Makalolo Plains Camp sits nestled amongst the tree line overlooking a pan in eastern Hwange NP.
Makalolo Plains Camp: Our full report
Makalolo Plains Camp sits nestled amongst the tree line overlooking the Somavundla Pan in a remote eastern area of Hwange National Park. This position, between the mopane forest and the water hole, coupled with the area's naturally high levels of biodiversity makes Makalolo Plains Camp a great place to view game. The elephant sightings at Makalolo are particularly good and on our last visit a member of the Expert Africa team had a very close-encounter with a young male not far from camp.
Makalolo Plains Camp is entirely elevated with the main communal area, guest accommodation and walkways all raised to about two meters off of the ground - this provides guests with added security at night as wildlife frequently passes through the camp.
Accommodation consists of nine tented chalets which are comfortable and functional; each has plenty of storage space provided by a central wardrobe which partitions the bathroom and the main bedroom and circulation in the tents is provided by large green mesh windows which allow a breeze to blow through during the day. Curtains work to shut out the light but on a breezy evening these do very little other than flutter in the wind – there is therefore a canvas outer blind which can be rolled down to shield occupants from the wind and rain should this be needed. Rooms are mostly twin bedded, although they include two doubles and a family chalet.
The bedside lights in the rooms are battery powered which ensures that guests can still read in the evenings without the constant noise of a generator in the background.
Each chalet contains an en-suite bathroom complete with flushing toilet and indoor and outdoor shower. Each also has its own private teak deck with a veranda in front of the chalet. One chalet is slightly different: the honeymoon chalet has a split-level deck, the elevated section of which supports a free-standing outdoor bath tub; a novel feature that works really well and provides some great views of the pan.
The main area at Makalolo incorporates a comfortable lounge with a small library of books, and a bar with great views across the pan. Evening meals are taken around a long dinner table.
Makalolo Plains boasts two firepits: one on the raised decking in front of camp, the other at ground level, on the edge of the pan. Both have plenty of seating and make good spots for tea and coffee, either early in the morning or after dinner. There is also a plunge pool – which sometimes doubles as a waterhole for inquisitive elephants!
Activities offered from Makalolo Plains Camp include game drives (including evening drives) and walking safaris with armed professional guides. Makalolo Plains has a number of hides from which to view game. There is also an elevated platform near camp which is great for viewing the many species which frequent the area including elephant, zebra, white rhino, lion and leopard, although on our last visit here this feature was under repair (it is however due to open again soon). There is also a subterranean bunker in front of the camp which gives close up game viewing opportunities. Makalolo offers the chance to 'sleep-out' too; beds are set up on the elevated hides complete with mosquito nets and guests sleep under the stars.
Wilderness Safaris, who manage Makalolo Plains, support and run a number of community and wildlife programmes. There is much on-going research concerning concession ecology taking place in this private area of Hwange and as such Makalolo Plains Camp offers guests the chance to meet the resident research coordinator for the South East Hwange Area. This is an interesting way to perhaps spend an hour and gain a deeper understanding of the flora and fauna surrounding the camp and to learn about some of the challenges and issues facing the wildlife of Hwange National Park.
Our ViewMakalolo Plains Camp is a well established camp in a really game rich area. It benefits from highly qualified guides who have had to gain a lot of experience before being awarded their guiding license. The rooms are comfortable and the quality of service is good. That said, on our last research trip here (in May 2010) it was fair to say that the difference in quality between the chalets in Makalolo Plains Camp and those at its sister camp, Little Makalolo, was noticeable. Makalolo Plains felt a little out-dated and in need of some work in order to bring it into line with the quality of its sister camp and other lodges in the area. This is still a great place to view game however and the staff are friendly and the guides knowledgeable which all makes Makalolo Plains Camp still well worth a visit.
Ideal length of stay: We would recommend a stay of a couple of nights at Makalolo Plains Camp.
Directions: Travellers usually transfer to the camp by 4WD from either Makalolo Airstrip (also known as the 'Linkwasha Airstrip') or the airstrip at Main Camp (about 180 minutes' drive).
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are generally included, however there are no specialist imported spirits, fine vintage wines or champagne.
Attitude towards children: Makalolo does accept children
Generally recommended for children: At Expert Africa, we don't recommend Makalolo Plains Camp for children under about 16; there is little to entertain youngsters between game drives here – and walking safaris aren't an option for younger guests.
Notes: Dangerous game is likely to pass through. This is an open safari camp. Children need be supervised by their parents at all times.
Communications: There is no mobile phone reception at the camp but Makalolo Plains does have a satellite phone link for use in an emergency.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Victoria Falls and is accessed by air in an emergency.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The camp doesn't have security guards, but the staff quarters are positioned at the extremities of the camp.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in each chalet and also in the main area.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: There is a complimentary laundry service included, although for cultural reasons, women's underwear isn't accepted. Washing powder is provided for guests who wish to do this themselves.