Reviews of Lion Camp
Wildlife sightings and reviews
22 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Lion Camp and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"Leopardmania around Lion Camp"
The area is very rich in wildlife. The amount of leopards and lions is hard to beat anywhere else in Africa. Lion cubs were a regular sighting and even a leopard cub on one occasion, allowing me to spend an hour with no other car. Very exclusive encounter indeed. Very laudable are the walks. Truly enjoyed walking, learnt lots about animal tracks and animal behavior: it definitely activated all my senses and I must have been the most skittish creature in the bush. During the night drives I also encountered plenty of leopards, lions, porcupines etc.
Great food, great accommodation, great scenery, great people and a quasi-guaranteed sighting of leopards and lions...not much more to ask for. Looking forward to returning one day." See all these reviews: 7n in Zambia
"Lovely Lion Camp"
Wayne and Vicky are doing an absolutely first class job of running this lodge. Lion Camp pays attention to detail - the Boma dinner was a lovely experience.
The game drives were wonderful - we had Thomas, assisted by Max. We had our own vehicle for our family of four. Thomas selected some amazing places for sundowners!" See all these reviews: 7n in Zambia
"Great game/setting; customer care needs work"
On our arrival, we were directed to the lunch "buffet," which was one dish and one salad that looked pathetic on the table. Optimistically, we thought, well, we’re at the end of lunch, so maybe other dishes ran out. Nope. We would learn that each meal had only one option. No “seconds” are offered. Our vegan companion had one particularly dreadful meal: basically all veggies, which is not enough fuel without protein. She asked for more to eat and Vicky returned from the kitchen to say there wasn't any more, and walked away without attempting any solution. We couldn't believe it. About 15-20 minutes later, they did bring out more food. But the encounter left a very bitter taste.
Vicky told us they work hard to avoid waste (which we applaud) and guests like her smaller portions; now she knows Laura needs more to eat. And indeed, Laura was provided with a double helping of quiche the next day. But on at least one day, they simply put out the same breakfast dish at lunch. What is promoted as around the clock coffee and tea is two thermal flasks of hot water and instant coffee and tea bags. I will say that the boma meal was great for three of the five of us, and the desserts were always excellent.
The staff was nice but passive, ineffective and inconsistent. For example, they didn’t always offer each person coffee at breakfast. Our friends did not have shampoo in their room upon arrival. When they asked Oscar, the head guy, he called housekeeping, then told them the shampoo was in their room. Which it wasn’t. It was a wasted 10 minutes or so questioning the guest instead of simply providing them with shampoo. In contrast, the bartenders were very good.
The room was comfortable and modern, with good lighting by the bed, and an attached sitting area. Surprisingly, there were no drawers or shelves, though the bathroom had lots of counter space. The deck was great, with a view to the river with hippos and elephants and more. But just a year after refurbish and our room had a very sticky door to the deck; the shower splashed all over the room beyond the small wooden frame; the toilet flush was sticky; the safe did not work electronically.
Their washer had a problem so they were reluctant to take our laundry but I insisted. “Just put it in a pile by the toilet,” Oscar said. Later we were told there was no washer problem—yet both Oscar and Dottie spoke about it (Dottie attempted to explain the problem!), discouraging laundry.
We really liked being able to come and go without a guide on the raised platform although we had a close encounter with an elephant in camp that was a little precarious. The pool at the lodge looked in need of cleaning but the view to the creatures at the river and bank was great. Lion Camp says they have WiFi everywhere, but it seems to be overstretched, resulting in poor service throughout the camp.
We met at 5:30 for coffee/tea, oatmeal and muffins before leaving at 6. Upon our return breakfast was offered with one entrée. Lunch was a “buffet” of one entrée and one salad. Dinner was plated with one entrée (except for one boma night). Sundowners were fine, with real glasses.
Our guide, Meyam, was very good. He worked hard for us, drove well, and was very knowledgeable if a little too serious. We had excellent game viewing, including being the only jeep to watch a mom leopard play with her cub for about 30 minutes, and sitting with a pride of lions as they patiently prepped for a hunt, which was unsuccessful.
On our last night, Meyam asked what time we would like breakfast before departing at 7. We said 6:15. The morning of departure, there was no breakfast. When I asked, they pointed to the usual minimal continental items! After I grumbled to Meyam and Oscar, we were served eggs and bacon around 6:40. It seemed clear to us they had no intention of providing a real breakfast for our departure.
In conclusion: We loved the game and the setting but were quite disappointed by the customer care." See all these reviews: 6n in Zambia; 4n in Botswana; 3n in Zimbabwe
We contacted the camp regarding their feedback on the meals in general and on vegan dishes for one of the party. Vicky, who is responsible for meal planning and overseeing the kitchen, advised that she met with these guests upon arrival to talk over the requests passed on by Expert Africa prior to their stay. She described that as a rule the camp team offer a lot of fresh salads, vegetables and vegetarian soups and that they prepared a special vegan dish with every meal. Their lunch meal typically includes one main dish, a fresh salad and a baked item each day. It is designed to be a light meal as it is served only a few hours after brunch – a full breakfast served after the morning game drive. Whilst this would work well for guests already at the camp who were well fed mid-morning, we can understand why it might seem insufficient for new arrivals where lunch is their first meal at the camp.
Vicky is very apologetic over these guests experience. She would have liked to have understood the group’s needs better during her initial conversation with them, and she has learnt from this experience. She notes that after the initial issue, the offerings were adjusted to try and better fulfil the guests’ requests, and she regularly checked with them to make sure everything was satisfactory.
Vicky also apologised that two of the guests didn’t get shampoo in their room when they asked. She explained that the rooms are serviced daily and items checked and replenished where needed. If guests use up items quicker and require them to be replenished more than once a day that can certainly be requested. She asked us to pass on her thanks to these guests for bringing their experience to her attention and noted she will be certain to check more regularly and closely on their room servicing.
She clarified that Lion Camp’s washing machine was not broken and explained that when guests check in to Lion Camp they are advised of water and electricity limitations, but Vicky assures us they never refuse laundry. Lion Camp, like many of Africa’s safari camps, is a remote, totally self-sufficient camp with purified borehole water and solar electricity supplied via batteries. They offer round the clock electricity, hair dryers, charging points and evening breeze cooling in the rooms – all of which use a lot of electricity. To enable them to control their usage they have to be careful with application of equipment on an hourly basis, including the use of their washing machines. For this reason they ask guests to put together a limited amount of items to be laundered each day. Vicky is very sorry if this message was miscommunicated and misunderstood. She says there was certainly no reluctance to assist with laundry on their part.
Vicky did note that there was one further unfortunate incident over meals whereby their guide joined the group for dinner on their last night. During the meal early morning breakfast requirements were discussed, but the guide forgot to share the details with the kitchen team. Luckily they begin their day early and as soon as the guests asked about their breakfast a plan was made. However, Lion Camp is sorry that the guests were put in a situation where they had to repeat their requests.
Lion Camp was especially recommended to these guests as their key focus for their safari was wildlife viewing, especially of predators, and that is what this area of South Luangwa National Park offers. So it was wonderful to hear that they had the special experiences of spending time watching a leopard play with her cub and a pride of lions attempt a hunt.
"Lion Camp was just perfect"
Every day a new variation on the menu that was perfectly prepared." See all these reviews: 8n in Zambia
"Lovely Lion Camp"
Management did make every effort to make our stay comfortable and accommodating - and that is much appreciated! There had been a fire in the staff quarters a couple of days before our stay and yet the staff continued to provide great service
We were less than impressed with the management's professionalism. On a couple of occasions, the manager yelled at a staff a member in front of the guests. It made me feel very uncomfortable. It seems there is some tension between the staff and management - and that is not something guests should be able to easily observe.
We felt our guide was a bit distracted and not very enthusiastic compared to other guides we had." See all these reviews: 11n in Zambia
"Lion Camp review"
Wayne and Vicky are great hosts. Food exceptionally good.
We mainly had Maiyam as our guide who is very knowledgable. Also had Simon and Thomas - both very good." See all these reviews: 6n in Zambia
"Lion Camp review"
"Under new management"
The new activity/meal schedule is not to my taste- coming back from the morning game drive at 9:30am for a 10am breakfast, then having lunch at 2:30pm, with standard afternoon game drive time being 4pm. Lunch has been moved even later from the 2pm it was in June, meaning the earliest you could realistically get out in the afternoon was 3:30pm, which we did just to scrape a little extra game viewing time, but it was still a rush. This schedule made for an incredibly long down time just sitting around camp. In contrast, at our next camp we were out at 6:15 every morning, and not back until 11:30 or 12 for lunch at 12:30, then out again at 3:30pm after tea at 3:15pm.
They have also abandoned communal dining in favour of separate tables for each game viewing vehicle (or completely separate for each party at dinner it seemed). Mixing with other guests is something I really enjoy at safari camps, and I much prefer the atmosphere at camps where dining is family style. I was with my parents for this part of the trip, but I certainly would not enjoy this new arrangement if travelling solo as I often do.
Lion Camp food was always exceptional, and with the extra training the chefs have had I was expecting to be blown away. In fact, the food was disappointing and not up to the standard of the old Lion Camp. Breakfast was simply cereals, toast, fruit, and one hot dish (no choice). Lunch had no choice either- on the first day there was one dish of lasagne and one bowl of green salad, followed by a dessert. This is compared to the old Lion Camp brunches which had a wide choice of different salads and meat/fish dishes. Dinners were OK but unimaginative compared to the previous Lion Camp menu which had the chefs making fresh pasta starters or interesting salads for starters. Tea no longer featured in the schedule- the old Lion Camp teas were also a well thought out and beautifully executed sweet and savoury option as well as a different home made cold drink (eg lemonade with ginger or rooibos iced tea with cranberry). Despite the attempts made to create an air of luxury in the rooms with fancy toiletries and bed linen, for me the new menu felt like cost cutting compared to the Lion Camp of old. In contrast, the wines were better quality than the old choices.
On the plus side, the rooms are a vast improvement on the old ones (good as you spend so much time in them), although they have some strange features such as precarious steps in odd places and a shower that automatically runs cold after about 5 mins- some sort of safety feature apparently, but I had to restart my shower twice during one shower. They also don't automatically roll the mesh front of the tents up during the day. One of the features of the rooms is the view, and as the decks are in full sun, it's not appealing to sit outside in the day. If the mesh is rolled up you can enjoy the view from the sofa in the shade, but this is fiddly to do yourself. I asked for this to be done in my room, which it was, but they should do this automatically in all the rooms (my parents had to try and do it themselves).
The main area has been opened out, but I personally found the new decor a bit bland compared to the old bright colour scheme.
Overall, the feel of the place is now more like a soulless luxury hotel in the bush. It lacks the warm, inclusive and sociable atmosphere of a safari camp. I can see that the owners are attempting to create a more upmarket camp, but it is possible to do this without losing the safari camp feel.
Sadly, I very much doubt I'll be returning to Lion Camp. The best thing about our stay was the excellent guiding by Meyam but even that is not enough to make me want to return. The game viewing in the area is superb, but there are other camps in the same area which I think will suit me better." See all these reviews: 15n in Zambia
"Refurbished Lion Camp "
Although the comfort and facilities in our room were greatly improved, there were 2 dangerous trip hazards from changes in levels especially the substantial step down to the seating area. It was not clear that some of the light switches were slow start dimmer switches and we were not informed that the hot water on the shower was on a timer (about 5 minutes?) and would suddenly cut out. You then had to wait 30 seconds before restarting. We were told this was a "safety feature" - or was this an economy measure?
The camp/rooms have lost most of their colourful character which has been replaced by anodyne corporate hotel decor including PLASTIC plants.
The new food regime with breakfast at 10 am, lunch at 2.30pm, NO afternoon tea then afternoon game drive spoiled the safari experience. Food was mediocre compared to previously with no choice at lunch. The change from communal dining to separate tables is not in the spirit of safari.
However the game viewing, location and guiding were excellent as ever.
We understand that next year's room rates will be rising substantially." See all these reviews: 13n in Zambia
"Lion Camp review"
Game drives were in vehicles with three rows of seats and on 2 of our 3 days there were six of us game viewing. This wouldn’t have been a problem if 2 of the passengers had followed protocol by not talking constantly. There was definitely a bias towards seeking lions and we had some excellent viewings, including part of the Hollywood pride trapping a leopard up a tree. We later watched it make a sneaky escape when the lions were dozing! Possibly the same leopard at the top of a tree waiting to catch guinea fowl as they came in to roost, while we enjoyed sundowners (she was successful on two separate occasions)." See all these reviews: 15n in Zambia
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