Tsika Island Camp

Tsika Island Camp: Our full report

Rooms
3 chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 4 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
15 Apr to 15 Nov

Tsika Island Camp is a sister-camp of Chongwe River Camp, which started this as a community partnership project on an island near a local village. The village's name, Mgugrumenu, means 'pulling teeth'!

Tsika Island is approximately a 30 to 45-minute boat ride from Chongwe River Camp. The two camps work in conjunction with one another, and Tsika makes a great addition to a stay at Chongwe.

The camp is set in a beautiful location on an island in the middle of the Zambezi River. Looking across the river to Zimbabwe on the other side, the camp is accessed by a small jetty.

Three thatched chalets, including one family chalet, are set a little back from the shore, connected by sand pathways. Terracotta-coloured concrete, with whitewashed inner walls, they are lovingly decorated, and surprisingly well-appointed. The chalets are open-fronted, though wooden latticework criss-crosses across the window space to stop any larger unwanted visitors from getting in.

Under walk-in mosquito nets, two of the chalets have twin beds whilst the third has one double and two single beds.
In all of the chalets you’ll find personal touches throughout: locally carved bedside tables, hand-made wicker lampshades, and hand-woven rattan mats scattered around the floor.

In the corner of each chalet there is a small alcove area in which to hang clothes, and opposite the bed are built-in ledges for your luggage.

An uncovered walkway leads between the bedroom and en-suite bathroom, which has a basin, flush toilet and a hot shower, all underneath a thatched roof.


The thatched and open-sided main area’s décor is simple, with just a few simple wooden carvings. There are plug points along the shelves for charging batteries.
Guests meet here for meals, though we understand that the dining table is often moved out so that meals can be served out under the stars. Between the main area and the jetty, director’s chairs are placed around a firepit and a small BBQ, and we’re sure this is a beautiful setting for dinners under the stars.

In front of the main area, a small plunge pool overlooks the river, and we’re sure this will be much appreciated in the hotter months!


Tsika Island Camp focuses mainly on canoeing; either running day trips from the camp, or arranging canoe transfers to its sister camps downstream.
A guide will join you, and it’s possible to either canoe along the main river or take a boat transfer to canoe down one of the smaller channels further into the national park.

Tsika also offers a community experience with visits to the local school in Mugurumenu, and to a 'cultural village' called Tsika, which is being set up on the mainland nearby. As part of an agreement between Chongwe and the local community, the village will receive $50 per night per guest, in return for pledging the use of the land for the camp.

Fishing trips are also available, though the fishing is best in April, September and October. On a strictly 'catch and release' basis, the local specialty is the tigerfish, named for its striped body and razor-sharp teeth, but sizeable catfish and bream are also caught.

Our view

Remote and basic, but comfortable and friendly, Tsika Island Camp offers a rustic bushcamp experience unique to this area.

Geographics

Location: Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: Due the limited activities, we feel that a stay of one or two nights on Tsika Island works well, in combination with a longer stay in the Lower Zambezi.

Directions: A light aircraft flight from Lusaka or Mfuwe takes guests to Royal airstrip. From there it is a 20-minute road transfer to Chongwe, and guests can either canoe or enjoy a boat ride out to the camp.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Independent/Owner-run - Chris Leibenberg

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We didn’t have a chance to sample the food on our last visit to Tsika Island, in June 2017. However, when guests stay here, a chef and staff from Chongwe River Camp will accompany them, and our experience of the food at Chongwe is generally that it is of a good standard, so we’d expect the same as Tsika.

Vegetarian and other dietary requirements can be catered for, but do make sure that these are clearly stated before your departure to the camp, as all supplies are brought from Chongwe camp for the duration of your stay.

Meals are flexible at the camp, depending on the timings of your activities. We understand that breakfast is buffet style, with cereals, toast, fruit and eggs available, plus tea, coffee and juice.

Lunch is either served as a buffet at the camp, or if you are doing a full day of canoeing or fishing, you may have a picnic lunch on one of the nearby sandbanks.

Dinner is a three course meal, served around 7.00pm.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Bottled water, and some soft drinks, local wines and spirits are included. If you have any particular requests, these will need to be requested in advance at Chongwe. Your guides will have a cool box with water and soft drinks during any water-based excursions.

Further dining info: Room service is not provided.

Special interests

Cultural experiences: The set-up of Tsika Island camp, with its links to the local villages, allows visitors a real insight into rural Zambian daily life, its customs and cultures.

See more ideas for Cultural experiences in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: Children over the age of 12 are welcome at Tsika.

Property’s age restrictions: The minimum age for walking and canoeing is 12 years.

Special activities & services: None.

Equipment: None.

Notes: Parents should be aware that the camp is unfenced and dangerous animals pass through exceedingly frequently. (During the dry season, there are elephants wandering around almost constantly.) Children should be supervised at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: Tsika runs off solar power, with batteries as back up. Charging points are available for guests in the main area of the camp.

Communications: Tsika Island Camp has cellphone reception, and there is a central phone to contact the main office. The camp also has radio connection with Chongwe and the guides at all times.

TV & radio: There are no TVs or radios at Tsika Island Camp.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Water is pumped & filtered from the main Zambezi River. The camp has plumbed hot water showers and flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The guides at Chongwe are trained in first aid. For more serious incidents guests will be taken to Lusaka by light aircraft.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Your guides, as well as the camp staff, are all in camp with you. You will be escorted to and from your room at night, but also throughout dry season when there are usually elephants in camp.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are found in each of the three chalets and the main area of the camp, and staff are trained in their use. Fire buckets are also placed throughout.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: There are no laundry facilities at Tsika Island Camp.

Money: There are no safes at Tsika, though you are able to leave valuables in the safe at Chongwe River Camp.

Accepted payment on location: US dollars and the local currency, Kwacha, are the only acceptable forms of payment.