In a nutshell: we loved Somalisa in every aspect.
It is a bit of a long drive from Livingstone, but the drive was made very pleasant by Sevious (from Silver Tours) who is a very friendly and open person and by the end of the trip we were friends - we were happy when he showed up to pick us up on our way back as well. He easily agreed to stop and visit the Painted Dog Conservation Centre near the park gate, which is by the way a very interesting project and really worth a visit if you are in the area.
Back to Somalisa: we were picked up from main camp by Raimond and Mike who took us for a drive and a picnic lunch near a waterhole. We were impressed by their friendly attitude and knowledge. We liked their philosophy of watching without disturbing the animals.
The welcome to the camp, where we met Dudley and Nic and the rest of the staff, was great and we loved it immediately. It is beautifully designed with a "bush feel" in a remote area but you have all the facilities you need. Our tent had beautiful furniture and a fun open bathroom with a bucket shower.
After a quick shower we walked back to the main area and were astonished to find an elephant drinking from the pool less a few meters away from the deck! He kept drinking while keeping an eye on us. The interesting story is that there is also a waterhole in front of the camp, but elephant like the clean water from the pool better!
Sitting on the deck you can watch elephants, baboons, zebra, giraffe.....amazing!
Because it was still a bit too hot for us we did a walk every morning and a drive in the afternoon (but they are flexible and you could stay out all day if you wanted to).
The great thing about this camp (and I am told in Zimbabwe in general) is that the guide acts also as a scout (armed) which allows you to stop the car and get off and walk whenever you wish for as long as you wish. For example during one drive we were so lucky as to find not one but four rhinos grazing near a waterhole. Raimond and Mike asked us if we were up for a closer look on foot and we jumped at the chance. This was the first time we saw rhinos in the wild and it was amazing. We walked checking the wind and hid behind a bush, very close to them. They did not see us and we had a great chance of taking good pictures but most of all a great memory to take back home.
All our walks and drive were great and we saw a huge number of animals. Once we walked very near to a herd of Kudus and everybosy back at camp was surprised we could get that close as they are normally skittish. We watched a huge elephant bull digging for minerals and stayed for a while enjoying the way he broke the soil with a foot and then used his trunk. He then turned around to show us how big he was before slowing walking away. We learnt to recognize the smell of a bull in musth as he followed a female herd. There are thousands of elephants in the park and we never got tired of watching them. We learnt that zebras in Hwange are slightly different as they have a brownish shadow between black and white stripes.
I need to keep this "reasonably short" so I cannot describe everything we saw, but the experience was great!
We deeply enjoyed the atmosphere at the camp including the meals with the giudes, we never stop talking! You can tell they are all bound togheter and friends and work in perfect harmony. It was a pleasure to have the chance to meet all of them and were sorry to leave. We will never forget our days at Somalisa.
Being Italians, it is worth mentioning they made an excellent pizza for us (and this is a big compliment!)
We wish we could keep this hidden gem for ourselves only, but it would be unfair....so we reccomend to go there and enjoy the experience!
Finally we would like to mention that we felt perfectly at easy in Zimbabwe, everything ran smoothly for us, we met all friendly people and we think they deserve a growing number of tourists to visit as this may help the local people and the economy.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.