Pioneer Camp

Pioneer Camp: Our full report

Rooms
9 chalets, 2 tents
Traveller's rating
Good (79%) From 114 reviews
Children
Best for 8+
Open
All year

Pioneer Camp is situated just outside Lusaka, twenty minutes from the international airport - and this location is key to why we sometimes recommend it. If you have an early morning flight out of Lusaka, then spending your last night here might make sense. It's in a fairly rural setting, which contrasts sharply with the city-based hotels as an option for a stop-over.

The camp is a simple, rustic camp, with comfortable en-suite accommodation, about a half an hour drive from the airport. As this is generally used as an overnight stopover, either as a night to rest on your arrival, or before heading home on one of the earlier flights from Lusaka, don't expect it to be on the same level as the camps in Zambia's national parks. It's a simple, inexpensive camp that works well for a night stay in Lusaka.

Set in 25 acres of miombo woodland, eight thatched ‘miombo chalets’ have comfortable twin or queen beds, with mosquito nets, and en-suite bathrooms. Each chalet differs slightly, but there’s a small seating area, space for your luggage, a fan, blankets for colder evenings, as well as charging points. All of the chalets have a shower in the en-suite, and some have a bath as well. It’s worth noting that some of the bathrooms are a little more open plan, so if you’re travelling with a friend and looking for a little more privacy, do ask for one of the rooms with a closed bathroom! A family chalet can sleep up to six guests, and

Pioneer also has some smaller en-suite chalets, and two tents (with shared ablution facilities), but we feel that the miombo chalets offer the best value and amenities for a night’s stay.

The camp has a large main area with a long bar and a few comfortable sofas and chairs. The owner & manager, Paul and Sophie, can often be found behind the bar and are affable and friendly hosts, always ready for a chat or to help travellers. The beer is cold, there's a good selection of soft drinks and spirits, and there is a fire pit outside the main area with chairs. There are plenty of outdoor seating areas (some down towards Pioneer’s adjoining campsite), and also a decent sized pool, with a small boma, a TV screen and sun loungers nearby.

A few steps down from the bar is the restaurant area. Pioneer has a small menu for lunches and evening meals – vegetarians are catered for, and there are various pasta dishes, or you could try the famous Pioneer T-bone steak – which is enough to feed a small army! When I travel with a friend, we usually share one of these – and there are still leftovers!

It's worth mentioning that there are a couple of friendly dogs around the camp – two little Jack Russells and a larger dog, who’s getting on in years.

Our view

Pioneer Camp is a simple, laid-back camp which works well for an inexpensive stopover in Lusaka. If you prefer quite simple, rustic accommodation to the larger, less personal hotels, then this is a good option.

Geographics

Location: Lusaka area, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: There isn’t much to do in Lusaka, so we’d suggest that just one night is fine here, as a stopover before or after your safari.

Directions: Your driver will meet you at Lusaka Airport to drive you to camp. It’s only 16km away, but the last five kilometres are down a dirt track and so the drive will usually take around 30 minutes, depending on traffic and police blocks.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Paul Barnes

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: The food at Pioneer Camp is simple but tasty, with a range of vegetarian and meat dishes available. The camp is able to cater to a range of dietary requirements.

Breakfast is served between 7.00am and 9.30am, and is ordered from a set menu that has a variety of hot and cold options, including a full English breakfast, omelettes, muesli and fruit salad. If you are leaving on an early flight, an early breakfast can be prepared if you place your order the evening before. On our last visit in October 2018, we enjoyed poached eggs on toast, along with a fresh fruit salad. Tea and coffee are complimentary and self-service.

For lunch we had a simple but tasty cheese and tomato toasted sandwich with salad and there were also pasta dishes, samosas and omelettes on offer. Most guests are on a half-board package, but if you are there for lunch the meals cost between 60 and 85 kwacha (approximately GB £4 – £8 / US $5 – $8).

Dinner is also ordered from a set menu and is served between 6.00pm and 9.00pm, with last orders at 8.30pm. You can choose between soup or samosas to start, and then there are meat, fish and vegetarian curries on offer, pizzas, local stew with nsima, or the infamous Pioneer steaks – we enjoyed a delicious steak (though only managed the standard size!) with chips, green beans, butternut and creamed spinach.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Filtered bottled water is provided in the rooms, and water is also for sale at the bar for 8 kwacha / 50p-£1. Drinks are not included – a glass of wine is K40 / £3 or a local beer is K20 / £1.50.

Children

Attitude towards children: Children are very welcome.

Property’s age restrictions: Pioneer Camp has no age restrictions.

Special activities & services: There are some good walks around the camp, a swimming pool and a rope swing. If you wish to have your children looked after there is a member of staff who can do so, though do be aware that these staff may not have childcare qualifications you may expect from a childminder in your home country.

Equipment: The camp has one cot available.

Notes: The pool is unfenced, children should be supervised at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Pioneer has a back up generator to provide power to the main area if there is a power outage. There is a portable solar light in each room if there should be a power-cut.

Communications: There is a camp phone that clients are able to use, free WiFi access at the camp, and good mobile reception throughout camp.

TV & radio: There is a DSTV by the pool.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Water is from the camp's borehole. Toilets are plumbed with flush toilets and hot showers.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Staff are first aid trained, and there are first aid kits on site. If a client needs urgent attention the camp provides transport to the nearest hospital in Lusaka which is 20 mins away.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: There is an electric fence surrounding the property, and a a guard on duty 24 hrs. The fence alarm is connected to an armed security company which is contracted to arrive within 10 minutes of any disturbance.

Fire safety: Staff are trained for a fire situation. There are fire extinguishers placed around the camp.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is available, at extra cost. Clothes are machine washed and line dried.

Money: The rates fluctuate a lot. Pioneer always offers a good rate which averages the banks and exchange bureaus.

Accepted payment on location: Currently Pioneer don't accept credit cards. Payment in cash is accepted in Zambian kwacha, US dollars, British pounds and euros.

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