Nsefu is Luangwa's oldest camp
Nsefu: Our full report
Located on a wide bend of the Luangwa River in South Luangwa National Park's remote and game-rich Nsefu Sector, Nsefu is run by Robin Pope Safaris. An hour’s drive from their base at Nkwali, it was originally built in the 1950s. It is the South Luangwa's oldest camp – and for years has been a really high-quality bushcamp with a strong focus on guiding.
The communal area or chitenge at Nsefu sits beside a huge termite mound and is a great spot to watch wildlife coming to drink. It commands a spectacular view of the Luangwa River, with the sun rising upstream and setting downstream. The rough brick floor, old black-and-white pictures, antique books and simple but comfortable furniture have a rustic colonial charm that is in perfect keeping with a remote bushcamp. Everything feels good quality, yet it is understated and modest in style.
The rooms at Nsefu are the original six brick-and-stone thatched rondavels, each extended to house a lovely airy en-suite bathroom. They are furnished with simple elegance and minimal furniture, have painted stone floors, whitewashed walls and pale fabrics on the beds. Small touches like Maglite torches, mosquito spray and wildlife books and magazines are thoughtful extras.
Each rondavel has a shady veranda at the front, with a couple of directors’ chairs. The bathroom at the back has a flush toilet, washbasin and large walk-in shower, with hot water provided by a log burner. Toiletries and bathrobes are supplied. There is also hanging space for your clothes.
By modern standards, the rooms at Nsefu are a bit small and close together – as listed buildings they cannot be moved. However this does create an intimate feel to the camp. Considering the history and atmosphere of the camp, we feel these minor flaws can be forgiven.
Nsefu offers a choice of activities: either walking safaris or day and night game drives. Typically there are two activities per day, each lasting around 3–4 hours and led by an expert guide. Walking safaris are accompanied by an armed game ranger, as well as a fully qualified guide. Exclusive to Nsefu is the ‘sunrise safari’, when guests leave camp at about 5.00am in order to be in the bush at sunrise. Your guide will cook you a full English breakfast over a fire, while you enjoy the sunrise with a mug of tea or coffee. The morning game drive then continues after breakfast. Guests at Nsefu can also book in advance to venture out for a night on a bushcamp trip.
Nsefu combines naturally with its sister camps, Nkwali Camp
and Tena Tena, as well as sometimes being part of the itinerary for RPS walking mobiles. It's also a very natural complement to trips to Kawaza Village – which was originally set up with the help of Robin Pope Safaris.
For families and small groups, Robin Pope Safaris also run Robin's House and the Luangwa Safari House – two 'houses', with two and four bedrooms respectively. Close to Nkwali, each comes with its own chef, expert guide and private safari vehicle, and both are ideal for families or small groups travelling together.
Our viewNsefu is a simple, yet stylish little bushcamp – and hard to fault. It is both laid back and intimate, with some of the best guiding we have come across in the South Luangwa. Over the years we have visited Nsefu many times and always felt instantly welcome and at ease – we can recommend it without any hesitation.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a minimum stay here of three nights. We usually suggest a minimum stay at Nsefu of three nights; longer would be better. In the dry season, from June to October, we suggest a stay at Nsefu's sister camp, Nkwali , for 2–3 nights, before heading north to Nsefu and/or Tena Tena for a further 2–4 nights.
Directions: Fly to Mfuwe and transfer by road to camp. The drive takes approximately an hour from either Mfuwe airport, or Nkwali.
Owner: Robin Pope Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Nsefu has always offered high-quality food, and when we last visited in September 2012 this was still the case.
Breakfast is usually set around the campfire at around 5.30–6.00am before heading out on the morning activity. Hot porridge, cereal, toast cooked on the fire and fruit are available, alongside tea, coffee and juice.
A buffet brunch is served at around 11:30 or 12:00 depending on what time everyone returns from the morning activity. A large table is laid out under a shady tree and everyone helps themselves. We had tasty mousaka, butternut quiche served with a variety of different salads and freshly baked bread. This was finished off with raspberry mousse, which was light and very tasty – perfect for a hot afternoon.
Dinner at Nsefu was also served al fresco. After drinks at the bar we were served a starter of asparagus and parmesan, followed by a main of beef fillet, chips and green salad. Dessert was a delicious chocolate mousse.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included at Nsefu, but note that fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs are charged as extras.
Attitude towards children: Nsefu is happy to accommodate children 12 years and over.
Generally recommended for children: NNo. Nsefu is a remote bushcamp with quite an adult atmosphere so is suited only to older children with a high degree of maturity. Families with children may prefer to stay at Luangwa Safari House or Robin's House which both offer more privacy for family groups.
Notes: Nsefu is a remote bushcamp with quite an adult atmospher so is better suited to older children and adults. Families with children may prefer to stay at Luangwa Safari House or
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Nsefu is in constant radio contact with its sister camp, Nkwali, which has a landline phone as well as internet. There is usually no cellphone reception at Nsefu.
TV & radio: Nsefu has no TVs or radios
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: TThere is a doctor based at Flatdogs Camp, about an hour’s drive from Nsefu. First-aid kits are provided in the camp and in the vehicles, and all the guides are trained in first aid. Nsefu has links to a flying-doctors service for serious emergencies.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted between their rooms and the main areas at night – either by a guide or one of the camp's watchmen. There is a digital safe in each room to lock away valuables.
Fire safety: Nsefu has fire extinguishers in the main areas and fire buckets in each room.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A complimentary laundry service is included, but this does not include ladies’ underwear; soap for this is provided in the rooms. Note that clothes are hand washed and coal ironed.
Money: No exchange facilities are provided.