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

Set in a beautiful location on an island in the middle of the Zambezi River, Tsika Island Camp was established in partnership with the local community. It’s a small, simple camp, close to the village of Mgugrumenu – which means ‘pulling teeth’! – some 10km west of Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. The camp focuses on canoeing and fishing, and community visits can be arranged.

Tsika Island is approximately a 30- to 45-minute boat ride from its sister camp, Chongwe River Camp , which is close to the boundary with the Lower Zambezi National Park, and is behind this community project. The two camps work in conjunction with one another, and Tsika makes a great addition to a stay at Chongwe. Though no-one from the Expert Africa team has stayed here, we visited during our last trip to the Lower Zambezi in June 2017, and were impressed with what we saw.

Tsika faces across the river to Zimbabwe on the other side, and is accessed by a small jetty. Its three thatched chalets, including one family chalet, are set a little back from the shore, connected by sand pathways. Constructed of terracotta-coloured concrete, and whitewashed on the inside, they are lovingly decorated, and surprisingly well-appointed. Low walls at the front are topped by rustic wooden latticework, giving a very open feel – yet deterring larger unwanted visitors.

Each of the chalets features personal touches, from locally carved bedside tables to hand-made wicker lampshades, and hand-woven rattan mats on the floor. Two of them have twin beds under walk-in mosquito nets, while the third has one double and two singles. There’s a small alcove in the corner in which to hang clothes, and 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 beneath a thatched roof.

In the thatched and open-sided main area, the equally simple décor incorporates just a few simple wooden carvings (though there are plug points along the shelves for charging batteries). Guests sometimes meet here for meals, but we understand that these are often served between the main area and the jetty. Here, directors’ chairs are placed around a firepit and a small barbecue, making this a potentially beautiful setting for dinner under the stars.

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

Tsika Island Camp focuses mainly on guided canoeing trips – either as a day trip from camp, or as a canoe transfer to one of its sister camps downstream. Guests will either canoe along the main river or take a boat transfer before paddling down one of the smaller channels within the Lower Zambezi National Park.

Tsika also offers a community experience with visits to the school in Mgugrumenu, and to Tsika 'cultural village', which has been set up on the mainland. As part of an agreement between Chongwe and the community, the village receives US$50 per night per guest, in return for pledging the use of the island for the camp.

Fishing trips are a further option, on a strictly 'catch-and-release' basis, and are best in April, September and October.,The local speciality is the tigerfish, named for its striped body and razor-sharp teeth, but sizeable catfish and bream are also caught.

Our view

Small and basic, but comfortable, Tsika Island Camp offers a rustic bushcamp experience that is unique to this area. It would make a good add-on to a stay at its sister camp further east, where the focus is largely on wildlife.

Geographics

Location: Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: Due to the limited activities, we would recommend a stay of one or two nights on Tsika Island, in combination with a longer stay at a wildlife-focused camp in the Lower Zambezi.

Directions: A light aircraft flight from Lusaka or Mfuwe takes guests to Royal airstrip, from where it is a 20-minute road transfer to Chongwe River Camp. Guests at Tsika Island Camp can either canoe there or enjoy a boat ride from Chongwe.

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, guests here are accompanied by a chef and staff from Chongwe River Camp . We have generally found the food at Chongwe to be of a good standard, so we’d expect the same at 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 for the duration of your stay.

Mealtimes are flexible, depending on the timing of your activities.

We understand that breakfast is a buffet of cereals, toast, fruit and eggs, 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 – as a picnic on a nearby sandbank.

A three-course dinner is 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 made in advance at Chongwe. Your guides will have a coolbox 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 village, 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 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 River Camp 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 and filtered from the Zambezi River. The camp has plumbed hot-water showers and flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The guides at Tsika are trained in first aid. In case of emergency, guests will be flown to Lusaka by light aircraft.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Both your guides and the camp staff stay in camp with you. You will be escorted to and from your room at night, and throughout the dry season when there are usually elephants in camp.

Fire safety: Both your guides and the camp staff stay in camp with you. You will be escorted to and from your room at night, and throughout the dry season when there are usually elephants in camp.

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.

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