- Spectacular wildlife
- Varied accommodation options
- Superb value for money
- Owner-run camp
Flatdogs is a friendly and informal camp situated on the banks of the Luangwa River, just five minutes from the Mfuwe entrance to the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia’s Eastern Province. Once a backpacker’s hostel, Flatdog’s facilities have been upgraded over time with a range of basic to luxurious accommodation types now on offer. Although the owners provide a very warm welcome and the safari guiding is excellent, any hosting within the camp itself is low-level. Guests are expected to be independent during their stay, meaning the camp can continue to offer superb value for money in a wildlife rich area. The permanent river attracts dense animal concentrations, including lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, hyena, a variety of antelope, and a huge diversity of birdlife. A good range of vehicle and walking safaris are offered, along with cultural visits to local villages and educational centres. In short, Flatdogs will suit independent travellers seeking comfort, flexibility, and expert guiding at really competitive prices.
The main areas are simple and clean, with neutral tones and stone floors. The bar and restaurant are open to both the public and guests, creating a relaxed, sociable feel which evokes the camp’s bygone days as a backpacker’s stopover. Meals can be enjoyed whenever and wherever: under thatch, in the courtyard cafe, or in the garden overlooking the river. WiFi is available in the courtyard area at additional cost. There is a large pool, though be sure to check before swimming, as the camp is often visited by wildlife!
Flatdogs offers a superb variety of accommodation, ranging from fairly basic safari tents to exclusive tree-house hideaways. Three ‘standard tents’ are situated amidst the trees, while seven more spacious and comfortable ‘luxury tents’ sit beneath thatch along the riverbank, complete with open-air bathrooms. There are six stone and thatch ‘chalets’, each housing both double and twin/triple rooms with ensuite facilities, offering greater privacy. The chalets work either as separate dwellings, or they combine well for groups or families. The most recent addition is the delightful Jackalberry Tree House. Set apart from the rest of camp, and with an exclusive feel, it sits eight feet high amongst the ebony trees and sleeps four (or five on request) in two en-suite bedrooms. There’s a lounge and dining area overlooking a lagoon often frequented by giraffe and elephant, and radio communication can be used to order meals delivered to the door. Finally, ‘Crocs Nest’ is a tented house containing two en-suite bedrooms, as well as a living and dining area which opens out onto a large deck with sofas and a lovely private pool.
Activities include morning and evening game drives, but the real highlights are the walking safaris and night game drives which the National Park permits. Cultural activities include visits to the park's anti-poaching unit, a local school, and the wildlife education centre. A trip to the local village of Kawaza also gives guests a chance to experience village life for a day-trip or an overnight stay.
The camp welcomes children of all ages. There’s one family tent containing one double and two single beds, plus a designated ‘family chalet’, with ensuite twin and double rooms, and a twin loft. Although there are no activities tailored specifically to children, younger family members are welcome to join the cultural and safari activities, and there’s always the pool to keep them entertained. Parents should note that wild animals do venture into camp and while it’s unlikely that wildlife will approach tents or humans, children must remain under close supervision at all times.
The safari trip was excellent! The stay, the food and the people were all very nice. We were happy to have Ryan and Stanley as our game drive guides they brought us up close to the animals and Ryan gave very good information throughout.
Would definitely recommend to friends who are interested in safaris :)
Also, thanks much for your help, particularly keeping the room for my Brother and his wife they’ve enjoyed the safari very much too!
Woan Chyi L reviewing Cape Town & Kruger Safari on 16 October 2019
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