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 ideally takes up to six to eight guests at a time, although occasionally there might be up to twelve. Depending on the number of guests there is usually only one guide here so activities are normally done as a single group, although extra guides will come in if there are larger numbers or 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.
Kuyenda Bushcamp has six reed-and-thatch chalets. With twin or king-size beds and views from their large, mesh-covered windows of either of the Manzi riverbed or 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.
We 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.
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- 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.
- 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
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- 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. 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
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- Most drinks are included, apart from champagne and premium imported wines and spirits.
- 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 ideas for Walking safaris
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Kuyenda Bushcamp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Kuyenda 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
- There is a small charging station in the main area, although power may be limited if there have been a few cloudy days.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Guided walking safari
- 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.
- 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.
Other lodges in South Luangwa National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
One of the best camps in Zambia, Tafika is naturally built, combining excellent service and food with top guiding skills for a superb wildlife experience.
On the banks of the Luangwa River, with its own access to the national park, the intimate Nkwali is open year round.
Small and owner-run, the riverside Kaingo occupies a a quiet but excellent game area, with a series of wildlife hides and a focus on photography.
One of the Luangwa's oldest camps, Nsefu is a great safari camp in a remote, beautiful and game-rich location with top-rate guiding.
Small, remote and owner-run, Mwamba offers first-class walking, 4WD safari drives and superb hides, with excellent guides and a real bush feel.
One of the Luangwa's best camps, in a beautiful, remote bush location, Tena Tena is very small, exceedingly well-run and has top-rate guiding.
Chikoko Tree Camp
Chikoko Tree Camp is an excellent small, rustic bushcamp that concentrates on walking safaris, and is run by a top-quality operation.
Big Lagoon Camp
Big Lagoon Camp is a great little rustic bushcamp built to high standards that focuses on excellent walking safaris, with the emphasis on top wildlife guides.
Kapani Lodge is now the main office base for Norman Carr Safaris, one of the Luangwa's oldest safari operations.
A relatively big safari camp, Flatdogs offers value for money with great guiding and good food in a comfortable, relaxed setting.
Luangwa River Camp
Luangwa River Lodge is a small and consciously stylish lodge in the Mfuwe area, overlooking the Luangwa River and the South Luangwa National Park beyond – an area renowned for great game.
Beside the Luangwa River, Kakuli is a comfortable tented bushcamp offering 4WD safaris and walking safaris – the best of which are camp-to-camp walks linking Kakuli with its nearby sister camps.
Set in a shady ebony grove on the banks of the Luangwa, Mchenja is a smart tented bushcamp. It combines well with Kakuli and Nsolo – its sister camps with a focus on walking safaris.
Nsolo is a small, comfortable bushcamp overlooking one or two pools in the usually dry Luwi riverbed. It concentrates on walking safaris in an interesting and diverse area, led by a knowledgeable guide.
Kafunta River Lodge
Kafunta is a laid-back, friendly and good-value lodge on the outskirts of South Luangwa National Park.
In a remote part of the South Luangwa National Park, Luwi is a rustic bushcamp whose emphasis is on walking safaris with great guiding and a chance of seeing some rarely seen and elusive antelope.
Robin Pope bush-camp
RPS bushcamping in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Lion Camp is an established and comfortable camp with a swimming pool, located near to the game-rich Lion Plain in the northern part of South Luangwa National Park.
Robin Pope mobile
RPS mobile safari camps are at the heart of their set-itinerary walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park, which start and finish at a permanent camp.
In the remote far south of South Luangwa National Park, Kapamba is a small and very comfortable bushcamp offering good walks and game drives.
Puku Ridge is a luxurious designer camp set in a stunning location, high on a hill overlooking a floodplain within South Luangwa. Explore from here on 4WD safaris and walks.
In a game-rich area close to the South Luangwa’s main Mfuwe Gate, Mfuwe Lodge is relatively large by park standards, but it’s stylish, modern and family friendly.
Luangwa Safari House
Luangwa Safari House is a vast and very smart four-bedroom house specifically designed for families and small groups, and offering an exclusive and flexible safari experience.
Opened in early June 2013, Chinzombo offers luxurious and stylish accommodation with very high levels of service and excellent guiding.
A smart bushcamp with four very spacious chalets, Bilimungwe offers interesting walking safaris in pretty riverine woodland, as well as day and night safari drives.
Chindeni Bushcamp is a very modern and minimalist camp, which is a far cry from your traditional bushcamp and unlike most of the other camps in South Luangwa.
Three Rivers Camp
In the remote far south of South Luangwa National Park, Three Rivers Lodge sits at the confluence of three of the valleys rivers.
Kawaza Village – beside the South Luangwa National Park, offers guests the rare opportunity to appreciate local village life. Visit for a few hours or stay overnight.
With your own expert guide, private vehicle, chef and valet, the two-bedroom Robin's House offers an exclusive, flexible safari experience – and is open year round.
Island Bush Camp
Island Bushcamp is a good-value, rustic, walking-only camp, in arguably one of the most remote parts of the South Luangwa, well away from all other camps.
The Mwamba-Camp Out allows you to have an incredibly adventurous night in the bush, sleeping under mosquito nets with activities led by some of the best guides in Zambia.
A comfortable little bushcamp, Chamilandu has a picturesque setting by the Luangwa River, in an area with a range of habitats to explore on foot and by 4WD.
Zungulila is a small, comfortable tented bushcamp with an emphasis on walking safaris, in the remote southern section of the South Luangwa.
Currently undergoing renovations, Chichele Presidential Lodge stands high within the park, with superb views, and is due to reopen in late 2022.
Luwi Riverbed Sleepout
For an adventurous night in South Luangwa National Park, come and sleep out in the bush, around a campfire, with an experienced guide and game scout.
Opened in June 2021, Shawa Luangwa Camp is a small, intimate and rustic camp, with a good location in a remote section of the South Luangwa National Park.
Mapazi Camp is a basic safari camp in the far north of the South Luangwa, with walking safaris led by renowned guide Deb Tittle.
Chikunto Safari Lodge is a more traditional property in the South Luangwa National Park, sitting on a peninsula of land created by the meandering Luangwa River.