Reviews of Vundu Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Perfect for a Zambesi experience
The atmosphere is Vundu camp was very different to that at Davison's, perhaps because we were the only guests staying there at the time. In the first place the staff were much more racially mixed. The accommodation was as good and although the rooms did not look out onto a water pan, they were only a few metres from the banks of the Zimbabwe and big animals such as hippos and elephants did wander through the camp at night, justifying the need for the armed escort when moving around the camp at night.
In contrast to Davison's, we spent little time driving around and much more walking and following the trails of animals. We had complete confidence in Nick, who was our guide all the time and who owns the camp. Twice we went out for a half day canoeing on the Zambesi with him, glad of his knowledge and experience given the number of hippos on the river. Stopping the canoes to let a family of elephants swim across the river in front of us was unforgettable. So was coming back in the canoes at sunset to find a candle-lit dinner set up on the bank.
We could none of us give this camp a higher recommendation.
Excellent service in a relaxed atmosphere
Vundu is a beautiful, relaxed camp on the banks of the Zambezi. The rooms are luxury canvas tents overlooking the river, with indoor and outdoor bathrooms. They are very clean and comfortable and allow you to get close to nature - I heard a hippo dung-spraying onto my tent one evening!
Breakfast is nice and early, served around a fire as the Sun comes up. The food is good and the coffee delicious (and much needed!). The camp offers a variety of activities and I would highly recommend the canoe trip on the Zambezi - an adrenaline filled experience as you dodge hippos and then calm the nerves with sundowners on the bank. The walking safaris also allow you an amazing, different perspective on the wildlife and Nick, the head guide, is clearly very experienced and knowledgable, allowing you to track and get close to the animals. In particular he specialises in getting up close and personal with elephants and knows the animals in his area extremely well. He is also very friendly, likes a practical joke and has lots of good stories for around the camp fire in the evening.
The game viewing at the time of year that I went (May) is not the best as the bush is still green, but this makes the area more beautiful in my opinion and it provides more excitement as you have to work for your game viewings (or rather Nick does). The temperature is also more comfortable. An opportunity to see the wild dogs was a particular attraction for me, but this is by no means guaranteed at any time of year, as they cover great distances and move quickly, and sadly I was unlucky. Nonetheless this a was a wonderful trip that I would highly recommend, especially to those who want to really experience relaxation in the bush, rather than just view large concentrations of game.
Vundu Camp review
Great camp and amazing guide.
3 day canoe safari was excellent, though low water prevented access to many of the smaller channels, which were the most interesting part. C
anoeing may be better earlier in the season, though the concentration of wildlife close to the river was incredible.
Excellent guides at Vundu
Everything was as you would expect from a long standing lodge with experienced guides and management. The knowledge and ability of all the guides was top level.
One point, which we tried to share with the camp but not sure we succeeded was regarding the 'combining guests by arrival date rather than interest'. Other guests arrived on the same day as we did and their interests were the Wild Dogs that were around. Ours was birds and canoeing. Our guide did his absolute best, and did well, to balance this but undoubtedly both sets of guests were compromising. As those guests left we were then paired with new guests - we were quite clear about wanting to go canoeing but (i found out afterwards) the other guests had to be persuaded quite hard to do this. If they had stuck to their guns i'm not sure what would have happened.
When we mentioned this to management their view seemed to be that we should have got a personal guide. My point is that both the camp and the travel agent say that all guests have a choice of activities, without saying 'so long as other guests also want to do the same thing'.
In the end we did do the things we wanted, although maybe in a different order. It seems that there should be a better way of ensuring this can be done (I would suggest earlier planning of all activities with guests, eg soon after arrival).
The camp is in a beautiful position on the banks of the Zambezi. The main lodge was good with a bar and comfortable seating. A simple breakfast was served around the campfire, with a buffet lunch outside in the shade and three course dinner inside the lodge. The food was tasty but not exceptional. There were unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
We were the only guests in camp but the camp manager, Peter, invited other people for dinner which enlivened the evenings, particularly as these were very interesting wildlife people for us to meet and learn from.
The tent we were in was large but sparsely furnished and could be improved by more furniture and local artefacts. It was incredibly hot whilst we were there and as there was only a portable free-standing fan which stopped at night when the generator went off, trying to sleep was quite uncomfortable. A ceiling fan would have circulated the air better. The bathroom was outside the tent and open to the sky - but in fact this worked really well as it was cooler in the evenings. We liked the double sinks (with sink plugs that worked - such a rarity!) and the double shower, allowing us to both wash and shower at the same time.
What makes this camp special was it's position for wildlife viewing. It has a pack of wild dogs resident in the area that we saw each day, as well as seeing the other pack of dogs in the park on one occasion. We had other wonderful wildlife experiences including seeing the elephant "Fred Astaire" doing the 'Mana stand' on his back legs to reach for the apple-core pods. The combination of driving, then being allowed to walk in the park enabled us to drive around to spot things but then walk to get closer to them - the perfect combination. Our guide, Henry, was friendly, knowledgable, and competent.
We canoed down the Zambezi one afternoon and this was very special.
Difficult to imagine a better place.
Vundu Camp was without doubt the highlight of our trip.
Very comfortable large rooms, excellent food, great staff; often things one takes for granted on high end Safari, but what marked Vundu Camp out was Brandt and Nick, great host's determined to show us all that was there, including an African Wildcat.
The canoe trips alone make this place a worthwhile stop, the guides really know their stuff and gave us some incredible experiences. The only thing they could improve was the breakfast, slightly disappointing but the other meals more than compensated.
Vundu Camp review
The river location was wonderful and, having the honeymoon chalet, we had a particularly good site. We also appreciated the celebratory meal Peter organised for us in our 'home' location.
Alistair was an excellent, informative guide. We particularly enjoyed the drive we had with him on our own. Other drives very good though sometimes we felt influenced by the strongly expressed wishes of other clients accompanying us.
Don't judge a book by its cover
On arrival our first impressions were a little negative. The accommodation although dated and minimal in appearance, was very comfortable. This is an intimate family run camp where the owner/guides are passionate about what they do best, which is guiding.
Alistair our guide had been guiding for years and was very knowledgeable about the bush. He worked hard to find us game and new close encounter experiences with elephants, lions and, what we went to Mana for, Painted Dogs.
The Vundu pack had left their den only a few days before our arrival so our hopes of seeing them at the den were shattered. They had just gone nomadic and had not been seen for a few days. Alistair tried desperately for our first two days to find them but to no avail. Then on our third morning, up before dawn and onto the flood plain for first light, we found them purely by accident while we were approaching a bull elephant on foot. Possibly one of the best dog encounters we have ever had, running after a pack of wild dogs while our guide followed us in the vehicle from the nearby road.
Another evening we went walking looking for three lionesses but had no luck until we accidentally walked into the scrub area where they were sleeping. The lionesses woke up and gave out an almighty growl stopping us in our tracks. Although clearly annoyed at our presence, these nice ladies said no more about it and sent us on our way. An incredible life experience.
Vundu Camp review
On this safari we wanted to get closer to the animals than we had on previous trips, so we booked 4 nights at Vundu with Nick as a private guide. We didn't realise just how close to the animals we would get! on foot. We were 5 meters away from bull elephants, 10 meters away from lions and painted dogs. We were leaving the vehicle to run into the bush having seen flashing tails and hearing the dogs barking to be confronted by the dogs and a lion was to be an experience never to be forgotten.
During our stay there Nick got us to run and to climb trees albeit so he could take a photo of us at that point. All the staff were friendly, could not do enough to ensure our stay met our requirements. We loved the homely feel with simple facilities provided, please do not try to change to meet the luxury expectations of some customers, we love outside bathrooms.
Vundu Camp review
Brilliant guiding here (Alistair Chambers). Highlights being a wonderful hour spent with wild dogs at their den with pups; a super walk to sit within yards of a lion and hyena and a hair-raising canoe trip down the Zambezi. We enjoyed the camp, although perhaps a little old-fashioned (needs a feminine touch?). A couple of glitches with regards to hot water and a game drive were handled properly