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 we give you 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.
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.
Sightings of vervet monkeys at Flatdogs are virtually guaranteed, especially around the restaurant so keep a close eye on your food!
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 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 tented suites or rooms-under-canvas that you find in many traditional safari lodges.
Unlike many places across southern Africa, 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.
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.
Plus, they put out a very civilised afternoon tea every day, that you can help yourself to before the afternoon’s activity.
Hot water (lots of it), electricity and a fantastic swimming pool
Coming from a bush camp in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools (read about our experience here), I was looking forward to good shower pressure to wash my hair and this I got! Plus the water was steaming hot.
There is also electricity in all the rooms (including the tented suites) and Wi-Fi (bush speed) is available in the shared main areas such as the restaurant and library.
At the middle of camp is a refreshing swimming pool and…IT HAS A SLIDE!
Last but not least, Flatdogs is affordable compared to camps and lodges of similar quality anywhere else in southern Africa.
Rates on their website started at USD47 pppn room-only at the time of writing, which is an absolute steal!
Would we go back?
Oh, would we indeed! We only had the pleasure of staying 3 nights here. Next time, we’ll stay a full week or more.