Africa, Newsletter, Trip Reviews, Zambia

Reviewed: Sausage Tree Camp. Zambia’s ultimate in Bush Chic 

06/02/2024 by .
Sarah Kingdom stays at the Sausage Tree Camp and Experiences Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park In Style.

Sarah Kingdom stays at the Sausage Tree Camp and Experiences Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park In Style.

It’s just after sunrise and the sun is peeping over the horizon.  We’re sitting, coffee in hand, watching as the sky turns pink, yellow and orange, as the sun rises a little higher. The river is smooth and shimmering like shot silk. It’s almost time to head out on a game drive, but for now, we’re sitting on the raised wooden deck, overlooking the water. In front of us is a network of channels and reed islands, with the magnificent Zambezi escarpment as a backdrop.

Sausage Tree Camp, previously voted “Best Location in Africa” at the 2016 Good Safari Guide Awards and number one on the BBC’s “Ten Best Luxury Destinations”, is hidden amongst mature sausage and mahogany trees on the banks of the Zambezi River, in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. Seven luxury tented suites and one family house, each with indoor and outdoor showers and a dining and lounge area.

Sausage Tree Camp.

Sausage Tree Camp.

Outside each suite is a spacious verandah, with a private plunge pool, overlooking the Zambezi River.  The suites are perfect for couples or solo travellers, while the sole-use Kigelia House, named after the sausage trees that surround the lodge, is ideal for families, with two spacious bedrooms, each with ensuite bathrooms, a spacious sitting room, and a pool on the verandah.

When night falls at Sausage Tree, as you lie in your 4-poster canopy bed that’s swathed in a mosquito net canopy, you’ll be lulled to sleep, serenaded by the croaking of frogs, the grunts, groans and wheezes of hippos in the river, or maybe by the distant roar of a lion, trumpet of an elephant, or howl of a hyena.

Wake in the morning to tea or coffee, delivered to your suite by your muchinda (butler). Then a short stroll through camp to your waiting breakfast, before departing on a game drive, a boat trip on the river, or back to your suite to relax. The day is yours to spend as you like.

Departing camp, we set off for a morning game drive. The sights, sounds and smells of the bush enveloped us. The river’s edge is overhung with a thick fringe of jackalberry, leadwood, mahogany, ebony and fig trees, but as we head further inland, the landscape opens out to floodplains, fringed with Ilala palms and battle-scared baobabs, mopane forest and huge acacia trees.

Sausage Tree Camp.

Sausage Tree Camp.

Even though the Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of 4092km², most of the game is concentrated along the valley floor, with the densely forested hills of the escarpment acting as a natural barrier. Within minutes of leaving camp we hear the roar of a lion and see its footprints in the sandy road. Around the bend we hear a baboon raising an alarm call, warning the rest of the troop of a leopard prowling in the undergrowth. Carrying on we find, in quick succession, tracks of a hyena and then wild dogs. An amazing start to the day.

A myriad of birds surrounds us. 378 species have been recorded in the park. Red-billed and Yellow-billed Hornbills swoop through the trees like clowns with their oversized beaks.  Woolly-necked storks preen in the shallows. Ground Hornbills stride across the landscape like they are heading to an important meeting. We hear a Collard Palm-Thrush’s distinctive song, before eventually spotting it in the thicket.

Reaching an oxbow lake, luminously green with water hyacinth, we stop for bush tea and coffee (and some very moreish cookies), watched by a pod of bobbing hippos. We, in turn, watch a lone, old male buffalo, who is chomping his way morosely through mouthfuls of the unappetising water hyacinth. In the nearby Winterthorn forest, families of waterbuck and herds of impala graze in the dappled shade.

Sausage Tree Camp.

On our way back to camp we round a bend in a dry riverbed and stumbled upon an elephant and her baby, so close we can hear their tummies rumbling. Mum trumpets in alarm as we drive past. Fortunately, we’re gone before she can charge. Moving on we find a lioness sleeping in the wheel ruts left in the sand by previous vehicles. Tired after a busy night, she raises her head and glances somewhat disinterestedly in our direction, before resuming her ‘cat nap’.

Morning game drive complete, lunch was served in the open-air dining tent, on the camp’s main viewing deck, after which we retired to our suite to cool off with a dip in our plunge pool. The leaves of the overhanging Mahogany trees rustled overhead as we propped ourselves up by the elbows on the edge of the pool and stared out at the river. Our post-lunch siesta was followed by afternoon tea, while we watched a herd of elephants on the opposite bank of the river. Coming down to the water’s edge, they paused and regrouped, before wading into the river and swimming, trunks held high like snorkels, across to one of the islands midstream.

Zambezi Sunsets STC

As the heat of the day died down, we were off onto the river. Heading downstream, past families of elephants, pods of hippos and a pride of lions sunning themselves on the bank. My husband is a keen fisherman and for him, a trip to the Zambezi is not complete without the challenge of fishing for the coveted tiger fish, giant cousin to the piranha. Fortunately, much of the wildlife in the park is concentrated along the river, so while he cast his line out repeatedly, I watched the riverbanks and the animals there. Gin and tonics with a stunning African sunset marked the end of his fishing and an incredible day.

The protected wilderness of the Lower Zambezi National Park has a rugged remoteness and a stark beauty. It’s a place I return to time and time again. Sausage Tree Camp is one of the most exclusive lodges in the park. It’s the pinnacle of bush chic. Established in 1996 as Zambia’s most luxurious bush camp, it’s one of the few camps in Africa that guarantees private guiding, with a game drive vehicle and designated guide just for you. Sausage Tree has recently changed hands, entering into the Green Safaris family, a company with a reputation for exceptional service and a passion for providing eco-conscious, sustainable safaris.

Canoeing Elephants STC

Luxurious and well run, Sausage Tree Camp has engaging, professional and knowledgeable safari guides and a welcoming team of staff who are dedicated to providing excellent service and ensuring a wonderful stay. Combine this with a range of activities that includes game drives, walking safaris, boat trips, canoeing, fishing, bush dinners and river sandbank lunches, and you have a camp that guests love and return to as often as they can.

 Tell Me More About the Sausage Tree Camp

Sausage Tree Camp is in the heart of Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. From Lusaka it’s a scenic 2 hour/115km drive, though being only a 30 min hop, most guests choose to fly in via light aircraft to the Jeki airstrip, from where it’s a one-hour game drive to camp.

Sausage Tree Camp has a 25m lap pool, so you don’t have to skip a workout. Wi-Fi is available in the rooms and all rooms have power 24 hours a day as well as hot and cold water on tap. The property is not fenced, so wild animals can wander through camp, but there’s 24-hour security and after dark you will always be escorted to and from your room. Rates start from $1,355pppn, on a fully inclusive basis, and the camp is open from April to November, weather dependent. Children aged eight and older are welcome.

Downstream of Sausage Tree Camp is its sister camp, Potato Bush.  The three suites and one family house here all have a plunge pool and are connected via raised walkways, making it a great place to book exclusively and a good choice for a family safari. Potato Bush prices start from $1,080pppn, and the camp is open from April to November, weather depending.

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