- Small-scale, luxury tented camp
- Shaded plunge pool
- Up-close walking safaris
- Game drives
Named for the nearby grove of ebony trees, Mchenja Bushcamp is an elegant tented camp with superb views of the South Luangwa National Park’s unspoilt wilderness. A two hour drive from Mfuwe airport, each of the camp’s five tented chalets overlook the huge sweeping bend in Zambia’s Luangwa River, the perfect backdrop for a relaxing stay. Mchenja is arguably Norman Carr’s most luxurious camp, and one of the best in the area. Even during peak sunlight hours, guests can enjoy welcome shade from the ebony grove, as well as the surrounding sausage trees. Guests have the choice of staying close to camp and indulging in comfort and pampering, or exploring the area further.
The camp comprises five tented chalets, spaced far enough apart to ensure privacy. Each hexagonal tent is designed to be light and airy, and floor to ceiling canvas windows with billowing cotton curtains let the breeze through on hot days. The tents also have their own private en-suite open air bathroom with hot and cold shower, plus Victorian style baths with delightful river views and a decking area featuring a small shaded plunge pool, which although not large enough for swimming, is deep enough to completely submerge in for a refreshing escape from the heat.
Peak safari season is between June and October, but the camp is also open in the last weeks of May and first weeks of November. Those who visit during October and November will experience the highest wildlife concentrations, although they will also need to come prepared for some very high temperatures. Mchenja is located in a strong game area and offers both walking safaris and 4WD safaris. It’s possible to combine Mchenja into a camp-to-camp walking trip, as it’s only a morning’s walk from its sister-camps, Kakuli and Nsolo. As with most of the South Luangwa, sightings of lions and leopards are fairly common; during the dry season guests might be lucky enough to see antelope, mongoose, or even bushbabies, and the birdlife is phenomenal.
Aside from safari activities, guests can choose to simply relax at camp and spend the day reading books from the small library in the many comfortable sofas. The bar is well stocked with soft drinks, spirits, beer and wine, and afternoon tea with cake is served after a midday siesta. The main lounge is sheltered by a sausage tree, which is designed to look like it’s falling into the dining area. Dinner is usually served when guests return from the evening game drive. Meals are normally enjoyed communally, but private dinners can be arranged for anyone who wishes to enjoy the beautiful sunset views of the river in peaceful seclusion.
For safety reasons, the camp only accepts children aged 12 and over if they’re part of a booked family group. Children are not permitted to join guided walks, but may take part in game drives, which will easily thrill them as the 'Lion Plain', where safaris take place, certainly lives up to its name. Parents should note that the camp is unfenced and is also beside a steep, and occasionally unstable, bank of the Luangwa River so children must be kept under adult supervision at all times.
We had a fantastic time and all the arrangements worked perfectly.
We were very impressed with the quality and service levels of all 4 locations visited and it was truly a holiday of a lifetime.
Thank you to you and to Lisa for giving us this experience.
Particular highlights for us – really the whole experience, but of particular impact:
Breathtaking scenery at Cathedral Peak Hotel
Rhino Ridge game drives incredible, thanks to guide (we had their head guide, Hala, who’s knowledge, enthusiasm, kindness, interaction, ability to spot wildlife was out of this world)
Luxury of Rhino Ridge (shower, food, views, service)
Immersion in nature, torch lit meal on last night and beach trip at Kosi Forest Lodge
Level of service, quality of food throughout
Catherine F reviewing South Africa Safari, Beach and Wetlands on 04 September 2019
We had a fantastic time. Thank you and it went smoothly in the main except for British Airways!
The trip had the right degree of luxury and relaxation (for me) and adventure (all of us).
A few points:
Driving directions to Umlunghi Lodge were slightly wrong. The driving directions should read at the 4th roundabout take the first exit and turn right over the railway. We loved it there. Anton, Bianca and her son and Harriet were very informative and entertaining. The snake talk and handling, night walks and seeing scorpions and the walk in the bush and "bumping" into a giraffe were really special. The kayak trip to Makuzi pan that the lodge organised was good and Tomaz was very informative and kept a respectful distance from the hippos.3 nights was plenty.
Rhino River Lodge game reserve was incredibly luxurious and we felt very looked after. The lion siting in camp the day we arrived sent an extra frisson of excitement down our spines. It was easy to forget there were predators that could attack us with all that luxury. The staff and guides (Karl) were knowledgeable and invested in their set up. We saw rhinos with baby, cheetahs with young, porcupine, Genet, wildebeast, Impala, Lion with young, buffalo, a puff adder, ostrich, zebra and giraffes. 4 nights was also plenty.
They all served great food but I felt Ghost Mountain Inn topped the lot. The variety was amazing. We arrived at 10.30 but could not get into our room until 2 ish. The service was not so personal I guess because it is larger (far more than 50 rooms). We had been a bit spoilt at Rhino River! My daughter and I had some treatments at the Spa and loved it. We also went on a large boat trip on Jonzi and had a closer encounter with a large bull hippo and also a hike up Ghost Mountain with Patrick who was very informative and passionate about his people and his country. Isaac the other guide there took us on the boat trip and pointed out the sugar cane harvest on the way. he was very informative also.
Lastly, Lalaria Lodge was fabulous and we all piled into the surf of the Indian Ocean. There was hardly anyone on the beach. It was "too cold" according to the landlady. The view from her terrace was of the ocean and whales breaching in the distance. I could have sat there all day. She very kindly provided us with a Scrabble board of her own for us to play. We took a Microlight ride from Ballito over the coastline in the hope of seeing whales and dolphins but no luck. If we had stayed longer we might have gone on a boat trip from Durban. We had a meal at a restaurant called Mozambique which was great fun with vast portions, plenty of carbs and fresh seafood!
The value of the Rand to the Pound was excellent and therefore we felt that we got excellent value which also played a large part!
Katrina P reviewing South Africa Bush & Beach Safari For Families on 02 September 2019
We had the most incredible time thank you. We loved Karen Blixen camp and felt part of a family there, it was incredibly special. And Breezes was very relaxing.
We can't fault all the transfers and the moment we were greeted on the tarmac at Nairobi airport we knew we were going to be well cared for.
Thank you so much to you and all the Tourdust team for making it such a happy and memorable trip.
Zoe A reviewing Masai Mara Safari & Beach on 27 August 2019