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In the heart of a rugged, untouched wilderness lies Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, a haven resting on a cliff above the Sava River in Gonarezhou National Park. Overlooking the expanse of the park, with panoramic views of the waterway below, it offers complete immersion into this remote wilderness teeming with elephant, hippo and other wildlife that gathers along the river’s shore. This rustic hideout is the perfect base from which to explore the spectacular ecosystems, all seven of them, of this diverse landscape of gorges, rivers, majestic Baobab, arid terrain and so much more.
The rustic main area Photo credit: Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe
For those seeking challenging terrain, less habituated wildlife and an untouched wilderness with diverse flora and fauna, this national park will be an unforgettable experience. Largely untapped, you will be hard-pressed to encounter other tourists while navigating this thrilling territory. This is the rough side of Zimbabwe.
Back at the lodge, elements from the dawn of the African safari endure. With mosaic floor tiles, thatched roofs, wooden balconies and charmingly antiquated fixtures, a rustic feel is achieved. Guests will enjoy lounging around the communal pool, which lies under the shade of tall, indigenous trees. A large fireplace, bar and viewing deck all offer great vantages from which to view the vistas and wildlife ahead. Delightful artifacts from local craftsman and photos detailing the history of the lodge and its relationship with the local Tsonga people are another highlight.
Due to the country’s rigorous training process, the guides in Zimbabwe are considered some of the best on the continent. At Gonarezhou, this excellence extends to the exploration of a terrain that differs from the more popular ones such as Mana Pools and Hwange National Park. The drive is certainly rocky but your eyes will feast on ecosystems so diverse that they appear to belong to completely different regions; the deserts and canyons of Namibia are invoked and interspersed with riverine floodplains and wetlands. There’s also the unbelievable Chilojo Cliffs. Veterans of safari will enjoy this more exciting exploration where the animals are more alert and untried.
The prehistoric Chilojo Cliffs Photo credit: Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
Majestic wild elephants Photo credit: Katharina Riebesel
Overall, Chilo offers three different types of accommodation. In addition to an overnight stay at the safari lodge, guests have the option of staying at the seasonal Camp Mahove. The especially adventurous can travel with renowned animal rights activist Clive Stockil on the “Ivory Trail Adventure”, where a mobile camp is pitched at different locations in the national park. In the middle of the wilderness, without running water, with a bucket shower and campfire – there simply isn’t a more authentic experience of the wild! However, the camp-side dining is superior and the service superb.
The setting at Camp Mahove Photo credit: Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
The suites at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge feature a rustic safari design and have recently been partially refurbished. Wood and thatch dominate in the decor. Relaxing on your own private balcony gives you the feeling of sitting in the treetops peering the exciting movements below. The large, comfortable beds also face the large windows of the balcony doors, so you can enjoy the best views of wild animals at all times.
Inside the delightful suites Photo credit: Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
Whether breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks in between – the staff of the lodge indulge guests with delicious creations and refreshing drinks. There are several dishes to choose from for each meal – a vegetarian option is always included. The breakfast buffet includes fresh fruits, cereals, yoghurt, sweet treats and a selection of jams. Hot meals like fried eggs on toast are freshly prepared by the kitchen staff. At lunchtime and in the evenings, guests can choose from a variety of options to be enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the river or in the covered dining area. Animals can be viewed from here around the clock.
Ready for a meal? Photo credit: Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
Gonarezhou National Park is a year-long destination which, even in winter, enjoys plenty daytime sunshine and slightly chilly nights. A more remote and less popular destination, it’s ideal for a more secluded getaway all-year-round.
The easiest way is to travel by light aircraft from Harare International Airport to Gonarezhou National Park. Self-drivers have to adjust to difficult road conditions and should drive only with a 4×4 off-road vehicle and have some driving experience behind them.
Old safari charm Photo credit: Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
Nature lovers, adventurers, solo explorers and camping enthusiasts will love this rugged, untouched and remote national park.
Yearning for an off-the-beaten-path adventure in an African wild? Let our team of expert travel consultants create the tailor-made Zimbabwean holiday of your dreams, to include a stay at this lodge, by clicking here.
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An enthusiastic globe-trotter born in Mpumalanga, South Africa, Thanda is back in Cape Town after a year of amazing adventures abroad. When not scouring Soundcloud for her next music obsession, she’s plotting a weekend sho’t left or scrambling to keep track of friends who're scattered all over the world.
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