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. On our last stay, in October 2014, nothing ever seemed to be too much trouble for Carol, the incredibly friendly camp manager who went out of her way to make sure our stay was as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, a courtesy she clearly extends to all her guests.
Sausage Tree Camp has eight Bedouin-style tents, whose reed walls allow them to blend nicely into the vegetation along the riverbank. The tents are evenly spaced and positioned to provide as much privacy as possible. All eight tents are built in the same style with the same luxurious interiors, but they differ slightly in terms of size and layout:
- Five of these tents are spacious 'signature' tents which can be opened at the front to provide river views from their private decks. However, their 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 small infinity 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 minibar stocked with plenty of cold drinks, and usually a couple of decanters filled with decent port and whisky. The team at Sausage Tree will be happy to stock the bar 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, and a communal dining area. Meals are often served here, but Sausage Tree also has a number of other exciting dining locations.
Comfortable cane furniture is spread across the open deck that stretches from the main area to the river, providing ample 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.
One of the best features of Sausage Tree is the guarantee of a private vehicle and guide for the duration of your stay, giving you complete control over what activities you do and when you do them. Activities on offer include walking safaris as well as day and night drives in open 4WDs. It’s also possible to canoe down some of the channels that branch off from the Zambezi. On our last visit we spent a pleasant afternoon canoeing down the Chifungulu Channel during which we saw lions coming down to the water to drink, goliath herons, numerous fish eagles and a large bull elephant crossing just in front of us. The canoeing channels can be narrow (see the satellite photograph of the camp, and note nearby channels) and the close proximity to hippos and crocodiles can be slightly intimidating, but the guides are excellent and they’ll never put you in harm’s way.
Relaxing morning and afternoon boat cruises on the Zambezi River are a further option and are a great way to explore the river while keeping an eye out for the wildlife and birdlife that it supports.
Anglers at Sausage Tree Camp can practise catch-and-release fly-fishing and tigerfishing, with high-quality professional rods and reels to cater to the serious fishermen who sometimes come here. Even for novices, fishing can be a thrill.
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 standard of service as the unique and stylish accommodation. Combine this with superb private 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 the game-rich area around Sausage Tree Camp 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 2014, 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, porridge, and bacon and eggs cooked to order is served around the fire overlooking the Zambezi, along with tea, coffee and fruit juice.
Lunch is served around midday. We were unable to have lunch on our most recent visit, but on a previous visit we were treated to 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.
While a three course meal is usually served for dinner, on our last visit we had an evening barbeque, with warthog fillet and ribs, and hake, served with a variety of salads and potatoes.
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 does not charge a single supplement, helping to keep the costs down for solo travellers in Zambia. Meals are shared and people often gather around the bar in the evening, helping to make it sociable for individual travellers.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Zambia
Honeymoons: Sausage Tree Camp is romantic, elegant, peaceful and remote: perfect for a honeymoon in Zambia. The honeymoon suite has beautiful views over the Zambezi, a bathtub for two, a four-poster bed and a private pool. Private dinners can 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. Our best sightings included goliath herons, giant kingfishers, open-billed stork and yellow-billed kites.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 within the Lower Zambezi National Park itself, which has excellent game densities. The location is complemented by superb guides, making this 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. WiFi is available in the tents and in the main area, and can be accessed using a code gained from the camp manager.
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.