Reviews of Tafika
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
One of a kind experience
It was a memorable stay, different from any other place we have ever been to. I won't describe food, chalets etc. as it is all good. Again, big thank you to all their staff. What sets Tafika apart is, of course, the fact that John & Carol are owning and managing it. It's obvious that they care and love the place. Also, they treat guests like family. We had lunch with them on both days we were there & we had dinners with their daughters, Jenny & Christine. It was very personal experience which gave us a glimpse into the realities of daily life of the family who is nothing short of being a local legend.
Running a safari camp sounds very romantic but once you meet the people who are living that "romantic" life, it becomes an eye-opening event where the reality takes away some of the charm but you come to respect the amount of dedication, courage and love required to do what Carol and John are doing. I understand that Tafika is much more than a safari operation in the eyes of the local community. We only had two drives with Tafika (given that we spent two other nights at Chikoko). The drives were good (excellent lion sightings one night - we were able to see the pride starting their hunt) but again, what I remember most is how we could talk to the guides who knew not only the animals & birds but also the realities of daily life of a very deprived and poor area of Zambia.
I wish we'd spent more time at Tafika with John & Carol's family and their team. I made it sound all too serious but it was great fun all along & we felt easy and relaxed during our stay. Alexei particularly liked the micro light flight with John (just mentioning it because he's not too fond of heights). I did fly too & it felt unexpectedly natural. I think that staying at Tafika would be an invaluable experience for those guests who are looking not just to find a "happy place" to unwind and spend their holidays but for those who are willing to see a more down to earth authentic side of living in a challenging country such as Zambia while running a safari operation.
Every guide and every team member we met at Tafika impressed us.
Excellent start to the stay at Tafika, as we were pleasantly surprised (only heard 24 hours prior to the transfer) that we would be picked up at Mufwe and transported directly to the camp by light aircraft rather than a long journey by 4x4 over bumpy roads.
Our original plans were to stay for 3 nights at Tafika and then walk to Chicoko for 1 night. However hearing how we enjoyed our 1st walk it was suggested by Tafika that we modify our stay by replacing our last night at Tafika with their other walking camp (Crocodile) and then transferring to Chikoko from there. Thank you to Brent our walking guide.
The walking highlights were the stalking of lions, and our close encounters with both buffalo and elephants.
Food, guiding and accommodation was excellent at the main camp and both bush camps. As expected the bush camps were much more rustic but gave a much truer back to nature feel.
Chalet no. 6 is a bit of a walk from the main area but wonderful with the kingsize bed, double shower etc. The service was outstanding with lots of attention to each individual guest's needs. Food again top class with lots of vegetarian options. We greatly appreciated that 'all-in' really means all-in except for the highly recommendable micro-light flight with John.
Due to the first heavy rains (70 mm) the next days only walking was possible. This was great fro us, but unfortunately Isaac did not quite seem to appreciate it as much as we. As the roads were still flooded when we had to leave, an air transfer back to Mfuwe was organised without any discussion, extra costs etc. Super.
A wonderful sighting of wild dogs - and of lions on a walk with John. This was probably the highlight of the trip.
After a tiring trip we had a wonderful first short stay. The welcome was very warm. The afternoon walk was not particularly exciting but fine for a first day activity.
The food - not least the vegetarian options - was wonderful.
Lovely time at Tafika
We really enjoyed our time at Tafika. The game drives were great. Our guide (John) realised pretty quickly that we were interested in birds and smaller animals as well as the big stuff and he found some lovely turacoes and green pigeons for us in a fruiting fig. We only has 2 nights here - in hindsight I wish it had been more. Before we went out on each game drive we discussed options of where to go and what we might see at each place and it was nice to be given a choice. On both afternoon game drives we went in search of wild dogs and we found them both times. There was a group of 17 (including 8 pups) and on both occasions they were very active with all the pups playing with each other.
On one of our mornings we went to a spot where large numbers of grey crowned cranes congregate and we saw them as they flew in, which was lovely. We also saw lions, a leopard, hyenas, civet, genet, elephants, giraffe, a huge heard of buffalo, and lots of other animals while we were here. On one of our afternoon game drives we visited their carmine bee eater hide, which was brilliant. It is in a great position (much better than the one at Kaingo camp). It is worth getting up early in the morning and watching the river as huge flocks of queleas drink at the river and they swarm like locusts - it is spectacular.
The lodge also has a hide by a small waterhole. It isn't as spectacular as the one at Mwamba, as it is very close to the river, but we still saw hammerkop, impala, elephants, hippos, ground hornbill, bushbuck, baboons, banded mongooses and a juvenile eagle. It is nice just to be able to wander in whenever you feel like it.
The food is plentiful and nice and the owners who run the camp are very friendly. The rooms are very well designed and are nice and let in a breeze (if there is one blowing) which is nice. They also supply a sarong like cloth to wet and put over you while you are sleeping when the weather gets really hot. This made such a difference and we really appreciated it.. There is a central point for charging batteries and laptops in the dining area.
Overall we really enjoyed our time at Tafika. The wildlife and terrain is slightly different to the other two camps in the park that we stayed it and I would definitely recommend a stay here and at Mwamba bushcamp - they complement each other very well.
We returned for our last night in Zambia. Tafika, with its brick floors and extra facilities seemed even more luxurious after our 6 nights in the bush camps. We even saw the wild dogs again, on the way to the airport next morning.Read more about the whole safari
This was the first camp on our first visit to Africa. We couldn't have made a better choice. Most fellow guests had made many previous trips to Tafika, and we think that says it all. Mostly the trips are game drives, including night drives to see nocturnal animals. We were lucky enough to see wild dogs - we were very honoured according to other guests who had not been so lucky after many drives in Africa. Staff were amazing; eagle-eyed, friendly, hard-working, nothing was too much trouble.
The huts (rooms) were very spacious, practical and comfortable with hot water on tap (there's a boiler on site). One of the highlights was the micro-lite flight. If you get the opportunity do it! Don't forget to take a memory stick and ask John to switch on the wing camera.
When we get back to Zambia, Tafika will be top of the list for a visit.
Ian and Michelle - Superlative Tafika Review
My review may not be 'balanced' as you requested because it was just a perfect way to begin our adventure in Africa.
We really thought that this owner/operated camp had a great intimate feel to it. John, Carole and their team make you feel as if your comfort is paramount. The guides (We had three of them) were terrific, and will try to show you just what you want to see.
The accomodations are at the same time charming and rustic while also luxurious and well appointed. We loved that fact that there was nobody else around apart from occasional villagers travelling to or from town. It felt as if we were in a truly remote area and that our wildlife viewing was authentically wild. That is what we had requested and that is what Tafika delivered!
We had just one glitch in that through some communications error no one from Tafika was there to meet our plane at Mfuwe. Fortunately we had another rep at the airport contact Tafika and they resolved the issue within minutes - flying us out directly to the camp. Now THAT'S service!
(Another) great stay at Tafika
Just a great place to stay: the location, guiding, food and above all the welcoming atmosphere makes this a great place to spend a few days. Many thanks to John, Carol, Brian, Heather, Rhona and all the staff for an excellent time (and for teh surprise birthday cake!)
It's fantastic to be in the Nsefu sector, and see great game and hardly ever another vehicle. Microlighting another highlight (five lions on one side and two leopards on the other - doesn't get much better than that (not guaranteed of course!)
It is a long journey to arrive at the remote Tafika Camp, but it is well worth the travel. The lodging, the hosts, the guiding, the activities -- all were superb!
We thoroughly enjoyed the family atmosphere at Tafika. Owner/hosts John and Carol and their staff make you feel welcome in every way. When there were enough guests to fill two tables at lunch or dinner, they directed you to a table to be sure that the guests got to meet and mingle with all the others. And having the hosts and the guides join us at meals always led to lively and interesting discussions. We especially enjoyed talking with Lloyd about his experiences in taking the guide licensing exams -- what a process!
The food was delicious and reflected the products of their bountiful garden. And the cakes and puddings were divine! The rooms are large and comfortable, and once you get used to the presence of the little tree frogs, you will find them a delightful surprise at times. Check your bags thoroughly before leaving so that you don't transport one home.
We had never experienced good night drives until we arrived at Tafika. What a great experience they were there! We watched leopards and lions hunting, and twice saw hyenas enjoying the fruits of the labor of the leopards' hunt. We felt like we were in a Nat Geo documentary as we watched and listened to the hyenas fight over the antelope carcass while the poor leopard and her cub dined on nothing but scraps.
We enjoyed having a variety of guides, and gained from their own perspectives and stories. We did our first walking trek with Bryan, and while we saw many things up close that you would miss in a vehicle, we weren't successful in finding many animals. We realized that it is variable -- sometimes you will see animals at close range, and other times you will only find tracks.
A highlight for each of us was the microlight flight with John. What a thrill to glide over the animals just after daybreak. The motion of the aircraft makes it hard to get good photos, but the scenes are etched into our memories.