I was thrilled to be assigned the trip to beautiful Zambia to scope out two Lower Zambezi lodges for Southern Destinations: Kasaka and Chongwe River Lodge. Both are located on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, set in one of the most untouched and achingly beautiful wilderness areas in Africa and both offer an authentic, off-the-beaten-track Zambia safari experience that is the perfect destination to unwind and immerse yourself in nature.
Kasaka River Lodge
Kasaka River Lodge is set in the Chiawa Game Management area on the banks of the Zambezi River, a mere 4 kilometer drive away from the Lower Zambezi National Park. This is the only section of the 2,700 kilometers long Zambezi River where national parks can be found on both sides of the river; the Lower Zambezi National Park on the Zambian side, and the famous Mana Pools World Heritage Site on the Zimbabwean side. This Zambezi lodge is open for visitors all year round.
Each one of the 20-bed tented chalets is constructed under a thatched structure with canvas sides and surrounded by natural bush, offering guests the ultimate privacy and tranquility. These rustic tents have everything you need on safari and are kitted out with mosquito nets, fans, a safe, charging stations, fluffy gowns, and tea and coffee stations. The river extends all the way along the lodge with spectacular wrap-around views and frequent sightings of large elephant herds, buffalo, crocodile, and hippo, as well as excellent predator populations of leopard and lion. I loved the rustic charm of this bush lodge and was particularly impressed by the warm, friendly welcome of its staff.
Kasaka is divided into two wings: the ‘wild side’ (off to the right of the reception area) which affords guests a more natural bush environment where the beauty of the surroundings speak for themselves and the chalets are connected to the main lodge by raised wooden walkways, and the ‘tame side’ which features a manicured lawn and garden with a swimming pool, perfect for a family holiday and little ones running amok on the lawn.
Activities at Kasaka revolve around the diverse wilderness of the national park and mighty Zambezi River that runs alongside the camp and includes game drives, walking excursions, boat cruises (from the jetty at the front of the lodge), canoeing and of course Tiger fishing.
I was fortunate to stay at the luxurious Hippo Pod which is a private, two-bedroomed family unit with rooms that are more spacious than the regular tents, complete with a private plunge pool and personal game drive vehicle.
Chongwe River Lodge
Chongwe River Lodge is located about 15 to 20 minutes by boat from Kasaka, where the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers converge. Positioned on the banks of the river, Chongwe is famed for its breathtaking scenery and boat cruises from which visitors can view elephants, hippo, kudu, warthog and a myriad of colorful bird species. This Lower Zambezi accommodation option is open from the 1st of April until the 15th of November only.
Chongwe has a welcoming atmosphere and features eight standard classic tents which are quite small but perfectly comfortable. The lodge also offers guests two more exclusive tented-suite options: the two-bedroomed Albida Suite, which is completely private with a shared communal area with a bar, a private lounge, and pool; and the Cassia Suite, which is the honeymoon suite and appropriately situated furthest away from the main lodge area. Guests are treated to private dining options, but activities are shared with other camp guests.
I loved the fact that I was immersed in the wilderness and could hear lions roaring and hippos grunting in the distance at night. I even saw the large, looming shadow of an elephant brush right past my tent while it was foraging at night!
There is an unparalleled variety of activities on offer at this Zambezi safari offering and guests can choose to go on game drives, boat cruises, canoeing or walking excursions. For those that would like to experience a combination of two, guests can go on a game drive one way, and return to camp by canoe! I really enjoyed the canoeing at Chongwe where I felt close to nature, becoming part of the peacefulness and serenity of the river while being able to view the abundant birdlife and wildlife at close range.
If you have a love for wildlife and are seeking an unforgettable safari experience, the Lower Zambezi won’t disappoint. Here you can unwind and switch off from the daily stresses of life and feel at one with the magical nature all around you.