The Hides main area is an A-frame building overlooking a waterhole.
The Hide: Our full report
The Hide is a mid-size camp, located in a small concession within a northeastern annex of Hwange National Park. Independent and owner run, it benefits from both the camp’s popular waterhole and very high game densities in the area. Expert Africa has been sending travellers here since the mid-1990s. After riding out a decade's political and financial turbulence in Zimbabwe, recent investments sees this old favourite remain one of the top accommodation choices in Hwange.
Set in the shade of an acacia woodland, the camp overlooks a permanent (pumped) waterhole that supports a variety of game 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. It's interesting to note that the soft sands around The Hide make it very difficult for hyena to den here, and in their absence the lion density is slightly higher in this area than in some other parts of Hwange National Park.
The camp has ten tented chalets, made up of six deluxe chalets, two family chalets (which each also convert into an extra spacious double chalet to accommodate a couple), and two honeymoon chalets. Three of these chalets (two family and one honeymoon chalet) can be booked on a private basis serviced by their own tented, open-sided main area with lounge and dining and adjacent campfire. This is known as The Private Hide and would suite a couple, a small group of friends or a family of up to ten guests. Guests of The Private Hide would be looked after by their own small team, including a private guide and chef.
At the opposite end of the camp, the old manager’s house and an adjacent family tent has been converted into Tom’s Little Hide; a private safari ‘house’ that can accommodate up to ten guests – perfect for a family group or friends travelling together. Read more about Tom’s Little Hide.
For those wanting to experience something really special, a night spent sleeping out in a tree house known as the Dove's Nest is highly recommended.
Each of the ten tented chalets at The Hide is formed from a canvas tent hung within a thatched A-frame structure supported by substantial timber frames, effectively acting as an outer shell. During our most recent visit (Nov 2016), the camp was in the process of replacing the tents with smart new versions, specially tailored to let in more light and for optimum airflow. The double doors at the front of the room were being replaced by one large mesh window to make the most of the view.
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.
The en-suite bathroom contains 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. The honeymoon chalets have a partially covered outdoor bathroom with a bath. A variety of complimentary toiletries are provided. Each room has a fan for keeping cool during warm nights and a tea-and-coffee station. At the front of each chalet is a covered veranda where you can sit and enjoy views stretching down towards the 'pan' (which is the term locally for a shallow waterhole at the bottom of a grass depression).
The Hide feels as though it has evolved in a very unstructured fashion. At its heart is a large split-level main area known as 'The A-Frame'. The lower level has a lounge of comfortable chairs, table, reference material and communal binoculars from which to enjoy the sweeping views of the pan and vlei. Meals are laid-back occasions, with everyone, including the hosts and guides, generally dining together around a huge teak table either within, or on the front deck of, the A-Frame. When the camp is busy, however, guests may dine at smaller, separate tables – while conversely, at quiet periods, lunch is sometimes taken in the bush. Above are two separate mezzanine areas, a lounge with a view toward the front, and a small information museum toward the back.
To one side, a plunge pool is built into a raised wooden deck. On the other is the camp’s fire for gathering around before dinner, and a smaller A-Frame housing another lounge and the bar. Behind the main area is a well-stocked curio shop, a seating area where WiFi can be accessed and the office.
Two well-positioned submerged hides overlook the waterhole. The first can be 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 is located to the side of the waterhole, in a great position for watching wildlife drink and interact, and can take three people. This is reached by guide escort, and you’d be provided with a cooler box of drinks and a radio for contact when you are finished.
Other activities offered at The Hide include morning game drives, morning drive and walk combinations, afternoon game drives or walks, and after dinner night drives. Walks and night drives are operated on the 5km2 private concession. Activity timetables are flexible depending on guest’s interests and wildlife action, and the guiding is of a high standard.
The camp’s location, fairly close to the Bulawayo/Victoria Falls railway line, where it runs through Hwange, means you might hear the occasional train in the distance to remind you of civilisation. But as wildlife ignores the tracks, frequently crossing from one side to the other, this doesn’t affect your game viewing experience here.
Our viewZimbabwe 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 over the last 15 years or so; far from resting on its laurels, it's clearly working hard to remain on top; we're impressed.
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 located in a different part of Hwange.
Directions: 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. Depending on your transfer times, you may stop for a picnic lunch overlooking one of the park’s waterholes on route.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: The Hide has been owned and run by the Preston family since its inception in 1992.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: In our experience, the food at The Hide is very good. Breakfast is usually a good selection of fruits, cereals, seeds and grains, yoghurt, and muffins and or scotch pancakes. This is accompanied by eggs cooked to order, and a choice of bacon, sausages, beans and tomatoes.
Lunch is eaten around the large communal dining table after the morning activity. It is generally buffet-style, with everyone helping themselves. On our visit we had a chicken pizza with a selection of salads.
Afternoon tea is served at 4pm, before setting out for the afternoon activity. Tea, coffee, iced coffee and cold rooibos tea is accompanied by one sweet and one savoury offering. On our last visit we enjoyed bite-sized tuna parcels and delicious fresh muffins.
Dinner is a three-course affair, with served starters and desert split by a buffet-style main course. On one visit we started with chicken livers on hummus followed by roast chicken with lemon rice and a great selection of vegetables. This was nicely rounded off by crème brûlée. On another we enjoyed a BBQ for the main course, with pork chops, steak, chicken drumsticks and sausages accompanied by traditional sadza (a cornmeal porridge), relishes, potato gratin, vegetables and salad. Our starter was crumbed mushrooms with tzatziki, and desert was chocolate mousse.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Soft-drinks and wines, spirits and beers are included in the price. High-end liqueurs, champagne, imported wines (except most South African wines) and spirits are not.
Further dining info: None
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 activity and meal times make this one of Zimbabwe’s best family safari options.See more ideas for Family holidays in Zimbabwe
Walking safaris: The hide offers some marvellous walking safaris. These are usually done first thing in the morning, when the wildlife tends to be most active, and they allow guests to experience the bush from a completely different perspective.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zimbabwe
Private villas & houses: Tom’s Safari House is a lovely private house next to The Hide, ideal for private safari holidays within the Hwange National Park. Here you will have your own guide, private staff and vehicle allowing you to design your activities according to your personal interests.See more ideas for Private villas & houses in Zimbabwe
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at The Hide, and the private lodging options make this a great option for families with young children.
Property’s age restrictions: The Hide accepts children over the age of 10 years in the main camp. 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 and has a small pool. Note that children under the age of 16 years are not able 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 can also accommodate an extra bed for one child sharing with two adults in a deluxe chalet.
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.
Notes: This is an open safari camp and dangerous big game will wander through regularly, so children must be under supervision at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
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. Hair dryers aren’t provided in each room, but the camp does have one that can be requested for use.
Communications: WiFi is available on a complimentary basis in a seating area adjacent to the office.
TV & radio: None
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: To help reduce plastic bottle waste, guests are supplied with their own glass water bottle on arrival. This can be refilled with filtered water in the main area as required.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
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 room and in various locations around The Hide.
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.
Money: 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: The Hide does not have the facilities to process payments by credit card. Payments may be made in US dollars. South African rand, sterling and euros are also usually accepted.