King Lewanika Lodge

King Lewanika Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
6 villas
Children
Best for adults
Open
21 Oct to 15 Jul

The extreme isolation and wilderness nature of Zambia's Liuwa Plain National Park have always been major factors in its appeal – but these features have also made the logistics of visiting very challenging. With the opening of King Lewanika Lodge in the heart of the Liuwa Plains, the park's first permanent safari camp, this situation has changed.

King Lewanika Lodge opened in early 2017, and we were delighted to be able to stay on a recent trip to Zambia in October 2019.

Following several name changes – including Kokomo Camp and Mambeti Camp – the lodge was finally named after King Lewanika, at the request of the king of Barotseland, the Litunga. The most famous paramount chief of the Lozi people, King Lewanika lived around the turn of the 20th century. It was he who, in the 1880s, designated Liuwa Plain as a royal hunting ground – and thus started the protection of this area. Later he petitioned Queen Victoria to make the whole of Barotseland (effectively the western side of present-day Zambia) a British Protectorate. Eventually, in 1902, he journeyed to London, seeking an audience with Edward VII to achieve his aim.

King Lewanika Lodge was designed by leading architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, who were also responsible for Chinzombo (King Lewanika’s sister camp) in the South Luangwa, Mombo Camp in Botswana and North Island in the Seychelles.

The lodge accommodates up to 15 guests in six tented villas – including a two-bedroom family villa. Each villa is raised on a platform, designed to make the most of the location in the middle of the vast plains. After all, the main draw of Liuwa has always been the great expanse of the park itself. Open-plan and open--fronted, with gauze and canvas sides that can be zipped down, and spaced out along the tree line of a small section of woodland, each villa looks out to the plains to the front of the camp.

As you enter through a door to the back of the villa, you’ll find a spacious lounge area with comfortable sofa, facing out to the plains, a desk with a tea and coffee station, and shelving and storage and a hanging area for clothes. To one end of the villa is a large king size bed (or twin beds), again facing towards the plains, with roll-up mosquito nets around. Hurricane lantern style solar lamps sit to the side of each bed, and there’s a small bedside table to the side of the beds with a whistle for attracting attention, torch and emergency horn. To the other end is an open plan bathroom, with a folding screen incorporating a mirror and towel racks to provide a degree of privacy. Canvas walls surround the toilet, and the shower cubicle is open-fronted.

The family tent is more spacious still, with the lounge area creating a divide between two large open plan bedrooms (one with king size bed, the other with twins), and curtains to separate of this area. both with en-suite shower areas, though there’s no outdoor shower in this villa.

The main area is also expansive, with a thatched roof, and canvas walls that can be pulled down in case of wind or rain. Decking extends out to the front, with comfy chairs, cushions and hammock chairs.

A large, well-stocked bar sits to one end, underneath innovative lightshades either locally woven, or created from fishing baskets.

A large silimba (a traditional Lozi xylophone, made of keys strung along the top of calabash gourds) is found behind the tables, feel free to have a go, otherwise one of the team will happily show you how it’s done. You’ll also find an extensive reference book collection, along with plenty of novels on Zambia, or by Africa authors.

The lodge offers guided walks as well as day and night game drives, with the possibility of boating and canoeing between November/December and March, once the rains arrive and the pans start to fill.

Our view

Liuwa Plain National Park isn’t for everyone, and for those wanting to tick off regular wildlife sightings, this park may not be for you. However, for those looking for a wilderness experience, with stunning vista and landscapes plus the opportunity for some unique wildlife sightings, King Lewanika is a brilliant base from which to explore Liuwa, a modern and comfortable camp in a truly amazing part of Africa.

Geographics

Location: Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: The length of stay is largely governed by the flights, so is either four nights starting on a Saturday, or three nights starting on a Wednesday. Experienced lovers of the wilderness might opt for seven nights starting on a Wednesday or a Saturday.

Directions: There are seasonal flights to and from Lusaka on Wednesday and Saturday. These land at the outpost town of Kalabo, where there is a small airfield and a mission station with a hospital. Since January 2018, the lodge has transferred guests from Kalabo to the lodge via helicopter, taking around 15 minutes. A small but comfortable reception room is available to wait, and cold water, tea or coffee and biscuits are available.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Time + Tide

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Special interests

Luxury: The only camp in the remote Liuwa Plain National Park, King Lewanika delivers traditional luxury in a remarkable location. Six large, tented villas open up to the vast wilderness around, whilst the real luxury of Liuwa is its exclusivity; so few visitors ever reach this park.

See more ideas for Luxury in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: The lodge and surrounding environment are better suited to older children and adults.

Property’s age restrictions: The lodge only accepts children over the age of twelve, and doesn't offer child discounts.

Infrastructure

Communications: The lodge does have WiFi, which is mainly available in the rooms, but this runs from a satellite, don't expect speedy connections!

TV & radio: There are no TVs here, or radio reception.

Water supply: Borehole

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Mongu, which is the best part of a day's drive away. In case of emergency an air evacuation to Lusaka, or even Johannesburg, would be arranged.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Fire safety: There is a fire extinguisher in each villa and in the main communal area.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A daily laundry service is included.

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