Reviews of Tafika
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Tafika with family
We visited Tafika with our 14 and 12 year old sons. It is a beautiful camp, really well designed and thought through. We were staying in the family chalet, which was perfect for us - two separate rooms, within one self contained chalet, with two showers. The right balance of privacy but still close enough to feel safe and together. Younger children might feel a bit far away and prefer to be in the same room as parents. The family chalet also has the best setting, with a veranda looking straight out onto the river.
I found this camp extremely luxurious, with very high standards of service - I am a little bemused by some of the reviews describing it as 'rustic'! Everything was taken care of - clothes whisked away and returned clean and pressed; drinks and food served; beds and rooms prepared every night etc etc. I felt extremely pampered! And the overall environment is simply stunning.
Food was excellent, perhaps a little 'complicated' for the children at times. Breakfasts were taken around a fire overlooking the river, with staff. Lunch was a buffet and dinner a fairly formal affair with everything served to us. Dinner and lunch were shared with one or two staff on a rota - sometimes this felt a little bit uncomfortable as we were aware that the rest of the staff were eating back in staff quarters and wondered whether eating with the guests might be the short straw!
The camp was quiet when we were there, only two other guests. As a family of four, we did all our activities together with no other guests, and we had one guide, Alex, throughout our stay of four nights. Alex was an excellent choice of guide, as well as being highly experienced and knowledgeable, he had a great rapport with the children and made the experience fun as well as interesting. We did mainly drives, with one morning walk. We might have liked a greater variety of activities, but it took us a little while to get the bearings of the routine and by the time we had worked out what we wanted to do, time was running out. I think a fuller orientation to the possible activities at an early stage in our trip would have been useful. Whilst I felt staff were responsive to our requests, I think a bit more proactive information would be useful. We enjoyed the walks as the safari experience can feel rather sedentary with most of the day spent sitting, eating or resting! it is a balance though as the walks do see a little less game. I was also a bit nervous about crossing the river in a small boat very close to the hippos - all passed without incident but I did wonder what the plan was if we had capsized...
Game viewings were good, though leopard sightings were scarce and I nearly thought we were not going to see one through our whole stay! The last drive came good though, with a superb close up and prolonged sighting - thanks to Alex and Lloyd's expert spotting. Overall we had three leopard sightings on the last day, including one on a walk.
Very minor suggestions for improvement: we would have found more books, maps and other information about the animals, birds and ecosystems in the park interesting to look at during our down time, to enhance what we learnt from the guides. Also, although everyone introduced themselves to us, we weren't very clear what everyone's role was at the camp (not that this mattered as everyone was helpful and friendly).
Overall, a lovely stay in an amazing location.
see earlier comments [Ed: See below]Read more about the whole safari
Great family run camp with long standing senior team members.
It is remote - a positive.
It is rustic - as described. A touch of 'old school' about it to keep the remote feel.
There will be frogs in your hut - completely harmless.
The hut is built around a tree and is open air in parts. All positives for the remote feel but not if you want something more pampered. But there is 24 hour electricity and hot water.
No mobile or wifi - a positive
Three nights in June at Tafika
Our guides were Isaac and Steve. Both were very good. The night before we arrived, the Tafika staff looked at our ages (provided to them by Expert Africa) and, because most of us are in our 70's, we were dubbed the "Madala Group" with "Madala" meaning elderly. That was fine with us.
Highlights of game viewing include a female leopard with a cub and a dead impala in a tree, a rookery of about five large trees filled with yellow-billed storks and their chicks with hungry marabou storks at the base of the tree waiting for scraps dropped by the chicks and a martial eagle attempting to have a chick for lunch, and a huge herd of cape buffalo. We biked with John Coppinger to the nearby Mkasanga School which is partially supported by the Tafika Fund. The children danced and sang for us and a youth choir from the Covenant Church sang and danced for us. Saw many puku antelope.
Seldom encountered vehicles from other camps on game drives.
There were often small frogs, some spiders, a small lizard or two, and some armored crickets (all harmless) in the guest units. They were not a problem for us but some might flinch a bit at such creatures.
We liked the fact that Tafika is a relatively small camp and we very much enjoyed going to Tafika's bush camps across the river - a short boat ride and a walk of about five hours but that could have been shortened if necessary.
Wonderful in every way. Issac was an exceptional guide. We saw lots of game every day.
Excellent food and lodging.
Same as ever [Ed: See review below from their visit here a few days earlier in this same trip.]Read more about the whole safari
Tafika - 4 nights
This is a very good camp, but for some reason it didn't make great camp status for us.
There is a very good choice of activity, which works well in terms of flexibility, the downside is that you have many different guides (we had 4 different guides in our stay). This means you don't get quite the same discussion and interaction that other camps provide with one dedicated person. Overall, this camp gave a less personal atmosphere than others on our trip.
We had excellent walks here - it's clearly a strong point for this camp and I highly recommend the experience. We chose to walk in the evening - shorter walks, but giving us more time and light for photography in the morning on drives, and this was very well arranged and delivered.
The charging facilities (in the main area) were a little erratic since not all sockets worked correctly. As a minor downside, the provided drinking water did not agree with either of us (not a serious problem, but anyone with a delicate constitution should be wary).
We really enjoyed our stay here and did appreciate the flexibility of activity, so do not take the feedback to mean there were any especial problems!
Return to Tafika again
Our third visit here, our favourite camp in South Luanguwa. A lot of people seem to return to this camp!
Don't really have much to say that hasn't been said before. We had fantastic walks and drives, you can even go on a bike ride if you wish, unfortunately the microlight wasn't available this time. A visit to see the carmine bee eater hide is to be recommended.
We particularly like the way guides stay with the camp for years, working their way up the ladder. This results in fantastic guiding, the best we have encountered. Excellent training plus all the local knowledge is unbeatable.
Can't wait to go back!
marvellous camp with great flexibilty
Some small changes to lights and lodges but remains unpretentious, comfortable, excellent food and great staff.
Walking guides are now more numerous so always a choice to use truck or to walk across the river.
Our favourite camp!
We have stayed several times at Tafika (and at many other safari camps through Africa), and it is top of our list.
One of the few owner managed camps still in the Valley, John, Carol and Bryan generate a warm and professional atmosphere, ably assisted by Heather and Rhona, and all the other camp staff.
The aircraft operated by Tafika and which took us from Lower Zambezi is strongly recommended. It may cost a bit more than ProFlight, but it cuts almost a day's travel down to an hour and a half.
We particularly appreciate that all the guides are local, often from the nearby village, and having often started in the kitchen or as tea bearers, have developed and passed their guiding exams.
Thank for a great stay - especially the hippos at Hippo Bend, and the mating leopards (not guaranteed!)