South Luangwa National Park, Luangwa Valley, Zambia
At a Glance
Enjoy a fun river crossing on Nkwali's pontoon to take you to the more remote areas of South Luangwa
Spend a fascinating cultural day at Kawaza Village, supported by Nkwali Camp and very welcoming
Enjoy a wonderfully relaxing massage from the comfort of your deck
Experience top-class guiding on day and night game drives in open vehicles with your expert guides
Rise with the sun and head out on foot to see Luangwa's hidden treasures or track paw-prints through the bush
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
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 drier 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.
Call us on to start planning your vacation to Nkwali Camp or take a look at our itineraries to Zambia
Nkwali Camp is situated just outside the South Luangwa National Park. The camp has six delightful thatched cottages with open-air en-suite bathrooms.
Nkwali is located on private land, overlooking the National Park, it is owned and run by Robin Pope Safaris who were among the first to operate safaris in this area. The area surrounding Nkwali is superb game viewing country, with a beautiful area of ebony woodland and open grasslands. There are driving loops in this area and often as much can be seen behind camp as in the park - including leopard, lion and occasionally wild dog. This area is particularly good for elephants and Thornicroft giraffe (an endemic species). Elephants also regularly cross the Luangwa, seen from the bar, or come to the waterhole near the thatched dining room.
Although the camp is outside the national park guests can access the park either by boat (2 minutes) or the nearby pontoon (10 minutes). The main bridge and park gates are just 15 minutes away - giving 3 options for entry. Therefore guests will easily cover a large game viewing area from Nkwali. This central area of the park is accessible all year and so the game are very relaxed and used to the vehicles. This gives great photographic opportunities as the game allow the vehicles to get close.
The six cottages are made of woven bamboo and thatch and are airy and cool with open-air en-suite bathrooms. The bar is built around an enormous ebony tree and the separate dining area overlooks a small lagoon which often attracts elephants and bushbuck down to drink. Nkwali also offers a swimming pool to cool off in on those warm lazy afternoons.
Nkwali offers an authentic safari experience, top of the range professional guiding and a base camp for those keen to take part in some fantastic walking safaris between Robin Pope’s bush camps.
Accommodation is in six cottages including one family room and Robin's House with two bedrooms. The cottages are large, cool and spacious, with a great view of the river. The front of the room is open during the day and then closed by grill doors at night. The en-suite bathroom has double sinks and showers, which are open to the skies during the dry season.
Robin's House is a two bedroom private house located a short walk from Nkwali on the banks of the river. The house is perfect for families and has its own living area and private pool. The house comes with its own dedicated team of staff including a private guide and vehicle.
Children 7 years and over are very welcome at Nkwali, there is a whole range of family safari activities available including game drives and nature walks to learn to identify animal spoor and droppings, birding for beginners and learning to use spotlights at night. Families may want to do activities together but if a child wants to stay behind they can be looked after and entertained. Other activities available include safari packs with fun quizzes and puzzles, trips to Kawaza School to meet Zambian children, helping out in camp or playing games. The older boys love going to the workshop for the morning, playing sport (beach cricket) or even having a sleep in, lazy morning and fry up by the pool.
The bar area, right on the edge of the Luangwa banks, is built around a huge ebony tree with fantastic views of the river and across to the park. The open deck is wonderful for moonlit dinners. The dining room is a simple thatched structure, by the lagoon but meals are usually served under the trees by the lagoon or the river, on the deck, or in the bush! There is also a refreshing swimming pool to enjoy between safaris.
Activities are entirely chosen by the guests and tailored to their requirements. Guests have the option of a walk or a game drive. The drives include morning, afternoon and night drives. An all day drive, with a picnic lunch, is also available. The walks are led by very knowledgeable guides, and escorted by armed National Park scouts. The standard of the guiding is outstanding. Guests can also visit the local village of Kwaza and interact with the villagers and learn about their way of life.
During the months of December to April (Emerald Season) the Luangwa River is rising and falling depending on the rainfall. January to March it is flowing bank to bank. At times it is near full and pouring into the adjacent lagoons. Whatever the level, boating on the river during these months is simply magical.
Alternatively, guests can choose a cultural visit to a local village and school as well as Tribal Textiles an industry based in Mfuwe producing gorgeous hand printed fabrics.
Louisa Verney (Staff)
Nkwali is found just outside the South Luangwa National Park and is a great lodge from which to start your South Luangwa adventure. The six rooms are open in feel during the day but they have a gate which is able to be pulled over during the night so that you feel safe and secure as you sleep. The Mfuwe area of the park is renowned for its excellent game viewing, as the animals are used to seeing game driveshaft veichles year round so are very relaxed and happy to be photographed. When the river levels are high it is possible to access the park by the pontoon or when the water levels drop you are just able to drive across the river which save going through the main gate which is a big advantage.
Louisa Verney (Staff)
Nkwali is a great place to start your safari adventure in the South Luangwa. The lodge is a short boat trip from the lodge into the park and the game viewing is excellent. Nkwali has a really homely feel with everyone meeting round the camp fire to discuss the days game viewing excitements followed by a delicious dinner round the huge table.
Game Drives in the South Luangwa
Game drives are the most common way of exploring the African bush. A vehicle allows you to cover distance quickly and comfortably and offers visitors the best opportunity of getting very close to wildlife in a safe and controlled way.
Green Season Game Drives
The Green Season, Rainy Season, Emerald Season, Secret Season - what ever you decide to call it, this is a beautiful time of year to be on safari. Activities are rarely disrupted by weather and the bush is full of life.
Green Season Walking Safaris
Walking in the African bush is a special experience at any time of the year, but the opportunity to walk in somewhere like the Luangwa Valley in the Green Season is a treat for even the most experienced visitor to Africa.
Mulberry Mongoose workshop
Take a trip to the workshop of Mulberry Mongoose, a local company which employs local women to create fantastic hand-made jewelry and accessories, while giving back to the community and the environment.
If you get the opportunity to head out after sunset you should take it. The bush transforms under the cover of darkness as the nocturnal wildlife gets going. Using a spotlight your guide will scan the bush for eye-shine picking out some great action.
Private photographic guide South Luangwa
Spend a day (or more) in the company of a professional wildlife photographer to hone your skills and make sure you take back some fantastic photos of your safari in the South Luangwa.
Robin Pope Safaris Liuwa Plain
In the far west of Zambia lies the Liuwa Plains, one of the remotest and least visited parks in the whole of Zambia. The Liuwa Plain National Park covers an area the size of Majorca, mostly flat plains and pans which fill during the rains.
Zambia in Emerald Season
South Luangwa National Park
from $5200 pp 7 nights
- Stay at two of Robin Pope Safari's best camps during the Emerald Season
- Experience top-class guiding on day and night game drives in open vehicles with your expert guides at both camps
- Visit the Nsefu salt pans, famous for their population of crested cranes and hot springs
Zambia Walking Safari
South Luangwa National Park and Luangwa Valley
from $7100 pp 7 nights
- Exclusive mobile walking safari led by expert guides
- Visiting and exploring one of the most remote and pristine areas of the South Luangwa
- Stay in comfortable tented accommodation on the banks of the Mupamadzi River
Location & directions
South Luangwa National Park, Luangwa Valley, Zambia
Nkwali Camp sits under the shade of mahogany, ebony and sausage trees, on the banks of the Luangwa River. Just outside the South Luangwa National Park, Eastern Province of Zambia.
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