The savannah of Zimbabwe is legendary for its idyllic open spaces
The savannah of Zimbabwe is legendary for its idyllic open spaces. The wild animals that freely roam around would have only ever before been seen in a zoo. It is a destination on many people’s bucket list and is something once experienced, will never been forgotten. As such, here is a run down of some of the ways that we, at My Destination Zimbabwe, enjoyed it in style and the views that made our trip...
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We started our journey flying over the Zimbabwean grasslands in a small plane operated by Solenta Aviation. It was a short flight, which would usually take about 45 minutes to reach Bumi, our first destination. However, ours was slightly longer as we did have to take a quick detour to pick up some more passengers in camps along the Zambezi River (we didn’t really complain much, as it was a beautiful part of the country to see). The pilot and co-pilots Kristen, Cody and Kevin were very professional, and always made sure we were comfortable and had enough refreshments.
When we arrived at Bumi we were welcomed on the airstrip by the people at Bumi Hills Safari Lodge and in a few minutes we were outside our hotel, high on a hill overlooking Lake Kariba.
Our room was beautiful; our own private balcony looked right onto the lake and around this elephants and bucks were grazing. The resort was managed by Nick, Justine and Denise, who always made sure we were extremely spoilt; the food was superb as was the service. Dean, the professional guide, was on hand to offer safari drives, walks, and fishing trips to anyone who wanted them.
The best part however, had to be the spa with spectacular views all over the bush and lake, with a number of different beauty treatments on offer.
From Bumi Hills we took a two-hour flight to Victoria Falls, and to our first hotel of two, Ilala Lodge. Cabs from the airport were readily available and cost us $30 to Ilala Lodge, which was perfectly positioned in the town centre, and only a short walk to the mighty Victoria Falls. Our stay here was comfortable, and an extra bonus was that our room had sliding doors that opened out onto the garden, which had warthog and baboons wondering about in it.
The next day we moved to the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, and although it is only a ten-minute drive out of town, we really felt like we were out in the bush. The view was commanded by a waterhole where game like buffalo, elephant, and buck came to graze and drink. Of course, there were many viewing platforms throughout the lodge where we could watch this spectacular view.
We received a very warm welcome; the hotel had a busy atmosphere and the manager, Jono Hudson, looked after us well. Our room was comfortable and clean and like the other hotels we had our own balcony that overlooked the waterhole and the pristine bush below (who wouldn’t want to show that view off?).
We thoroughly enjoyed relaxing at this hotel; you could sit in any part of it, the pool deck, viewing platforms in the bar or restaurant, and at all times enjoy the magnificent views. The in-house Makuwa-Kuwa Restaurant served us delicious food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Although we didn’t sample them, the Lokathula lodges were also available if you wanted a self-catering option. There were a number of two or three bedroomed lodges all of which had a lounge, kitchen and braai (BBQ) areas and warthogs and buck roam around these areas too. If you stay in the lodges you can also make use of the main hotel facilities, although the lodges do have their own pool and bar area.
To round off our luxury Zimbabwe experience, we went for dinner at the Boma Restaurant, which was also part of the resort. We were collected by mini bus from outside the hotel and on arrival at the restaurant, were given a traditional African wrap to wear and had our faces painted. At our table we were served with the traditional beer (Chibuku) in a tin cup, and snacks of nemo beans and monkey nuts.
The dinner was buffet style, which had a wide selection of food: for starters, fish, salad and crocodile. For the main course steaks, lamb on the spit, warthog, mopani worms (they taste like chicken of course), kapenta (a type of African sardine), sadza (a type of corn meal), rice and a variety of vegetable dishes. There were also a variety of desserts.
At the restaurant there was also a resident fortune-teller and a hair braider. Throughout the evening we were entertained by African dancers and singers, and could also join in beating an African drum, which was great fun. The cost was $50 and booking was essential.
Wherever we went the unspoilt beauty of the Zimbabwean bush did not disappoint and experiencing it all in absolute luxury was an unforgettable treat. It was truly a magnificent experience and one we’ll remember forever.