Tena Tena: Our full report
On the north side of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, Tena Tena lies in the remote but game-rich Nsefu Sector.Due to the changing course of the river, the camp was moved about a kilometre upstream in 2012, and while it is still on the riverbank, the river itself can be some distance away during the dry season. The camp, which is run by Robin Pope Safaris, focuses on excellent guiding and flexible activities, with personal service and attention, all in very comfortable surroundings.
Tena Tena today is both stylish and built to a high standard, yet it remains a tented camp, and it is perhaps this that helps it to retain a 'close to nature' feel. Both the tents and the main area are tucked away in a shady mahogany grove with views over the Luangwa River.
Tena Tena has six spacious tents, each with its own private shady location. Every tent has a veranda, with a couple of comfy armchairs and views of the sandy bed of the Luangwa River, a spot that's popular with wildlife. And as the front of the tents can be rolled up, you can even enjoy the view from your bed. One of the six, designated the honeymoon tent, has a larger seating area and a larger couch outside. It is also set even further away and thus affords more privacy than the others.
Inside, locally made straw mats lie on polished concrete floors and the décor is in neutral safari tones: stylish but very subtle. In the centre is a king-size bed, whose polished concrete headboard sports two solar-powered reading lamps. Behind the headboard is an area for storing luggage along with ample hanging space and shelves. There are fans for the hotter months, when it’s great to wet the kikois (simple cotton wraps) that are provided in each tent, and relax in the shade with them wrapped around you! Guests will also find Maglite torches, mosquito repellent and drinking water by the beds, and a plug point for charging batteries.
Through a flap to one side of each tent is an open-air bathroom, with a flush toilet, double basins and hot-and-cold shower. Toiletries are also supplied.
Sandy pathways lead from the tents to Tena Tena's main area. Split over two levels, this is built under a vast tented roof supported by rustic poles, with views across the river. The upper level offers a comfortable place to relax, its lovely wooden furniture set with cream and ochre cushions. It is also home to a big dining table with directors' chairs, where most meals are enjoyed, and to a large wooden bar, a good spot to chat to fellow guests after game activities or before dinner. A ‘loo with a (very good!) view’ is located nearby. From the lower level, built-in seating with ample cushions in the same cream and ochre colour scheme affords a great spot to watch the sun setting – if you are not out on a game activity!
Typically there are two guided activities per day from Tena Tena, each lasting around 3–4 hours and led by an expert guide; the standards of guiding here are exceptionally high. For each activity you'll have a choice: from walking safaris, 4WD game safaris and night drives. All walking safaris are accompanied by both an armed scout and a fully qualified guide.
Tena Tena is a few hours' drive north of RPS’s main camp, Nkwali, which is in the Mfuwe area, and is reasonably close to its sister bushcamp, Nsefu, which is the only other permanent camp in the Nsefu Sector. These three camps combine really well with each other – and if you are staying at both Nsefu and Tena Tena, it is possible to do a half-day walking safari between the two. On our last trip, in June 2017, we walked to Tena Tena from Nsefu with a guide who was incredibly knowledgeable about many of the smaller animals. We were also able to sit and observe elephant and buffalo from close range.
The more adventurous may like to spend one or two nights outside at a Robin Pope Safaris bushcamp (more of a fly-camping experience, in Meru-style tents) or to link one of the permanent camps with a longer RPS walking mobile safari. Speak to us if you would like to include either of these experiences in your visit to Tena Tena.
Those looking to experience something of the local culture can also combine Tena Tena with a trip to Kawaza Village, which was originally set up with the help of Robin Pope Safaris.
Tena Tena manages to strike a balance between being simple yet stylish, without compromising at all on comfort or standards. For those looking for a touch of wilderness and superb guiding at a good-quality tented camp, Tena Tena is an excellent choice.
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Ideal length of stay
- We recommend a minimum stay of three nights at Tena Tena, perhaps preceded by two to three nights at Tena Tena's sister camp, Nkwali.
- From Mfuwe Airport, guests are transferred by road to camp, taking approximately one hour.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Though we didn’t have time to stay for a meal during our last visit in June 2017, we've visited Tena Tena many times before and each time their meals could not be faulted.
Breakfast is normally served around the campfire before an early-morning activity. It often includes hot porridge, cereals and bread toasted over the coals, with the option of eggs cooked to order. Fresh fruit and tea and coffee are also on offer.
Brunch is served at around 11.30am or midday, depending on the time everyone returns from the morning activity. You can expect light salads, quiches and a selection of vegetables, as well as a hot dish. We loved the fish pie (hake), followed by a hot chocolate brownie for dessert on our last stay in October 2014.
Dinner starts with a few relaxed drinks around the campfire or at the bar, then moves on to the dining table, beautifully set up either in the main area or outside under the stars. The camp serves a set menu on most evenings, though with advance notice they can cater to a variety of dietary requests. On a previous visit the starter of blue cheese and pear salad was particularly memorable, as were the handmade fishcakes served with lemon mayonnaise as a main course. You can also expect an indulgent dessert, rounded off with coffee.
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- Filtered drinking water, soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included in the rates. Fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs are charged as extras, and need to be ordered in advance.
- Solo Travel
- Tena Tena is another great Robin Pope Safaris camp in the game-rich Nsefu Sector which has flexible activities and excellent guiding – as well as a very relaxed social feeling. It's a great choice for solo travel in Zambia, especially as it charges no single supplement.
- See ideas for Solo Travel
- Tena Tena is a lovely choice for those who want to combine luxury with a touch of wilderness on their honeymoon to Zambia. Offering delicious food, great guiding and a very comfortable, private and secluded honeymoon tent, the service is attentive and thoughtful.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- Walking safaris
- Tena Tena overlooks the Luangwa River on the edge of the Nsefu Sector, some of which is very open and flat, so well suited to those looking for a walking safari in Zambia. The guiding standards are also very high. Serious walkers might choose to sleep under the stars at a Robin Pope Safaris bushcamp.
- See ideas for Walking safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Tena Tena is happy to accommodate mature, well-behaved children.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Children of 12 years and over are welcome at Tena Tena.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- This is a remote bushcamp with quite an adult atmosphere and we feel that it is suited only to older, sensible children. Families with children may prefer to stay at Luangwa Safari House or Robin's House which both offer more privacy and flexibility for family groups.
- Children will need to be constantly supervised by their parents as the camp is not fenced in and game wanders freely throughout.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Tena Tena
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Tena Tena 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
- There is a back-up generator on site if necessary.
- Tena Tena is in constant radio contact with its sister camp, Nkwali, which has a landline phone as well as internet. There is no cellphone reception at Tena Tena.
- TV & radio
- Tena Tena has no TVs or radios
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Bathrooms in all the tents are fully plumbed, with flush toilets and hot-and-cold showers.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is a doctor based in the Mfuwe area, about an hour’s drive from Tena Tena. First-aid kits are provided in the camp vehicles and all guides are trained in first aid.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- There are two night watchmen at Tena Tena, and you will be escorted to and from your tent after dark.
- Fire safety
- There are fire buckets at each tent. Fire extinguishers are located in the main areas and staff are trained in their use.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A complimentary laundry service is included. Items are hand washed by male staff and then line dried. This does not include ladies' underwear, which you would need to wash yourself; washing powder is provided in the bathrooms for this.
- Safes are provided in all the rooms.
There are no exchange facilities available at Tena Tena.
- Accepted payment on location
- Tena Tena does not accept debit or credit cards, but payments may be made in cash with US dollars, British pounds, Zambian kwacha and euros.
Visa and Mastercard payments may be made, with prior agreement, at Tena Tena’s sister camp Nkwali.
Other lodges in South Luangwa National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
One of the best camps in Zambia, Tafika is naturally built, combining excellent service and food with top guiding skills for a superb wildlife experience.
On the banks of the Luangwa River, with its own access to the national park, the intimate Nkwali is open year round.
Small and owner-run, the riverside Kaingo occupies a a quiet but excellent game area, with a series of wildlife hides and a focus on photography.
One of the Luangwa's oldest camps, Nsefu is a great safari camp in a remote, beautiful and game-rich location with top-rate guiding.
Small, remote and owner-run, Mwamba offers first-class walking, 4WD safari drives and superb hides, with excellent guides and a real bush feel.
Chikoko Tree Camp
Chikoko Tree Camp is an excellent small, rustic bushcamp that concentrates on walking safaris, and is run by a top-quality operation.
Big Lagoon Camp
Big Lagoon Camp is a great little rustic bushcamp built to high standards that focuses on excellent walking safaris, with the emphasis on top wildlife guides.
Kapani Lodge is now the main office base for Norman Carr Safaris, one of the Luangwa's oldest safari operations.
A relatively big safari camp, Flatdogs offers value for money with great guiding and good food in a comfortable, relaxed setting.
Luangwa River Camp
Luangwa River Lodge is a small and consciously stylish lodge in the Mfuwe area, overlooking the Luangwa River and the South Luangwa National Park beyond – an area renowned for great game.
Beside the Luangwa River, Kakuli is a comfortable tented bushcamp offering 4WD safaris and walking safaris – the best of which are camp-to-camp walks linking Kakuli with its nearby sister camps.
Set in a shady ebony grove on the banks of the Luangwa, Mchenja is a smart tented bushcamp. It combines well with Kakuli and Nsolo – its sister camps with a focus on walking safaris.
Nsolo is a small, comfortable bushcamp overlooking one or two pools in the usually dry Luwi riverbed. It concentrates on walking safaris in an interesting and diverse area, led by a knowledgeable guide.
Kafunta River Lodge
Kafunta is a laid-back, friendly and good-value lodge on the outskirts of South Luangwa National Park.
In a remote part of the South Luangwa National Park, Luwi is a rustic bushcamp whose emphasis is on walking safaris with great guiding and a chance of seeing some rarely seen and elusive antelope.
Robin Pope bush-camp
RPS bushcamping in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Lion Camp is an established and comfortable camp with a swimming pool, located near to the game-rich Lion Plain in the northern part of South Luangwa National Park.
Robin Pope mobile
RPS mobile safari camps are at the heart of their set-itinerary walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park, which start and finish at a permanent camp.
In the remote far south of South Luangwa National Park, Kapamba is a small and very comfortable bushcamp offering good walks and game drives.
Puku Ridge is a luxurious designer camp set in a stunning location, high on a hill overlooking a floodplain within South Luangwa. Explore from here on 4WD safaris and walks.
In a game-rich area close to the South Luangwa’s main Mfuwe Gate, Mfuwe Lodge is relatively large by park standards, but it’s stylish, modern and family friendly.
Kuyenda Bushcamp is a classic bushcamp with particularly delightful hosts and offers top-class walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park.
Luangwa Safari House
Luangwa Safari House is a vast and very smart four-bedroom house specifically designed for families and small groups, and offering an exclusive and flexible safari experience.
Opened in early June 2013, Chinzombo offers luxurious and stylish accommodation with very high levels of service and excellent guiding.
A smart bushcamp with four very spacious chalets, Bilimungwe offers interesting walking safaris in pretty riverine woodland, as well as day and night safari drives.
Chindeni Bushcamp is a very modern and minimalist camp, which is a far cry from your traditional bushcamp and unlike most of the other camps in South Luangwa.
Three Rivers Camp
In the remote far south of South Luangwa National Park, Three Rivers Lodge sits at the confluence of three of the valleys rivers.
Kawaza Village – beside the South Luangwa National Park, offers guests the rare opportunity to appreciate local village life. Visit for a few hours or stay overnight.
With your own expert guide, private vehicle, chef and valet, the two-bedroom Robin's House offers an exclusive, flexible safari experience – and is open year round.
Island Bush Camp
Island Bushcamp is a good-value, rustic, walking-only camp, in arguably one of the most remote parts of the South Luangwa, well away from all other camps.
The Mwamba-Camp Out allows you to have an incredibly adventurous night in the bush, sleeping under mosquito nets with activities led by some of the best guides in Zambia.
A comfortable little bushcamp, Chamilandu has a picturesque setting by the Luangwa River, in an area with a range of habitats to explore on foot and by 4WD.
Zungulila is a small, comfortable tented bushcamp with an emphasis on walking safaris, in the remote southern section of the South Luangwa.
Currently undergoing renovations, Chichele Presidential Lodge stands high within the park, with superb views, and is due to reopen in late 2022.
Luwi Riverbed Sleepout
For an adventurous night in South Luangwa National Park, come and sleep out in the bush, around a campfire, with an experienced guide and game scout.
Opened in June 2021, Shawa Luangwa Camp is a small, intimate and rustic camp, with a good location in a remote section of the South Luangwa National Park.
Mapazi Camp is a basic safari camp in the far north of the South Luangwa, with walking safaris led by renowned guide Deb Tittle.
Chikunto Safari Lodge is a more traditional property in the South Luangwa National Park, sitting on a peninsula of land created by the meandering Luangwa River.