Mutinondo Wilderness: Our full report
Near the edge of the Luangwa escarpment, Mutinondo Wilderness is a private, owner-run reserve covering some 100km².This pristine area protects verdant woodlands and wetland areas sprinkled with large, smooth, granite whalebacks or hills, crystal-clear rivers and stunning waterfalls.
Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge stands on a stunning hill. Its four rustic chalets were a labour of love, built almost entirely from local materials by local craftsmen and furnished in similar style. They're large and have private showers and toilets, but are not highly polished. Expect rough-hewn stone in this wild and lovely patch of Africa.
The main area is comfortable and unpretentious, with a great outlook over the reserve and a self-service bar that adds to the sense of homeliness. Meals are served either on a deck-with-a-view or in a cosy dining area.
Mutinondo's flora is exceptional. Its 1,634 named species include 112 orchids, and during the emerald season, some of the world's largest mushrooms have been recorded here (85cm diameter so far). Butterflies abound, and birdlife, too, is excellent, with a diverse habitat and several birding “specials”. Conversely wildlife, albeit present, is largely hidden in the miombo woodland, a perfect setting for many species of antelope.
One of the joys of Mutinondo is the freedom to explore without a guide. With more than 100km of signed tracks, there’s plenty of choice – whether you’re walking, running or even cycling. (Dedicated runners may also be interested in the annual 26km Muchinga Challenge held in the autumn.) For those who prefer to get their feet wet, there are paddleboards as well as a canoe and a kayak, suitable to discover the beauty of the croc-free river – or simply bathe in one of the natural pools as the water cascades around you.
Longer, five-day hikes across the escarpment are also possible, guided by ex-local hunters, camping by streams and bathing in the rivers. You’ll need all your own camping kit and food, with porters available on request.
Mutinondo Wilderness is probably best visited in combination with the lodges in Kasanka National Park: Wasa Lodge and Luwombwa Lodge, along with Shoebill Island Camp in the Bangweulu Wetlands, and the amazing manor house at Shiwa Ng'andu. It's also possible as a fly-in side-trip from any of the camps or lodges in the Luangwa Valley.
The freedom to explore at Mutinondo offers a real sense of wilderness and relaxation for confident travellers, without the need for guides or timetables. It’s an uncomplicated lodge, simple in layout and approach, and one that appeals mostly to seasoned safari-goers who are out to discover this corner of Zambia for themselves.
- Northern Zambia, Zambia
- The nearest airstrip is at Mpika, a drive of about 1½ hours.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Food quality
- Meals at Mutinondo focus on local produce, with wholesome home-style cooking and guest preference/allergies taken into consideration. Mealtimes are very flexible.
After morning tea or coffee, brought to your chalet, a full cooked breakfast is served at a pre-agreed time.
Lunch is normally available any time between 1.00pm and 4.00pm, but if you plan to be out for the day, you can order a packed lunch at breakfast.
Dinner is a set three-course menu. Their chilli sherry is a must with soup!
- Mutinondo is a great spot for birdwatching in Zambia, home to 362 species including many that are absent from lower-lying areas. The reserve is designated an Important Birding Area, and attracts rarities such as the chestnut-headed flufftail.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Mutinondo Wilderness has miles of stunning walking trails which lead through verdant woodlands, across clear rivers and past secluded waterfalls. It’s set in a scenic private reserve, ideal for walking in Zambia and with no need for a guide.
- See ideas for Walking
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome at Mutinondo.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- Early meals can be provided on request. Families can toast marshmallows over an open fire.
- One of the chalets includes bunk beds, so would suit a small family.
- Generally recommended for children
- Freedom to explore is at the heart of Mutinondo, and we would recommend it for relatively intrepid and curious families who like to be out and about and have had prior experience of travelling in Africa.
- Rivers and waterfalls dot the reserve, making it important that all children – and especially non-swimmers – are properly supervised by a parent or guardian.
- Power supply notes
- Batteries can be charged in the office but not in the chalets.
- Very limited WiFi is available in the main area. Do not expect cellphone coverage!
- TV & radio
- Water supply
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Fire safety
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
Other lodges in Northern Zambia
Alternative places to stay in this same area.