Tafika is a delightful owner-run camp.
Tafika: Our full report
Home to John and Carol Coppinger, the founders of Remote Africa Safaris, Tafika is a small, first-class camp standing on the banks of the Luangwa River, on the north side of the beautiful Nsefu Sector of South Luangwa National Park.
Tafika has six chalets made to a high standard out of locally-sourced reed and thatch. Four are almost identical in layout, each with two comfortable double beds with quality cotton bedding, under large mosquito nets. As with everything else here, the rooms are spacious and comfortable, but not flashy or showy – and very much in keeping with the feel of the bush. The floors are polished stone, scattered with locally made reed mats. Each has a simple hanging rail and shelves for clothes – all made from wood and reeds. The room is lit by efficient, solar-powered lights and traditional storm lanterns.
A door at the back leads to a private and enclosed bathroom that's completely open to the sky. There's a large shower, with piping hot water at the turn of a tap, twin washbasin and, inside a small thatched roofed hut – a flush toilet!
Tafika's honeymoon suite is very similar to the other rooms, but has a double his-and-hers shower and a large king size bed.
Tafika's sixth chalet is very different, although its reed-and-thatch construction is the same. It has two adjacent bedrooms, separated by a passageway, one with a king-size bed and the other with a double and a single bed. Both have mosquito nets and the two rooms share a large bathroom built cleverly around the trunk of an old Kigelia tree (also known as a sausage tree), giving a little more privacy to the toilet and shower. It is ideal for a family or two couples travelling together.
Tafika’s main area is a large thatched, open sided structure. Here there is a comfortable lounge area, a well stocked bar – which is always open - and a dining area. Meals are served here or outside on the lawn in the shade. Meals are relaxed affairs for the diners – though quite frantic affairs for the kitchen team who produce impressive cuisine.
Tafika has its own vegetable garden, so a lot of their produce is completely fresh. It is surrounded by an electric fence to keep the elephants out but guests are welcome to wander around.
Activities at Tafika, as with many camps in this Park, are 4WD safaris (day and night drives) and walking safaris. However, at Tafika, there are never more than four guests per vehicle on the game drives. What distinguishes the team here is that it's virtually the same team of guides every year: Bryan Jackson, Stephen Banda and Isaac Zulu. The least experienced amongst them has about ten years of guiding experience – guaranteeing the exceedingly high level of knowledge and experience that draws many of our travellers back to Tafika on a regular basis.
Also on offer at Tafika is a mountain bike safari. John has a few mountain bikes in camp and normally accompanies the more energetic guests. These safaris normally take place in the afternoon, following the paths and tracks in the area around Tafika. Guests are then able to join a 4WD safari in time for sunset and a night drive.
It is also possible for guests staying at Tafika to visit a local village. Nearby is Mkasanga, whose villagers kindly welcome guests to visit the school, wander around the village and experience the local church choir.
A stay at Tafika combines very naturally into a longer trip including its sister walking camps, Crocodile Bushcamp and Chikoko Tree Camp, both of which are situated across the Luangwa River, in a section of the national park that has been set aside for the exclusive use of their walking safaris. See the satellite map of the area around Chikoko for a view of these camps. Walkers will note that you can easily walk between Tafika and Chikoko, or Chikoko and Crocodile, in a 3-4 hour walk.
Alternatively, if you want to venture further, then Tafika and its bushcamps combine well with their more distant sister camp, Mwaleshi Bushcamp, located in the remote North Luangwa National Park.
South Luangwa by microlightJohn Coppinger is a qualified pilot and keeps a microlight at Tafika. Short flights over the park can often be arranged (about US$130 each) during your stay. A dawn flight, whilst the sun is rising, is breathtaking; from here you can pinpoint game to investigate on the morning's walk or drive.
Our viewTafika is a very comfortable unpretentious camp, whose guides are amongst the most experienced in the valley. It is also one of the last owner-run camps in the South Luangwa, offering excellent personal service. We view Tafika as one of the very best camps in Africa for travellers who want a very high-quality camp, with a genuinely rustic and 'bushy' experience.
Ideal length of stay: In the dry season, it's perhaps most popular to start a safari in the South Luangwa at Tafika for 3 or 4 nights, and then head to the bushcamps – Crocodile Bushcamp and Chikoko Tree Camp for a few nights each. Often trips will then return to Tafika for a night or two at the end – although some will finish with a visit to Mwaleshi in North Luangwa. To check if Tafika has space for the dates that you are looking for, click on the 'camp availability' link on the right-side of this page.
Directions: From Mfuwe it's an approximate 1 1/2 - 2 hour road transfer to Tafika. A flight transfer from Mfuwe to Lukuzi (Tafika) takes 15 minutes.
Owner: Owner run – John and Carol Coppinger
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Tafika has always offered high-quality food, and when we last visited in September 2012 this was still the case. The chef here is Rona, who has been with Tafika for eleven years, and the food has been consistently outstanding.
Breakfast is normally available in the main area before the early morning activity. It is buffet style and guests generally eat on their laps around the campfire. There is a wide choice to choose from – freshly baked bread, muffins, cereals, fresh fruit salad and yoghurt. There is also a cooked breakfast available served to order.
Lunch is served at about 12h00, when everyone has returned from their morning activity. On a recent visit to Tafika (September 2012) we had paw paw starter, chicken skewers, jacket potatoes, aubergine salad as well as a green salad. This was finished off with a desert of fruit and meringue pie.
Dinner is served when everyone has returned from the evening activity. This is plated and served around two large round tables.
On our recent visit we had a haloumi cheese starter, followed by beef stroganoff with rice, served with mixed vegetables. Desert was individual apple tarts served with cream.
Barbecues are often arranged on the banks of the river near to the camp.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Yes - soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included in the rates. Note that fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs, are charged as extras.
Attitude towards children: Tafika welcomes children 12 years and older.
Generally recommended for children: We recommend this camp for mature, well-behaved children over the age of 12.
Notes: The camp is on the edge of the Luangwa River and is not fenced in; so animals do roam freely through the camp. Children must be 12 years or older to participate in walking safaris. Children must be 12 years or older to participate in walking safaris.
Communications: There is no cell phone reception at Tafika. However in an emergency the camp has access to very good communications facilities.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio at Tafika
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: There is a doctor in Mfuwe, about an hours drive away, as well as a local doctor at the clinic closer to Tafika. For more serious emergencies Tafika has links with a flying doctors service.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Several night watchmen patrol the camp at night
Fire safety: Each chalet has a fire extinguisher as well as a bucket of sand
Disabled access: On Request
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