Reviews of Vundu Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
The camp is in a beautiful position on the banks of the Zambezi. The main lodge was good with a bar and comfortable seating. A simple breakfast was served around the campfire, with a buffet lunch outside in the shade and three course dinner inside the lodge. The food was tasty but not exceptional. There were unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
We were the only guests in camp but the camp manager, Peter, invited other people for dinner which enlivened the evenings, particularly as these were very interesting wildlife people for us to meet and learn from.
The tent we were in was large but sparsely furnished and could be improved by more furniture and local artefacts. It was incredibly hot whilst we were there and as there was only a portable free-standing fan which stopped at night when the generator went off, trying to sleep was quite uncomfortable. A ceiling fan would have circulated the air better. The bathroom was outside the tent and open to the sky - but in fact this worked really well as it was cooler in the evenings. We liked the double sinks (with sink plugs that worked - such a rarity!) and the double shower, allowing us to both wash and shower at the same time.
What makes this camp special was it's position for wildlife viewing. It has a pack of wild dogs resident in the area that we saw each day, as well as seeing the other pack of dogs in the park on one occasion. We had other wonderful wildlife experiences including seeing the elephant "Fred Astaire" doing the 'Mana stand' on his back legs to reach for the apple-core pods. The combination of driving, then being allowed to walk in the park enabled us to drive around to spot things but then walk to get closer to them - the perfect combination. Our guide, Henry, was friendly, knowledgable, and competent.
We canoed down the Zambezi one afternoon and this was very special.
Difficult to imagine a better place.
Vundu Camp was without doubt the highlight of our trip.
Very comfortable large rooms, excellent food, great staff; often things one takes for granted on high end Safari, but what marked Vundu Camp out was Brandt and Nick, great host's determined to show us all that was there, including an African Wildcat.
The canoe trips alone make this place a worthwhile stop, the guides really know their stuff and gave us some incredible experiences. The only thing they could improve was the breakfast, slightly disappointing but the other meals more than compensated.
Vundu Camp review
The river location was wonderful and, having the honeymoon chalet, we had a particularly good site. We also appreciated the celebratory meal Peter organised for us in our 'home' location.
Alistair was an excellent, informative guide. We particularly enjoyed the drive we had with him on our own. Other drives very good though sometimes we felt influenced by the strongly expressed wishes of other clients accompanying us.
Don't judge a book by its cover
On arrival our first impressions were a little negative. The accommodation although dated and minimal in appearance, was very comfortable. This is an intimate family run camp where the owner/guides are passionate about what they do best, which is guiding.
Alistair our guide had been guiding for years and was very knowledgeable about the bush. He worked hard to find us game and new close encounter experiences with elephants, lions and, what we went to Mana for, Painted Dogs.
The Vundu pack had left their den only a few days before our arrival so our hopes of seeing them at the den were shattered. They had just gone nomadic and had not been seen for a few days. Alistair tried desperately for our first two days to find them but to no avail. Then on our third morning, up before dawn and onto the flood plain for first light, we found them purely by accident while we were approaching a bull elephant on foot. Possibly one of the best dog encounters we have ever had, running after a pack of wild dogs while our guide followed us in the vehicle from the nearby road.
Another evening we went walking looking for three lionesses but had no luck until we accidentally walked into the scrub area where they were sleeping. The lionesses woke up and gave out an almighty growl stopping us in our tracks. Although clearly annoyed at our presence, these nice ladies said no more about it and sent us on our way. An incredible life experience.
Vundu Camp review
On this safari we wanted to get closer to the animals than we had on previous trips, so we booked 4 nights at Vundu with Nick as a private guide. We didn't realise just how close to the animals we would get! on foot. We were 5 meters away from bull elephants, 10 meters away from lions and painted dogs. We were leaving the vehicle to run into the bush having seen flashing tails and hearing the dogs barking to be confronted by the dogs and a lion was to be an experience never to be forgotten.
During our stay there Nick got us to run and to climb trees albeit so he could take a photo of us at that point. All the staff were friendly, could not do enough to ensure our stay met our requirements. We loved the homely feel with simple facilities provided, please do not try to change to meet the luxury expectations of some customers, we love outside bathrooms.
Vundu Camp review
Brilliant guiding here (Alistair Chambers). Highlights being a wonderful hour spent with wild dogs at their den with pups; a super walk to sit within yards of a lion and hyena and a hair-raising canoe trip down the Zambezi. We enjoyed the camp, although perhaps a little old-fashioned (needs a feminine touch?). A couple of glitches with regards to hot water and a game drive were handled properly
A nice camp, more homely than the previous two of my trip. The cabin was perfectly comfortable, the common areas spacious and pleasant, and the location on the river bank excellent. Food was plentiful and tasty.
My guide, Alistair, was great fun to be around and either by luck or design he did provide a good sighting of African Wild Dog, always a privilege! We also walked in on a sleeping lion, a situation he handled beautifully. My canoeing outing on the river was excellent!
Quite different safari
For us it was a quite new and exciting experience to do safari "on one level with the animals". We did a few walking safaris before, but all of them where rather boring. But here - on the right place, with the right guide - it was quite different. I wouldn´t recommend it necessarily to a first time safari goer, but for someone, who has been to some conventional safaris, it is a more than rewarding experience.
If you expect a cat around every corner and animals close to touch, it isn´t the right place for you (there is no off-road driving) - also if you need internet connection, mobile connection, silver plates and a choice of 8 different wines, you are better kept in Sabi Sand or Masai Mara. But that doesn´t mean, you have to go without excellent meals, fine drinks and an outstanding service.
So, if you know, what are your expectations are, you can reckon on marvellous days in an awesome landscape.
Good to know: for the walking safaris and the canoe tours on the Zambezi you shouldn´t be excessively frightened.
Fantastic Canoe Safari and Pack of Wild Dogs
I have to say that yes it's true that the three days I took on my canoe safari were indeed one of the most spectacular wilderness experiences that anyone can have in Africa or for that matter in the world. It was wonderful to paddle down the Zambezi River and see the both Mana Pools National Park and Lower Zambezi Park in Zambia from the perspective of the river.
There are literally thousands of hippos in the river, and one also sees elephants, buffalo, bushbuck, and a tremendous variety of birds including little bee eaters, goliath herons, and many others.
I don't consider the canoe safari dangerous because you are accompanied by some of the best and most experienced guides in Africa. They all carry both a pistol because it is more effective at short range as well as a rifle. I had a fellow canoeist who had an incredible ability to dodge hippos, and scare them off by hitting the canoe with his paddle. His name is Mark, and my guide's name is Alistair. However, I wouldn't recommend going on this canoe safari for those who are faint at heart.
In the three days that I was at Vundu Camp I was most unlucky because the game viewing hadn't been as good when I had come here two years ago nor as in the same league of Goliath camp. I did however see an elephant tear down a leadwood tree with his trunk which was quite a site to see. After six days of no luck, I was finally rewarded by seeing no less than 15 wild dogs returning from a kill. It was just as I was leaving Mana Pools. When my guide said look there's wild dogs over there I thought he was joking. It really made my stay at Vundu Camp worthwhile.
It was nice having Nick Murray, his wife Desiree, and their two children were staying at the camp. My guide Alistair was a true gentleman and it was fascinating to talk to him about his experiences as a pilot, guide and soldier.
The rooms are somewhat austere but comfortable. I love the open air showers.
My only serious complaint about Vundu Camp is that while I was there 4 out 5 of their vehicles experienced breakdowns. However, I'm sure that Nick will get the problem resolved.
The food was good, although not quite up the standards of my last stay. It was also less plentiful.
A wonderful river location
We had a super four nights at Vundu, complementing perfectly our immediate previous four nights off the river at Kanga. Dean McGregor is a brilliant guide - very knowledgeable and a wonderful sense of humour. Our walks with him were packed with interest - as well as fantastic animals - and the canoeing was the highlight of what was, all round, a brilliant trip.
In camp we were made to feel very welcome by Nick and Natalie.
As for the animals, we were delighted to see nyala for the first time ever; but the most memorable has to be the (male - his mate followed a couple of nights later) pennant-winged nightjar flying into the lounge area one evening - fabulous.