The Hide: Our full report
Independent and owner-run, The Hide sits in a small private concession within a north-eastern annexe of Zimbab...... we’s Hwange National Park. Expert Africa has been sending travellers here since the mid-1990s, and recent investments have ensured that this old favourite remains one of the top accommodation choices in Hwange – thanks also to its popular waterhole and high densities of wildlife.
Set in the shade of acacia woodland, the mid-size camp overlooks a permanent (pumped) waterhole that supports various animals such as elephant, buffalo and giraffe. An ancient vlei (dried-up riverbed) “flows” across the front of camp, creating a linear clearing where animals can be viewed from anywhere in the camp. Interestingly, the soft sands around The Hide make it very difficult for hyena to den here. In their absence, the lion density is slightly higher in this area than in some other parts of Hwange National Park.
The Hide feels as though it has evolved in a very unstructured fashion. Its accommodation is largely focused on ten tented chalets: six “deluxe” chalets, two family chalets (which can also be converted into extra-spacious double chalets), and two honeymoon chalets. The camp also offers a couple of options for families or groups of friends travelling together, as well as its very own treehouse.
Each of the chalets is formed from a smart new canvas tent hung within a thatched A-frame structure supported by substantial timber frames, effectively acting as an outer shell. The tents have been specially tailored to let in light and for optimum airflow. When we stayed in November 2017, we particularly liked the large mesh window that makes up the front of the room, with a door inset, making the most of the views and admitting light and air. Additionally, each bedroom has a cooling fan for warm nights.
Inside, double or twin beds are backed by a solid partition, separating the bedroom from an area containing storage racks for luggage and clothes, and leading off into the bathroom. Family rooms are larger, with a second bedroom area, taking up to four guests with one shared bathroom.
In the en-suite bathroom you’ll find a washbasin with hot and cold running water, a flush toilet (in a separate cubicle with a door), an indoor bath or shower, and an outdoor shower, with complimentary toiletries provided. The honeymoon chalets have a partially covered outdoor bathroom with a bath.
At the front of each chalet is a covered veranda where you can sit and enjoy views stretching across the vlei towards the waterhole.
Three of the chalets (two family and one honeymoon chalet) can be booked on a private, self-contained basis, with its own central area and a staff team including a private guide and chef. Known as The Private Hide, this would suit a couple, a small group of friends or a family of up to ten guests.
At the opposite end of the camp, in a similar style to the Private Hide, the manager's former residence and an adjacent family tent have been converted into Tom's Little Hide: a private safari “house” that can accommodate between four and ten guests.
For something really special, we recommend a night sleeping out in the Dove's Nest, a treehouse that enjoys an exclusive view of a natural pan and allows guests the chance to spend a night even closer to mature.
At the heart of The Hide itself is a large split-level main area known as The A-Frame. The lower level features comfortable chairs, a large dining table, reference material, and communal binoculars to enjoy the pan and vlei's sweeping views. Meals are laid-back occasions, with everyone, including the hosts and guides, generally dining together around the huge teak table within The A-Frame – or on its front deck. When the camp is busy, guests may dine at smaller, separate tables – and during quiet periods, lunch is sometimes taken in the bush.
The top of The A-Frame is split into two: the front occupied by a lounge with a view; the back by a small museum. This area was due for refurbishment shortly after our visit to open up the front of the building to improve the light and the views of the waterhole. Newer to the camp is a smaller A-frame housing another lounge and the bar, while a well-stocked curio shop, a seating area where WiFi can be accessed, and the office are tucked away behind.
Outside, a plunge pool is built into a raised wooden deck, and there’s a separate campfire where guests tend to gather before dinner. More unusual, though, are two submerged hides with views of the waterhole. The first, reached from the camp by way of an underground tunnel, can take up to ten people and overlooks a trough favoured by elephants. The second, to the side of the waterhole, can take just three people but is in a great position for watching wildlife drink and interact. Guests are escorted here by a guide and provided with a cooler of drinks and a radio so you can contact the camp when you are finished.
Activities from The Hide are flexible, depending on guests’ interests and wildlife action, with a high standard of guiding. Walks and night drives are operated on the 5km2 private concession, with choices including morning game drives, morning drive and walk combinations, afternoon game drives or walks, and after-dinner night drives.
The camp's location, fairly close to the Bulawayo/Victoria Falls railway line that marks the park's boundary, means that you might hear the occasional train in the distance to remind you of civilisation. In fact the Rovos Rail trains actually calls in at The Hide on their Victoria Falls–Pretoria route – such that on our last visit we could hear the distant hum of the train parked in the siding and the occasional blast of its whistle. However, wildlife ignores the tracks, frequently crossing from one side to the other, so this doesn't affect your game-viewing experience here.
Zimbabwe has been through some tough times in recent years, but The Hide is now in fantastic shape, with substantial upgrades completed and continuous small improvements. Caring owners, friendly staff and knowledgeable guides add to an overall experience that's usually excellent – helped by the camp's outstanding location and surrounding private concession. The Hide has fairly consistently been one of Zimbabwe's best safari camps since we started using it; far from resting on its laurels, it's clearly working hard to remain on top; we're impressed.
Country manager: Zimbabwe
- Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
- Ideal length of stay
- If The Hide is the only camp you visit in Hwange National Park, we recommend a 3–4 night stay to make the most of this top wildlife area. Alternatively, stay 2–3 nights and combine The Hide with another camp in a different part of Hwange.
- Guests can be picked up either from Hwange Main Camp, which is just over an hour's game drive from The Hide, or from Hwange Airport, about 90 minutes' game drive away. Depending on your transfer times, you may stop for a picnic lunch overlooking one of the park's waterholes on route.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- In our experience, including our visit in November 2017, the food at The Hide is very good. The lodge is happy to cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements with advance notice.
Breakfast is usually a good selection of fruits, cereals, seeds and grains, yoghurt, and muffins or scotch pancakes. This is accompanied by eggs cooked to order, and a choice of bacon, sausages, beans and tomatoes.
Lunch, after the morning activity, is generally buffet-style, with everyone helping themselves. We had fish with couscous and a selection of salads, followed by a passion-fruit mousse.
Afternoon tea is served at 4.00pm, before your afternoon activity. Tea, coffee, iced coffee and cold rooibos tea is accompanied by one sweet and one savoury offering, such as bite-sized tuna parcels and delicious fresh muffins.
Our three-course dinner started with an aubergine (eggplant) tower with tomato relish, followed by a buffet of roast pork with crackling, apple sauce, roast potatoes and mixed seasonal vegetables. The meal was nicely finished off with a self-saucing chocolate pudding.
- Family holidays
- Tom's Little Hide and The Private Hide can be booked privately for a family group with children of all ages. Well thought-out family rooms, a private guide and vehicle, and flexible activities and mealtimes make this one of Zimbabwe's best family safari options.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Photography holidays
- The Hide makes a perfect stop on a photography holiday to Zimbabwe. Of its two photographic hides, one is accessed via an underground tunnel from the heart of the camp, so at any time of day guests can get up close with wildlife that comes to drink from the waterhole.
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- Private villas & houses
- Tom’s Private Hide and The Private Hide, next to The Hide in Hwange National Park, are ideal options for a private safari holiday in Zimbabwe. With your own guide, vehicle and hosting team, you will be able to organise activities according to your personal interests and needs.
- See ideas for Private villas & houses
- Attitude towards children
- The main lodge accepts only children aged 12 and over, but The Private Hide and Tom’s Little Hide have no age restrictions.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Children of all ages are welcome for private bookings of Tom's Little Hide or The Private Hide. Tom's Little Hide is the better option for younger children as it's more enclosed. Note that children under the age of 16 years are not permitted to do walking safaris.
- Special activities & services
- The Hide's main camp has two family chalets sleeping up to four people. Their double tents are spacious, and you can also accommodate an extra bed for one child sharing with two adults in a “deluxe” chalet. A small selection of games and a pool offer entertainment between safari activities; safari stories and colouring books are provided; and the camp team is happy to spend time with youngsters in the museum and submerged hide.
- Generally recommended for children
- The Hide, and in particular Tom’s Little Hide, are a great option for families with children. A small selection of games and a pool offer entertainment between safari activities, safari stories and colouring books are provided, and the camp team are happy to spend time with youngsters in the submerged hide and museum.
- This is an open safari camp and dangerous big game will wander through regularly, so children must be under supervision at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from The Hide
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at The Hide have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- A back-up generator means that the power supply at The Hide is more dependable than at many more remote camps in Hwange. Solar lamps are included in the rooms in the unlikely event that other power sources should fail.
There are three-pin, UK-style sockets, available in the rooms for charging equipment. Hairdryers are not provided in the chalets, but the camp does have one that can be requested for use.
- Complimentary WiFi is available in a seating area adjacent to the office.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All the rooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- All the guides are trained in first aid and the camp has a good first aid kit on site. The nearest doctors are in Hwange Town or Victoria Falls, which can be accessed by air in an emergency.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- A canvas bag with a key is provided in each room. Guests can put their valuables in this and give it to the management to lock away in the office. Security guards patrol the camp at night, mostly to keep an eye on big game within the camp perimeter. Guests are escorted to and from their rooms after dark, and whistles are provided in the rooms to attract attention in case of an emergency.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are provided in each chalet and in various locations around The Hide.
Guided walking safari
Sleeping under the stars
- Disabled access
- In Place
- Laundry facilities
- The laundry service here is complimentary, although for cultural reasons, underwear can't be washed. Washing powder is provided in the rooms for guests who wish to do their own and for washing delicate garments.
- A canvas bag with a key is provided in each room. Guests may put their valuables in this and give it to the managers to lock away in the office.
For guests who would like to leave a tip at the end of their stay, two tip boxes are provided in the office: one for your guide and one for general staff.
- Accepted payment on location
- Payments may be made in US dollars, with South African rand usually accepted, but The Hide does not have the facilities to process card payments.
Room types at The Hide
For the adventurous-minded, The Hide offers the chance to spend a night in their elevated tree house, known as the Dove's Nest. Built in a large leadwood tree, this three-storey platform overlooks an open plain and a natural pan where animals often come to drink.
You’ll sleep at the top, where the wood and canvas bedroom is reached by stairway and trap door. A double bed faces a large wood-slatted gauze window through which you can watch birds in the branches around you and enjoy the night sounds. The bathroom, with a shower and a flush toilet, is on the ground floor.
In the middle, an open viewing platform features chairs and a hammock, ideal for enjoying an afternoon siesta, as well as lunch on request. Sundowners are usually taken here, too, followed by dinner.
After dinner your guide will head back to camp leaving you with a radio to communicate with the main camp (10mins away) if needed.
The Private Hide
Tom's Little Hide, which overlooks the waterhole frequented by wildlife, combines a converted house, which used to be the manager's accommodation, and a spacious family tent, to create a private hideaway. This will accommodate from four to ten guests: with a maximum of six adults and four children. A larger group could combine Tom’s Little Hide with one or two of the adjacent tents that usually form part of The Hide's main camp.
The solid house is a wood-framed structure with adobe walls and a corrugated-metal roof. Its rooms – a central lounge and dining room flanked by two en-suite bedrooms – all lead out onto a private deck with sitting area, plunge pool and campfire. Both the bedrooms are large doubles, and both can also accommodate a child on a roomy daybed. The adjacent family tent consists of a large double room, an interleading children's room and a shared en-suite bathroom.
Throughout, teak furniture, white linen, patterned cushions, rugs and throws combine to create a stylish African safari feel. The rooms in the main house have ceiling fans, while those in the tent have standing fans. The main lounge and dining room has a small bar fridge stocked with cool drinks, and a tea/coffee station.
Children of all ages are welcome at Tom's Little Hide. A private vehicle and guide allow for flexible activity times, whilst a private chef and waiter allow for flexible mealtimes. And to while away the time between activities and a dip in the pool, games such as Scrabble and cards are on hand.
Tom's Little Hide
The Private Hide, building on the success of Tom’s Little Hide, consists of up to three tented chalets (two family and one honeymoon), though it has no views of the waterhole. It, too, can sleep up to ten guests – six adults and four children, but unlike Tom’s Little Hide, there is no minimum, as the three chalets also form part or the main lodge. Thus you don’t have to take them all, and since there is enough separation for each to be considered private, this is an option that works well for families, groups or even couples looking for extra privacy.
With its own small communal area in a similar contemporary safari style to the rest of the lodge, including a lounge, bar and dining area, The Private Hide functions as its own private camp, completely separate from the main lodge. As the concept is still quite new, final touches are still being made – such as plans on our last visit to install an exclusive-use pool.
As at Tom’s Little Hide, children of all ages are welcome at The Private Hide, where – with your own vehicle, guide, chef and waiter, flexibility – you’ll have the flexibility to organise activities, meals and mealtimes to suit your own group.
Other lodges in Hwange National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.