Kapani Lodge is situated just outside South Luangwa National Park.
Kapani Lodge: Our full report
Kapani, which means 'the place of the Mopane trees', is situated on the banks of a permenant oxbow lake, just outside South Luangwa National Park.
After serving as a gateway for visitors to the South Luangwa for a number of decades, Kapani is due to close to the public at the end of 2015. From 2016 it will act as the operational headquarters for Norman Carr Safaris, who own a number of bushcamps in the park, as well as the luxurious Chinzombo.
We first visited Kapani in 1995, when its founder, Norman Carr, was still alive – and whilst it has evolved and improved in comfort and style since then, its simple safari feel hasn't changed much. (This is a good thing in our view!)
Kapani is laid out over open lawns, overlooking the lagoon, and its rooms are arranged either side of the camp's main lounge area– from where steps lead down to the main deck. This lower deck houses the bar, a comfortable seating area and the main dining area. The bar is a popular meeting place for pre-dinner drinks, and the deck is huge, with uninterrupted views of the ox-bow lagoon and the floodplain beyond.
On top of the bank, a little away from the deck, Kapani has a separate lounge and library. This is furnished with very smart leather armchairs and sofas which are set around a stone fireplace. It looks like it would be cosy for chilly winter evenings. Next door to this is a well-stocked curio shop, with local merchandise from Tribal Textiles, as well as some wood and stone carvings.
There are two different types of accommodation at Kapani. Most people will opt to stay in one of the eight semi-detached Standard Rooms. These rooms have a comfortable sitting area with a sofa and two easy chairs around a large coffee table, usually scattered with wildlife and birding magazines. Then towards the back of the room are two large twin beds or a double bed, surrounded by a large walk-in mosquito net. There is a ceiling fan, a wooden desk and a canvas wardrobe with toweling dressing gowns.
A well stocked mini-bar and tea /coffee making facilities are discreetly tucked away around a corner in a cupboard.
The small en-suite bathroom has twin ceramic washbasins set into a wooden top, a flush toilet and small shower. The bathrooms are simple and functional but they are nicely decorated and shampoo, soap and moisturizer are provided as well as a hair dryer!
For families who require a little more space, or if you are celebrating a special occasion – you may wish to upgrade to the Lagoon Suite. This is much larger than the Standard Rooms, and perfect for honeymooners or families. Though the design and style of all the rooms is broadly the same, the Suite also has a huge verandah that is great for private dining or for enjoying the views over the lagoon. Inside, is a large king-size bed, surrounded by a walk-in mosquito net and you will also find a large sunken bath.
The guided safari activities are very good; Kapani's drives generally start near the central area of the park, after they have crossed the bridge over the Luangwa – which means that the game is very relaxed and prolific, but you'll see quite a few other vehicles when you're driving around. Kapani's activities are usually game drives (day and night), although walking safaris can usually be arranged on request.
We visited Kapani most recently in June 2015, though we have been many times before and always enjoy our stay - it's a perennial favourite of ours!
Kapani works well on its own, and combines best with a walking safari encompassing its sister-bushcamps, Luwi Bushcamp, Nsolo Bushcamp, Kakuli Bushcamp and Mchenja Camp.
Our viewDue to its proximity to Mfuwe Airport Kapani is an ideal lodge for one or two nights upon arrival in the Luangwa Valley, or at the end of your stay. It's a substantial and very reassuring camp which works well for an introduction to the area, and allows travellers to recharge and recuperate from their journey before heading further into the park. Kapani also works well for travellers who may be on bit more of a budget, or who may prefer more of a solid structure, as opposed to the more temporary structures of the bush camps.
Ideal length of stay: 2 nights – it makes a good start or end to a longer stay with a combination of the Norman Carr Safaris bushcamps.
Directions: 45 minutes drive from Mfuwe airport.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Norman Carr Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Though we didn't have a chance to eat here this time, on previous visits the food has always been very good. We also ate at a few of Kapani's sister bushcamps and the food was consistently of a high standard – we have no doubt that this would be the same at Kapani.
There is no choice of main course so special meals must be noted before arrival in the camp!
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Further dining info: No
Wildlife safaris: Kapani is close to the centre of South Luangwa – around Mfuwe Lagoon – which means very relaxed big game indeed, and usually some excellent sightings. 4WD safaris are organised both day and night, but walking safaris can also be requested. The guiding here is of a high standard.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome
Special activities & services: Child minding is available in the evenings, though please not that this will come from the house keeping team and so they will not be specifically trained for this.
Equipment: There are a few cots and high chairs available
Generally recommended for children: Yes – with the proviso that the camp in unfenced, and does have dangerous game wandering through it regularly; hence children always need to be closely supervised by their parents.
Notes: It is up to the guide's discretion as to the age of children allowed on a game drive – however children are not allowed on vehicles with other guests.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is mobile phone reception around the camp, but Kapani asks guests to use their cell phones in their rooms and not the main areas. The lodge also has a telephone that guests can use as well as email facilities.
TV & radio: No TVs or radios – this is the bush.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is based at a nearby lodge, typically 15 minutes' drive away. For more serious cases you would be airlifted to Lusaka or Johannesburg.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are guards at night to escort you to and from your room.
Fire safety: There are no fire extinguishers in the rooms but there are in the bar, kitchen and workshop. There are also fire blankets in the kitchen.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included at Kapani.
Money: There are safety deposit boxes in the rooms.
Accepted payment on location: The only credit cards accepted here are Visa cards, and these attract a 5% commission. Kapani also accepts Travellers cheques' and cash in the form of US dollars, UK pounds, euros and South African rand.