Charming Chaminuka

Located in the outskirts of Lusaka, a mere hour’s drive away from home, Chaminuka Lodge is an up-scale facility that provides a good variety of activities for nature lovers without the hustle of having to travel too far for extended periods. I was thrilled to get out of the house and enjoy a weekend getaway to Chaminuka with a few friends to celebrate life and some milestones in the new normal. The road to Chaminuka is part tarred to a certain point and part graded for the rest of the drive until you get to the facility. Established in 1978 as a family retreat, the lodge was named after an enchanting village in the North Western Province of Zambia where the owner had spent the formative years of his life. One would even think the focal building in the facility was intentionally built on a small knoll overlooking Lake Chitoka, as the word Chaminuka actually means small hill or hump.

Chaminuka provides a good set of activity options which range from seeing various wildlife species on the game drives, horse rides, having a short boat ride on the lake and cheese tasting to offering access to human-animal experiences like the cheetah walks and elephant interactions. I no longer subscribe to this kind of tourism as I have been enlightened on several flaws in that approach to handling animals but guests are able to book for access at the activities desk.

We split our activities across the two days we were going to spend at Chaminuka so we could have fun but actually rest and reflect too. We got to Chaminuka after 12 o’clock and spent the beginning of our afternoon with the horse riding activity. The horse riding path is already set and every guest is given a helmet so the ride fairly safe, it took approximately 20 minutes for each horse riding session around the foot path into a nearby bush. Thereafter, we decided to go skirt the lake and view some of the bird species while we stocked up on some vitamin D. Those banana boats that are used to get around the lake were rather dicey for big ol’ me but we were able to find a way to balance our strengths so that we were all not floating back to shore. I got to see several species of birds including the heron and Egyptian geese.

Then we went cheese tasting. I looked forward to this activity as I never got around to experience it during previous day visits to Chaminuka. The artificial cave gave such a great setting for us to enjoy the eight varieties of the locally made Kaposhi cheese with accompanying glasses of red wine to cleanse the palette. I learned about the origins of cheese and got to understand just how the cheese varieties were made through different cultures. It was all so pleasant and enlightening and we left the factory at twilight to go and recoup before supper. The accommodation was pretty spacious and quaint with several accents largely influenced by Zambian culture and art but I doubt I would be exaggerating if I do not immediately subscribe to them being called luxurious.

I was, however, pleasantly receptive to the compliment I found in my room from the concierge team, they sure knew how to make me feel at home 👏🏽. Dinner had some buffet options of various fresh vegetables and meats, including game meat from the game reserve. It was enjoyable but it was not hard to observe that there was a control on portion size for some reason. Never the less it was all well prepped and seasoned to our enjoyment. The highlight of the evening was being able to go sit in the great room by the fireplace, surrounded by priceless art as we gobbled on sweet birthday treats, enjoyed some good wine and played jenga and throwback charades.

Our second day at Chaminuka started with a palatable breakfast from their menu options, as the continental breakfast was rather sparing. We skipped off to go enjoy our last activity of the weekend, a 2 hour game drive around the 10,000 acre property, an area totalling 40 square kilometres. The weather was not so kind to us throughout the drive as we were in the midst of this years windy winter but we were able to spot several animals as illustrated by the pictures. I was more than glad to get back to base as I was ill prepared for the weather and Chaminuka does not provide the wind breaker blankies on the safari vehicles. We retreated to the warmth of the indoor patio and got to see quite a good selection of art as we made our way up.

Fun fact! Chaminuka actually houses the largest private collection of various forms of art in Zambia and you cant miss it as the art is woven into the very fabric and outlay of this facility.

Lunch was still as good as I remember! Do not even get me started on those blessed short ribs that never last and the apple crumble topped with fresh FRESH cream 🤤🙌🏽. I should point out that the lunch buffet is normally more soulful than the dinner buffet, perhaps it is because they need to cater to more day visitor taste-buds? Either way, I bet you can tell I surely enjoyed my meal. We retired to lounge by the pool side as we were being marinated in the warm afternoon sun that just came outta nowhere. All in all this short weekend getaway was just what I needed to re-energize and appreciate the beauty of life outside the four walls of my home, thank you Chaminuka 😉.

Travel Tips

  • The road to Chaminuka was passable for my Sedan but I recommend that you consider using a larger, 4×4 car for off-road type terrain, especially during the rain season, as the road may strain smaller vehicles.
  • Ensure you carry some warm clothing and wind breakers as the temperatures drop significantly at the end of the day. The warm clothing could also come in handy on the game drive.
  • Its always best to call the Lodge and book your stay or day visit in advance as they are normally fully booked and they are only able to host up to 150 guests as per public health guidelines.
  • I highly recommend bringing children over the age of 9 as they will fully enjoy all activities on offer without having to be too restricted. Plus! Chaminuka normally has discounted rates for kiddos under 12 years.
  • Chaminuka normally charges ZMK 595 ($30) for day visits with selected activities included. They usually have some specials, especially around national holidays. Stay in touch with these offers on their website and social platforms.

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