Opened as of June 2013, located just outside South Luangwa Lodge, three kilometres short of Mfuwe Bridge, and already both The Good Safari Guide’s Best New Safari Property (2014) and Conde Naste’s It List, Chinzombo Lodge is Zambia’s brave new world of eco-luxury lodge design. It was commissioned by and is owned by Norman Carr Safaris (NCS).
The latest in architect’s Silvio Rech and Lesley Carsten’s line in bush camp luxury, and situated on the bend of South Luangwa River, in the shade of a few msizki trees, Chinzombo Lodge is a so-called next generation recyclable steel, found wood and thatch build and consists of a main camp and 6 villas. The main camp includes a dining room, lounge, bar, library, veranda, spa, cellar and curio shop.
Designed not only to merge with its surrounding but also to pay homage both to its makers’ love for reductionist design as well as to local building and craft techniques, rather than hide the building’s skeleton, everything at Chinzombo Lodge is designed to highlight the elegance of the supporting structure, a feel that is reflected the main lodges decor, while the weaves, the woodwork and the rounded outlines – as represented by the outdoor seating, the firepit and the building-around trees – is all very Zambian.
Despite Zambia’s oldest photographic safari company signalling certain uber-luxury intentions, it has been careful to build Chinzombo Lodge on an old and well loved site. And it continues to employ staff who not only remember the previous camp, but are feted – as guides, bar wizards, chefs – throughout the industry. Thus – whatever the futuristic feel, the depth and quality of cuisine and cellar – there is something typically ‘walking-safari ‘about it. This has everything to do with the quality of service, which is one above top drawer.
Just as fine, the villas Chinzombo Lodge are large and spacious. Designed essentially as a luxury viewing platform, each villa is a raised and open sided cube into which is built a circular bedroom and rectangular en-suite bathroom. Approached by means of a footpath, it includes a king-size double bed, writing, desk seating area, veranda and plunge pool. Large and cosy, airy and yet somehow contained, it shares the same unlikely minimalist-organic effect found throughout the main camp. Please note that one of the villas is a two-bedroom family piece; and that there is the option for twin beds should you so desire it.
Activities at Chinzombo Lodge take place both in and outside of the park. The park is accessed by means of a private entrance. Activities include guided walks (a NCS speciality), game drives and sundowners. The guiding is second to none.