Chikoko Tree Camp

Chikoko Tree Camp: Our full report

Rooms
3 chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (99%) From 77 reviews
Children
OK for ages 12+
Open
1 Jun to 31 Oct

Chikoko Tree Camp is an exceptionally small, intimate and rustic bushcamp that overlooks the seasonal Chikoko River – a scenic, winding channel lined by shady ebony trees. It is set in a remote area of the South Luangwa National Park that is exclusive to walking safaris; there are no vehicles here to break the silence, and other visitors are rare.

Together, Chikoko Tree Camp and Crocodile Bushcamp (sometimes called 'Crocodile River Camp') form Chikoko Trails Camps: satellite walking bushcamps of Tafika. All are owned and run by Remote Africa Safaris.

Visitors at Chikoko stay in one of three rustic, two-storey reed chalets – so the camp accommodates just six people when full. Upstairs, the bedroom has a canvas roof and a lovely view through one side, which is completely open, while downstairs is a private bathroom with a handbasin, flush toilet and shower. Windows are simply open spaces within the reed walls.

Meals at Chikoko are communal and very relaxed, taken either outside or under the thatched but open-sided central area. The kitchen team produces the most impressive cuisine from the simplest of bush kitchens, with the oven being just a hole in the ground! The well-stocked bar is always open on a help-yourself basis; cushions are scattered across wooden chairs and benches; and a couple of directors' chairs are set above the sand river. It's all very easy going.

As Chikoko's activities encompass purely walking safaris, with no vehicles allowed in the area, your luggage will be carried to and from camp by porters. (They'll walk separately; they won't be with you when you walk to camp.) You can easily walk between Tafika and Chikoko, or Chikoko and Crocodile, in three to four hours. During the dry season the river between here and Tafika is sometimes shallow enough to walk across; otherwise you'll be ferried across in a small boat.

Walking safaris from Chikoko Tree Camp normally last about three–four hours, and are fairly leisurely, with a mid-morning or afternoon break for tea. The terrain is reasonably flat but occasionally uneven – so it's a good idea to bring sturdy shoes. That said, the focus is on seeing the area's great wildlife, and only a moderate level of fitness is necessary; these walks aren't designed as route marches or endurance tests!

The walking safari guides from Tafika are shared with Chikoko Tree Camp – guaranteeing the very high level of knowledge and experience that is a hallmark of this operation.

Most guests arrive here from either Tafika or Crocodile Bushcamp as part of a longer walking safari, usually using Tafika as a more comfortable base at the beginning or end of their trip. However, if you’re feeling really adventurous you can combine Chikoko with its more distant sister camp, Mwaleshi Bushcamp, in North Luangwa National Park.

Our view

Chikoko Tree Camp appears to be very simple, yet this belies a comfortable bushcamp run to very high standards. The walking guides are among the most experienced and best in the business, and you'll be amazed at the quality of food here given the simplicity of the kitchen. For those who love walking safaris, we would highly recommend Chikoko.

Geographics

Location: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: If you want to plan a South Luangwa walking safari including Chikoko, it usually works best to start at Tafika for 2–4 nights, then head to one of the bushcamps – either Chikoko Tree Camp or Crocodile Bushcamp – for a few nights each. Often trips will then return to Tafika for a night or two at the end, although some will finish with a visit to Mwaleshi in the North Luangwa. For more specific ideas and actual examples of trips like this, with prices and full details, click on some of the links to safaris on the Trip ideas tab, above. To see if there's space, check Chikoko's availability here.

Directions: From Mfuwe, it is approximately 1½–2 hours by road to Tafika. A flight from Mfuwe to Lukuzi airstrip (near Tafika) takes 15 minutes. From Tafika you walk to Chikoko, taking about 3-4 hours.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Remote Africa Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: A light breakfast is usually served around the campfire before the morning walk, and consists of toast, yoghurt, cereals, fruit, ham and cheese, together with tea, coffee and juices.

On our most recent visit in October 2014 we enjoyed lunch in the shady main area at midday. This included grilled chicken, potato wedges, devilled eggs, a variety of salads and a selection of very tasty pickles and chutneys. There was also freshly baked white and brown bread, which was impressively cooked in the bush kitchen’s ‘oven’ – a hole in the ground surrounded by hot coals!

Unfortunately we were unable to stay for dinner, but this is usually served shortly after you get back from your evening walk at about 7.30pm.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included in the rates. Fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs are charged as extras.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Solo Travel: Walking safaris at Chikoko are with other guests, and well-informed guides. The camp is small and intimate with communal meals, and the low single supplement adds to its attraction for solo travellers in Zambia.

See more ideas for Solo Travel in Zambia

Walking safaris: Chikoko is run by Remote Africa Safaris, a company with considerable experience of running walking safaris in Zambia. The lack of roads and vehicles, and the camp-to-camp trails, make this one of the best spots for walking in Zambia.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: ChikokoTree Camp welcomes children 12 years and older.

Property’s age restrictions: Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to take part on a walking safari.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: Children must be under the constant supervision of their parents. Children under the age of 12 years are not allowed to walk in the South Luangwa National Park.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There are no battery-charging facilities, so make sure everything is fully charged before you arrive here.

Communications: There is no cellphone reception here although the camp is in constant radio contact with Tafika – which has excellent communication facilities.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: The handbasins are plumbed in and each chalet has a flushing toilet. The bathrooms have bucket showers, with hot water brought in the morning and on request.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a doctor in Mfuwe, about one hours drive from Tafika. For more serious emergencies Tafika has links with a flying doctors service.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Your guide, as well as the camp staff, are all in camp with you.

Fire safety: There are sand buckets outside each chalet as well as in the main area.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A complimentary laundry service is included, but this does not include ladies’ underwear; soap for this is provided in each room. Note that clothes are hand-washed and coal-ironed – so we suggest that you don’t ask for very delicate items to be laundered here.

Money: No exchange facilities are provided.

Accepted payment on location: No money is required at Chikoko. Payment for any extras may be made at Tafika in cash in UK pounds, US dollars, euros and Zambian kwacha, or by Visa or MasterCard. They are not able to accept travellers' cheques.