Luangwa Safari House: Our full report
Originality and luxury come to mind when describing the grand Luangwa Safari House.With the Chindeni Hills as a backdrop, this four-bedroomed house sits within a game management area on the edge of a lagoon, overlooking the South Luangwa National Park. It is only booked by one group at a time, making it an exclusive safari retreat for a small group of friends, or a large or extended family with older children.
Owned and run by Robin Pope Safaris, Luangwa House is barely five minutes’ drive from its sister camps, Nkwali and Robin's House. Luangwa Safari House was designed by Neil Rocher, who also designed the flowing curves of Chongwe River House, and clearly part of the brief was to make a house where, during the day, you didn’t feel enclosed. Thus lots of the walls open up completely – to leave bedrooms and a main area which are almost entirely open on one side.
Built with stone walls and a thatched roof, Luangwa Safari House is entered through an enormous, sturdy door at the back. This opens into the atrium-style dining and lounge areas. Large sofas scattered with colourful cushions look very inviting, but when we last visited in June 2017, it was the expansive view that drew us through the lounge to the open deck in front, where we just had to stop and admire the elephants, puku and warthogs scattered around the almost-dry lagoon. There is a small pool, and a shaded wooden walkway leads to a small deck that extends further out to the lagoon. A hide, cleverly created from a shipping container and sunk into the ground, allows you incredible views of the elephants visiting the water.
The four bedrooms at Luangwa Safari House lead directly off the lounge, with two on the ground floor and the others reached by a pair of interior staircases that hug the back wall. The handrail is against the wall, so if you’re a little nervous of heights, we suggest you choose a ground-floor room. The rooms are big and we think they feel even more spacious because each has direct access to its own private veranda. All are quite open to the front, but the ground-floor rooms have canvas blinds that are rolled down in the evenings. Inside, each has either a king-size or twin beds in the middle of the room, under a mosquito net that is lowered in the evenings. Otherwise, they’re fairly simply furnished with a couple of benches at the end of the beds, a chair or two, and staggered wooden shelves built into one of the inner walls. They all have a large en-suite bathroom with a flushing toilet, twin handbasins and shower. One of the rooms also has a bathtub.
Like Robin’s House, Luangwa Safari House is fully self-contained and staffed, including a private guide and game-viewing vehicle. Here you have a choice of short walking safaris, 4WD game safaris and night drives in an area of the South Luangwa that is rich with wildlife. With your own expert safari guide and 4WD, you can set your own schedule: get up when you want, eat when it suits you – and enjoy your safari activities for as long, or as short, as you like.
This flexibility is particularly well-suited to family safaris with children, but often works very well for a group of friends who are travelling together. All walking safaris are accompanied by an armed scout, as well as a fully qualified RPS guide.
If you're planning a family safari or travelling as a small group of friends, then you might also consider including a trip to Zambia's other 'houses' which have been designed with this in mind, such as Chongwe River House in the Lower Zambezi National Park and Tangala House in Livingstone. For something completely different, families can have the old stately home at Shiwa Ng'andu largely to themselves – and a whole range of activities from game drives and horse-riding to archaeology projects is possible there!
Luangwa Safari House is luxurious and original in its design. Robin Pope Safaris has a team dedicated to each individual family or group staying here, and aims to adapt the daily schedule to meet the interests and needs of their guests. The design of the house means that it’s not suited to very young children, but we think it works well for a group of friends or a family with older children looking for exclusivity, flexibility and great guiding in a game-rich area of the South Luangwa.
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Ideal length of stay
- Groups and families often stay at Luangwa Safari House for a week or two at a time. It’s possible to stay for a shorter period, but we’d recommend a minimum of three or four nights. It is often booked up well in advance, though, especially during school holiday periods, so we recommend you book as far ahead as you can.
- After just over an hour’s flight from Lusaka, guests are met at Mfuwe Airport for a 40-minute drive through Mfuwe Village and a game management area to Luangwa Safari House.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Although we’ve visited Luangwa Safari House many times over the years, we haven’t travelled as part of a family or a group, so we haven’t had a chance to sample the food. But if its sister camps (Nkwali, Nsefu Camp and Tena Tena) are anything to go by, we would rate the food really highly.
Meals will generally follow the format of most safari camps, with a light breakfast being served before the morning activity and brunch after your return from your morning’s adventure. Save space for afternoon tea and then dinner is served on return from the evening game drive.
However, because Luangwa Safari House is booked out solely by you, meals and mealtimes can be tailored to suit your requirements.
- Family holidays
- Luangwa Safari House was purpose-built for families, with a vast central lounge and dining area, four large en-suite bedrooms (all with full, en-suite bathrooms), a kitchen and plenty of space. Outside is a swimming pool and a game-viewing platform.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Luangwa Safari House makes a very good stop for keen birdwatchers. The safari guides at Luangwa Safari House are knowledgeable birders and the house stands in a lovely location surrounded by tall old trees, with great views across a lagoon to the hills beyond.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Wildlife safaris
- Luangwa Safari House comes with a private 4WD safari vehicle and an expert guide. With night drives and some off-road driving also allowed in the park, Luangwa Safari House offers a really superb wildlife safari experience in one of the best areas of the South Luangwa.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Private villas & houses
- The Luangwa Safari House is a very luxurious and stylish private house in Zambia’s South Luangwa that was designed to accommodate families and groups of up to eight people. With its own pool and staff, it is a great base for an exclusive safari holiday.
- See ideas for Private villas & houses
- The Luangwa Safari House’s four unique bedrooms all lead off a striking open-sided lounge, which itself opens onto a private pool and waterhole deck. It’s all splendid, but the real luxury here is uninterrupted time with your family or friends, and complete control over what you do and when you do it.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Children over the age of seven years are warmly welcomed
- Property’s age restrictions
- Luangwa Safari House has a minimum age restriction of seven years. It’s worth noting that children under the age of 12 years are not allowed to walk in South Luangwa National Park. However, it may be possible to arrange shorter walks – always at the discretion of the manager and guide – within the vicinity of Luangwa Safari House, because it is just outside the park.
- Special activities & services
- The house is always booked exclusively for one group of friends or family at a time, so safari activities are flexible, as are mealtimes and menus; the chef will be happy to take into account the likes and dislikes of children. If children prefer to stay behind when parents are out on an activity, the host or hostess will arrange activities for them at the house, perhaps baking cookies with the chef, playing board games or trying their hand at arts and crafts. They can also arrange a visit to the Kawaza Village. Note, though, that none of the team is professionally trained in childminding.
- No special equipment such as cots or highchairs are provided.
- Generally recommended for children
- Luangwa Safari House is in an area with plenty of wildlife in close proximity, and the house has steep stairs and drops, with an unfenced pool. However, we think it is a great option for mature children who understand the dangers that being here might present if they don’t follow the rules, and who love nature and want to learn more about wildlife.
- Luangwa Safari House is unfenced and dangerous wildlife can wander by at any time. The pool is also unfenced and the camp is open to the river, complete with crocodiles and hippos. There are steep staircases and steep drops to the ground, so children must be under the supervision of their parents at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Luangwa Safari House
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Luangwa Safari House 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
- Three-pin square plug points are provided in the house. Adaptors are usually available on request.
- There is usually cellphone reception at Luangwa Safari House. WiFi, however, is unreliable and doesn’t always work. In an emergency, it is possible to arrange to use the internet at Nkwali’s office, which is about five minutes’ drive away.
- TV & radio
- There is no television or radio at Luangwa Safari House.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Tap water is from a borehole and we are advised by Robin Pope Safaris that it is safe for drinking. However, for those who prefer it, bottled water is also available. The house has flushing toilets, as well as hot and cold running water for the handbasins and showers.
Employment and training opportunities for locals
Built of twenty-five enormous leadwood poles, Luangwa Safari House is a true example of prowess and elegancy. More than a workplace, the guest house has become a second home for the team working here, who pour passion into everything they do, with a strong belief that this is the key to success and earning their guests’ hearts. The reason behind this is the comprehensive personnel policy that the Luangwa Safari House is committed to.
Employees are mainly from local communities, receive training on-the-job and benefit from a series of incentives that make their job more rewarding.
One of the first rules in place is fair wages. The staff at Luangwa Safari House receive a fair and competitive wage and are assisted in opening bank accounts, for savings and to take out health insurance.
On a similar note, a training and promotion scheme was implemented to motivate employees. As a reward, those who show high commitment and potential to reach senior management are sponsored to continue their studies.
In Zambia, a sensitive yet common topic regarding healthcare is HIV/AIDS. In an attempt to raise awareness, members of staff are offered free-of-charge counselling and testing as well as on-going healthcare. Transport to health clinics and extra costs are also covered by Robin Pope Safaris.
See more great sustainability projects in Zambia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The guide at Luangwa Safari House is trained in first aid and there is a doctor based at a camp just a short drive from away. In a medical emergency you would be evacuated by air to Lusaka.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Guests are advised not to leave the house at night, but should there be a need to, you would be escorted by a member of the staff.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers at Luangwa Safari House.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is included.
- Luangwa Safari House does not provide a currency-exchange service. There are safes in the rooms.
- Accepted payment on location
- Any extras can be paid in cash (Zambian kwacha, US dollars, euros or British pounds) or by Visa credit card.
Other lodges in South Luangwa National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.