OrientationAround Mfuwe Airport
Mfuwe Airport (GPS: MFUAIR) is an international airport, with customs and immigration, but it feels like a small, local one. There's one terminal building, and if you're on one of the smaller flights in and out of the valley, then you're likely to have the pilot coming to find you.
Inside the terminal are toilets, a few small shops, a very small bank and a rather flashy curio shop selling glossy picture books and expensive carvings and curios. Just outside you'll find the labelled parking spaces where 4WDs from the lodges wait for their pre-booked incoming passengers. A few yards away are two gems, well worth investigating:Moondog Café
Beside the airport, and the camps, there's one essential place to know about – and that's the invaluable little Moondog Café. It's situated beside the airport and run by Fil and Tony. It's a relaxed place to have a drink as you arrive, or before you leave, or even a tasty snack or bite to eat. It's also got a useful notice board, bookshop and fair bit of local wit. (Ask about 'Coppinger's Corner', amongst other local legends.)
However, in an emergency, Moondog is also a valuable communications hub – for its radio and phone links to the Valley's camps. So if you have problems near the airport, then sit down, order a drink, and ask nicely for their help.
The menu has a variety of meals and snacks. Tequila is served all day, without an eyebrow being raised, and the menu includes home-made pasta, pizzas, nachos, tacos, quesadillas and chilli, burgers, toasted sandwiches, meat pies and samosas.
Moondog's book corner is also a good place to buy natural history guides to Zambia, and probably has the best selection of books on the Luangwa Valley's natural history that you'll find anywhere. See Further Reading
for notes on some of the Zambian-published books, and consider emailing the café to see if they have a copy for you before you arrive.
Open all year from 08.00 to 17.00Magenge Crafts
Beside the Moondog Café, outside the main airport building, is a small and stylish shop selling craftwork. The crafts include textiles, baskets, wirework, wooden carvings, elephant-dung greetings cards (much nicer than they sound!), papier-mâché animal heads, embroidered T-shirts and various artefacts – many of which make super souvenirs. Virtually all are locally made, providing a valuable income for the local people who produce them. Look out especially for items by Mango Tree Crafts, which is a community project recently initiated by Gillie Lightfoot (Tribal Textiles), using local materials to make mobiles, table mats, wooden animals and, using old snares collected by National Parks, wire flowers and animals. Magenge is one of the valley's few outlets for such crafts, and it is run with these development aims in mind. ('Magenge' is the local name for termites – noted for the impact of their co-operative schemes despite their small size.)
Open late-March to early-January, and only closes during the height of the rains.