Reviews of Chongwe River Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Earned Our Highest Recommendation
Chongwe River Camp was one of our favorites. The accommodations were very comfortable, the staff was friendly and welcoming, the meals were lovely, delicious and tasty, the “surprises” were classy, the range of activities was varied, and the guiding was excellent.
The roomy tented cabins are well spaced providing a sense of complete privacy. Hippos, elephants and baboons are uninhibited by the camp layout and move freely through camp to the Chongwe River at its confluence with the mighty Zambezi River. Sunrise, looking out across the languid Chongwe from the sitting area in front of our cabin while sipping coffee, was exceptional.
We enjoyed plentiful game on our driving safaris, including a leopard with an impala kill, a mating pair of lions, and amazing elephant encounters. Canoeing on the Chongwe was a great way to experience the river, giving a humbling perspective as to the size of the crocodiles basking on the shore, as well as an opportunity to observe the monitor lizards and water birds. Tiger fishing on the Zambezi was supposedly running a little slow (October is reportedly the best time), but we managed to land several nice sized fish, including a 17 pounder, whilst losing more than we caught. The hike to Chongwe Falls and bream fishing below the falls was an unexpected highlight.
Chongwe River Camp Review
A beautiful camp at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chongwe rivers. Canoeing is an activity not to be missed.
Definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
Chongwe River Camp review
Another superb camp very well run,good staff etc
See overall trip comments
Chongwe River Camp review
A wonderful location, elephants seem to be in camp about half the time.
We enjoyed the opportunity to do a variety of activities including canoeing and the walking safari
We saw less game than in South Luangwa but we didn't do the long drive in which might have revealed more.
The staff were incredibly friendly and welcoming
One improvement would be to use refillable water bottles rather than relying on a constant supply of new bottles which must generate a lot of plastic waste.
Highlight was seeing 2 porcupines on a couple of occasions by our tent!
Albida house at Chongwe river camp
The lodge in general and the albida house in particular were just perfect with an amazing setting and service. Impossible to have any negative remarks about the lodge.
The activities proposed are varied and welll executed, in particular the boat rides up to the safari ride close to Sausage tree camp, the boat rides to Mona Pools and the canoe rides.
Regarding the Lower Zambezi National Park, unfortunately, the density of animals is disappointing, partly compensated by a beautiful scenery and settings. A recommendation would be to try to combine access to Mona Pools on the Zimbabwe side and the concentrate the safari ride the further away from the entrance
Lovely River Location
A really lovely location-we had a view of both the Chongwe river and beyond that the lower Zambezi. The leg of flight from Jeki over the river was spectacular.
We were not so impressed with the tents. The bathroom lacked privacy and there was just a silly little screen around the WC.
Our first night we were only four guests (and we never set eyes on the other two) and we were well looked after. There was a problem, however with the wine. It had been decanted (from a box ?) into a jug that was stored in the chiller cabinet. It was virtually undrinkable. However, at dinner bottles were produced which were fine. So next time the jug appeared we made it clear that in our view they were letting themselves down badly by serving such rubbish. After that they made a point of serving us out of bottles.
The next day a party of fourteen arrived. Although the staff tried to look after us, seating us at our own table etc.., some of the atmosphere was lost. However, we had a lovely private dinner by the pool.
That evening we opted for a canoe trip. We found ourselves with a party of three other canoes with people not even from our camp. They included adults who tried incompetently to paddle themselves and children in different boats who chattered to one another. We were tail end charlies at the rear. So the peace and tranquillity of gliding through the water was lost and some of the wildlife didn't hang around.. So, taking your advice, we made our feelings known and the next evening we enjoyed a canoe trip just for ourselves. Lovely!!
Expert Africa comments
We forwarded these travellers comments to Chongwe River Camp and received a response from Chris Liebenberg, the camp’s owner. He explained that sourcing good wine in Africa is a problem, especially with a 300% import duty plus VAT. They also tell us that they tend to use “box” wine rather than bottled, as it keeps better. Bottled wine is often corked or oxidized by the time it reaches camp. However when these travellers commented on the quality of the wine they were offered bottled wine for the rest of their stay.
July is peak safari season in Zambia when most of the camps tend to be full. These travellers were very fortunate to have only two other guests in camp for the first night, offering a very personalized service. However the next day a group arrived and this made the camp quite full.
These travellers went on a shared canoe safari with guests staying at one of Chongwe’s other properties. Chris explained that it is considered a bit safer to have groups of canoes travelling together, rather than lots of individual canoes travelling separately, as there is less disturbance to the pods of hippos in the river channels. However on request, these travellers were offered a private canoe trip, which we understand they were very happy with. We are pleased to see that these travellers did take our advice and speak to the management whilst in camp, as it is much easier to rectify any problems there and then, rather than to wait until you get home and then it is too late!
Wonderful location by the Zambezi river.
A very comfortable, well-appointed safari camp with a superb location at the confluence of the Chongwe and Zambezi rivers - so all lodges have lovely views onto the waterfront and ample opportunities for animal and bird-spotting .Lodges are also very comfortable with good showers and a spacious sitting area by the river bank although we never got around to reading our books because there was so much to see and enjoy in our surroundings.
Safari drives and walks were well-conducted and very informative as the guides had both knowledge and enthusiasm for their task....we felt they wanted us to enjoy our time with them in Lower Zambezi NP. We had a particularly memorable bird-watching trip on the 2 rivers, and 2 canoe trips which were idyllic.
Food and service were both of good standard and we appreciated the birthday treats which were arranged for us.
Chongwe River Camp review
Exellent location. The staff were friendly and accommodated all our needs. The tents were comfortable.
We very much enjoyed the river cruise as well as the canoeing. We saw a wide variety of game and even saw a pride of lions feeding on a kill.
Our guide, Sam, always asked what we wanted and always did his best to show us what we wanted to see.
The visit to the village was a unique experience, enhanced by conversations with the local councilman, the head teacher, and the local nurse/midwife. We gained a perspective that otherwise we would have missed.
Everything Great at Chongwe
You will not want to miss Chongwe River Camp. All management and staff top notch. Great location with many different activities.
We enjoyed Michael so much. He took care of us in camp so well -- far beyond any expectations we might have had!
Our guide, George, took us on whatever activity we requested -- fishing, game drives, walks, canoeing. He was extremely knowledgeable and a joy to spend our vacation days with.
Great variety with boat and car based drives
Interesting camp. Everything about the technical analysis said it should have been great but there were a few issues that let down the overall experience.
On the positive side the variety offered by boat based trips and vehicles based trips was brilliant and we loved the location on the river bank. The guides Patrick and Victor were both very knowledgeable and passionate abput their subject.
One the negative side,
The rooms were beautiful but balancing the hot and cold water to deliver a shower of an acceptable temperature proved impossible. It was either far too hot or cold. Luckily cold was acceptable most of the time given th temperature!
The hosting at dinner - after the sheer professionalism of Nkwali and Tafica this was terrible. Daniel (Maintenance Manager) did not understand the concept of coaxing the guests to talk to one another - preferring to hold court on subjects that he clearly knew little about having only been in Africa 6 months. It proved a viscious circle. The more he talked the less the guests talked so the more he talked to fill the silence. As he also answered all the questions that the local people should have answered, we also felt that the team was not entirely happy. Two of the guides left dinner early when (we suspect) they felt surplus to requirements or at least left out of the monologue. I think Daniel's intentions were of the best but the end result was a bad expereince for both the guests and for the locally based team.
Without this issue, the overall experience would have rated excellent.
Expert Africa comments
Chongwe were sorry that these guests had such a personality clash with Daniel, who otherwise had received good feedback during the season. That said Daniel has chosen to move on for next season and so Chongwe will soon be appointing a new team member to take his place. So we hope feedback like this won't reoccur. Thankfully the delightful Flossy is still a permanent fixture as manageress at the camp.