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“Big cats were just the starting point...”

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Kafunta River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Morpeth, United Kingdom
2 reviews
“Big cats were just the starting point...”
Reviewed 11 May 2014

Our family of five spent eight extraordinary days at Kafunta in April 2014 and we can't wait to go back.
As a wild life experience it was outstanding. During our stay, we saw 6 individual leopards, including a mother with cubs. The local pride of lions, which numbered around 20 individuals including 4 cubs, was seen several times in various groupings, We had the privilege to watch the lions after they killed a buffalo and the female leopard and her cubs twice after she had caught a baboon, including a breathtaking event at night when she took her kill into a tree for safety, with her pouncing cubs behind, just a few minutes before two hyenas arrived at the bush she'd spent the day in.
But these beautiful cats were only one aspect of the rich experience we had.
Our excellent guide Martin took every opportunity to teach us about creatures great and small, from tiny ants and termites to eagles, antelope and hippos and we had plenty of opportunity to sit still and watch the animals getting on with their lives whilst he explained what the behaviour meant. Martin was also a great story teller and we heard many entertaining folk tales about the animals and plants as well as the way that plants and trees are still being used today.

We also saw two families of that rarest of animals, African wild dogs ;the first at night after hyenas had stolen their meal and the second group a few days later, loping through the bush.

Each morning, the safari experience started at breakfast when we might see elephants swimming across the river near the lodge, giraffes walking from the woodland in the other direction, and baboons and a variety of antelope moving across the flood plain below the lodge, in our field of view.
The early safari starts at 6:30 and the second finishes in the dark, so there is opportunity to see nocturnal creatures as well.
The staff were, without exception, warm, kind and welcoming and we always felt that nothing was too much trouble. My aunt of 80 [who has mobility problems] came with us and had all the help, support and encouragement she needed to be included in everything and fully enjoy the holiday.
Also of significance, our 18 year old son, who is not known for being up much before midday given the chance, was first out of bed everymorning at 5:30, and berated us for our lateness when we emerged for breakfast at 6am.
We stayed in very comfortable, stylish and beautifully thatched chalets with cooled drinks in the fridge and decking with a stunning view over the flood plain towards the river. In the evening, supper was eaten under the African sky which was often a miriad of stars, to the sounds of hyppos in the water nearby.
The infinity pool overlooking the plain and the fabulous hot tub next to it provided additional luxury during the afternoon rest time.
The food was delicious; simple and beautifully prepared and made with local produce.

Lastly - the magical sound of crickets and tiny frogs at night, under a starlit sky with the milky way in all its glory - beyond words.

Room Tip: All the chalets look towards the river and have a beautiful view. There are two very close to the ma...
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank SueC341
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
David B, Public Relations Manager at Kafunta River Lodge, responded to this review, 14 May 2014
Thank you for your review of Kafunta River Lodge and it is lovely to hear that you had an outstanding wildlife experience. The South Luangwa is a great park to see cats and the elusive leopards in particular.

Martin will be very pleased to receive your feedback. Martin, and all our guides, loves to share the Zambian bush and wildlife with guests and his knowledge is truly in-exhaustive.

You're never too old or young for a safari and the staff are always ready to assist to ensure that all our guests have a comfortable and exciting experience. The lodge can also accommodate guests in a wheelchair.

Thanks again for your review and we do hope to see you again soon.
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (61)
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English first
Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
1 review
Reviewed 25 April 2014

It was our first safari ever and it was fantastic !! Beautifull views, a fantastic staff, an excellent guide (Andrew) a perfect suite and lovelly foods. The best holiday ever and we are looking forward to come back soon in another season. Not because we did not like this one, but just to see the other side.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Marjorie A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
David B, Public Relations Manager at Kafunta River Lodge, responded to this review, 28 April 2014
It's lovely to hear that you had a fantastic holiday with us at Kafunta River Lodge. It's definitely well worth visiting the South Luangwa in different seasons, the transformation is amazing and it's a whole new experience.

Thank you for your review.
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Québec
Level Contributor
169 reviews
87 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 112 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 April 2014

A warm welcoming, staff dedicated to your well-being, fantastic game drives with a guide (Andrew) knowing a lot about his environment, trees, birds, animals. At arrival, a welcome drink, a lunch, a little free time before our first game drive. Lucky we were with in our sight a nice male leopard, then a dozen of lions, then wild dogs, and so on and so on. The next morning the same thing and at the night game drive, again. Lucky we say. And at the lodge, peace and quiet with a room overviewing a large plain a long the Luangwa River.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank yvonandreanne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
David B, Public Relations Manager at Kafunta River Lodge, responded to this review, 17 April 2014
It's great to hear that you had a fantastic weekend at Kafunta River Lodge and thanks for taking the time to write a review.

You certainly had some nice game sightings. The guides never cease to amaze with their comprehensive knowledge of the bush and ability to seek out the wildlife.
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Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
69 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 January 2014

We stayed at Kafunta for 7 days over Christmas 2013 and the whole experience was exceptional in every way, a real holiday of a lifetime.
The whole staff at Kafunta were delightful and really nothing was too much trouble for them. The food was generally very good and our chalets perfect for our stay.
We were exceptionally lucky with our safari trips. This is generally the "shoulder season" in Zambia but it was so dry when we were there that there was absolutely no restrictions on where our safari vehicle was able to go. As a result, we were lucky enough to see just about every animal on our wish list including African Hunting Dogs, Lions and13 sightings of Leopards (mostly only feet away from us). And to cap it all we witnessed the dogs pulling a leopard from a tree and pursuing it to a larger tree where it found safety. Surely these sorts of things are only seen by David Attenborough?
Josephat, our guide was brilliant. Exceptionally knowledgeable, great company and he always had us in the right place at the right time.
A holiday none of us will forget and probably will struggle to better.

Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
Helpful?
1 Thank PeterW63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
David B, Public Relations Manager at Kafunta River Lodge, responded to this review, 10 January 2014
Thank you for your review of your Christmas safari at Kafunta River Lodge. It's great to hear that you had an exceptional safari experience and the holiday of a lifetime.

You can have a some great wildlife sightings in the dry as the animals tend to stay in lose proximity to the river. The Luangwa is a top destination to see leopard but you certainly had some exceptional sightings, thirteen including a clash between a leopard and a wild dog pack.

Josephat is an exceptional guide with an encyclopedic knowledge of the African bush and it's wildlife. His years of experience in the park lets him show you the best spots for wildlife viewing.

Thanks again and we're so pleased you had an unforgettable safari.
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Torquay, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
29 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 December 2013

This was our second visit to Kafunta in 3 years and our opinions changed little. This is a great camp for seeing the Luangwa Valley, and, as ever, the wildlife experience dwarfs the finer details of the accommodation. On arrival we were told that there had been a double booking so my wife and I spent the first night in the "Pilots' House"...not a great start, but at least free drinks that evening helped to compensate. This camp is not out of the top drawer, but it does the basics well. The chalets are excellent, the food is good, and the game drives well organised. Provided its pricing policy reflected its place in the market, we would go back again.

Room Tip: The chalet or chalets with an upstairs balcony were the best.
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Cricketmann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
David B, Public Relations Manager at Kafunta River Lodge, responded to this review, 3 January 2014
Thanks for your review of Kafunta River Lodge and it's nice to hear your return visit also had some great wildlife moments. You're right, the lodge is certainly a great base for seeing the Luangwa Valley with it's central location and access to the Kafunta pontoon means you have quick access to the heart of the park.

Please accept our apologies for the double booking. It does sound like you had a great safari regardless. I think you will find that Kafunta is well priced and we hope to see you again soon.
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Lusaka
Level Contributor
18 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 December 2013 via mobile

Returned from my first trip to Kafunta which has one of the most desirable location in the Luangwa valley - with excellent game sightings including leopard on both game drives ! Happy to see the fruits of the Project Luangwa with the arrival of more than 20 extremely happy local disadvantaged kids being offered a holiday in camp .... Well done Kafunta for offering up the entire camp to this worthy cause.

I read the earlier comment but found out that the owners were quick to rectify the problems with management and had just recruited Alex to work with Leandri who seems very competent and should be an asset to the camp.
I thought the camp was starting to look a bit faded and when I mentioned this, I was lucky enough to be shown some of the ideas for the revamp happening for 2014, which I have to say look amazing including an infinity pool, new decked lounge areas and all rooms and suites to undergo fab and colorful new looks ... It is probably about time. Can't wait to return next year to see how it has all come together.

Anke and Ron were very friendly and both qualified guides so they knew their stuff. Comforting that they are committed to south Luangwa and running a high end camp and welcomed any positive criticism as they embark on their major renovations. Seems they are keen to keep ahead of the game ! Good luck for next year guys !

Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
Helpful?
1 Thank LindaCLusaka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
David B, Public Relations Manager at Kafunta River Lodge, responded to this review, 3 January 2014
Thank you do much for your review of Kafunta River Lodge and it's great to hear that your first safari with us was a good one with plenty of excellent game sightings.

The Kids in the Wild project is a great cause and one we are more than happy to support. Apart from the education they receive it's worth it just to see those big smiles.

2014 will see a new updated Kafunta River Lodge with a fresh new look and feel. We are also rebuilding the pool area with a brand new pool design.

We hope to see you again soon so we can show you the new Kafunta River Lodge.
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Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
17 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 December 2013

My wife and I visited Kafunta in the beginning of November for two nights. We had just left an amazing camp in the northern part of South Luangwa and were very much looking forward to a similar experience. There was nothing similar about it. The room was fine, and the common dining area was also fine, but the pool area was a bit tired and needs an overhaul. The staff at the bar was lovely and accommodating, but the waitstaff was untrained and spoke little English, making even basic communication impossible (which is completely not the staff's fault--these guys did their best--it's the management's fault because they were never available to act as a go-between). The food was honestly atrocious, and we had emailed ahead requesting vegetarian food for my wife, which only sometimes came through, and the quality of the food in general was just awful. When my wife asked manager Leandi for some fresh fruit, she actually told her that there was NO FRESH FRUIT in Mfuwe. What? We literally saw small children selling mangoes up and down the main drag, and the open air markets in town are full of fruits and veg as we saw on our way in. What a complete insult, especially considering the cost of the rate. Another of the managers, Keith, couldn't stop talking about how much better the South Africa was, which felt inappropriate based on the setting. The only highlight of our visit was Winston, the local Zambian manager. He was friendly and helpful in every way and tried so hard to make us happy. As we were leaving, they questioned whether we were on the full food and drink plan, when we had already confirmed with them several times. Compared to the other experiences we had at other camps in South Luangwa, Kafunta fell far short. I would not recommend it to anyone.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank timgrubb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
David B, Public Relations Manager at Kafunta River Lodge, responded to this review, 21 June 2014
Thank you for taking the time to write a review of Kafunta River Lodge and we do appreciate your feedback. We're very sorry to hear that we did not meet your expectations and please accept our apologies.

We are in the process of giving the lodge a fresh new look and we have an interior designer in camp at the moment. As part of that upgrade we are building a new pool which, like out hot tub, will have great views over the flood plain and wildlife that congregates there.

We can only apologise for your meals as it clearly wasn't up to our normal high standard. We prefer to support the community and buy our fruit from the local market instead of bringing it in from Lusaka but on occasion what is available isn't always suitable for international guests. Having said that, it's no excuse and fresh fruit should certainly have been available.

We have already taken action on the staffing issues you have mentioned as guest satisfaction is very important to us and providing quality service is a key goal of Kafunta Safaris.

Once again, please accept our apologies and rest assured we have taken firm action to address these issues and ensure our guests have an excellent safari experience.
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Additional Information about Kafunta River Lodge

Property: Kafunta River Lodge
Address: Box 83, Mfuwe, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Region: Zambia > South Luangwa National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 46 Speciality Lodging in South Luangwa National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — Kafunta River Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kafunta River Lodge is set in the riverside forest on the banks of the Luangwa River overlooking the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. This classic safari lodge offers our guests all the comforts, while being situated in unspoilt wilderness. There are 8 private chalets and 2 luxury suites, all overlooking a game rich flood plain. We offer game drives, night drives and walking safaris. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Kafunta River Lodge Zambia/South Luangwa National Park

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