Elephant's Eye

Elephant's Eye: Our full report

Rooms
8 tented chalets
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

Elephant's Eye opened in mid-2013, and is one of a number of lodges to have opened up on private concessions bordering Hwange National Park. It is more correctly titled 'Elephant's Eye, Hwange' – despite being located located 13km outside the park within it’s own 25km2 private concession.

Well-spaced along sandy pathways, the eight tented chalets at Elephant's Eye are built on stilts, giving them good views over to the camps waterholes. It's worth noting that chalets furthest from the main area (those of a higher number) are about 700m away.

The canvas-walled chalet is bright and airy, with a high ceiling and thatched roof. Twin beds or a double bed are fully surrounded by a mosquito net, and – if you choose to leave the canvas font rolled up – have great views of the bush. Each has its own wood-burning stove, a nice touch for the winter months when temperatures can drop as low as freezing. You'll also find bedside lamps, a free-standing fan, an electric safe, and a wardrobe. The shaded veranda, with chairs and a table, is a perfect spot to make use of the tea and coffee station, whilst admiring the views.

The bathrooms are spacious, with the usual toiletries, his and hers mirrors and sinks, and a bath at the edge of the tent – a chance to literally soak in your surroundings. The toilet is within the main bathroom, partitions by a screen although there is no door, for some this may not feel private enough. There is an outside shower, but not one inside which could be inconvenient in winter when it's cold in the early mornings and at night although when we stayed in November 2017 there was plenty of hot water.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous then Elephant’s Eye has a sleep out deck located away from the main camp. This private space is a perfect way for the more adventurous to celebrate a special occasion and connect with the wilderness. As there is only one it would be best to book in advance to ensure you don’t miss out.

The main area at Elephant's Eye incorporates three separate structures, each facing onto a well-maintained lawn, a floodlit waterhole just beyond. At its hearts is a double-storey building, with a bar at the lower level, and a viewing deck at the top, kitted out with plenty of comfortable sofas and chairs from which you can watch the goings on at the waterhole just in front. The bar is manned during meal times, but at quieter times of day, guests are welcome to help themselves. To one side of the bar is a single-storey, canvas-walled dining area, and to the other a lounge, complete with a small library. WiFi is available throughout.

The camp's small swimming pool offers welcome respite from the heat in the warmer months, with a few sunloungers dotted around and large umbrellas for shade. Close by, guests gather at the firepit for pre-dinner drinks, and a chance to exchange stories from the day's activities.

Activities at Elephant's Eye focus mainly on 4WD game drives. When we visited these were conducted in open sided game viewer vehicles. Guests normally take two game drives per day (morning and late-afternoon) on the camp’s private concession, or do a full-day game drive into Hwange National Park. Other options include a trip to a local homestead, and a visit to the Painted Dog Conservation Trust.

It's important to note that full-day excursions into the national park usually start and end with a 30-minute drive through the forest reserve between Elephant's Eye and the main gate. Whilst these drives can generate wildlife sightings, the bush is relatively thick and the dencity of game here sint as good as within the park so, it’s not unusual to see very little on these drives

For an additional fee, the camp can also organise walking safaris. From our brief experience, the guiding at Elephant's Eye was good, although at time of writing there is only one guide qualified to lead walking safaris. To ensure you can enjoy a walking safari we recommend that you book in advance.

If you are after something more relaxing during your stay the there is a simple spa offering different types of massage using all organic products.

Our view

Elephant’s Eye is a pleasant camp, with efficient and friendly service. It's very convenient for the park's main airstrip and is ideal for a stop of a couple of nights between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo, or vice versa. That said, although it is in a game concession, the half-hour drives to and from Hwange National Park can make activities longer and less productive than those from a camp within the national park.

Geographics

Location: Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights, although its proximity to Hwange's main airport might make it a useful transit stop if you're driving into one of the more remote camps inside the park.

Directions: Elephant’s Eye is about a 10-minute drive from Hwange National Park’s airport. On arrival, you would be met by a guide from Elephant’s Eye and transferred by road to camp.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Hideaways Africa

Staff: Guide: Dollar

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: When we last stayed at Elephant's Eye, in Nov 2017, we found the food to be very tasty.

Breakfast is normally served in the dining tent before a morning activity. It often includes a cold buffet of cereals, yoghurt, fruits, meats and cheeses, served with tea and coffee.

We were not in camp for brunch but we understand that it is generally served around midday, when guests return from their morning activity. We would expect a cooked breakfast, or a light a la carte lunch.

Dinner on our last visit we enjoyed a traditional braii (BBQ) in the camps boma. This included a selection of meats, sausages, roasted veg and gem squash. There was a butternut soup to start and a malva pudding with custard for pudding.

A more standard dinner is a three-course meal, eaten as a group at one central table. On a previous visit we had butternut soup with bread rolls, followed by Zambezi bream with stir-fried vegetables and sultana rice. For dessert, there was a custard tart. It was a delicious, meal.

Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: As with most fully inclusive camps in Zimbabwe, all local wines (usually South African) and beers as well as soft drinks are included. Premium-brand spirits and fine wines will cost extra.

Further dining info: Not Possible

Children

Attitude towards children: Children over seven years old are welcome; younger children are sometimes taken 'on request'.

Property’s age restrictions: No children under seven.

Special activities & services: There are no special activities or facilities supplied for children.

Equipment: None

Notes: Elephant’s Eye is in an area with big game, the chalets are high off the ground – without solid barriers and the pool is unfenced, and for these reasons children would need to be closely supervised at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: There is a backup generator in case of a power failure.

Communications: WiFi and cellphone signal is available throughout the camp.

TV & radio: There is no TV or radio at Elephant’s Eye.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: All bathrooms are fully plumbed in, with hot and cold running water and flushing toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Hwange Town, which is about a 20-minute drive from camp.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: A nightwatchman patrols the camp in the evening and there are safes in the rooms.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers throughout the camp.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included.

Money: There is an electric safe in the room.

Accepted payment on location: Cash payments can be made in USD. For card payments Visa, Matercard, Mestro and American Express are accepted.

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