoon/evening activity. When we were here in June 2010 we had a lemon and poppy seed cake.
Sundowners are served whilst out on your game drive and a wide choice of drinks is normally available along with some nibbles.
Dinner is served at about 20:00 – 20:30 on your return from your evening game drive. This normally consists of three courses followed by tea or coffee.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are included at Mchenja.
Honeymoons: Mchenja Bushcamp is a wonderful romantic spot to be pampered – the tented chalets have a soft, romantic feel, and the team here are good at making people feel special. For example, a special private honeymoon dinner can be arranged.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Zambia
Birdwatching: Mchenja Bushcamp stands beside the Luangwa River, and near several large lagoons – so has several different environments within easy reach. The birding here is good; with water-birds and many dry-country species. On one of our short visits we saw flocks and solitary yellow-billed storks, fish eagles, white-fronted bee-eaters, kingfishers and many others.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Zambia
Walking safaris: South Luangwa is probably Africa's best park for big game walking safaris. Mchenja Bushcamp always offers walking safaris as an optional activity – in a lovely area for walking. Mchenja as particularly easy to combine into a camp-to-camp walking trip. It's only a morning's walk from its sister-camps, Kakuli Bushamp or Nsolo Bushcamp.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia
Wildlife safaris: South Luangwa is one of Africa's top big game destinations, with high densities of wildlife; night drives make sightings of lion and leopard particularly common. On one of our drives from Mchenja Bushcamp during the dry season, we saw many antelope – including impala and puku – a slender mongoose, a genet and a bushbaby, before and exciting hour or more following a pride of three lion out hunting.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Children under 12 years of age are accepted only if the camp is booked exclusively for the family group. For safety reasons, children under 12 years are never allowed out on guided walks – but they can join game drives.
Generally recommended for children: No – unless booked out for the whole family group.
Notes: The camp is unfenced, and has dangerous big game wandering through it regularly. It's also beside the steep, unfenced and occasionally unstable bank of the Luangwa River – with crocs and hippos below! So any children brought here must be closely supervised at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Communications: Radio only.
TV & radio: None – you are on safari!
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is based at a clinic near Kapani (about 1 hour fast drive) For emergencies one would need to be airlifted to Lusaka or Johannesburg, however Levy s first aid trained and so able to cope with minor injuries.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The camp is located within the National Park and is unfenced. You are requested not to walk alone after dark and will be escorted to and from your tent by a guide.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included – but it is hand washed and line dried and so you may wish to wash delicate items yourself. For cultural reasons ladies will need to wash their underwear themselves and soap is provided in the rooms for this.