Kawaza Village: Our full report
Just outside the South Luangwa National Park, and a few miles from Mfuwe town, lies a normal, working, rural ...... Zambian village that has decided to invite visitors to stay. There is nothing contrived or artificial about Kawaza Village, but it does offer you the rare opportunity to appreciate Kunda culture. Visitors can visit for a few hours or stay overnight – or even for a few days.
For a number of years guests visiting Robin Pope Safaris camps in the South Luangwa National Park could pay a brief visit to the school at Kawaza Village, until somebody suggested that it would be a good idea to spend longer in a local village and to meet local Zambians in their own environment. Now the local community at Kawaza run a tourism project where they can show guests what life is like living in a Zambian village. They have a few huts which they keep free for visitors who wish to spend the night. As well as visiting the school, it is also possible to visit the clinic, pay your respects to the village chief as well as visit a local healer.
On arrival at Kawaza village guests are met by Constantino, the village guide who is also the manager of the tourism project. He will introduce guests to some of the villagers and ask which activities they may be interested in visiting.
Visitors staying overnight will be shown to their accommodation which is a traditional mud hut with mud walls and solid earth floor. There are no windows, with the only light coming from the door. The hut is very basic with a mattress on a reed base covered by a mosquito net. There is no other furniture in the hut. Clean but threadbare pillows and duvet are provided on the beds.
A long-drop toilet with wooden “throne" is provided in an enclosed cubicle a few metres from the huts at the back of the village. This is the only exception to local village life as the toilet is in the typical western-style and is not used by the villagers. A shower, in a reed enclosure, consists of warm water in a basin with a jug for pouring water. Soap and towels are provided.
On an overnight stay by the Expert Africa team, in April 2011, we did a few of the activities offered at Kawaza. We visited the local school but, unfortunately (for us!) it was school holidays so there were no children in class. However we did get to meet the headmaster, Felix Maunga, who is also a member of the tourism project. He is young and enthusiastic and dedicated to his job at the school. He gave us an extensive tour of the school and its facilities. The school has 7 teachers, 10 classrooms and over 1,000 pupils.
The school visit was followed by a visit to the local clinic which was a short drive from the village. There is only one doctor here and resources are very limited. Afterwards we wandered through a string of villages where we stopped and chatted to people and eventually had a crowd of friendly children trailing after us! We also popped in to see the local healer who explained the various medicinal uses of herbs and traditional healing methods.
Guests are also invited to take part in everyday village activities such as brewing local beer, grinding the maize, drawing water at the well and picking maize in the fields. We even had a go at carrying heavy buckets on our heads!
Once back at Kawaza dinner was served. This was a traditional meal cooked by a local village woman. On our last visit there we were served chicken cooked over the fire, with some spinach and sadza (a staple maize dish). All meals are served in a reed and thatch ‘nsaka’, in the middle of the village, seated on the reed-covered floor and eaten by hand. A washbasin and soap are provided outside the ‘nsaka’ for washing your hands, both before and after the meal.
After dark guests are entertained by people from the surrounding villages with drumming and dancing around the camp fire. Once the drums start a huge crowd gathers to take part, and once it is over everyone disperses and the village is quiet again!
After spending a night in the village guests are woken at dawn by cocks crowing and the soft voices of the ladies getting up to light their fires and start another day.
Guests are invited to help the ladies sweeping the area around the huts – the village is spotlessly tidy.
Your day then begins again with the choice of more activities and another possible walk around the surrounding villages.
The team from Robin Pope Safaris were instrumental in helping Kawaza Village to get started, and they still provide the village with a lot of logistical support. If guests are booked at Kawaza in conjunction with any other Robin Pope Safaris properties then one of their guides will remain with you for the duration of the stay.
Your time at the village would combine particularly well with time spent at other Robin Pope Safaris properties : Nkwali Camp, Luangwa River Camp, Tena Tena and Nsefu.
Spending either a few hours or staying overnight at Kawaza Village will give visitors a true insight of how life is living in an African Village. Its simple but uncontrived and the villagers really make you feel welcome.
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Ideal length of stay
- One night – possibly two
- Kawaza village is 30 – 45 minutes by road from Mfuwe airport (depending on the state of the roads)
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Dinner is a traditional meal cooked by a local village woman. On our last visit we were served chicken cooked over the fire, with some spinach and sadza (a staple maize dish). All meals are served in a reed and thatch ‘nsaka’ in the middle of the village, sitting on the reed-covered floor and eaten by hand. A washbasin and soap are provided outside the ‘nsaka’ for washing your hands, before and after the meal.
For breakfast we were served traditional deep-fried doughnuts (mendazi’s) with freshly picked bananas and tea.
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- Drinks are included if staying with Robin Pope Safaris. Your guide will have a cool box with soft drinks, wine and beer in the vehicle.
- Cultural experiences
- This fascinating and unique tourism project allows visitors a real insight into rural Zambian daily life. Visitors can take part by spending a day, or overnight, in this friendly village and experience the everyday routine of those that live there.
- See ideas for Cultural experiences
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- Kawaza is a great place for children to meet children of their own age from another culture, however because the overnight facilities are very basic we wouldn’t recommend if for children under 5 years.
- There is cellphone reception in the village and it is possible to email from the school in case of an emergency.
- TV & radio
The first village tourism enterprise in Zambia
Testimonies from former guests’ state that a visit to Kawaza Village was the highlight of their trip to Luangwa Park. While some choose to pay the village just a short visit, others spend more days learning and experiencing the local culture. The first authentic cultural village tourism enterprise in Zambia and winner of the infamous Silver Otter Award by the British Guild of Travel Writers, Kawaza Village Tourism Project was set up with help from Robin Pope Safaris. The safari group is still an active contributor to the project and acts as their booking agent, facilitating guests access to the village and promoting the project internationally directly on their website.
The village harbours approximately 12 families and 10 village members are now in charge of the smooth run of the project. Each tour of the village is tailor-made to suit the preferences of every visitor and depending on the length of their stay, guests can choose from a series of unforgettable activities. Usually a trip would start with a walk down to the lagoon where visitor can learn about the local plants and their medicinal uses, but also understand the layout of the village.
Other experiences include trying local food such as ‘nshema’, a traditional dish similar to the infamous European polenta, or even partake in the nightly gatherings – the perfect opportunity for storytelling and dancing. People are even invited to ramble the forests and help collect wild honey and learn how apiculturists make and raise hives.
The project provides financial support to orphans and elderly people in the community and supplies local primary school with textbooks and learning aids.
See more great sustainability projects in Zambia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is a clinic in the area for non emergency care. There is a hospital at Mfuwe and Mfuwe airport is 30 minutes away for more critical cases.
- Dangerous animals
- Moderate Risk
- Security measures
- Guests are escorted back to their huts at night as elephant are known to wander through the villages.
- Fire safety
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Yes laundry is possible if staying longer than one day. There is no charge for this. However, as items are hand washed, ladies undergarments cannot be included for cultural reasons.
- It is not possible to change money at Kawaza village
- Accepted payment on location
- Its possible to purchase local handicrafts from the villagers or the local shops. Payment is accepted in US$ or Zambian kwacha cash.
Other lodges in South Luangwa National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.