Chula Island Camp

Chula Island Camp: Our full report

Rooms
4 tents
Children
Best for 16+
Open
Jun–Nov

Chula Island Camp, formerly known as Buffalo Island Camp, opened in July 2018. This rustic, mobile fly-camp is situated on a small island on the Zambezi River, to the eastern end of the Lower Zambezi National Park. Located in a natal mahogany grove, this simple camp has a focus on walking safaris, led by experienced guides.

Chula Camp (chula means 'frog' in the local Goba language) is sheltered beneath tall mahoganies, on the small Katengahumba / Discovery Island, set back from the main Zambezi River and just a short drive from Jeki Airstrip.

The fly-camp is small and intimate, with just four tents - not the standard dome tents you might see at other fly-camping spots, but rectangular and walk-in, with mesh sides to fully appreciate the views all around – though the tents have drop down canvas sides for privacy, or for any cooler evenings. Rugs line the floor, and each tent has either double or twin beds, with a luggage rack alongside. Solar lights hang from the ceiling, and you’ll also find a torch, whistle, mosquito spray and an insulated water flask and glasses on the bedside table. Directors chairs are placed outside, facing towards the river, a good vantage point for watching the elephants and buffalo often found in front of the camp.

Chula has two shared open-air bathrooms, each with a separate shower and toilet, partitioned by canvas walls – we understand that next year these will be made of bamboo and reed. Hot water is available on request for the bucket showers-with-a-view, with fluffy towels and towel rack, plus a small table with a mirror, and complimentary toiletries provided. Flush toilets are plumbed in alongside brushed copper basins, and your friendly wake-up call is accompanied by a jug of hot water for your morning ablutions.

This season, one bathroom is shared between two tents, and guests to the fly-camp should be aware that the bathrooms are a short walk from the tent. We understand that the plan for next season is for each tent to have a separate bathroom, and that the bathrooms will be either en-suite or brought closer to the tents – do get in touch for the latest camp developments.

Chula’s main area comprises of a large stretch tent, shading a dining table and directors chairs, as well as a small bar, water dispenser and reference library.

The fly-camp is run by Luke Evans and Kyle Branch, both experienced guide with a wealth of knowledge of Zambia and its national parks. Along with walking safaris, Chula Island Camp also offers day and night game drives and, with the permanent Zambezi River running through the park, boating, canoeing and fishing are all available. We visited Chula Camp's sister fly-camp Kutali on our last visit to the Lower Zambezi in October 2018, and we were able to head to Katengahumba Island to see the location of the Chula camp. Though we didn’t get to experience activities in the immediate area, whilst driving past we saw plenty of elephant, hippo and buffalo. Our walks at Kutali were great fun and Kyle is a fascinating guide, so we would expect time at Chula to offer a similar experience to Kutali Island, whilst offering the diversity of scenery and location.

A stay at Chula combines naturally with Kutali, and when their main base camp Tafara Springs Bushcamp opens (currently planned for late 2019), a combination of the three will allow for a more in-depth exploration of this eastern section of Lower Zambezi National Park. There is a wide range of accommodation in the park, and so both Chula and Kutali can be combined with some time at one of the permanent camps to the west.

Our view

Chula Island Camp is in a great location for walking safaris and river activities, and with a friendly, experienced and knowledgeable guiding team, we think Chula is a brilliant addition to the accommodation options in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Simple but comfortable, it will combine well with the more luxurious options in the park.

Geographics

Location: Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: We'd recommend a stay of three to five nights between Chula and its sister camp, Kutali Island.

Directions: Chula Island Camp is just a short drive from Jeki airstrip, a game drive of around 30 minutes, though the time taken varies depending on the wildlife you see along the way. From Jeki you can connect to or from a scheduled flight to Mfuwe, Lusaka and Livingstone airports.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Tusk & Mane Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We didn’t get the chance to stay for a meal at Chula Island Camp on our last visit, but we did stay at Kutali, its sister camp, and the same team of chefs cook for both fly-camps, so we’d expect a similar style and standard of food here. The camp has a basic kitchen, and the team at Chula are able to cater for a range of dietary requirements, with advance notice.

Breakfast is served around the camp fire at 5.30am, with fruit, toast, jams, and porridge cooked to order over the fire, along with tea, coffee and juice.

Lunch timings are flexible, and a buffet is usually on offer, with meat or vegetable dishes, accompanied by home-baked rolls, salad and fresh fruit.

Dinner is a set meal and the table is either set up in the shelter of the main tent, or out closer to the river under the stars.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Filtered drinking water is provided, and soft drinks and local alcoholic drinks are included. Premium wines and spirits can be ordered in advance, and will be an additional cost.

Special interests

Walking safaris: The area around Chula is remote, but with plenty of wildlife - a perfect spot for a Zambian walking safari with one of the camp’s experienced guides.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: Chula Island Camp is happy to accept children younger than eight (their usual minimum age limit), though generally this would be as a private camp booking.

Property’s age restrictions: The camp will accept children of eight years and older. The minimum age for walking safaris within the national park is 12 years old.

Special activities & services: For children younger than 12, short nature walks within the camp can be arranged.

Equipment: None provided.

Notes: Wild animals such as elephants, buffalo and hippo are found in camp regularly. Children must be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: Solar panels provide electricity for the camp, and there is a small charging station in the main area.

Communications: Chula is in a remote section of the Lower Zambezi National Park, with no cell phone signal. The camp has radio contact with its sister camps, and also satellite Wi-Fi for emergency communications.

TV & radio: None available.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Flush toilets and cold-water basins are plumbed in, and bucket showers are filled with hot water on request.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The managers and guides are first-aid trained, with first aid kits in both the main area and each vehicle, as well as on any walking safaris. The closest doctor is in Lusaka, accessible via a 35-minute flight from Jeki.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: An armed scout is based on site, and guests are escorted to and from their tents after dark. Do be aware that the bathrooms are a short walk away from the tents.

Fire safety: Fire buckets are placed outside each tent, and there is a fire hydrant is located between the main area and kitchen.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included; clothes are hand washed and line dried.

Money: There is a safe in the staff quarters where guests can leave valuables if they wish.

Accepted payment on location: There are no facilities to pay by credit card at Chula, but cash payments for extra are accepted in US dollars, UK pounds, Zambian kwacha, South African rand and euros.

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