Flatdogs Camp

About 30 minutes from Zambia’s Mfuwe Airport, Flatdogs Camp occupies a sprawling property on the banks of the broad Luangwa River. This wide, brown body of water remains one of Africa’s most untouched river systems and is the lifeblood of the sensational South Luangwa National Park.

We stayed here for three nights hoping to glimpse some of the park’s famous leopards and here are just a few reasons why we think Flatdogs Camp is awesome.

Location, location, location.

The lodge is literally 5 minutes’ drive from the South Luangwa National Park main entrance, so you’re amongst the first visitors in the park every morning. That is, if you don’t happen to see anything interesting on your way out of Flatdogs’ property. We saw elephant, giraffe and monkeys galore every single time we drove in or out of the lodge! 

In fact, sightings of vervet monkeys at Flatdogs are virtually guaranteed, especially around the restaurant so keep a close eye on your food!

Its proximity to this prolific reserve also means that it is not unusual for elephants, hippos or the endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe to wander past your room. As such, the place is patrolled by night watchmen who walk you to and from your room when it’s dark.

The only night-time visitor we encountered at Flatdogs

Choose your own adventure (and accommodation)

Flatdogs Camp offers guided walking safaris in South Luangwa NP as well as classic game drives in open vehicles. We didn’t walk at this camp, but the guides that accompanied us on the drives were great. The other wonderful thing about the South Luangwa is that you can stay out in the park (in a vehicle!) until 8PM. However, only lodges can take advantage of this rule, not self-drive visitors.

The camp also has a veritable smorgasbord of accommodation styles to choose from. There are beautiful private houses (located away from the main areas) which can be booked exclusively by families or groups of friends. There are self-contained multi-bedroom chalets with thatched roofs and solid walls (but meshed-in windows). These can be booked in part or exclusively so guests that don’t know each other may have to share the lounge area/kitchenette. There are also the more conventional (and very lovely!) tented suites or rooms-under-canvas that you find in many traditional safari lodges.

All options come with power, hot water showers and bush Wi-Fi. For recreation, there's a central swimming pool with a slide - fun! 

Flatdogs welcomes self-driving guests, who can take advantage of kitchen facilities if they book a room within a chalet. They are also very welcome to book game drives with the lodge and have meals in the restaurant, which brings me to my next reason.

A la carte meals whenever you want

This is SO unique in my experience. Most safari lodges have restaurants that are only for staying guests and you eat at set times seated with other guests, whether you like them or not!

The Flatdogs restaurant features a fixed a la carte menu plus specials that change every few days. There are curries, steaks, salads, sandwiches, pastas and desserts (key lime pie and chocolate brownies anyone???). All are made fresh onsite daily and mouth-wateringly good.  And if three square meals a day isn't enough - there's a very civilised afternoon tea spread put out that guests can help themselves to before the afternoon's activities.

Like in any fine dining restaurant, you are seated with people of your choosing al fresco, indoors or even at the bar at any time of day you choose.

The price

Last but not least, Flatdogs is affordable compared to camps and lodges of similar quality anywhere else in southern Africa.

Rates in the low season on their website started at about USD50 per person per night (dual occupancy - room only) at the time of writing, which is an absolute steal- but definitely bear in mind, low season might mean very high grass/dense vegetation in the park making wildlife harder to spot!