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Mwamba Bushcamp

Mwamba Bushcamp is a small, traditional bush camp overlooking the Mwamba River channel in the heart of the South Luangwa National Park.

Mwamba offers a true bush experience in a very productive game viewing area. Originally a walking camp, Mwamba offers access to some core game viewing regions as well as some very remote areas that are seldom visited by other tourists. These days most guests seem to want to drive more than walk, but it is still a super camp for walking and there is always a walking guide on hand. The camp is very much a seasonal bush camp, with the chalets re-built each year from grass and thatch, and despite being very comfortable, the accommodation maintains an adventurous feel with small bedrooms, sky windows and open bathrooms that are sometimes visited by elephants seeking out fresh water! Food is good quality and wholesome, guests are very well looked after and the guiding is excellent. The ‘last waterhole’ hide on the edge of camp is brilliant in the late dry season (September/ October) for sightings and photography. Mwamba is a camp for wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, walkers and those looking for a quiet and escapist ‘close to nature’ bush experience.

Rooms

Mwamba caters for a maximum of eight guests in four comfortable but rustic grass and reed chalets. The ‘cosy’ chalets are built overlooking the Mwamba River Channel, which flows into the Luangwa. Each chalet has two ‘skylights’ in the roof over the bed, mosquito nets and basic furniture, as well as a spacious ‘open air’ en suite bathroom, which includes a flush toilet, sink and safari ‘bucket’ showers.

Central Areas

The central bar and dining areas are open air and built in the shade of a towering tree. There is a small canopy under which afternoon tea is generally served. The camp certainly has a ‘bush feel’ and game is often encountered in and around the camp.

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

Activities at Mwamba include both walking (the original focus of the camp, especially in the mornings), and game drives by day and by night. There is also the possibility of a basic ‘camp-out’ under the stars either around the camp fire (sleeping under a mosquito net) or on a sleep out platform overlooking the bush (both sleep-out options are extra cost and pre-booking is advised). There is a hide in camp (the ‘last waterhole’ hide), available exclusively for Mwamba guests, overlooking a particularly active water source that you can use at any point in the day. From Mwamba, you can also visit the Carmine bee-eater hide (usually operational from mid-August onwards) run by Shenton Safaris.

Seasons

Mwamba Bush Camp is open from June to October, though game viewing conditions will be best from July onwards.

Mwamba caters for children 12 years and older, and is most suitable for active and adventurous families with older children who can take their own room and are keen to explore.

Derek Shenton, owner of Mwamba, 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 local artists to sell their work. A donation 20% of each sale goes into a conservation or community project chosen by the purchaser.

Mwamba 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