By: Tendai Bushe
Sungani Lodge is the most Southerly safari operation in South Luangwa National Park and Kulandila Camp is a little further upstream. The family-owned operation is roughly 70 kilometres from Mfuwe Town and is best accessed by a 20-minute flight on Sungani’s private plane. Great news, the return flights are included in a guests stay so no need to fork out anything extra for the VIP fly in experience.
We were lucky enough to visit the lodge before its official opening which is set for May 2022. In September, Moses and I were driven down to Sungani for a night. On arrival we were welcomed by Paul and Lynne, along with their very friendly staff and shown around. Sungani Lodge has 7 luxury tents equipped with indoor and outdoor showers along with a beautiful Victorian bath with a view! The room has a coffee station, a large lounge with comfortable seating, a work desk and a huge king bed. The glass sliding doors open up to a private deck with outdoor seating, pool loungers and yes, a lovely plunge pool! The smaller 4 roomed sister camp Kulandila, which we popped in to see, has an indoor shower and outdoor gorgeous bath with a view. The room has a coffee station, a day bed for lounging, and a huge king bed. It opens up onto a verandah with outdoor seating.
Sungani is the umbrella brand and the lodge and camp fall under that brand. Family-owned doesn’t stop at the land and the financials. The Davy family created a business that allows each family member to contribute to the overall vision in their own unique way, whether through camp maintenance, operations, marketing, management or guiding. Mama bear Lynne, has a great eye for detail and I loved walking the grounds with her. The lodge is very luxurious but still has a feeling of home. The carefully selected and locally crafted decorative pieces tie everything together creating a modern African luxury safari lodge. Lynne and her daughter Jordan put their hearts into setting up the rooms. There was intent reasoning behind setting up the rooms the way they did, for example Lynne hates clutter so she decided not to have the full coffee station displayed. The mugs and spoons are hidden in a cabinet so only the kettle, tea box and coffee containers sit neatly on top. She had worked at another luxury lodge before and often heard rumblings about fans not being cool enough to beat the peak heat. She remembered that and made sure the rooms at Sungani had air-conditioning in them. She believes offering a luxury experience means adding more amenities. For those who want a penthouse experience the Director’s Tent is complete with WIFI, DSTV, Nespresso Machine and an adjoining outdoor sleep-out. If you prefer not to have the frills but still want comfort and a luxury chic experience Kulandila is perfect. It does not have air-conditioning or plunge pools but has a beautiful pool with a lovely open view at the main area and we trust that the quality of guides and service of staff will be top notch at both properties.
Moses and I spent a lot of time with Michael Davy, the head guide, out in the bush enjoying a laid back slowed down approach to Safari. We watched a Giraffe drink, after patiently waiting for it to get in a vulnerable position and I admitted I had never stopped to watch a giraffe so intently, it was special to slown down and enjoy this. We watched another Giraffe chew and regurgitate its food, seeing the glob travel up and down its long neck was also exciting. Michael gave us a lot of information along the way and his passion for animals shone through as he spoke. We saw a Nightjar bird with her tiny chick, a moment we all agreed was probably once in a lifetime. On our way back to camp we saw a big leopard with a thick muscular neck, the width of it was astonishing. We watched him walk through the woods and then left him to handle his business as Leopard are night hunters! Michael shared that when he first saw the land, he just knew it would be the perfect place to plant their roots. In 2019 a moment between father and son turned into a full operation. While the world was navigating the pandemic the local community in the Southern part of the park joined forces with the Davy Family to create a home away from home and build a legacy to last a lifetime. We wish the Sungani team all the best in their opening next year and look forward to working with them!
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