Ivory Lodge: Our full report
The relatively small Ivory Lodge is situated in the Sikumi Forest Reserve, a strip of protected land in Zimbabwe ...... sandwiched between the main Victoria Falls–Bulawayo road and Hwange National Park. One of the easiest of Hwange's safari lodges to access by road, Ivory stands next to a large waterhole that, in season, attracts elephants in their hundreds. Although this is a significant draw, the lodge focuses most of its activities on 4WD game drives into the nearby Hwange National Park.
Slightly unusually for a safari camp, Ivory lodge is fenced to keep the larger animals out and this, combined with a solid, permanent feel, hints at its family-friendly aspirations. It shares a private concession within the reserve with three other very different properties, all part of the Amalinda Collection: two sister camps (Khulu Bush Camp and Khulu’s Retreat), and the Tuskers Campsite. While the first two – a small bushcamp and an exclusive villa – are entirely separate from Ivory Lodge, the campsite is closer, and on occasion its guests come over to use the lodge facilities.
Accommodation at Ivory Lodge is broken down into two types: tree houses and “presidential elephant suites”.
- The seven tree houses are built high on stilts, their large mesh windows and balcony making the most of the views down towards the waterhole – although depending on the room you’re in it can be some distance away. Inside, the rooms are simple but very comfortable, with twin or double beds curtained by mosquito nets, a ceiling fan, a table and a couple of wooden chairs. There's an en-suite bathroom up here, too, with a washbasin, large shower and flush toilet.
- In a similar style, the two presidential elephant suites (named after the “presidential herd” of elephants that often frequent the area) are also elevated, although not as high as the tree houses. Having been renovated and updated shortly before our visit in November 2017, these rooms were looking good. Each has a view of the waterhole from both the double bed (with a mosquito net) and a private balcony with chairs: ideal for relaxing with a book at siesta time. Gauze windows create a light and airy feel and a fan helps cool the room in the hotter months. The en-suite bathroom has a shower, flush toilet and bath, next to which is a novel, porthole-sized window that shares the views of the surrounding bush and the waterhole.
For the best views, however, there is an impressive hide. Although we only dropped into Ivory Lodge for a couple of hours, we spent a pleasant half an hour here watching the presidential herd make full use of the waterhole and drinking trough that is pumped by the lodge. Apparently, elephant are far from the only wildlife to make use of the waterhole; lion, buffalo and a profusion of smaller animals and birds frequent it on a regular basis.
Activities at Ivory Lodge include 4WD drives in Hwange National Park, as well as night drives in the Sikumi Forest Reserve and walking safaris, all with qualified professional guides. Wildlife densities in the park are good, but as the park is about 3–4km from the lodge by road, with access to the main entrance through the forest reserve, you are likely to see other people and vehicles. On the plus side, the forest reserve does shelter some wildlife, especially elephant, even if densities are lower than in most of the national park.
In addition to the wildlife-focused activities, the team at Ivory Lodge is proud of its community initiatives and conservation work, and have established strong community links. Guests can opt to visit the community to see some of the fruits of this outreach work and learn about local life. In addition, a local singing and dance group often provides post-dinner entertainment – which some will enjoy more than others.
Ivory Lodge offers good value for money, with easy access into Hwange National Park and the flexibility of activities both here and within their private concession. Being fenced, it also makes a great stop for families with younger children. It’s worth noting, though, that the wildlife experience here generally isn’t as strong as if you were to stay within the national park itself.
Country manager: Zimbabwe
- Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
- Ideal length of stay
- 2–3 nights would be fine at Ivory Lodge.
- The easiest way to access Ivory Lodge is by road, usually from Victoria Falls or perhaps Bulawayo, although the lodge is very close to the main airstrip of Hwange National Park.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- In November 2017 we enjoyed our meals at Ivory Lodge’s sister camp, Khulu Bush Camp, and we would expect the food and service at Ivory to be similar. With the lodge’s family focus we’d also expect there to be some flexibility with both the menu and the mealtimes here.
Breakfast is likely to be the usual spread of cold meats, cereals, fruit and breads, with hot dishes cooked to order.
As all our visits here have been fleeting we have never had the opportunity to have lunch here, but we understand that a two-course lunch of a main course followed by dessert is the norm.
Dinner is a three-course set menu with the occasional braai night. A typical menu would feature a soup to start, followed by a large steak with seasonal vegetables and potatoes, and something like a chocolate mousse for dessert.
- Family holidays
- Ivory Lodge is the only camp in the Hwange area that is fenced. This, combined with family rooms and a babysitting service, makes the lodge one of the best options for a family safari in Zimbabwe with younger children.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Attitude towards children
- Children of two and over are welcome.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Children under 2 years are not permitted at Ivory Lodge. Those travelling with children under five would need to hire a private vehicle.
- Special activities & services
- Ivory Lodge has babysitters in camp who are available on an hourly basis – although note that they are unlikely to be trained in childcare.
- Highchairs and cots can be arranged with advanced notice.
- Generally recommended for children
- As the only fenced lodge in the Hwange area, and offering a babysitting service, Ivory Lodge is the best camp in this national park for family safaris with younger children. That said, the camp’s fences don't stop all dangerous wildlife from passing through, so parents will still have to be vigilant.
- The tree-house rooms are raised high off the ground with significant drops from the balcony, and the pool here is unfenced, so parental supervision of children is required at all times.
- Power supply notes
- There is a backup generator incase of power failure.
- Ivory Lodge has limited cellphone reception, but it's far from reliable.
- TV & radio
- None at the lodge.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Flush toilets and hot and cold running water are available throughout
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The nearest doctor is in Hwange Town, about 10 minutes’ drive away.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- The lodge’s fence keeps most (but not all) of the more dangerous animals out of camp. Guests rooms are kitted out with air horns to raise the alarm in case of emergency.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are positioned around camp and there is one in each room.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- There is a complimentary laundry service.
- There are safes in each of the rooms as and a safe in the main area too.
- Accepted payment on location
- Visa and Mastercard are accepted as are US dollars, South African rand, British pounds and euros.
Other lodges in Hwange National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.