Lion camp is isolated in a game-rich area of the South Luangwa.
Lion Camp: Our full report
Lion Camp is located in the remote north of South Luangwa National Park, close to the incredibly game-rich Lion Plain, and a three-hour drive through the park from Mfuwe Airport. Comfortable and well appointed, it overlooks a plain on the edge of an oxbow lagoon, or wafwa, which is a real magnet for game all year round.
Lion Camp's location in the park is well away from the main Mfuwe area, so visitors see relatively few other game-viewing vehicles when out on drives. Game densities immediately around the camp are excellent, with the Hollywood lion pride its most renowned local residents.
Plenty of animals are drawn to the lagoon in front of camp as well – so even during siesta you can watch out for wildlife. In one lunchtime when we were last here, in September 2014, we saw elephants, impala, zebra, warthog, puku, bushbuck and a lovely herd of kudu come down to drink here.
At the heart of Lion Camp is a big thatched main building with polished wooden floors and, in the centre, a large recessed firepit surrounded by chairs. Brightly covered fabrics adorn the wooden chairs and sofas, which are grouped in separate seating areas overlooking a long narrow swimming pool (a real rarity in South Luangwa) with sunloungers, and the open plain beyond. An extensive welcoming bar sits to one side, and adjacent is the dining area, dominated by a long dining table; there's even a billiards room! A library and a very good shop complete the picture.
Two-metre-high wooden walkways link the main area to nine solidly built chalets, themselves raised on wooden platforms, leaving the ground free for game to wander through. With high thatched roofs, wooden frames and canvas walls, the chalets are spacious, light and airy. Each has lovely views over the plain, and glazed double doors that open out onto a private deck with a couple of wooden chairs – a great spot to do some game viewing.
Inside, double or twin beds are draped in mosquito nets and covered with brightly coloured African fabrics, and an extra bed can be added if required. Each room also has a standing fan as well as a couple of easy chairs and a wardrobe.
Separated from the bedroom by a floor-to-ceiling wooden partition is the bathroom. The basin, shower and toilet each have separate cubicles, but with wood-panelled walls and a small window it all feels rather dark, especially when compared to the bright and breezy bedroom areas.
Safari activities at Lion Camp include a choice of walking safaris, 4WD game safaris and night drives. Typically there are two activities per day, each lasting around 3–4 hours and led by a fully qualified guide, and for each you'll have a choice of what you do. As with all of the Luangwa's camps, all walking safaris are accompanied by an armed scout, as well as your guide.
On our last visit we thought the guiding at Lion Camp was very good, and the guides were experienced and knowledgeable. On previous visits we had experienced guiding that focused too much on big game, missing out some of the finer nuances of the bush and its wildlife, but we saw no evidence of that during our time here in 2014.
Our viewLion Camp's facilities are impressive, with an attractive and well designed main area featuring the significant luxury of a swimming pool. Its food and service were also very good, and the chalets comfortable, albeit a little less 'safari' than some purists might like. Whilst the larger size of the camp and its infrastructure might not appeal to those looking for a simple bush experience, Lion Camp is excellent value compared with its neighbours for this comparatively remote northern area of the park, especially during the peak season.
Ideal length of stay: 3 – 4 nights
Directions: Lion Camp is about a three-hour drive from Mfuwe Airport, through South Luangwa National Park.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Privately owned.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: We have always enjoyed good food when visiting Lion Camp – and our most recent stop was no exception.
Typically, a continental breakfast is served before the early-morning activity. This normally consists of a selection of cereal, fruit, yoghurt, porridge and toast, with coffee and tea.
There’s a buffet brunch at around 11.00am when everyone has arrived back in camp after their morning activity. You can expect a selection of warm food as well as salads, such as chicken peri-peri kebabs, veggie burgers, butternut and tomato gratin, Greek salad, bok choi and apple slaw, all served with freshly made bread. A light dessert generally follows this.
Afternoon tea, before guests head out on their afternoon activity, comprises something sweet and savoury, served with tea, coffee or homemade iced tea.
On returning from the evening game drive there are canapés around the bar, followed by a three-course plated dinner. A typical meal could be a starter of Thai fishcakes with mango and onion salsa, lentil soup or spring rolls, followed by something like a fillet steak served with mushrooms and potatoes, or perhaps with cauliflower cheese. We also had a really tasty Thai chicken curry. This is then finished off with a dessert, such as sticky toffee pudding, chocolate and vanilla cream trifle, or apple and berry pie with custard.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included in the rates, but note that fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs are charged as extras.
Further dining info: No
Attitude towards children: Lion Camp welcomes children of seven years and older, but a private vehicle must be booked for families travelling with children aged 7–12.
Property’s age restrictions: Children of seven years and older are welcome.
Special activities & services: None
Equipment: None, but an extra bed can be put in the chalets for a child sharing with parents.
Generally recommended for children: No - this is a remote bushcamp and we feel that it is only suited to older, sensible children. We recommend this camp for well-behaved children of 7 years and older.
Notes: Children will need to be constantly supervised by their parents as the camp is not fenced and game wanders freely throughout.
Communications: There is a phone in the office which may be used by guests in an emergency. There is no cellphone reception or WiFi here.
TV & radio: No
Water supply: Borehole
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a doctor based at Mfuwe Lodge, about three hours' drive away. Lion Camp has links to a flying-doctor service for medical emergencies.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There is a night porter on duty.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the main area, the chalets and on board the game-drive vehicles.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A complimentary laundry service is included.
Money: There is no currency exchange available.
Accepted payment on location: Lion Camp accepts Zambian kwacha or US dollars cash as payment, but guests are welcome to tip in other foreign currencies. Cards are not accepted.