Mchenja is one of our favourite bushcamps in the South Luangwa! It boasts a lovely location on the Luangwa river, good food, great guides, and access to a truly superb game-viewing area.
Currently, Time + Tide (previously known as Norman Carr Safaris) operates five properties within the wildlife-rich South Luangwa National Park – the others are Chinzombo, Kakuli, Luwi, and Nsolo. Mchenja is the most luxurious camp, while maintaining an authentic style. The accommodation is booked on a full-board basis, including all meals, a selection of alcoholic and soft drinks, all game-viewing activities, transfers between the camp and Mfuwe Airport, and a laundry service. The camp is open from 20th May to 7th November every year.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
The camp is accessed via 2 hours 30 minutes’ game drive transfer from Mfuwe Airport. It has a very pleasant location within a grove of ebony trees, on the banks of the Luangwa river, in the northern region of the South Luangwa National Park.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES AT MCHENJA BUSH CAMP:
There are five guest villas, including one family villa. These are well spaced along the banks of the River Luangwa, in the shade of ebony trees. Each is made out of timber, reeds, and thatch, and positioned on a cement floor strewn with makuti matting. Entering one of the standard-size villas, you’ll find a double bed or twin beds with mosquito nets, bedside stands and lighting, a standing fan, a comfy couch, and some storage space. The en-suite washroom is set up adjacent to the bedroom, in an al fresco reed-walled enclosure. This contains a flush toilet, vanity unit with basin, and walk-in shower. There’s also a freestanding clawfoot bath, actually within the villa. Canvas walls roll up within the bedroom space to provide access onto a private deck, which offers a couple of chairs, a small table, and lovely river views! The family suite is effectively a double villa, with two en-suite bedrooms.
The lounge, dining area, and bar at Mchenja occupy a structure known as a ‘chitenje’. This too is positioned on a cement floor. It’s also made out of timber and thatch, but it has just one reed wall, running along the back of the building. Inside, there’s a stylish lounge, featuring a medley of seating around a coffee table, and a selection of reading material. There’s an additional lounge area closer to the bar, which is set up at the back. The chitenje is sufficiently spacious to accommodate a dining area, with one large table flanked by safari chairs, but more often than not meals are enjoyed outside, in the shade of the ebony trees. Mchenja also has a campfire, where guests gather to sink a few sundowners and share their safari stories. And a short distance from the central hub, there’s a very inviting plunge pool, with sunloungers and occasionally elephants alongside!
ACTIVITIES AT MCHENJA BUSH CAMP:
Mchenja offers the following activities:
Expertly guided game drives- The South Luangwa covers 9,500 square kilometres of sprawling savanna, woodlands, and water sources, including the Luangwa river and its beautiful lagoons. The park is home to four of the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo – in addition to spotted hyena, wild dog, Thornicroft’s giraffe, Cookson’s wildebeest, Crawshay’s zebra, and an exciting variety of antelopes! Drives from camp take place in the early morning, and late afternoon, avoiding the heat of the day. Mchenja’s remote location within the South Luangwa makes for quiet safaris – it’s rare to see other vehicles here.
Night drives- These are a continuation of the afternoon game drive, following a sundowner stop for drinks, snacks and to enjoy watching the sunset. It’s a great activity for getting to know the park’s nocturnal species. Just a few of the night-time highlights here comprise leopard, civet, bush-tailed mongoose, scrub hare, honey badger, and the prickly porcupine! The drives usually arrive back at camp around 8pm, just in time for a delicious dinner.
Walking safaris- Please note, this activity has a minimum age requirement of 12 years. Also accompanied by a guide, as well as an armed scout walks are perfect for safarists interested in getting to know the smaller lives of the park – the plants, insects, and birdlife. Among the South Luangwa’s bird specials are great white pelican, Verreaux’s eagle owl, and the colourful southern carmine bee-eater.
Sleep-outs under the stars- This activity is available at extra cost. It involves drifting off to sleep under Zambia’s star-studded skies, with the sounds of the bush all around you.
Viewing from hide- A hide is set up not far from Mchenja. Spending some time here results in close encounters with wildlife and thrilling opportunities to take some close-up photos!- This activity is usually possible during the period from March to December. It’s a very relaxing way in which to while away an afternoon!
*This property is unfenced and located in a wildlife area, so large and potentially dangerous animals do pass through. If you opt to stay here, always be alert when walking around the camp and request for a member of staff to escort you if you have any concerns. Any guest is escorted after dark as a matter of course.