One of our staff members, Natasha Langley, recently visited Somalisa Camp and this is her first-hand account of her overnight stay. Thank you to Somalisa Camp and African Bush Camps for hosting her.
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest national park, best known for its abundance of wildlife, including the iconic Big 5 and endangered African wild dog. The area is great for walking safaris, big game, scenic game drives and many cultural experiences.
Hwange stretches over a variety of diverse landscapes, including forests and grasslands. Due to these diverse landscapes, the wildlife in Hwange is rich and varied. We definitely recommend extending for a safari in Zimbabwe pre or post a stay at the renowned Victoria Falls – one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
A transfer from Victoria Falls Airport to Hwange main camp takes approximately 2,5 hours by road transfer, where you will meet your guide and enjoy a lovely “game drive” through the park around 1,5 hours to the lodge. There are light aircraft flights from Victoria Falls to Somalisa Airstrip. Fastjet has introduced scheduled flights from Victoria Falls and Kariba to Hwange Main Airport.
Somalisa Camp is part of African Bush Camps and is located on a private concession.
The camp itself has a glamorously rustic and homely feel to it and it is unfenced. The property is shadowed by a canopy of Acacia Erioloba, a delicacy for elephants and at any time of day, these gentle giants can be seen moving quietly and peacefully through the camp with the occasional shake of a tree to harvest the seed pods. The other big attraction for the elephants is the permanent waterhole and the “elephant pool” at which you can sit all day and watch them come to drink, just a few meters in front of you.
Personally I could sit at the elephant pool all day and watch the elephants, it is absolutely life changing to be so close to these majestic beings, so close that you can count each eyelash.
When night falls the lodge takes on a whole new ambience. The fires are lit and the wooden pathways have a golden glow from the lanterns. The waiters offered us some fine wines and we spent the evening speaking with fellow adventurers about the day’s activities and highlights.
The main public areas have an indoor lounge with fireplace and outdoor seating as well as an infinity pool and small gift shop stocked with arts and crafts made from the surrounding local communities.
Somalisa is made up of three camps, Somalisa Camp, Somalisa Acacia and Somalisa Expeditions. I was lucky enough to stay overnight at Somalisa main camp.
Somalisa Camp, which is the main camp, is made up of 7 tents, each with its own private outdoor verandah and outdoor shower.
The bedroom has double or king size beds draped in a romantic net with a warm cozy fireplace perfect for those chilly winter evenings.
The en-suite spacious bathroom has a double-vanity, as well as a luxurious copper slipper bath and indoor shower.
The bathroom amenities include vanity kits, environmentally friendly shampoo, conditioner and body wash as well as insect repellent. There are comfortable fluffy bathrobes and slippers for use as well. Each room has its own mini bar which is stocked daily and you are able to request the beverage contents for your personal preference. Boiling water is delivered through a hatch for your early-morning beverage to be combined with an assortment of teas and coffees. A 5-star turn down service is provided in the evening, with a tray placed near the warm fire. There are also separate glass jars of snacks (mints, peanuts and chocolates) and vintage decanters filled with whiskey, gin and brandy. A special note is placed near your pillow sharing a traditional African story.
There are radios in all the tents as well as the alarm/ fog horns. The lodge offers no wifi or hairdryers. There are charging points at each side of the bed for phones and cameras.
Although I didn’t experience this – you can do a sleep out at Rays Pan. I was very happy to be able to visit the other sister lodge for a site visit – Somalisa Expeditions.
Children from 12 years of age are allowed at Somalisa Camp (main) and at Somalisa Acacia.
There is communal dining in the restaurant, with the option for private dining, should it be requested. They are known for their great steaks. You are accompanied by a guide from your rooms and back to your rooms, pre and post-dinner.
Breakfast was more basic than gourmet but something unique is cooking toast on the open fire pit.
There are endless activities on offer here. You are paired with your knowledgeable guide on arrival. Then your safari experiences can either be enjoyed on foot or in a vehicle. Your guide will also take you to the busy hide where you can watch the wildlife come to drink. At the end of the day’s game drive enjoy a true African sundowner with an ice-cold gin and tonic.
During my stay I was treated to some absolutely incredible wildlife sightings. Just before entering the park itself we sat for a while watching a pride of lions with their young cubs. Then we saw huge herds of elephants at each waterhole en-route and as we entered the Somalisa concession we saw a mother cheetah and her two cubs. All this on top of a huge variety of plains game, even before we arrived at the camp.
I do recommend a visit to the Painted Dog Conservation Center.
For cultural activities you can visit the rural schools in the area that African Bush Camps proudly supports.
Couples, small groups, and families as well as solo travelers. I would recommend Somalisa Acacia for families as it offers family accommodation and wonderful activities for children.
Simply the incredible wildlife experiences, particularly those with elephants and passionate staff and guides. The staff all show a genuine love for the area and the camp. Hwange is a beautiful destination and really does offer a 5* wildlife experience.
A special thank you to More our guide – who managed to show us a lovely cheetah family. Agania was just the most perfect host, plus Raphael and Claire are excellent managers. It was fantastic talking with Raphael on the morning of departure about all the fantastic work African Bush Camps does for the Park and surrounding communities.
Are you ready?