Reviews of Lion Camp
Wildlife sightings and reviews
25 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
"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
"What a view!"
Simon our guide was incredible. He was so knowledgeable about every aspect of the Park and showed great patience with all our questions. We were lucky to have amazing sightings of lions and leopards, including watching a leopard eat an impala in a tree, whilst being circled below by hyenas. The amount of game we saw far exceeded our expectations.
The staff were all helpful, friendly and polite and the meals were superb. We would thoroughly recommend having dinner on your own veranda - it is a unique experience.
Our only negative comment would be that the management did not seem to want to spend time with the guests. Loraine was helpful but we did not meet any other member of the management team and only found out that Emma was not a guest when she wore a badge on our last day. She did not speak to us at all." See all these reviews: 7n in Zambia
"Thank you for taking the time to complete the feedback, we value it as it helps us to improve.
Getting the balance right between ensuring the lodge runs smoothly and spending time with guests is not always easy, especially during peak season. I apologise for not introducing myself as the GM, but I do remember having a conversation with you. I am delighted that you rated your stay as excellent. I also want to mention that as a company we are committed to mentoring and promoting our Zambian employees, and I'm sorry that it wasn't clear that Oscar is part of our management team."
"They don't call it Lion Camp for nothing!"
Again, it is a camp in a lovely position overlooking a small river/stream with lots of animals coming down to drink there . We also saw the Hollywood pride a little further off under a tree and generally mooching around. One female had cubs hidden away somewhere and we saw her walking between them and the rest of the pride early mornings.
There was a film crew there at the time and also a couple of fairly serious photography groups- so it's obviously a place that they know they can reliably see lions and leopards -which are sadly becoming harder to see everywhere.
The vehicles they use weren't my favourite as they have three bench seats which are a bit hard especially when going over rough terrain. The front row was OK but the other rows have a spare wheel on the floor which gets in the way a bit . No roof
Wake up call 5:30 , coffee, gloopy porridge, toast available, then leave 6am
Back by 10
Brunch at 11:15
Tea at 3:30
Out at 4
Stop for sundowners at 6
Night drive from 6:30 to 7:30
I like the early starts , but it might have been nice to have a packed breakfast during the game drive instead,as I wasn't that keen on the breakfast provided in camp. Generally just had coffee. Food at lunch and dinner was great however.
The camp itself was lovely , but they are having quite a revamp next year and they are hoping to build another property too ( not sure exactly where - they did tell me and I'm afraid I've forgotten)
The rooms are nice but they are all wood and very dark inside. Of course this might change.
I couldn't resist making suggestions for the refurbishment to Emma , the manager. ( I don't think she minded :) )
In my opinion they should open up the front of the rooms completely ( a la Mchenja) to bring in light and also give more room in the bathroom area as we found sharing one small washbasin and mirror was a tight squeeze when you're in a hurry to get out for your early game drive.
The raised walkways are useful as you don't need any escort between buildings.
We had great game viewings - and the guides were very knowledgeable.
Our guide was really excellent - I think his name was Simon ? Apologies if incorrect - I should have written this review sooner or made notes. Anyway, he had just moved from Mchenja and John ( our previous guide at Mchenja) had got his old job ! Small world.
We also had an elephant visit us in camp . He walked through some short trees and shrubs to eat something he liked and knocked over the poles around the parking area. Apparently, they used to nail them in place, but he knocks them off so frequently that they now just have them laid in place on cradles.It was very exciting to come face to face , eye to eye, -( thanks to raised walkways)
with an elephant. Believe me , they look quite different than when you're in a vehicle.
I think the manager Emma ( ably assisted by Lorraine) run a lovely camp.
It was a bit bigger than our first two camps and we did feel a bit awkward on our first evening when everyone else seemed to be laughing and having a great time at the bar and we knew nobody. But by the next night - it was us laughing and having a great time at the bar with everyone. it just takes a bit longer to get to know a larger group of oeople.
We got to speak to Emma later on, but it might have been nice to have either her or Lorraine to welcome newcomers and help break the ice a bit. We were met by Oscar on arrival and I wasn't sure if he was the manager or our guide or what.
Anyway, by the time we were leaving we felt like old friends and had tears in our eyes as we waved goodbye.
The lodge is really charming and has a nice shop, a library area that is a quiet zone to sit and read or borrow a book.
There was always somebody around to provide cool drinks throughout the day - and a great pool to cool off in while watching the animals by the river.
All in all, we can't wait to return to Lion Camp.!" See all these reviews: 11n in Zambia
"Awesome photography guide"
He also caught on we were interested in birds, and spent plenty of time on bird identification. In general at Lion Camp I was also impressed with their prompt early starts in the mornings - great for photography. We had some wonderful sightings of lions and leopards, but also spent time with elephants and buffalo, and even caught a couple of honey badgers in daylight..
The only downside to Lion Camp has always been its more built up style compared to Zambia's more rustic bush camps, so I was very excited to hear about their plans for a bush camp which, if they get it right, should provide a perfect counterbalance to the style of the main camp. And come October I bet even the most hardcore bush enthusiast will secretly appreciate the guilty pleasures of an electric fan and a dip in a swimming pool............." See all these reviews: 14n in Zambia
"Return to Lion Camp"
Very few other vehicles on the tracks. As we visited Lion Camp 5 years previously, we had great expectations and were not disappointed.
Food excellent. Breakfast is taken round the fire in the centre of the lodge and well organised." See all these reviews: 11n in Zambia
"Big Bang for your Buck!"
Location: It doesn't get any better than this! Lion Camp is located in the quiet, game-rich northern sector of the park, close to the aptly-named Lion Plain. The biggest variety and highest densities of game in the park are found here, along with very few other vehicles as it is quite remote -- what's not to love about that? The only small issue is that Lion Camp is not located on the river itself.
The rooms at Lion Camp are fine, and certainly comfortable, but not exceptional. They are small wood-and-canvas cabins built on stilts, and don't really bring Africa to mind. They feature balconies that overlook the camp waterhole and the plain beyond, so it is possible to view a wide variety of game directly from your room. One issue: The large, oversized chairs in psychadelic shades of lime green, orange and blue are absolutely hideous eyesores and should go....
Service at Lion Camp was friendly, efficient and impeccable.
The food at Lion Camp was outstanding! The buffet lunches featured a great variety of fresh, innovative offerings to satisfy all tastes, and the plated dinners were well above average. Excellent selection of beverages on offer, as well.
Once again, I stuck with game drives for all of my activities. There were four of us in the vehicle for the first couple of days, then three. Our guide, Andrew, was excellent. In addition to being extremely knowledgeable, he is a kind man with an infectious, happy personality and a good sense of humor.
The facilities feature almost everything one could want in a lodge. I would suggest, though, that if you are going to advertise wifi service to your guests (and I think that camps should, where it is possible), it be of better quality than Lion Camp offers.
Finally, my only caveat about Lion Camp: It is a relatively large camp (9 rooms) for this part of the South Luangwa park. When full, it is a bit busier than I would prefer. So one must weigh the value of a smaller, more intimate camp versus the low price that Lion Camp offers." See all these reviews: 16n in Zambia
"Great Safari at Lion Camp"
"Wonderful big game at Lion Camp"
The staff did everything to make our stay enjoyable & comfortable & the meals were excellent. However, we found that having both lunch & dinner communally was a little bit too regimented. We felt that having just one meal together would have been fine.
The Guides were some of the best that we have had in all our Southern African trips. The Walking & Night Safaris were simply superb & the best that we have experienced." See all these reviews: 8n in Zambia; 5n in South Africa
"Many thanks for your feedback, we are glad you enjoyed your stay. I'm sorry that private dining wasn't mentioned as an option during your welcome briefing. It could have been arranged easily in the evenings."
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