Much like the natural hierarchy among Africa’s wild animals, there has always been an order of things in terms of safari destination rankings. Botswana has long been the lion, while Zambia’s role could be likened to scrappy meerkat. But roles evolve, and if there has ever been a challenger for the pride of Botswana, this is it. Our friends at Norman Carr Safaris have decided to change things up in Zambia by borrowing a page from the Botswana playbook. Chinzombo, in South Luangwa National Park, is the first truly five-star camp in Zambia—and boy is it something.
For a long time, Zambia has undeniably been a place for safari purists. As it boasts some pretty outstanding guides (the walking safari was essentially invented here) and very prolific wildlife, the experience alone is so compelling that all the camps traditionally required was a clean, dry place to sleep, somewhere to eat, and a bathroom. The majority of bush camps in South Luangwa then, are just that: bush camps. They’re great, but even I have to admit that they’re a little old school.
Chinzombo is the first camp to bust open that mould, in the hopes that the luxury that draws so many to Botswana will have the same effect in Zambia. It’s time to open this amazing country up to more discerning safari-goers, who have perhaps written it off as just a little too ‘rustic’. Some purists will lament the shift toward style, worried that it means a loss of substance along the way. Not to worry: having been to most of the camps in South Luangwa, I can attest to the fact that Chinzombo still delivers. The fact that some of Norman Carr’s most experienced guides are now based there sure doesn’t hurt.
The tricky part, then, is figuring out how Chinzombo fits into a larger safari experience in South Lunagwa. The remote little bush camps are still awesome in their own right, so I suggest starting there, and getting out into the bush on foot. Finish your expedition by moving up the luxury rungs with a couple of nights in style at Chinzombo. After all, who doesn’t like a little private plunge pool action after a long day on foot in the wild.
As Dan enters deeper into what he calls “the long, dark teatime of the soul” (known to most as Canadian winter), he dreams of the game, the views, and the temperature in South Luangwa National Park. He can certainly dream up a few safari scenarios for you, so feel free to get in touch.