- Luxurious tented accommodation
- Picturesque location
- Abundant wildlife
- Chongwe Safaris Portfolio
Chongwe River is a luxury safari camp situated on the west bank of the Chongwe River in central Zambia's Lower Zambezi Valley. Characterised by a relaxed atmosphere, sumptuous food and service, up-close wildlife sightings, and an exciting variety of water and land-based activities, this property offers superb value since its location just outside the Lower Zambezi National Park boundary makes for considerably reduced prices in relation to similar high-end camps located within the National Park. The location, however, does nothing to detract from the abundance of wildlife viewing, with dense concentrations of lion, leopard and elephant to enjoy. The camp is reached via light aircraft from Lusaka or Mfuwe, followed by a 20-minute road transfer.
The main areas are stylish and elegant, with the bar and lounge area containing a small library and numerous plush sofas set out under canvas hung from the surrounding trees. The outdoor dining area provides a candlelit setting for evening meals, and there’s also a fire pit surrounded by wooden armchairs. To one side, behind a sturdy wall to keep the elephants at bay, is the small but refreshing swimming pool. A stay includes all drinks, meals, laundry and activities, and WiFi is available throughout.
The accommodation comprises a total of eleven rooms. There are nine comfortable, en-suite tents lining the riverbank, with handcrafted furniture and either king-sized double or twin bed formation. The well-appointed open-air bathrooms contain toilet, shower, basin, and wardrobe. Thatched roofs help regulate temperature, and each room has a private veranda overlooking the valley’s pristine wilderness. There are two larger, more exclusive tented suites, boasting individual butler service and private plunge pools. Albida offers colonial-style décor, combining African textiles and Victorian details, and sleeps four in two capacious bedrooms set out in king-size double or twin formation. The open-air bathroom contains a claw-foot bath in addition to the standard facilities. The Cassia Suite has a similarly luxurious feel. Popular as a honeymoon retreat, this suite boasts a full bar alongside its private riverside pool.
Safari activities consist of day and night game drives, boat cruises, walking safaris, and canoeing. The guiding is exceptional, with small group sizes maximising up-close encounters with the area’s spectacularly rich wildlife. If guests have time, a full-day excursion into Lower Zambezi National Park is also available. Walking safaris along the foothills of the Zambezi escarpment are a real highlight, with opportunities to spot the elusive Samango monkey, and fishing is available on a catch-and-release basis.
Children of 8 years and over are welcome. Note, however, that children under 12 are unable to participate in walking safaris, and for children aged 12-16 participation is at the guide's discretion. The Albida Suite is best suited for smaller families, but larger groups should consider the camp's sister property Chongwe River House, a lovely four-bedroomed safari base set a little downstream. As the camp is unfenced and wild animals pass through with thrilling regularity, parental supervision is essential 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