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“Luxury on the Zambezi” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Chikwenya Safari Lodge

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Chikwenya Safari Lodge
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Wayhill Lane, Mana Pools National Park CH 273, Zimbabwe   |  
Hotel amenities
Georgia
Top Contributor
92 reviews 92 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 55 cities Reviews in 55 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Luxury on the Zambezi”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

This is not your standard tented camp. The accommodations are thatch roofed individual luxury lodges with balconies looking out over the Zambezi River. The current management is working hard to correct the minor upkeep issues that the harsh environment causes but we had absolutely no issues. The views alone would make the journey to Mana Pools worthwhile. Wildlife is abundant, the viewing just from our balcony exceeded some of the game drives we've been on elsewhere. Seeing hippos up close, well not too close, while boating on the river, is something that must be experienced. This Zimbabwean camp delivers the true African safari experience in the best, first class way imaginable.

Room Tip: The honeymoon suite is a little more isolated and affords the best views. The outside shower and tub...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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20 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (9)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2013

A group of us (3 couples) visited in Nov 2012. It was the first time for 4 of us, while the other couple had been before. We drove in, as airfares are very pricey. We had our own dining table on the front lawn right near the bar for every meal, which was served exactly when we wanted it. In fact, instruction 1 was to remove our watches. The staff were there pretty much at our beck and call. They were amazing.

The chalets are excellent, with air con, power, hot water, inside and outside bath / shower and splash pool (at least in the Presidential suite). The only real downside is the wooden decking around the pool and on the walkways needs some attention. It looks like it wasn't properly weather-proofed.

First night, the elephants ripped up the lawn near the bar. We had buffalo roaming near reception and grazing off our deck. It was fantastic, and the staff are always very aware of safety first.

Kaz and Clint took us on excellent game drives and a three hour game walk, with sundowners by the river. We saw leopard and wild dog up close, plus plenty or ellies. buff, zebra, impala, hippo etc.

We did a lot of tiger fishing, and caught a few on every trip out. Goodsen did all the hard work, while we fished and drank gin and tonic!

Don't expect 5 star food, but given the distance from anywhere, it's good solid faire. You won;t find the internet here, and nor should you expect to. Cellphone signal was weak but gettable on one network.

All round, do yourself a favour and get to Chikwenya.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Wollongong, Australia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2012

Accommodation and service was very good, but communication with the outside world could be improved. Very little internet connectivity and zero phone coverage. It was also strange that there were no credit card facilities to pay bills.
Food was average to good, considering the price of $375 per person per day sharing.

Room Tip: Toilets have no privacy. Suggest youget a room as close as possible to the main lodge.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wollongong, Australia
Top Contributor
68 reviews 68 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 31, 2012

6 of us visited for 4 days of fishing, drinking and eating - yes bit of a boys day out. The food was good home grown stuff not forgetting we are hours from anywhere, nothing fancy but very tasty and satisfying and congrats to chef for being there at any hour to keep us charged. The place is getting a little tired after only 5 years but we were assured renos are on the way this wet season. Would have loved wi-fi in the room or around the bar or pool areas and hopefully that will turn up shortly but you can get access in the reception but the heat in there is unbearable. We were persuing Tiger Fish and were well rewarded but its not all about the fishing. There are game drives morning, night and noon, game walks or you can chill out at the pool with a G&T ... Will go again.

Room Tip: all the rooms were - hey you wake up to elephants and hippos out the front !
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HARARE
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2012

This resort is located on the banks of the Zambezi in Mana- the north of Zimbabwe.It is renowned for it's fishing and game viewing.We did everything! Walked,fished,went on day and night drives and had wonderful meals under the stars!Our timetable was our own as a group and the camp was very accommodating.Half the group drove and half flew in by private charter.Our walks with Cas the guide were interesting and long by choice and we all learnt a lot about the habits and habitats of the animals and trees.Exciting moments and sightings leopard,wilddog,elephant,hippo,waterbuck,hyena,watching the wild dog hunt,lots of birds/birds of prey.The lodges are very comfortable with showers ,outside baths, a lot of space!Wonderful river views!Will definitely return!

Room Tip: They are all great!The honeymoon suite is lovely.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Australia
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2012

The flight in from Harare allowed us to get a feel of the Mana Pools national park before circling over Chikwenya seeing the hippos and crocodile in the river directly in front of the lodge before landing at the airstrip nearly. It gave us a good idea of what we were in for - relaxing informative walks and night drives, relaxing by the bar and pool or on our cabin balconies overlooking the river full of hippos. Chikwenya caters for both wildlife watching on land and from the Zambezi, and also has excellent fishing with three different boats with guides. We saw most of the game that are found in the adjoining Mana Pools national park.

The cabins are very well presented and fitted out with minor work underway to bring them back to excellent condition. The rooms are air-conditioned to cater for the hotter parts of the year in the Zambezi valley.

The meals were simple but filling and included a generous bbq on the lawn. Each night guests gathered at the bar overlooking the river to swap game and fishing stories. One night, sundowners with a range of prepared snacks were organised at a quiet part of the river down stream for the lodge for all the quests.

Overall Clint and Kaz, our very knowledgeable guide, made the stay memorable.

Room Tip: All the rooms have individual outlooks over the river and are private enough for an outside bath wit...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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Calgary. Alberta
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 18, 2011

In May, 2010, we visited Chikwenya Safari Lodge after our camping safari in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe. Chikwenya is located in a private concession bordering Mana Pools. I cannot say enough good things about this Lodge, from the fabulous location alongside the Zambezi river, to the accommodations and delicious food, to the absolutely outstanding hosts and staff, to the excellent wildlife viewing, everything was perfect. In fact, we enjoyed it much more than the top camps we stayed in in Botswana.

Chikwenya used to be run by Wilderness Safaris, but it no longer is. It has undergone a complete revamp. The lodge itself is beautiful and very luxurious. Each room is its own cabin with very plush accommodations. The common areas are beautiful, and one afternoon between game drives, a bull elephant walked right through the main courtyard, sauntered up to the bar, swung by the pool, and took the walkway to one of the cabins. We spent at least 45 minutes on the deck of our lodge watching him eat from a tree less than 15 feet away - truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Next, the wildlife, the reason everyone goes on safari.... May is not yet high season in terms of wildlife viewing, but you wouldn't know it from our experience. We had just an amazing experience and saw so much. The highlight was the last morning we were there, when we came upon a pride of lions feasting on their fresh kill (we just missed the kill). We sat and watched for well over an hour, leaving only because we had to catch our plane out. This is possible at Chikwenya because it does not have not the harried pace of other lodges such as those in Botswana, where to be honest, we felt a bit like we were cattle being herded, even at the very top lodges. At Chikwenya we were alone at all of our viewings as the concession is private. It is not the same atmosphere as the busy lodges that most North American tourists gravitate to and we passed only one vehicle once the entire time we were there. We got to choose what time we went on the game drives, where we went and what we did. It was a completely individualized safari. There are also other activities such as fishing for those who are so inclined.

In all, Chikwenya is highly recommended and I would go back in a heartbeat. It is a phenomenal experience, and even better, it is half the price at least of Botswana camps and so much better - great value for your money!

Obviously many people are hesitant about visiting Zimbabwe - we were too and after we had booked and were committed to going, I many times remember saying "What was I thinking - planning a vacation to Zimbabwe." I can't speak for the current time, as things over there are always changing from what I understand, but I can say that we were very pleasantly surprised in terms of just how safe we felt and how nice, friendly, and caring absolutely everyone we met was, even in the hotel in Harare, where we stayed the night before heading to Mana Pools. The great thing about going on safari in Zimbabwe is that it is like having your own private wildlife reserve because everyone is scared to go there still. It is absolutely amazing and I cannot wait for my next trip.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Chikwenya Safari Lodge

Address: Wayhill Lane, Mana Pools National Park CH 273, Zimbabwe
Location: Zimbabwe > Mashonaland Central Province > Mana Pools National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Mana Pools National Park
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Chikwenya Safari’s manages a private concession on the eastern border of the World Heritage Site, Mana Pools National Park. In this way, we can offer access to 12000 acres of pristine wilderness and wildlife in Zimbabwe.Located at the confluence of the Sapi River and the mystical Zambezi River, Chikwenya Safari Lodge is a Luxurious yet homely destination surrounded by open floodplains, riverine forests, jesse bush and mopane woodlands with the Zambian escarpment forming the mountainous backdrop . ... more   less 

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