Natwange Community Camp in the remote north of Zambia is situated on the border of the North Luangwa National Park. They provide a genuine eco-tourism experience. It's run by and for the local Chiefdom of Mukungule through foreign sponsorship. Eco-tourists to northern Zambia have to be intrepid due to the remoteness of the area, which has little infrastructure and poor roads. However, Natwange provides an opportunity for the real eco-tourist to stay in the wild bushveld of Africa and share the experiences of the people who live nearby.  

US conservationists describe the area in book

American bush-lovers, Mark and Delia Owens, who graduated in biology through the University of Georgia, spotlighted the remote North Luangwa in their book entitled “The Eye of the Elephant.” They operated out of Mpika, the largest town in the area, and worked with local communities to fight the poaching of elephants in the Luangwa. On their arrival at North Luangwa in 1986, Mark described the wilderness as a place “where civilization ends.” Since the departure of the Owens in the 1990’s, the North Luangwa has experienced some development, but it is still wild and remote and considered one of Africa’s finest natural wilderness areas.  

Natwange Camp

Natwange is affordable, right on the border of the park, and wild animals range across the area. There are not as many wild animals on the fringes of the reserve, but elephants visit regularly, hippo can be seen, bird watching is phenomenal, and there is a safe bathing area in a nearby river. The camp is managed by George, a fully licensed local guide who is familiar with the animals, plants, and birds and conducts wonderful nature walks.  

The rustic Natwange camp offers camping under beautiful shade trees near the Mano River. Facilities include barbeque areas, a communal dining area and simple ablutions. Visitors should come fully equipped. There is no electricity in the camp and communications are difficult. Travelers who desperately need to communicate should consider buying or hiring BGAN satellite communications from Inmarsat global.

Rugged and remote conditions

It is possible to self-drive into the park itself, but 4x4 vehicles, a good GPS, and self-reliant savvy is essential. The camp does not operate from December through March because the rains make the roads impassable. Food and drink should be purchased for the entire trip, whether a drive into the park itself is planned or not. Fuel is in short supply; visitors must carry additional caddy-tanks, and fuel up fully en-route at Mpika town. The more adventurous visitors can drive right across the park, stopping overnight at the centrally located Buffalo camp site, and then push on to Chifunda Bushcamp, yet another community camp site on the far eastern border of the reserve.

Visitors must understand that Zambia is a poor country, and the camp is in one of the poorest provinces. Standards are not comparable with America or Europe. It takes a special kind of traveler to plan a trip into the wilderness of Africa, and preparation is very important. The camp will sleep about 10 to 15 people comfortably, so teaming up with like-minded friends and driving in with two 4x4 vehicles would be the best option.

Getting there

There are regular international flights into the capital city Lusaka, via South African Airways, British Airways, Air Kenya, Air Ethiopia, Air Namibia, and KLM. The start of the road trip from Lusaka is on the great north road. 4x4 hire, suggested itineraries, and all the advice you need to get to Natwange is available through Hemingways Zambia, who can be found online. 

Reservations

Camp reservations can be done by email to natwange@gmx.de, or reservations@natwange.org. Telephone enquiries can be made by calling George Chiluba via his Zambian cell phone: +260-(0)97-260-76-72 or +260-(0)96-783-49-10. If communications are down or slow, it's best to try again a day later. #Buzz #Travel