(8 chalets) Lion Roars Safaris, House 1, Water Wells, Kafue Rd, Makeni, PO Box 33111, Lusaka; tel/fax: 01 274901; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.royalzambezi.com
Situated just 4km west of the national park, Royal Zambezi is an attractive, well-designed lodge with a relaxed atmosphere. The welcoming tone of the place is set by managers Steve and Kerry, who have been here since the place was refitted in 1999. Rooms are comfortable Meru-style tents with twin or double beds; all have en-suite facilities and are protected from the sun under a thatched roof. Rocking chairs on the porch offer the perfect vantage point for watching the antics of vervet monkeys on well-watered green lawns against the broader picture of the river beyond. The night silence is broken by the grunting of hippos, sounding far closer than they really are.
The intimate 'Kigelia Bar', right on the river, is built around the trunk of a large sausage tree, Kigelia africana, and close by is an informal thatched seating area. There's also a small plunge pool for occasional cooling dips. Meals are usually taken under the stars, near the river, although there's a small dining area as well.
While activities include drives into the park, canoeing, and short walking trips, the camp specialises in fishing, a firm favourite with Steve. To get here the camp will arrange road-and-boat transfers from Lusaka, taking around 4 hours at a cost of US$200 per person. Alternatively you can drive yourself to Gwabi Lodge, leave your vehicle there for US$1 per day, then transfer by boat for US$80 per person; the boat trip takes about 11/2 hours. Most visitors, though, prefer to fly in to Royal airstrip, for up to US$190 return, depending on numbers.