Best hotels and hostels in Zambia, Malawi & Mozambique

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Malawi

    Mkulumadzi Lodge

    Romantically reached by a suspension bridge over a croc-infested river, this extraordinary lodge is a fusion of African tradition and boutique chic. The eight chalets are artfully blended with the bush, with grass roofs, step-in rain showers and windows offering widescreen views of the Shire River as you flop in a sunken, candlelit bath. Then there's the main lodge, its high thatched ceiling strung with contemporary lights and ballasted by columns of leadwood trunks, driftwood art installations, and a kidney-shaped pool outside – not that you'll be doing much swimming, given the friendliness of the local elephants who wander into the lodge. Dinner is eaten communally, and glorious it is too. Run with warmth and efficiency, the camp offers morning walks to a hide close to the river (well situated for spotting black rhinos coming for a dawn drink), riverboat safaris, cultural village visits, and of course wildlife drives to spot hippos, civets, bushbucks, abundant elephants, crocs and more. Rates include drinks, all wildlife-watching activities, and transfers to/from the reserve airstrip. Mkulumadzi is 11km north of the gate via Mkulumadzi Rd.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Lake Niassa

    Nkwichi Lodge

    For setting, service, romance, proximity to nature and integration with the local community, Nkwichi Lodge can rival anywhere in Africa. Gracing the shores of Lake Niassa, its seven hand-crafted bungalows seem to spring naturally from the rocks and foliage, and come equipped with private outdoor baths and showers built into the bush. Several look out onto their own white-sand coves. There are also two private houses, each with lake views, private chef, and lots of space and privacy. The lodge lays on activities aplenty, including canoeing, multinight wilderness walking safaris, and visits to the lodge’s demonstration farm. It is linked with the Manda Wilderness Community Conservation Area, a privately initiated conservation area along the lakeshore that also promotes community development and responsible tourism. The surrounding bush is full of ospreys, palm-nut vultures, Pel’s fishing owls, fish eagles and 200-year-old baobab trees. Nkwichi is only accessible by boat from Cóbuè or Likoma Island (Malawi). Transfers (45 minutes) can be arranged with reservations.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Northern Malawi

    Kaya Mawa

    Remember Scaramanga's pad in The Man with the Golden Gun? Kaya Mawa, set on an amber-coloured beach lapped by turquoise water, is the ultimate location to live out your inner Bond. Its cliffside chalets, cleverly moulded around the landscape, are so beautiful you'll never want to leave. Imagine plunge pools, the gentle lap of waves and the quiet appearance of a waiter with a bottle of chilled Champagne. Tempted? You should be, for this is one of the finest boutique experiences on the continent. The bar-restaurant is somewhere between a tropical idyll and a Bedouin dream. Dinner is set by candlelight on the beach, staff are almost elfin in their diplomacy and discretion, and the food is dreamed up by a chef who trained under Jamie Oliver. The spa has treatments including facials, grapeseed-oil massages and reflexology, and activities such as diving, snorkelling, kite surfing, waterskiing, kayaking, sailing and mountain biking are on offer.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Northern Mozambique

    Coral Lodge

    If they gave out six stars for hotels, Coral Lodge might just qualify. Everything gets top marks, from the setting (an idyllic beach with its own natural diving lagoon) and the rooms (the beds have built-in air-con) to the service (akin to having your own butler) and the business ethics (most staff hail from the local village of Cabaceira Pequena). Accommodation is provided in 10 beautiful beachside chalets, and prices include all meals (yes, they're exquisite), drinks, massage and water activities. The lodge even has its own desalination plant turning seawater into drinking water. To cap it all, the place isn't remotely snooty. Non-guests are welcome to use the restaurant and the lagoon.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Bazaruto Archipelago

    &Beyond Benguerra

    This is perhaps the most intimate of the archipelago lodges, with lovely, well-spaced beach chalets ('cabanas') and villas (' casinhas '), fine beachside dining under the stars and a good selection of activities. The entire lodge is open design, with open-air showers, luxury bathtubs with views, and private infinity plunge pools. It's well worth the splurge, if your budget allows. No children under eight are accepted.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Quirimbas Archipelago

    Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort

    At Medjumbe you're essentially on your own private island. You and a dozen other lucky devils are accommodated in detached villas, each with its own plunge pool and sundeck. The villas are elegant-rustic, the food exquisite, the service fit for a king (or queen) and the sunsets hallucinogenic. Diving, kayaking and lazing around are all heartily encouraged. Guests usually fly to Medjumbe on private charters from Pemba.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Malawi

    Tongole Wilderness Lodge

    Built with local materials, this eco-conscious lodge sits at elevation above the Bua River, a well-worn elephant crossing. Its thatched, near-church-high lodge is crowned by a mezzanine walkway leading to an aerial viewpoint – the perfect place to balance a G&T and binoculars. Huge chalets include plunge baths, marble basins, rain showers, wooden decks and wrought-iron doors with widescreen views. Come late afternoon, elephants come to the river, while other regular visitors include baboons, and you may even hear the occasional lion. Activities include fly-fishing and hook-and-bait fishing (April to October), walking safaris, village visits, and kayaking upstream with a coolbox of sundowner Greens (scant reward after being scared witless by crocs watching you like periscopes!). Accommodation rates include drinks, guided activities, park fees, laundry and transfers within the reserve. Check the website for special offers. The lodge is dedicated to helping the local population and environment, with a community-development foundation that creates employment, curbs poaching and undertakes projects such as repairing storm-damaged school buildings. In late 2016, a swimming pool, a family cottage and self-catering cottages were under construction.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Malawi

    Luwawa Forest Lodge

    Set at 1585m, homey Luwawa sits in a clearing of pine trees, its manicured gardens spilling with colourful flowers and morning mist. There are seven chalets and cottages, perfect for families (as they sleep up to five), with bunks, bathrooms, self-catering facilities and swallow-you-up four-posters, as well as more affordable rooms, dorms and a shaded camping area. The centrepiece lounge is dominated by the impressive baobab-inspired fireplace, crackling from dawn until late at night, while outside is a veranda where you can take breakfast and soak up the gorgeous view of the forests and nearby lake. The lodge's organic food should also be credited. From the ridgeback dogs that greet you on arrival to the warm service and myriad activities offered by owner George and staff, Luwawa Forest Lodge is a rare treat. Activities on offer include guided mountain biking on solid hardtail bikes; abseiling and rock climbing with an experienced instructor; birdwatching, horse riding and fishing; and various hiking trails (there's a booklet in your room with suggested one- to five-hour hikes on well-marked trails through montane forest).

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Northern Zambia

    Ndole Bay Lodge

    Set on a pretty beach just outside Nsumbu National Park, this family-owned lodge has several spacious chalets dotted around the grounds, all made from natural local materials. The newest rooms are stunning and include beautiful furnishings and a huge attached bathroom with Balinese-style outdoor showers. There is also a campsite right under the trees on the sandy beach. There's a large communal area right by the beach with plenty of comfy chairs and hammocks, plus a deck that juts out over the lake. The restaurant includes plenty of fresh Lake Tanganyika fish on the menu. All kinds of activities are on offer here including snorkelling, water-skiing, bush walks and fishing trips. Ndole Bay also has a PADI dive centre where you can take half-day discover scuba-diving courses as well as a PADI open-water course. For trips further afield try a sailing trip up Lake Tanganyika in a wooden dhow, including fishing and diving on the side. The friendly hosts also offer rainforest and waterfall walking safaris in Nsumbu National Park, including overnight expeditions, and private beach dining for incurable romantics.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Malawi

    Thawale Camp

    Situated around a watering hole frequented by antelopes and warthogs, this upmarket bush camp is about 3km inside the reserve from the main entrance. The standard, luxury and family tented chalets on raised wooden platforms feel safari-ready with their khaki sheets, outside barbecues and private verandas overlooking the floodlit watering hole. The chalets have gorgeous bathrooms out the back, complete with deep bath or shower, stone sink and loo with a view! They’re also well spaced out, so you really get the sense that you’re in the middle of nowhere. There’s a central lodge for meals (the food is excellent) with plenty of comfortable chairs to sink into, safari books for browsing and a stone terrace with outdoor firepit. Dinner can be combined with an 'under-the-stars boma night' with entertainment from the local Gule Wamkulu dancers. The camp isn’t fenced, so expect regular visits from elephants, buffaloes and other creatures. The camp's revenue is ploughed straight back into conserving and protecting Majete.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Zambia

    KaingU Safari Lodge

    Set on a magical stretch of the Kafue River, this lodge overlooks a primordial stretch of lush islands among the rapids, with delightful birdwatching. The four tastefully furnished Meru-style tents are raised on rosewood platforms with stone bathrooms and large decks to enjoy the view. There are also three campsites, each with its own well-kept thatch ablution and braai facilities. Families can opt for the large high-ceilinged two-bedroom chalet with its own kitchen, living room and outdoor shower. Wildlife drives are done across the river in the park; however, it's the river that's the highlight and two-day to week-long fly-camping canoe (large inflatable ones) safaris are offered. For those not paying all-inclusive rates, activities are US$20 to US$40. While most visitors will get here via Spinal Rd before getting a boat across, contact KaingU for driving directions if you plan on using a roof tent on your vehicle as you'll need to take a different route. Charter flights can land at Chunga, the nearby airstrip.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Malawi

    Mayoka Village

    Cleverly shaped around the rocky topography of a cliff, boutique-style Mayoka cascades down in a series of beautiful bamboo-and-stone chalets. There are myriad romantic nooks for taking in the lake below or grabbing some rays on sunloungers. The waterfront bar-restaurant (mains MK2500) is a beach hideaway serving cocktails and dishes from wraps and burgers to Malawian red-bean stew. Chalets are creatively designed and finished with tasteful furniture, fans and, in some cases, wraparound verandas and outdoor showers. Check out what must be Nkhata Bay's most stylish composting loo with a view. Activities on offer include boat trips to feed the fish eagles (US$10), sunset and full-moon cruises, snorkelling, fishing and cliff jumping. Hiking maps are available. Free fun includes stand-up paddleboards, canoes, kayaks and a boat trip. If a long stay sounds appealing, there are teaching placements in the resident school.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Livingstone

    Jollyboys Backpackers

    The clued-in owner here knows exactly what backpackers want, making Jollyboys popular for good reason. From its friendly staff, social bar and restaurant to the sunken reading lounge and sparkling pool, it's a great place to hang out. Dorms and bathrooms are spotless (with a flashpacker option, too), while the private rooms comprise A-frame garden cottages or very comfortable rooms with air-con and attached bathroom. It's one of the best sources for tourist information, and a reliable spot to book your activities. Bikes are also for rent for US$5/10 per half/full day. They have a lot of eco credentials too with solar power, refillable water and recycling, while the Canadian owner, Kim, has a degree in responsible tourism. It has its more laidback Jollyboys Camp guesthouse nearby, well suited for couples and families.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Malawi

    Mumbo Island Camp

    Situated exclusively on Mumbo Island, this eco-boutique camp has chalets and a walk-in tent on wooden platforms (with en-suite bucket showers and eco-loos), tucked beneath trees and above rocks, with spacious decks and astounding views. Accommodation rates include boat transfers, full board, kayaking, snorkelling and guided hikes. Many people kayak the 10km to the island, from the Kayak Africa reception in Cape Maclear; the camp staff will bring along your bags by boat. Of course, you can catch that boat if you're feeling lazy… It would be perfectly acceptable to just laze around on the camp's hammocks and decks indulging in that castaway feeling, but scuba diving is possible here and spotted-necked otters are regularly glimpsed around the island. A maximum of 14 people can stay here.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Southern Zambia

    Chiawa Camp

    In a spectacular position at the confluence of the Chiawa and Zambezi Rivers, this luxurious lodge inside the park was the first in the Lower Zambezi. As a pioneer in this area, the owner Grant Cummings knows the park intimately and his guiding expertise is highly regarded. The large walk-in canvas-thatch tents feature pine-clad private bathrooms. The bar-lounge has an upstairs deck with majestic views over the river and there’s a viewing platform high up in the trees. The food is top notch and for the romantics among you (and honeymooners), candlelit private tables can be set up in the bush, on a boat or, at full moon, on a sand bar in the middle of the river. Chiawa's sister camp, Old Mindoro, is a classic old-school safari bush camp unlike anything else in the park and receives rave reviews.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Southern Malawi

    Bushman's Baobabs

    The former Chinguni Hills Lodge is a fun place to experience a night in the bush and a safari. In an accessible location in the south of the park, Bushman's offers 14-bed dorms, thatched A-frame tents, luxurious en-suite tents, en-suite chalets, and campsites with barbecue spots and a self-catering kitchen. Wildlife drives, walks, and boat and canoe trips are offered. Climbing the viewing platform is a great start to the morning, and meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner are US$10/10/20) are sociable occasions at the long table. By night, the lounge bar and firepit are beacons in the velvety darkness, and you may hear elephants snuffling around. The delicious, home-cooked food, prepared daily, and the warm staff are further reasons to visit. Transfers to/from Liwonde town cost US$5 per person. Safaris cost US$20 to US$35.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Northern Malawi

    Lukwe EcoCamp

    This serene, tasteful permaculture camp is about being part of the environment and the community: helping local farmers and being completely self-sufficient. Comfortable glass-fronted chalets and thatch-covered tents are set in leafy terraced gardens, with private balconies and shared solar- and donkey-boiler-heated showers, composting loos and self-catering kitchen. See the mountain drop into infinity and spy Manchewe Falls from the swing chair. In the veranda bar-restaurant (mains MK6000), accompany the views with a good veggie selection drawing on the organic allotments (ask for a tour), and meat dishes from sirloin steak to boerewors sausage. Lukwe is located 10km from Chitimba, above the steep zigzag hairpins, or an hour’s downhill walk (about 5km) east from Livingstonia on the mountain road to Chitimba.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Southern Zambia

    Sausage Tree Camp

    Overlooking the Zambezi, deep inside the national park, Sausage Tree is wonderfully unconventional. Traditional safari decor is rejected in favour of cool and elegant Bedouin-style tents, each in a private clearing, with minimalist furniture, cream fabrics and vast open-air bathrooms. Each tent has a discreet muchinda (butler; which means service is incredibly personalised), while some come with a plunge pool. Other features are the library tent with couches and cushions, and the airy dining tent with a Paris-trained chef – despite the exclusivity, socialising, especially at meals, is encouraged. A short walk away is its adjacent Potato Bush Camp, a more family-focused option where tented chalets are linked by a raised boardwalk and all feature private pools.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Northern Malawi

    Mushroom Farm

    Perched on the edge of the Livingstonia escarpment (aka an abyss!), this permaculture ecolodge and campsite is worth the arduous journey for the warm welcome and views that will have you manually closing your jaw. The safari tents, hardwood A-frames and dorms provide charmingly rustic accommodation; better still is the en-suite cob house with cliffside shower. The bar-restaurant (mains US$5, pre-ordered dinner US$7) offers sweeping views and organic veggie fusion dishes such as tortilla wraps and Asian noodle salad. Activities on offer include yoga, woodcarving, guided day hikes (US$3 per person) to Livingstonia, Manchewe Falls and the Chombe Plateau, and coffee-plantation tours. The off-the-grid facilities include fire-heated shared showers, composting loo, solar-powered electricity and self-catering kitchen.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Southern Zambia

    Royal Zambezi Lodge

    The epitome of luxury bush mixed with a colonial-era vibe, Royal is only a short drive to the eponymous airstrip as well as Chongwe Gate. Despite its understated opulence – think brass fixtures, claw-footed tubs and private day beds on decks overlooking the river – it's unpretentious and exceptionally friendly. Its bar built around the trunk of a sausage tree is a well-received feature. In addition, there's a full-service spa (the only one on the Zambezi) and a small pool, essentially in the river; rest your elbows on the edge and you might see a hippo glide by only a few feet away. Kids and families are welcome and there are discounts in the 'green' season when rains tend to be heavy and quick; although wildlife drives might be impossible, canoe trips are still on and there are few other visitors around.