Renowned safari journalist and expert Lisa Grainger recommends her favourite African camps, from savannahs teeming with Big Five, to star-lit desert wildernesses.
Recommended place to stay:
Singita Pamushana Lodge
Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe|singita.com|
Official star rating:
Singita Pamushana is by far the most luxurious bush lodge in Zimbabwe. Atop of a rocky sandstone ridge, overlooking miles of wilderness, with gardens behind that attract stunning birds, it’s a little Eden. The views make your heart sing, particularly of the setting sun over a vast African panorama and the Malilangwe Dam.
Within the 130,000 acres are just two camps, so it feels really wild, its kopjes and grasslands teeming with game. Lions are wild, elephant herds huge, rhinos are in their natural environment – it feels raw, and very beautiful. You’ll see both white and black rhino, as well as rare Roan antelope and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, due to the extensive conservation and regeneration efforts of The Malilangwe Trust over many years. Few people visit this area, so you’ll have most of this vast, untouched wilderness to yourself.
The Lodge’s eight elegant suites – all with private plunge pools – draw inspiration from the rich tribal history of ancient Zimbabwe. It’s a soothing and inspiring safari – with comfort, intuitive ease and a complete sense of freedom. There is also a five-bedroom exclusive-use villa (Malilangwe House), perfect for groups of different ages.
As well as having treats such as a big games room, a pool with incredible views, and distinctly Zimbabwean-inspired interiors; the organic-shaped buildings of Singita Pamushana Lodge are reminiscent of Great Zimbabwe. Detailed stonework lay the foundation for bold interiors. The camp has enthusiastic staff – and world-class guides.
Private hire means you can organise night drives or dawn yoga as and when you fancy. A starlight dinner here is a must – miles from light pollution, the Milky Way here seems astonishingly clear-cut.
You can visit a nearby community to learn more about this ancient culture. More than 100 rock art sites exist, with San paintings dating back hundreds of years.
Fishing, or a gentle sundowner boat ride, is the ideal way to experience the shimmering expanse of the Malilangwe Dam, peacefully viewing game and birdlife.
All of its well-trained guides are local Zimbabweans. The Malilangwe Trust has inspiring conservation and community programmes, help them to grow food, suppy environmental education and feeding schemes, to cut down on poaching.
The Trust has created harmony between conservation initiatives and community development in villages that neighbour wildlife, ensuring a sanctuary for a wide range of wildlife. An onsite Environmental Education Centre for school teachers and children allows them to immerse themselves in Outdoor Education. Currently more than20,000 children a day are fed by the Malilangwe Trust, which also pays for a nurse and boreholes.
The guides have stayed through bad times in Zimbabwe to protect this wildlife reserve, so know the landscape and wildlife intimately. They are among the most passionate and committed on the continent.
Taking the kids
Children are invited to join their parents on game drives, bush walks and biking at the discretion of the guide. The Mini Rangers’ Course is specially designed for young explorers, with activities including tracking animals, butterfly capture and release, cosmic safaris and learning bush survival techniques. A certificate is awarded upon its completion.
The house is a five-hour drive from Harare (not recommended), or a 40-minute flight. Or fly from Johannesburg to Buffalo Range (40 minutes’ drive away).
Food & drink
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