Reviews of Chiawa Camp
Wildlife sightings and reviews
78 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Chiawa Camp and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"Chiawa Camp review"
Looks like guest do usually not get a fixed guide throughout their stay and guides get assigned when you decide about you activity. All guests (and guides) we talked to about this did not like it since guide and guests need to re-familiarize again and again.
Fortunately enough, we insisted to keep the same guide for all our activities." See all these reviews: 13n in Zambia
"Chiawa Camp review"
The camp's open plan lounge, bar and dining area was only a few meters from the river bank and provided wonderful views across the Zambezi river. Our welcome chat with Juliet regarding the layout of the lodge, its facilities and daily schedule was delivered most professionally as was her tour of our room later. For the benefit of travellers thinking of staying at Chiawa, the camp was unfenced and as a result had frequent visitors, such as elephants and sometimes leopards (not when we were there). walking through it. As such, you had to be escorted back and forth from your room both during the day and at night. A walkie talkie was in your room to call a member of staff. We found this a little restrictive but on the whole it wasn't an issue for us as safety of the guests was paramount. The main camp and rooms were positioned under a canopy of trees and so it was relatively dark and cool - in the summer months it might offer some relief from the heat.
Our tent, a little like a rustic cabin, was comfortable but with no air con or fan - again, not a real problem for the winter months. It had both indoor and outdoor showers.
All meals were excellent. They were light and flavoursome. Some meals were served in the dining area, some upstairs in a viewing area looking out over the river and an incredible champagne lunch on the boat cruising up the Zambezi. One night after a game drive we were treated to a bush dinner, which was a lovely surprise. Tables and hurricane lamps all laid out, bar, camp fire and food on the BBQ or Braai (even a loo). The night was clear and the milky way visible. Nice to have a variety of locations.
The staff were very friendly, polite and efficient - nothing was too much trouble for them. Our guide on the game drives was obviously very experienced as his knowledge of the bush and wildlife was extensive He also had a great sense of humour. Game viewing was steady with usual sightings of elephant, hippos, impala and hundreds of baboons. One highlight was coming across a lioness with her two cubs. The two cubs were hidden up a tree, presumably told to stay there while mum went hunting. That plan was flawed in that the cubs kept popping their heads up through the leaves and then decided they would come down and go into play mode. This involved mum who seemed a bit reluctant at first to join in but then had no option. We spent some time at this sighting just watching this family's world playing out before us.
We opted for a canoeing activity one afternoon where we were taken out by boat to a channel off the Zambezi. Our canoes and boatmen were already there waiting for us and after a brief safety talk we each got into our canoes with the boatmen doing the paddling, leaving us to take in the calm and quiet views. Well, I say quiet, there were several snorts from the hippos around us as we glided past them. This was a fantastic experience and perspective viewing birds, hippos, crocodiles and elephants that came down to the waters edge to drink.
We enjoyed staying at this camp and recommend it to others, for the friendly and helpful staff, the boating activities and location, so close to the Zambezi river." See all these reviews: 19n in Zambia
"Chiawa Camp June 2022"
Nobby was our guide for most of the 4 days. Moses for other trips. Spotted two male lions on our first drive. Night drives following sundowners are great at this camp. Spotted African civet twice and a Porcupine once and spotted genets many times. Leopards were also spotted several times including one chasing and capturing a baboon up a tree. One of the highlights of the stay was canoeing down the channel off the main river one afternoon. Herds of elephants coming down to the water to drink, fantastic !
Managed a bush walk one morning down to the Zambezi.
Lovely camp thanks to Simon, Nobby, Tarsi , Chris and all the team for a wonderful stay." See all these reviews: 10n in Zambia
"Chiawa Camp review"
The service is impeccable and the food is great. Everyone is so kind and caring.
We were a bit surprised to be so cold there at this time of the year. The morning trips were freezing cold.
There are not so many animals around like in the South Luangwa Park but it is a very relaxing camp and the canoeing trip was so restful." See all these reviews: 10n in Zambia
"Chiawa Camp review"
Staff had excellent adherence to masking and social distancing, and most if not all staff by the time of our visit had at least one dose of a covid vaccine. I'm not sure exactly which one they received, though.
We stayed at tent 8, and it was beautiful. The wall looking out to the river is replaced by a giant black screen and allows for the magical sights and sounds of the bush to really come through.
The landscape and wildlife via game drives at Chiawa was remarkable. Our guide was Boaz, a longtime veteran. He had a great sense tracking animals and was very easygoing. We had excellent sightings of leopards both at night and at day. The leopards there are particularly comfortable around safari vehicles. Boaz was so good at following them and anticipating their direction when the leopards would disappear into the bush. We were also lucky to see lion cubs. While there is a general diversity of landscapes throughout our game drives, most of the area immediately surrounding camp is dense with bushes and thickets. While beautiful, it was sometimes a little nervewracking when we would run into a breeding herd of elephants head to/from the river during a game drive.
In addition to the drives, we also did a canoe and a walking safari. We really enjoyed the canoe as it was mostly tranquil and an easygoing way of appreciating the banks of the park from the water, but had a brief moment of terror when we got too close to one of the hippos. Thankfully, our guides were experienced with this and handled it with poise, scaring the hippo away with the boom of the paddle against the water. Walking safari was very educational but in the area chosen there was a lot of bush and thickets. Still the guide and armed ranger were excellent at avoiding any dangers, in particular the elephant breeding herds we encountered.
In this area of the park during this pandemic, the amount of vehicle traffic was low. Many of the vehicles we saw came from outside the park. The lion cubs generated the most amount of vehicles at a sighting, routinely 2-3 but on one occasion up to 5. Almost all other sightings we had exclusively to ourselves.
The camp was operating at about half capacity – 4 or 5 tents occupied - when we were there. Hopefully the pandemic will improve in their country and that their traffic increases, they deserve it." See all these reviews: 10n in Zambia
"Chiawa Camp review"
Even as we were landing at the Jeki airstrip, there were elephants on the runway, and as soon as we got on the jeep, we saw a big breeding herd wallowing in mud. The area was filled with elephants and hippos and we ended up spending quite a bit of time dodging both.
We arrived by boat and our room was huge and gorgeous with multiple sitting areas, 2 showers (one indoor and one outdoor) and a big bath tub. We can see animals right from our room, including some elephants who kept us in our room for a little while longer than we wanted.
Our guide was Chris, another 20+ year veteran, who was also the camp activities director (?). He came by at lunch to go over all the activity options. Since we only had 3 days and wanted to do everything, we opted to go for a boat cruise, do some finishing and a night drive back to camp on our first afternoon
Having never fished before, we were extremely inept. The fishing soon turned into drinking while we enjoyed the scenery. After the sundowner it was time for our night drive where the first action movie occurred.
We started hearing baboon alarm calls and Chris soon spotted a leopard. There were also impala alarm calls in front of us, and another jeep said there was another leopard a short distance away. We decided to keep following “our” leopard until some hyenas came along and the leopard ran away. While we were parked trying to figure out what to do, a big male impala sprinted out of a bush, with hyenas at its heel, and smacked into the side of our truck. We were so lucky that the truck had doors, or our spotter Fraser would have been toast!
Minutes later the hyenas succeeded in killing the impala, and started calling other members of the clan, and we saw 10 hyenas feeding. It was a bit like watching wild dogs interact with all the behavioral rituals. Super interesting!
Next day we decided go canoeing followed by a night drive. Drifting along the Zambezi in a canoe was serene unless we had to dodge hippos – then it was a bit nerve wracking. However, Chris and Fraser were very skilled canoers. As we neared the end of the channel, we started hearing baboon alarm calls again, and Chris thought there was a leopard in a tree, but it turned out to be a young male lion with an impala kill. We hopped in our waiting vehicle and soon found him hiding. Unlike South Luangwa, there were guests at Chiawa and other camps, and this was our first multiple-vehicle sighting for the entire trip. Since we couldn’t see the lion, we decided to go have our sundowner instead.
When we returned, the lion had moved into the open. We watched him for a while and Chris said we should to check out the stomach of the impala, to see if it attracts other animals, such as a crocodile. Just as he finished his sentence, we saw a huge crocodile with the stomach in its jaws right in front of our jeep and quickly scurried into the bushes. 5 seconds earlier or later we wouldn’t have seen it. Again, it was like a movie, and I have pictures to prove that this really happened!
On the way back to camp, we saw a bunch of lights, and Chris said they were illegal campers. But instead, we were surprised with a barbeque dinner under the stars. We have always loved looking at the southern sky and the Milky Way, so the dinner was extra special. Chiawa has all sorts of these little surprises for guests!
On our third day, we had another mini-documentary movie. Again, we saw another vehicle and were pointed to a lioness with 3 very small cubs – maybe only 2-3 weeks ago. We found them walking with Mom in the open. All three cubs were struggling, but one fell behind and couldn’t keep up. He started mewling but the Mom just kept going and left him behind. It was really pitiful as it couldn’t possibly survive on its own. We followed the Mom and the 2 cubs for quite some time off road and found a sister lioness with a slightly older cub next to waterbuck kill. The first Mom had been leading the 2 cubs to food and safety. As soon as she dropped off the two cubs, she headed right back out, presumably to find the other cub. It’s tough being a mother of three! The story had a happy ending: when we went back in the afternoon, all cubs were accounted for. That night, the camp surprised us again with a private dinner on the river, just us. We would radio and the staff would bring our next course. It was lovely to have dinner by ourselves on the last night of our trip.
Since our flight doesn’t leave until early afternoon, we were able to go on another game drive in the morning and watched the cubs some more. On our way back, the camp radioed that they saw a big male lion while working on the road. They stayed with the lion so we can find it easily, and gave us the first and only male lion sighting of our trip. This was typical of “above and beyond” service we received at Chiawa. Everything was meticulously arranged to maximize guest enjoyment. Truly a first-rate operation!" See all these reviews: 10n in Zambia
"Chiawa Camp review"
Again, Amanda, many thanks for getting us our room request---room 7----without doubt the best room to date---apart of course from the Honeymoon suite which we had last time in Sept 2017
Room 7 was very large and beautifully appointed with the best open view of any of the other rooms---it also had a huge beautiful terrace from which to watch the game, and the game did indeed visit the open area outside our room
Evidently, Simon, the General Manager, is about to convert Rooms 1-6 to a similar standard as our room ----room 7---and work is starting in late November this year
The food was good, albeit we did find that 4 courses was too much for dinner to be honest
Great breakfasts also
The game viewing here was a bit disappointing this time unfortunately
We again saw loads and loads of elephants and also impala and kudi, but only a couple of lion sightings, after having eaten a kill, so they were effectively "dead lions" each time----doing nothing except sleeping!
We did have 2 very good afternoon / sunset boat cruises with some great sightings of birds and elephants
Staff and guides were good
Also spent some dinners with the Front of House Manager and the Operations Manager + the General Manager
As previously, they organised a superb outside BBQ dinner at Bedrock---amazing the organisation that goes into this dinner!
Plus they do a special lunch on a boat]
All in all a lovely camp" See all these reviews: 8n in Zambia; 6n in Mozambique; 3n in Botswana; 3n in Zimbabwe; 1n in South Africa
"loved the camp"
"Chiawa Camp review"
Large and well maintained comfortable rooms, with internal bathrooms.
Attentive staff. Excellent award winning guiding team.
Excellent on land and river safaris.
Elephants roam through the camp, as did 2 sub-adult lions at 2am one morning." See all these reviews: 14n in Zambia; 2n in South Africa
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