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 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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 main Boma at Rhino Safari Camp is where all the delicious freshly prepared meals and snacks are served.
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.
Upstairs in the Boma
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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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