Opened as of June 2013, located just outside South Luangwa National Park, three kilometres short of Mfuwe Bridge, and already both The Good Safari Guide’s Best New Safari Property (2014) and on 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.
food and service
Despite Zambia’s oldest photographic safari company signalling certain uber-luxury intentions, it has been careful to build Time + Tide Chinzombo Lodge on an old and well loved site. And it continues to employ staff who not only remember the previous camp, but are valued – 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. The food, across the board, is excellent.
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.
Just as fine, the villas at 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, they include 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. Mains electricity is available throughout the lodge alongside a limited Wi-Fi Service.
Activities at Time + Tide 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), wildlife drives and sundowners. The guiding is second to none.
Over thirty years ago, the renowned Norman Carr, founder of Norman Carr Safaris, established the Kapani School Project, a non-profit organisation focused on expanding educational opportunities for students from Mfuwe, Zambia.Today, with monetary and in-kind support from the Time + Tide Foundation, the Project sponsors over 80 students across all levels of education. Additionally, the Kapani School Project runs a Girls Club with the aim to enhance young girls’ self-esteem and encourage them to stay academically focused despite the challenges of adolescence and the domestic pressures of rural life.
In 2016, the Time + Tide Foundation began sponsoring a field-based education centre, located in a remote section of the Lupande Game Management Area. The education centre is operated by Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust, a Zambian non-profit that specialises in conservation education for primary and secondary school students. Over the 10 weeks of each term, Chipembele hosts over 400 students at the centre, all of whom attend lessons on the ecology of the South Luangwa and participate in conservation-themed games.
Within the same year, the Time + Tide Foundation and the Bauleni Special Needs Project launched a community-based support service for disabled children in Mfuwe. In this model, volunteer caregivers are trained to offer physical and social support to children with a variety of disabilities, with the aim to help these children acquire the motor functions and other skills necessary to attend school. There are currently 98 children enrolled in the programme along with 72 volunteer caregivers across two of the Mfuwe chiefdoms. By demonstrating kindness and care to families that have been ostracised, the volunteers have earned tremendous respect that will hopefully inspire similar clemency in more Mfuwe residents.