Nkwali, South Luangwa: The Lowdown

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Nkwali’s the basecamp for the Robin Pope Safaris operation, presiding over an idyllic stretch of the Luangwa River. With a fantastic location on private land just outside the main park gate, this is the ideal starting point for a safari deep into the South Luangwa National Park.

What’s Nkwali really like?

Nkwali’s six airy rooms are open-fronted (beautiful wrought-iron gates close up to keep the animals out at night) with gloriously high-flying thatched roofs. Nkwali is a place to stay entirely in tune with nature- waking to the dawn chorus, showering under the evening skies. The hub of the camp is the mess, with a bar built round a vast ebony tree, and deck stretching over the river (perfect for snapping hippos yawning in the sunset). Food is wholesome home cooking: porridge cooked over the morning fire, languorous lunches under the trees, and jolly evening meals.

What can I do at Nkwali?

Activities from Nkwali focus on game drives in open top 4 wheel drive vehicles, and walking safaris in the national park. One of the great joys of staying in this area is that Mfuwe is nearby, and a visit to Kawaza Village and the school is a real treat for anyone who has an interest in Zambia beyond just the wildlife. In between times, Nkwali has a lovely pool for an afternoon splash. Finally, if you visit during the emerald season, it’s occasionally possible to take boat safaris– these are utterly tranquil (bar the odd grumpy hippo) and incredible for birders.

Giving back at Nkwali:  

Nkwali’s owners have long been at the forefront of Responsible Tourism in the South Luangwa. There’s been a huge focus on building the lodge to have a minimal impact on the environment around, minimising water use and reducing waste from the lodge as much as possible. They also support anti-poaching and carnivore research (the researchers are based next to Nkwali), and run numerous programmes to help uplift the local community through education and healthcare programmes as well as trade. There’s far too much for us to list here, but if you want to do your bit, we can highly recommend buying locally made crafts at Tribal Textiles in Mfuwe or using the extra space in your bag to bring something for the Pack for a Purpose programme.

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