South Luangwa National Park, Luangwa Valley, Zambia
At a Glance
Take an early morning trip in John Coppinger's microlight to see the wildlife from a totally new perspective
Try your hand at game viewing from the back of a bicycle - very exhilarating and good exercise too
Ask Bryan, one of Tafika's guides, for photography tips - he's a brilliant photographer and happy to help
Enjoy delicious meals from the Tafika kitchen - and visit the garden where they grow nearly all of their vegetables
Enjoy the camp's sweeping views of the river from their hanging hammock chairs - supremely comfortable
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Tafika Camp is open from 01 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 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.
To start planning your vacation to Tafika Camp
Tafika Camp is one of South Luangwa's best camps - beautifully situated on a sweeping bend of the Luangwa River and looking across to the National Park, it is run by John and Carol Coppinger and their team of expert guides.
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, including a family room and one specifically for honeymooners, 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 their fabulous team, and many guests return year after year to experience their wonderful hospitality.
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 traveling 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 or cycle game drives. However they can join in day and night game drives.
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.
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!
Anna Devereux Baker (Staff)
Tafika Camp is one of our favorite camps in South Luangwa. Tafika, which literally translates as we have arrived is the home of the wonderful John and Carol Coppinger, who arrived in the area in 1994 and decided to set up home there. The camp is fairly rustic, with five chalets built with grass walls and thatched roofs, and brick floors. The furthest chalet is the honeymoon chalet, suitably remote and with a king size bed, double showers and a lovely river view. There is also a family chalet with two bedrooms, one with a king size and one with two queen beds, and a shared bathroom. The other three chalets all have two queen beds, so ideal for couples or two friends traveling together. The staff at Tafika are really superb and many of them have been there for years, working with John and Carol since Tafika first opened.
Last time we stayed we had incredible game-viewing, being guided by Bryan, one of Tafika's superb guides. Carmine bee-eaters, leopard, lion and oodles of elephant greeted us every day.
We both took a trip in the Tafika microlight with John - an amazing experience and one that Tim loved so much that he booked it for every single morning that we stayed! When the air is cool and clear in the mornings the views are really spectacular and the game is super-relaxed. Lion occasionally stop and look upwards and it's great fun to "buzz" the hippos and crocs on the sandbanks.
Tafika is a superb camp which really has it all - guides with real passion and knowledge, hands-on owners (who you will often find yourself sitting with at dinner) and a wonderful location.
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.
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.
Location & directions
South Luangwa National Park, 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.
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