Shawa Luangwa Camp: Our full report
Opened in June 2021, Shawa Luangwa Camp is a small, eco-camp perched on the banks of Zambia's Luangwa River ...... near to the wildlife-rich Nsefu sector of the South Luangwa National Park. In a spot handpicked by head guide, Jacob Shawa, the camp has a strong focus on both guiding and sustainability. This commitment to reducing its environmental footprint is evident in the camp’s impressive solar farm, powering the camp and its all-electric fleet of custom game-drive LandCruisers.
Shawa Camp itself is original in architectural design, the main area is entirely open, with an exposed steel superstructure & a magnificent Natal mahogany shading its al-fresco dining area. Soaring ceilings, khaki metalwork & linear river-view decks give the place a relaxed, modern vibe somewhere between a New York loft & a boat club. It’s edgy but familiar & has its sights set firmly on the water ahead & the wildlife in the park beyond.
Shawa Luangwa has 5 canvas suites (two of which are interconnected by a 5m private walkway for families) are tucked deep into the riverine forest. Accessed up a flight of timber stairs, the distinctive, teepee-like en-suite tents are a first in safari camp design. Inspired by chimneys & built to funnel the hot air away on steamy days, they are both fun & functional. High ceilings, tent sides that open horizontally to create shade & offer lovely panoramic views of tree canopy & open timber decks, lend an immersive, treehouse feel to the experience. There’s a small toilet cubicle inside each tent, a sunken bath & a wonderful, hidden power shower on the deck (in fact, it’s perhaps the best bush shower in the Luangwa!). Deep mattresses, fine linen, a good breeze & sounds of the bush will lull you to sleep, & in the morning there’s a lovely deck to listen to the birds, watch the gentle, grey tree frogs & scan for lions & hippos on the riverbank opposite.
The entire camp runs on solar energy – with an impressive solar farm on-site – and Green Safaris are committed to environmentally responsible travel. As such, they were the first company to pioneer electric vehicles & boats in their Kafue camps, and they now operate an all-electric fleet at Shawa. The experience is magic – silent journeys in the wilderness allowing you to hear the guide at all times, to slow or stop to observe & photograph birds & animals without any disruption, & to listen to the sounds of the bush as you travel. After decades of game driving all over Africa, we were utterly captivated by ‘silent safari’ – it’s a game changer. Game drives are available day & night, as well as walking safaris with experienced guides and, seasonally, boating safaris.
The team at Shawa can arrange visits to community development projects run by Project Luangwa and are happy to invite wildlife researchers from Conservation South Luangwa to talk about the conservation initiatives taking place in the national park.
A stay at Shawa Camp combines well with either another camp further south in the Mfuwe sector of the South Luangwa, or with one or both of its sister camps in the Kafue National Park, Ila Safari Lodge and Chisa Busanga Camp, or with a trip to Lower Zambezi National Park.
Depending on specific needs, Shawa Luangwa may be suitable for disabled travellers. The main building has ramp access and guests can be accommodated in the front passenger seat of game drive vehicle. Staff are happy to assist any guest in accessing the vehicles. One tent is located close to the main building and has ramp access and the shower and toilet has sufficient space to work with a wheelchair, with shower chairs also available. It’s always worth discussing requirements in detail with us to establish if the camp is suitable.
The combination of the camp's prime location, original architecture, genuine focus on sustainability and good guiding, make this a super option in a wonderful area of the park for wildlife viewing. It’s the magic of their ‘silent safari’ electric vehicles that really turn Shawa Luangwa Camp into something extra special, and make a stay here such an incredible experience.
Country manager: Zambia
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Ideal length of stay
- We usually suggest a minimum stay at Shawa of three to four nights.
- It’s an hour’s flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe International Airport, followed by a one hour road transfer to Shawa Camp, of which the last 30 minutes is in the lovely scenery of the Lupanda GMA.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Meals at Shawa Luangwa Camp are generally served open-air terrace overlooking the Luangwa River. International cuisine from a daily set menu is served with all dietary requirements catered for with advance notice.
Dining is by individual seating, though guests are welcome to invite their guide or management to join them, and this frequently occurs. They are also welcomed to dine with other guests if they wish.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- There are various dining locations and private dining is available on your tent deck.
- Drinks included
- Included, excluding premium brand drinks.
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are warmly welcomed, though it’s better suited to older children thanks to the height of the raised tent decks, open sides to the main area, and access to activities. For families, room valets are happy to babysit (though be aware that these are not qualifies childcare professionals) and there’s a nice pool for cooling dips in the middle of the day.
- Property’s age restrictions
- All ages can stay but families with children under 6 will need a private vehicle to do game drives, and as per park regulations, you must be over 12 years old to take part in walking safaris.
- Special activities & services
- Babysitting is available at Shawa Luangwa.
Two tents are connected by a private walkway to accommodate a family of 4 with older children.
- Generally recommended for children
- Shawa lodge has a funky, modern design, as well as a nice pool area and a firm focus on using modern technology to environmental sustainability, all of which will appeal likely to older children.
- Beware of steep drops from open railings and beside water. Children must be supervised at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Shawa Luangwa
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Shawa Luangwa Camp 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
- An impressive on-site solar field and battery bank powers the camp and vehicles.
- WiFi is available and all Zambian phone networks receive signal here.
- TV & radio
- There is no radio or television at Shawa Camp.
- Water supply notes
- All toilets are modern, flush mechanism and Shawa Luangwa Camp has some of Zambia’s most powerful bush showers!
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is basic on-site first aid. A doctor can be called from Mfuwe, at a cost, if necessary.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- There is 24 hour security patrols around camp and guests will be escorted to and from their rooms to guard against unexpected wildlife encounters as the camp is unfenced.
- Fire safety
- Yes – fire extinguishers in all rooms and main area.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is complimentary for all-inclusive packages. Washing is air dried so takes at least 24 hours.
- Accepted payment on location
- Visa and Mastercard are accepted in camp.
Other lodges in South Luangwa National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.