I was determined to visit Flatdogs Camp because several of my friends had been raving about it following their recent return from South Luangwa National Park. Visiting the camp ended up being one of the best decisions my husband and I ever made. Flatdogs is a fabulous safari holiday destination. It’s great for a weekend away and offers a total escape from “the real world.”
Flatdogs is unusual compared to many of the other safari camps in South Luangwa in that it has a range of different kinds of accommodation, all of which are thoughtfully designed with particular types of guests in mind. The four chalets are made of stone, feature thatched roofing and have two bedrooms in each building. There’s also a kitchen, making the chalets ideal for families with younger children and people who prefer to cook for themselves. The downstairs bedroom has a king bed, plus an extra single bed and is easily large enough for a cot as well. The upstairs room has two or three single beds inside, so a family of five or six people can comfortably fit in the same house.
If you are a couple travelling on your own, as we were, then you might prefer to have a wilder kind of safari experience and stay in one of the lovely luxury safari tents. Our tent was set right on the banks of the Luangwa River. The tent has huge gauzed windows, allowing you to see all around. The surroundings have been kept as natural as possible so there are always plenty of animals in and around camp. A highlight of our stay was seeing a beautiful herd of elephants cross the river just next to us. They stopped to drink and play in the water for a while, before they climbed up the bank right next to our tent (I held my breath!), stopping to pull off a few branches to feed on. They then calmly wandered off into the conservation area surrounding the camp.
My husband and I also had four of the best game drives, ever. We have gone on several safaris in various national parks in Zambia and elsewhere but the ones we experienced during our stay at Flatdogs were second to none. Our guide was simply incredible and led us to some unforgettable sights and sounds. His sharp ears picked up baboon alarm calls in the distance, he managed to work his way along the right route to perfectly position us to observe a lone leopard and led us to impala and puku that were whistling and pronking like crazy, shouting their warnings out to the others in their group – it was magical! The next morning he led us to a pride of lions and then a pack of 14 wild dogs playing together until they were chased away by some feisty elephants.
We didn’t get a chance to look at the last two accommodation types available at Flatdogs, Jackalberry Treehouse and Crocodile Nest. These are set away from the main area of camp and are ideal for privacy and special occasions – we hope to stay in one of these private homes the next time we visit Flatdogs! It’s worth noting that Flatdogs offers accommodation to rival any upmarket camps and lodges, but at a much lower cost.
In addition to the luxury safari tents and the fascinating game drives we went on, the camp has fantastic food and an authentically warm and friendly feeling in the camp. We felt instantly at home. The staff are welcoming, friendly and always happy to help you. The a la carte menu is so unexpected when you are in the middle of nowhere in the bush, I can’t imagine how they manage it! We were so happy with the menus and daily specials board; it was almost impossible to choose what to have for each meal. The food we sampled over the weekend was absolutely divine and Flatdogs is able to cater to vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free diets.
Flatdogs has invested in the local community, contributing to education programmes, business and infrastructure development and promotion of agriculture, amongst other areas. The camp is committed to sustainable tourism (they are one of the few carbon neutral operators in Zambia) and investing in the conservation of the area, which is repaid daily in beautiful, unspoilt natural surroundings.