South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
At a Glance
Situated in a secluded spot of South Luangwa, Chinzombo is the ultimate in ultra-chic camps in Zambia – stylish yet artfully opulent.
With just six spacious and stunning villas, one designed to accommodate a family, and each with its own private plunge pool this camp is intimate and delightfully luxurious.
Offering direct and private access into one of the best game-rich areas in the valley you can opt for walking or driving safaris through into the night to find the fascinating nocturnal habitants of the area.
Named after the Chinzombo fruit, the camp has been cleverly designed to blend in with its surroundings and allow you to truly relax between game drives whether that be in your private plunge pool, treating yourself to some yoga and spa treatments or a just lying back on your shady deck, binoculars in hand.
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.
To start planning your holiday to Chinzombo
Chinzombo is a beautiful secluded lodge situated on a sweeping bend of the banks of Zambia's Luangwa River. This small intimate lodge epitomises sheer luxury with unrivalled levels of service and guiding.
Chinzombo, named after the chinzombo fruit - was once a simple, rustic camp on the banks of the Luangwa, before undergoing a total refit to become one of the most luxurious options in the Valley. Each of the six villas are vast and airy, and cleverly designed to blend in with the surroundings while pushing the boundaries of accommodation in Zambia. Each villa has its own separate living area, a private plunge pool and a cooled sleeping area, along with an enormous bathroom and a sweeping deck.
Norman Carr, the founder of Norman Carr Safaris, originally used the Chinzombo site as a base during the Emerald Season, and the area is full of history and memories. The site is peaceful and secluded, on a large and pristine area of land almost entirely cut off by the meandering Luangwa River, meaning that Chinzombo, despite being open all year round, is practically an island.
The camp is located within easy reach of the best game viewing in the Valley. Guests can choose to walk or drive - we recommend walking in the mornings when the temperature is cool and the animals are more active, and driving in the afternoons so you can extend through to a night drive and find the nocturnal animals.
The camp features six spacious villas hidden away in the canopies of ancient trees on a wildlife rich ridge. One villa is designed to accommodate a family in double & triple suitable for children under 16 yrs. The villas appear to be floating over the landscape with their raised position. The villas are connected to the main communal areas via a winding footpath through the tress. The villas each have a private plunge pool and a luxurious bathroom.
There is one family villa available which comprises one double and one triple room suitable for children under 16 yrs of age. There is a shared lounge area between the two rooms as well as a private plunge pool.
During your time spent at the camp in between safaris, you can enjoy the wifi access, the exercise and yoga area, the spa facilities and you refreshing plunge pools. There are plenty of shady decks overlooking the Luangwa for you to relax on and soak in the views.
Chinzombo camp is set within 60 acres of private land with Luangwa River frontage; the views from its riverside location which is bustling with wildlife, plus the private, direct access into one of the most game rich areas of the National Park all combine to make this a truly special place. Daily safaris will mean you can get up close to the animals and take in the bush life.
Meg Shepro (Staff)
Chinzombo is the epitome of luxury in the South Luangwa and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here. With incredibly attentive and warm staff you can be confident that all your needs are met at this safari camp. The luxury villas are enormous, allowing you to really stretch out at the end of your safari, not to mention a great chance to cool off from the midday heat in your private plunge pool! As the camp is located in the quiet game management area across the river from the National Park your stay feels remote but you still enjoy easy access to the most game rich areas of the park.
You know North Island? Where Kate and Wills honeymooned? Yes, the one in the Seychelles. Well, the clever architects behind one of the most sensational island retreats on the planet have turned their hands to safari lodges. Yes, we know! Very exciting and, blimey, have they done a good job. Chinzombo is white and light as a cloud - all billowing canvas and jaw-to- the-floor views over the Luangwa River. Guests sleep in tents, although to call them tents is like calling a Rolls Royce Phantom a nice runaround. Acres of white wooden decking, beds big enough to get lost in, huge open-sided bathrooms, all beneath the dappled shade of ancient riverbank trees. Sunken seating areas with squashy cushions and a swimming pool for each tent make going on game drives almost a chore. Almost - South Luangwa is prime game- spotting territory. Then again, you are right by the river, which means much of the game will come to you. Oh joy! Sit back, order a G&T and have a lazy perusal of the latest arrivals, right on your doorstep.
Louisa Verney (Staff)
Chinzombo is the latest edition to the Norman Carr Safaris portfolio and is certainly the most luxurious. The 6 tented suites are raised on wooden decks and all all well spread out along the river. The rooms invite you to make your self at home and there are lots of places for you to chill out in the heat of the day, be it in the plunge pool or on the day beds.
The rooms have canvas walls so you can still hear the noises of the African night but have all the mod cons from electricity, huge bath, mini bar and air conditioned bed meaning you don't have to go without your creature comforts.
Next stop Chinzombo in the South Luangwa National Park. The blurb provided by the travel agency promised that Chinzombo is a bush camp that 'breaks the mould. It does and then some. I felt as if Id stepped into a Vogue safari shoot, the lodge is the ultimate in tasteful, luxurious design. Its all brand spanking new but the emphasis is on heritage with timber, khaki canvas and leather. The library in the central seating/eating area is filled with books and mementoes, on the walls are black and white photos of Norman Carr in the fifties and sixties, the founder of the safari company and adopted father of two lions that accompanied him everywhere. Our tented lodge, one of six, was enormous with pillow soft loungers on an outside deck where you could dip into the plunge pool or lie back and watch the wildlife gathering at the river below. The hippos snorting underwater was a comforting sound as I dropped off to sleep, like being serenaded by an orchestra of tubas. Or the elephants outside the lodge one night, so close, I could hear their ears flapping.
In case youre thinking it all sounds too cosseted and cushy to be an authentic bush experience, Ive got to tell you I absolutely loved it. And once we were out on our walking safari, it was the real deal. We spied a group of hyenas about a hundred and fifty yards away, ripping apart an impala. We could hear its bones cracking. Almost entirely hidden in the long grass were three leopards, looking disgruntled even from a distance as their kill was devoured. Suddenly one took advantage of a moments inattention by the hyenas, darted forward, snatched the impala carcass and dragged it up a tree as quickly and effortlessly as if it weighed nothing at all. The speed and power were terrifying to behold.
A couple of days spent at Mchenja lodge, further into the national park was a drive into lion country. I knew for sure when I was woken on our first night by the unmistakable sound of a lions guttural cough, so close I could hear its paws padding in the dusty soil just outside our tent. I couldnt get back to sleep until hours later. Here the terrain was very different, reminiscent of first world war landscapes, featureless but for the tree stumps the trees felled not by continuous shelling but by elephants ripping off the bark and leaving behind only dying shards of timber, poking jagged shapes into the sky. Among the herds of elephants, we saw lions aplenty, never for me an entirely comfortable experience. As we sat in our customised jeep watching a lion relaxing in the long grass no less than a metre or two away, I kept wondering if the lion was thinking it was snack time.
It was preying on my mind too when we walked into the bush with our guide Simon. But after half an hour or so I was too diverted by the masterclass in animal footprints to be anxious. From the tiny elephant shrewprints, as tiny as if made by my little finger to prints made by elephants themselves, great circles in the dust with a deeper indentation at the front where the elephant dragged its massive foot forwards before lifting it clear of the ground. And then there was the endless supply of different droppings - so fascinating, who knew? Elephant dollops (a handy football), giraffe pellets (make very nice earrings apparently) and impala droppings (if you scoop up a handful when still warm, the pellets dance in your hand like jumping beans).
We were new to safari and new to Zambia but wed managed to find ourselves in the perfect place. On our last evening as I watched dozens of ravening crocodiles tear apart a hippo carcass half submerged in the river, I have to admit it did cross my mind that it might be a relief to return home where nothing wanted to eat me. But our days in the bush had been an unforgettable experience. And Ill never watch those David Attenborough documentaries in the same way again. Perhaps next time I bump into him at BBC Broadcasting House, I could suggest he devote a new series to the enthralling varieties of dung. I reckon its a ratings winner
Zambia's South Luangwa National Park is famous for running the continent's finest guided walking safaris, the first of which were set up by Norman Carr in the 1950s. The safari company he started is still known for its circuit of simple bush camps, from which guests set off to track game on foot. So the opening of this exceptionally smart lodge late last year signalled the start of a new era. Designed by the brilliant South African architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens (who created North Island in the Seychelles), it sits on the banks of the Luangwa River beneath a canopy of ancient trees. The lodge is very beautiful and comfortable, made in South Africa and assembled flat-pack-style in Zambia. The whole lot can be taken down and recycled without leaving a trace. The six tented suites are raised on platforms made from reconstituted timber, the beds cooled by an eco-friendly air-conditioning system. In the central mess tent there are carefully chosen books, cutlery and glasses, and big sofas covered in loose, natural fabrics. The dining area and bar is hung with framed photographs of Carr and smiling staff members, past and present. Banded mongooses scurry around, raiding red-ant mounds, and baboons saunter between the tents; in the evenings, elephants and giraffes come down to drink at the water's edge, and at night hippos lumber onto the river bank to feed on the sweet grass. It is a very comfortable spot to just be.
FLASH POINT Two of the best guides in Zambia, Abraham Banda and Shadreck Nkhoma, work at Chinzombo.
Anna Devereux Baker (Staff)
I first visited the "old" Chinzombo right back in 1991 - our first family trip to Zambia, a country which was to captivate me entirely, and one which ended up being my home for many years. Chinzombo at the time was a semicircle of little white chalets, set under the shade of towering mahogany trees, with a large bar at the front, on a sweeping curve of the Luangwa River. Our guide was the wonderful Shadrack Nkhoma - "Shaddy" - who gently introduced us to all the wonders the Luangwa had to offer.
The advent of the "new" Chinzombo heralds a wonderful new era for Norman Carr Safaris - the site of Chinzombo is utterly stunning - still with the thick shade trees, and still with the sweeping bend of the river almost completely cutting off the Chinzombo "island". We expect great things; and cannot wait to return!
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 jewellery 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.
Limitless Zambia and Madagascar
South Luangwa National Park and Nosy Be Archipelago, Northern Madagascar
inc flights & transfers for 9 nights
- Take time to rejuvenate at our handpicked luxurious properties in these remote and exclusive locations
- First class wildlife opportunities in the South Luangwa National Park home to a rich population of leopards
- Devour gourmet bush picnics under the shade of a tree or private dinners under the endless blanket of stars
Zambia and Madagascar in Ultimate Luxury
South Luangwa & Miavana
from £22600 pp inc flights & transfers for 11 nights
- Stay in some of Africa's most luxurious properties in remote and exclusive locations
- First class wildlife opportunities in the South Luangwa National Park home to a rich population of leopards
- Enjoy bush picnics under the shade of a tree or private bush dinners under the stars
Zambia and Malawi Honeymoon
Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa and Lake Malawi
from £10600 pp inc flights & transfers for 11 nights
- Explore Zambia's South Luangwa National Park with exceptional guides from Chinzombo
- Take an exhilarating helicopter flight through Zambia to Lower Zambezi
- End with a relaxing beach break at Kaya Mawa in the crystal clear waters of Lake Malawi
Location & directions
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Chinzombo Safari Lodge is nestled in amongst a grove of ebony and mahogany trees on the banks of the Luangwa River.
How to get there
10-hour international flight to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Lusaka. After a 70-minute flight from Lusaka, you arrive at Mfuwe Airport where you are met for a game drive transfer to camp, through South Luangwa National Park which takes approximately three hours.
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