The lodge, under a full African night sky.

Staying at Rhino Safari Camp, Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

In Africa, En-Route, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel, Zimbabwe by Janis4 Comments

A rustic luxury escape from life as you know it…

When you visit Rhino Safari Camp on the remote outcrop of Elephant Point in Lake Kariba, the enjoyment starts when you jump on the speedboat to reach the lodge.
The two-storey boma, an open-air gathering place with a thatched room. The Boma is free standing in a small clearing in a wooded area.

The Boma at Rhino Safari Camp

The hour journey from Kariba harbour cruising across the lake with the wind in your hair, leaving normality behind you, truly makes you feel like you’re escaping to somewhere special and we were.

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A small man-made harbour with a single powerboat returning. Also moored up are several larger houseboats used for cruising the lake.
Marineland Harbour just outside of Kariba

Arriving at the lodge

As we slowed nearing the camp, Pearson the skipper pointed out to us the remote stilted wooden cabins that would be our home for the next four nights.

This was going to be fun, and as we disembarked around the bay, we could see hippo and elephant on the shoreline. There was nothing I could do to stop myself from smiling, I love Zimbabwe!!!!

The view from our speedboat as were hurtle across Lake Kariba towards Rhino Safari Camp
Making our way to camp
Rhino Safari Camp in Matusadona National Park is a small luxury rustic safari lodge run by Jenny and Karl. They were both there to greet us when we arrived, along with other members of their friendly and welcoming team. 

Fancy heading to Lake Kariba...

… for an unforgettable experience?

Lake Kariba is around 356km (221 miles) from Harare, at present there are no scheduled commercial flights, so your best option is to drive. Allow 5 to 6 hours for your journey, the roads are tarmac, however, can be slightly hectic at times. But don't let this put you off Lake Kariba is a magical experience.

There are also two tolls en-route which are two Zimbabwe Bond each.

House Rules

So, with a glass of refreshing iced-tea, Karl talked us through all the do’s and don’ts. Where life in the remote Zimbabwean landscape on the shores of Lake Kariba, wildlife roams freely around the unfenced camp.
A small stone-lined pond at the camp at sunrise.
Pond within Rhino Safari Camp

Obviously, some of the camp rules go without saying; however, it’s always good to be reminded. One of the most important things to remember is, do not attempt to walk back to your cabin after dark without an accompanying guide.

Rhino Safari Camp is right on the edge of Matusadona National Park, and you have chosen to share your living accommodation with African wildlife. So, you must ensure you are escorted back when night falls, and the resident wildlife awakens.

The silhouette of an elephant against a sunset background of Lake Kariba.
When night falls
Although, it soon hits home to you when you wander to your lodge in daylight and see the outline of recent elephant and hippo tracks by your door, “This is Africa”.

Don’t Forget!

This may sound obvious, but ensure you apply sun cream, wear a hat and don’t forget your camera and binoculars.

A little bit of luxury, I know, but we use Swarovski CL Pocket 8x25 Binoculars, and they are incredible.

Idyllic peaceful surroundings

The camp is incredible, the seven individual thatch stilted cabins are very secluded, offering a charming blend of comfort and wilderness in one. 
The windlowess interior of the lodge under a thatched roof with a view over Lake Kariba

You would not tire of this view, would you?

The bedroom overlooks the breath-taking landscape of Lake Kariba and with no windows to hamper the far-reaching view that only a handful of people are sharing, it feels truly special.
The outside view of our wooden lodge with its thatched roof raised off the ground to allow the wildlife to move freely through the camp.

Our lodge - no.5

Enjoy the moment

The African breeze fans past your face and in my opinion, there can’t be too many more magnificent vistas to wake up to than the view across Lake Kariba.  I awoke very early one morning to see a hyena strolling by in front of us, which is a little unusual; however, it isn’t uncommon to see an elephant sauntering by in the distance when the sun rose at around 5:30am.
The sunrise across the lake from the lounge area of our lodge.
Morning view from our lodge
Within the cabin, all the furniture is wooden, giving it a very natural feel. You also have a mosquito net; however, with the lovely breeze that wafts by overnight, the little insects tend to be elusive. 
The dressing table in our lodge with a reflection in the mirror of the lake view.
Dressing table in our lodge
The bathroom is also open air, but it is amazing, you don’t feel overlooked and it actually feels quite liberating having a shower with the sky stretched out above you. It was pretty good too; the water is heated by a charcoal burner for each individual lodge. 
The open air wash stand in our lodge with a soap dish in the foreground.
Bathroom in the lodge
There isn’t any electricity in your cabins, although the main reception area does have electrical points, everything is run off solar panels. Forget your hairdryer and straighteners, you’ll be going for the natural look.

A handy travel device

We took a small solar panel with us, which we used to charge our battery packs, phones and tablets.

The Boma

The main Boma at Rhino Safari Camp is where all the delicious freshly prepared meals and snacks are served. 
The view of the dining table on the lower level of the boma.
Getting ready for breakfast in the Boma
I find it incredible that such fantastic food is created in such simple surroundings. You were offered three meals a day along with cakes and snacks, which could be enjoyed when you are not out having fun on a safari drive.
The upper deck of the boma, which is a communal lounge area.
Upstairs in the Boma

New to Africa?

We have a couple of posts that may help you answer some of your questions - 'Preparing for your African Safari' & 'An African safari, 11 things to know, before you go'.

Hopefully, you'll find these helpful, or you can always as a question below if you want?

When evening falls

Your meals are served at very informal communal tables, and of an evening once you have enjoyed a relaxing drink and a chat around the night fire, a delicious three-course supper is also appreciated together.
A small group sitting around an open-air fire pit, with a roaring fire.
Gathered around the fire
Upstairs in the Boma is a comfortable seating area where you can soak up the views across the lake or just enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

A helpful guide

If you're considering an adventure around Zimbabwe, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.

Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.

The choice is yours

Rhino Safari Camp offers some wonderful outdoor activities, in both the morning and afternoon. You have the choice of a safari drive or a bush walk, a lake cruise or even try your hand at fishing.
The view from the second row of the safari truck over the heads of our guide as we head out on morning safari.
Heading out on the truck

For the morning activities, you are given a 6am call, and you should be ready to be heading out on your chosen safari around 6:30 to 6:45am. For your evening adventure, you are required to prepared by 4pm, I was always ready early as I couldn’t wait.

All the activities are highly personalised, and as the camp is quite small, you feel like every experience is just for you.

Tettindra, our guide, leading the group through a dry river bed.
Tettindra guiding us through the dry riverbed

You never know what’s lies ahead

I cannot convey highly enough how much fun all these safaris are. On one of our game drives we saw a cheetah, which is very rare and, on our bush, walk we even got to see a lion, a herd of buffalo and hippo. These are all very professionally run, and you should not feel apprehensive at all.
Sunset reflected in the wake of the boat as we return to the camp.
Sunset off the back of the powerboat
One of my most memorable experiences of my whole tour of Zimbabwe was our evening sundown cruise when we sat watching the sun go down across the lake with a pod of hippo looking on. It was magic.

A lesson learnt

It was about 3:30pm, and I was putting on my sun cream for our 4pm collection by Mark (our guide), when I heard a rumbling noise not too far away from our cabin. Gary didn’t hear it so after a quick look around, I carried on. Then it happened again, and this time, Gary heard it.  I didn’t know what it was, but it sounded close.

Gary was poised with his camera; we were looking around the lodge from the safety of the cabin as it looked down on most things. Suddenly we heard a rustle and could see movement in the trees next to us. As we took a closer look, we could see the glimpse of white, and it was an elephant’s tusks and boy it was large, it was a bull elephant.

An elephant walking through the camp right outside our lodge.
Elephant walking through the camp

This doesn’t happen every day

Gary and I watched in disbelief as it was stripping the leaves off the trees next to us. The elephant didn’t even realise we were there. We then heard further rustling and could tell that there were even more out there.

From our brief, when we arrived, we were told not to leave the lodge if we could see any large animals. We were certainly going to adhere to that. The elephant were coming from the direction of the main lodge, so we were hoping the guides had seen them. Or at least start knocking for us if we didn’t turn up.

A close-up head shot of an elephant taken from the lodge.
Nearly touching distance

This was a bit of an adrenaline rush; we were indeed in the midst of the African world.

I looked down the end of the path and could see Mark slowly coming towards us, and also Tettindra was calling to check up on us. The big bull elephant had moved further along; however, there were still a few around. Mark escorted us out to the front of the lodge, and we headed back that way.

It wasn’t until we passed the other lodges that we realised some of the other people were still unable to leave their cabin, as a few more elephant was munching just by their cabin entrance. Slowly but surely, they moved on, and we all got to the main lodge and relived our little adventure.

Is Zimbabwe for you?

Start creating your own adventure and visit the enchanting landscape for yourself.

We chose British Airways, and it was all done with a few clicks, a brief stopover in Johannesburg, and our luggage was there waiting for us on arrival at our end destination in Harare.

Search for your flights in one easy place with and open up a world of options. Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.

Incredible night sky

As you can imagine, the night skies over Lake Kariba are magnificent, as the light pollution, there is almost non-existent. On one of the evenings, we decided to head out with our camera to photograph the Galaxy.
The lodge, under a full African night sky.
The night sky

Obviously, we couldn’t go out on our own, so Karl and Mark chaperoned us back to our lodge to help us create the night sky photo. Just with the naked eye, it is incredible what you can see, in the short time we were standing there, we witnessed three shooting stars.

We also learnt how to spot the Southern Cross and how you can establish where south is.

Don’t take it for granted

Some days you’ll see a rare sight and some days maybe not, but hey that’s the fun of a game drive you never know what you’re going to see.

Returning back to Kariba

Keep in mind that you may not be able to return back to Kariba at a specific time.  The Lake Kariba can be quite choppy at times, and the winds need to have dropped before Pearson can take you on your one-hour return journey back to Kariba.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Inspired to visit Rhino Safari Camp?

I assure you won’t regret it, it’s a once in a lifetime experience, you’ll be longing to repeat. 
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  1. Ah, you’ve got me excited for our next safari, which is my favourite type of holiday. The rhino camp sounds and looks fantastic. Definitely adding this to the list.

    1. Author

      Thanks Paul, it is such a wonderful place. I must admit, a safari probably is one of my favourites too, do you have another planned yet?

  2. Friends speak very highly of the Lake Kariba region of Zimbabwe. I’ve travelled extensively in the country but it’s part I still want to visit…all the more now!

    1. Author

      Lake Kariba is incredible, you really feel like you’ve left the world behind. We were in Zimbabwe for a family wedding and thought we’d stay for 3 weeks and travel around the country. Other than flying to Vic Falls and Hwange we drove to Bulawayo/Matobo and Lake Kariba.

      We’d visited Zimbabwe 20 years ago to see the family, so some things have changed and obviously other haven’t.

      It’s a beautiful country with such welcoming people, which area do you recommend?

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