Musango Safari Camp is located on an island in Lake Kariba close to Matusadona National Park.
Musango Safari Camp: Our full report
The small Musango Safari Camp is situated on an island off the shores of Lake Kariba, near Matusadona National Park. It was set up in 1990 by the former head warden of Matusadona National Park, Steve Edwards – a Zimbabwean guide of considerable note who, with his partner, Wendy, still owns and manages the camp. Steve’s great knowledge goes far beyond the wildlife of the area. It also encompasses the local landscapes, ornithology and paleontology – and this breadth of interest is in some ways reflected in the wide variety of activities available at Musango.
Musango Camp contains eight tented chalets of an unusual design. Each stands on a raised, polished concrete base beneath a high thatched roof supported by an A-frame of wooden beams. At the front of each chalet, partially shaded by the roof, is a veranda with a couple of large wooden chairs facing east towards the lake, which is just a few metres away. Thus the verandas provide a great place to watch the sunrise across the lake.
Inside each tent, comfortable twin beds (or a large double in each of the two honeymoon suites) with reading lights positioned above them face the sunrise. There’s a basket for laundry and a flask of water on the table. The back of each tent leads into a stone-walled en-suite bathroom which incorporates a hot shower, a ceramic washbasin and a flushing toilet in its own cubicle, all partially under thatch
Two honeymoon suites are similar to the standard chalets but each of these boasts a larger bathroom, a double bed and its own private plunge pool as part of a more spacious veranda.
The latest news (July 2011) is that Musango’s chalets are soon to be upgraded with larger, more spacious tents and larger verandas.
Each chalet is surrounded by dense bush, and the whole camp is surrounded by an electric fence, to help reduce the number of large, dangerous game animals around the camp. Gravel paths lead from the chalets through this bush to Musango’s main area. The centrepiece of this is an unconventional-looking wood-and-thatch double-storey building. On the ground floor is a lounge and reception area, with a well-stocked bookcase. The walls are decorated with local arts and crafts, as well as maps and photos of the local area. The ground floor is also where evening meals are taken around a semi-circular dining table.
The upper deck, where breakfast and brunch are often taken, is large, airy and spacious, with a few comfortable deck chairs positioned for the views out across the lake.
Behind the main area, and partially incorporated into it, is a swimming pool, while lush planting and well-maintained lawns create a cool and restful oasis in the African heat.
Activities offered from Musango Safari Camp include walking safaris in Matusadona National Park and the nearby wildlife sanctuary, and game drives with experienced guides. Guests can go fishing for tigerfish, which are found in abundance in Lake Kariba, along with vundu and bream. In the past, the world record for the largest tigerfish caught on a fly rod has been broken near Musango Safari Camp. The camp also offers canoeing trips in two- and three-seater Canadian canoes, allowing different and sometimes more relaxing views of the wildlife.
There is usually an option to visit a typical fishing village from Musango, which provides a different, more human aspect to a trip. It takes into account the important role that local people play in wildlife conservation, something that’s not explored by many excursions from lodges and camps. On our most recent trips here, in May 2010 and July 2011, this was done very sensitively, and clearly there’s a good relationship between the lodge and the villagers.
Musango Safari Camp was involved in the reintroduction of black rhino into Matusadona National Park, and you can track rhino on foot at the black rhino sanctuary next door to the camp. The camp is also involved with Painted Dog Conservation, a rehabilitation and reintroduction project for wild dogs dogs in Zimbabwe.
To add to the mix, Steve is a keen paleontologist and has discovered a dinosaur fossil site in the park. He has a small fossil collection at the camp that he is keen to show to guests.
The accommodation at Musango is clean, functional and unusual in design – but visitors are primarily attracted by the guiding skills of Steve and his small team, and for their knowledge of not just the flora and fauna, but also the wider cultural and conservation aspects of the area. The unique, almost beach-like setting of this lodge in Lake Kariba also makes an interesting contrast to most of Zimbabwe’s other safari camps.
Ideal length of stay: 3-4 nights here would be ideal, and many guests will check in advance if Steve is available at the lodge to guide them during their stay.
Directions: Most guests fly in to Bumi Hills airstrip, from where it’s a ten-minute transfer by speedboat or 45 minutes by 4WD to the island followed by a short boat transfer. Alternatively, it’s possible to reach Musango from Kariba town by speedboat, which takes approximately 1.5 hours (but note that the boat ride can be very bumpy).
Owner: Steve Edwards
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we visited Musango in July 2011, we found the food to be tasty and wholesome.
We had a light breakfast of cereal or porridge, toast and freshly baked muffins, followed by tea and coffee.
After returning from the morning activity brunch was served, consisting of a selection of cold meats and salads followed by fresh fruit salad.
Tea, coffee and cake are served after an afternoon siesta, and before the day’s second activity.
Guests have dinner either in the dining area or beside the swimming pool with views over Lake Kariba. We had a butternut soup starter, with beef Wellington, roast potatoes and fresh vegetables to follow. This was polished off by a delicious crème caramel, which was good enough to rival any London restaurant!
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Included except for premium spirits, imported wine and champagne.
Birdwatching: Steve is a keen specialist birder. Boat and canoe trips in the nearby bays and creeks offer great birding.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Zimbabwe
Traditional Cultures: Guests at Musango can visit a nearby fishing village in the early morning when the fishermen return from their overnight fishing trips. Watch them bring in their catch and selling it to the villagers .See more ideas for Traditional Cultures in Zimbabwe
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome.
Equipment: There are no cots at Musango, but Steve has devised a special chair for babies which clips onto the table. Children under five are encouraged to eat earlier. Babysitting is provided by a member of staff but please note that they are not formally trained in child care.
Generally recommended for children: With some caution, we can recommend Musango Camp for older and more mature children over ten – largely because Steve and Wendy have their own children, who spend some time in camp, and so are very understanding of the needs and interests of children on safari.
Notes: The whole camp is surrounded by an electric fence which helps to keep out larger dangerous game. Nevertheless, children should remain under parental supervision at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: An HF radio is used for general communications. There is also cellphone reception and internet is available for emergencies. Musango Camp is also in communication with Kariba via a Lake Safety Network which can relay messages to a contact in Kariba. They can be contacted in an emergency if all other communications break down.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: There is a first-aid box in the camp and Steve is also trauma trained. The nearest doctor and hospital are in Kariba, which is about one hour by fast boat or 20 minutes by air.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are three security guards and two anti-poaching staff at the lodge 24 hours a day.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all of the chalets as well as in the main areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included.
Money: There are no safes in the chalets. Any valuables are to be handed to the person in charge to be locked away in the office safe.