Nsolo Bushcamp

Nsolo Bushcamp: Our full report

Rooms
4 chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (97%) From 47 reviews
Children
OK for ages 12+
Open
15 May to 31 October

Taking the local name for the greater honeyguide bird, Nsolo Bush Camp overlooks a bend of the usually dry Luwi River, a tributary of the Luangwa. One of the Expert Africa team first visited the camp in 1995, when its rustic style and firm focus on walking safaris was almost universal amongst the park's many seasonal bushcamps. Since then Nsolo has kept its ethos, unlike most contemporaries, and continues to appeal to safari lovers whose passion is walking.

Nsolo Bush Camp has four thatched chalets built on raised timber decks. Each chalet has its own style, incorporating trees and other natural features, and has been cleverly designed using local materials. Bamboo-lattice windows sit in reed walls, a bamboo hanging rail has reed-covered clothes hangers and woven reed 'wallpaper' conceals the plumbing in the spacious en-suite bathroom, which is completely open-air.

Simple furnishings feel fully in keeping with their natural surroundings. Double wooden doors open onto a private shady wooden deck where comfortable chairs face the riverbed. A couple of these decks are wrapped around trees, offering welcome shade in the heat of the day.

Nsolo Bush Camp's main area, or 'chitenje', is an open-sided, thatched building set on a slightly raised wooden deck overlooking the Luwi riverbed – so is a great place to watch out for birds and game. The trunks of sausage and Natal mahogany trees have been incorporated into the structure, giving welcome shade, too. There is a comfortable lounge with a small library, a bar and a large communal dining table where most meals are taken – and a 'guest toilet' within close proximity, although don't expect too many outside guests to drop in!

Beyond the chitenje, the ground slopes away onto a wide sandbank before dropping into the main riverbed. The sandbank is a magical spot for sundowner drinks and snacks or for a beautiful lantern-lit dinner under the stars.

Depending on the time of year there are one or two pools of water in the riverbed, where animals come to drink. On the bank above, canvas chairs have been laid out in various viewing positions, and nearby, a campfire is the focus for breakfast and pre-dinner drinks.

Day and night drives are possible at Nsolo, and on our last visit we were lucky enough to spot a pride of lions and their cubs on a kill during an evening drive. However, activities at this bushcamp really focus on walking safaris, with good, knowledgeable guides. These walks might take place on the open plains, devoid of roads, across the riverbed from the camp, or through riverine woodland.

Visitors to Nsolo often combine a stay at Nsolo with its sister camps, Luwi Bushcamp, Kakuli Bushcamp and Mchenja Bushcamp, usually starting or finishing at Kapani Lodge. Many guests choose to walk between some of the camps, though distances vary. It is some 7km between Luwi and Nsolo, which takes about three hours to walk, but between Nsolo and Kakuli is between 14km and 19km, depending on any detours to track wildlife, and usually takes about four hours. Thus it is recommended only for fitter travellers during the cooler months (May to early September). When we stayed at Nsolo in June 2015 we chose to do a walking transfer to Kakuli Bushcamp, and were rewarded with the sight of a large herd of elephants digging for water in a dry riverbed along the way.

Our view

Nsolo is still a rustic, very open-air bushcamp with lots of charm which is well run by an excellent, friendly team. It is best visited as a base for walking safaris, especially when used as the start of a camp-to-camp walking safari following the Luwi River. Come for a classic Luangwa walking safari and to get a real feeling for the bush – just don't expect designer chic.

Geographics

Location: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Ideal length of stay: A two- or three-night stay at Nsolo Bushcamp is ideal. This works best when combined with a walking safari encompassing its sister bushcamps, Luwi Bushcamp, Kakuli Bushcamp and Mchenja Bushcamp, perhaps starting or ending at the 'parent' Kapani Lodge – or the luxurious new Chinzombo.

Directions: Mfuwe Airport is reached by a 70-minute scheduled flight from Lusaka. From here, a road transfer/game drive lasting approximately three hours takes visitors to Nsolo Bushcamp.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Norman Carr Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The Expert Africa team have visited Nsolo very regularly over the last 20 years, most recently in June 2015. We’ve always found the food at Nsolo to be delicious, well prepared and well presented.

Breakfast is usually served around the campfire before the early-morning activity. A choice of cereals, fresh fruit, juices and fresh pastries are set out in a buffet. Porridge is heated over the fire and, on our last visit, toast and eggs were cooked to order.

A buffet brunch is served at about 11.00am, when the morning excursion returns to camp. We could choose from a delicious vegetable quiche; a lentil, squash and feta salad; tilapia fishcakes, with fish caught in Lake Kariba; and a variety of fresh, green salads. We also couldn’t resist the freshly baked bread, and the fruit salad that followed.

Dinner is usually a three-course meal, often served under the stars after you’ve returned from your evening activity. We had a very garlicky, but quite tasty aubergine bruschetta to start, followed by beef fillet with an unusual but pleasant whisky sauce, served with roast squash, potatoes and vegetables. Dessert was a chocolate fondant, which went down very well.

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. The tap water is suitable to drink, but bottled water is also available from the bar if you prefer.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Solo Travel: Single travellers who love walking might want to include Nsolo into their solo safari holidays in Zambia. It's small and personal, and combines well as part of a camp-to-camp walking safari with its sister camps. Ask if we can waive the single supplement for solo travellers.

See more ideas for Solo Travel in Zambia

Walking safaris: Nsolo Bushcamp offers walking safaris through various environments, from open grassy plains to mopane woodlands, visiting the odd remaining lagoon and the riverine woods along the Luwi riverbed. Transfers on foot between Nsolo and its sister bushcamps are a highlight of walking in Zambia.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zambia

Children

Attitude towards children: Nsolo is happy to accommodate children of 12 years and over.

Property’s age restrictions: 12 years and over are welcome at Nsolo

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: Nsolo Bushcamp is unfenced with dangerous animals often passing through the camp. Parents need to keep children under close supervision at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There are solar lights in all the chalets. Batteries may be charged throughout the day in the main area.

Communications: Nsolo Bushcamp has 24-hour radio communications with its sister camps in South Luangwa National Park and with its base at Kapani Lodge.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Each chalet has a flush toilet, and plumbed-in washbasins and showers with hot water always available.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The guides and manager at Nsolo are trained in first aid. The various safari operations in South Luangwa National Park sponsor a doctor who is based at Mfuwe Lodge and who is available to tend to anything more serious. Nsolo has links to a flying-doctors service for serious emergencies.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: As Nsolo Bushcamp is unfenced, a guide will escort guests to their chalets after dark.

Fire safety: The camp has a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and there is a fire break around the camp.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A complimentary laundry service is included, but this does not include ladies’ underwear; soap for this is provided in the rooms. Note that clothes are hand washed and coal ironed.

Money: No exchange facilities are provided.

Accepted payment on location: A stay at Nsolo is fully inclusive. We recommend that you use US dollars or kwacha (the local currency) for tips if possible. In the unlikely event that payment for anything else is required, this can be arranged through Norman Carr Safaris' base camp, Kapani Lodge.