Zimbabwe is a beautiful country filled with lots of great attractions, great game viewing and breath-taking scenery (…especially if you are able to catch a sunset. Believe me; nothing comes close). There are so many wonderful places, but few have either been to Zimbabwe yet or have friends who can recommend a lodge, so we often rely on accommodation websites and review sites to tell us which one is best. As a safari company, we’ve tried and tested hundreds of lodges over the years and have succeeded in separating the wheat from the chaff. This is why we put together a list of ten lodges that you should consider for your next holiday to Zimbabwe.
1. Lodge at the Ancient City
If you’re looking for more than just a holiday, for a chance to venture into another culture and time; then let the Lodge at the Ancient City take you back to where Great African Warriors once ruled the Zimbabwean lands. Built within the unique style of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, each room is decorated in tribal gear with colours evoking a true sense of African history. Located opposite the lodge on the other side of the valley of Msasa, lie the ancient ruins of the Great Zimbabwe.
The lodge allows each guest to explore the ancient ruins along with guides and experts in ruins who help you to uncover the beginnings, architecture, trading routes, social, religious practices and the reasons for the regions decline. A mesmerising experience!
2. Musangano Lodge
Up in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe lies the promise of tranquillity and breath-taking scenery. Musangano Lodge sits nestled amidst a tree-covered hillside and truly lives up to its name, ‘the place where people meet’. There’s a charm here which you won’t find in many other lodges, a charm found in the decorations, in the people and in every activity that you partake in. No matter if you stay in one of their five lodges, or smaller chalets, you can’t help but feel like you’re at home. The staff are warm and welcoming, greeting you as you sit down to eat at PaMuchakata restaurant, laughing with you when you partake in the activities and being ever efficient in catering for your needs.
This is a place for you or your family, and whether it’s walking along a marked nature trail, swimming with the kids in the pool, mountain biking, going on game drives, horseback riding or simply relaxing back at the lodge, you will feel the strong urge to never leave.
3. Rhino Safari Camp
Surrounded by the beautifully blue Lake Kariba that seems to stretch for miles, Rhino Safari Camp is a place where you can lose yourself. Or find yourself! Set in a remote location with vast green plains dotted with all kinds of game, one gets the feeling of being well and truly far away from the stresses of life. Unfenced and with a rustic design, each guest is brought into the heart of the African experience, and the staff help you along the journey with good service and a passion for the land and wildlife.
Some things to look forward to at Rhino Safari Camp are the sensational sunsets, game drives, game walks, fishing, swimming in Lake Kariba, hikes and boat cruises. For a chance to relax and let go, Rhino Safari Camp is well and truly your best remote location.
4. Chilo Gorge
Perched high on the cliffs of Gonarezhou National Park, Chilo Gorge sits on the “edge of serenity” and overlooks the abundance of life surrounding the Save River. Guests can experience this majestic view from their chalets of which each bed faces the outdoors making sure every morning warrants a warm ‘greeting’ from the lush vegetation and wildlife outside.
Guests can look forward to incredible game drives, game walks, the Chilojo cliffs, the Chivilila Falls and encounter the Shangaan way of life through village visits. For those who love knowing that they’re giving back to the environment, Chile Gorge is famous for its conservation efforts and community development. Clive Stockil, founder of Chilo Gorge, was awarded the Prince William award for Conservation in 2013 due to his First CAMPFIRE program (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indignenous Resources) which has subsequently spread across the globe. He is equally known for his efforts in community development and it is his name which sits behind the MaChangana Culture & Arts Festival.
5. Little Makalolo (Hwange)
Situated on its own private concession in Hwange National Park, little Makololo is a must for those who love glamping! Its 6 traditional-style tents provide a small, intimate vacation on a reserve renowned for its large open spaces for easy game viewing. Aside from the pristine bathrooms and wide bedrooms fit for a king, the activities are a major reason to stay at Little Makalolo.
There’s the morning walking safaris, village visits, log-pile hide which overlooks the waterhole in front of the camp (Perfect place for you to crawl into and get an up-close view of the wildlife), day and night game drives and the Romantic Star Bed which gives those in love the opportunity to see the clear starry night sky above the beautiful Madison Pan. For your intimate glamping experience, Little Makalolo is your next vacation.
6. Bumi Hills
Even though it sits on the edge of the Kariba dam, it can make you feel like you’re on an exotic island. Encircled by tropical trees and vegetation with path ways leading to untouched beaches and large buffet meals… It’s like a hint of the Caribbean with a twist; it’s surrounded by Africa’s Big 5. Its extensive wildlife is hard to avoid with multiple game viewing points, game drives, water cruises and guided walks. At your disposal are a number of fine facilities. There’s the famous infinity pool, the terrace bar, alfresco restaurant, residents’ lounge, games room and the Kukondwa spa. For those who feel active, there are cultural village tours, fishing and a host of other exciting activities.
Bumi Hills truly offers an incredible experience, and whether you’re sitting overlooking their famous infinity pool, or lying in your modern bedroom, or watching wildlife through one of their viewing decks, you’ll discover exactly what we mean.
7. Ruckomechi Camp
On the quiet banks of the Zambezi River, in the heart of the Mana Pools National Park lies the Ruckomechi Camp, one of the most romantic Zimbabwe lodges. With nothing but the bush as your next door neighbour, the noise of your normal busy life is replaced with the gentle symphony of African sounds. From over 380 different bird species, to elephant, hippo, buffalo, zebra, lion leopard, cheetah and hyena the sound plays like a lullaby so close to your permanent tent. Each tent overlooks the river and with the view from your double bed, you can choose to stay in for the day watching game with a rather impressive mini bar.
Though don’t stick too close to your room as a world of activities awaits you from birding, fishing, nature walks, river cruises, game drives and more. Ruckomechi Camp provides a great chance to unwind and with their approach to eco-tourism, you can rest even easier knowing that where you’re staying leaves an eco foot print.
8. Camp Amalinda
Centred in a land filled with rich mythical legends, Camp Amalinda brings you into the heart of the Matobo Hills by allowing you to sleep within her walls. What was once old bushman shelters has been transformed into luxury accommodation, with the décor mastered to induce the fantasy of living in a cave. The walls of each room are solid rock and the colour of the linen displays rich earthy tones finished with modern bedding and facilities.
Take a swim in a pool which overlooks a game filled waterhole, dine in an open dining area, track black and white rhino, go hiking, climbing or join the 3-day Mzilikazi Footprint tour and be blown away by the rich, colonial history of the Matobo Hills. For a surreal experience in the tranquil Matobo Hills, look no further than Camp Amalinda. Definitely one of the best Zimbabwe lodges.
9. Elephant’s Eye, Hwange Eco-lodge
There are few luxury lodges in Hwange that provide world-class service with a large range of activities and a passion for eco-tourism; Elephant’s Eye, Hwange is one of those few. Found 15km (9miles) away from Hwange National Park on its own private concession, you can relax to the sights and sounds of Africa. The lodge is built around a watering hole with every room looking onto the water so whether you’re eating 5 star food in the dining area or lying on your bed, you see game.
Apart from fantastic cuisine and views, you can go on game drives, game walks, visit the spa, visit a local homestead, enjoy local entertainment and do so with the peace of mind that you are staying in one of Zimbabwe’s greenest lodges. Every other lodge in this list has rave reviews with many people talking about how much they enjoyed the service and experience, but few of them are admonished with the words ‘My favourite place’ like Elephant’s Eye, Hwange. For some reason this place is more than a vacation for its guests, it truly means something to them, and for this reason it is one of our top lodges.
10. Singita Pamushana Lodge
Pamushana is one of our top 10 Zimbabwe lodges because it is more than a luxury lodge, to many it is a spiritual paradise which is why it is called the ‘Place of miracles’. It sits high up on a hill side, overlooking 150,000 acres of Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve which, amidst other wildlife, holds 14 species of eagle, the largest number of black rhino and endless amounts of baobab trees. Each bedroom and family suit is spacious, decorated with Shangaan tribal colours and art, filled with all the luxury amenities you can think of and a plunge pool outside.
If this isn’t enough, the villas come with everything the other rooms have and the added advantage of a private infinity pool. Each day hold activities such as sundowners, walking safaris, community visits, mountain biking, rock art site visits, fishing and sun downer cruises on the dam. With all the lodges we reviewed, we looked beyond the glamourous décor and furnishings to what people experience. Singita comes in top of its class as not only do you get to see extraordinary wildlife such as Black Rhino, but the design, service and list of activities have warranted a spiritual ‘nick name’ from its guests which few lodges have received. If you’re looking for a miraculous vacation, then continue reading about Singita Pamushana Lodge below.
BONUS OPTION: Lady Jacqueline Houseboat (Binga)
We added this one as one of our top 10 Zimbabwe lodges as it’s not really a lodge, but is known as a ‘floating hotel’ to those who frequent it. This 65 foot yacht comes with a Jacuzzi, a bar, sun bathing deck, a lounge with television and library and each room has an ensuite bathroom with all the furnishings of a hotel room.
Arguably the most attractive feature of the Lady Jacqueline is the wildlife encounter. Guests meander through the bays of the Lake Kariba in search of the perfect fishing spots. Along the way, guests get to see the wildlife from the decks and have the opportunity to board smaller tender boats for boat safaris, fishing and sunset cruises. Depending on the fish you catch, the world class chef aboard the yacht will cook it and serve it along with the feast that you encounter in the evenings. For an amazing few nights floating along the expansive Lake Kariba, book the lady Jacqueline.