Kaingo Camp was built in 1992 and is Shenton Safaris’ flagship camp. Here, six chalets sit idyllically along the Luangwa River. Kaingo is designed simply, to make you feel at home in the bush and to offer you a chance to get close on safari the Shenton family way.
Kaingo Camp means Leopard in the local Nyanja language, which is fitting as our camp has a long history with these incredible felines. The name itself came about due to the resident female leopard, Goldie, who liked the idea of Kaingo so much, she took up residence in one of the chalets.
I first visited this charming Camp in October 2019 but Wild Eye has been using Kaingo for a number of years. The Camp is intimate and perfectly located along the banks of the Luangwa River which, during the dry season becomes a massive attraction for a wide diversity of wildlife. South Luangwa in fact boasts some of the highest densities of Leopard and African Wild Dogs found in Africa.
Being in the right location is critical when you go on safari, allowing you to maximise game viewing time early in the mornings and late in the evenings, which is why I love staying at Kaingo Camp, arguably my favourite safari camp in Africa.
Kaingo has much such a massive impression on both myself and Wild Eye that we have decided to include it in our Best Of South Luangwa Safari which we run in both July and October. With only five standard Chalets and one exclusive deluxe suite, we occupy most if not the entire Camp which makes the experience but personal and intimate.
Being a family run business, the Experience at Kaingo is exactly that, one which makes you feel like part of the family. The staff are incredibly friendly and sincere, with having your best interests at heart at all times. Whether it is the incredible knowledge of your local guide on the safaris, or the refreshing towl when you return to Camp, the attention to detail is amazing
The food at Kaingo is fantastic with their menus focused on fresh flavours, and classic dishes with a twist! Following the traditional ‘safari’ mealtimes of brunch, afternoon tea and 3-course dinner the focus is always homegrown and fresh! Although they do offer many indulgences (afternoon tea been a particular highlight), Kaingo pride themselves on keeping up to date with international food trends, in particular, the demand for nutritious food that feeds the body and soul.
One of the major attractions to Kaingo are their hides. They’re an incredible experience for anyone who loves wildlife. They allow guests to get close to the animals, enabling you to watch them undisturbed in their natural environment. It is hard to put the experience into words and whether you are relaxing next to the hundreds of Carmine Bee Eaters nesting in the banks of the Luangwa River, or sitting next to a pod of Hippo at sunset, it is an experience that is hard to beat.
The Camp and Rooms
Overlooking the Luangwa River deep within the prime area of the South Luangwa National Park, Kaingo’s relaxed, personal and friendly atmosphere offers its guests fantastic game-viewing opportunities within an area of incredible beauty and varied terrain. Everything at Kaingo has been handpicked by the Shenton family, from the camps stylish design and practical layout to the choice of local produce grown on the Shenton Plot.
Kaingo’s chalets were designed with the sole purpose of transporting you safely into the world of the Luangwa without a single distraction, nestled discretely apart on the banks of the river. The large centrally located open-sided “Chitenge” includes a dining area, library and Kaingo’s renowned thousand-year-old lead-wood bar. Kaingo’s five standard chalets and one exclusive deluxe suite all have an incredible and private view of the Luangwa River.
Kaingo’s chalets are created with brick walls and thatch roofing, with each chalet home to its own spacious veranda, hidden outdoor bathtub and private deck on the Luangwa River. All are accessed by a path network that runs behind the chalets, to maximise privacy. All share the rustic luxury design of the camp, with ample comforts and the ability to hide and get close to nature.
Large fly-wired windows provide stunning views of the river and the complete absence of generator noise (we prefer solar power) means nothing but the wheeze-honk of a hippo interferes with the sounds of a lion’s roar, a leopard’s call or the early morning ‘drumming’ of the Ground Hornbill.
In addition to the indoor ensuite bathroom, each chalet has a stunning outdoor bathtub with shady views of a pod of hippos. A distinctive feature of Kaingo is the unique individual decks built out over the river in front of each chalet. From this relaxing vantage point, one can view game coming down to drink, basking hippos, aquatic birds, crocodiles fishing, and daily elephant crossings.
The First House is Kaingo’s Deluxe Suite, ideal for couples really looking to hide away. One of the furthest from the central area, it offers additional private space for the guests. The chalet books out at an all-inclusive rate, meaning you’ll have access to a private vehicle, private dining and a butler service to the suite. The suite has a large private deck on the Luangwa River, and a spacious lounge area with ensuite toilet facilities. The master bedroom has an ensuite indoor shower and toilet, and the suite boasts an outdoor bathtub and shower.
For families, The First House offers the perfect private safari experience, separate to the runnings of the main camp.
My Personal Highlights from Kaingo Camp
South Luangwa has been one of my favourite safari destinations for a while now and one of the reasons for that is that you simply never know what you can expect next. Anything can happen in this park and especially during the dry season, can offer some incredible game viewing that is tough to beat. Although the dry season can be harsh on the wildlife, most of the predators thrive during this time, often taking down large prey such as Hippo, Buffalo and even young Elephants.
The Luangwa River naturally is a big attraction for the wildlife, especially after the seasonal water sources have dried up. I recall one particular afternoon that we spent with a pride of 15 Lions, resting next to the river. In obvious need of food, the Lions chased almost everything that came their way from Giraffe to Impala and eventually Wildebeest. Although they didn't take anything down, it was a fascinating afternoon with this resident pride.
If you like Leopard then you will love South Luangwa and Kaingo Camp. There are a numbers of Leopard who are usually seen not too far from Camp and with the knowledge and skill of the local Guides at Kaingo, your chances are pretty good to see these elusive big cats.
Kaingo Camp in a nutshell
- Who Should go: Kaingo is perfectly suited for the experienced safari goer and first timers. It is considered as a "wilder" destination and if you are not too fussed about being offline for a while, this is one of the best places to visit.
- When to go: The Camps in South Luangwa close from beginning November until March-April. Depending on the rains, end of April-June can still have thick vegetation, making it a little bit harder to find game. From August to October is my personal favourite, although October can be very hot in the Luangwa Valley.
- How to get there: You can drive your own vehicle into the Park, however it is recommended to fly in with Proflight from Lusaka. With regular scheduled departures from Lusaka and only an hour's flight, it is most definitely the easier mode of travel.
- Suggested length of stay: It is important to understand that the longer you stay at a particular destination, the better your understanding of the surroundings. I would suggest a minimum of 3 nights and ideally 5 nights and more.
- Insider Tip: Make sure you visit the Carmine Bee Eater hide on one of the mornings during your stay, and the Hippo Hide in the afternoons.
Feel free to get in touch with me directly if you would like to explore and experience this truly wild part of Africa.