Reviews of Mchenja Bushcamp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Exciting time at Mchenja
Of the dozen or so places we visited on our holiday, this was one of our favorites and we'd return again.
Our outstanding guide Sam was knowledgeable about the immediate area, Zambia as a whole and other African countries as well. We liked the walking safaris, especially as we had spent the better part of the previous 3 weeks sitting in vehicles. On one walk we saw a large colony of storks; on another we found a hyena in its den and observed numerous elephants at close range. The boat trips were a pleasant change, too, especially the one wandering through a channel under ebony trees.
The food was creative and delicious. I may have eaten some meat that had been at room temperature, so to speak, for a couple of hours on a safari as I was a little ill the morning after leaving Mchenja. C'est la vie.
How about moving the employees' footpath to the boat landing farther from the back of the tent?
The plunge pool was too dark to be inviting.
Sam can be found at Luwi Bushcamp during the dry season and we think it would be enjoyable to stay with him there.
A beautiful bushcamp for the adventurous
We thought the camp staff tried really hard to ensure that we had a good experience.
The guides were very client aware and expert.
There was a good team spirit in the camp, which became evident when circumstances called for everyone to pull together.
The Joys of Walking in the Bush
Our walk to Mchenja and subsequent walks and drives while staying there provided much more to interest us. We particularly enjoyed the walks – following fresh giraffe tracks and droppings and eventually sighting the giraffe and observing elephants at close quarters in the bush, particularly a mother suckling its three year old infant, were memorable experiences.
Mchenja is delightfully situated in a grove of large ebony trees next to the Luangwa River. The chalets were very attractive and luxurious and the hospitality was great, almost too much so as we were almost joined for brunch in the bar area by an elephant keen to share our meal!
Mchenja Bushcamp review
Please see first pageRead more about the whole safari
Expert Africa comments
This client commented: "We absolutely loved Mchenja and met some great people on our trip. Lucinda was a wonderful hostess (I hope she returns) and Lawrence was the most fascinating of guides and got to show us 4 leopards in one night drive! Needless to say we would love to return."
Review of Mchenja Bushcamp
Excellent sse previous commentsRead more about the whole safari
Expert Africa comments
This traveller commented on his whole trip, on the 'previous page:
"It was a splendid tour you had arranged for us in South Luangwa.
In all five lodges Kapani, Kakuli, Nsolo, Mchenja and Luwi. Anne Marie, Lora, Natasha, Warren, the guides Abraham, Lawrence, Shaddy, Sam, Jimmy and John plus the rest of the teams gave us a wonderful time. They were all incredibly hospitable and immediately made us feel wellcome.
The game experiences were unforgettable.The guides who were all excellent did their best to show the nature and the game in varied actions. Especially John, who was called out to take us from Nsolo to Mcenja, half way walk, two days at Mchenja and the walk from Nsolo to Luwi. He was a brilliant guide, who seemed to be fond of walking like we are, while some of the guides had a preference for driving."
Mchenja -comfortable, elegant and great game
Mchenja is a beautiful camp in a superb location and had it been the only place we had stayed in Luangwa we could not have faulted it. However after staying at Kaingo it did feel more like we were paying guests, and less like staying with family.
The staff were great, always friendly and helpfull. The food was lovely & always well presented, again the vegetarian option was great. The guides were obviously very knowledgable and great at spotting game, we saw three leopard hunting whilst staying here, one in daylight, & the guides managed to get us really close. We saw 2 of the leopards make kills withing a few metres of our vehicle.
Our sole reservation concerns the fact that it appears that there is some friction between Mchenja & Kaingo. There are obviously 2 sides to every story, but we felt that it was inappropriate for the staff to discuss this issue with guests at dinner. In fairness, the issue was originally raised by other guests, not staff, but we felt that a tactful "no comment" would have been the better way of handling the situation.
5* luxury in the bush
This was our preferred camp: we loved the walk from Nsolo, and the accommmodation was wonderful. The only thing missing was a mosquito net. We were told it wasn't really necessary, but we disagree: on two slightly humid nights we had to spray 3 times during the night, and did kill mosquitoes, plus thousands of small black flies, which covered our pillows and sheets. We really think nets should be provided, in common with the undertaking given in your notes for travellers.
We also think all of the staff should be required to have first aid training. What the (English) catering manager did in the case of a scorpion sting to a member of staff was exactly the opposite of what should have been done. There was some evidence of lack of training.
Our guide, John, was fisrt class. We feel, however, that he should not be oblidged to dine with guests every night - he was visibly exhausted, and it clearly wasn't that much fun for him.
Overall, however, we adored this place - wonderful location, beautiful accommodation, great rolltop bath, lovely atmosphere. The reason we will give the good' rather than `excellent' rating to the rooms is because of missing net.
It would be good to have more Africa-related books available
Expert Africa comments
We have been in touch with the Mchenja team on these points, and Nick (the GM there) admitted to being the guilty party when it comes to the nets or lack of them at Mchenja! He commented that members of staff had asked for nets, and he’d though them unnecessary. However, on the strength of this report he’s re-visiting this subject, and will re-instate the nets. (The camp uses them anyhow during the emerald season – for their Rivers & Rainbows trips – they’d just taken them down for the dry season.)
With regard to first aid: access for a guest in an emergency to a qualified practitioner of basic first-aid is important in the bush. In the case of camps, run by Norman Carr Safaris, the first-aid training for a few key members of the team is rigorous. We can confirm that all the camp managers have to pass first-aid training courses, as well as all the guides – for whom it is an integral part of their guiding exams!
However, we share the camp’s view that expecting every staff member in a camp to be first-aid qualified is not only impractical, but also probably undesirable. Like many of Africa’s best safari camps, Mchenja employs many of its staff from the local community. This is ‘responsible tourism’ in practice: it’s how it should be. However, inevitably some have had little formal education. Applying any blanket requirement for recruits to pass a written first-aid qualification would exclude many who need the work most.
Our chalet was beautiful in a perfect setting. John, who had collected us from the airport was an excellent guide.
We were disappointed that the other guests at the lodge were more inclined to drive than walk. We felt uncomfortable having to ask to do a short walk on our first afternoon. We did feel we had to 'persuade' with regard to safari walking but did have a great walk with John the following day on our own.
Got on really well with John and the 'guy with the gun'. Lucinda the deputy manager was very friendly but preferred socialising to organising. Highlights were lion cubs, hippo lullaby and relationship with guide and tracker.
Mchenja was luxury in a tent
We walked to Mchenja from Kakuli and arrived to meet the other guests just returning from their walking safari. We were given a much needed cold flannel and nice cold drink and just had time to freshen up in our very luxurious tent before lunch.
Our tent even had a bath in it and our bathroom was open to the sky and shared with many tiny frogs which was great fun we found one sitting on the handle of the toilet.
The food was wonderful and the company very friendly. The staff joined us for meals and we enjoyed chatting about our experiences and hearing about everyones day and what they had seen. Our guide Levy was very experienced and we were thrilled that whilst walking we were able to get very close to a giraffe.