South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
At a Glance
Visit the Nsefu salt pans, famous for their population of crested cranes and hot springs
Nsefu camp is Luangwa's oldest camp, and retains its original rooms, all with beautiful views of the Luangwa River
Visit Nsefu in the Emerald Season, when the local stork colony is in full swing
Enjoy superb game viewing in the remote Nsefu sector of the national park, where the camp is situated
At the end of a busy day, relax around the camp fire and share stories of the bush
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Nsefu Camp is closed November to January.
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 Nsefu Camp
Nsefu lies on a sweeping bend of the Luangwa River and is situated in the heart of the undeveloped Nsefu sector of the South Luangwa National Park - one of the most beautiful, unspoilt wilderness areas in Zambia.
Nsefu was the first photographic safari camp in Zambia and dates back to the early fifties. It is owned and run by Robin Pope Safaris who were among the first to operate in this area. The Nsefu Sector was recognised then as a phenomenal area and it still is. The camp re-opened in 1999, in keeping with the original style, and is one of only two camps in the Nsefu Sector of the park.
The traditional structures have a simple, understated elegance, with stylish pale furnishings and spacious en-suite bathrooms. The large bar is tucked in beside a huge extinct termite mound, overlooking a waterhole, and offers fantastic game viewing opportunities. There is also a dedicated photographic hide overlooking the waterhole, providing excellent photography opportunities.
Safari activities include walking, the best way to discover the secrets of the bush, led by an experienced guide and accompanied by an armed game scout. There are day game drives conducted in open, four-wheel drive vehicles, as well as night drives which set out in the afternoon and, after watching the sun set over the river with a sun downer in hand, continue with a powerful spotlight.
Nsefu Camp is open during the height of the Emerald Season from mid January until the end of March, when the river is brimming and the lagoons are full. During this time its possible to boat to Nkwali from Nsefu - a two hour boat ride down the amazing Luangwa River. The journey is always exciting, with flocks of birds, hippos and crocodiles. Often elephant, lion and even leopard are seen on the river bank. With the river high, its easy to boat into the ebony groves, up the channels and into many of the lagoons. These lagoons are a haven for birdlife. The famous yellow billed stork colony, one of the largest in southern Africa, is reachable (by boat and then foot) and it is during this time, with the area flooded that the storks will be breeding.
Accommodation is in six rondavel rooms. They all have a spacious bathroom added and the furnishings and fittings are in keeping with an "old fashioned" feel. Each room has a clear view of the river, through both the large windows and from the wooden verandas. Each cottage has been installed with the latest Easy Breeze over-bed air conditioning system over the beds and is run off the solar power.
Due to the remote nature of Nsefu and the walking involved there is a minimum age of 12 years. For families with older children, 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.
The dinning room has a superb view of the river and throughout the heat of the day, elephants come to drink and then cross the river. All the main areas have comfy chairs and wide decks to lounge around on and watch the wildlife go by.
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. In the 'emerald season' boating gives an excellent opportunity to explore the park's more remote corners that cars cannot get to.
Louisa Verney (Staff)
I had forgotten what a stunning position Nsefu Camp is in since I last stayed there 10 years ago. There has been quite a lot of erosion on the banks of the river so the rooms are now much closer to the river than I remember, but the camp has not lost any of its magic.
The main area is cozy with a old school rustic feel and all the guests would sit about chatting about their days excitements on the game drive or walk. The six Rondaval cottages are quite close to each other, however RPS are not allowed to move the cottages as they are listed. The cottages are very comfortable and safe feeling and have a slightly elevated position so it is lovely to sit on the deck and look out towards the river. Meals are eaten together round a family table and again provide an opportunity to chat about you safari.
Louisa Verney (Staff)
Nsefu is in a great location over looking a lake. However it is probably my least favourite of all the Robin Pope Camps as the rooms are in old cottages, which are rather too close to each other, however they are designated heritage monuments so there is not much Robin Pope can do about it. However the game viewing and walking from Nsefu is fabulous and a pride of lion regularly wanders through camp, which adds to the excitement. They arranged a wonderful sundowners for us however when we drove up to the table we wondered why the assistant guide was covering in his landrover…behind the table groaning with bottles was a huge male lion guarding his haul.
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.
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 £4900 pp inc flights & transfers for 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
Location & directions
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Nsefu sits on a sweeping bend of the Luangwa river and in the heart of the South Luangwa National Park.
How to get there
10-hour international flight from London to Lusaka followed by a flight of 1-hour in a light aircraft to Mfuwe Airport. It is then 30 - 40 minutes by road to the camp.
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