One of South Luangwa's top camps, Tafika is situated just north of the game-rich Nsefu sector and takes its game drives into the sector itself. The camp is run by John and Carol Coppinger and their team of guides, many of whom have been with John and Carol since the camp's inception. The guiding here is exceptional, and many of the guides are keen photographers themselves, leading to some amazing photographic opportunities.
Set on a sweeping bend of the Luangwa River, Tafika takes its game drives in the Nsefu Sector - the only game-drive part of South Luangwa National Park to be on the eastern side of the river. The sector boasts an enormous array of wildlife - wild dog are often sighted here, as are other predators such as lion, leopard and spotted hyena. Large herds of elephant cross between the sector and the main park, and the river has many pods of hippo. Game drives here are extremely rewarding, and the guides are among the best in Zambia.
Tafika Camp itself is a symphony of luxurious rusticity. Just six rooms are situated along the river on hippo-manicured lawns, and surrounded by a grass fence (complete with elephant-escape holes!). The camp is run in relaxed style by John and Carol, and John still guides regularly, as well as taking guests up in his microlight in the early morning.
Tafika has six chalets, all constructed from local materials with thick grass and reed walls and thatched roofs. The chalets are ranged along a sweeping bend of the Luangwa River, all with lovely views, with some at the river’s edge and others set further back. Four chalets have two comfortable double beds, the fifth is a superb honeymoon suite with a king size bed, and the sixth is a family chalet with two bedrooms; one with a king bed and the second with a double and a single bed, perfect for families travelling together. The bathrooms are all en-suite with double showers and plenty of hot water.
Given that Tafika is in an area of high game densities, and the camp is relatively open, Tafika accepts children aged 12 years and over. Younger children may be accepted at the camp's discretion but will not be able to participate in walks, cycle game drives or microlighting. However they can join in day and night game drives.
Tafika's food is absolutely first rate. The kitchen is admirably run by Rona Leppens, whose ability to conjure exquisite meals using relatively few ingredients is legendary. The camp has its own well maintained and enormous vegetable patch, and locally sourced ingredients are used wherever possible. Meals are a relaxed affair, and usually served on a buffet basis with a superb selection of salads and fresh fruit. The afternoon tea is a highlight, with delicious cakes emerging from the bush kitchen!
The activities at Tafika are varied - choose from day and night game drives with your expert guide, or head out into the bush on foot. John also has a great selection of mountain bikes, and a biking safari is highly recommended. There is a small game hide just behind the camp, which overlooks a spring where animals often come down to drink - last time we were there we watched a family of elephant come down and chase away an old Kakuli buffalo! Finally, John has a microlight and will take guests up for a flight in the early morning to see the Luangwa Valley from a totally different perspective. There is an extra charge for this but we cannot recommend it highly enough.
Tafika Camp, like all camps in the South Luangwa, has a direct radio link with a doctor based in the Luangwa Valley. Generally from the US or Europe, these doctors come across for a six or twelve month sabbatical and run the clinic in Mfuwe, supported by the lodges and available for the wider community. In return, they are on call twenty-four hours a day in case of any emergency with any camp or lodge guest. The camp also offers a swift and comprehensive laundry service although, as with all camps and lodges, delicate items and smalls are not laundered - instead there is a pot of handwashing powder in all the rooms.
When to travel
Tafika camp is open from 1 May to 15 November.
Zambia 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 bird-watching at the end of the rains.
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Location and directions
Luangwa Valley, Zambia
Tafika Camp is located just north of the Nsefu Sector, in the Game Management Area just outside South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Activities take place in the Nsefu Sector, an area of the park rich in wildlife and notable for being the only game-driving part of the park on the eastern side of the Luangwa River.
How to get there
10-hour international overnight flight from the UK to Lusaka, followed by a 70-minute light aircraft transfer, and either a 15-minute charter or a 2-hour game drive transfer.