Crocodile Bushcamp: Our full report
The tiny and stylishly rustic Crocodile Bushcamp – also known as Crocodile River Camp – is one half of a ...... pair of bushcamps, known as Chikoko Trails Camps, that occupy a remote walking-only section of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Made of reed and thatch, and rebuilt every year after the rains, it's one of the simpler camps that we feature.
Crocodile is paired with Chikoko Tree Camp, and together they act as satellite walking camps for the slightly larger Tafika Camp. All three are operated by Remote Africa Safaris, which is owned and run by one of the Luangwa valley's top walking safari guide, John Coppinger, who is often based at Tafika.
Crocodile Bushcamp itself stands beneath a tall grove of evergreen ebony trees, overlooking a large open pan (known locally as a 'dambo'), which was once the course of the Luangwa River. There are numerous depressions in this open area that often contain water during the early part of the dry season, and one small waterhole that is pumped with fresh water during the dry season. This provides green plants and nutritious grazing for the game, so wildlife viewing from camp can be excellent.
Accommodation at Crocodile consists of three rustic, reed-and-thatch chalets – so this little bushcamp takes just six people when full. The chalets are set on a slightly raised side of the dambo, where the ancient riverbank used to be. Inside each are twin beds, or a double, covered in brightly coloured African fabrics, with a chair and sofa by the large open window with a good view of the bush. Attached is a private open-air bathroom, its sandy floors covered in reed matting; it has a washbasin, flush toilet and (hot!) shower.
Crocodile's main area is covered with a shady thatched roof, extended in 2017 to cover the entirety of the seating area. Along with a small, well-stocked 'help-yourself' bar as well as a little library, in the centre stands a large round table laid at mealtimes with linen, glassware and crockery. Everyone eats together, usually out in the open. At the front, a small seating area with a couple of comfortable chairs and a sofa provides a good spot to relax, while an extended raised area in front is a great vantage point for wildlife watching during the afternoon. On a previous trip we were able to spot a leopard drinking from a waterhole, and on our most recent visit, in June 2017, we had leopard and hyena skulking past during dinner.
There is just one road in the area around Crocodile Bushcamp, used exclusively for bringing in supplies and for emergencies. Porters will carry your luggage to and from camp (they always walk separately, and won't join you on any walking safaris). That said, from mid-July, a vehicle is based at Crocodile to transfer guests arriving late, and this may also be used to transfer guests to a lagoon several kilometres away, which we’re told is a great area for walking and wildlife.
Activities at Crocodile Bushcamp concentrate solely on walking safaris. Walks normally last about three–four hours, including a mid-morning or afternoon break for tea, and are fairly relaxed. The emphasis is on taking your time to observe the area's wildlife, and a moderate level of fitness is fine. The terrain is broadly level but often uneven underfoot – so sturdy shoes are a good idea.
The top guides from Tafika are shared with Crocodile Bush Camp – guaranteeing the excellent wildlife knowledge and experience that is the hallmark of this operation. Most guests arrive at Crocodile from Tafika or Chikoko Tree Camp as part of a longer walking safari, usually starting or ending at Tafika. You can easily walk between each of these camps in about three to four hours.
For an aerial view of the three camps, see the satellite map of the area. If you want to venture further, then these camps combine well with their more distant sister camp, Mwaleshi Bushcamp, in North Luangwa National Park.
Though the structures of Crocodile are deliberately rustic, the standards of guiding here are exceedingly high – and even the food is top-notch (which is quite remarkable when you see the kitchen facilities). The bushcamp's emphasis is firmly on enjoying the wilderness, the environment and the game. For those of us who love walking safaris and remote areas, it is one of the best places in Africa.
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Ideal length of stay
- If you want to plan a South Luangwa walking safari including Crocodile, it usually works best to start at Tafika for two–four nights, and then head to the bushcamps – Crocodile Bushcamp and Chikoko Tree Camp – 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 North Luangwa.
To check if Crocodile Bushcamp has space on the dates for your safari, click on the 'camp availability' link on the right-side of this page.
- From Mfuwe Airport it's approximately 1½–2 hours by road to Tafika. From here, guests walk to Crocodile, taking about 3–4 hours. A flight transfer from Mfuwe to Lukuzi airstrip (Tafika) takes 15 minutes.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- The small kitchen team at Crocodile Camp produces really excellent cuisine from a remarkably simple bush kitchen. This includes delicious freshly baked bread cooked underground in the wood-fired 'oven'. They are also able to cater for vegetarians, vegans and a wide range of dietary requirements on request.
On our last visit, in June 2017 we arrived after our walk in time for a buffet lunch of a refreshing mint and apple starter, followed by beefburgers in freshly baked sesame buns. Accompanying this we enjoyed grilled pineapple, tomato and onion, plus chips, a selection of pickles and chutneys, and fresh salad from Tafika's vegetable garden. Dessert was a light lemon mousse.
After returning from our afternoon walk, we were served the camp's set dinner: Thai pancakes followed by a pork and vegetable stir fry and coconut rice, rounded off with a tasty apple crumble and hot custard.
A very early morning breakfast is served around the campfire. On our visit there was a choice of cereal, fruit salad, toast and a cold platter of ham, cheese, pickles and tomato, as well as tea, coffee and juice.
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- Soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included in the rates. Flasks of filtered water are included, and provided in the chalets.
- Solo Travel
- Walking safaris at Crocodile are with other guests, and well-informed guides are keen to share their knowledge. The camp is small and intimate, and the low single supplement adds to its attraction for solo travellers in Zambia.
- See ideas for Solo Travel
- Overlooking a verdant dambo Crocodile Bushcamp is in a great location for birds, with first-rate guides who know their birdlife. Even sitting in the lounge with some binoculars provides a great opportunity for birdwatching in Zambia.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Walking safaris
- Located in a remote area with great game and no interruptions from vehicles, Crocodile is one of the best camps for walking safaris in Zambia. Top walking guides, and porters to transfer your luggage between camps, add to the experience.
- See ideas for Walking safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Crocodile Camp welcomes children 12 years and over.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to take part on a walking safari.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- We recommend this camp for mature, well-behaved children over the age of 12. With walking the only activity here, there is nothing else to keep children occupied.
- Crocodile Bushcamp is very remote and is not fenced in, so animals do roam freely through the camp. Children should be supervised at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Crocodile Bushcamp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Crocodile Bushcamp 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
- On our last visit in June 2017 there were no battery-charging facilities, so we had to ensure everything was fully charged before we arrived. We understand that Crocodile Camp now has an inverter, enabling guests to recharge batteries.
- There is no cellphone reception here although the camp is in radio communication with Tafika – which has excellent communication facilities.
- TV & radio
- No TVs or radios
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The handbasins are plumbed in and each chalet has a flushing toilet. A jug of hot water will be brought to your chalet each morning. The bathrooms have bucket showers, which are filled with hot water ready for your return from the afternoon walk.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is a doctor in Mfuwe, about an hour’s drive from Tafika. In a medical emergency, Tafika will contact a flying-doctor service.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Both your guide and the staff are in camp.
- Fire safety
- There are sand buckets outside each chalet as well as in the main area.
Guided walking safari
- 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 the chalets. Clothes are hand-washed and coal-ironed – so we suggest that you don't have very delicate items laundered here.
- No exchange facilities are provided.
- Accepted payment on location
- No money is required at Crocodile. Payment for any extras may be made at Tafika, which accepts both Visa and Mastercard (with a 4.5% surcharge), as well as cash in UK pounds, US dollars, euros and Zambian kwacha. They do not accept travellers' cheques.
Other lodges in South Luangwa National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.