The Hide

The Hide: Our full report

Rooms
10 tents & 2 camps
Traveller's rating
Excellent (94%) From 25 reviews
Children
Main lodge best for 16+; private camps all ages.
Open
All year

Independent and owner run, The Hide sits in a 5km2 private concession within a north-eastern annexe of Zimbabwe’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 an acacia woodland, the mid-size camp overlooks a permanent (pumped) waterhole that supports a variety of 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, and 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 tree house.

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 – thus 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, but in 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 tree house 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 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 the huge teak table within The A-Frame – or on its front deck. When the camp is busy, however, 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, with the aim of opening 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 which marks the edge of Hwange National Park, means that you might hear the occasional train in the distance to remind you of civilisation. In fact the Rovos Rail trains actually call 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. Wildlife, however, simply ignores the tracks, frequently crossing from one side to the other, so this doesn't affect your game-viewing experience here.

Our view

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.

Geographics

Location: 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.

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 away. 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

Key personnel

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, 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.

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. To help reduce the waste of plastic bottles, guests are supplied with their own glass water bottle on arrival. This can be refilled with filtered water in the main area as required.

Further dining info: None

Special interests

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 more ideas for Family holidays in Zimbabwe

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 more ideas for Private villas & houses in Zimbabwe

Children

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.

Equipment: None

Notes: This is an open safari camp and dangerous big game will wander through regularly, so children must be under supervision at all times.

Infrastructure

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. Hairdryers are not provided in the chalets, but the camp does have one that can be requested for use.

Communications: Complimentary WiFi is available in a seating area adjacent to the office.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: All the rooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets.

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 chalet and in various locations around The Hide.

Extras

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: 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.

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