Nkwali Safari Camp, on the banks of the Luangwa River in the South Luangwa National Park, is both an intimate camp and the private home of Robin and Jo Pope. Open all year round, it embodies much of the thinking that has made Robin and Jo’s company, Robin Pope Safaris, among the most respected operators in all Africa. Styled as a camp rather than a conventional safari lodge, Nkwali is built entirely of natural materials and is designed to be “open” to the surrounding bush. The main structure of the camp is without walls, to avoid blocking the views.
The guides at Nkwali are well trained and extremely knowledgeable, but also share a sense of fun, making the atmosphere of the camp relaxed and friendly. As one journalist wrote of Robin and Jo: “Their camps take, at most, a dozen pampered visitors, every one of whom is treated as a personal house guest and new best friend. The Popes have set a standard that has become Zambia’s benchmark for excellence, and their guides are astonishingly knowledgeable naturalists.” For guests who want an even higher level of privacy, Nkwali Safari Camp also has two luxury houses with their own staff, Robin’s House and Luangwa Safari House, both available for private rental to families or groups of friends.In keeping with the pioneering philosophy of Robin Pope Safaris, Nkwali Safari Camp, in the South Luangwa National Park, has been designed so that guests always look out – to the bush and to the Luangwa River.
The central bar and lounge area has been built around an ancient ebony tree and sports a traditional thatched roof, but no walls. Decking stretches out towards the riverbank so that guests can dine beneath the stars while gazing at the moon reflected on the river.The chalets are extremely comfortable and spacious, built of woven bamboo with thatched roofs and huge open picture windows overlooking the river. To the rear, each has a large en suite bathroom imaginatively designed to be open to the elements – as you shower, you can watch birds fly overhead or monkeys feeding on the flowers of the surrounding trees. Meals are served under the trees, beside a lagoon, on the deck or even in the bush. And a swimming pool provides the ideal way to cool off during the hot season. Two private houses on the property provide stylish and homely accommodation for families or groups of friends. Both Robin’s House and the newly-built Luangwa Safari House have their own guide and hostess; private game drives and meals can be arranged around the requirements of individual guests, and the hostess can take care of the children while their parents take game drives or simply relax at the camp. Nkwali Safari Camp is located on Robin Pope’s private land overlooking the South Luangwa National Park, an impressive area of game country made up of beautiful ebony woodlands and sweeping open grass plains. Every day, elephants and Thornicroft giraffes can be seen around the camp, often in large numbers.