Reviews of Chiawa Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Chiawa Camp review
Bigger than Old Mondoro and therefore not as much to my liking , although I could not fault the staff and facilities.
The ornate baths were a bit over the top and I suspect little used as showers are the order of the day. Daytime temps up to 45C and elephant spending literally hours just standing in the Zambesi almost totally submerged. Sadly , the lower Zambesi was suffering one of its worst anthrax outbreaks , with several elephant , hippo and buffalo succumbing.
Chiawa Camp review
We really enjoyed Chiawa though, compared with some of the luxurious Sabi Sand camps, it is a little difficult to see Chiawa as the best in Africa. The rooms were the best of the 4 camps we visited. The water activities were enjoyable and the walking safaris great. As with the other Zambia lodges we visited, the game on the game drives was not as good or plentiful as Sabi Sand.
We understand about cultural matters but it was irritating to be told not to put ladies underwear in the laundry particularly since neither the website nor the Expert Africa information (including the Brandt book) gave advance notice of this.
Chiawa Camp review
Set in a well shaded area looking out over the Zambezi. Tented rooms on platforms relatively close to one another but spacious. Indoor and outdoor shower plus bath a bit OTT. Food excellent but just too much throughout the day finished by a 4 course dinner and a ferrero-rocher on your pillow when you get back to your room - enough!!! Superb range of activities: game drives, walking, boat trip, canoeing and fishing. We did all bar the fishing but the canoeing was a real highlight which is generally not available on safaris: working your way round an obstacle course of hippo, buffalo, elephant and lion along a channel of the Zambezi was one of the best things we've ever done in Africa. Guiding is first-class and guides are assigned based on activity so you experience a mix during your visit rather than the usual single guide - a good thing. New management couple for 2011 who have recently moved from the superb Beho Beho in Tanzania so I'd expect Chiawa to improve even further. One amazing touch was to arrange a candlelight dinner on a boat moored out on the river for my wife's birthday - how good is that?!!Read more about the whole safari
Another great time at Chiawa
Chiawa was known to us – but under different management – and the camp has been very successfully upgraded without losing its unique atmosphere. Loved the dinner on the island at full moon, brilliant idea and well managed. The canoeing was a great experience. All the guides v knowledgeable and good company. Well done Steve and Lyn.
The bath was badly positioned in the room- you couldn't get past it from that side of the bed. The outside shower not easy to get to – because the netting of the tent needed to be secured at all times and that was also difficult to open.
Our arrival by boat along the Zambezi was a suitably impressive introduction to this outstanding camp and its stunning location. The greeting from our hosts, Steve and Lyn, was warm and welcoming and their friendly, good-humoured presence and attention to detail was in evidence throughout our stay.
The accommodation (to call it a 'tent' redefines the meaning of the word) was luxurious beyond expectation; the staff, service and food outstanding.
A wide range of water and land-based activities were available. We particularly enjoyed the walks, with elephant encounters, guided by Paul who has a truly encyclopaedic knowledge and the ability to impart that knowledge in an accessible and interesting way.
This was a truly memorable, luxurious and relaxing way to end our holiday in Africa.
"Simply messing about in boats"
For us, Chiawa is all about the river. The vegetation ashore is thicker than elsewhere, but we had great elephant sightings. Good guides (particularly Paul) do make the most of it, but it's the river that is special.
We spent most of our time on canoe trips and river cruises. There are two very different canoe trips which bring the river to life and give a different perspective on hippo in particular! The so called "river cruises" were the highlight for us. We had a boat to ourselves with very obliging guides (Clement and Ruben) and were able to get very close to photograph birds, reptiles and mammals. While not specialist birders, close up views of beeeaters with food for their chicks and malachite and giant kingfishers with their catches provide some of our best memories.
Steve and Lynn are great camp managers, who show constant enthusiasm and try their hardest to meet individual needs. This is very important as Chiawa is a relatively large camp that might lose intimacy, while it has been upgraded to a luxurious level which erodes some of its bush feel. It's also a hotspot for anglers in Sept/Oct and this can be an issue - we saw several couples who were trapped on a fishing table listening to the merits of a blue fly etc.
We very much enjoyed our time there, but the camp needs the strong management it currently has.
Chiawa is a really fine camp, wonderfully located on the Lower Zambezi and therefore specialising in waterborne activities. Our canoe trips were rich in wildlife and relaxing (despite the hippos) and our steel pontoon birding among the reeds revealed an incredible richness of birdlife (including those illusive warblers!).
Although we are not into fishing we did try it and would recommend that other guests do too, as this is something at which Chiawa clearly excells. We also enjoyed three excellent walks and some interesting drives. All of these activities were greatly enriched by the quality of the guides, expertly led by Paul Grobler who is right up there with the very best.
Our stay was at the end of the camp's 2010 season and we understand that the two "aspects" where we had some reservations - service and food - are being addressed for the 2011 season.
Chiawa - luxury by the Zambezi
Chiawa is a very luxurious camp in a spectacular location. The Lower Zambezi with its ephemeral sandbanks and well established islands provides many additional activities - sunset cruises, thrilling canoe excursions etc.
The guiding was superb and highly professional, and we had excellent sightings of lions. The camp managers Steve and Lynn took great pride in making our stay in Chiawa a very special experience and together with the whole camp team they delivered a truly unique experience. We were bowled over by a very special dinner on a sandbank in the middle of the Zambezi - a very memorable evening.
The camp is relatively large with 9 tents and up to 18 guests, but game drives, bush walks, boat excursions etc were never crowded.
Chiawa Camp review
this was our third visit to Chiawa so we knew what to expect
the camp was extremely well run but compared to the other two camps we stayed at did seem much larger, but we could do the water activities which we could not in South Luagana
Chiawa Camp review
A totally different camp to that of Tena Tena and Kaingo, much more opulent and in an ideal location to finish off a 10 day safari in that it is relatively close to Lusaka for the flights home. However should add that this does not imply any criticism of either Tena Tena or Kaingo, just that Chiawa is a different style.
The tents are much larger than that at Tena Tena with both indoor and outdoor showers, a bath plus his/her washbasins. Again ample hot water all through the day. As with the other camps the standard of food was extremely good, down to having a choice of two main courses for the evening meal.
The wildlife have free run of the camp which can make for some interesting journeys between the main camp area back to the rooms, especially in the evenings !! Certainly the game viewing was very good and the two pairs of mating lions of the last morning was quite an experience.
A wide variety of activities were on offer, fishing, canoeing, walking as well as the normal game drives, and our only criticism would be that as result of this wide variety we ended up with different guides over the three days which was different to what we have been used to in the past.
A nice touch from the camp team was an e-mail on our return home hoping that we had enjoyed our stay and had a safe trip home.