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Kaingo Camp

Kaingo Camp is an established safari lodge nestled along the steep banks of the Luangwa River in the heart of the South Luangwa National Park.

Kaingo Camp has been the flagship lodge of family owned Shenton Safaris for over 20 years, and whilst not technically owner-hosted these days, it still very much has the feel of an individually owned and managed property. The location is fantastic, arguably about as good as you could get in the South Luangwa for game viewing, and Shenton Safaris have built up an excellent team of guides. Photography has always been a passion at Kaingo, and their various viewing hides allow guests to get very close to the wildlife. The accommodation has recently been refurbished to a very comfortable standard, and the food and service is excellent. However, Kaingo is best suited to guests who are really focused on the game viewing experience, photography and an authentic bush experience.

Rooms

Kaingo Camp offers accommodation for a maximum of 16 guests is in six comfortable stone and thatch chalets (with windows and sliding doors to the front covered in mosquito gauze only). The chalets are comfortably furnished with king size beds, luggage racks, chairs and a table, and an indoor en suite bathroom with vanity unit, toilet and shower, leads to an outside bathroom area which includes an outdoor bath. To the front of all chalets is a shaded verandah and a few steps away is a small deck on the edge of the Luangwa riverbank with comfortable chairs and foot rests where you can relax during the heat of the day. One of the chalets is known as the ‘deluxe suite’ which comes with its own private vehicle, the possibility for private dining in your suite (though dining in the main area is possible too) and a private butler. The deluxe suite also enjoys a separate lounge which can also accommodate additional beds for a family (there is an additional toilet attached to the lounge area).

Central Areas

The main areas at Kaingo include a central open-sided bar, lounge and dining area, and a shaded viewing deck cantilevered out over the river where afternoon tea is generally enjoyed.

Facilities

Wi-Fi – No
Power for charging – Yes
Swimming pool – No

Habitat & Wildlife

The Luangwa Valley is one of Africa’s most scenic and game-rich National Parks. Forming part of the southern end of the Great Rift Valley, the wide valley floor is about 1,000ft lower than the surrounding plateau and through the centre flows the Luangwa River which is fed by dozens of sand rivers during the rainy season, causing it to become a raging torrent. It frequently alters its course from season to season, causing many ox-bow lakes to form. These lakes are very important to the ecology of the valley and account for the high carrying capacity of the park.

Elephant, although slightly smaller than their southern African savannah counterparts, are plentiful, as are buffalo (in huge herds), kudu, waterbuck, puku, impala, bushbuck, warthog, and reedbuck. Thornicrofts giraffe (endemic to the region) are commonly seen and the Cookson’s wildebeest can be seen in the northern sector of the park. Along the river hippo can be seen in their hundreds, in the late dry season packed into ever decreasing water pools, whilst huge crocs laze on the many sand banks. However, the park is perhaps best known for its predator populations, in particular lion and leopard, the latter of which are seen regularly by day and at night. Wild dogs have made a good comeback in the park in recent years and are often sighted. Night drives can also be very productive, with nocturnal species such as civet, genet, honey badger, white-tailed mongoose, African wild cat, spotted hyaena and porcupine regularly seen in addition to the many superb leopard sightings.

The birdlife of the Luangwa is equally exceptional, with over half of the total Zambia species (around 700) being recorded here. Commonly sighted species include crowned crane, white-fronted bee-eaters, carmine bee-eaters (which nest in the banks of the river from late August onwards, Lilian’s lovebird, purple-crested turaco, paradise whydah, striped kingfisher and the impressive saddlebill storks. Pel’s fishing are also regularly seen.

Activities

Kaingo aims to offer an in-depth wildlife experience and is well suited to catering for wildlife enthusiasts and keen photographers. Game viewing drives by open four-wheel drive vehicles (day and night) and nature walks are complimented by numerous wildlife hides set up in strategic positions – the hippo hide overlooks a deep channel of the river with a new extension which has you at eye level with the hippos, the elephant hide built on stilts above a well-used river crossing point (at additional cost, the elephant hide can also be used for overnight sleep-outs), and the carmine bee-eater hide is set up each year (usually from mid-August onwards) in a strategic position near the nesting colonies. They also have two mobile hides which can be used at various water holes during the dry season. Overnight camp-outs in the bush are also possible to arrange (at extra cost), offering the chance to get back to basics for the night and to sleep out underneath the stars (under a mosquito net).

Seasons

Kaingo Camp is open from mid-May to early November, though game viewing conditions will be best from July onwards.

Kaingo usually accepts children of 10 years and above, though this rule is sometimes relaxed in low season when the camp is not busy. However, children must be 12 years old to join walking safaris. Their deluxe chalet is ideal for families with enough space to accommodate four children, though one extra bed can also be added to standard chalets. All families with children under 12 years old are required to have private vehicles, sometimes at extra cost. The remote location and adventurous nature of a safari in South Luangwa will tend to appeal most to families with older children. There is no swimming pool.

Derek Shenton, owner of Kaingo, is on the board of Conservation South Luangwa whose mission statement is: ‘To work with community and conservation partners in the protection of the wildlife and habitats of the South Luangwa ecosystem.’ Derek’s wife Juliet is one of the founding members of Project Luangwa, a charitable organisation formed by a group of safari operators in South Luangwa who help local communities improve their economic prospects whilst at the same time ensuring positive impact on the environment and wildlife. Juliet also began Art for Conservation which sees Shenton Safaris work with with local artists to sell their work. A donation 20% of each sale goes into a conservation or community project chosen by the purchaser.

Kaingo grade the roads in their area of the northern South Luangwa National Park. By doing this they are creating smooth roads for guests to enjoy, but these roads also serve as fire breaks as well as create areas that anti-poaching teams can move in swiftly.

The Shenton’s Plot grows around 80% of the fresh produce that is used in camp.

ALTERNATIVE CAMPS IN THE LUANGWA VALLEY