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Island Bush Camp

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

Highlights

- Rustic bush camp in remote location
- Great value accommodation for the area
- 'Up-close' guided walking safaris
- Kafunta Safaris Portfolio

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Overview

Island Bush Camp is an intimate and unassuming rustic safari base located in an extremely remote yet game-rich area of the South Luangwa National Park, eastern Zambia. Located on the high sandbanks of the Luangwa River, three hours south of its sister camp Kafunta River Lodge, this excellent-value, owner-run dwelling offers a ‘back-to-basics’ stay in pristine wilderness, allowing guests to reconnect with nature both through the simplicity of the camp facilities, and through the expertly-guided walking safaris for which this National Park is renowned. Common, ‘up-close’ encounters with lion, buffalo, giraffe, and elephant during the walks are a particular highlight of the area, and a real thrill. Despite the camp’s rustic nature, the service and cuisine are of an excellent standard, and friendly staff promote a sociable atmosphere. This seasonal retreat is open during the late May to early November dry season, and is reached via a four hour airport transfer along a bumpy track in an uncovered vehicle, so do bring a hat, sun cream, and a little resilience for the ride.

The camp is small and simple, blending almost completely into its river-side surroundings. The open-air main area sits below a thatched roof amidst a mahogany tree grove and contains a bar, a lounge area with sofas and armchairs, and a covered dining area. Meals are cooked on a wood-burning stove, and are often served outdoors under the stars. To maximise game viewing and avoid the midday heat, the day starts very early at Island Bush Camp, but early-morning tea and freshly toasted bread served around the fire pit overlooking the river undoubtedly cushions the blow. There is no mains electricity; the camp runs on solar power and paraffin lights, so it’s worth arriving with equipment fully charged.

The accommodation consists of just 5 bush chalets; reed huts which open onto private verandas overlooking the river with its neighbouring pod of hippos. Sitting on a raised wooden platform, each room contains twin single beds draped in mosquito netting, directors’ chairs, a small table, and a solar-powered lamp. The open-air en-suite bathroom sits on the same level along a short walkway, equipped with a canvas bucket shower filled with hot water twice daily; once in the morning, and again on return from the afternoon walk. The capacity is usually enough for a 10-minute shower, and cold running water and a flush toilet is also provided. Laundry is included. Note that the huts have no air conditioning, which may be keenly felt during the intense heat of October and November.

Activities centre on walking safaris with an expert guide and armed ranger scout. A safari vehicle provides connections to walking trails, and sometimes night drives are offered, but generally the experience is on foot. The seasonal nature of the area means fewer wildlife sightings early on during the season, with peak density in the hottest October to November months.

Children are welcome, although there’s a minimum age of 12 years so that all guests can enjoy the walking safaris. With no pool or designated children's activities, a stay would best suit older children with a keen interest in nature. Parents should note that although it is unlikely for animals to approach humans or tents, the camp is unfenced so children must be kept under close supervision at all times.

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What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 504 reviews

(5.00/5)

  • Hi Lisa,

    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!

    Best regards,
    Woan Chyi

    MissingWoan 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

    MissingCatherine 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!

    MissingKatrina P reviewing South Africa Bush & Beach Safari For Families on 02 September 2019

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