Reviews of Tafika
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
An experience of all that is
This place is wonderful, it's location gives one an idea of all that is truly wild in Africa. We were lucky to arrive at the start of the season and had the place almost to ourselves. Except that is, for the lovely staff who are a credit to the family owners.
John and Carol had to be at a Trade Fair for much of our stay but we were left in the capable hands of Heather, Rhona and their daughter Jenny. It leaves you feeling that you have been guests in a family home which is very special. We were lucky enough to see five leopards and enjoyed our game walk with Alex which involved a python appearing as we stopped to look at a bird's nest on the ground. The night drives are fabulous and new to us and they extend the number of sightings to nocturnal animals. Our guide was very knowledgeable and as delighted as we were with our large animal sightings and not forgetting the smallest elephant shrew and chameleon.
It was lovely to have our delicious meals with members of the family and staff and were most impressed with the food especially the salad and vegetables grown on the site. One meal was interrupted by a hippo taking out some of the newly erected fence around the compound!
We would be very happy to return one day and look forward to doing just that.
A real back to nature experience - brilliant
The hospitality shown by the family and the team was great. The team operated very professionally and efficiently to provide a great overall safari experience.
The rooms are very rustic but comfortable and fully acceptable. Our only comment would be that compared to the other camps the beds had more insect life that needed clearing out before sleeping commenced!
Amazing time at Tafika
We had a wonderful stay at Tafika. The camp is situated about 5 minutes outside the park, but this is not an issue, as the bush and animals continue beyond the gate. In spite of it being at the end of the dry season (late October/early November) there was a lot more water around than we had expected and Tafika has an attractive outlook over a river/riverbed.
The rooms are made of straw and open to the air at the bathroom end. This does allow insects etc quite easy access (easier than in a netted tent), although mosquito nets around the beds work well at night. We weren't troubled by this, but others should perhaps be aware. Otherwise, clean sheets, well equipped and everything worked well.
We were the only guests staying at the time and the Copinger family and others invoked were completely welcoming and charming - we even joined in the daughter's birthday celebrations. So nice to be hosted by Zambians with genuine long-standing knowledge of the country.
The microlite flight is an absolute must-do: you should have complete confidence in John as a pilot, he is very experienced and careful.
The guiding was excellent (Brian, part owner and …). Leopards all over the place. The pack of 19 wild dogs on the salt pans were mesmerising the BBC were filming Waiting for the rains next door to us!
Nichols at Tafika
This was the largest of the four camps we stayed at and as it was the last camp on our itinerary at I was slightly concerned that it might be an anti-climax to the more intimate camps that we'd already stayed in. I need not have worried. The camp faces onto the river which ensures that a large variety of wildlife is always present. And far from the size of the camp deterring the animals, I was awoken during my first night by elephants browsing on the tree above our bathroom.
The walks and drives were largely along the river which ensured that we saw game in abundance, including large herds of buffalo and sizeable herds of elephant.
Tafika is the place to go if you want to see all that Zambia has to offer as far as wildlife variety. It's absolutely amazing how much you see! Healthy lion prides, Cape Buffalo, Crawshay's zebra, Thornicroft zebras, civet, leopard, Elephant shrew, Pel's owl, Carmine Bee Eaters, Lilac Breasted Roller,Tawny Eagle, Fish Eagle, spotted hyena, even wildebeast (which have not been known to be seen much in this region). The list goes on! -I saw all of this and more while there for just 3 nights! An absolutely amazing experience!
What's also amazing is the food! It's all catered and varied each day. I never had a bad meal while there.
One thing to know about this camp is that the sleeping huts are open to the outdoors. This is both a plus and can be for some a negative. What I mean is that I love how much the hut is a part of the environment. What was sometimes a distraction was the insects. For most I'm sure this is not a concern in the least, but it's worth mentioning in case you are like me and not necessarily used to sleeping so closely with the smaller inhabitants of the park! There is definitely no health concerns to worry about though. You sleep with a mosquito net and there's bug spray on hand to use as well. I think it's just good to be aware ahead of time so you know what to expect! And it certainly didn't hinder my experience in the least! They were, in fact, very accommodating to my concerns!
You simply cannot beat the wildlife viewing while at Tafika. What's also nice is that you hardly run in to other vehicles while on drives! You really get the sense that you have the whole park to yourself!
The guides are absolutely top notch. Their level of expertise and training far surpasses what's needed to be a guide there. It's obvious this is a lifestyle choice for them and that they really love their job and the wildlife their showing you!
A fantastic camp that you will be sad to leave at the end of your stay!
Excellent Guiding and Wildlife at Tafika
Tafika is owner-operated, and it shows--they care! Their operation is very professional, while conversations are very inclusive on any number of issues. John and Carol are attentive to every detail; their daughter Jenny is an absolute delight, adding a soft, more casual, relaxed persona--she's going to make a great addition to the management team; Brian offers great experience and advice (though, in the future, I'll make sure never again to say my husband is the primary photographer); Heather was very helpful, concerned everything was just right. There is a distinct effort made to ensure you enjoy a wide variety of experiences, while accommodating guests' individual preferences as best possible. Guests, guides, and dinner tables were rotated, so encouraging engagement of different people in the smaller groups.
We were given the family chalet; it's location and veranda overlooking the Luangwa River, with the never-ending bird and wildlife, was fabulous! The open-ended thatched chalet was our favorite of the trip, allowing any breeze to pass through, including lovebirds and weavers to share the second bedroom unused by us; the sausage tree overhead invited birds and elephants to visit, dropping flowers into the area leading to the sink. What a delight!
We enjoyed all the activities we partook: the Carmine bee-eater hide was well worth visiting, as was watching the morning arrival of the innumerable gray-crowned crane; a morning walk was educational (good thing we weren't responsible for lighting the fire, using wood and friction, for the tea-break), with many good animal sightings; game drives were very productive, especially the variety seen at night--a highlight was watching a serval successfully catch then eat a fish; but the overall highlight of our stay was the microlight flight--as close to enjoying the freedom of a bird as a human is able; John is an excellent pilot; the aerial view adds an eye-opening perspective; I cannot recommend it highly enough.
We certainly hope to be return visitors.
Tafika beats all expectations
It's a great location, the Coppinger family are wonderful hosts and the staff is motivated and well trained. Lloyd our guide greeted us with cool drinks at Mfuwe airport and on the way back showed us wild dogs that he had spotted on the way to the airport. Never having seen any wild dogs in Africa before this was a stunning begingning. Could it go on this way? Yes it did. Our beautiful bush chalets, the quality of the food and the committment of our guide Lloyd and in the evening drives his spotter where just fantastic. It goes too far to number all species that we saw, we saw nearly everything! I
t's wonderful that Tafika also sponsors the village school, besides employing many people from Mkasanga village. We can fully recommend Tafika.
The camp that has that extra something
Our third camp on this holiday, and (without taking anything away from the excellent time we had at the other two) the one that we put top of our list for a return visit if we can manage one in future. Partly that is to do with the additional activities on offer. The microlight flight at dawn costs extra, but boy was it worth it for both of us: words can't really capture it.
A short bike ride through the elephant zone near the camp costs nothing, but certainly adds spice. Back in Zambia for the third time, having worked there long ago, we would have reservations about a local village visit being a tourist show, were it not for the big support and involvement which John & Carol Coppinger have put into the school and the village: it was a lovely visit with a genuine response both ways.
The food was superb, and the direct contact with the family owning and running Tafika, and their employees who live in the village, the sense of continuity and the atmosphere it added, all gave something extra to our holiday that we valued and enjoyed, and we had a great five days.
Great family, private camp.
We last visited Tafika in 2007 and have also visited the three walking camps. Pleased to say the standards are still very high, particularly the catering which is second to none!
It was great to see wild dogs on three occasions and spend time observing behaviour amongst the pack.
since our last visit a number of guides have moved on or been re-assigned to the walking camps and it was good to see new faces and share their perspectives on flora and fauna although we missed the experience of the other guides.
Tafika Camp Review
Tafika camp is an institution in the valley. Hosts John and Carol have made this valley and their camp operations part of the pulse of the region.
I loved going to the local village and school, the walking safaris with guide Brent were the best I had ever done anywhere in Africa. Tafika is for serious safari goers. The rooms are more rustic and basic and the overall feel of the camp is not about luxury but rather functionality.
The game sights were awesome, the guiding phenomenal. All in all a truly wonderful experience.