Reviews of Nkwali
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
great start to an unforgettable experience
Nkwali is in a beautiful position on the bank of the river. Our accommodation was such a surprise-a huge beautifully made bed in the centre of a thatched "hut" situated well away from neighbouring "huts". The open front had views onto the river. At night the bedroom was prepared with mosquito nets to keep us insect free. The open, but completely private, bathroom/double wash basins and toilet were at the back. We were advised to keep colourful items such as toothpaste/pills out of sight of baboons-good advice as it happened. We had one invasion but no damage done.
Staff at the camp were without exception friendly and helpful.
Because animals can stray into the camp we were escorted from our accommodation to the dining and bar areas during the hours of darkness. Expect some unfamiliar noises at night! Hippos snort outside your window, lions roar and geese gabble.
Breakfast was served on the river bank (very early!) so that we could get out on game drives before 6.30. The other meals were served in the open where we sat at a long table. Pre lunch and dinner drinks were served at the bar.These arrangement made for a very sociable atmosphere which was well managed by the bar staff and manager.
Great introduction to the South Luangwa
Nkwali was a perfect introduction to the Zambian bush.
The camp is beautifully located on the banks of the river, with excellent viewing of wildlife from the main buildings and the rooms. The open fronted rooms gave us an intimate connection with the bush and the wildlife, but security at night was provided by the gates installed across the front each night. The rooms were very comfortable and stylish, as were the main guest areas.
The staff were very welcoming and the guiding exemplary.
This was a really good start of the break for us
In hind sight we should have had three nights here and not two
Return to Nkwali
We had a wonderful welcome from Kiki and the team at Nkwali on this, our fifth visit. The camp has a superb location on the east bank of the Luangwa river.
The view across the river from the open-fronted chalets is splendid. Quick and easy access to the more remote parts of the National Park is assured by boat, pontoon, or simply driving across the river when the level is low enough, as it is at this time of year.
We enjoyed excellent game viewing, with five leopard sitings on one of the days.
Love Robin Pope
This was my second stay at a Robin Pope camp (I was at Tena Tena in 2014), and I loved the same things about Nkwali that impressed me at Tena Tena. Their guides are super keen, the starts are good and early in the morning and the whole experience is very safari focused. Their vehicles are great, seating a maximum of four and with no canopy. We had Kiki as our guide who I know is one of their most experienced, and he even suggested leaving a bit early on a couple of afternoons to give us the best possible chance of catching certain sightings. Through extreme patience we managed to catch wild dogs on the first morning drive, a sighting which has eluded me despite much time spent in the park. And then leopard cub(s) twice!!
The camp is lovely. The open fronted rooms are stunning, and I loved the amount of wildlife that could be seen around the camp. On our first afternoon there were lions and at one point a hyena on the riverbank opposite, then at various times during the day I had banded mongooses, bushbuck and baboons almost stepping inside my room.
Overall, Robin Pope continue to impress me massively and together with their "no single supplement" policy this makes them a firm favourite for repeat visits.
Great safari at Nkwali
The amenities were much more spacious than expected. The bar and rooms had views over the river with many comings and goings of animals on the opposite bank.
The dining area and pool overlooked a small lagoon which was visited by many birds and animals. Bush buck and a large group of mongooses were frequently seen together with herons and ibis. Our guide, Kiki, went to great lengths to find wild dogs and leopards.
The use of a boat to cross the river into the park gave us a head start in the mornings.
Good lodge and good location to be able to get across the river.
Good game reviews.
Nice lodge and satisfactory dinner.
Nkwali Camp - My Welcome to the South Luangwa
Nkwali was my first camp of this trip, but the sixth camp I have visited in South Luangwa National Park. I chose Nkwali due to the reputation of Robin Pope Safaris, and the fact that I had never stayed in this area (southern sector) of the park before and wanted to give it a go. Overall, it is probably the least favorite camp I've stayed in in the park.
Location: Good, but not great. Being outside of the park is not a big deal, as Nkwali uses boats to ferry its guests to the park on the other bank of the river, where the safari vehicles are waiting. The camp has a beautiful location right on the Luangwa River, as well as a delightful lagoon behind that sees a huge amount of activity throughout the day. One does not need to leave the camp to have decent wildlife sightings due to the presence of the lagoon, and throughout my stay cheeky elephants roamed through camp. The main reason that the location isn't ideal is that the southern sector of the park is not as game rich as other areas of the park, and it is also more crowded with vehicles from other lodges. I prefer the northern sector (near Lion Plain) and the Nsefu sector of the park to this area.
Rooms were excellent, with a beautiful, open design -- some of the best in the park, in my opinion. My only issue is that they are a bit close together, and, since they are open-fronted, one effectively cannot walk in front of them without invading the privacy of the neighbors.
Service was, as typical for upscale Zambian lodges, quite good. I did get the sense that all of the staff didn't click with each other, which was the first time I've come across this situation in the park.
Food was a bit of a letdown. Despite having "a sous chef from a Michelin-starred restaurant in London" overseeing things, meals were by far and away the least impressive I came across in the four camps I stayed at on the trip. Generally, the brunches -- consisting of an assortment of cold salads, typically more interesting, fresh and healthy than is the norm in South Luangwa camps -- were excellent, but dinners were almost uniformly a let down. I am not sure why the camp doesn't stick with the brunch-time formula of a fresh buffet at dinner, instead of resorting to plated dinners which were not exceptional.
I took all game drives for my activities. Game in the southern sector of the park was varied, and we saw plenty of everything. I wasn't super impressed with my guide compared with some of the other camps I have stayed at in the park.
Lodge facilities were excellent. I particularly liked the small lagoon as, even during the afternoon "down time," one could walk over and still see interesting game. The pool certainly looked nice, but in the middle of Winter was not very inviting! I also enjoyed the beautiful deck built almost directly over the river -- made for some great opportunities to photograph elephants crossing the river!
Overall, I would say that Nkwali is best suited as an intro camp for guests who are venturing on to other Robin Pope lodges in the Nsefu sector, or the walking safaris. As a stand-alone safari camp it is certainly good, but there are many better camps elsewhere in the park. I probably would not return, unless it was in conjunction with an RPS walking safari.
I am more than happy to discuss specifics of any issues I had directly with Expert Africa staff or Robin Pope Safaris directly.
A welcoming start to our holiday
We arrived at Nkwali on the 16th, after two unscheduled nights in Dubai, having been "bumped" by Emirates airlines, who had also managed to lose one of our suitcases. Natasha was very welcoming and gave John a Robin Pope shirt so that he could change out of the one in which he had been travelling.
We were desperate to start our African adventure and were very happy when an elephant came into camp the very first day, even though it meant the bidding drum for breakfast could not be sounded, because the elephant was standing right by it.
I particularly liked having two hand basins and two showers! Unprecedented luxury in the bush!
Lions giraffes and the pontoon!
Just as we remembered in the emerald season, although less water!
Incredible games drives and thrilling experience crossing the river on the pontoon.