Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is located in the Matusadona National Park on the shore of Lake Kariba.
Bumi Hills Safari Lodge: Our full report
Situated on top of a high hill with views that stretch out across the Zambezi Escarpment in one direction and the vast expanse of Lake Kariba in the other, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge has been around, in one form or another, for many years. Reopened in 2009 following extensive renovation, it is now emerging from Zimbabwe’s turbulent recent past to provide a great option for travellers seeking a more luxurious, less rustic stay, than other properties in the area.
Although one of the larger safari lodges in Zimbabwe, Bumi Hills maintains a sense of authenticity tempered by lots of luxurious touches. It feels more like a smart hotel than a bushcamp – and yet a few nights here won’t feel at all out of place within a safari itinerary.
Bumi has 20 rooms, each with a tiled en-suite bathroom, minibar, air conditioning, ceiling fans, safe and tea-coffee station, as well as its own veranda. Various toiletries such as a shaving kit, insect repellent, sunscreen and the usual soaps and shampoos are provided.
All the rooms were refurbished in 2009, and benefit from great views. They are split into two categories:
- The 10 standard rooms are located behind the larger superior rooms and have a partial view over the lake. The bathrooms are small but functional with a flush toilet, basin and shower over the bath.
- The 10 premium rooms are much larger than the standard rooms, with private balconies and an uninterrupted view of the lake. They all have very large bedrooms and bathrooms, with separate walk-in showers.
The communal area at Bumi Hills overlooks Lake Kariba and is decorated in a simple but striking style with natural colours such as black, tans and creams, and black-and-white wildlife photos adorning the walls. As well as a guest lounge with WiFi internet access (albeit an imperfect connection), you’ll find a snooker room, a terrace bar, a TV room and a small curio shop. Comfortable chairs, a fireplace and a small library make this a great place to relax during the evenings. Guests take their meals either in a large dining room or on a deck overlooking the lake.
Outside, the area is dominated by a large infinity swimming pool with numerous sunloungers and umbrellas on the lawn to one side.
Bumi Hills also offers a spa with a steam room, Jacuzzi, massage rooms on the deck, and a small plunge pool.
Land activities offered from Bumi Hills Safari Lodge focus on Bumi’s own private game area, which extends below the lodge and includes a long stretch of lakeshore. Note that this is outside Matusadona National Park itself. The activities include game drives and walks with professional walking guides. Guests can also use game hides, below the lodge, for closer views of the wildlife. On a recent visit to Bumi (July 2011) we saw three lionesses stalking impala on Bumi’s airstrip!
Water activities on Lake Kariba have more flexibility – game-viewing trips by boat can be enjoyed off the private game area, or of the shores of the nearby Matusadona National Park. Fishing with a professional guide is also on offer, as are birdwatching (which is excellent along this stretch of the lake), cultural tours of local fishing villages and even a trip to a nearby crocodile farm. Late afternoon ‘sundowner cruises’ on the lake can be a great time for photography.
Our viewBumi Hills is a large lodge with a beautiful location, and does a great job of maintaining a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere despite its size. Since reopening, it now attracts affluent local visitors as well as overseas travellers – making for an interesting mix of guests. The breathtaking scenery across Lake Kariba makes Bumi Hills a first-class place to recover from, or prepare for, a long-haul flight at the beginning or end of a trip.
Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights
Directions: Bumi Hills has its own airstrip making it easily accessible by air from Kariba, Victoria Falls and Harare.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On a recent visit to Bumi Hills by Expert Africa in July 2011, we found that the food was good but not outstanding. The style was more that of a hotel than a safari lodge.
Dinner was a choice of three starters, four main courses (including one vegetarian option) and two desserts. We had fishcakes as a starter, followed by lamb rillettes with garlic and potato croquettes and fresh carrots and courgettes. This was rounded off by a choice of a cheese plate or a chocolate dessert.
Breakfast the following morning was served on the outside deck and consisted of a buffet of cereals, pastries, a selection of cold meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and fruit juices. A full English breakfast was also cooked to order.
Unfortunately we did not stay for lunch so cannot comment on this.
A tea and coffee station nearby is available all day.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks aer included except for premium branded wines and spirits.
Attitude towards children: Bumi Hills Safari Lodge welcomes children over the age of 10 years.
Generally recommended for children: Expert Africa does not recommend Bumi Hills Safari Lodge for younger children. Having said that, Bumi is probably a better lodge for children than any others in the region. A wall around the lodge protects its rooms and the immediate area from dangerous game, and the swimming pool is very inviting.
Notes: Children must be supervised by their parents at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Bumi does not have a landline but there is good cellphone reception. A guest computer and WiFi are available in the main building
TV & radio: TV is available in the main lounge and Wildlife DVDs are also available
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: There is a first-aid kit at the lodge and some of the staff are trained in first aid. The nearest doctor is in Kariba which is 20 minutes away by air.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Security guards patrol the property 24 hours a day.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside each room and in the main areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Bumi Hills Safari Lodge offers a daily laundry service (weather permitting) which is included in the cost.
Money: There are digital safes in each room