The Hide is located on the edge of an acacia stand overlooking a pan
The Hide: Our full report
The Hide is a small lodge, well positioned within a north-eastern annex of Hwange National Park. Independent and owner run, it benefits from both a popular waterhole in camp and very high game densities nearby. Expert Africa has been sending travellers here since the mid-1990s – and the lodge has managed to ride out the last decade’s political and financial turbulence in Zimbabwe. Now, following recent investment, this old favourite has been given a new lease of life.
The camp stands surrounded by acacia woodland overlooking a permanent (pumped) waterhole which supports a variety of game including elephant that come to drink and giraffe that browse the acacia trees. An ancient vlei (dried-up riverbed) ‘flows’ across the front of camp, creating a linear clearing that often provides a good location for sundowner drinks. It’s interesting to note that the soft sands around the camp make it very difficult for hyena to den here and in their absence the lion density is slightly higher in this area than in some other parts of Hwange National Park.
Prior to our most recent visit, the camp had undergone extensive refurbishment and was looking in fantastic shape. Guests are greeted by ten tented chalets, all in immaculate condition: four standard chalets, two family chalets, two deluxe chalets and two honeymoon suites.
Each of the chalets at The Hide is formed from a canvas tent hung within a thatched A-frame structure supported by substantial timber frames, effectively acting as an outer shell. Mesh windows provide good views of the surrounding bush and lend an airy feel, while roll-down canvas flaps protect against the elements when necessary.
Inside, polished concrete floors are softened by a number of rugs. Double or twin beds are backed by a large solid partition which separates the bedroom from an area containing a writing table and storage racks for luggage and clothes. There’s a fan for keeping cool during warm nights and a tea-and-coffee station which is kept stocked throughout your stay.
At the front of each chalet is a large veranda, decked out with comfortable chairs and a good-sized table, and with views stretching down towards the ‘pan’ (which is the term locally for a shallow waterhole at the bottom of a grass depression).
The en-suite bathroom in each chalet contains a deep washbasin with hot and cold running water; a flush toilet (in a separate cubicle with a door); an indoor bath and an outdoor shower, this last screened a canvas wall covered by timber frames. A variety of complimentary toiletries are provided.
Each of the honeymoon suites at The Hide have the addition of an outdoor bath under a small thatched area and with views over the waterhole – a perfect spot to unwind after a long day in the bush.
In addition to the tented chalets, the construction of ‘Tom’s Villa’ was well underway during our last visit to The Hide. A converted manager’s house, it will serve as a self-contained unit for families or groups of friends travelling together. We’re promised that this will be followed by further exciting projects, currently on the drawing board.
For those wanting to experience something really special, a night spent sleeping out on the Dove’s Nest is not to be missed.
The Hide feels as though it has evolved in a very unstructured fashion. At its heart is a large split-level main area known as ‘The A-Frame’, which is decorated throughout with locally sourced materials. There are a variety of comfortable chairs and tables from which to enjoy the sweeping views of the pan and vlei. Meals are laid-back occasions, with everyone, including the hosts, generally dining together around a huge teak table in The A-Frame. When the camp is busy, however, guests may dine at smaller, separate tables – while conversely, at quiet periods, lunch is sometimes taken in the bush.
A plunge pool in front of camp has recently been renovated and a wooden deck built around it. Further back, a firepit provides welcome warmth during early-morning coffee prior to the day’s first game drive.
As the name would suggest, a number of well-positioned hides near camp (especially one in close proximity to the busy waterhole) make for an interesting addition to the already jam-packed activity schedule at The Hide – which normally includes three activities every day, instead of the more ‘conventional’ two.
A typical day would start with a guided game drive at 6.00am, or slightly later with a bush walk, both returning in time for breakfast at around 8.00am. For the bush walk, guests will typically be driven into the bush followed by a walk from the vehicle, or take a shorter walk from camp to one of the hides, where they wait with their guide to see what comes down to drink from the waterhole.
After breakfast, at around 9.00am, there’s another, longer game drive, returning for lunch at about 1.00pm. Then the evening game drive begins in the late afternoon, after high tea, stopping for sundowners before a spotlit night drive back to camp. On our last visit, we were really impressed with our guides, Nicholas and Shepherd, who not only knew their natural history, but also knew how to translate it to their guests – the sign of any good guide.
Zimbabwe has been through some tough times in recent years, but The Hide is now in fantastic shape, with substantial upgrades completed and large, new, well-appointed tents. Caring owners, friendly staff and knowledgeable guides add to an overall experience that’s usually excellent – helped by the camp’s location, which makes activities slightly more flexible than those from camps within the park. The Hide has fairly consistently been one of Zimbabwe’s best safari camps over the last 15 years or so; far from resting on its laurels, it’s clearly working hard to remain on top; we’re impressed.
Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights
Directions: Guests can be picked up either from Hwange Main Camp, which is an hour’s drive from The Hide, or from Hwange Airport, 90 minutes’ drive.
Owner: The Hide has been owned and run by the Preston family since its inception in 1992.
Staff: Angus Preston, MD of The Hide and son of the owner, is often in camp to host guests. Barry and Bridget are the resident managers (Barry is also a qualified guide) Cher is the hostess and Justin is the chef.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at The Hide was very good on our last visit. Breakfast – a hearty meal cooked on an open fire and with plenty of variety – was particularly enjoyable, with a very sociable atmosphere.
Lunch is eaten around the large communal dining table after the second game activity. It is generally buffet-style, with everyone helping themselves. On our visit we had a chicken pizza with salad.
For dinner we started with chicken livers in hummus followed by roast chicken with lemon rice and a great selection of vegetables including some very tasty gem squash. This was nicely rounded off by crème brûlée.
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: The hide offers some marvellous walking safaris. These are usually done first thing in the morning, when the wildlife tends to be most active, and they allow guests to experience the bush from a completely different perspective.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zimbabwe
Private villas & houses: Tom’s Safari House is a lovely private house next to The Hide, ideal for private safari holidays within the Hwange National Park. Here you will have your own guide, private staff and vehicle allowing you to design your activities according to your personal interests.See more ideas for Private villas & houses in Zimbabwe
Attitude towards children: The camp considers the accommodation of children on a case-by-case basis.
Property’s age restrictions: No children under 10 unless by prior arrangement or in a group taking over 8 or more guests.
Special activities & services: N/A
Generally recommended for children: We don't recommend The Hide for families with children under the age of about 16; there is little for younger children to do between game drives.
Notes: This is an open safari camp; dangerous big game will wander through regularly – and so children must be under parental supervision at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Power supply notes: A back-up generator means that the power supply at The Hide is more dependable than at many more remote camps in Hwange. There are three-pin, UK-style sockets , with adaptors available in the main area.
Communications: There is no internet or mobile phone reception. A landline is available at reception for emergencies only.
TV & radio: None
Water supply: Borehole
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: All the guides are trained in first aid. All the guides at The Hide are trained in first aid. The nearest doctors are in Hwange Town or Victoria Falls, which can be accessed by air in an emergency.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The Hide employs night guards.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are provided in each room and in various locations around The Hide.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: The laundry service here is complimentary, although for cultural reasons, underwear can't be washed. Washing powder is available for guests who wish to do their own.
Money: AThe Hide lies in an annexe of the national park and is outside the park boundary, so all guests will be charged park fees of US$20 per person per day at the end of their stay. For guests who would like to leave a tip at the end of their stay, two envelopes are provided: one for your guide and one for general staff.
Accepted payment on location: The Hide does not have the facilities to process payments by credit card. Payments may be made in US dollars, South African rand or euros cash, or with travellers’ cheques. Cash (in U$, SA Rands and euros) and travelers cheques are accepted.