There are many unique aspects about Nantwich Lodge, Hwange, Zimbabwe. Reclaimed from a bygone era – refurbed and designed with the intention of re-purposing and upcycling, it boasts its own character from first sight. As a travel consultant having heard about Nantwich many a time, my family and I were lucky enough to travel there this past December, a true delight after a year of no travel.
Leaving Bulawayo just before dawn, we set off towards Hwange National Park, chasing the sunrise. The drive has always been one of my favourites, as is a road trip – traditional in our family around Christmas time. Packed with picnic and playlist, time passed with familiar comfort of Zimbabwean scenery of small towns and scattered livestock. Anticipating to arrive around lunchtime, with an estimated five hour journey, excitement grew with anticipation for a delicious lodge lunch.
“As it was green season, the bush was lush and the flame lilies were breathtaking.”
Arriving at the desired time to the desired meal, all appetites satiated, we took a moment for the view. As it was green season, the bush was lush and the flame lilies were breathtaking. Being Zimbabwean, we stood in patriotic awe (the flame lilly being our national flower) and held a silence in appreciation of our beautiful country, and gratitude to be able to explore it once again.
“We vowed to have the gin bar follow us around the park, declaring love for the concept, Neyllie, and of course, Hwange National Park.”
We continued to ride the wave of celebration with a fun and interactive gin session, led by the charismatic Neyllie. A gorgeous mobile gin bar had been set up in the lodge grounds, an initiative created by Neyllie herself, donned with a variety of delicious ingredients, of which we tried and tasted all. We vowed to have the gin bar follow us around the park, declaring love for the concept, Neyllie, and of course, Hwange National Park. What we didn’t realise was there were many more interactive encounters with various staff to keep us busy throughout our stay, a quirky and holistic characteristic of the lodge.
Settling into our rooms with gin eyes, we marvelled at the décor. Built from the foundations of an old Zimparks outpost, and using as many eco principles as possible, the refurbished lodge embodies the very essence of conservation and responsible tourism by re-purposing, preserving and celebrating the natural heritage of the site. An antiquated sewing machine held our morning beverages, and an outdoor bath with old industrial taps mustered even more enthusiasm. Bliss!
“With Hwange to one side and Matetsi National Park to the other, Nantwich does feel like the pearl in the centre, flanked by two incredible wildlife areas.”
Hwange National Park had received a lot of rain and was bursting with flora, green as far the eye could see from the lodge. With Hwange to one side and Matetsi National Park to the other, Nantwich does feel like the pearl in the centre, flanked by two incredible wildlife areas. We spent most of our days relaxing and taking in the scenery, satisfied with the animals that gifted us their presence. Four days passed in a blur of contentment, time shared with family immersed in nature – the gift of presence for the year’s end.
Natasha Bentley, Zimbabwe