Mchenja – meaning ebony – is one of the Norman Carr luxury bush camps, and is located on the banks of the Luangwa River in the most amazing setting beneath a grove of Ebony trees. The five thatch-roofed tents each have a deck overlooking the Luangwa River, as well as a gorgeous outside shower room, while inside you can relax in your bath while overlooking the River. There is a very refreshing small pool in the main thatched area, where you will also find the bar, where the guests flock to cool down after the morning’s activities.
You can choose to view your wildlife on foot or from a safari vehicle; both day and night game drives are an option. Game viewing in this area is excellent. On our afternoon game drive we were lucky enough to see the elusive leopard, as well as enjoy excellent sightings of hippo, elephant, bushbuck, and puku. We returned to camp at dark after enjoying our sundowners over the plain amongst the bushbuck and puku!
Mchenja is the ideal place to do a walking safari from, particularly when combining it with the other Norman Carr camps. From Mchenja it is a short morning walk – all walks are done first thing in the morning before it gets too warm – to Kakuli Bush Camp.
Our morning call came at 5am, giving us enough time to have some breakfast and get our energy levels up before our approx 2 hour bush walk to Kakuli. The bush walks are so different to what you would see and experience on a safari vehicle; you see things in a completely different perspective. Towards the end of our walk, we came across a buffalo carcass, right next to Kakuli Camp, which had vultures feeding off it. It was a very thrilling experience seeing the vultures swirling above and not knowing what we were going to stumble upon.
At Kakuli Camp we were met by the Mchenja vehicle for our transfer to Luwi Camp – we had had enough walking for one day!!
Luwi Bush Camp – another Norman Carr camp – is a seasonal bush camp which gets completely rebuilt from scratch each season and is set under massive mahogany trees on the banks of a permanent lagoon.
As Luwi is set in such a remote location, with very few roads to traverse on, the activities are centered on walking. The wildlife in this area is in abundance which makes the bush walks very memorable.
There are only 4 huts which are all made of thatch and grass, and utilize the natural vegetation and surroundings wherever possible, offering a true rustic bush experience. All meals are served outside under the shade of the trees during the day, and under the starry African sky at night.
On the afternoon of our arrival – already quite exhausted from our morning activities (keeping in mind the temperatures in October average around 40 degrees centigrade) – we had a much needed siesta, followed by our afternoon tea, before heading off for a short bush walk around the camp. Luwi have a fantastic buffalo hide overlooking the lagoon, where we ended up after our walk. Bryony, the camp manager, and staff were waiting for us, all set up for our sundowners; pimms, popcorn and lots of little yummy snacks!
We then enjoyed a brief night game drive enroute back to the camp, where we saw hundreds of hippos and glowing croc eyes along the river banks.
A typical day at Luwi will start early, discussing the noises and animals heard through the night around the camp fire area, whilst eating breakfast before you set off on your morning bush walk which on average takes between three and fours hours. In our case our next stop, also sadly our last, was on to Nsolo Bush Camp.
Luwi was one of my favourite camps; the setting is absolutely amazing and you really feel you are in the middle of nowhere. The only `downside’ is there is no plunge pool, which we definitely could’ve done with.
After our 5am wake up and breakfast, we set off on foot for our 8km walk to Nsolo. It was exceptionally hot, even at 6am! We walked at a fast but steady pace, stopping for a couple Zebra, Bushbuck and Impala photo opportunities. About 30 minutes before the camp we stopped for a rest under some shady trees where we enjoyed some biscuits and tea. We made excellent time arriving at Nsolo just before 9am, in time for a hearty brunch.
When traveling from Nsolo to Luwi, you pack your bags in the morning and set off on foot finishing at Nsolo. When you arrive you are welcomed with a refreshing cool drink, brunch on the table and your bags already waiting for you in your room.
The Norman Carr Nsolo Bush Camp, is situated on a bend in the Luwi Sands River, and I’m told is one of the more historic camps in Zambia. It was sited by Norman Carr in 1987 and Shaddy – who is the Camp Manager and Guide – has been studying the wildlife and conducting the walks from here for over 10 years now!
There are 4 thatched and very spacious chalets, with outdoor bathrooms, all raised on wooden decks with private verandahs, overlooking the dry river-bed in front of the camp. There is amazing game to be seen right from the comfort of your own deck.
After enjoying our hearty brunch, we had a couple hours to enjoy a siesta or just sit back and relax. With temperatures reaching into the early 40’s (degrees centigrade) with a warm and humid wind, it was almost impossible to have a nap. We all gathered around the main area enjoying cool drink after cool drink, until all of sudden a family of elephants entered the camp. They were literally about 10 metres away from us playing around in the overflow from the camp’s water tank.
After our afternoon `ellie’ excitement we headed off for our last game drive, where we stopped and set off on a brief bush walk to enjoy our last sunset.
The following morning we left just after 6am. Although early it was just as well; we encountered a flat tyre soon into our drive back to Mfuwe, which set us back about 30 minutes!
The last stop before our departure was Tribal Textiles, which produces unique hand-painted traditional and contemporary fabrics in Zambia. Based on the edge of the South Luangwa National Park and established in 1991, Tribal Textiles currently has a team of over 150 local staff. The objective here is to promote fair trade, generate local employment and develop creative skills. Tribal Textiles also actively supports the local community school, Malimba, which currently has over 160 children.
We were fortunate enough to have enough time for a brief stop enroute to the airport and were given a tour of how things operated and were then let loose in the curio shop! If time permits in your itinerary, this is one project definitely worth your attention, besides supporting the local community, you can get some of your Christmas shopping done early!