Despite the political situation in Zimbabwe, some small camps still operate…
Ivory Lodge: Our full report
Ivory Lodge is situated in the Sikumi Forest Reserve, a strip of protected land sandwiched between the main Vic Falls / Bulawayo road, and Hwange National Park. It’s probably the easiest to access by road of all of Hwange’s safari lodges. Ivory is a relatively small lodge, standing next to a large waterhole that, in season, attracts elephants in their hundreds. While this is a significant draw, the lodge focuses most of its activities on 4WD game drives into the nearby Hwange National Park.
Accommodation at Ivory Lodge consists of seven ‘tree houses’ and two ‘Presidential Elephant Suites’ (named after the famous ‘Presidential Herd’ of elephants that live in this area, and are said to come to quench their thirst here during the dry season.)
The tree houses are built high on stilts, with partially open sides that give views down over the waterhole. Simple but very comfortable, they have twin or double beds (with a mosquito net over each), a ceiling fan, a table and a couple of wooden chairs. There’s an en-suite bathroom up here, too, with a washbasin, large shower, toilet and a set of shelves for storage.
In similar style, the Presidential Elephant Suites are also elevated, designed to be at eye level with any large pachyderm visitors that may come into camp. Each has a double bed (with a mosquito net) facing towards the waterhole, as well as a balcony with the same view. Gauze windows allow a through breeze, and there’s also a fan. Each suite also has a balcony. In the en-suite bathroom, set behind the bedroom, a port-hole-sized window next to the bath has views over the surrounding bush and down towards the pan and waterhole. There’s also an indoor shower.
Ivory Lodge’s main area is a big thatched structure which houses the bar, dining table and reception. Sloping down towards the waterhole is an extensive waterhole, which incorporates a sunken firepit surrounded by camp chairs. Nearby, shaded by some trees, is a swimming pool, while further down, a viewing hide looks straight onto the pan. This is the venue for one of Ivory Lodge’s main attractions: elephant viewing. Hwange National Park is renowned for its huge old elephant bulls with magnificent tusks and at the right time of year, you might see herds of a hundred-strong coming down to drink. Look out, too, for smaller plains game and good birdlife at the pans.
Activities at Ivory Lodge include 4WD game drives in Hwange National Park, as well as night drives in Hwange Forest Reserve and walking safaris, all with professional guides. The game densities in the park are good, but note that the park is about 3–4km from Ivory Lodge by road. Thus game drives involve a drive through Hwange Forest Reserve before entering via the park at its main entrance, close to ‘Main Camp’ – where you are likely to see other people and vehicles. The good news is that the forest reserve does shelter some game, even if densities are lower than in most of the national park.
Our viewIvory Lodge makes a good stop between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls – and would make a convenient camp for settling into the bush after a long-haul flight. It can also be used as a safari destination in its own right, as a base for game viewing in Hwange, and it’s relatively inexpensive. However, if your budget is more flexible then we would suggest one of the better locations for game viewing in the more central areas of the park.
Ideal length of stay: 2-3 nights would be fine here – although it’d also be an economic lodge to spend longer if you just want to relax at camp and watch the waterhole.
Directions: The easiest way to access Ivory lodge is usually by road, although the lodge is very close to the main airstrip of Hwange National Park.
Owner: Amalinda Collection
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Ivory lodge was excellent. Visiting in 2011, we were only there for one night and on that night we had huge steaks with vegetables and gem squash. Chocolate Mousse for dessert.
Breakfast was a choice of cooked and continental breakfast. It was served by the chef personally rather than being a buffet.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: [Included] Soft drinks, bottled water, spirits, local beers and a selection of (generally) South African wines are included. Imported wines and spirits and champagne cost extra – and may even need to be requested in advance.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome but those travelling with children under 5 need to hire a private vehicle.
Generally recommended for children: Children are permitted but parents should be aware this is an area frequented by large and dangerous game.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Ivory Lodge has some reception for mobile phones, but it’s far from reliable.
TV & radio: None at the lodge.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Nearest doctor is in Hwange Town, about 10mins drive away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are positioned around camp and there is one in each room.
Disabled access: Not Possible