Little Makalolo contains just six tented chalets....
Little Makalolo Camp: Our full report
Overlooking a waterhole regularly frequented by elephant, Little Makalolo Camp sits in a teak forest in the eastern region of Hwange National Park. Not to be confused with its larger sister camp, Makalolo Plains; Little Makalolo enjoys a similarly remote location in the same private concession within the national park.
Little Makalolo contains just six tented chalets, which are connected to the main area of camp via wide, sandy elephant paths. Each chalet is a very airy, timber-framed structure with mesh windows that allow a breeze to flow through during the day and roll-down canvas flaps which shield against the cold, wind and rain when necessary. Each tented chalet contains a box-safe, a fan and a writing table which looks out onto the surrounding bush. A day bed also provides a great place to relax during the heat of the day and fresh drinking water is provided for guests on a table in their rooms. There is a paraffin lantern in each chalet which is lit by the staff as they turn down the beds each night; lighting at night comes from simple LED-style lamps with low-energy bulbs. A hot water bottle is provided for the cold winter nights.
Large double-doors at the front of each chalet open onto a veranda, a simple concrete continuation of the chalet floor which spreads out beyond the canvas boundaries of the chalet. It is shaded by a wooden slotted-frame ceiling with a canvas roof above. Two metal chairs give good views through a clearing towards the waterhole, and a tree stump serves as a novel table.
Each of Little Makalolo's chalets contains an en-suite bathroom complete with indoor hot and cold shower, his and hers copper washbasins and a flush toilet set in an adjoining cubicle with canvas walls. Each bathroom also has an outdoor shower with concrete floor and a vanity mirror, while the honeymoon chalet has the bonus of an outdoor bath.
Both the bathrooms and the chalets as a whole are simple but tastefully decorated with a variety of authentic wood and brass fittings adorning the walls and tables throughout. The concrete flooring helps to regulate the temperature of the chalets during the day while a good spread of rugs throughout adds warmth at night.
One really impressive feature that we noted on our last visit to Little Makalolo was the use of particularly modern and efficient solar panels. Each of the chalets has a modern unit which combines both thermal rods for heating water, and photo-voltaic cells for charging the chalet's electricity storage cells. Apart from the environmental benefits that this brings it also helps to enhance the aesthetic value of the camp, as it minimised the need for a noisy generator.
The main area at Little Makalolo contains the dining room and a tea and coffee station which guests can use throughout the day. There is a lounge area, too, furnished with comfortable seating and chairs, and containing a small library complete with magazines, books and board games.
In front of this main area, an outdoor firepit surrounded by chairs provides a real focal point for the camp, where guests can warm themselves with a hot drink around the fire first thing in the morning or perhaps with something stronger before and after dinner. Little Makalolo also has a small plunge pool and some deck chairs that provide a great place to cool off during the hot afternoon.
Activities offered from Little Makalolo Camp centre around 4WD game drives and, walking safaris. Game drives take place in the morning, beginning before sunrise, stopping for coffee at mid-morning and returning in time for brunch. A morning walk would depart at sunrise, normally driving out for about 15 minutes before getting out of the vehicle and walking for two to three hours and returning in time for brunch. Evening drives begin in the late afternoon and stop for sundowners before using a spotlight on the return leg to camp to try and seek out the nocturnal creatures that emerge at that time of night.
There are also many hides and waterholes in the Makalolo area, including a 'tree-house' hide above a waterhole at the front of Makalolo Plains Camp, enabling you to view the animals coming down to drink at the water's edge.
Most popular with guests is the 'log-pile' hide beside the waterhole in front of the camp. This can seat up to four people (including your guide) and allows you to get very close to the elephants without them knowing that you are there. When we last visited in August 2010, we were sprayed with mud by an elephant that was only a few metres away – very exciting!
About 90 minutes' drive from Little Makalolo, just outside the national park, is the small town of Ngamo where there are two community-run schools. The owners of Little Makalolo are heavily involved in community projects to try and improve the lives of the children in this area, illustrating the positive impact that tourist dollars are having on the people of Zimbabwe. Guests at the camp can visit the town and see some of these projects, which include a borehole to provide children and teachers with fresh drinking water, the re-thatching of school buildings, and the provision of basic first-aid kits and health care. Such visits are of course completely optional, but may provide an interesting and unique change of scenery for those who would normally see only the wildlife of Hwange, and little of the local people.
Our ViewLittle Makalolo does a great job of combining high standards of service with quality facilities; it's probably the most comfortable safari camp inside Hwange National Park. Its chalets have the canvas construction of a classic bush camp, yet the décor combines this with welcome contemporary features. The plunge pool and lounge area are great for relaxing and unwinding. Its activities are varied; with walking safaris, drives and different hides. Little Makalolo is in an excellent game area and has highly professional guides, so walking in this area is a highlight not to be missed.
Ideal length of stay: We would recommend Little Makalolo as a great place to spend 2 or 3 nights.
Directions: Travellers can reach Little Makalolo by road or air. The road transfer from Victoria Falls takes about 4 hours, which includes about two hours drive within the Park. Alternatively, light aircraft flights can land at Makalolo Airstrip followed by a short 4WD drive to camp.
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Little Makalolo is of a very good standard. Meals are generally served buffet style around a large communal table in the open-sided dining area.
An early morning continental breakfast is served around the campfire before setting off for your morning activity. When we visited in August 2010 we had a choice of cereals, toast cooked over the fire, and warm porridge, as well as tea and coffee.
For brunch, served after the morning activity, we had fish and chips with quiche and a selection of salads.
After a relaxing siesta high tea consists of both sweet and savoury snacks. When we were there we had a choice of freshly baked chocolate cake or little mini pizzas. In the summer months iced coffee or tea are served along with regular coffee and tea.
Dinner is served on return from your evening activity. Our menu was chicken cordon bleu with butternut squash and roast potatoes, followed by a deliciously gooey chocolate pudding.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Soft-drinks and wines, spirits and beers are included in the price. High-end liqueurs, champagne, imported wines (except most South African wines) and spirits are not.
Walking safaris: Little Makalolo's walking guides are fully qualified Zimbabwean professional guides. The exams for this qualification are tough, and the guides that qualify usually have excellent bush skills – and this knowledge is very noticeable and for informative on a walking safari.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zimbabwe
Wildlife safaris: The waterhole in front of Little Makalolo is a real focus for game, including elephants for much of the day and night. Away from camp, Makalolo's private area within Hwange has strong populations of big game – particularly buffalo and giraffe. Lion and leopard are seen regularly; cheetah are scarce but present; and there is a good population of wild dogs.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Zimbabwe
Attitude towards children: Little Makalolo does accept children
Equipment: The camp doesn't have any cots, high-chairs or special equipment for children.
Generally recommended for children: We don't recommend Little Makalolo Camp for children under the age of about 16. Activities for youngsters at the camp, between guided safari activities, are very limited.
Notes: This is an open safari camp and big game is likely to pass through; children must be supervised by a parent at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Communications: There's no cellphone reception at Makalolo, but the camp does have a satellite phone in case of emergency.
TV & radio: There are no radios or TVs here.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Some staff have a basic training in first aid; the nearest doctor is in Hwange Town or Victoria Falls and is accessed by air in an emergency.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are provided in each room and in various locations around the camp.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: There is a complimentary laundry service included – which usually takes 24 hours – although for cultural reasons, women's underwear isn't accepted. Washing powder is provided for guests who wish to wash these items themselves.