Kuyenda is one of the last true bush camps in South Luangwa National Park.
Kuyenda Bushcamp: Our full report
Kuyenda is one of the more rustic and traditional safari bushcamps in South Luangwa National Park. It's situated in the south of the park under a grove of evergreen Natal mahogany trees, next to the Manzi River – which during the dry season is usually just a sandy riverbed. The emphasis tends to be on walking safaris in an area that is good for game viewing, whilst also being in a quieter part of the park.
Kuyenda is normally run by Phil Berry and his partner Babette Alfieri, and many visitors return here because of their personalities, their charm and the warmth of the welcome. Phil is one of the most knowledgeable guides in Africa, and has lived in the bush for nearly 40 years. He has an active, inquisitive mind which he has turned, over this time, to his great passion – the bush – keeping meticulous notes on all the information he gathers. Phil is a renowned expert on the endemic Thornicroft's giraffe, and is able to recognise over 200 individuals by their neck markings.
Kuyenda ideally takes up to six guests at a time, although occasionally there might be up to eight. There is usually only one guide here so activities re normally done as a single group, although extra guides can come in if groups can’t unanimously decide on an activity. These activities can include day and or night drive, and there’s plenty of wildlife to make these productive, but the main focus here is on walking safaris. We think that Kuyenda Bushcamp is situated in one of the best areas of South Luangwa for walking. There are a variety of areas to explore including open plains with quicksand bogs, palm islands, the banks of the Luangwa River and natural salt springs. There is usually plenty of wildlife to see, too: walking here really can be a big-game safari.
So the usual format is a morning walk, followed by an afternoon walk and a night drive – although exactly what happens when will depend on the other visitors as well as yourself. A night drive on a previous visit was particularly memorable, with three excellent sightings of porcupines, a lovely scops owlet and a curious white-tailed mongoose.
Whether on a drive or a walk, Phil Berry's knowledge of the area makes him a fascinating guide. However, if Phil isn't guiding or he and Babette are on leave, then you'll head out with one of the other qualified guides from the Bushcamp Company.
Kuyenda Bushcamp has four reed-and-thatch chalets. Three have twin beds and views of the Manzi riverbed from their large, mesh-covered windows. The fourth, set a little away from the rest, has a king-size bed, from which you can see an open plain favoured by herds of impala and puku, and occasionally visited by buffalo and elephant. Each chalet is simply furnished, with mosquito nets suspended above the beds, a hanging rail for clothes, a couple of chairs, and a large wooden trunk. A pair of canvas chairs stand outside. At night the rooms are lit with small portable solar lights, although these are not quite bright enough for reading.
At the back of each chalet, through a reed and mesh door, is an open-air bathroom with a sandy floor. Here you'll find a flushing toilet, twin handbasins and a drum shower, which is filled on request.
Kuyenda's thatched main area is deliberately simple, which adds to the rustic charm of the camp. It houses the bar, a sitting area with a comfortable white sofa, a small library of reference books and a dining table. A portable washstand and canvas basin to wash away the dust from the day is located nearby, and a campfire overlooks the plain beyond.
Our viewWe are fortunate to spend a lot of time in the bush and Kuyenda remains a firm favourite of our team. The chalets are rustic – no mod-cons here – but they are quite comfortable and spacious. However, don't come to Kuyenda for the rooms – come for the walks, as the environment around here offers tremendous variety; the game, which is usually prolific and very relaxed; the hospitality, which is warm and feels more like staying with a family than at a hotel; and above all for the guiding, which is top-notch. Though, if it's important to you, do ask us when enquiring to check whether Phil and Babette are scheduled to be in camp when you plan to visit.
Ideal length of stay: Three nights is the ideal length of say at Kuyenda. This bushcamp combines well with any of its sister camps, Chindeni Camp, Chamilandu Camp, Bilimungwe Camp or Kapamba Camp. We also often combine it with Tafika: another small camp with top-notch guiding, which is in a contrasting area of the Luangwa Valley, much further north.
Directions: After an hour's flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe Airport, it is about 45 minutes’ drive to Mfuwe Lodge followed by a two-hour game drive through South Luangwa National Park to Kuyenda Bushcamp.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: The Buschcamp Company
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The standard of food at Kuyenda Bushcamp is very good. Expect meals such as you might find at a good pub restaurant or country hotel where everything is fresh and home cooked under Babette’s watchful eye.
Breakfast is usually served as a buffet before the morning activity. A variety of cereals is on offer along with porridge, toast and fruit.
Lunch is also a buffet, incorporating a variety of salads, a meat dish (and a vegetarian option if requested) and a pie or quiche followed by fresh fruit. We missed lunch on our most recent visit in June 2015, but on a previous stay we enjoyed home-made fish fingers, sausages, bean salad, avocado and tomato salad, a large green salad and babooti, the South African version of a cottage pie. For dessert we had papaya and melon slices.
Dinner is usually three courses and is served either in the main area or out on the plain, under the stars, as on our last visit. We started with a spinach and feta filo parcel, followed by a particularly tender mustard-crusted pork fillet served with a light potato soufflé and vegetables. The pear and custard baked pudding was particularly delicious – at our request,
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 premium imported wines and spirits.
Further dining info: No
Walking safaris: Kuyenda Bushcamp is surrounded by one of the best walking areas in the South Luangwa National Park. The environments are varied and the wildlife plentiful. Walking with the renowned Phil Berry in his own backyard is a particular highlight of walking Zambia.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Children over the age of 12 years are allowed at Kuyenda.
Property’s age restrictions: For safety reasons it's not possible for children under 12 years old to walk in the national park. Children aged 12–16 years may be able to join walks, but this is only at the manager's discretion.
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: We don't recommend Kuyenda Bushcamp for children. It’s a camp that is best suited to adults, particularly because of the emphasis on walking safaris.
Notes: Kuyenda bush camp is unfenced, and big game wanders through regularly. On one of our visits, there were hyena, elephant and buffalo in and around the camp during the night. Children must be closely supervised at all times by their parents.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: There is a small charging station in the main area, although power may be limited if there have been a few cloudy days.
Communications: Kuyenda Bushcamp is able to contact its sister camps and the office at Mfuwe Lodge via radio. There is no cellphone reception or Wifi at the camp.
TV & radio: None
Water supply: Transported in
Water supply notes: Hot water for the en-suite shower comes from a drum, which is filled on request. Each room has a flushing toilet.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The managers at Kuyenda are first-aid trained. The various safari operations in South Luangwa National Park sponsor a doctor who is based in the valley, and available in case of a medical emergency.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted between the main area and their chalets at night.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the camp's kitchen and outside each chalet. Hoses are available elsewhere in the camp in case of fire.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is provided, except for underwear. Washing powder is available in all the chalets for guests who wish to hand wash any smalls or delicate items. Laundry is hand washed, dried in the sun and pressed with a charcoal iron. It will usually be returned the same day, but this depends on the weather.
Money: There are no exchange facilities and there are no safes in the rooms. However, valuables can be given to the managers for safekeeping.
Accepted payment on location: No currency or payment is accepted in camp and it is unlikely to be necessary, as almost everything is included in the cost. If there is a bill to settle then it is easiest to use US dollars or Zambian kwacha (cash) at Kuyenda's parent lodge, Mfuwe Lodge.