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 now provides a more luxurious, less rustic option than many other properties offer in the area.
Bumi has 20 rooms, all with great views. Each has a tiled en-suite bathroom, minibar, air conditioning, ceiling fans, safe and tea-coffee station, as well as its own veranda. As well as the usual toiletries, insect repellent and sunscreen are provided. The rooms 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.
For larger groups, Bumi Hills’ has a partnership with a luxury houseboat, which can be moored close to the lodge. Ask us for more information.
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 at separate tables, 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. Bumi Hills also offers a spa with a steam room, Jacuzzi, massage rooms on the deck, and a small plunge pool.
One of the larger safari lodges in Zimbabwe, Bumi Hills it feels more ‘smart hotel’ than ‘bushcamp’ but it still manages to maintain elements of an authentic ‘bush’ feeling, albeit tempered by luxurious touches. It’s difficult when you’re here not to be impressed by the views of Lake Kariba, some of which are really breathtaking – making the option of just relaxing and enjoying the views a perfectly good activity. Thus we sometimes suggest that Bumi is used as a place to recover from, or prepare for, a long-haul flight at the beginning or end of a safari. Somehow a few nights here still won’t feel at all out of place within even keen safari aficionado’s itinerary
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, to the west of it, and is more limited than the park’s vast area. The activities include game drives and walks conducted by professional guides. Guests can also use game hides, below the lodge, for closer views of the wildlife. On a recent visit to Bumi (May 2013) we found two large male lions walking towards Bumi’s airstrip in the early morning light!
Water activities on Lake Kariba have more flexibility – game-viewing trips by boat can be enjoyed off the private game area, or off the shores of the nearby Matusadona National Park. Fishing with a professional guide is also on offer, as are birdwatching excursions (which are 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 good time for photography, particularly at the not-too-distant Starvation Island.
Our viewBumi Hills is a large lodge with a beautiful location which has a relaxed, tranquil atmosphere despite its size. It attracts both affluent local visitors and overseas travellers, resulting in an interesting mix of guests. We wouldn’t come here to focus on the game activities, although they’re perfectly good; rather we’d stay for a few days to relax at the start or the end of a safari trip, and perhaps include the odd fishing trip or safari just for variation.
Ideal length of stay: We’d recommend Bumi Hills for a stay of a couple of nights. It’s a fantastic place to relax and unwind, either at the beginning or the end of a safari.
Directions: Bumi Hills has its own airstrip making it easily accessible by air from Kariba, Victoria Falls, Mana Pools and Harare.
Owner: Steve McCormick
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The style of dining at Bumi Hills is more that of a hotel than a safari lodge, with a menu of two or three starters, main courses and desserts. On our most recent visit to Bumi, in May 2013, the quality of the food was very good and the service, given the relatively large size of the lodge, was exemplary.
Meal times at Bumi are set, so guests can be as pro-active or relaxed in planning their day as they wish. A buffet breakfast, served 6.30–10.00am on the outside deck, consists of cereals, pastries, a selection of cold meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and fruit juices. We also enjoyed a full English breakfast, which was cooked to order.
Lunch is between 12.30 and 2.00pm, and when we visited was a starter of soup followed by either beef curry or a club sandwich. We opted for the latter and were not disappointed – a giant sandwich accompanied by potato wedges and salad was just what was needed after the morning’s activities. The option of ice cream or a cheeseboard to finish was too much for us but both looked very good.
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 cheese plate or a chocolate dessert.
A tea and coffee station is available all day.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Included except for premium wines and spirits
Attitude towards children: Bumi Hills Safari Lodge welcomes children over the age of 10 years.
Property’s age restrictions: No children under the age of 10.
Special activities & services: None
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
Power supply notes: 220 volt electricity is available by generator 24 hours a day.There is a back-up 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.
Water supply: Mains
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: 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
Accepted payment on location: Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted as well as cash.