Robin's House: Our full report
On the banks of the Luangwa River, Robin’s House sits in the shade of tall mahogany, ebony and sausage trees ...... looking across to the South Luangwa National Park. Owned and run by Robin Pope Safaris, it was originally the home of Robin and Jo Pope themselves, before it was turned into a private two-bedroom retreat for small families or two couples travelling together.
Very close to Nkwali Camp, Robin’s House also lies in a game management area. It comes complete with its own kitchen, chef, valet, safari guide and private 4WD game-viewing vehicle, and is fully self-contained.
Guests at Robin’s have the run of the thatched, white-washed house , at whose heart is a large central living area, with a big squashy sofa, chairs, small library of books and family-style oval dining table. To either side is a spacious bedroom, decorated in neutral cream tones enlivened by colourful bedspreads and cushions. One has a double bed, and the other has three singles, all under mosquito nets that are lowered in the evenings. Both bedrooms are en suite with a bathtub, shower, flushing toilet and handbasin.
Outside is a private veranda looking out towards the Luangwa River, and a shady area where mealtimes might be enjoyed in fine weather. Robin’s House also has its own small pool, next to a lovely decking area, complete with sunloungers.
Robin's House is situated in a small game management area (GMA) on the opposite side of the river to South Luangwa National Park. Whilst animals are common residents of the GMA, activities usually take place across the river within the national park, where the game is at its most relaxed – but the density of other vehicles is also at its highest. This is seldom problematic, as just downstream of the camp, Robin Pope has a private pontoon over the river which enables its vehicles to swiftly enter the park, south of the main (and sometimes busy) gate at Mfuwe Bridge – the usual access point for a number of camps which are located outside the park.
Guests at Robin's have a choice of activities: short walking safaris, 4WD game safaris and night drives. All walking safaris are accompanied by an armed scout, as well as a fully qualified RPS guide.
At a typical safari camp, you'd normally take two activities per day, each lasting around three–four hours. However, with your own expert safari guide and 4WD at Robin’s House, you can set your own schedule: get up when you like, eat when it suits you, and enjoy the safari activities for as long, or as short a time, as you like. This allows families or small groups to be completely flexible, and to change plans at will.
If you're planning a family safari, then you might also consider including a trip to Zambia's other 'houses' which have been designed with families or groups of friends in mind: Luangwa Safari House and Chongwe River House in the national parks, Tangala House near Livingstone and the old stately home at Shiwa Ng'andu.
Robin’s House is a comfortable, self-contained retreat that is booked out to only one family or two couples at a time. With its own chef, valet, host/ess and private guide and vehicle, it gives the freedom for a really flexible, exclusive safari in an area of the South Luangwa known for some great wildlife viewing.
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Ideal length of stay
- Robin's House is open all year and small groups or families will often stay here 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 here. It is often booked up far in advance, especially during school-holiday periods – so book as far in advance 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 Robin’s House.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- We’ve visited Robin’s House many times over the years, but we haven’t travelled as part of a family or a small 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, then we would expect good things.
Meals will generally follow the format of most safari camps, with a light breakfast being served before the morning activity and brunch after you 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 Robin’s House is booked out solely by one family or small group of friends at a time, meals and mealtimes are tailored to suit them.
- Family holidays
- Robin's House has been purpose-built for family safaris – just like a family house. It has a central lounge and dining area, two en-suite bedrooms, a kitchen and plenty of space. It's one of Africa's best destinations for a family safari and offers a good-value safari.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Wildlife safaris
- Robin's House comes with a private 4WD and an expert guide, fully-qualified to lead walking safaris as well as 4WD safaris – and the park rules allow night drives and some off-read driving. Hence Robin's House offers a really superb wildlife safari experience.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Private villas & houses
- Robin's House comes with a private 4WD safari vehicle and an expert guide, fully qualified to lead walking safaris as well as 4WD safaris; park rules also allow night drives and some off-road driving. Hence Robin's House offers a really superb wildlife safari experience.
- See ideas for Private villas & houses
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome at Robin’s House.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There is no minimum age limit, but park regulations mean that children under the age of 12 years are not allowed to walk in South Luangwa National Park.
- Special activities & services
- Robin’s House is always booked exclusively for one group of friends or family at a time, so safari activities, mealtimes and menus are flexible, and 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, playing board games or trying their hand at arts and crafts. They can also arrange a visit to Kawaza Village. Note, though, that none of the team are professionally trained childminders.
- A cot and a high chair can be provided with advance notice.
- Generally recommended for children
- Robin’s House is in a malarial area with plenty of wildlife in close proximity, and the pool is unfenced. Thus we do not consider that it’s suited to very young children. However, the house itself is enclosed, and we think it is a great option for mature children over about the age of seven years, 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.
- Robin’s House is unfenced and dangerous wildlife can wander by at any time. The pool is unfenced and the camp is open to the river, where you’ll find abundant crocodiles and hippos. Children must be under the supervision of their parents at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Robin's House
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Robin's 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
- UK-style three-square-pin plug points are provided in the house. Adaptors are normally available on request.
- There is usually cellphone reception. There is sometimes WiFi, but it’s unreliable and doesn’t always work. In an emergency, it is possible to arrange to use the internet at Nkwali’s office, just a short walk away.
- TV & radio
- 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.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The guide at Robin’s House is trained in first aid. For more serious medical issues there is a doctor based at a camp in the Mfuwe area, just a short drive 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 the need arise, you would be escorted by a member of the team.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers at Robin’s House.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is included.
- Robin’s House does not provide a currency-exchange service. There is a safe in the house to store valuables.
- Accepted payment on location
- All 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.