Reviews of Chiawa Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert 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.
A beautiful riverside camp
This was our fifth visit need we say more. Each time we vist the camp has been improved and this time all the tents were now superior tents with very tasteful interiors which only enhances ones experiance. A new tent No. 9 has been built and its situation and decor is absolutely superb. If you were lucky enough to stay in it you would never willingly want to leave.
The guiding as always was first class and this time we fell in love with six lion cubs which we were fortunate to spend many an hour watching.
Thanks to Grant whilst we wrer there he was kind enough to arrange for us to spend 24 hours at Old Mondoro. This camp is our favourite bush camp with its own unique kharma.This was arranged so that we could see the changes that have been made there to the individual hut facilities.
These have been so well done that while they greatly improve one's creature comforts they in no change its appearance and the atmosphere at this camp is more than maintained.
Chiawa Camp review
This was our second time at Chiawa and it continued to live up to expectations. It seemed to have got a bit bigger since 2001 and the rooms/tents definitely have improved.
Again, as in Tafika, although the food was always excellent, we were overwhelmed with the amount of food and really didn't feel the need for a full four-course meal in the evening. We seem to remember that before we had a quick cup of tea/coffee with some small snack before morning activities, back for a brunch, afternoon activities and/or evening activities followed by an evening meal. Have all the camps changed that they provide three main meals a day, plus cake with afternoon tea, plus many other snacks in between?? Are they trying to fatten us up?!
Out of this world experience at Chiawa Camp
Absolutely amazing! The hosts, Jason and Michaela, couldn't do enough. The food was out of this world and I can now understand why it is so expensive. The camp was almost full but everyone was able to choose exactly what they wanted to do. My husband went tiger fishing by himself, they sent a boat out just for him! They also suggested combinations which must have made more work for them. For example, we went on a afternoon canoe trip for a couple of hours and they then picked us up to join the truck for sundowners and remaining night drive. The food is out of this world. This is a must go to camp, I cannot recommend it highly enough.Read more about the whole safari
Chiawa Camp review
friendly knowledgable staff, beautiful location, care and attentionRead more about the whole safari
Chiawa Camp review
Since this was the most expensive camp we stayed at, we had high expectations. The tented rooms were large and there was lots of room for us despite the fact that we had 3 in a room.
The hosting couple are present and really go out of their way to make sure you have a special experience. The food here was superb and one can enjoy an a la carte dinner menu. The house wine was also excellent here. Special touches included a surprise lunch for the 5 of us that travelled together on a boat. After an excellent canoe excursion we were greeted by the hostess and had sun downers on a sandy spit. Later, all guest were treated to a surprise dinner in the bush. Even posh loos were set up for the guests.
The guys went fishing out on the river here with a guide in between an activity. There is lots of choice here. It is almost like a safari resort, yet I don't mean that in a negative way. Everything runs smoothly here and the atmosphere is relaxed. Some of the ktichen staff even sung a few songs for the guests. A Chiawa water bottle is given to you so that they can cut down on plastic water bottles. You have to be boated in here which adds to the adventure of this camp. The night drives were superb here. The best of any of the 4 camps we stayed at as there were always cats to see.
I did not enjoy the walking safari that much here as the area we walked in had very little to see. Also, a guide should ask have you been on any other walking safaris as since we had already been on 5 walks this trip and others on different trips, we had some basic knowledge about the common stuff you see. Also, since the terrain is hilly here, the walk is in a flatter area, but as a result ended up being quite short- 1.5 hours. I also had a hrad time understandiing our guide at times.
Two of the guides here were excellent- Paul and Rory. I am sure they are tops in their field. Paul led us on an amazing canoe safari , proably a highlight for me. The channel is full of birds and I enjoyed them and I am not a birder. Also, we had a thrilling expereince with the elephants that crossed the water channel and had a mud bath!
Rory took us out for a 4 hour plus morning jeep ride and since there was not lots of game out, he focused on the birds, plants and trees. Some of the guides were in training , but thier communication skills will need to really improve if Chiawa wants to maintain its status of having top guides. Again, I prefer just having one guide but we had many here. The setting is again idyllic and the moutains provide a wonderful backdrop. This was the perfect place to end our safari vacation.