Nkwali is owned and run by Robin Pope Safaris. Founded by Robin, who has been guiding since 1975, the company is passionate about responsible tourism and operates a total of 11 properties across Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. We suggest combining a stay here with two or three nights at either of Robin’s walking camps Tena Tena or Nsefu. Nkwali has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor! The accommodation is booked on a full-board basis, including all meals, a selection of alcoholic and soft drinks, and a laundry service. The camp is open throughout the year.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
The camp is accessed via 40 minutes’ road transfer from Mfuwe Airport. It’s situated on the banks of the River Luangwa, within a small private reserve in the South Luangwa’s central region.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES AT NKWALI:
There are just six guest chalets – one double, four twins, and a honeymoon or family suite. All are made out of bamboo and thatch, and during the day they’re open fronted to provide spectacular views over the Luangwa river and the national park beyond! At night, each chalet is closed by means of Constantia grill doors, to ensure guest safety. Entering a twin or double chalet, the first thing you see is a seating area, just inside the entrance. This is set with a couple of comfy chairs and a table, and it’s a great spot for relaxing and enjoying your views. Farther in, there’s the bedroom area, with bed or beds, bedside tables and lighting, a writing desk cum vanity table and chair, and some storage space. Additional amenities include mosquito nets and a standing fan. En-suite facilities comprise flush toilet, twin washbasins, and open-air double shower. Larger than the double or twin chalet, the honeymoon or family suite is fantastic for newlyweds in need of extra space or for a family of up to two adults and two children.
The communal structures at Nkwali are also constructed from bamboo and thatch. The camp’s spacious lounge/bar is positioned at roughly the centre of the campsite, with three guest chalets on either side. This structure is built around an immense ebony tree; in fact, the tree helped Robin and his wife Jo decide on the camp’s location! Termed a ‘chitenge’, the building is open sided and contains well-cushioned wood-framed seating around coffee tables, shelves full of reading material, and of course Nkwali’s well-stocked bar. The interiors flow out onto a viewing deck, perfect for admiring vistas over the river and into the park. Also close to the chitenge is the camp’s fire-pit, where guests gather to sink a few sundowners and swap safari stories! Finally, a dining area and a swimming pool are set back from the river, on the banks of a lagoon. It isn’t uncommon for elephants to drink from the lagoon throughout the day, unconcerned by the presence of humans. You might spot lion, leopard, and wild dog too!
ACTIVITIES AT NKWALI:
Nkwali offers an exciting variety of activities, as follows:
Expertly guided game drives- The camp offers both day and night game drives, as it’s situated within a private reserve. Drives take place in open-top Toyota Landcruisers, which offer a side seat for everyone. The South Luangwa National Park covers 9,050 square kilometres and has two eco-regions, each consisting of woodland savanna. There are sprawling plains too, as well as the River Luangwa and its beautiful lagoons. Among the wildlife highlights here are four of the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo! The park is also home to impressive populations of Thornicroft’s giraffe, Cookson’s wildebeest, Crawshay’s zebra, spotted hyena, wild dog, and many other predators and herbivores.
Walking safaris- Also enjoyed with a knowledgeable and experienced guide, in addition to an armed scout, walks are highly recommended for safarists intrigued by the smaller lives of the South Luangwa. Your guide will introduce you to the park’s plants, insects, and hundreds of bird species!
Seasonal boating- This activity is available from the end of December or beginning of January to April. Guests have opportunities to explore the Luangwa’s lagoons, which come green season are teeming with crocs, hippos, and waterbirds!
Village tours- The camp offers visits to Kazawa Village and schools, where you can gain insights into the culture of the South Luangwa. You can also stroll around the Mfuwe area, experiencing the region’s market, shops, bars, and local artisans.
Wildlife Education Centre visits- Fab for kids on safari, the centre aims to teach the Luangwa Valley’s schoolchildren about the park’s wildlife and efforts to conserve it. Adults will find plenty of interest here too!
Tribal Textiles experience- A number of local people produce gorgeous hand-painted textiles depicting the South Luangwa’s wonderful wildlife. Guests can browse a fine assortment of designs, and perhaps purchase a few items to take home.