Croc Valley, Mfuwe, Zambia
Nearby projects: see Project Luangwa
About: Croc valley is the best type of safari lodge as far as I’m concerned – it has top end facilities but also caters for the backpacker, meaning as a back packer you get best of both worlds . You get to live in the controlled wilderness of a camp open to the river on one side and the bush on the other, with monkeys foraging outside your window in the morning and elephants wandering up the river banks in the evening. You have access to a swimming pool in the heat of the midday sun and a fully stocked bar to relax in and chat with others after a long days’ work. You get to live in the same environment as those staying in the luxury chalets and yet are provided with self-catering facilities and dormitory accommodation. It’s a lodge that covers for all budget types while providing an excellent standard of service for all. And it’s an incredibly beautiful setting.
- A swimming pool
- Self catering facilities,
- A bar with riverside veiws and pool table
- Laundry facilities
- A restaurant and bar food.
Accommodation: While volunteers at Croc Valley stay in the four dorm rooms, three of these are in fact twin rooms, with one larger en-suite stand-alone room that can take extra beds as needed. Of course, they also have chalets and luxury tents but let’s face it, none of us are going to be paying for those rooms long term! However, if you have parents or friends coming to visit, this is a great opportunity for them to splash out and enjoy luxury in the bush.
- Dorm rooms are 11 usd (10% discount to TEV members applies)
- Montly package: a special price of 250 usd per month self catering for all TEV members.
Self-catering: This is the best option for long term stay volunteers. While Mfuwe town is small you can still buy all the basics for cooking (you can even get fresh cheese and chocolate!!!) and this will certainly help to keep costs down and keep you from gaining weight eating the ridiculously large portions that they serve in the restaurant!
Restaurant: While as a volunteer will most likely not be buying food from the restaurant, perhaps your friends or family are coming to stay for a few days, or its your birthday and you feel like splashing out, in which case its worth mentioning that the food is amazing! With three courses all prepared to the standard of the best restaurants in Dublin, honestly the main challenge is trying to stop from eating yourself into a food coma.
You have a couple of options for reaching Croc Valley. For those coming from the larger cities nearby (Lusaka, Livingstone, Lilongwe) you can fly with Proflight (be careful, however, of baggage restrictions, as typically Proflight expect you to pay for a combined weight of over 15 kg).
Otherwise, you can use a combination of buses and taxis to reach Mfuwe. Your best option is, in fact, to fly to Lilongwe in Malawi, stay overnight in Mabuya Camp and from there take a morning bus across the border to Chipata. This will take 2-3 hours, then continue on by taxi to Mfuwe (2 hours). In total, this journey will take around 5 hours and so is considerably more do-able than travelling from Lusaka.
If you are coming from Lusaka, you can take an 8 hour bus to Chipata and then a taxi for the final two hours. The taxi will cost roughly 70 usd and can be arranged by Croc Valley. You can, if you are feeling like making the longest journey ever out of it, take a local bus from Chipata to Mfuwe, but this can take up to 7 hours and if you are doing this off the back of a long-haul flight and 7 hour bus from Lusaka you may need to hibernate for the next week. And then mail me and tell me how it went.
Obviously with South Luangwa National Park a stone’s throw away from your bedroom, you cannot avoid going on safari a couple of times. Staying in Croc Valley you will have lots of opportunities to hook up with others for a morning or evening drive (and only have to pay park entrance fees if you find some obliging travellers with extra space in their cars).
Prices: 40 usd for a Game Drive (with a 5 usd discount for a second)
50 usd for a “Walking Safari”
Outside of Safaris? Well Mfuwe is the last town before entering the South Luangwa National Park and it is built up around the tourist industry created by the park. As such, besides volunteering or going on Safari, there is not a whole lot to do around Mfuwe. In fact, you cannot walk from the lodge to the town due to the high population of elephant that pass through the surrounding area and so you will be picked up and dropped off by Project Luangwa staff. Never mind, the grounds of Croc Valley are very conducive to relaxing, reading and sipping a cold drink during your time off. And after a hectic day volunteering in 40 deg Celcius, believe me, there’s not much else you will want to be doing.
Charl chats about the importance of tourism to the local town and its impact on conservation
Pool at Croc Valley
Volunteer rooms at Croc Valley
South Luangwa National Park, Mfuwe