- Open during the 'Emerald Season'
- Prolific game and birdlife
- Superb walking safaris
- Norman Carr Safaris Portfolio
Kakuli is a modest and intimate bush camp in a picturesque riverside position in the northern sector of South Luangwa National Park, eastern Zambia. Located a 2 hour road transfer from Mfuwe Airport, well away from the busy Mfuwe Gate entrance to the park, the surrounding area is incredibly rich in wildlife, with the camp overlooking floodplains from its elevated position on the banks of the Luangwa River. Whilst maintaining the excellent standards of service, food, and guiding for which the Norman Carr safari group is known, this seasonal camp retains the adventurous spirit endemic to traditional safari experiences. The main safari season runs from June to October, although Kakuli is one of the few bush camps to remain open for the rainy 'emerald' season (mid-January to mid-April). Guests seeking lower prices, spectacular birdlife, and boating activities would be wise to consider a visit during this period.
The camp is fairly simple, with the open-sided main dining area sitting beneath thatch with sandy floors. There’s a thatched ‘chitenje’ or ‘lounge’ on a wooden deck overlooking the river and grazing lawn, with a bar, small library, and several comfortable sofas from which to observe the resident herds of elephant, impala, and puku. The fire pit provides a delightful riverside setting for breakfast and drinks, and evening meals are often served even closer to the water in a separate thatched area containing sofas and directors chairs.
Four traditional walk-in safari tents comprise the accommodation. Canvas walls and solid doors create structure, whilst thatch and meshed windows are designed to keep the units cool. Note, however, that the absence of fans or air conditioning means that the intense October to November heat can be oppressive. Each tent has an ensuite bathroom behind a curtain complete with running water, and tent fronts can be rolled up to reveal spectacular views. A laundry service is included.
This northern sector of the South Luangwa National Park benefits from much lighter vehicle traffic than the congested Mfuwe area, and lion, leopard and baboons are common sightings during 4x4 game drives. Walking safaris are a particular highlight, and many of Kakuli’s guests choose to link a stay at sister camp Mchenja with a 4km walking transfer. More active guests might opt to hike the 14km to another of Kakuli’s sister camps at Nsolo. A visit during the lush 'emerald season' can be really special, with the birth of baby animals, and a spectacular array of colourful migratory birds combining to create a really unique safari. Although access to certain areas can be limited due to the rains, and it can be harder to spot animals in the long grass, prices during this season are lower and visitor numbers fewer.
Kakuli welcomes children above the age of 12, although sister camp Kapani Lodge, or the more luxurious Chinzombo, are considered better family options since they offer pools, children's programmes, and designated family accommodation. Parental supervision is essential at all times, as the camp is unfenced and animals do wander through.
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