Sausage Tree Camp stands beside a channel of the Zambezi River.
Sausage Tree Camp: Our full report
Deep within Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, beside the confluence of the picturesque Chifungulu Channel and the Zambezi River, is the luxurious Sausage Tree Camp. Just in front of the camp lies the old sausage tree (Kigelia africana) after which the camp was named, its branches providing the perfect resting place for numerous kingfishers.
Smiling faces, a refreshing drink and a cooling flannel will normally welcome you to Sausage Tree Camp. At first glance, the camp appears to be very modest, but once you've stepped inside the main area, seen the views over the Zambezi River and experienced the service of the team, you'll know exactly why their guests return time and time again. Sausage Tree has a very relaxed feel, yet it runs like clockwork. Nothing ever seems to be too much trouble for the enthusiastic managers, Nicci and Alan, who have been running the camp for numerous years. On our many visits, we’ve seen them and their team go out of their way to make guests as comfortable as possible.
Sausage Tree Camp has eight Bedouin-style tents with white canvas roofs and reed walls. All are spread out along the banks of the Zambezi River under the shade of mahogany and sausage trees, and evenly spaced to provide as much privacy as possible.
Five of these tents are designated ‘signature’ tents, two are honeymoon suites, and the newest is the large Kigelia House, which has two separate rooms. All are high-quality and broadly similar in feel and style.
- The spacious ‘signature’ tents at Sausage Tree Camp can be opened at the front to provide river views from their private deck. However, the wooden sliding shutters are closed at night, making the rooms feel quite cosy. Each has ochre screeded floors and beautiful teak furniture: a dressing table, chest of drawers, wardrobe, writing desk and four-poster beds with mosquito nets. These tents also have free-standing fans.
Leading out from each bedroom is a private but open-air en-suite bathroom. This floor is also screeded, so you don't have to worry about getting sandy feet after your shower. The basin and toilet are cleverly moulded into walls and shelves – it looks much better than it sounds – and if you enjoy a good shower then you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve found the water pressure to be excellent.
- The two honeymoon suites are furnished in a similar style and can also open at the front to provide great views of the Zambezi River, but here a plunge pool is set into the deck, and both loungers and a daybed invite relaxation. The suites are much larger, too, with their own dining area, where private meals can be arranged. There is also a small bar fridge which the team will be happy to stock with your favourite drinks on request.
The large bedroom and lounge area houses a huge four-poster bed and a comfy leather couch beside a coffee table scattered with books and magazines, as well as a pair of binoculars for your use. The rooms aren’t air conditioned, but there is a free-standing fan which was very welcome in the October heat on our most recent visit. The hanging space for clothes, dressing table and the luggage rack are all made out of stone and moulded into the wall that partially separates the bedroom from the bathroom. The bathroom itself has twin 'rain' showers, twin handbasins, a vast stone bathtub and a flushing toilet, while each suite also has its own private outside shower.
- Kigelia House is very similar in build and style to Sausage Tree’s honeymoon suites, but is larger still. It is set under one large canvas roof, which encompasses two separate and enclosed en-suite rooms with reed walls. One room is the master bedroom with a huge double bed; the second has twin beds, although these can be made into a double on request. The rooms are bright and spacious, each with hanging space made from moulded stone and a comfortable leather armchair.
Between the two bedrooms, and totally open at the front, is a shared lounge furnished with a huge leather sofa, a stunning curved coffee table and a self-service bar, while the large deck in front incorporates a private plunge pool.
Your own private butler is on hand to assist with requests.
Sausage Tree's main area is a simple, elegant white Bedouin tent with open sides. Here you’ll find a small library, some sitting areas with comfortable sofas, a communal dining room table where they serve usually superb meals, and a well-stocked bar. We thought the quirky glasses made out of recycled J&B whisky bottles were a fun touch! Wooden decks extend from the main area almost right up to the river. Comfortable cane furniture is spread around the uncovered deck, so there is plenty of seating to while away the quiet afternoons. In front of the bar there is also a firepit where pre and post-dinner drinks are often served under the stars.
Set aside from the main area and running parallel to the River Zambezi is a large swimming pool, long enough to swim laps. So if you fancy a bit of exercise, often not possible in safari camps, then you’ll probably enjoy this feature. Otherwise, sunloungers in one of the sunniest spots of the camp make it the perfect spot for a relaxing siesta.
Sausage Tree offers a range of flexible activities, which are run by excellent guides. These include walking safaris as well as day and night game drives in open 4WDs. The game in this area is often excellent. During our most recent stay, in October 2013, there were several sightings of a pride of lions with cubs and one evening we watched as a leopard rolled in buffalo dung to mask its scent and started stalking some puku. Not wanting to interfere with a potential meal, we set off and were rewarded with a very good sighting of a civet – seemingly unaware of or unbothered by our presence – that we watched for about five minutes.
Relaxing morning and afternoon boat cruises on the Zambezi River, using nine-seater motorboats that seem rarely to have more than a few guests in them, are also a featured activity and are a great way to explore the river, as well as watch the wildlife and birdlife that it supports.
Anglers at Sausage Tree Camp can practise catch-and-release fly-fishing and tigerfishing, with expensive professional rods and reels to cater to the serious fisherman who sometimes come here. Even for novices, fishing can be a thrill. On our last visit, under the guidance of our expert fishing guide, we were hugely excited to land a 25kg vundu – a type of freshwater catfish.
Sausage Tree also offers canoe trips down the Chifungulu Channel, guided by professional canoe guides. Usually there's a guide in each canoe, although you can opt to paddle yourself. The canoeing channels here can be narrow (see the satellite photograph of the camp, and note nearby channels) and have a high density of hippos and crocodiles, so it’s important to understand that these trips can be a little hair-raising, and that there is a higher level of risk involved than for most game activities.
Our viewSausage Tree is one of the most luxurious camps in the Lower Zambezi. We believe this is as much a result of the high quality of service as the unique and stylish accommodation. Combine this with superb guiding in a game-rich area and you have a great balance that we think works really well.
Ideal length of stay: We'd recommend a minimum of three nights to make the most of this game-rich area and the variety of activities.
Directions: The flight from Lusaka to Jeki airstrip takes approximately 35 minutes. From here, it’s around a 10-minute drive to the river, where a boat will transfer you to camp in about 40 minutes.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Independent / Owner Run
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On previous visits and when we last visited in October 2013, we’ve found it difficult to fault the food at Sausage Tree.
Tea and coffee are delivered to your tent along with your early-morning wake-up call. Then just prior to the early-morning activity, a light breakfast of toast, muffins, cereal, yoghurt and porridge along with tea, coffee and fruit juice is served around the fire overlooking the Zambezi.
Lunch is usually served around midday. On our most recent visit in October 2013 we had a barbecue lunch on a private island under a big white umbrella, served with a variety of salads and freshly baked bread. This was accompanied by Pimms and lemonade and followed by cheese and biscuits.
Save space for afternoon tea, which is served before your afternoon activity at around 3.30pm. The freshly baked chocolate cake was moist and delicious – we were pleased we weren’t the only ones who went back for a second helping! There is also fruit for the more health conscious, as well as a selection of hot and cold drinks.
Dinner is after your afternoon/evening activity, usually at around 8.00pm. On our visits we’ve enjoyed starters of pumpkin or cauliflower soup, followed by a main of fillet steak with roasted vegetables. Dessert on one visit was crème caramel and glazed pear, while on our last stay we had apricot and almond tart with cream.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: House wines, soft drinks and local spirits are included. Champagne and premium imported wines and spirits are not.
Further dining info: Room service is available, which is unusual for a safari camp. Just bear in mind it’s not 24 hours a day!
Solo Travel: Sausage Tree offers a very personal safari experience in the Lower Zambezi, with excellent guides and a stunning location beside the Zambezi. Activities are shared, helping to make it sociable for solo travellers, who won't be charged a single supplement.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Zambia
Honeymoons: Sausage Tree Camp is romantic, elegant, peaceful and remote: perfect as part of a honeymoon in Zambia. The honeymoon suite has beautiful views over the Zambezi, a large (double!) bathtub a four-poster bed and comfy sofa with river views. Private dinners can also be arranged.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Zambia
Birdwatching: Sausage Tree is great for birdwatching in Zambia, with land and water birds seen from game drives, walks, canoeing and from the camp itself. When last there, our best sightings included goliath herons and giant kingfishers – plus martial eagles, a Gabar goshawk and numerous fish eagles.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Zambia
Walking safaris: Sausage Tree's guides are very good and its environment, with glades of tall riverine trees (notably Acacia albida) is one of the best for walking safaris in Zambia. Travellers can walk straight out of camp and big game is never far away.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia
Wildlife safaris: Sausage Tree is one of the few camps in the Lower Zambezi National Park itself; which has excellent game densities. Combine this with excellent guides and Sausage Tree makes a one of the best camps for a Zambian wildlife safari.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Children over eight years are welcome with their parents. The minimum age for walking and canoeing in the Lower Zambezi National Park is 12 years.
Property’s age restrictions: Children over 8 years are welcome with their parents but the minimum age for walking and canoeing in the Lower Zambezi National Park is 12 years.
Special activities & services: Children’s programmes can be arranged, to include such activities as 'hunting' (i.e tracking spoor), or making candles and cards.
Equipment: There is no furniture designed for small children, but an extra bed can fit comfortably into one of the tents; two would be a bit of a squash but can be arranged. The Kigelia House has two rooms, so is much better suited to small families.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Sausage Tree for sensible, mature children who are interested in wildlife and will understand the full safety implications of being in an area of dangerous big game.
Notes: Sausage Tree Camp is located on the edge of the Zambezi River and within the Lower Zambezi National Park. There are no fences around the camp, so dangerous animals do roam freely through the camp at any time of the day. The camp also has a swimming pool which is not fenced in. Children must be supervised by their parents at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: Power is available 24 hours a day. There are plug points in the rooms for charging batteries.
Communications: There is very occasional cellphone reception at Sausage Tree Camp, but it's intermittent and cannot be relied upon. The camp does have internet available in the office, which guests may use in an emergency.
TV & radio: None
Water supply: Other
Water supply notes: Water is pumped from the Zambezi River and filtered for showers and baths. A jug of drinking water is provided in each tent, having been triple filtered and treated with a UV light. It's not recommended to drink water straight from the tap. The showers are plumbed in with hot and cold running water, and there are flushing toilets.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The camp managers and guides are first-aid trained. In an emergency guests would normally be evacuated by air to Lusaka and then possibly to Johannesburg.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to their tents after dark, and radios are provided in the tents to summon help in case of emergency. The guides' tents are spread out through the camp, so there is usually someone nearby to assist.
Fire safety: There is a fire extinguisher and a bucket of sand outside each tent.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included.
Money: No exchange facilities are offered. There are no safes in the rooms, but valuables can be stored in the office safe if necessary.
Accepted payment on location: In the unlikely event that you'll need to pay for something, cash payments in the local currency, kwacha, are preferred. However, Sausage Tree can accept small amounts of US dollars (which are also fine for tipping), South African rand, UK pounds or euros in cash. MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted, but take a bit longer to process as the payment goes through the head office in Lusaka.