Old Mondoro Bushcamp

Old Mondoro Bushcamp: Our full report

Rooms
4 bush chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (99%) From 74 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
23 Apr to 07 Nov

Taking its name from the Shona word for 'lion', Old Mondoro is owned and operated by the Cumings family. It's a small, relatively simple bushcamp situated in a remote area of Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park, and overlooks reed islands in the Zambezi River where elephants regularly feed and hippos bask.

With just four bush chalets, Old Mondoro has an exclusive, intimate atmosphere. Reed walls enclose each chalet on three sides whilst the front has just a waist-high wall, providing fantastic views of the riverine landscape. These ‘windows’ can be left open during the night to heighten the feeling of sleeping in the bush, or canvas flaps may be rolled down for extra security.

Two of the chalets overlook the Zambezi River, whilst a third overlooks a small dambo or lagoon, and the fourth has a view of both these environments. Each chalet has a covered deck with a comfy day bed dotted with cushions and two armchairs set by a coffee table. During our last visit in October 2014 we spent a memorable afternoon watching elephants drink and bathe in the river a short distance from our deck.

Inside each chalet at Old Mondoro, you'll find two single beds or a double, hanging space and shelves for clothes, a coffee table and canvas directors' chairs. An A-frame canvas roof covers the bedroom, toilet and sink area, and a door at one end leads to an open-air shower and a huge stone bath shaded by an umbrella. One of the chalets has a second bedroom, so is well suited to a family.

Not skimping on comforts, Old Mondoro now has permanent hot water and electric lighting in the tents, and a very discreet socket for charging batteries, but in keeping with the camp's rustic feel, the lights are never turned on for you.

Old Mondoro's main area is a large, open-sided structure with a polished stone floor and canvas roof, lit at night only by storm lanterns. Expect comfortable wicker furniture, a small library of reference books and novels, and a fairly well-stocked bar – as well as a communal dining table where we've enjoyed some fantastic meals on our numerous visits. Just outside the main area is a campfire, a perfect spot to enjoy a morning cup of coffee while watching the sunrise, and beyond this the river and the camp’s small boat station.

This stretch of river bank is shaded by a beautiful grove of winterthorn trees which provide some respite from the heat yet, with relatively little undergrowth, it feels very open. This lovely scenery, combined with excellent guides who have passed the Lower Zambezi National Park’s strict system of accreditation, makes Old Mondoro one of the best camps in Zambia for guided walking safaris.

In addition to walking, Old Mondoro Bushcamp offers a range of other activities, including day and night 4WD safari drives. The area is rich in wildlife and on one of our drives we had a fantastic sighting of some mating lions, a leopard, and a brief but very exciting glimpse of an African wild cat. The guides had managed to spot an aardvark on their last five night drives, but unfortunately their lucky streak ended during our stay.

The camp also offers boat trips and canoeing on the Zambezi in two-man Canadian canoes. When canoeing guests will usually have an afternoon trip down the ‘discovery channel’, a small channel that breaks off from the Zambezi that is teeming with wildlife on both banks, and in the channel itself.

The area around Old Mondoro Bushcamp, in the far east of the Lower Zambezi National Park, is shared with only one other camp – the luxurious and somewhat bigger Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp. Thus, with just two camps in the vicinity, you and your guide can explore this wilderness with little disturbance from other vehicles.

Old Mondoro is situated quite a bit further downriver than its bigger sister, Chiawa Camp. Different environments and styles of camp make a combination of these two a popular choice.

Our view

Old Mondoro is a rustic camp of very good quality, which should suit safari enthusiasts looking for authenticity and exclusivity. Stay here for very good game viewing and excellent, informed guiding. We particularly recommend it as a lovely area for walking safaris in a part of the Lower Zambezi National Park that is shared with very few other visitors or vehicles.

Geographics

Location: Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: We recommend at least a three-night stay here to take advantage of the variety of activities on offer. Although you can make Old Mondoro your only stop in the Lower Zambezi, it combines very well with its sister camp, Chiawa Camp for a longer stay in the park.

Directions: After a flight of approx 35 minutes from Lusaka to Jeki airstrip, the transfer to camp takes around 50 minutes.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Grant & Lynsey Cumings

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Expert Africa has visited Old Mondoro many times over the years, and we have always been impressed with the quality and the presentation of the food, especially given the basic, rustic nature of the camp. The food quality on our last visit was certainly no exception.

Breakfast is usually eaten around the campfire at dawn, overlooking the Zambezi River. Various cereals, yoghurts, juices and fruit are offered. Porridge is cooked over the fire whilst fresh baked bread is toasted to order.

Brunch is usually a buffet, served between 11.00am and 12.00am. On our last visit in October 2014 we enjoyed beef curry with coconut and almond rice, poppadoms and freshly baked naan bread. On previous occasions we've enjoyed more traditional dishes such as beef lasagne and local specialities such as bobotie (a South African dish made with lightly curried mince and egg). You can also expect freshly baked bread, usually still warm from the oven.

At afternoon tea, savoury and sweet snacks help fill you up till dinner time. The mini pepper quiches and pecan and meringue tarts were certainly a highlight on our last visit.

Dinner is usually served under the stars at 8.00pm, although on our last visit a spot of rain caused a quick relocation beneath the shelter of the dining area. For a starter we had fried haloumi with a fresh mango salad, followed by pork fillet with puréed carrot and sweet potato and assorted vegetables. Dessert was a superb summer fruit tart.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits, and a selection of South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and cellar wines are excluded.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Solo Travel: Old Mondoro is a small intimate camp with communal meals and activities, making it pleasantly sociable and ideal for solo travellers in Zambia. Only the peak season has a single supplement, keeping the cost down for most of the year.

See more ideas for Solo Travel in Zambia

Walking safaris: Old Mondoro is in a quiet, game-filled area of the Lower Zambezi, where patches of forest provide shady areas with good visibility. This is complemented by excellent guides making this one of the best camps for walking safaris in Zambia.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: Old Mondoro welcomes mature and responsible children over the age of eight years. However, there’s a strict minimum age of 12 for walking and canoeing, which is always offered at the discretion of the camp managers and guides.

Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age 8 years for staying at the camp.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: One of the chalets has two bedrooms, so is well suited to families.

Notes: Old Mondoro is an unfenced camp and is on the riverbank of the Zambezi. Dangerous wildlife wanders through the camp often, especially elephants during the dry season. Children would need to be closely supervised by their parents at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: There is a plug point in each room to charge camera batteries, and power should be available 24 hours a day. Note that there is not enough power to run a hairdryer.

Communications: The camp has radio connection with their guides and with its sister camp, Chiawa. Satellite email and phones are used for contact outside the surrounding area.

TV & radio: Old Mondoro Camp has no TVs or radio.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Water is pumped from the river. Drinking water is filtered by reverse osmosis and sterilised with UV light. Water for the showers and baths is gas-heated, so hot water is available all day. The camp has flushing toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The camp managers and guides at Old Mondoro have first-aid training. In a medical emergency, guests would be evacuated by air to Lusaka and then potentially to Johannesburg.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guests are escorted to and from their chalets after dark in case of any visiting wildlife; and sometimes also during the day, especially during the dry season when there are often many elephants in camp.

Fire safety: Buckets filled with water are located outside each chalet in case of fire.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included, except for ladies’ underwear (for cultural reasons). Washing powder and a small line are provided in each bathroom.

Money: There is a small safe in each chalet. The camp does not offer any currency-exchange facilities.

Accepted payment on location: Any extras need to be settled in cash, preferably in Zambian kwacha, although small amounts of US dollars can usually be accepted.

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