Chindeni: Our full report
Located next to a large oxbow lake, Chindeni Bushcamp is one of the South Luangwa’s most luxurious and well ...... furnished bushcamps. Under the ownership of The Bushcamp Company it underwent extensive refurbishment in 2010, and has emerged modern and minimalist in style. Those looking for something stylish and contemporary will love this camp.
Chindeni is built underneath a shady grove of ebony trees overlooking Chayumba Lagoon, a large and productive oxbow lake that is often teeming with wildlife, with the towering Chindeni hills as an impressive backdrop.
The shared area consists of a sturdy split-level deck overlooking this lagoon, with the upper tier shaded by a suspended canvas roof. Under this there’s a large pine table where guests dine communally for lunch and dinner, although meals can also be taken on the lower level, out under the sky. The lower level also houses a lounge with low wicker armchairs, and deckchairs made from cow-hide. Dotted around are a variety of handmade side tables and stools, hand-blown glass vases and brass bowls. Though none of this matches as such, all are very stylish and simple, so work together really well.
There is also a small but well-stocked bar at Chindeni Bushcamp and though there is usually someone around to assist, guests are welcome to help themselves.
Chindeni’s four tents are built on raised wooden platforms, with the bedroom and the bathroom incorporated in one large open-plan area. Two of the rooms have twin beds and two have a king-sized, four-poster bed; all shrouded in mosquito netting. At one end of the room is a lounge area with stylish wicker armchairs and footstools. At the other is a lovely pale wood wardrobe for hanging clothes, and a writing desk. A wooden platform extends from the front of the tents where two hammocks are suspended, overlooking the lake. Animals are often drawn to this water, particularly towards the end of the dry season, and you’ll often be able to see as much wildlife during the afternoon from camp as you will on your morning and evening activities. Our favourite sighting from camp on our last visit in 2015 was a large family of elephants crossing the lake, and having a mud bath on the opposite shore.
In the bathroom, a range of toiletries are provided. There are twin sinks, a flush toilet and hot-and-cold rain-shower. The fittings are all very modern and of excellent quality.
The tents are certainly very stylish and beautiful, and thoughtful touches like kikois (an African sarong) and bathrobes make them extremely comfortable. However, we felt that the juxtaposition of the pale wood and modern fittings in such a remote and natural environment could be slightly jarring. Those who love contemporary style and an extra level of comfort while on safari will really enjoy the tents; those who prefer traditional bushcamps may like them less, and may prefer to stay in one of Bushcamp Comapy’s more rustic camps in the area such as Chamilandu or Kuyenda.
There are two activities a day at Chindeni, usually consisting of a morning walk, and an afternoon game drive that often extends into a night drive. There is flexibility with these arrangements though should you wish to change the order or make-up of your activities. On both of these activities you’ll explore the remote surrounding area, where the wildlife is good and there are very few other vehicles around. On our last visit in June 2015 we were able to spot leopard, hyena, giant kingfishers, porcupines and even the elusive aardvark on an evening drive, all without seeing another safari vehicle.
We also particularly enjoyed our morning walk where our guide taught us how to tell an elephants gender from its dung, which vines in the area you can get clean drinking water from and showed us some of the smaller animals in the bush, such as a ground beetle fighting a large spider. For those who are really keen on walking you can do a walking transfer to Chindeni’s sister camp Bilimungwe, a walk that takes approximately four hours.
Chindeni Bushcamp is beautiful, modern and minimalist with great food and guiding. It’s location provides stunning views, and some of the best game viewing from camp that you’ll find in the South Luangwa. The description ‘Afro-chic’ is very apt, but safari traditionalists may find the design a little lacking in character, and may want to opt for a more rustic bushcamp instead.
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Ideal length of stay
- A very usual trip would be to combine Chindeni with a series of its sister camps: Kuyenda, Kapamba, Chamilandu and Bilimungwe.
However, for more variety we'd suggest that you consider combining Kapamba, and perhaps one of its sister camps, with some of the camps on the northern side of South Luangwa – perhaps Tafika, Kaingo or even the similarly luxurious Lion Camp.
- It is a one-hour flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe airport, then a three-hour drive to Chindeni which is in the more remote south part of South Luangwa National Park.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- When we were last at Chindeni Bushcamp in June 2015, we thought the food was the best of all the Bushcamp properties that we visited!
Breakfast was a light continental offering with porridge, cereals, fruit and toast. Tea and coffee was also available.
After our morning activity we returned to a brunch of wraps for which we were able to choose our own fillings from a choice of beef, chicken, onions, peppers, mushrooms, cheese, salad, hummus and guacamole. There was also a large pile of fresh and incredibly sweet watermelon for dessert.
There is usually an afternoon tea at 4.00pm with some very tasty, homemade, orange muffins.
Dinner is usually served around 8.30pm, after your evening activity. We started with a spicy and rich butternut squash soup that we very much enjoyed. As a main we had fried talipea, caught from Lake Kariba, with rice, green beans and braised red cabbage. For dessert we then had a very light and fluffy chocolate mousse.
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- Most drinks are included, apart from champagne and specially imported wines and spirits.
- A mixture of miombo woodland, riverine forest and plentiful lagoons means there is varied and prolific birdlife, making the area a great spot for birdwatching in Zambia. On our last visit we saw juvenile saddle-billed storks, several kingfisher species and numerous waterfowl.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Attitude towards children
- Children over the age of 12 are accepted
- Property’s age restrictions
- Children under 12 years of age are not allowed at Chindeni, unless the whole camp is booked out by a family. No children under the age of 12 are allowed to walk in the park.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- No – we can't recommend this camp for children under 16 years.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Chindeni
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Chindeni 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
- There are no plug points in the rooms but electronics can be given to the manager for charging. In the event of several cloudy day, charging facilities may be limited, or charging could take longer than normal.
- You should consider yourself out of contact during your stay at Chindeni; there is no mobile/cell-phone reception or email at the camp. However there is radio communication with Mfuwe Lodge for emergencies.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The showers and handbasins are plumbed in. Water is solar-heated so it may take a few minutes to reach your shower. Each chalet has a flushing toilet. The water from the taps is suitable for drinking, but bottled water is also available if you prefer.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The closest doctor is based at a camp by the Mfuwe Gate – which is about three hours' drive away. For serious medical emergencies Chindeni has links to flying doctors, who can evacuate patients to a hospital in Lusaka.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- A watchman or manager will escort guests between their rooms and main areas at night, in case of wild animals. Each room has a digital safe for valuables.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in each room and around the main areas.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included and clothes are hand washed, line dried and coal ironed. For this reason, Chindeni asks guests to wash their delicates themselves – and provide soap for this in the rooms.
- No currency exchange is available. There are no safes in the rooms, but if you are concerned then small items could be given to management for safe keeping.
- Accepted payment on location
- Chindeni Bushcamp is not able to take payment for any extras. Payments (eg: for extras such as champagne) are made at Mfuwe Lodge.
At Mfuwe Lodge you can use cash in US dollars, euros, British pounds and Zambian kwacha. Visa and MasterCard are also accepted – though with an additional charge of 5%.
Other lodges in South Luangwa National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
One of the best camps in Zambia, Tafika is naturally built, combining excellent service and food with top guiding skills for a superb wildlife experience.
On the banks of the Luangwa River, with its own access to the national park, the intimate Nkwali is open year round.
Small and owner-run, the riverside Kaingo occupies a a quiet but excellent game area, with a series of wildlife hides and a focus on photography.
One of the Luangwa's oldest camps, Nsefu is a great safari camp in a remote, beautiful and game-rich location with top-rate guiding.
Small, remote and owner-run, Mwamba offers first-class walking, 4WD safari drives and superb hides, with excellent guides and a real bush feel.
One of the Luangwa's best camps, in a beautiful, remote bush location, Tena Tena is very small, exceedingly well-run and has top-rate guiding.
Chikoko Tree Camp
Chikoko Tree Camp is an excellent small, rustic bushcamp that concentrates on walking safaris, and is run by a top-quality operation.
Big Lagoon Camp
Big Lagoon Camp is a great little rustic bushcamp built to high standards that focuses on excellent walking safaris, with the emphasis on top wildlife guides.
Kapani Lodge is now the main office base for Norman Carr Safaris, one of the Luangwa's oldest safari operations.
A relatively big safari camp, Flatdogs offers value for money with great guiding and good food in a comfortable, relaxed setting.
Luangwa River Camp
Luangwa River Lodge is a small and consciously stylish lodge in the Mfuwe area, overlooking the Luangwa River and the South Luangwa National Park beyond – an area renowned for great game.
Beside the Luangwa River, Kakuli is a comfortable tented bushcamp offering 4WD safaris and walking safaris – the best of which are camp-to-camp walks linking Kakuli with its nearby sister camps.
Set in a shady ebony grove on the banks of the Luangwa, Mchenja is a smart tented bushcamp. It combines well with Kakuli and Nsolo – its sister camps with a focus on walking safaris.
Nsolo is a small, comfortable bushcamp overlooking one or two pools in the usually dry Luwi riverbed. It concentrates on walking safaris in an interesting and diverse area, led by a knowledgeable guide.
Kafunta River Lodge
Kafunta is a laid-back, friendly and good-value lodge on the outskirts of South Luangwa National Park.
In a remote part of the South Luangwa National Park, Luwi is a rustic bushcamp whose emphasis is on walking safaris with great guiding and a chance of seeing some rarely seen and elusive antelope.
Robin Pope bush-camp
RPS bushcamping in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Lion Camp is an established and comfortable camp with a swimming pool, located near to the game-rich Lion Plain in the northern part of South Luangwa National Park.
Robin Pope mobile
RPS mobile safari camps are at the heart of their set-itinerary walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park, which start and finish at a permanent camp.
In the remote far south of South Luangwa National Park, Kapamba is a small and very comfortable bushcamp offering good walks and game drives.
Puku Ridge is a luxurious designer camp set in a stunning location, high on a hill overlooking a floodplain within South Luangwa. Explore from here on 4WD safaris and walks.
In a game-rich area close to the South Luangwa’s main Mfuwe Gate, Mfuwe Lodge is relatively large by park standards, but it’s stylish, modern and family friendly.
Kuyenda Bushcamp is a classic bushcamp with particularly delightful hosts and offers top-class walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park.
Luangwa Safari House
Luangwa Safari House is a vast and very smart four-bedroom house specifically designed for families and small groups, and offering an exclusive and flexible safari experience.
Opened in early June 2013, Chinzombo offers luxurious and stylish accommodation with very high levels of service and excellent guiding.
A smart bushcamp with four very spacious chalets, Bilimungwe offers interesting walking safaris in pretty riverine woodland, as well as day and night safari drives.
Three Rivers Camp
In the remote far south of South Luangwa National Park, Three Rivers Lodge sits at the confluence of three of the valleys rivers.
Kawaza Village – beside the South Luangwa National Park, offers guests the rare opportunity to appreciate local village life. Visit for a few hours or stay overnight.
With your own expert guide, private vehicle, chef and valet, the two-bedroom Robin's House offers an exclusive, flexible safari experience – and is open year round.
Island Bush Camp
Island Bushcamp is a good-value, rustic, walking-only camp, in arguably one of the most remote parts of the South Luangwa, well away from all other camps.
The Mwamba-Camp Out allows you to have an incredibly adventurous night in the bush, sleeping under mosquito nets with activities led by some of the best guides in Zambia.
A comfortable little bushcamp, Chamilandu has a picturesque setting by the Luangwa River, in an area with a range of habitats to explore on foot and by 4WD.
Zungulila is a small, comfortable tented bushcamp with an emphasis on walking safaris, in the remote southern section of the South Luangwa.
Currently undergoing renovations, Chichele Presidential Lodge stands high within the park, with superb views, and is due to reopen in late 2022.
Luwi Riverbed Sleepout
For an adventurous night in South Luangwa National Park, come and sleep out in the bush, around a campfire, with an experienced guide and game scout.
Opened in June 2021, Shawa Luangwa Camp is a small, intimate and rustic camp, with a good location in a remote section of the South Luangwa National Park.
Mapazi Camp is a basic safari camp in the far north of the South Luangwa, with walking safaris led by renowned guide Deb Tittle.
Chikunto Safari Lodge is a more traditional property in the South Luangwa National Park, sitting on a peninsula of land created by the meandering Luangwa River.