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“A Home in the Middle of the Bush”

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Wilderness Safaris Little Makalolo Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 9, 2012

I stayed at Little Makalolo with a friend of mine for 2 nights in March 2012. From the moment we landed on the airstrip, we were in love. The entire staff really made us feel at home and our guide Buli was amazingly knowledgable. The tent was really nice but not so fancy that it didn't feel like an authentic safari experience. Unlike some other camps we stayed at, Little Makalolo tents are actually on the ground, so you really feel like you're in the wilderness. Falling asleep to the sounds of elephants fighting it out at the watering hole (right in your backyard) was unforgettable. The food was awesome. Also, the size of the concession is large, so there's plenty of ground to cover and a lot of variety in terms of animals and scenery. We saw all of the big 5 except for rhino of course. But our amazing guide Buli did spot some rhino tracks! I would stay here again in a heartbeat.

Room Tip: We stayed in the tent closest to the community area...made for a quicker walk to the jeep and meals...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank NYCwanderlusty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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93 - 99 of 125 reviews

Reviewed June 21, 2012

I visited Little Makalolo in May with my boyfriend. We traveled together with another couple. All of four of us thought that our stay in Little Makalolo was the absolute highlight of our trip. We also visited Cape Town, Victoria Falls, and Botswana. The accommodations were lovely and the staff provided so many special touches for us during our stay. We all felt that the meals were plentiful and had enough variety. The staff truly seemed to care and wrote personal notes to us daily. We even had a picnic out by the watering hole and a dinner by the pool. Our guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. We enjoyed daily drives and a walking safari. Honest was our guide and he was great. We were there for three days and it was not enough. We saw a pride of lions, a cheetah, a leopard, many elephants, and a lot of cool birds. I would not describe myself as an avid bird watcher, but there are many beautiful birds in Africa.

For our trip, we enjoyed the rustic appeal (i.e. no internet) and how quiet it is. The generators are on during a certain time so charging items may be challenging. But we did not have to really charge anything.

Room Tip: Request a room closer to the main eating area and camp because it has a better view of the watering...
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  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank teresas2005
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 3, 2012

I just returned from a stay at Little Makolo in Hwange National Park. It is located on their own private concession.

As a travel agent, I often travel to various areas in different countries so that I can confidently book them for clients (or not). This is invaluable in my safari planning as not many agents specialize to this extent. My month long trip included approximately fourteen days in Zimbabwe and Little Makololo was the second of our stays here, Ruckomechi being the first. At first glance I was not that impressed with Little Makololo, it is a rustic camp located in a forest area of Hwange National Park. I wasn't sure what to expect - I like others had heard so much negative in the news that I think I was not thinking I"d see much in the way of game, in any area of Zimbabwe. I was pleasantly surprised at many things at this camp. Our arrival was met with staff that welcomed us with open arms - they were quite glad to see a group of travel agents who can finally take the word back to others, how safe and how nice Zim really is. Many are actually surprised as you tell them the things that are being said, unfortunately. This staff was extremely warm, from Hones when he picked us up, to Charles who became our driver-guide to the comedic and serious notes from Buli, to Cynthia the assistant manager and Rainia the camp manager. Immediately, they asked about our cameras and made arrangements to have the generators stay on longer so our cameras could charge. I was already impressed, since we had not experienced this on our prior camp stay.

As soon as we arrived, they invited us to lunch and gave us information about our stay, the camp and the activities. At lunch someone mentioned the hide - so of course we all wanted to see what it was about so we picked a time - the second group. Amazingly, we could watch the activity from the verandah of our room and we watched and waited, hoping the huge herds of elephant would stay there until our turn. They kept moving in and out, some moved out, while others came in. Before you knew it, it was our turn and all the elephants had gone - we were so disappointed of course, but ready for whatever might happen. As we rounded the bend to the hide, a group of elephants in the distance were almost trampling each other to get to the water, so we quickly got out of the vehicle and into the hide.

This hide made of logs is completely safe and such a good vantage point for photos. As we positioned ourselves inside, more than 100 elephants had come, group by group and we watched them play, drink, smell us, play some more, mock fight - you name it they did it. I may never need another elephant picture in life - until I see the next group that is. WHAT A TREAT THIS WAS. The next day it got even better - with many more elephants and lots more activity for much longer - again we were the second group. Then it was off to the game drive with Charles, who promptly found the lion pride and the 16 lions chomping away on their buffalo kill - again a TREAT beyond Treats.

All in all, the game experience, the warm and friendly staff changed my first impression and I know it is a place that I can recommend for my clients and one that I would want to return to. Even though we didn't see all of the game that might have once been there or perhaps just weren't around at the time we were - what we saw was of such quality that it made up for not seeing the cheetahs we were tracking or the leopard who tracks we saw - but another group was the beneficiary of that sighting - not us.

In the end, Not a disappointment at all - my original impression faded and for the type of camp this is - if you don't sell it as a luxury property - you won't be disappointed - this is definitely a more rustic camp, accommodations, location, but definitely worth a visit if you are traveling to Zimbabwe.

HINT: It gets COLD, not make that FREEZING here, so come with hat, gloves and heavy fleece and all your layers. I never knew it could get this cold in Africa. I was prepared though - except for the rooms - I needed TWO heavy duvets, blankets....The staff really responded to our requests for anything we needed and accommodated them to make our stay more comfortable. Thank you for a lovely time and I do look forward to booking clients and returning myself.

  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with friends
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3  Thank njeri
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 1, 2012

We stayed at a few wilderness camps and although the staff at Little Mak was very nice, and the tents were fine there was just something missing. We saw tons of elephants but we saw more in Botswana. The tents were fine but they were very rustic. The charging station was very annoying. After a day of safari it is very frustrating that it is "outside the generator hours" and you can't charge a camera battery. The food was sub-par and not a huge selection from the buffet. No tea tray in the room meant no caffeine until we made it to the fire and had to quickly chug a cup before rushing off to the game drives.
Overall Little Mak is fine. But that is kind of it, just fine, not special like the other camps we stayed in. Looking back on the trip our entire party said we wished we had skipped Little Mak and spent more time in Botswana.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Shoopee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WildernessSafaris, Manager at Wilderness Safaris Little Makalolo Camp, responded to this reviewResponded July 26, 2012

Thank you very much for your feedback. We really do appreciate your comments.

There are some differences in our offering depending on the region visited, and the Zimbabwe camps do not offer tea/coffee making facilities in the rooms. We are sorry if you felt rushed in the mornings as that would not be the intention – rest assured that it is not a problem if our guests would like to take their time and enjoy the continental breakfast at a more leisurely pace. In addition, whilst out on the game drive, a morning stop is made to allow guests another opportunity to enjoy a tea and coffee break in the bush.

We can never guarantee abundant sightings of wildlife or a particular species, as one of the wonderful things about the areas in which we operate (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia) is that the animals are free to come and go as they please, following traditional migration routes and sources of food and water. Generally speaking, as winter approaches in the Hwange Concession, animal and bird sightings do become more interesting and abundant, and the area can deliver its own unique moments of game viewing brilliance including cheetah, lion, wild dog, porcupines and many different species of antelope.

During your visit the camp was unfortunately experiencing a problem with the charging station as the invertors had proved problematic but we can advise that this has since been resolved. We do apologise for the frustration this may have caused during your stay.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2012

The camp is located in an area of the park where there are just a few other camps. We saw at most 2 or three other vehicles parked nearby during game drives, and mostly we saw none or one other vehicle. Game viewing and birds were outstanding, even in camp. Camp is a great example of low impact land use with the solar panels and solar water heating.
A terrific value compared to nearby Botswana. There were almost no tourists in Zimbabwe for several years prior to our visit. The lack of visitors hurt only the local people and increased poaching of wildlife, and had no impact on changing the political situation in the country. So I am glad we went and helped support conservation and the local people. If you'd like to be more personal with thanking the staff bring basic hygiene and everyday items as gifts, e.g. nail clippers, reading glasses, lip balm, battery powered book lights. Will be welcomed and put to good use. I learned the guides cut their fingernails with razor blades.

Room Tip: all the tents are terrific, just different layouts for family tent etc
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  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Bluelens1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2012

Little Mak was our second stop on our October 2011 trip to Zimbabwe after Ruckomechi Camp (separate review) in Mana Pools. It was a hard act to follow but we were excited to see what Hwange and Little Makalolo had to offer after such a positive experience.

We really loved everything about our time in Hwange so i'll attempt to give some more detail on our favorite aspects below.

Camp:
The camp is set in the shade of a forest overlooking one of the watering holes in their private concession within Hwange. There is an open air dining tent, an open air lounge/bar area, and the pool with a view (that the elephants sometimes like to drink from).
Wilderness Camps seem to have a strong handle on the luxury tent experience with extremely comfortable beds, mesh sides to allow breezes and animal noises, and terrific indoor/outdoor showers. While the views weren't quite as staggering as Ruckomechi, it wasn't so bad relaxing in your bed looking out at the constant parade of animals streaming to the watering hole.

Food:
The food here was very good. We felt like it was a step up from Ruckomechi, i guess more refined might be the way to put it. As with Ruckomechi meals were served at a large common table and again we enjoyed that the camp managers and sometimes the guides dined with the group.

Guiding:
The level of guiding in Zimbabwe is a matter of national pride, and we found all of the guides we encountered at the Wilderness lodges to be exceptional. We were lucky to have drives with Buli and Lewis during our time there and they were both outstanding with encyclopedic knowledge of the animals, a great sense of humor, and an inherent ability to be in the right spot at the right time based on their experience.

An example- on our last evening drive we stopped for sundowners at a watering hole within sight of the Makalolo lion pride and their buffalo kill. While enjoying our drinks in the hide watching elephants play in the water a pregnant hyena walked within 10 yards of us to get a drink. Buli all of a sudden asked to use my binoculars excitedly. Within seconds of looking several hundred yards in the distance he proclaimed 'there is a male lion i don't recognize on the edge of the forest.' i have no idea how he saw this lion with his naked eye, let alone identify it. The unknown lion and the pride didn't see each other and Buli explained that there was the possibility for an altercation as the females would likely have to defend their cubs from this rogue male (the resident male lion was off with his own elephant kill and male lions kill offspring that aren't theirs so they can mate and pass on their genes we learned). We packed up our drinks and he raced to position us in exactly the right spot for what unfolded. The 3 females of the pride charged the young male to defend their family and ultimately chased him off after a lot of mock charging and roaring. We were 20 feet away and it was so exciting for it to play out just the way Buli thought it might.

Wildlife:
If you want to see elephants then Hwange is a must do area. It shares a border with Botswana and the giant herds traverse freely between the two countries. During the dry season the elephants are a constant around the watering holes and the sheer numbers of them was staggering. From week old babies to old matriarchs to giant tuskers the elephants were everywhere.
On the way from the airport we were met by a roan antelope which was on my list of things i really wanted to see. After telling the camp managers how i was excited, she pointed to the watering hole and said "well then you'll enjoy the 20 sable antelope over there right now".
On our first drive we found a large male lion with a baby elephant kill that he took down on his own the previous night. We found him the next day with ANOTHER baby elephant kill 10 feet from the first one.
Our guide lewis tracked a juvenile male leopard on our morning drive and predicted we would find him that evening around the watering hole near camp. within two minutes of starting our evening drive we found him as predicted posing in a tree for us. Later that evening we tracked the leopard back to camp and he was seen by staff parading through the parking lot while we were having dinner. We saw large herds of buffalo and zebra, an ostrich family with babies, jackals, hippo, wildebeasts, waterbuck, steenbok, eland, baboons you name it..
Strangely we couldn't find any giraffe but they are apparently plentiful here. We also were unable to find the cheetah brothers that often hunt on the concession.
The highlight was definitely seeing 26 different lions in one day which just blew us away and topped our previous number from the mara.

Activities:
Hide- The watering hole in front of camp has a man made hide at waters edge that is built to look like a log pile. The guides drive you to the hide, set up folding chairs and you sit in silence as animals come to the watering hole. we were just feet away from elephants as they paraded into the water. We felt totally safe but were blown away by being this close to the animals in their natural environment.

School visit- the highlight of our trip was the visit arranged to the village and school that Wilderness supports. The kids were awesome, singing for us and showing off the school that wilderness helped build for them (along with donations from guests who were also moved after visiting). The work that wilderness has done to educate the children, teach them about nature and wildlife so they will be future stewards of the environment, and provide hope to people in a country so devastated by the Mugabe regime and the Aids epidemic was profound.

I highly recommend this camp and Zimbabwe in general as there was a really feeling of change amongst the people and such a positive spirit. They have been through so much and really need the help that tourism brings. We were somewhat reluctant to 'support' mugabe with our tourism dollars but everyone we met was so thankful and encouraging that without tourism one of the few economic success stories and sources of jobs and national pride would not exist. In addition, without the salaries for the guides and park rangers the poaching would increase, no one would teach locals how to deal with wildlife, and the upkeep of the watering holes would all cease.

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank sek07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2012

We couldn't have had a better trip. We even saw a pride of lions kill a buffalo. Can't get better than that! Staff was great. Food spectacular. Rooms wonderful. Need I say more?

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with friends
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2  Thank peloha1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Wilderness Safaris Little Makalolo Camp

Address: Hwange National Park, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Location: Zimbabwe > Matabeleland North Province > Hwange National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 25 Specialty Lodging in Hwange National Park
Hotel Class:4 star — Wilderness Safaris Little Makalolo Camp 4*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Charming and intimate, Little Makalolo's location in the south-east of Hwange lends it a sense of seclusion and remoteness. Nestled into the treeline, the camp overlooks a productive waterhole that draws large numbers of wildlife, observed up close from the log-pile hide. Elephant, buffalo, giraffe and zebra are regular visitors, while special sightings include sable, roan and eland. The area is best explored on game drives and guided walks, with special extras like an unexpected pizza or a night spent under the stars on the Madison Pan star-bed platform. • 6 tents (1 family) • game drives • nature walks • Madison Pan star-bed • log-pile hide • village visits ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Little Makalolo Safari Camp Hotel Hwange National Park

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