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“Great Experience”

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Wilderness Safaris Little Makalolo Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 19, 2012

Little Makalolo camp is a beautiful place to stay. Location of the camp is great...we saw lots of Elephants, lions as well as other animals. Staff at little Makalolo camp were fantastic and accommodated all our requirements especially vegetarian food.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank Monika540
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 1, 2012

When we arrived, we'd just come from some very luxurious camps so we were a little taken aback when we first laid eyes on Little Makalolo. However, the tents were exactly as portrayed in the pictures- rustic luxury.

This is a small camp in the middle of nowhere, well actually, inside the huge Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. There are only a few tents and there is a hide and waterhole in front where lots and lots of elephants come to drink. If you love elephants, this is the place.

The camp is a very ecological camp functioning on solar power with filtered water avaiable for guests in the tents and via a drinking fountain in the main area. As other reviews have mentionned, it can be tricky to get all your batteries charged within the fixed window for charging so suggest you bring spares. I had a camera which used a whole battery on each safari (I take a lot of photos) and I only had one spare so could have used more spares.

Meals were served in the main area, buffet style, and were very good. Meals are a communal affair at a big long table. Everyone met for snacks and drinks prior to departing on the morning and afternoon safaris.

The tents are wonderful. I love camping and this was like luxury camping- you still got the fresh air, the smells and sounds from the outdoors, and the view of the night sky. And you sleep like a baby. The tents have a writing desk in one corner, a really comfortable bed with as much or as little bedding as you want, a nice bathroom with an indoor and outdoor shower. Given that we were in an area of scarce resources, we made our showers quick.

Note: the tents have no heat. One night, the temperature dropped to 6 ◦ C approx. 43◦ F and it was chilly but it gets really hot during the day. So people should be prepared for this large variation in temperature.


Now, the animal life. We were just coming out of our tent after unpacking and I nonchalantly followed my partner across the ground in a direct line to the camp path. Tracy, one of the management team, advised us not to do that again as there could have been a snake. This was a good indicator of what we were about to experience.

What I loved about Little Makalolo is that you are not just watching the wildlife; the wildlife is watching you. There is no fence and there are no visiting hours. The animals let you know that you are on their territory on their terms. This is what made Little Makalolo so special.

Our first night, a lion roared all night. One morning, my partner woke up to two baboons sitting on our verandah chairs. Elephants continually walked by our tent (not really close) on their way to the water hole. One afternoon prior to safari, I'm talking with a newly arrived guest at the main area when a huge bull elephant passes by right in front of us ( about three feet away). Then I was on my way to the outdoor bathroom and discovered a bull elephant standing on the other side of the outhouse so I just took a deep breath and went inside-v-e-r-y quietly. Inside the bathroom is a fantastic view of the plains and water hole thanks to the fact that there is a large window— with no glass. I thought I was going to see an elephant trunk at any minute! Just joking but that is how close we were to the animals. Out on afternoon safari with the sun getting lower in the sky, we were standing beside the jeep, having a drink and snack when we saw a black-backed jackal coming towards us. I was taking pictures and he kept coming right up to the other side of the jeep. We couldn,t believe it!

The diversity of animals was huge from the small such as genet, civet and mongoose to large such as zebra, buffalo, giraffe, elephant and lots of different antelope. Hwange is huge which also means a diversity of landscapes - from teak forest to almost desert with elala palms. (Hwange is actually on the edge of the Kalahari desert). And lots and lots of birds.

I had just about give up on seeing a cheetah in the wild when on our last day we saw one and close-up as he scanned the landscape for prey. We also came across two photographers who were filming for National Geographic.


I liked the ethos of Little Makalolo: the respect for the environment and the animals. The interaction was more smooth. Surprisingly, I didn't find that the absence of off-roading limited our viewing experience at all. Our guide, Charles, was fantastic and we shared wonderful birding experiences in addition to the animal viewing.

Little Makalolo also has the Wilderness Foundation which is engaged in environment and wildlife conservation including school programs whereby they bring kids out to see the wildlife so that they can better understand the importance of conservation etc.

The camp manager, Rania, was warm, welcoming and a great host. Tracy and Vee were always there if you needed anything or to answer questions.

If I had to pick just one camp to do a safari, Little Makalolo would be it. Incredible!

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank HayKay1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2012

we had a great three days at Lil Mak. We had Bully as our first guide, then three trips with Elius....the guides were fantastic and the game obliged. We saw just about everything imaginable......Oryx and calf (Hwange is the very edge of their range - or guide was very happy to see the pair - only the second such sighting all year)....in addition to the 'normal' game, we also saw an Ardwolf, civets, genets, a black backed jackal.....Sable, Elan, Rhone, Kudu.....even the birds were incredibly cooperative......cheetah on a kudu kill....elephants chasing off a lion pride at a water hole....eagles (fish, tawney, batalure)....ostrich.....giraffe....wildebeest.....and the list continues.....we got back late on our first morning drive because there was just so much game to watch - base camp was calling for us!

it was hot. the tents were very nice. our tents bird bath was incredibly busy and fun to watch during the siestas.....I had to refill it repeatedly during the day.....we had an elephant right outside our tent at night.....we could open our screen doors during siestas and just watch the action at the water hole and it was like we never stopped the game drive.

the blind (hide) at the water hole is also very cool. elephants are plentiful in the park - along with baboons and other game and someone is almost always getting a drink!

the only small frustration was the charging station - the power strip was old and worn out and adapters were very sensitive to being connected/disconnected! the strip was only active when the generator was running - so windows of opportunity to get camera batteries recharged we finite and any mistakes could be costly. Fortunately we had brought more than enough spare batteries to last the stay without a charge.

The food and accommodations were excellent. The staff was very knowledgeable and friendly. we made some good friends with other guests that were making similar trip arrangements.

we took a couple of thousand pictures at Lil Mak - and, although we will probably end up at other destinations in Africa on future trips - we wouldn't hesitate to go back if given the opportunity....we had just a fantastic experience.

ps; we didn't need all those clothes that are recommended for safaris.....a couple pair of shorts and tshirts would have been plenty with the free laundry services offered. the guides were wearing tevas.....i wore high tech clothing and the laundry service handled it fine.......

Room Tip: we were in tent #6, which had a great view of the water hole - and was on the edge of the property...
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank BenSAllentown_PA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 26, 2012

We were staying in the "honeymoon tent," and were visited during the siesta hour by a huge bull elephant who left the water hole and sauntered over to our front door. We lay on the bed breathless, wondering if he was going to knock over the screening and come right in - an easy task for an elephant - but he just sniffed us with that sensitive trunk and then went around to the side and walked off. Apparently, it was something he frequently did. Who knew? Just another extraordinary animal encounter at Little Mak.
We had a wonderful time there, the second of the three camps we visited on our African safari. We went on game drives with the knowledgeable Buli, and a walk with the camp manager from Big Mak. The food was fantastic, the management team (three women - Rania, Tracey, and Vee) terrific, and we loved very minute of our stay there. If you want to observe elephant behavior, as others have pointed out, go to the log blind. It is an opportunity you will not have elsewhere. The elephants know you are there, but will, for the most part, ignore you. Thrilling and educational. We also got to watch sleeping, well fed lions after they had feasted on a baby elephant. And heard them roar during the night at the water hole. And saw more buffalo here than at the other camps we visited.
Yes the camp is remote, but we felt very safe. And it is far from primitive when you consider the luxuries that we were afforded in a country where the unemployment rate hovers between 80-90%. Many of the female staff sew and crochet, and the men carve bowls and animals, all for sale. They make lovely gifts and souvenirs to take home and are reasonably priced.
We miss Little Makalolo. Thanks for a wonderful time everyone.

Room Tip: Go ahead - ask for the honeymoon tent
  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank mid214
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 24, 2012

At Little Makalolo (or Little Mak as it's nicknamed) - our guide Honest is the son of one of Zimbabwe's most famous guides and trackers and he is following in his father's footsteps. We did all game drives here, but you can also do a walking safari. We saw lots of animals and in big numbers too. On night drives we saw animals we had never seen before like Serval, Civet, Genet, Bush Babies, Bat-eared Fox and various owls - awesome! The staff at this camp really won our hearts too, Tracy and V are just so welcoming and made us always feel like friends at camp and not just tourists. They made a birthday cake and sang to my daughter - one of the guides Bully sang extra songs for all of us afterwards and it was fabulous. They also organized a bush bbq lunch out at the hide (the camp watering hole) and that was truly a special experience. The hide - yes this is one camp that has a watering hole right in front of camp where the animals are coming and going all day long. We went out to sit in the hide 2 days during the siesta time, you go out for an hour at a time with an armed guide and book it directly with your guide the morning of the day you want to go. Both my daughter and I loved it - we had so many up close moments especially with elephants and just watching the behavior of the animals at the water so close is special. Meals, tea and sundowners were always fabulous.
This is a very special place! One piece of advice - if you travel there from June-August, be sure to pack long underwear, fleece hat and gloves and some adventure thermal clothes, because although it can get into the 90's during the day, as soon as the sun sets, the temperatures drop drastically. In August we had -4°C and 0°C . They give you hot water bootless in your bed and again for game drives in the morning. Breakfast is around an open campfire. What a great experience even though we froze - a true adventure!

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank OTBPGourmet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2012

I would recommend this camp if you are looking for a dry camp. If you are an elephant lover this is the place to be. The hide in front of camp is a must. We stayed three nights and I thought I would be sick of elephants however I was not. I would not recommend over three nights to much of the same thing. If you pick this camp I would also pick a camp that is a wet camp I believe it will give you more diversity of animal viewing. Charles was our guide and I would highly recommend him. He has been in the bush 20 plus years and works very hard. Pick tent 1 or 2 if possible it is furthest from the main area. It did get loud about 5:20am when the staff was loading the jeeps for the morning drive. My only disappointment was the evening camp fire after dinner. You got the impression the staff (not the guides) did not really want to be there. They made no attempt to create a memorable moment. I have stayed at other wilderness camps and the camp fire after dinner was significantly more enjoyable and entertaining.

Room Tip: Select room 1 or 2
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank jimriggs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 17, 2012

We traveled to Little Mak with Born Free Safaris. Our safari guide was Dick Houston, a very experienced and delightful travel guide. We laughed our way through all the safaris. Little Mak was the most rustic venue on our trip, but between the waterhole, the sunsets, the great guides (Dixon, Charles & Buli), it was our favorite experience. After viewing many animals, including herds of buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, and the most stunning, breathtaking pride of lions on our last night at sunset, Little Mak will forever be in our hearts. The food was excellent, especially the hot breakfast and refreshing drinks served upon return from our long rides. It was cold in July and I would highly recommend taking warm fleece, gloves, hats, and jackets.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Linda L
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 24 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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