With the recent re-ignition of travel, our Elephant’s Eye, Hwange property has been a vibrant hub of activity. This equally refers to humans and wildlife, traffic of both moving through the lodge over the last few weeks. Calling on a dedicated and passionate member of our travel tribe, Hideaways welcomed Chantel to host and manage the lodge for a short relief stint during this busy time. In between preparation, guest liaison, staff management, hosting and entertaining, Chantel kindly allocated a moment to share some of her experiences with us.
Wildlife sightings have been prolific, the bush boasting an abundance of species in the seasonal shift between the rainy and dry seasons of Zimbabwe. Chantel and her guests have been blessed with consistent elephant sightings in and around the lodge, as well as leopard, lion, buffalo, giraffe and the rare and exciting sighting of a pair of secretary birds! Our resident pair of crowned cranes graced the lodge with their presence on a daily basis, as well as a visit from the colourful mayor’s parrot, a family of warthog and even an appearance of the handsome sable family. With the surrounding bush still lush and nutritious from the rains, as well as a pan and swimming pool filled with water, the lodge is irresistible to wildlife!
“Sometimes places completely live up to their name. One such place is on the border of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. I have been here now for 5 weeks and I am having an amazing time. I am the relief manager and am getting very sad as my time here at Elephant’s Eye, Hwange comes close to the end.
As a professional tour guide before Covid hit, I had the privilege of bringing groups of guests here. We would spend three nights and partake in the game drives and community activities in the area. I was therefore very familiar with the lodge before arrival. I knew most of the staff as well and that has certainly made my time here a real pleasure.
The best part of my visit has been the constant flow of elephants in camp. They love drinking from our pool and making a big mess of it. They roam on our paths to the rooms, drink from the pan and munch on the pods fallen from nearby albida trees. Each morning there is a moment of anticipation when I look around for signs of their nightly visits. Occasionally, they come to drink at the pool while guests are having dinner. That is a truly great experience for our visitors and I am thankful every time this happens.
We experience the most beautiful sunsets from the lodge, seen from the main area as well as each private balcony in the chalets. I have made it a habit to make sure I watch it every day. This time of day offers peace and quiet, almost like a promise before nightfall. The birds are singing and drinking at our waterhole and the impala often come by to quench their thirst. A small herd of sable antelope has been gracing us with their presence late at night to drink from the pan.
There is a definite rhythm to Elephant’s Eye, Hwange. A frenzy of activity and preparations before a new group of guests arrive has the staff buzzing around the grounds. Planning and shopping and rooms checks and maintenance work fill the hours between arrivals and departures. This is followed by a lull of quiet, daily tasks when we have no guests in camp, a moment to breathe and appreciate the silence of the wild before the next check-in ensues.
There is a shift in the weather and today is colder than yesterday. I can feel the change in the air as we move into the dry season. We have even had a few great thunderstorms, late for this time of year, but always a treat to witness.
As I get ready to leave and return to tour guiding, I sit and look at the sunset, knowing that when I go I will leave a small part of me in Hwange National Park, just a glimmer remaining in the eye of the elephant.”