Perched on a hill overlooking the magnificent Lake Kariba’s southern shores, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is the ideal combination of land-and-water-based activities.
Starting my journey at Cape Town International Airport, the direct flight to Harare International Airport takes only 3 hours and 10 minutes on Airlink’s exquisite Embraer 190. Waiting on the tarmac, the stunning new sunbird livery comes into view, setting Airlink apart in both looks and exceptional service from other airlines. With generous legroom, no middle seat, and a choice of aisle or window seat, passengers are in for a treat with delicious onboard snacks and a choice of beverages.
Forming part of the extraordinary African Bush Camps (ABC) portfolio, founder Beks Ndlovu has a passion for preserving remote lands, and with the addition of Bumi Hills Safari Lodge in 2018, guests can embark on game drives that include the wildlife-rich Kariba shoreline with one of ABC’s expert guides. Activities on Lake Kariba include fishing, sunset cruises, and guided stargazing. Viewing the sun rising from the edge of Lake Kariba is something that should definitely be experienced during a stay at Bumi Hills Safari Lodge.
Flying over the expanse of Lake Kariba to land at the lodge’s airstrip, the magnitude of the largest man-made lake in the world by volume is a sight to behold. As pilot Godfrey from Halsted Aviation Corporation steers the Safari Logistics Cessna 206 over the shimmering water, he does so with great expertise, landing safely at Bumi Hills airstrip.
Field guide Little Max collects me at the airstrip, and at the lodge, I am welcomed by host Sheckie in the comfortable lounge area. The dining area has incredible views over the water, and waiter Tabs is at hand to serve my beverage of choice and an enjoyable lunch, consisting of chicken kebab and salad.
Built in the early 1970s, the lodge needed a makeover, and given this project was multi-disciplinary design agency Fox Browne Creative, led by Debra Fox and Chris Browne. “The original Bumi Hills was built about five decades back as a cabana-style hotel,” Chris tells me. “Five years ago, we were tasked to integrate the two different architectural styles with bold interior design. We had to repurpose a lot of existing furniture! The hero of the main guest areas is the new bar, which has the most spectacular views.”
Removing all the old fussy 1970s finishes, the Fox Browne Creative team stripped them back to the simple plaster and timber finishes that are visible in the lodge today. Never one to shy away from a challenge, they succeeded in maximizing the views and light. Using a different shade other than the ‘safe’ color picks, the team chose a neutral palette of stone and charcoal that wouldn’t date. “Sometimes the waters of Lake Kariba have a grey shimmer, depending on the season,” Debra discloses.
Maximizing the views, they believe in ‘less is more’. Adding the new bar tent and extending the firepit deck to get guests as close to the vistas as possible really worked well. It also happens to be their favorite space at Bumi Hills Safari Lodge. “I love the tented bar space,” Chris admits. “It’s open, cool, breezy and it feels like you are floating above the lake.”
Staying in Room 8, my accommodation is luxurious, with a gorgeous freestanding bath and stunning views from my bed and private balcony. On the dining deck, Chef Chaita sees to everyone’s culinary delights. The pool seems to have a seamless connection with the lake, with elephants being regular sightings at the water’s edge.
What would a visit to a safari lodge be without a few game drives? Little Max rounds us up for the afternoon game drive, seeing what he is able to find out in the reserve. As he turns the corner, we see him fast asleep on the side of the road – the King of the Jungle, the most beautiful male lion. Patiently waiting for him to wake from his slumber, he does so eventually. “We call him Mambo, which means The King or The Chief in our native Shona language,” Little Max tells us. Mambo stretches, lifts up his head, and starts roaring, calling to the rest of his pride. As the sun starts setting, he gives a wide yawn, proclaiming that it’s time to get active, as that is what lions do between dusk and dawn.
For more information, or to book, visit www.africanbushcamps.com
*Views expressed are the author’s own.
How to Get There
Airlink is a privately-owned, independent premier regional airline offering the widest route network and connectivity to more than 45 destinations in 15 countries in Southern Africa. Experience More – https://www.flyairlink.com/profile/airlink-profile
With more than 60 regional jetliners in the fleet, Airlink has been ranked as South Africa’s most punctual airline, based on its 97% average on-time performance year to date. This is a clear indication of their determination and commitment to remain synonymous with customer centricity, punctuality, service excellence, and reliability.
Travelers can also enjoy the benefit of their intra-continental style business class service on select routes operating the magnificent Embraer E-190 / E-170 regional jets. Discover More – https://www.flyairlink.com/profile/airlink-profile#businessclass
How To Get There: Airlink operates direct flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Harare, Zimbabwe. https://www.flyairlink.com/destinations/flights-to-harare
Book direct on www.flyairlink.com, the FlyAirlink app, or your favorite Travel agent.