'Flatdog' is a local nickname for a crocodile, hence when a campsite opened at the location of the old crocodile camp (just on the right of the main Mfuwe Bridge) in 1992, the choice of name was no surprise. A few years later they offered self-catering chalets as well and gradually Flatdogs (and its maverick owner-manager, Jake da Motta) were becoming better known.
However, Jake and his team have now outgrown that original site and moved to about 100ha of land beside the river across the road, just to the left of the main Mfuwe Bridge. It's a lovely spot, with lots of shade from winterthorn, Faidherbia albida
, and mahogany, Trichelia emetica
. A lot of game currently wanders through the area, including a good population of giraffe (attracted by the acacia trees).
The new Flatdogs is an extensive and imaginatively designed camp. It includes a 'Dog and Gat' (sic) bar with pub food and barbecues; a games room with pool, darts and satellite TV; a swimming pool; a shop for crafts, bush clothes, toiletries and foodstuffs; and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (including vegetarian food) throughout the day (catering for up to 60 diners at once – with overland trucks in mind). Jake has achieved his aim of creating a 'sociable' atmosphere, and this is certainly the social hub of the Valley – especially during its regular (and very entertaining) Friday-night gatherings. That said, the facilities are well spaced out, so you can get as much privacy as you want.
The campsite here is split, one section for overland trucks and another for backpackers and those with their own vehicles. Both areas have barbecues and washing-up stands, and an ablution block with eight hot showers and flush toilets. Water is from boreholes; there are lights and mains electric points; firewood and laundry services are available. Overland truck drivers and tour leaders will get free use of simple thatched cottages or tree platforms when available.
Flatdogs also has four two-storey chalets, with groups and families in mind. Each has two furnished rooms with a communal kitchenette/dining area (self-catering equipment provided) and en-suite bathroom. Downstairs there is a double room with fan and a wrap-around veranda; whilst upstairs has a second twin room with a view of the river and a thatched roof. In addition, there is one family chalet, with two single beds on a mezzanine floor, and one room with twin beds and a couch (which could also be a single) and one with a double and single. All beds have mosquito nets. They also have a separate kitchen with oven, hot plates, kettle and dishes.
Activities organised by the camp include day and night drives in the park, walking trips, and also 'nature walks' outside the park – for which you won't need to pay park entry fees. Flatdogs' 4WD vehicles are usually full, and carry far more people per vehicle than those of the smaller safari camps. The new Flatdogs offers a very different experience from that offered by the upmarket camps, and it charges a different price too.