Owned and operated by the Cumings family of Chiawa Camp repute, the concept of Old Mondoro is simple - to provide guests with an authentic, intimate safari that concentrates on the wildlife and bush experience whilst not forgoing any creature comforts or service.
Intimate and rustic, Old Mondoro has just four thatched chalets, three in a lovely position overlooking the Zambezi, and the fourth overlooking a small lagoon at the end of the camp. The chalets are secluded and private, each with its own veranda, supremely comfortable beds, a small seating area and plenty of storage space. Through a door at the end of the chalet is the open-air bathroom which has recently been redesigned with a large bath and powerful shower. They are cleverly designed chalets, with discreet electric lights for the dark evenings (although guests will also be supplied with a spirit lamp) and each has a plug point for charging camera or video-camera batteries.
The main area is a large, tented, open-sided structure overlooking the river with comfortable sofas, a tea and coffee and cool drinks table, and a dining area - it's a lovely place to relax in the afternoons, before your game drives. Generally brunch and afternoon tea are served here, with dinners taken under the stars. There is a also a fire pit right at the edge of the river, surrounded by canvas chairs, where guests will usually gather for a drink before dinner.
During the summer months the camp becomes a mecca for fairly large groups of very relaxed elephant bulls who come to feed on the rust-coloured winterthorn pods,(Acacia Albida) their favourite food. They will often gather down by the river before wading in and across to the islands to forage on the grasses there. In October the elephant can be so numerous that the camp employs the use of an "elephant taxi" to collect and deliver guests to and from their rooms.
The game viewing in the area is excellent - large herds of elephant bulls are seen almost every day, as well as good populations of lion and some great leopard sightings. Also notable are large herds of buffalo, good sightings of kudu, and smaller predators such as hyena, honey badger (the camp is close to a honey badger den), civet, genet and various species of mongoose. The Lower Zambezi is a superb environment for wild dog, and these can sometimes be seen (with increasing frequency) near Old Mondoro.
Old Mondoro has just four tented and thatched rooms, each with an en-suite bathroom with flush loo and constant hot water. Reached by a sandy path, each room has either twin beds or a double bed, and a veranda with a day bed and comfortable chairs, along with a selection of reading material. There are plug points for charging batteries, and the canvas walls of the chalets are rolled down and secured at night, when spirit lamps are also placed in the rooms.
As Old Mondoro is in an area with high wildlife densities, and the rooms are relatively open, children below the age of 8 are not accepted. Children aged 8 years and over are allowed to accompany game drives and motor boat cruises with their parent or guardian. For children aged 12 to 16 wishing to accompany walks and canoeing, this is solely at the guide's discretion.
There is a large choice of activities at Old Mondoro, guests can opt for a gentle walk through the winterthorn groves in the morning when the weather is cooler and the wildlife is more active. Game drives are also on offer for guests to explore further afield, perhaps to Jeki plain where vast herds of zebra and impala can often be seen or towards the escarpment where the elusive kudu and occasional daytime leopards can be found. Or, guests can take to the water on one of Old Mondoro's two-man canoes (accompanied by a guide) and explore the river and spot some game alternatively, drift lazily downstream on a motor boat. Activities are all tailored to suit the requirements of the guests.
When to travel
The Lower Zambezi has a moderate to sub-tropical climate with three distinct seasons: from November to March is the Emerald, or the rainy season, April to July is Zambia's winter, when the weather is cool and dry, and August to October is summer, when the weather is hot and dry. In terms of game viewing, the dryer months, meaning a higher concentration of game at the permanent water sources, are a superb time to visit. Alternatively come for some superb birdwatching at the end of the rains.
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Location and directions
Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia
Old Mondoro is nestles on the banks of the Zambezi River, in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia.
How to get there
10-hour international flight to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Lusaka, followed by a 45-minute flight by light aircraft and 30-minutes by road (game drive) to the camp.