Reviews of The Hide
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Low game, weak game drives, Disappointing!
I was VERY disappointed in my experience at The Hide. The game drives were incredibly weak and that section of Hwange National Park has very low game density. I went there specifically for the game but found the guide to be very weak. He had little to say, and did not stop to view the very few animals (small predators) which we did pass. His reason for this, during the one instance that I insisted he stop, was the he did not want to get stuck in the sand on the road. I was there for four nights and it was a complete waste of my time. Given a do-over, I would have completely skipped both The Hide and possibly Hwange. The experience did not compare to South Luangwa National Park in any way.
The guide to whom I was assigned is quite new and I would rate him a 2 on a scale of 10. I am comparing him to the guides I have had at 7 other safari camps during 2 recent safaris. During the final day I requested a different guide and had one interesting game drive, albeit with us seeing almost no game. But the experienced guide was able to make the experience interesting by filling in the time with information about other things such as plants and a description of an elephant salt lick, etc.
The Hide has a water hole in front at which some interesting game passes through, particularly African elephants. The only good animal sightings I had spent watching the water hole with binoculars.
Other things to consider: They do not use bottled water and it is not available to buy at camp. If you don't wish to drink untreated Zimbabwean water, bring water purification tablets and your own water bottle. There is no heat in the rooms and the shower water gets warm but not hot. The very rustic accommodations provided an interesting change, but the price point is far beyond what is on offer here.
The positives about The Hide were due to many of the people: The guests comprised a very interesting, international group of people. The management was welcoming and professional. The wait staff was attentive and helpful. The dinners are served family style, so it is an interesting place if you are traveling alone.
Expert Africa comments
We were really sorry to read this report. We passed the comments to lodges team where Lorraine, who has owned The Hide for many years, quickly replied that she was devastated and amazed by it, before taking time to investigate the issues.
Firstly, for her first few days, this traveller went out with Jean, one of the Hides learner guides. Jeans a young Zimbabwean man of 20 who has grown up with a passion for wildlife, especially birds and spent a lot of time camping in the bush (notably in Mana Pools). After his A-levels he worked and saved to follow his dream of becoming a professional guide. He put himself through the first set of guides exams, passing first time in Feb 2011. (Quite a feat if studying on your own!) It gave Jean the qualification to guide game drives, whilst working as an apprentice to a Zim-pro guide.
The Hide heard about him, and offered him a position over a year ago, and Jean has spent the last year shadowing the camps excellent pro-guides. He has already, from his salary, bought all the literature to study and the necessary rifle. Jeans a very well-mannered young man, but under-confident. His knowledge is said to be excellent, but hes shy and doesnt always have the confidence to impart that knowledge to guests. Clearly he didnt have the confidence to deal with the sand trap near the jackal that he should have had!
Zimbabwes Zim-pro standard of guiding is the gold standard in Africa: the continent top guiding qualification. Getting it requires many years of learning, and practice on the job. Thus some guides at even the best camps are learner-guides; they are qualified to conduct game drives, but not to lead walking safaris. Jean was one of these guides.
The Hide is now reviewing their policy on their learner guides; re-considering how much guides like Jean are used to guide guests on their own. They pride themselves on high guiding standards, and realise that allocating this inexperienced guide to one guest for multiple days wasnt fair.
That said, they deeply regret that this traveller didnt tell the manager what she felt much earlier. Had they known that there was a problem they would have immediately swapped her guide for one of their more senior guides.
Weve had good game viewing in Hwange, and guests staying for three nights just before our traveller had five sightings of three different leopards, and good lion sightings. However, we understand that a small bushfire close to camp a few days earlier, and some burning of firebreaks on Hwanges boundary, by the National Parks Authority, may have chased some of the game, including the areas usual pride of lions (with cubs), out of its normal territory near the lodge.
Regarding the bottled water, most camps are now doing away with plastic disposable water bottles; the environmental impact of their transport and disposal is massive. The Hide has installed a top-of-the-range five stage reverse osmosis water filter to produce very pure, clean drinking water. This kind of system is becoming more the norm than plastic bottled water across Africa, so Lorraine apologised that this clearly hadnt been explained properly. The Hides water is not untreated in fact its probably of a higher quality than most municipal water supplies in the developed world.
Water for showers in each tent is heated individually by gas. Whilst these systems are checked regularly, clearly this one wasnt working properly. If this traveller had reported the problem to the lodge team, theyre sure that they could have rectified it immediately, and got the shower piping hot. This issue wasnt reported to the managers by this traveller, or anyone staying in the room before or since.
Wow-this was amazing!
We had a fantastic 4 nights here-upgraded to a honeymoon room with an outside bath with a view!! We loved it. Everyone was extremely welcoming and the guides knowledgeable about almost everything! We did every game drive there was and saw more animals than we expected and 4 of the Big 5.
We ate and drank around a large teak table which was a very sociable way to end the day and the food was delicious. Having been open for twenty years, or so, it felt traditional but not stuffy and there was great attention to detail.
The Hide review
Top class. Nothing more can be said!Read more about the whole safari
A most satisfying experience. We had noted the location of the Hide on a previous visit to Hwange (15 years ago) and wanted to go there the next time we came to Hwange.
In our opinion, when considering the charges for this lodge, it punches well above its weight.
The quality of the food was very high and its presentation made one feel you were in a quality restaurant. Not large quantities and you don't need that when there are so many meals in a day, but absolute superb quality.
The Manager, Ian, was always available to communicate with guests and arranged our programme which had considerable flexibility and options.
We had the advantage of being present at a time of year when game sightings were plentiful in the area due to water being concentrated at the water holes. I do not know how good the sightings would be when there is rain and water available in more widespread areas.
The lodge provides several options for the length of game drives so, if you are up for it, you can spend a large part of the day game driving or however long you wish depending on your energy levels. They have 2hour, 3 hour and 4 hour drives scheduled each day plus a variety of other activities including walks, community visits, and an excellent hide right alongside the main water hole in front of the lodge from where you can get superb pictures - it seems you can almost touch the animals as the drink at the waters edge.
This a privately run operation, not part of a group, and that ensures attention to guest needs is high on their list of priorities.
You have to remember that the lodge is within the National Park and they are not allowed to go "off road" so some of the trips may appear to cover the same ground but this did not appear too much of a problem as the sightings were plentiful. However, this comment will apply to all the lodges in the Park.
The Hide review
This is a special place to stay and they have created the perfect blend of luxury and comfort while remaining very relaxed. The location and the buildings have been sensitively designed to blend in with the landscape and it was just the perfect place to begin our first and hopefully not last safari.
All the staff are genuinely helpful and friendly and you are made to feel at home. The big family room was just right for us and we could watch the animals walk pass our veranda on their way to drink from the pan. The food was excellent and we really enjoyed eating around the large communal table for meals. There is a lovely fire to sit around at night before and after dinner and this is where you get the opportunity to swap stories and talk more to other guests and your guides about their work and life in Zimbabwe. The hot water bottles in our bed each night were a lovely cosy touch.
The guides at the Hide are all incredibly knowledgeable and committed with a real passion for their work. We saw lion, elephant , giraffe, Zebra, wlldebeest, lesser Bushbaby and more and learn't so much about not just the animals but beautiful birds too. We went somewhere different every day and went out with different guides so that we had a real variety of experience.
The highlight of our stay was seeing a Cheetah up close from our jeep - a very cool and handsome creature.