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 is a well-established camp in a really game-rich area, overlooking the Somavundla Pan in a remote eastern area of Hwange National Park. Its position, nestled in the tree line between the mopane forest and the waterhole, coupled with the area's broad biodiversity, makes the camp a great place to view game. However, over the last couple of years the camp’s owners have increasingly used it to host large-group tours, to the exclusion of more individual travellers. Therefore this isn’t a lodge which Expert Africa is currently sending travellers to, instead we recommend that most of our travellers opt instead for Makalolo Plain’s newer, smaller and smarter sister camp, Little Makalolo.
Those choosing to visit Makalolo Plains can expect an elevated camp, with the main area, accommodation and walkways all raised about two metres off the ground. This provides guests with added security, especially at night when wildlife frequently passes through the camp.
Accommodation at Makalolo Plains Camp consists of nine tented chalets, which are comfortable and functional. Each has its own private teak deck in front, while the honeymoon chalet has a split-level deck, with a free-standing outdoor bath tub on the elevated section: a novel feature that provides great views of the pan.
Inside, large green mesh windows allow a through breeze, and curtains are augmented by canvas outer blinds which can be rolled down in inclement weather. Rooms are mostly twin bedded, although there are two doubles and a family chalet with interleading rooms. The bedside lights are battery powered so that guests can read in the evenings without the background noise of a generator. There’s plenty of storage space provided by a central wardrobe, which partitions the bedroom from the bathroom. The bathroom itself has a flushing toilet and indoor and outdoor showers.
The main area 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 day and evening game drives, and walking safaris with armed professional guides. The camp also has a number of game-viewing hides, and there is an elevated platform near camp which is great for watching the animals that frequent the area, including elephant, zebra, white rhino, lion and leopard. There is also a subterranean bunker in front of the camp which gives close-up game-viewing opportunities.
For guests with a sense of adventure, Makalolo offers the chance to sleep out: 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 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 spend an hour or so gaining a deeper understanding of the flora and fauna surrounding the camp and learning about some of the challenges and issues facing the wildlife of Hwange National Park.
Makalolo Plains Camp has highly qualified guides who have had to gain a lot of experience before being awarded their guiding licences. The rooms are comfortable and the service is good. That said, on our last trip here, the camp felt dated and in need of work in order to bring it up to the quality of its sister camp. Added to this, the presence of large groups inevitably detracts from the kind of exclusive experience that guests might expect from a private lodge such as this.
Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights. That said, we currently recommend that most of our travellers visit Makalolo Plains’ sister camp, Little Makalolo, instead.
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
Property’s age restrictions: Makalolo Plains Camp welcomes children aged 10 years and over throughout the year.
Special activities & services: NONE – The Camp usually insists on guests with children hiring their own private vehicle for game drives.
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 protection recommended: 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.
Accepted payment on location: N/A