Discovering Zambia

 

Mchenja
Mchenja’s rooms all look out over the Luangwa river.



 

Now that KLM is offering direct flights from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Lusaka, Zambia, the country’s exclusive and private safari camps are easier than ever to reach. Here are two distinct camps and lodges that we think your clients will love.

Tonga bezi’s Tree House
Tonga bezi’s Tree House is a top pick for couples who want privacy.

Mchenja Bush Camp is part of Norman Carr Safaris and offers a top-of-the-line wilderness experience for those who really want to get up-close-and-personal with nature. Guests at the camp can choose to go on game drives whenever they like or on game-viewing walks (with guides, of course).

And for pure exclusivity, the camp has only five thatched-roof tents with a deck in front overlooking the Luangwa river. (This isn’t roughing it, of course: All the tents have indoor baths and outdoor showers.)

Meals at the camp can be (and should be, we say) enjoyed alfresco, either in the bush or alongside the riverbed. And of course, a game drive (or walk) isn’t complete without a proper “sundowner” (cocktail)—be sure to mention any preferences when booking.

 

Advisor Insight:

Laura Gable, a luxury travel consultant with Worldview Travel, recommends a minimum two-night visit to Victoria Falls when in Zambia.

“The two best camps in Livingstone/Victoria Falls are The River Club—more formal, English club feel—and Toka Leya, where we stayed in spacious tents that actually had Wi-Fi. There are only 12 roomy tents with raised walkways leading to the large deck of the main area, which has an infinity pool, a dining area, a lounge and a bar.

“After we were welcomed to the camp by the staff, [we] boarded boats and took a river safari on the Zambezi, ending in a spectacular sundowner on the river. What a great beginning to our safari! Other highlights at Toka Leya were a night safari, walking safari to a black rhino reserve, and visit to a local village and classroom. One evening, a local band appeared around the evening campfire and we all danced under the African sky. Most activities like fishing excursions and tours of Livingstone town and museum can also be arranged.

“The biggest highlight and memory-maker of all was Livingstone Island lunch and Devil’s Pool...After changing into our swimsuits in the ‘loo with a view,’ we hiked to Devil’s Pool and jumped in. Our guide took plenty of photos and videos with our cameras for us.”

 

 

The camp does not have its own spa, but in-suite treatments by a visiting therapist can be booked in advance. (Note: While it’s best to book treatments when making the initial reservations, the camp is small enough and can take requests hours in advance.) Reach out to Personal Touch for advance bookings, and ask for Nathalie.

Note: Mchenja is exclusive and private, so getting there takes some time. Visitors should fly to Lusaka and then transfer to a one-hour domestic flight to Mfuwe. From there, the guests can be driven to the camp in a game drive vehicle. The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours. Private helicopters can also land at Mfuwe, as long as they’ve been cleared in advance.

Reach out to Marketing Director Christina Carr ([email protected]; 011-260-216-246-025) with any special requests, including permission to land helicopters. Note: For the months from July to October, the camp fills up quickly and should be booked at least a year in advance.

Tongabezi Lodge, which was renovated last year, gives plenty of wildlife experience, but is not a dedicated safari camp. The lodge consists of several private houses on the banks of the Zambezi river, just upstream of Victoria Falls. Visitors who want to explore the falls and its surrounding areas will love this lodge, which is a bit larger than Mchenja and easier to reach. (Visitors can fly into Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone, about 15 miles away from the lodge. They can also land private helicopters at the River Club next door.)

Many activities at Tongabezi involve the river and the falls—think canoeing, fishing, kayaking, white water rafting and helicopter rides over the falls—although visitors can also go on nature walks and game drives.

Tongabezi has private houses as opposed to tents—we hear the most popular picks are the Dog House, Bird House, Tree House, Nut House and Honeymoon House. Each house and cottage has its own valet, who takes care of guests throughout their stay and who acts as a private concierge.

Groups will love Sindabezi Island, which has six cabins set apart from the rest, guaranteeing an exclusive experience. Couples, on the other hand, will want the Sindabezi Honeymoon Chalet, hidden away at the end of Sindabezi Island. (It has a super-romantic, old-fashioned claw-foot bathtub that’s perfect for two.)

Families with younger children will want to stay in the Garden House, a new private cottage a bit farther away from the river (making it safer for kids). It has a full dining room, living room, two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a private garden and private plunge pool.

Foodies will also have plenty to love: Tongabezi grows its own produce in its kitchen garden, and guests can choose to dine alongside the Zambezi river, in their rooms or on a private terrace. For something extra special, request the Sanpan dinner experience: A floating deck on the river is attended by waiters in canoes. Meals are seasonal and generally focus on local cuisine for an authentic experience.

Luxury travel advisors can reach out to Sanja Cloete-Jones ([email protected]) with questions or special requests.

 

Getting There

Zambia’s popularity as a destination is on the rise: For example, next year, the country will co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organization conference at Victoria Falls with Zimbabwe. To meet increased demand, KLM launched direct flights from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Lusaka, Zambia last month.

The airline will serve Lusaka three times a week using an Airbus A330-200 in a two-class configuration, with space for 243 passengers, 30 in World Business Class. Perks of World Business Class include three-course meals and a flatbed seat. Perhaps coolest of all are the gifts handed out to each World Business Class passenger: Delft Blue miniatures in the shape of traditional Dutch houses, filled with Dutch gin, also known as genever. Each miniature depicts a real Dutch house.

Good to know: Next year, KLM will begin renovating the World Business Class cabins with Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. The Boeing 747-400s will be converted first.

 

 

Tongabezi’s Sindabezi Island
Tongabezi’s Sindabezi Island is a private camp on the Zambezi river.

 

Mchenja tents
Mchenja tents feature indoor baths and outdoor showers.


 

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