Zimbabwe’s charm resonates from one side of the country to the other, its rich and varied landscapes irresistible to the safari aficionado. From the untamed terrain of Mana Pools, to the uncharted waters of Lake Kariba, with the gentle and cultural rock domes of the Matobo Hills and the abundance of wildlife in Hwange, Zimbabwe awaits with all her wild wonders.
A few of us decided to test the theory that one may satiate a myriad of travel appetites by exploring the country with Hideaways, each property offering its own particular personality. We had the time, the hunger for travel – and the inclination to take advantage of the amazing local rates for Zimbabwean residents.
Starting close to home, being Harare, we headed to Kariba Safari Lodge – driving down through the winding valley to a destination filled with nostalgia from childhood holidays – Lake Kariba. We decided to treat ourselves to two nights here – providing time to explore the town, visit the craft markets as well as sipping cocktails on a sunset cruise. And of course, lie by the pool and catch up on conversation while catching a tan. Kariba Safari Lodge is a treat and the perfect way to ease into a safari self-drive through Zimbabwe.
Next stop, Hwange National Park. Two nights at Elephant’s Eye, Hwange had us immersed in the wilderness, from the comfort of the lodge to game drives in the park. Elephants literally nonchalantly strolled onto the lawns as we ate lunch , drinking deeply from the swimming pool, relieving themselves from the African heat. Mouths and eyes open in awe, we sat, mesmerised. Our game drive had us driving through more herds of elephant, zebra, buffalo and the occasional giraffe – an amazing array of animals.
We spent the next day engaged in the community initiatives which Elephant’s Eye, Hwange, supports. Visiting the local village of Dete and meeting the entrepreneurial ladies of the village was a reminder of resilience and respect. From beads to cushions to clothes, these women had the monopoly of product for the area, as well as providing surrounding lodges with their wares. We sat and learnt how to make jewellery out of paper – although ours were a poor replica – an art which takes time to master.
Our next destination was a wild card. Having never been to Binga, we did not know what to expect – but were certainly up for the adventure. Heading off early with a packed lunch, we were excited to see what the open road held. A slow drive due to road maintenance had us truly observing our surroundings – multiple villages with smiling faces fringed the roadside. School had just been let out and we passed streams of students on their walk home, laughing and waving as we drove by. We felt we were experiencing a true reflection of Zimbabwe – beyond the lodge and within the rural areas, amongst the people.
…a pair of fish eagles flew past landing on a tree just below, their iconic call filling the sky.
Masumu River Lodge was a welcoming sight after a long drive. Lush green lawns and a warm family of staff were waiting to greet us, with fresh towels and cool drinks on offer. Guided to the viewing platform below the main area, we were met with delicious snacks to accompany our refreshments and the incredible view. A panoramic vista of Lake Kariba sat before us, silencing our chatter in all its wonder. And to top it off – a pair of fish eagles flew past landing on a tree just below, their iconic call filling the sky.
Siestas in refurbished rooms recharged our energy – now ready to go fishing! Fishing is the reason we had decided to explore Binga – being on the lake simply the best feeling in the world. Heading off late afternoon, cooler box filled with gin and tonic, our group simultaneously filled with determination – we set off to catch fish and chase sunsets. After an hour or two we most certainly caught the joy of gin, a satisfying amount of fish – and the most glorious sunset.
Masumu River Lodge was the perfect spot to relax – daydream towards the horizon, dip in the pool and throw a rod in the water – held by the theme tune of the fish eagle. After two days of complete relaxation, we were ready to head home – reliving the myriad of travel appetites we had satiated by exploring Zimbabwe with Hideaways.