In the late 70s and early 80s there used to be a Super Six Holiday special where one could fly with Air Zimbabwe from Harare to Hwange, Victoria Falls and Kariba spending two nights in each place. These trips were popular for both locals and tourists staying overnight at Hwange Safari Lodge, Kingdom Hotel and Caribbea Bay hotels respectively. The planes were always full and there was a party atmosphere every weekend.
Times and demand changed and, for one reason or another, Hwange fell out of favour.
Then two years ago, the Legacy Group of Hotels saw an opportunity to revive 5 leading hotels around the country. In their opinion Hwange Safari Lodge has a long dormant potential as a holiday destination. The Victoria Falls Airport has been upgraded and travelling by road is much more of pleasure now than in the past. The drive from Bulawayo is just 260km with verges thick with magnificent trees for most of the way.
I had the pleasure of spending a few nights at Hwange Safari Lodge recently and spent time chatting to the General Manager, Nigel Newmarche. He told me that their first priority, when they took over the management of the lodge two years ago, had been to rehabilitate those core issues, like generators and hot water geysers, that had needed urgent attention.
Food is always an important consideration in any resort and their new chef has given fresh impetus to the daily meals. Over the next year they will be upgrading the restaurant; all the bathrooms; and, the bedroom linen.
Hwange Safari Lodge is a large venue with 99 bedrooms and they are currently adding in a conference tent on the outskirts to cater for an anticipated increase in conferences over the next year or two.
All of the rooms look out over the waterhole at the front of the lodge with magnificent acacia trees dotted appropriately around the surrounding lawns. The well-known viewing platform is still there for visitors to relax with a cold drink to watch a wide variety of wild life drink their full as the sun goes down at the end of another glorious day in Africa. On my first evening I had the pleasure of viewing a large herd of Elephant meandering slowly in front of the long wooden fence that separates the Lodge grounds from the pan in front.
A large noticeboard in the foyer lists all of the wildlife seen by guests on each day of the current month.
They have recently purchased two new Landcruisers so that guests can be driven around the pan and into the nearby estate for either day or night viewing of game.
The Hwange National Park is just 13km away so I took a drive there on my last day to join friends for a compulsory Braai (barbeque) in the early evening. At about 9pm one of the guides gave us a call to say that there were two black maned lion lying just 10 metres off the side of the road near Hwange Safari Lodge. By the time we reached this spot 2 separate prides of lioness and young adult lion had taken up position in the centre of the road – 14 in total! So we waited and watched a very unusual, yet delightful,confrontation with lots of roaring and mock charges between the two groups.
Hwange Safari Lodge is an affordable alternative for people wanting to have a comfortable stay in an area of the country hosting a vast array of wild life “far from the madding crowd”.