TO STAY AND EAT: On the way from Zambia to South Luangwa National Park I stayed at Mama Rulas camp. It’s perfectly positioned for an early morning launch into the park and the newly tarred road makes the journey fairly quick and painless. The park fees give you entry for one day only (the day of purchase) so it’s worth leaving really early to make the most of your first day in South Luangwa. Mama Rulas has a campsite and budget rooms set in a beautiful wooded area. By early afternoon the bar fills up and you can drink and eat to your heart’s content – all for a very reasonable fee. The town of Chipata has almost everything a weary traveller could ask for – Spar for groceries, mobile phone shops, KwikFit for a spot of vehicle maintenance and even a Debonaires pizza place!
TO STAY AND DO: DO NOT MISS SOUTH LUANGWA!! The park is a little out of the way but it is probably the most fantastic park I drove through the entire journey. The park offers day passes at the gate (per vehicle) which expire when the gates close at sundown. There are a number of camps on the border of the South Luangwa gates. I’m fairly sure they’re all as good as each other. We had a look at Flatdogs but it was overrun with overland truck youngsters and their pool was fairly small. We backtracked to check the west side of the bridge. Track and Trail had an awesome swimming pool but very little shade for camping. Next door, and a little further on, is Croc Valley where we settled under some lovely shady trees (and then hopped over the fence for a swim in the campsite with the awesome pool…). We did our own cooking at Croc Valley so can’t vouch for its food but beware the monkeys by day, who will steal food from your hand if you’re not looking, and elephants by night, who have been known to break into vehicles to get into the food left inside. The camp bar will take your food and store it inside its cupboards each night for you to prevent your vehicle from having its exterior rearranged…
HALF WAY TO LUSAKA
TO STAY AND EAT: There is only one reasonable place to stop between the border of Malawi / South Luangwa / Chipata and Lusaka, and that is Bridge Camp. It’s situated on the Luangwa river just about half way across. I wouldn’t recommend you stay here if you only have a ground tent and can manage the journey to Lusaka in a day as the campsite is stark and is just a section of bare earth. The facilities were ok, nice pool overlooking the Luangwa river, and the food was fair. The whole experience was a little unpleasant with the owners bickering between themselves, and the over zealous pricing didn’t sit well with me either.
TO STAY: Lusaka has all you’ll need to stock up for your next stretch. It has brilliant first world-style malls. There are many places to stay in Lusaka but I was lucky enough to stay with friends who provided me with the comfiest of beds and a welcome braai!