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“Luxury Lodge & Nature at its Finest!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Luangwa River Camp

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Luangwa River Camp
UK
Level Contributor
161 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Luxury Lodge & Nature at its Finest!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 August 2007

What an amazing combination. A lodge that has tought of everything located in possibly one of the most amazing settings nature has provided. I loved the balance between the understated luxury of the property and the use of local natural material and design. I had expected a few days of basic food and was delighted to find the most incredibly delicious food. Lunch on the first day was chicken breasts in a balsamic reduction over corn pancakes. I still do not know how the chef produced all the wonderful things he did. In fact all the staff were fantastic. Sean our wonderful host was always around to answer questions and made you feel at home. James our safari guide was incredibly knowledgeable and had great enthusiasm for the animals and the park. I don't think there is enough space to describe the park and the animals we saw. I had been to Africa on Safari before but this was head and shoulders above my other experiences. The number of animals we saw was almost mind blowing. It really gave you a feel that you were at one with nature, you were visiting the animals home and not chasing after a few animals in a park. Don't miss the walking Safari. If you want to see and feel Africa but want a bit of luxury when you are not out in the wild, this is the place to be!

  • Liked — The open plan of the lodge
  • Stayed September 2006, travelled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank HKflash
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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70 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (9)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • French first
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
15 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 January 2007

Great little lodge, if you like small resorts. The lodge has five sleeping cabins and can accomodate up to 15-20 guests. The lodge is run independently by a man from the UK and his local wife. The owners try very hard to please, but the staff is a little "green" and there is often discussions between the owner and staff on how to run a western style guest facility.

Perhaps the best aspect of our stay was the food - the chef was terrific and prepared excellent meals. The only draw back, was, as mentioned, the staff, who could do with a bit more training - but I understand that this is improving and certainly your will find that they are keen to do their jobs well, as this type of job is coveted in Africa.

Perhaps are best experience here, was the walking safari, which many say prevents you from seeing the best game, but we found to be the most relaxing after countless hrs sitting in a jeep.

As with many resorts in this area, it is not recommended to walk the paths at night without a guide, as many animals make their way up from the river to graze in the evening, and such animals can be dangerous.

  • Liked — Food; Safaris
  • Disliked — Some staffing issues
  • Stayed September 2006, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank gsesmart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
mid america
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 December 2006

The Luangwa River Lodge, Mfuwe, Zambia, Early November, 2006

The Luangwa River Lodge (LRL) is sited along the bank of the Luangwa River in south-central Zambia. The closest village/airport being the area of Mfuwe, Zambia. LRL has been in business approximately 2+ years. We visited as the dry season was just changing over to the wet or rain season, a great time to see the park begin it’s transformation. LRL was still accessed by road. Access during the wet season is via boat from the main park roads being as the lodge is on the south side of the river and no wet season roads to the lodge exist on their side of the river. The north side of the river, the National Park side, has year round access via rough raised bed roads. LRL is in a beautiful setting, a truly magical area. We almost always felt our personal safety was accorded proper diligence, with only a few shortcomings in this regard.

Across the river from the lodge is the South Luangwa National Park, one of three parks along the river in this area (south, central, and north). Air access is from the city of Lusaka, Zambia. Direct flights from London via British Airways to Lusaka, then via Zambian Airlines to Mfuwe, made for a fairly easy travel scenario. From Mfuwe via LandRover to LRL is approximately a 30 minute drive. We spent 7 nights at the lodge.

The wildlife viewing in the park was beyond our expectations, while the lodging unfortunately was somewhat below our expectations.

The LRL is advertised by the owners as having all the comforts of 5 star lodging. While this may be true if the country of Zambia has its own definition of 5 star lodging or perhaps the owners do, we found the LRL to be a 3 star lodge at best. There were several reasons for the afore mentioned opinion, some being, but not limited to:

1- The LandRovers’ condition and the electrical generating backup issues are an example. A lack of requesting honest feed back at the end of our stay (consistent with most upscale lodgings) did not bode well for the LRL. We hope future guests can get as much out of the natural side as we did, making the visit worthwhile.

2- A leaking roof in our chalet, if not for the top panel of the bed mosquito netting a dripping on the head was to be expected. This problem should have been obvious to the staff due to water staining of the top panel of bed mosquito netting and sure enough when it rained the roof leaked. Thankfully it did not rain enough yet to make this an issue we would have refused to deal with. A backup electrical power generating system which was not automatic nor turned on immediately or sometimes at all during the frequent power outages. Poorly fitting and hard to operate and needing repair bi folding doors. Lack of any grab bars in shower and recessed tub areas compounded by lack of non slip floor surfaces. Lack of sufficient lighting in some areas of the chalet (dressing/bath areas). These were some of the issues. Lack of chalet safes was also noted.

3- Candles were few, matches less, and lanterns were never offer during the power outages. During one evening outage while I was on a drive and my wife was alone in the chalet, the staff never bothered to check on her or offer an escort to the main lodge to await my return, which she would have preferred. This after being warned not to traverse the grounds unescorted while dark. Their means of communicating to the main lodge were whistles, not very comforting considering the distance and the frequent winds or blowing rain during some outages.

It was assumed we would prefer to take our meals with the resident owner/manager. While in fact we would have preferred to choose whether or not to dine this way. Being frequent travelers and a somewhat private, seclusion loving couple, this was most disheartening at times. Meal options were non existent with only one offering at each meal, cooked the same for everyone. Most red meats were served as the chef saw fit, rather than taking the care in inquiring first if a guest preferred their meat cooked medium rare or well done(as one of us would prefer) for example. Morning meals were generally all carbohydrates and never an egg was seen.

The mid morning meals (post morning game drive) were more of a late lunch or early dinner variety. We can only assume the talented young chef did the best he could with what was provided him.

A Chicken Kiev was an exceptional dinner offering, we enjoyed very much. Potable tap water was in our opinion suitable for bathing and the like, but bottled water was always preferred by us for drinking, and if asked for there was no shortage of the latter. Sundowners, break time snacks/drinks on the evening drives, were offered. I usually went with a nice SA Merlot or Cab, my wife a gin and tonic or a single malt scotch; along with chips or popcorn (snacks or canapés not consistent with the 5 star advertising).

One uncomfortable lunch had a rather rude and somewhat offensive friend of the owner/manager thrust upon us, while another lunch had some very pleasant conversation with a couple,who ran the local massage business, included. We must say the massage business, which came to the lodge, Personal Touch, a separate off site company, was one of the hospitality side highlights of our stay. Such were the inconsistencies of the LRL.

The selection of spirits/libations was very adequate, and I highly recommend the Amarula, made from the nuts of the Marula tree. This spirit is very similar to a Baileys Irish Crème and combined with the excellent Zambian coffee, or straight over ice, was enjoyed very much.

The chalet interior decorating was nicely done, along with the main lodge building. Furnishings were well appointed, although the quality/comfort of the bed decidedly not up to the star rating claims. Again perhaps this was the best available, but we felt perhaps the capitalization issue again entered the picture.

Hospitality side employees were very polite and accommodating to the best of their in-experienced abilities. We were never asked and did not offer constructive critique or complaints as we do not feel quality control is the guests’ responsibility and we felt that it would be useless and undermine what we did enjoy for the rest of our stay.

All in all visitors traveling to LRL who are accustomed to higher end travel should remember the following:
Zambia is a developing country and the Luangwa park(s) area is in a very difficult area concerning access, building materials, and utilities. We did observe other lodges, on the park side of the river. Although we did not stay at any of them, some of them did appear to be far better capitalized. One bright side of our visit was that the lodge had no other guests during the majority of our stay, so we had a Landover to ourselves. In contrast, some of the other LandRovers from other lodges were so loaded with guests that we wondered how someone seated in the middle of the 3 row seating arrangements could possibly take proper photos/videos. A private LandRover would be a must in our opinion if doing serious photo or video work, as we lucked into here.

The wildlife viewing, game drives, and interaction with our obviously experienced ranger/guide was by far the highlight of our stay. Mr. Victor Mpatisha, Zambian, with past experience with the Zambian government’s wildlife services; was a very experienced, knowledgeable, respectful and all around fun to be with person. Victor’s knowledge of all things, big and small, was excellent. Because our stay was a bit longer than the norm, he was able to point out many remarkable plants and animals beyond the traditional. He also made a point of asking us and talking about what our individual interests were. He would plan each day’s trips accordingly. We both learned a lot from Victor and he was also very genuinely interested in us and the environment/wildlife of our home country. There developed a very comfortable give and take atmosphere between us that we will always cherish. Being an avid outdoorsman myself I will always consider Victor to be a true friend and a credit to the Zambian outdoor experience.

The morning and evening game viewing drives are each approximately 3 hours long.
I also had a 3 hour walking excursion, Victor and myself being accompanied by Patrick, armed, from the Zambian wildlife agency. It was interesting how many of the agency people Victor knew from his days of working with the agency, many of them trained by Victor.

The Park and wildlife never failed to amaze us. Animal numbers and diversity were phenomenal. If you go only looking to see the big 5 you will be missing 90% of what this area has to offer. The bird life/diversity was truly amazing, as were the insect, floral and fauna offerings. Some of my favorites ranged from the elephant shrew to the blood bug to the African bees thru all the different animals big and small. One can hardly do justice describing what it’s like to be in the middle of elephant or buffalo herds, sitting in your LandRover, video camera running almost continuously.

My wife being somewhat of a birder was daily overwhelmed with diversity and sheer numbers. Being from the USA the floral and fauna were both mystifying and fascinating.

Some of the highlights regarding this part of our trip:

1- River crossings of well more than 100 African buffalos and over 150 elephants, of all sizes and ages.
2- Observing mating rituals and hunting practices of the magnificent lions.
3- The bush breakfast group- Sausage trees, Potato shrubs, Fried egg tree.
4- The magnificent Baobab tree, the leopard orchid plants growing in trees, the strangler fig trees, and the plentiful African ebony trees.
5- Meeting the newly appointed Zambian minister of tourism, flying with us to Mfuwe.
6- The Norman Carr memorial plaque and stone in a beautifully secluded river side area.
7- Victor’s stories of native lore and beliefs.
8- The carpets of dropped lilac flowers on some of the trails.
9-Interaction with the Zambian government ranger Patrick, who accompanied Victor and I on one of our walks.
10- The timing of our trip- right at the changing of the dry to the wet season, and the birthing time for impalas, baboons, and other animals.
11- The unbelieveable numbers/diversity of the bird life.
12- The gang of Hippos at a beautiful sundowner site on the river bank, and the awesome crocks accompanying them.
13- The experience of a morning game viewing/drive during a period of fairly heavy rains. The animal actions changing somewhat, the clay soil side trails making for some challenging driving, to put it mildly, made the morning quite a story in itself. A decent set of tires on our LandRover would have made for a less harrowing experience, once again the experience of my native ranger/guide Victor more than made up for the conditions. Tires were supposedly on hand though not installed, I guess they were waiting for the dry season.

Helpful?
7 Thank gan63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
71 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 November 2006

We spent the first four days of our first African safari at LRL and it could not have been a better experience. From the time we arrived at the airport, LRL took care of everything for us. The lodge has all the comforts of home but with a pure African feel and total serenity. The property is lovely; we had elephants walking nearby one afternoon. The hosts, Sean and Maryann, were very gracious and went to great lengths to accommodate guests and make the experience a very special one. Our dinners were wonderful with food that could compete anywhere even when served on our picnic in the bush. Finally, our guide, James, was just great. He was very knowledgeable (even about the constellations!) and obviously loves what he does. He found lions mating, leopards, and even a cheetah. We appreciated him even more after being with other guides in Tanzania and Kenya. If you want an authentic and memorable experience, you cannot go wrong with LRL.

  • Liked — games drives, guide, food and location
  • Disliked — Can't think of anything
  • Stayed September 2006, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank nankar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Paris
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 November 2006

If you have only 1 chance to go on safari then this is the place to go.
South Luangwa National Park and most especialy Luangwa River lodge
No where on this planet have I experienced personal service and attention to detail that was seamless and without a hint of stuffiness to boot.
The lodge is beautiful in every way made totaly from natural materials yet it looks so chic and stylish.
The food also surpassed anything I have eaten even in french restaurants!
The Staff , guiding, food , accomodation and general relaxed and informal feel to the place with only a capacity for 10 guest all add up to be in my view africas finest all round safari park and lodge.

  • Liked — The bath with a view the amazing food and the animals of course!
  • Disliked — Not being able to stay longer
  • Tips/Secrets — Go there before everyone finds out and the price goes up!
  • Stayed November 2006, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank Old-African-Hand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 October 2006

Having travelled Southern Africa relatively extensively, impressing us is not easy. Personally I prefer the reality of earth to earth contact camping in the middle of the wild, while my partner has an eye for the finer things, not that either of us are averse to being spoilt rotten. Lungwa River Lodge combines all of these flawlessly. Your every whim is catered for individually, but never in a manner that detracts from the African Wildness of this remote, unspoilt part of the world.

The travel may be a tad lengthy, but the staff at the lodge assisted with arrangements from flights, to visas to airport transfers – safari style. Whether it’s your first (perhaps only) visit to Southern Africa or whether you’re a local, whether you want to see the big five, the little five or the birds, or even if you just want breathe the African air, this is the place to go.

  • Liked — It's natural elegance and beautiful surroundings
  • Disliked — Elephant woke me up in the middle of night as he browsed up the river bank
  • Tips/Secrets — Wear light coloured clothing with moisture wicking properties
  • Stayed June 2006, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank BushBunny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
london ontario
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 September 2006

This was the most amazing place I have ever gone. The people were terrific, our guides were incredible, the food was delicious, our hosts were hospitable, the animals were everywhere! On our first night two rogue elephants came and wandered by the lodge as we prepared to eat dinner. I cant even begin to explain what a fantastic experience this was. The bathtub was phenomenal and when you ask the staff will run the bath for you while you eat dinner so you don't have to wait for it to fill. There was so much attention paid to details our trip was magical. This is the only review I have ever written and I am doing it to let people know how superb this place is. Go there. You'll love it. I would recommend it to my entire family.

The animals we saw: every bird imaginable, baboons, vervit monkeys, leopards, lions, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, hyenas, buffalo, waterbuck, impala, puku, elephants, hippos, monitor lizards, crocodiles, vultures... and I feel like my list isn't complete.

FInally I want to send my props out to victor our guide for most of the trip who seemed to know everything about everything.

  • Liked — everything
  • Disliked — didn't stay there long enough
  • Tips/Secrets — bring binoculars and other safari clothing
  • Stayed August 2006, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank rkis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Luangwa River Camp

Property: Luangwa River Camp
Address: Plot 8553 | Mfuwe, South Luangwa National Park E6, Zambia
Region: Zambia > South Luangwa National Park
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #24 of 42 Speciality Lodging in South Luangwa National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Luangwa River Camp 3.5*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
All the comforts of a 5 star lodge, yet with all the intimacy, tailored activities and flexible mealtimes you come to expect from a bushcamp as we only cater for up to 10 guests at any one time. We specialise in both driving and walking photographic safaris (with an armed escort scout and guide) so to maximise your bush experience at your own pace with safety and pleasure being at the forefront of any activity conducted. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Luangwa River Camp Hotel South Luangwa National Park
Luangwa River Camp Zambia/South Luangwa National Park

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