A delightful property on the banks of the Luangwa floodplain, Kafunta River Lodge features a breezy, holiday home feel and an impressive viewing deck from where you can see plenty of wildlife on your doorstep. The lodge is set just outside the national park, so you are away from the busier areas yet you can enjoy a range of safari activities. This is a very well run property, with staff who love the place and have been there a long time, so there’s a really homely feel. The Luangwa river and its tributaries host a vast array of wildlife, including lion, leopard, wild dog, hyena, to name a few. The guiding is excellent, the 360-degree views superb, and don’t forget to make use of the therapeutic natural hot tub! As well as the main lodge, there’s the completely separate Sunset House, booked exclusively, with three en-suite rooms, swimming pool, and chef – this is brilliant for families or groups of friends who are looking for more of a private experience.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
Kafunta River Lodge is located just outside South Luangwa National Park and surrounded by the Luangwa floodplain. There’s also a watering hole, and Chichele Hill in the distance to complete the glorious backdrop. Game comes straight to camp and at night lodge staff illuminate the floodplain so you can dine with animals at the watering hole. South Luangwa N.P. is one of the most beautiful and game-rich parks in Africa. Especially during the dry season (June to October) the animals throng to the river, with particularly strong numbers of leopard, lion, and elephant. The lodge has access to a pontoon station just 1.5 kilometres away, allowing easy access into the main part of the park as you don’t have to queue at the Mfuwe Bridge Gate.
To access Kafunta you would fly by scheduled light aircraft into Mfuwe Airport, usually from Livingston or Lusaka, and from here it’s a 45-minute transfer to the lodge. The property (as with most camps in the area) is only open from April to December.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES AT KAFUNTA RIVER LODGE:
The lodge consists of eight spacious chalets, each raised on a wooden platform and with a thatched roof. The rooms are very spacious and all elegantly appointed with a large double bed, separate seating area, twin washbasins, shower, fridge, tea-and-coffee station, ceiling fan, and safe. All have private verandas offering superb vistas over the plains, but if you are looking for a bit more privacy, there are two luxury split-level suites featuring an upstairs viewing deck, set amidst the trees and with even better views of the floodplains below.
Kafunta also has a spectacular private safari home called Sunset House, a luxurious and exclusive accommodation option set on the banks of the Luangwa floodplains close to the main lodge. This is perfect for larger groups and inter-generational family trips, with the focus here being on exclusivity and flexibility. Named after the beautiful views of the floodplain as it turns a glowing orange at sundown, this private house has three en-suite rooms, spacious living areas, a private swimming pool, and an in-house chef. If you’re after a well-priced, private safari adventure then Sunset House is an amazing option in this great location!
The central main area of the camp comprises a large lounge and dining space, also under thatch to give it a traditional African bush-lodge feel. This leads onto the spacious deck area overlooking a floodlit watering hole. Next to the bar is a swimming pool and the only natural hot tub in the Luangwa Valley! The water is heated to a constant temperature of 37 degrees, so relaxing here is the perfect end to your day in the cooler months. Every evening the campfire is lit and guests enjoy meeting before dinner to share their safari stories and listen to the sounds of the bush. Complimentary WI-FI is available in the main area, there’s a small gym, and there’s even a delightful spa room, open to the plains, if you fancy a massage after a long day in the wild!
ACTIVITIES AT KAFUNTA RIVER LODGE:
The main activity and way to view the great wildlife in the area is game driving, although walking safari is available on request. It’s worth noting that the Luangwa floodplain is not conducive to boating, despite its being a river location.
Expertly guided game drives- Two game sessions a day are available, during the morning and late afternoon. It’s possible to do a full-day trip and go further into the park, if another couple wishes to join (just in terms of vehicle numbers and availability). Among the highlights are lion, leopard, elephant, hyena, and buffalo. You can look out for smaller predators too, such as jackal, serval, civet, honey badger, and the rare wild dog, while the large herbivore collection features giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, and an assortment of antelopes. Please note that the vehicles do not have canopies, which is great for viewing, but make sure you have a hat and sunscreen.
Walking safaris- Why not head out into the bush with an armed guide? As well as enjoying animal tracking and the area’s phenomenal birdlife, you’ll take a closer look at the reserve’s insects and plantlife. Different levels and distances are available, depending on the ages of your group. Classic walking safari has an age limit of 12 years.
Night drives- You could also venture out at night, when all the big predators come alive. It’s always an unforgettable experience, watching what goes on in the dark of the night! You might see porcupines, genets, civets, bush-babies, and occasionally a larger predator with its prey.
Wildlife Hides- The lodge has various hides dotted around the property, which can be excellent spots for photography. The watering hole hide is always busy with one visitor or another, as this is a great chance to see animals at eye level, and the Treehouse hide has amazing views across the plain as well as providing a nice spot for a private lunch.
Cultural trips- The lodge’s location just outside the eastern fringes of the park means that a visit to local villages and meeting the people of Luangwa is very easy to arrange and always a rewarding thing to do.
*This property is unfenced and located in a wildlife area, so large and potentially dangerous animals do pass through. If you opt to stay here, always be alert when walking around the camp and request for a member of staff to escort you if you have any concerns. Any guest is escorted after dark as a matter of course.