Lunga River Lodge
6 twin-bed chalets) African Experience, PO Box 30106, Lusaka; satphone: 873 762 093 985; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Standing on the bank of the Lunga River, overlooking Kafue from its northern boundary, Lunga is owned and run by Ed Smythe who built the camp here in 1993. Lunga's original A-frame cabins have now gone and been replaced with much more spacious and comfortable thatch-on-brick chalets. These have a king-size bed (or twins), with a walk-in canopy of mosquito netting, bedside tables and electric lanterns (12V, powered by solar cells and a back-up generator), a dressing-table, mirror and separate wardrobe. The bathroom has a large and efficient shower, a flush toilet and a washbasin with a mirror. Everything has been tastefully made, mostly using solid local woods, and the whole chalet oozes quality. However, perhaps the best part is the wooden deck outside which cantilevers over the river and, in the case of one or two rooms, encloses a sunken bath. It's perfect for soaking by moonlight.
At the centre of camp, beside the well-stocked bar, is a sundeck that extends over the river. Across the lodge's central lawn is a small swimming pool, and hidden away is a steam bath. There's a central, thatched dining area, and having had stir-fries and even sushi here on occasions, I'd rate the food as imaginative as well as good. Because the lodge has been here and consistently managed for so long, the lodge staff (mostly from local villages) are experienced and service standards are high. Activities include walking safaris, day and night 4WD trips, and river excursions using motorboats and canoes. The Lunga is a great river for birding, and gentle canoe trips downriver should not be missed. With lots of notice (needs to be advised in advance), there an option to spend a night out in the bush at a small fly-camp, as part of a longer guided canoe trip down the river. Guiding standards are high: with an experienced team of Zambian guides augmented by visiting professional guides who normally stay for a season or two and, of course, Ed. Lunga isn't a place that anyone normally drives to (except this author, on several slightly insane occasions); guests usually arrive by light aircraft.
African Experience has started its own small airline, Lunga Air, to ensure the reliability of these links. Flying into Lunga, it's usually best to stay about a week in the area, spending a few nights at the lodge (including your first and last nights, as the lodge is very close to its own airstrip), some time at Busanga Bushcamp, and perhaps a day or two fly-camping as part of a canoeing trip. Note that there's a slight reduction in the costs if you spend seven nights or more at a combination of Lunga and the Busanga Bushcamp.
Despite the formidable logistics of such a remote location, Lunga is Kafue's top lodge, and when combined with its bushcamp on the Busanga Plains, it offers a high-quality wildlife experience.