Tsika Island Camp: Our full report
** Tsika Island Camp is now closed, and no longer a sister camp to Chongwe River Camp.Unfortunately, the future of the camp is currently under debate, but do ask us for more details on rustic fly-camping options in the Lower Zambezi. **
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, fishing and community visits.
Though it’s been several years since anyone from Expert Africa has stayed here, we last visited the island in June 2017 and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.
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 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.
Small and basic, but comfortable,Tsika Island Camp offers a rustic bushcamp experience that is unique to this area.
- 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.
- A light aircraft flight from Lusaka or Mfuwe takes guests to one of the two airstrips that serve the Lower Zambezi, from where it is a 20- to 45-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
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- 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.
- 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 ideas for Cultural experiences
- 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
- Generally recommended for children
- We recommend Tsika for mature, well-behaved children over the age of 12.
- 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.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Tsika Island Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Tsika Island Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Fire extinguishers are found in each of the chalets and in the main area, and staff are trained in their use. Fire buckets are also placed throughout.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- There are no laundry facilities at Tsika Island Camp.
- 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.
Other lodges in Lower Zambezi National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.