by ELOISE VAN DEN BERG
Magical Mana Pools
The first sight from the air of the mighty Zambezi River took my breath away! This vast expanse of rich green, blue and golden hues greeted us just before sunset. My heart was captured. We had sundowners on the banks of the river and took photographs that looked like they were photoshopped with green screens! No filters needed. Add the sounds of birds chirping and the occasional hippo grunt, and you have a scene that would be the envy of any movie director.
The wonderful camp staff warmly greeted us, and it didn’t take us very long to feel like we were visiting old friends while enjoying our first night of campfire chats.
Nyamatusi camp has a rustic, unpretentious feel and seems to blend into the surroundings seamlessly, offering a natural elegance that respects nature and allows you to be a part of it. For example, the hippos will act as your alarm, waking you, and your senses, in the most beautiful way!
We also had a chance to view Kanga Camp, which is situated inland from the river. It is a unique and secluded camp with an intimate feeling to it and a beautiful lunch at the edge of the water on the newly refurbished deck was indeed a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.
On our second evening, we got a surprise dinner on the banks of the Zambezi – an outdoor barbeque feast, complete with a bush bar and another stunning sunset backdrop. It just keeps getting better!
Mana Pools sent us off with a stunning encounter with some lion cubs and two male lions, one being a rather vocal fellow, gave us a proper send-off.
Breath-taking Bumi Hills
Another breath–taking arrival welcomed us with the spectacular view of the expansive Lake Kariba. Bumi Hills feels like a combination of a safari and an island getaway! The amazing rim-flow pool is so inviting, and the view of the Lake and the elephants grazing on the shores is surreal! Bumi has so much to offer that it can easily be a stand-alone holiday destination. However, in our itinerary, it provided the perfect luxury chill-out break from the raw bush experience.
We spent the afternoon fishing on the Lake next to the hippos, crocs and the ellies on the beach and enjoyed a magical sunset cruise – the stuff that dreams are made of!
The food at Bumi Hills was scrumptious and, combined with the setting, we had happy hearts and tummies!
Apart from the luxury, you also get to experience the wildlife safari experience. With the golden backdrop of yet another romantic sunset, we spent the last evening’s sundowners on the plains surrounded by hippos, buffalo, ellies, impala and fantastic birdlife. Then, as we were headed back to camp in the darkness, we spotted a pair of eyes… A leopard was on the hunt, and we were fortunate enough to catch a quick glance!
Hwange feels like the heart of Zimbabwe, and now it has my heart! I was mesmerised from the minute we arrived, the slow drive on the vehicle through that spectacular vegetation, I felt so much love for this place that I saw hearts everywhere!
We did a coffee stop on our way to the camp at Ray’s Pan, which is the location of our new Somalisa sleepout. As if they had been expecting their audience, the elephants started arriving one by one to give us the most captivating welcome show, complete with babies frolicking in the mud.
This amazing spectacle set the tone for our awe-struck stay at Somalisa Camp. The excitement was palpable when we arrived at the camp, and the fantastic welcome was what I’m sure celebrities must feel when they walk the red carpet. I could hardly contain myself after dreaming about being there for more than a year, and I just had to join in with the joyous dancing!
Somalisa Camp is our original property, and a realisation of Beks’ long-time dream –reminding me once again of what a visionary he was. At Somalisa it feels like you’re living with elephants. They casually stroll around camp. It is a pretty surreal African Bush safari experience.
You can teach hospitality, but warmth, passion and a way of interacting with guests to make them feel so genuinely special is something that our ABC staff across all the camps have somehow mastered. It goes beyond tending to guests’ needs – it is about delivering so much more and doing it in a way that is as natural as the beautiful surroundings.
We soon discovered and experienced “The ABC way” for ourselves. It’s all about surprising the guests in unexpected ways that make the time at our camps memorable and truly sets us apart.