Welcome to the remote walking-only Island Bush Camp!
Island Bush Camp: Our full report
The simple Island Bush Camp is in a very remote area of the South Luangwa, a three-hour drive south of the main area of Mfuwe. It focuses heavily on walking safaris in a wilderness environment, and these will make up the bulk of your activities here, but it does also offer some limited drives.
Because of Island Bush Camp’s distance from the airport (four hours’ drive), most guests start their journey at its sister camp, Kafunta River Lodge, before continuing on. This makes for an excellent-value safari, as neither camp is costly for the standard they offer. From Kafunta to Island Bush Camp it’s a three-hour drive along bumpy roads and through some of the local villages. (The vehicles are usually uncovered, so be sure to bring suncream and a hat.) Most of this drive is outside the park so you won’t see much wildlife, but we did see elephant and warthog along the way on our last visit in June 2015.
Island Bush Camp is a simple property, with just five thatched bush chalets, all identical in build and style. Each is raised off the ground on its own wooden platform, and is completely open at the front, so you can sit and enjoy the view of the Luangwa River from your bed. The design also allows you to hear clearly the sounds of the bush, such as the honking from the pod of hippos in the nearby river. The chalets are perfect for truly feeling that you are in the bush!
All of the rooms have twin single beds (there are no double rooms), a couple of directors’ chairs and a small table with a solar-powered light and a jug of filtered drinking water. A small walkway leads to the open-air, en-suite bathroom, which is on the same level as the bedroom. Here you’ll find a bucket shower that is filled with hot water (enough for at least a ten-minute shower) when you wake up in the morning, and again when you arrive back from your evening activity. There is also a flushing toilet and a washbasin with cold running water.
The main area at Island Bush Camp is a large, thatched, and semi-open building facing towards the river. As well as a large dining table and a lounge area with sofas and armchairs, it houses a well-stocked bar. In front, directors’ chairs are positioned around a firepit that faces out over the river.
Food is freshly prepared in the camp’s open-air kitchen using a simple wood-burning stove. Ask for a tour of the kitchen – it is extremely interesting and adds to the marvel of the excellent meals prepared each day. Meals, whether are served inside the main thatched chalet, or outside next to the river, are sociable events – as is a drink around the campfire.
Activities at Island Bush Camp focus mainly on walking, with an experienced guide and an armed scout. You will usually start out in a vehicle, driving to a good area for walking before disembarking and exploring the area on foot for a few hours. You’ll then enjoy some morning tea, or sundowner drinks, before heading back to camp on foot or in the vehicle. Pure game drives are also possible here, but they aren’t the norm. At capacity the camp can take ten guests, in which case they are split into two groups to avoid overcrowding on activities.
Our viewIsland Bush Camp is an excellent-value walking camp, in a very wild area far from any other camps in the park. The chalets are very simple, and the experience here is quite rugged and outdoorsy. It will suit people looking for a real wilderness experience and a competitive price.
Ideal length of stay: 2 to 3 nights
Directions: Island Bush Camp is a three-hour drive south of its sister camp, Kafunta River Lodge.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Island Bush Camp was very tasty when we last visited in June 2015.
Breakfast was served around the campfire, with toast, cereals, fruit and porridge on offer, along with coffee, tea and fruit juice.
Lunch was laid out as a buffet to which guests helped themselves. We enjoyed pasta with meatballs in a rich tomato sauce and a salad on the side. For pudding we were served a refreshing fruit salad.
Dinner was probably the best of our three meals. The starter of corn chowder was very tasty and served with fresh bread. The main course, a beef stir-fry,was delicious, full of flavour. This came with rice, beans and carrots. The meal was rounded off with a smooth crème caramel.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included, apart from champagne and specially imported wines and spirits.
Further dining info: No
Walking: Island Bush Camp is a simple, remote camp in the far south of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park that focuses almost entirely on walking safaris, led by expert guides and an armed scout.See more ideas for Walking in Zambia
Attitude towards children: There is a minimum age of 12 years for walking safaris.
Property’s age restrictions: Minimum of 12 years.
Special activities & services: None.
Generally recommended for children: Island Bush Camp is not geared in any way to children. Although those over the age of 12 can participate in walking safaris, this is not a great environment for children of that age.
Power supply: None
TV & radio: None
Water supply: Transported in
Water supply notes: Water from the borehole is used for bucket showers. There are plumbed in washbasins with cold water and flushing toilets in each of the bathrooms.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a bush clinic with a nurse nearby, but the nearest doctor to Island Bush Camp is in Mfuwe. For emergencies there is an airstrip about 20km away that is a 30-40 minute drive. There is a first-aid kit at camp, and one is taken on all activities. The guides and manager are first-aid trained.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are no security guards as such, but guests are still escorted to their rooms at night and there is a scout in camp at all times.
Fire safety: Island Bush Camp has fire extinguishers in the vehicles and sand buckets at the camp.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included. It is hand washed and line dried.
Money: There are lockable boxes in the chalets. Otherwise, guests may leave valuables in the safe at Kafunta.
Accepted payment on location: All payment is done at Kafunta.