Norman Carr Safaris - Chinzombo – the next generation


With the opening getting closer it's time for a little recap on the exciting new Norman Carr Safaris camp - Chinzombo!

Located on the pristine banks of  the Luangwa River, Zambia; each of the camps 6 Villa’s (five private villas and a larger family villa) as well as the unique dining, lounge and library structure complete with tree shaded pool and deck, will be constructed with an attention to detail not often associated with bush-camp architecture. A sense of luxury and sophistication is seamlessly combined with materials unique to traditional Zambian buildings. The result is a bush-camp unlike any other.

Set back within the shade of ancient tress on a wildlife rich ridge which follows a C-shaped bend in the Luangwa River, the Chinzombo villas appear to float over the lush and tranquil landscape. A winding foot path connects the villas and  lounge/dining area through the shade of the surrounding msikzi trees. The simplicity of the modernist steel framed structures in contrast to the natural materials used in the décor and interiors complements the surroundings in a unique way.

Each villa is effectively a shaded platform, an elevated deck for game-viewing, relaxing and absorbing the peace of the bush. The bedroom and en-suite bathroom are suspended within the space - hovering in the tranquil shade with wide views out over the Luangwa.

Set well apart, each villa is spacious with both indoor and outdoor areas to relax and absorb the sights and sounds of the surrounding bush.

The circular bedrooms, built using local thatching techniques, have rectangular en-suite bathrooms with canvas walls. Both rooms have views through the tree-line to the Luangwa River and the bedroom opens out onto the villa’s shaded deck, outdoor lounge and private pool.

Cross ventilation through the bedroom and bathroom allows for a natural evaporative cooling effect as cool air rises from the pool and is drawn through the internal spaces, creating the feeling of comfort and luxury whilst living in the very heart of the wildlife rich Luangwa Valley.

Norman Carr Safaris – the innovators.

The Norman Carr Philosophy

Back in the 1950’s Norman Carr dreamt of a unique way to experience the African bush; a way of interacting with the environment respecting both the natural landscape and local Zambian traditions - conservation through tourism.

His family, the staff of NCS and their new partners are proud to take the next step in this continual process of innovation  - Chinzombo is the latest bush-camp by Norman Carr Safaris as we continue to sustain the legacy of that legendary pioneer.

Using local sustainable materials and skills

  • Local Zambian building methods are combined with sophisticated contemporary steel structure;

  • Local sustainably sourced materials, including grass thatching, fallen Mopani trees (NOT cut poles) and cement blocks (NOT burnt bricks) made on site will be used.

  • Local labour and craftsmen have been employed to build the structure and to add some of the unmistakably Luangwa elements to the camp

  • Local businesses – weavers, pottery makers and carvers have all been commissioned to create many of the interior elements for the villas and lounge

Simplicity - let the bush speak for itself


The philosophy behind the minimalist design of this avant-garde bush-camp  is an “architectural refinement of structural form” – the structure is stripped down to the bare minimum leaving the surrounding bush as the main focus with a drastic reduction of the effect the building has on the  environment

By reducing the surface area of those structural elements in contact with the ground – we have not only created the impression that the bush-camp structures appear to ‘float’ over the landscape, we have also minimalised the impact of the structure on the vegetation and wildlife.

Guests are slightly elevated above the level of scrub vegetation and tall grasses, while remaining in the shade, beneath the shady canopy of the surrounding shade trees.

The camp’s subtlety and sense of ‘temporariness’ is a reminder of man’s momentary intervention in the bush. The prefabrication technique means it can be disassembled as easily as it was assembled. Eventually it will vanish, leaving no evidence that it was ever there.

Sustainable practical principles in construction

  • Rainwater is collected from the near-flat roof over the lounge, dining and library area

  • Natural ventilation and evaporative cooling is employed throughout – allowing the villas to be cooled in an environmentally responsible way

  • The floors and decks are made from recycled, reconstituted timber products – NCS is opposed to contributing to local deforestation particularly of hardwoods and is one of the first companies to use this recycled decking.

  • The structural frame of each building is made entirely from steel and is 100% recyclable.

  • Sophisticated insulation panels in the roof double as ceiling panels, regulating the temperature within the villas and thereby reducing the need for cooling and/or heating

  • The bathroom walls are made from natural canvas from a company only using sustainably sourced materials and the circular bedrooms are made from thatch grasses harvested responsibly only a few kilometres from the site.

  • The plumbing fittings throughout combine the latest in water-saving technology and adhere to a strict code of responsible water usage.

The facts – what will it be like?


  • Steel frame – entirely recyclable

  • Thatch/reed  and natural canvas interior walls

  • Recycled composite timber floors

  • Little permanent concrete or brick walls

  • No heavy glazing

  • Natural materials, locally produced leather, reed work and canvas

  • Sustainable ideology, employing local labour and local businesses


  • The colours reflect this intention – everything fits seamlessly into the environment

  • Raw linen, timber, copper and hand made crockery

  • Simple, authentic minimal shelter with a respectful nod to Chinzombo’s  past history and Norman’s legacy

  • Essential, pared down – the essence of the bush camp is a platform from which to view game with a roof for shade

  • A private viewing platform: a place that allows both wildlife and the natural vegetation to flourish, unhindered by vast tracts of landscaping, game fences, roads and other man-made objects.

  • Nature was there first– we are simply guests in the landscape thus the whole structure could easily be taken down and moved if the need ever arose

Evolution of an architectural ideology for Silvio RECH & Lesley CARSTENS

Some thoughts from Silvio and Les;

Chinzombo combines an international standard of contemporary detailing and sophisticated building technologies with the raw authenticity of the local architectural language

Minimalism for the bush – the least environmentally obtrusive structure, yet fitted with all the requisite luxuries of a first class bush-camp

Glamorous camping = ‘glamping’ - in the same way that camping has a temporary notion implied, here the idea that the architecture does not intrude on the environment is paramount

Easy to see from simply looking at the building that it is at once different yet familiar. There are materials and geometries that take their cues directly from local sources (buildings and craftsmen). These are combined with contemporary ‘western’ technologies (steel framed structures and recycled composite decking) to create a new kind of bush-camp architecture.

A raw authenticity – a raw simplicity, unhindered by what is so often the case in these resorts, a desire to fill them with more and more- which ultimately only detracts from the reason for going to the bush in the first place.