Places: South Luangwa Exploratory Southern Experience

17 December 2023

By: Emma Seaman

Christabel and I had the opportunity to make an end of season visit to South Luangwa for a 3 night visit to stay at Sungani and Island Bush Camp in the remote Southern part of the park. We hadn’t yet had the opportunity to visit the Davy Family’s new camps and were excited to see for ourselves the culmination of several years of hard work and a huge amount of passion and innovation.

We flew to Mfuwe on Proflight and then connected through to Sungani’s airstrip on a short light aircraft flight. On arrival we were met by Michael Davy who was to be our host and guide for the next 2 nights and transferred us the short distance to Sungani Lodge. On arrival we were warmly welcome by Lynne, Paul, Jarrod, the lodge manager, and the rest of the team.

Sungani Lodge from the blended Chichewa language, meaning custodian or keeper is an absolute delight – from its stunning location overlooking a bountiful lagoon, its unique and mainly locally made and family designed furniture and fittings, its outstanding warmth and hospitality from every member of staff who treats the lodge like their own home to its truly delectable cuisine. Every meal was a fusion of incredible flavours blending in many African and home grown ingredients, Christabel and I found ourselves having seconds and thirds on many occasions – very hard to resist! A huge thanks to Quinton and Kezias who run the show at the lodge when it comes to the food! Kezias previously worked for Wilderness Kalamu Lagoon and I was delighted to meet up with him again!

Sungani has 7 Luxury Suites and a Directors Unit. Each Suite is a haven with fabulous views, a large deck with your own plunge pool, a comfortable bedroom with fans and air con over the bed, a large bathroom with a vanity space, indoor and outdoor shower, ball and claw bath and toilet. With it being incredibly hot during our stay I really indulged in using my plunge pool and slept soundly at night under my cool mosquito net.

Our two days were spent with Michael exploring this truly beautiful southern part of the park. Having last visited the area over 10 years ago during my time with Wilderness, I was awed by the amount of work that the family and their team have done in this area. Their tsetse controls are innovative and have worked wonders – during our drives we were hardly bothered by them. We learnt a huge amount on our drives with Michael about the work that has been undertaken in the area with regards to conservation, opening up more game drive loops and the plans for the future – we have no doubt this is going to be a huge success as they see more and more game moving back into this area. We spent a wonderful morning drinking coffee and eating home made rusks in their carmine bee eater hide, watching a very busy colony coming and going to their nests. We saw some unique and different species including a shy herd of Eland during a special bush breakfast we were treated to. On a night drive we saw a large male leopard which we followed for a while, and a Pennant-winged Nightjar.

On one of our evenings we had sundowners and a site inspection of Kulandila, their smaller 4 tented bushcamp overlooking the Luangwa River. This is a more intimate and relaxed type of camp and we will be putting a new itinerary featuring this camp shortly!

We said fond and sad farewells to the Sungani team and Michael drove us to Island Bushcamp, part of the Kafunta Safaris group where we spent a night. This was a very different experience from Sungani, but equally very special and far removed from the fast pace of the world. With no power other than solar and lanterns, no communications other than radio and a stunning location on the Luangwa River, we were given a true feeling of peace and felt ourselves unwind even further on our South Luangwa adventure. That afternoon we went on a short game drive – a large storm was brewing so we returned to camp early after a quick sundowner. The following morning we were up early and went on an incredible walk with our guide, once again learning many new and interesting facts about the trees, birds, fauna and flora. After a delicious brunch we headed to Three Rivers Camp for a site inspection – a very special tented camp with a superb location set at the confluence of the Luangwa, Kapamba and Lusangazi Rivers. We then headed for Kafunta River Lodge where Anke, the owner, gave us a quite site inspection of the lodge and showed us with pride their very exciting new Sunset House which they were getting ready for its very first guests!

Anke then kindly drove us to Kukaya where we were met by Amy and her team for a lovely high tea and inspection of the lodge. This was our first time to visit Kukaya (formerly known as Mushroom Lodge) and we weren’t disappointed by what we found. The lodge has a very special location overlooking a series of game rich watering holes and with its unique concept gives you the freedom of choice to design your own private safari. The lodge features 6 units – 1 single unit sleeping a minimum of 2 guests and 5 x double units – sleeping a minimum 4 guests – each villa has its own private swimming pool and fire pit area. The main area features a Deli, restaurant and bar for meals. Christabel had to then leave for her overnight stay at Green Safaris Shawa Camp (watch this space for her update) and as I had a couple of hours until I needed to be at the airport, they kindly gave me the use of one of their double units for the rest of the afternoon. I immediately put on my swimming costume and enjoyed the pool for a while, watching the game in the dambo area below my unit. I spent my time planning our next family safari – feeling that this would be the perfect place for us to bond and enjoy some time together – the word Kukaya means home and this is so very apt in the wonderful home away from home environment they have created. Every unit is given their own private guide and vehicle so it’s truly a private and special safari experience.

Until our next adventure – thank you for reading about my latest adventures!

Flight in with RasAir One of our many delicious meals at Sungani Perfect on a hot afternoon Private Plunge Pool on my deck Bathroom with a View Carmines Thornicroft Giraffe at the Airstrip Lunch with a view Bush Breakfast Kulandila Bedroom Kulandila Main Area Kulandila Sundowners Kulandila Lounge with a View Island Bush Camp location Our Bedroom Our Bedroom Lunch Three Rivers Bedroom Kukaya Deck Kukaya Bar Kukaya Main Bedroom Kukaya Funky Bathroom Sinks Kukaya Pool and Deck Kukaya Lounge

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