8 March 2018

The wonderful world of Lake Kariba

Early Friday morning I was packed and ready to board my flight from Cape Town to Harare via Johannesburg. By the afternoon, after connecting with a charter flight to the Bumi Hills private airstrip, I’d met the friends I was travelling with en route and we were welcomed by the team of staff with the biggest smiles, the loudest voices celebrating our arrival and the beat of the Tsonga drums washing away the day of travels. 

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is located on a private concession, an extensive wildlife conservation area, bordering the north east of the Matusadona National Park in northern Zimbabwe.

The entrance is a serious wow factor – the oversized doorway leads you to the iconic infinity pool terrace showcasing the spectacular views over Lake Kariba and onto the Zambezi escarpment in the background. It’s simply indescribable. My whole body was mesmerized by the sheer volume of space in front of me.

                         

It’s the time of year one can watch the most beautiful thunderstorms roll across the sky, especially from the vantage point Bumi Hills has. The thunderstorms are all of thirty minutes to an hour before they’ve moved on, and with this rain, the bush is the greenest you’ll ever see. It’s commonly referred to as the ‘Emerald season’, and for good reason. Every shade of green you can imagine creates the landscape of the sparkling bush.

The weekend was spent getting out on foot, meandering across ancient baobabs, checking out an active termite mound twice my height and listening to the summer migrant bird calls and the snorts of the hippos in the distance. Plenty hours were spent fishing on the lake – Tiger (catch and release), Bream and even catfish were great hits. Game drives showcased the abundant plains game, which include impala and kudu, water buck, buffalo and we tracked a female lion with her three sub-adult cubs on the hunt. A leopard and a clan of four hyenas were spotted one evening on the drive back to the lodge! All of this was rounded off with a stunning sunset boat cruise.

We were spoiled to a ‘beach’ picnic on one of the islands for lunch on Saturday – a short boat ride, watching the elephants on the banks of the mainland, took us to red sand banks with a lush green background, picnic blankets, pillows, camping chairs, Dixon’s gin cocktails and a delicious lunch. The epitome of barefoot luxury.

               

That same evening, we ventured out onto the floodplains at sunset and were completely surrounded in a hive of activity – plains game, zebra, a herd of 30-something elephants and even a hippo grazing, getting just that little bit too close to a protective mother elephant. Our detour home led us to a beautiful bonfire in the middle of a clearing, and dinner set up under the stars, surrounded by the silhouettes of the last of the elephants about 50 metres away.

The experience at Bumi Hills is completely paired down, and brings you back to the natural world surrounding you. It’s a haven of tranquility, a place for water-lovers and wildlife explorers. The lodge and rooms have all the creature comforts one could ask for – There are plenty lounges to hideaway, a pool table for those games evenings, beautiful day beds around the pool, a firepit deck area and additional lounge areas with full bar overlooking the lake. Each room extends to a private deck with views as far as the eye can see and are fully fitted with indoor and outdoor shower, oversized bathtub and plush bedding.

The lodge was recently brought into the African Bush Camps fold and has just been re-opened after extensive renovations. I’m very excited about this new venture of theirs – Bumi Hills is a great addition to an already thrilling collection of properties in Zimbabwe and Botswana.


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