Review: Time + Tide Chinzombo (Zambia’s most exclusive safari lodge)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently traveled to Zambia & Madagascar. You can read my trip reports here


Today (December 4, 2019): Review of Time + Tide Chinzombo, South Luangwa National Park (Zambia).

Situated on a sweeping curve of the Luangwa River and designed by award-winning architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, Time + Tide Chinzombo is Zambia’s most exclusive safari lodge. Six beautiful and wildly luxurious villas combine a modern architectural feel with natural materials such as leather, reeds and canvas. Each villa boasts its own private plunge pool and is situated on an elevated deck that boasts views of the tranquil river and the abundant wildlife that frequents its banks. A winding path connects the villas with a shared lounge and dining area set in the shade of msikizi trees. A boat ride across the river gives guests direct access into the game rich Luangwa National Park.

Time + Tide Chinzombo features in my top 10 list of the best safari lodges & camps in Zambia.

Have you ever stayed at Time + Tide Chinzombo? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Set in a private wildlife concession, Time + Tide Chinzombo offers direct access to Zambia’s flagship game reserve, the world-famous South Luangwa National Park. Locally known as ‘The Valley’, South Luangwa is incredibly scenic, especially when the late-afternoon light reflects off the Luangwa River. It’s a mix of mopane and miombo woodland, acacia shrub, grassland savannah and riverine forest. Four of the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant, only rhino is missing) are easily spotted in South Luangwa. Buffalo herds of over a thousand and large herds of elephant are frequent sightings, especially in the dry season.
  • Time + Tide Chinzombo enjoys a tranquil and scenic location along an expansive curve of the Luangwa River. The lodge is just across the river from South Luangwa National Park, so all game drives and other excursions within the National Park always start with a 5 min river crossing by the lodge’s private boat. Due to its slightly elevated position, the lodge’s main pavilion as well as the villas have sweeping views over the Luangwa River, the surrounding vast wilderness areas, and the wildlife that frequents the river banks. Expect to spot an abundance of elephants, hippos and crocs from the comfort and safety of the lodge!
  • Facing the river, the lodge’s contemporary open-plan main pavilion sits on white-washed decking and has been cleverly built around the existing trees, which not only provide shade but also create a striking design feature. One side of the pavilion features a covered dining area with a few tables, although meals can also be served al fresco under the shade of a tree or under the stars. The pavilion’s other side features a lovely lounge area, comprising a crescent-shaped couch, an enormous squashy beanbag, a well-stocked bar, a small library of reference books, and a circularly shaped outdoor sofa with a fire pit at its center.
  • Time + Tide Chinzombo’s minimal yet luxurious decor is designed by the top architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens – who count top Botswana camps like Jao and Mombo amongst their credits, as well as the iconic North Island resort in the Seychelles. The airy decor subtly blends modern furnishings with traditional elements such as locally produced leather, reedwork and handmade crockery, creating a classic safari ambiance. With only sustainably sourced or recycled construction materials used to create it, it’s quite clear that Time + Tide Chinzombo has a deep love for the natural beauty of its surrounding wilderness.
  • The lodge has just six enormous riverside villas (including one family unit with two bedrooms), all featuring a contemporary decor with colonial accents, creating an authentic feel that harkens back to the early days of exploration. Floor-to-ceiling gauze panels run the length of the front of each villa and give a feeling of light and space. Inside, each villa features a large master bedroom with kingsize bed (fitted with its own air-con unit) and an open-plan bathroom (equipped with a shower, his and hers washbasins and a free-standing bathtub). Each villa also has a large deck with a good-size plunge pool and a sunken lounge area.
  • All meals at Time + Tide Chinzombo are included in the daily rate. The food is delicious :
    • Before heading out on the morning safari, the staff sets up a small buffet featuring toast, cereal, fresh fruit, freshly baked pastries, porridge, cheese and cold cuts. Eggs are cooked to order over a local campfire.
    • Lunch is usually a buffet – served around midday – that is of very high quality.
    • For dinner there is a choice of three dishes per course (which you have to select during lunch). The mouthwatering food guarantees a fine dining experience in the African bush.
  • The excellent and highly experienced staff at Time + Tide Chinzombo not only provides impeccable service but also make a strong effort to tailor each guest’s activities to suit them, rather than fitting around a specific camp schedule. Activities at the lodge are focused on the wildlife in South Luangwa National Park and include guided early morning, late afternoon and night 4WD game drives, as well as walking safaris in the park accompanied by one of the expert guides and an armed scout. You can expect world-class predator action, with especially strong sightings of the elusive leopard.
  • For the ultimate safari experience, you can book the camp’s signature ‘sleepout under the stars‘ experience. This extraordinary experience is an adventurous addition to any South Luangwa safari, allowing you to reconnect with nature and each other in a simple, meaningful way. Just like the early explorers, you fall asleep under a canopy of a million twinkling stars, listening to the sounds of the nighttime bush, nestled on a dry river bank flanked by grassy banks on either side. A cozy bedroll, bush loo, and culinary team ensure that this experience is as comfortable as it is memorable.
  • Dotted around the lodge are numerous photos of the legendary Norman Carr, one of the founders of Time + Tide. Way back in 1950, Carr encouraged Senior Chief Nsefu – Paramount Chief of the Kunda people in the Luangwa Valley – to set aside a portion of tribal land as a game reserve and built the first game viewing camp open to the public in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). His dream was to secure the future of this unique wilderness by ensuring that the local population would benefit through conservation of the wildlife and habitat of the Luangwa Valley. This led to the birth of Zambia’s first safari company, now known as Time + Tide.
  • Besides ultraluxe Chinzombo (which is located near the National Park entrance), Time + Tide also manages four remote lodges, located deep inside South Luangwa National Park: Luwi, Nsolo, Mchenja and Kakuli. With an emphasis on superb guiding, wildlife viewing, and an authentic bushcamp experience, these are some of my very favorite camps in Zambia. While some guests choose to stay in just one camp and base their explorations from there, I highly recommend to hop around for a few days from bushcamp to bushcamp, before moving to Chinzombo to end your safari in style.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Time + Tide Chinzombo is Zambia’s most luxurious safari lodge, located on the edge of South Luangwa National Park. There’s little to say against the lodge, although you need to know the following before considering a stay here:

  • Time + Tide Chinzombo doesn’t have its own spa facility nor a gym. That said, the lodge does offer spa treatments in the privacy of your own villa. Ladies from the local community are trained in a range of options, from manicures and massages to body treatments and facials.
  • Game drives take place in the game-rich Mfuwe area of South Luangwa National Park, known for its numerous sightings of lions, leopards, and wild dogs. Although this central area of the park is excellent for game viewing, it is also near the main entrance of the park where there is a high concentration of lodges. So although you can get some great sightings, you will probably have to share such sightings with a number of other vehicles.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Pool: N/A
  • Villas: 10/10
  • Food: 10/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: N/A
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional – 9,5/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a hotel like Time + Tide Chinzombo (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

South Luangwa has a moderate to sub-tropical climate with three distinct seasons:

  • From November to March is the Emerald, or the rainy season
  • April to July is Zambia’s winter, when the weather is cool and dry
  • August to October is summer, when the weather is hot and dry

In terms of game viewing, the drier months, meaning a higher concentration of game at the permanent water sources, are the best time to visit. Alternatively come for some superb birdwatching at the end of the rains.


HOW TO GET THERE

Mfuwe is the main getaway to South Luangwa. Mfuwe Airport is reached by a 60-minute flight with Proflight from Lusaka, and flights can be directly booked on the Proflight website (or via Time + Tide). From here a road transfer/game drive lasting approximately one hour takes guests to Chinzombo.


PHOTOS
ARRIVAL AT TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO
ARRIVAL AT TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO
ARRIVAL AT TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO
ARRIVAL AT TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO (WELCOME DRINK)
ARRIVAL AT TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO (WELCOME DRINK)
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
MAIN PAVILION
WALKWAY TO VILLAS
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
VILLA
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
AFTERNOON TEA
AFTERNOON TEA
AFTERNOON TEA
AFTERNOON TEA
DINNER MENU
DINNER MENU
TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO AT NIGHT
TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO AT NIGHT
TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO AT NIGHT
TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO AT NIGHT
TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO AT NIGHT
TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO AT NIGHT
TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO AT NIGHT
TIME + TIDE CHINZOMBO AT NIGHT
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
SUNRISE
SUNRISE
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BOAT TO SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
GAME DRIVE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK

*** Follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook for a daily moment of travel inspiration ***


 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.