Chiawa Camp: The Lowdown

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Chiawa’s a remarkably rare beast in the safari world- a camp that caters to very serious safaris safari-goers in considerable comfort.

What’s Chiawa really like?

Arriving at Chiawa’s welcoming and homely main mess, the first thing you notice are the views out over the Zambezi. Fortunately, there are plenty of comfy seats to curl up in, as well as a pool for hot afternoons, and a dining area where you’ll eat with guides and your fellow guests (if you’re not outside somewhere or off on the river). Following sandy pathways along the river you will find 9 elegant, rustic tents each perched up on decks. They have king-sized or twin beds, wi-fi, ensuite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers, roll top baths, and a verandah in case you’re in need of a gentle afternoon snooze. Rooms closest to the main area look out over the river, and the further flung, more private rooms sit sideways on to the Zambezi looking out over a dry river bed- a convenient soft and open path for animals walking down to the water. Right at the far end is the safari suite- with its own private pool and sitting room, which doubles as a second bedroom if you are travelling on a family safari.  We’ve said Chiawa’s luxurious, and it certainly is, but it’s important that you know what to expect. It’s not the kind of luxury you can expect in Mayfair or on the Upper West Side. There’s no air-conditioning, there’re no fences to keep the elephants out, and flat screens are replaced by the crackling flames of the “bush TV”.

What can I do at Chiawa?

As with any safari camp, game drives are a key activity from Chiawa- these normally take place during the morning and afternoon, then after a sundowner stop, there’s a night drive on the way back into camp. While you tend not to see as much wildlife as you might during the day, these can be a brilliant opportunity to spot nocturnal animals like honeybadgers and leopards.  Guiding is usually excellent, and it is this which makes or breaks a safari. Walking safaris are a great way to stretch your legs and immerse yourself fully into the environment of the Lower Zambezi, but it’s the river activities which were our reviewer’s favourite- canoeing downstream past mating lions, heading out on a boat safari to see hippos and crocs, and trying (and failing) to catch a fish. Tigerfish are the main goal here- Chiawa have basic fishing gear in house, but if you are a serious angler we’d recommend bringing your own kit.  Please note that for canoeing and walking safaris children need to be at least aged 12.

Giving back at Chiawa: Owner Grant was a founder member of Conservation Lower Zambezi which works to protect the wildlife and land of the Lower Zambezi. Much of this involves supporting the local community to ensure they see the direct benefits of the wildlife on their doorsteps. This includes subsidising guide-training to provide local employment, funding stationary and uniforms in the local primary schools, and health education programmes. And if you need more- Chiawa was the first carbon neutral safari business in the world.

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