Chikanka Island is now strictly an archipelago of three islands due to a rise in the level of the lake since it was formed. Covering 240ha (2.4km2), it is smaller than Chete, and is privately owned by the Brooks family of Gwembe Safaris. It lies about 8km from the Zambian mainland, 10km west-southwest of Chete and 18km southwest of Sinazongwe.
The islands are mostly wooded, with mopane trees, marulas and the occasional baobab contrasting with the stark skeletons of dead trees in the surrounding lake. Rock figs display their intricate root system; wild purple morning glory entwines its way through the waterplants along the shoreline, and dwarf plated lizards flash their brilliant blue tails as they dart among the rocks.
Chikanka has some plains game, including kudu, zebra, impala and bushbuck, and elephants occasionally visit too. Not surprisingly, there are also hippos and crocodiles around the shores, so it's not sensible to swim and kayakers should take extreme care. The channels between the islands boast a good variety of fish, including bream, tiger fish, Cornish jack and bottlenose.
Transfers from Sinazongwe on a converted kapenta rig cost US$80 per trip, and take around two hours. Guests normally need to be at Lake View by midday. Those with their own motorboats can drive themselves across the lake.
AccommodationChikanka Island Camp
(4 chalets) Contact Gwembe Safaris, PO Box 630162, Choma; tel: 032 20169/2002/20119; fax: 20054; cell: 097 803292/777719; email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; www.gwembesafaris.com
Four A-frame chalets have been built on one of the three islands; each in a peaceful and secluded spot on a low cliff, looking east over the lake towards Zimbabwe, so the view at dawn is truly memorable. Stone clad, with a Tonga-thatched roof, each chalet is gauzed to deter insects and is simply furnished with twin beds (plus mosquito nets) and en-suite shower and toilet. There is no electricity; lighting is battery powered.
The large thatched dining area is fronted by a terrace that leads down to the lake, and a small paddling pool. At present the island is suitable for self-catering visitors only. Drinking water is supplied from the mainland and a fully equipped kitchen (including gas fridge and freezer) and a cook are provided, as well as a braai, but you must bring your own food and drinks. However, with the introduction of a manager at Lake View it is possible that meals will also be made available on Chikanka itself.
What to see and do
If you wanted to find an unspoilt bit of bush in which to wander, look no further. Activities are low-key, and it's up to you to make them happen. There's a game guard to accompany you, canoes to explore around the island, and a rowing boat if you feel like a spot of fishing (said to be particularly good between the islands). Excursions to Chete Island can be arranged.