Mpala Jena

Mpala Jena: Our full report

Rooms
4 chalets & 1 suite
Open
All year

Construction has started on the new Mpala Jena camp in Zimbabwe's Zambezi National Park, adjacent to the world famous Victoria Falls. Work is currently continuing on the camp, which we expect to see completed towards the end of 2018.

Run by the well established Great Plains Conservation, Mpala Jena will be one of the first Zimbabwean camps from this operator, along with new safari camps in the Sapi Concession adjacent to Mana Pools National Park. Built on the ground of what was previously Pioneer’s Camp, Mpala Jena is located 16kms inside the Zambezi National Park, offering a peaceful safari setting away from the bustling town of Victoria Falls, but still within easy reach of the eponymous waterfall.

Construction started on the camp in late 2017, and is still in progress on the camp. However, on our last visit to the area in June 2018 we visited the site to get the latest updates.

Located on the banks of the Zambezi River, within its own private concession in the park, and named after the legend of an albino impala that used to roam the banks of the Zambezi, Mpala Jena looks to be a small and personal camp. Aiming to be one of the most environmentally innovative camps in the area, we understand that the entire lodge will run on solar power, and that recycled woods and canvas will be brought in to ensure the lodge has as minimal an impact as possible on the environment.

Four tented chalets and one private family suite are under construction, all facing the river. Though the team were only just laying the foundations during our last visit, we understand that the chalets, which will be raised up above potential high water levels, will be built in a style to complement the surrounding environment, with a plan to use locally sourced stone cladding, neutral colours and any trees within the planning area as part of the design.


We understand that walkways will link the chalets, spaced out along the river to give each its own privacy. The chalets will be en-suite, with additional outdoor showers, and a private deck and plunge pool to the front of each chalet.

The suite is some distance from the chalets, and a private driver, chef and host will be at guests’ disposal. The plan is for the suite to have two large rooms, both en-suite, and a spacious lounge area.

The camp’s main area will also be linked via the walkways, and also overlooks the river, with a large outside deck to the front. The idea is for the dining area to link with the kitchen for an interactive dining experience, where guests can watch the chefs prepare meals.

In addition to the usual adrenaline and sightseeing activities available in the Victoria Falls area, the team at Mpala Jena expects to also offer game drives, walking safaris within the national park and boat trips on the Zambezi River. Impressive anti-poaching activities and an increased number of camps in the park have helped to increase wildlife numbers in recent years, and the Zambezi National Park is now a good place to spot hippo, elephant and buffalo, with lion and wild dog also being possibilities.
However, from our experiences on our most recent trips to Zimbabwe the wildlife in the park is still fairly limited compared to Zimbabwe's larger national parks, and for the full safari experience we would suggest looking further afield to Mana Pools or Hwange National Park.

Our view

We've been thoroughly impressed with our experiences at Great Plains Conservation's existing camps in Botswana and Kenya, and we are very excited to see them expanding into Zimbabwe. We are expecting Mpala Jena to be a highly innovative camp that will offer a relaxed safari experience within easy reach of the Victoria Falls. We will keep an eye on developments and will be updating this page as the camp construction progresses.

Geographics

Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Ideal length of stay: A stay of two to three nights at Mpala Jena will give you time to enjoy the activities at the lodge as well spending a day at the Victoria Falls. If you’re interested in taking part in more of the activities around the Falls, an extra day would be beneficial.

Directions: From your arrival at Victoria Falls airport, Mpala Jena is approximately an hour and twenty minute drive away – a portion of this will be on tarred road, the rest through the national park which will take the form of a game drive. We understand there will also be the opportunity to be transferred to the lodge via boat.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Great Plains Conservation

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We’re told that the kitchen at Mpala Jena will be an interactive experience, with chefs cooking in front of guests, and able to cater to a range of dietary requirements. While we don’t yet have an idea of the menus, we understand that the meals will be a combination of buffet and à la carte options.

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: The lodge plans to run fully on solar power, though we understand that back-up generators will be in place.

Sustainability

The newest supporter of eco-friendly operations

Built with the intention of being the most environmentally innovative camp within the Zambezi National Park, Mpala Jena Camp is sparing no effort in building a harmonious and sustainable ecotope for both its guests and the surrounding environment. As environmental sustainability becomes embedded in the business, the camp’s recycling project is consistent with its philosophy of touching the earth lightly.

All waste is sorted at the camp and then, following a six-hour drive, it is sent to Nairobi for recycling. Simultaneously, the camp is developing new paths to make its road network more efficient and eliminate unnecessary driving in order to reduce the environmental footprint. Food waste, on the other hand, goes into a worm garden, whereas paper and combustibles are used to power wood heaters by lighting the fire. Additionally, all materials used in building Mpala Jena Camp are “green”, and include recycled hardwoods and canvas.

Opened in 2018, the recycling imitative represents only the start of a long-term commitment for environmental protection at Mpala Jena.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

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