Elephant's Eye: Our full report
Some 13km outside Zimbabwe’s wildlife-rich Hwange National Park, and with easy access to the park’s main ...... airstrip, Elephant's Eye is set in its own 25km2 private concession overlooking a pan with a couple of pumped waterholes. The camp – more correctly titled 'Elephant's Eye, Hwange' (despite its location outside the park boundary) – is one of several that have sprung up in similar private concessions bordering the national park.
The eight tented chalets at Elephant’s Eye are well-spaced along sandy pathways – with the higher numbers up to 700m from the main area. All are built on stilts, giving them good views over the pan and surrounding bush.
With canvas walls, high ceilings and thatched roofs, the chalets are bright and airy. Mosquito nets surround twin beds or a double which – if you choose to leave the chalet’s canvas front rolled up – have great views of the the pan. A wood-burning stove is a nice touch for the winter months, when temperatures can drop as low as freezing, and a free-standing fan is a boon when it’s hot. You'll also find bedside lamps and a wardrobe, while the shaded veranda, with chairs and a table, is a perfect spot to take in the views with a cup of tea or coffee.
The bathrooms are spacious, with the usual toiletries, his and hers mirrors and basins, and a bath at the edge of the tent – a chance to literally soak in your surroundings. A partition screens the toilet from the main bathroom, but there is no door, which for some this may not feel private enough. Hot water was plentiful in the outside shower on our last visit in November 2017, though this could be rather less appealing on chilly mornings and evenings – and there’s no inside shower.
If you’re feeling adventurous, do try out the Elephant’s Eye sleep-out deck. Lcated away from the main camp, this private space offers a perfect way to connect with the wilderness, perhaps for a special occasion. There is only one, though, so 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 and a floodlit waterhole just beyond. At its heart is a double-storey building with 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. The bar, on the lower level, is manned during mealtimes, but at quieter times of day guests are welcome to help themselves. To one side is a single-storey, canvas-walled dining area; 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 within a boma 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, conducted in open-sided vehicles with – from our brief experience – good guiding. You’ll normally take two drives per day (morning and late-afternoon) on the camp’s private concession, but you could also choose a full-day drive into Hwange National Park. Other options include a trip to a local homestead, and a visit to the Painted Dog Conservation Trust.
Full-day excursions into the national park usually start and end with a half-hour drive through the relatively dense forest reserve between Elephant's Eye and the main gate. While these drives can generate wildlife sightings, it’s not unusual to see very little during this stage of the journey.
For an additional fee, the camp can also organise walking safaris, but as there is usually only one guide in camp qualified to lead walking safaris, we recommend that you book this in advance.
On a more relaxing note, Elephant’s Eye has a simple spa offering different types of massage using all-organic products.
Elephant's Eye is a pleasant, comfortable 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 wildlife concession, the half-hour drive to and from Hwange National Park can make activities longer and less productive than those from a camp within the national park.
Country manager: Zimbabwe
- Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
- Ideal length of stay
- 2–3 nights, although the camp’s proximity to Hwange's main airstrip might make it a useful transit stop if you're driving into one of the more remote camps inside the park.
- Elephant's Eye is about a 10-minute drive from Hwange National Park's airstrip. On arrival, you would be met by a guide from Elephant's Eye and transferred by road to camp.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- When we have stayed at Elephant's Eye, most recently in November 2017, we have found the food to be very tasty.
Breakfast is normally served in the dining tent before your 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 à la carte lunch.
For dinner on our last visit we enjoyed a traditional braai (barbecue) in the camp’s boma. This included a selection of meats, sausages, roasted vegetables and gem squash. There was butternut soup to start and a malva pudding with custard for pudding.
More typically, dinner is a three-course meal, eaten as a group at one central table. On a previous visit we had a delicious meal of butternut soup with bread rolls, followed by Zambezi bream with stir-fried vegetables and sultana rice. For dessert, there was a custard tart.
- 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.
- Generally recommended for children
- Older children who enjoy their wildlife should be fine, but the camp is aimed primarily at adults, and younger children are likely to run out of things to do here.
- 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. For these reasons, children would need to be under parental supervision at all times.
- Power supply notes
- There is a backup generator in case of a power failure.
- WiFi and cellphone signal is available throughout the camp.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV or radio at Elephant’s Eye.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All bathrooms are fully plumbed in, with hot and cold running water and flushing toilets.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- 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.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included.
- 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.
Other lodges in Hwange National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.