Around noon, I dozed off after an early morning bush drive. I was awakened by the sound of crunching leaves and a faint grunt, but it wasn't our host approaching my chalet. Slowly sitting up, I spotted an elephant outside my window, casually munching on tree branches. After its snack, it led its family to the nearby watering hole. That's how you wake up in one of Zambia's luxurious bushcamps.
The Bushcamp Company, founded in 1999 by Andy Hogg and Andrea Bizzaro, is located in South Luangwa National Park and offers six exclusive bushcamps and three lodges in the remote south of the park, with Mfuwe International Airport being the closest airport. Mfuwe Lodge was our first night's stay, boasting 18 waterfront chalets, a swimming pool, spa, bar, and dining area. My room featured a king-size bed with a mosquito net and a modern bathroom. Despite a run-in with a harmless black spider, the outdoor patio overlooking the lagoon, where hippos serenaded us with their croaks, was a must-visit.
The next morning, we left for Zungulila bushcamp, a secluded area of the park. Although lacking Wi-Fi and air-conditioning, it provided clean water from deep boreholes, solar panels for hot water and lighting, and meals prepared by head chef Wendy Dunn. Zungulila, open from April to January, offers four chalets with outdoor bathtubs and breathtaking views.
Bilimungwe, open from May to December, was the second bushcamp, featuring four chalets with watering holes behind each, offering exceptional wildlife views. The lodge manager, Alex Stewart, shared captivating stories during sunrise breakfasts and dinners overlooking the Luangwa River. A note: Some chalets had bats at night, but that's nature for you.
We also had the privilege of being among the first guests at KuKaya Lodge, open year-round with five tented villas. While it offered modern amenities, it felt somewhat generic compared to its unique ties to late Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda. However, it's great for large groups or families, and children under 12 can't join walking safaris in the park.
Our guide, Fannuel Banda, led us on thrilling walking safaris and game drives, where we encountered giraffes, wild dogs, and leopards. Night drives included sundowner stops along the river. Special surprises like bush lunches and river kickbacks made the experience unforgettable.
There are exciting developments ahead, including an upscale boma/guest area and the annual bat migration at Kasanka National Park in November, promising unforgettable experiences for safari enthusiasts.