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A quiet riverside safari retreat at Wilderness Chikwenya

A quiet riverside safari retreat at Wilderness Chikwenya

A review of Wilderness Chikwenya Safari

June 8th, 2023

Located on the Zambezi Valley on the southern side of the mighty Zambezi River is Wilderness Chikwenya, a brilliant, sustainable safari camp that feels part beach resort part camp.

You reach Wilderness Chikwenya via a small flight from Hwange, so don’t be surprised if you see elephants or baboons running along the small air strip upon landing (apparently, they thoroughly enjoy the fruit trees there).

Unlike Wilderness Little Makalolo and Wilderness Linkwasha, which are absolutely exposed to the roaring heat of the African sunshine, Wilderness Chikwenya enjoys a breezy riverside location between Mana Pools National Park and the Sapi and Zambezi Rivers, giving off relaxed beachy vibes. This also means that you will be able to see a whole suite of different animals that are more suited for life by the river. Expect to see plenty of elephants, hippos, crocodiles, water bucks and impalas – as well as an array of colourful birds, whose different calls you’ll learn to recognise during your stay at Chikwenya.

Most of the Chikwenya camp are shaded by large trees, which means that the temperature is slightly cooler at Chikwenya, which is a real treat since the tents have no air-conditioning. The tents are a sight to behold. Spacious, romantic and designed with a blend of coastal chic and African influences, they are light, bright and airy and perfect for ramping up the romance especially if you’re traveling on you honeymoon (we were). There is a four poster bed, an outdoor lounge and also a daybed and free-standing bath, perfect after a day out on the bush. There is an outdoor shower too – facing nothing but the mighty Zambezi and it is truly a liberating experience to shower there.

There is a convivial bar area, where guests are able to help themselves to all the delicious African wines and cocktails on offer throughout the day. Camp Manager Eddie is full of stories and told us about the female tribal leader, buried underneath a nearby baobab tree, whom the camp is named after. Wilderness Chikwenya also has a beautiful pool that overlooks the Mighty Zambezi River. Here, you can park yourself on a sun lounger in between game drives and work on your tan, while sipping on one of Chikwenya bartender Bob’s incredible Bob-garitas.

Instead of an afternoon game drive, go on a relaxing sunset cruise. These private cruises are wonderful and a great way to spot one of the numerous hippo pods cooling themselves by the river. Our guide Joshua had a wealth of knowledge of all the animal species in the Zambezi and also played some traditional Zambian tunes during our cruise, attracting the hippo pods nearby.

We had our final sundowner on the banks of the Zambezi, while enjoying an incredible cocktail feast made by Bob the bartender. We also enjoyed some delicious local Biltong, which quickly became our favourite snack during our game drives.

Chikwenya is a camp that is all about family, and we certainly felt like family from the moment we arrived. The staff even leave you hand written notes that say ‘Bush Regards from your Chikwenya family’ and we know that they truly mean it too.

So if you do ever plan to go on safari, there really is no better company than Wilderness. Wilderness is a safari company with a strong focus on conservation, understanding that without the magnificent animals and rich natural landscapes of the bush that there would be no such thing as safari. For Wilderness, conservation, sustainability and giving back to the communities in which it operates is part and parcel of business – and that is something that we can certainly get behind.

Factbox: Nightly rates at Chikwenya start from $USD 1,430 per person sharing; www.wildernessdestinations.com