What to see & do
Although Mike and Lari love to guide visitors around when they are able to, Mutinondo best suits those who feel comfortable exploring. It's a magical place for 'old africa hands' who want to go off exploring for hours on their own. It's less ideal for those who are new to the bush, although those with some degree of independence will hire one of the lodge's team to guide them around, and still have a great time. It's not the perfect place if you need your hand held all of the time, or if you're reluctant to abandon your vehicle – as there are relatively few motorable tracks. (although, apparently, there is one track which extends 25km to the escarpment.)
There's a good network of trails, and the country is hilly without being particularly strenuous. The huge granite whalebacks are great for scrambling up, giving you access to superb views of the surrounding country and, in the east, to the Luangwa escarpment and beyond. It would be very easy to spend three or four days exploring the tracks and whalebacks here. Maps are available at the lodge; I'd also suggest that you take a GPS.
Dedicated and totally self-contained hikers who want something more challenging can arrange longer hikes here, including bush-camping stops. These might encompass the adjacent community-based conservation area (currently in a phase of development), some of the magnificent escarpment waterfalls, or possibly even a long walk down into the Luangwa Valley.
On the water
There's a network of very clear rivers and waterfalls here, with no crocodiles, hippos or bilharzia. (Though always double-check the safety of such a comment locally before you swim, rather than trust any guidebook, even this one!) These are gradually being restocked with indigenous fish: red-breasted, three-spot and green-headed bream – so fishing is becoming possible, albeit on a strict catch-and-release policy.
There are two canoes stationed above one of the waterfalls, beside what looks like an idyllic section of quiet, tree-lined river. The more adventurous might take advantage of the inflatable tubes, also available, to just float down. Campers can hire a tube for US$2 per day, or a canoe for US$10; they are free to lodge guests.
Mutinondo has a stable with a number of horses and it's a very pleasant area to hack around even for complete beginners (who can arrange to be led by a guide). Hard hats are available, though there are only about eight to choose from. If you're camping then riding costs US$5 per hour (US$10 for beginners).