Camping at Mvuu Lodge in Zambia
As of September 2020, the pandemic has been in full effect for about 6 months, and I’ve been in Zambia just as long. Without the opportunity to travel internationally, we’ve spent a lot of time traveling within Zambia. One of our favorite places to visit is the Zambezi River. Last month we went Kiambi Safari Lodge but this time, we decided to check out Mvuu Lodge. Here is everything you need to know about camping at Mvuu on the Zambezi River.
Mvuu Lodge is a lodge on the Zambezi River near the Lower Zambezi National Park.
The lodge facilities are beautiful with a restaurant, bar, longue, and swimming pool. One morning, when I didn’t feel like going out onto the water with the boys, I sat by the pool and read a book – it was very relaxing. There is also WIFI at the main lodge if you need to stay connected, but it doesn’t reach the campsite.
Mvuu is a slightly higher-end camp compared to our previous stay at Kiambi. Instead of every campsite sharing the same toilet and shower facilities, each campsite gets their own private outdoor shower and toilet. Each campsite also has a table and chairs, a fire pit, and outside sink.
Every day, a staff member washes your dishes, brings wood and starts your fire, and helps carry things to and from your boat. The staff members were very friendly and knowledgeable about the river.
There was no cellphone service or WIFI at our campsite, but I loved going off the grid for four days – it is so relaxing! The campsites also don’t have electricity, which helped me stay off grid. Camping is $25/person/night.
Mvuu means “hippo” in Nyanja and Mvuu’s motto is “the place of the hippos”. Boy, do they mean that. Each night hippos come out to graze on a bank near the camp (did you know that hippos are nocturnal? I didn’t!). One night, when we were walking around in the dark, Alex accidently dropped something and scared a pod of hippos. Hearing a whole pod of 1,000-pound animals rush into the water is a scare that you can’t imagine.
Mvuu also has quite the baboon infestation. Unlike vervets, who only open your bags if they smell food. Baboons seem to open any bag they can get their hands on – food or no food. Luckily, the staff members are quite good at scaring the baboons away (and reminding you to lock away your belongings).
Because Mvuu is further down the river, closer to the National Park, the wildlife around Mvuu is like nothing I’ve seen before on the river. We saw elephants swimming across the river with their calves, hippos with the tiniest babies, and giant crocodiles. A yellow-billed kite came up to our boat and requested some of our old fish, which we threw up into the air and he caught, mid-swoop!
On our last day, an elephant came right up to our tent! How incredible is that?!
On our second night, we went on a night drive in the GMA (game management area). The GMA is the area bordering the Lower Zambezi National Park. Unlike South Africa, where animals are confined to the national parks, animals in Zambia are free to roam where they please, so even outside of the National Park there are plenty of animals to see.
We saw a lion, elephants, zebra, impala, kudu, and civets. We even saw the skeleton of an elephant who recently died. I’ve never seen anything like that in my 5.5 years living and traveling in Africa.
The Chongwe River is a tributary of the Zambezi River. It is more isolated and runs alongside the National Park. In an effort to preserve the serene environment of the Chongwe River, large boats are not allowed. The river is also much narrower than the Zambezi River, so the wildlife are more up-close and personal.
We saw warthog (my first time seeing them on the Zambezi!), elephants swimming in the water, hippos, mongooses, and a black stork.
Have you been to Mvuu? What lodge should we check out next? Let me know in the comments!