Want a peaceful, short break? Take a pleasant drive down the Shamva Road and two and a half hours later you will be at Hippo Pools Camp which lies in the Umfurudzi Park. The park which is 760 square kilometres in size is a joint venture between National Parks and Unifreight.
Nestled along the Mazoe River, on the eastern side of the Park, Hippo Pools Camp is funded by a trust whose main focus is the local communities and their education as well as the care and protection of the wildlife. The trust applies direct investment into education, healthcare, income-generating projects, skills training and wildlife conservation, benefiting approximately 6,000 people.
Over the past two and a half years, Hippo Pools has undergone a complete transformation. Having previously visited the camp in 2012, it’s hard to believe this is the same place. The old buildings have been razed to the ground and a beautiful camp has risen in their place. Walking into the main reception area, it’s immediately obvious that a lot of love has been put into the construction of it, from the careful layout to the pebbles artfully decorating the buildings.
Four accommodation options are available to suit all budgets. There are three beautifully appointed lodges which sleep four people in two bedrooms. The open-plan kitchen/living area has everything you would need to self-cater during your stay with all-new fridges and gas hobs, a lockable pantry (to deter the mischievous monkeys and bush babies) and drinking water.
A full-sized canvas safari tent is also available featuring one double bed, two bunk beds and en-suite bathroom, fridge/freezer, braai area.
Chalets are lovely with double beds for parents, bunk beds for the kids, en-suite bathroom, fridge/freezer, kitchen sink, crockery and cutlery and, again, the obligatory braai area
The camping sites are on beautifully-tended lawn under the trees, and have electric plug points, braai areas and brand new ablution blocks. The campsites are even serviced!
While staying at Hippo Pools, no matter the accommodation option you select, if you don’t feel the urge to cook, meals can be booked through the restaurant, and are beautifully prepared by Chef Jamie who had previously worked his magic at The Victoria Falls Hotel.
There are plenty of activities at Hippo Pools. We would highly recommended taking the kids on a guided game walk across the river while the animals are being fed. There are also horse rides available, you can hire bicycles for a ride through the bush or you can simply idle away the hours either fishing or canoeing. Our favourite activity by was doing a bird and tree walk with Tadious – make sure you don’t miss this!
If you need a break from the stresses and strains of Harare, go out to Hippo Pools. Not only will you be doing yourself a power of good, you will also be helping the local community. Go on – you won’t regret it.