Considered the best of an excellent bunch, located in Lower Zambezi National Park, on the banks of the Zambezi, and recipient of a multitude of awards, including the 2008 and 2009 World Travel Awards, the 2008 Good Safari Guide Award and selection for Conde Naste’s Best of the Best Series, Chiawa Camp is almost in a league of its own when it comes to providing a service that is as simple and as innovative as it is luxurious.
The brainchild of Dave and Jenny Cumings, who in 1989 ran the first non-hunting safaris in the lower Zambezi, Chiawa remains a family operation, if not always in blood, then certainly in spirit, as the team, which includes a Cumings son and daughter-in-law, is tight, loyal and terribly hard working. With 7 guides, 3 chefs, 3 waiters, 2 management teams and a dedicated produce buyer – a large family, and we’re yet to mention the camp choir!
Location-wise, it is the envy of many a camp, whose guides often bring their guests into the area, such is the concentration of game. Situated in the shade of a thicket of mahogany trees, and overlooking the Zambezi, Chiawa Camp itself consists of a main lodge and 9 sleeping tents. A wood and thatch build, the main lodge is 2 storey building, and includes a lounge, bar, dining area, library, pool and upstairs viewing deck. Cool, calm, beautifully thought through, the rooms are characterised by mixed seating – comfortable upright leather chairs for the library, slumber (ish) sofas / armchairs in the lounge – and by a low key emphasis on function and quality.
Refurbished and upgraded in April 2009, the tents are divided into 2 classes: standard (6) and superior (3). Well spaced and positioned within spitting distance of the river, each of the standard rooms include a double bed, a changing space, a large verandah and bathroom. Open plan, raised on beautiful dark wood floors, accessed either by the front, which opens completely, or by a door at the back, the rooms are large, airy and beautifully furnished, containing armchairs, a writing desk and sensible storage facilities. The bathrooms are fabulous, and come with twin sinks, a claw foot bath, shower and flush toilet. Two of the superior rooms are almost double the size of the standard, include a lounge area, and are arranged so that the length of the open plan room can be opened up to look out onto the river – including the bath area. The last of the rooms is located further away, has a split deck, an open air bathroom, and would suit honeymooners or a couple after a bit of extra privacy.
Activities at Chiawa Camp include day and night drives, guided walks, river trips, canoeing and fishing.
Chiawa Camp has since its inception always understood its responsibility towards wildlife as the natural heritage of mankind: to live in harmony with the natural environment we have to help in deepening the commitments towards sustainable development at all levels, from local to global.
Our priority is to conserve rather than to consume, thus the principles of sustainability are a main goal in order to respect and nurture the essence of the environment. It has affirmed its determination to promote the pillars of eco tourism inside Chiawa Camp and outside for the local human community and the wildlife, through conservation projects, through education and social development and through safeguarding the earth’s natural resources by respectful practices for a green future.
Life in camp
• use of renewable materials in its construction, all natural materials locally purchased
• strict trash in/trash out policy
• 24 volt silent inverter power for camp to reduce fossil fuel dependence by 30%
• low energy light bulbs throughout
• provision of personal aluminium water bottles to all guests to reduce consumption of plastic water bottles
• replacing of 2 stroke outboard boat motors to 4 stroke, reducing emissions and fossil fuel consumption by 50%
• use of recycled paper in all printing of promotional materials
Chiawa Camp has, since its inception, been focused on people through economic & education support and empowerment to surrounding communities.
• In February 2009 Chiawa Camp established and implemented the Lower Zambezi Conservation Collection in order to raise additional funding towards environmental education and conservation activity through Conservation Lower Zambezi.
• 75% of staff are hired locally
• Training for employees and guides
• Chiawa Camp’s involvement towards communities aims to provide sustainable living and farming practices.
• Communities are discouraged from littering and from polluting the river with human waste, detergents and fertilisers.
• In 2003 Chiawa Camp introduced a joint program with a Swiss charity for Aids Education to CLZ’s Environmental Education Program. The actions include as well as Aids awareness and STIs, pregnancy prevention and Mother To Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV/AIDS, malaria and sanitation promotion.
• Medical kits have been distributed to local clinics and education material is given through Chiawa and guest donation for 300 primary students.
• Chiawa Camp donates about 20 bed nights per year (raising some $25,000+ annually) to charity and these are auctioned off to raise funds for orphanages, children’s hospices and other charities
In February 2009 Chiawa Camp established and implemented the Lower Zambezi Conservation Collection in order to raise additional funding towards environmental education and conservation activity through Conservation Lower Zambezi.
• Support to the Africa Wild Dog Conservation program
• Chiawa Camp provided strategy, funding and logistical support for a Cheetah repopulation program
• Chiawa Camp conducted a tagging and monitoring program of tiger fish
• A large portion of Chiawa Camp’s revenue and resources is reinvested into protecting the Lower Zambezi and Chiawa Camp annually provides approximately $50,000 on behalf of Conservation Lower Zambezi’s activities.
• Ground hornbill reintroduction