Chiawa Camp vs Kulefu in Zambia?

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Apr 28th, 2004, 11:04 PM
  #21
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Although I would like to take credit for Chiawa (I had never heard of it from any other source but found it on my Zambia studies), it seems that someone else mentioned Chiawa on this board two years ago. So, while I may be the Christopher Columbus or Amerigo Vespucci, I am certainly no Leif Erickson or whoever else may have "discovered" America before them!

Chiawa does look like a great place and if I was not receiving such a super rate at Kulefu, I would definitely stay there. However, Kulefu's rack rate is $385 pppns, compared to Chiawa's rack rate is $395 pppns. However, while Kulefu has provided me with a 50% discount, Chiawa would not even give me a single kwacha discount!

The only other place that I tried to negotiate with in the Lower Zambezi NP was Kasaka River Lodge (Sausage Tree Camp was already sold out for the whole two week period that I considered). Kasaka River Lodge looks just about as nice as Chiawa and Sausage Tree Camp, yet feels stiffer to me for some reason, however, who knows, maybe I just don't like the name, although if that was the case I would never stay at Kulefu, a name that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Kasaka River Lodge did offer about a 20% discount, taking it down to $325 per night. Nice gesture on their part, but not enough to get me to consider it over Star Of Africa, especially since I am staying at two other Star Of Africa lodges on this holiday.

Chiawa does look like an amazing place and I do hope to visit it in the future. Depending on how I like the Lower Zambezi, I do intend to revisit either the Lower Zambezi or South Luangwa next year if I end up going to South Africa for Singita, Mala Mala, Cape Town, Grootbas and Hermanus. I would like to choose one or the other between South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi, spending three nights at two different camps, although by shortening Cape Town to three nights, I may be able to visit both Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa, spending four nights at Chiawa and four nights, hopefully at a single lodge, in South Luangwa.

Sausage Tree Camp looks very nice, as well, but Chiawa just seems to speak to me more. But, Sausage Tree Camp has some pretty amazing reviews, as well. Wouldn't mind visiting both of them next year, if the game is right, especially since I will not have any water based activities if I go to Mala Mala and Singita Sweni. While the South Luangwa has most of its game lodges on the banks of the Luangwa River, in order to keep the guests from becoming a hippo's after dinner mint, the lodges do not engage in water based activities, as the river is much too populated with hippos and crocs.
Roccco is offline  
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Jul 1st, 2004, 12:55 AM
  #22
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 78
I just returned from Chiawa Camp and was disappointed with the lack of sensitivity towards the guest requirements by two certain staff members (head chef/hostess). First of all, the owner Grant Cummings is a wonderful story teller and made us feel at home. However, his main staff the two I mentioned above, made us feel uncomfortable if we asked for an alcoholic beverage during tea time or requested an extra G&T during our sundowners. Or at the end of dinner, we would be rushed back to our tents instead of having a night cap around the camp fire. Or during brunch on the boat we would be rushed back onced we completed our meal instead of enjoying the game viewing from the shore. But, I personaly feel this will change once Grant's wife moves in permanently at Chiawa.

I have not traveled to Kulefu, But,I would highly recommend Sausage Tree Camp which is just a couple of miles down stream. Jason (part owner) & Kelley (hostess) are absolutely fantastic people as well as their entire staff. They go beyond the call of duty to ensure that their guests are enjoying themselves without the any pretense. You have the option to go on game drives by foot or vehicle, canoeing, boating, and fishing if you wish, or, have an intimate dinner in front of your tent, which I highly recommend! Also, even if you decide to just take the morning or afternoon off from the numerous offered activities, there are plenty of animals that come onto camp. During our visit, we saw elephants, hippos, buffalo, crocodiles, monkeys and many birds from our tent, and dinning area. I can?t recommend this place enough and look forward to returning in near future. I would stay a minimum of 4 nights.
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Jul 1st, 2004, 07:44 AM
  #23
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
JiggyLou

Sorry to hear that you had a bad time at Kulefu... I returned from Zambia a couple weeks ago (not the lower Zambezi) but when I asked acquaintances about the wonderful managers Kulefu had last year, I got an earful about the decline in management of this camp in particular. (As you can guess, the managers I knew left last season.) Apparently Star of A has had some problems getting their operations in Zambia going (they are not from Zambia) and that stress is showing up in their ability to manage the set of camps they were developing or acquiring.

Roccco also had a bad experience at Kulefu...but a good one at Chichele (also a Star of Africa property). Looks like Kulefu this year is not the place to go

So a lesson in how quickly things can change when management changes...and how risky it is to book places based on where you can get a discount deal (how Roccco decided on this camp.) Sometimes a deal means that something is wrong...
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Jul 1st, 2004, 11:38 AM
  #24
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Jiggalou,

I know exactly what you mean about the staff spoiling the camp experience. Despite fabulous reviews we had a very mediocre time at Robin Pope's camp Tena Tena in Southern Luangwa.

It came highly recommended and while the walking and the game were wonderful the camp staff (Robin Pope was away at the time) let the whole place down. Everyone was very young, there were all sorts of mini dramas...who was sleeping with whom and they seemed very self concerned which sounds similar to your experience.

All in all I thought I was at an upscale summer camp - with little escape from the obnoxious camp counsellors. We had a much better time at Sausage Tree.
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