Puku Ridge is built in a superb location....
Puku Ridge: Our full report
Set on a rocky hillside overlooking the Kakumbi Floodplain, Puku Ridge is a stylish camp which has recently been bought by Sanctuary Lodges & Camps and completely re-furbished; it re-opened in June 2008. (Previously it was owned by the now-defunct Star of Africa.)
Puku Ridge is situated in an amazing location, with probably the best views of any camp in the Luangwa Valley; it also stands about 500m from its larger sister-lodge, Chichele Presidential Lodge. The plain below is noted for its particularly nutritious grasses which attract a wide variety of wildlife, including herds of the puku antelope after which the camp is named.
Accommodation here is in seven large safari tents, each with its own private viewing deck. At the centre of each tent, two double beds are pushed together to create a vast four poster bed hung with a mosquito net. To one side is a small lounge and writing desk; at the other end of the tent the en-suite bathroom has a flush toilet, shower and bath with a view. A door leads outside to an open-air shower which has no front wall, giving a spectacular view across the plain. Floor to ceiling mesh windows and a ceiling fan help to keep each of the tents cool and insect-free. These tents are spacious, generally well-designed, and they feel very luxurious.
The main bar/dining area has a high thatched roof hung with chandeliers, and under this you'll find a simple concrete bar with a bamboo design on the wall, and modern chrome barstools. In front of this is the lounge, which has one big settee, bench seats moulded into the walls, scattered with soft cushions in browns and greens, and a huge brushed chrome trunk which acts as a coffee-table. Beside the lounge, the dining area is furnished with very modern woven-plastic black chairs, red and pink cushions, and traditional reed-woven place-mats.
Below the main lounge at Puku Ridge is a shady verandah with a large cane love-seat. A series of rock pools wends its way around to the front of this deck from where the walls fall steeply away to allow for a dramatic view of the plain and the two waterholes that lie far below. These waterholes are floodlit at night. To one side a patio has been built up to a tall tree from which dangle enticing cane chairs.
The individual elements in the furnishing of Puku Ridge's main area are all very smart and stylish; most are actually very high quality, and have doubtless been costly. However, we feel that the designers have used far too many different ideas and styles in the camp – leaving some feeling that it is a bit of hotchpotch, and the more design-conscious with a feeling of sensory overload.
Activities from Puku Ridge include day and night safari drives and sometimes also guided walks, although drives are the norm. The camp is situated on the southern edge of South Luangwa's main all-weather road network, which means that the game is generally relaxed and easily, although you will see other vehicles doing game drives whilst you're on safari.
Our viewThe accent at Puku Ridge is firmly on the 'luxury' part of being a luxurious safari camp. With good build-quality, and high-spec furnishings, it generally succeeds very well – even if, at times, we find its assortment of design styles rather motley. We'll look forward to keeping an eye on this latest incarnation of Puku Ridge, to see what standards it sets for hospitality and guiding in the future.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a two or three night stay at Puku Ridge. Consider combining this with its sister camp in the Lower Zambezi National Park – Zambezi Kulefu Camp.
Directions: After being met at Mfuwe Airport, it is approximately three hours' game-drive transfer through South Luangwa National Park to Puku Ridge.
Owner: Sanctuary Lodges
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: A stay at Puku Ridge would include most drinks. Premium brand whiskies and spirits would incur and additional charge.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included.