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Wilderness Safaris Little Makalolo Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Kansas City, Missouri
Level Contributor
38 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Reservations to Return Are Already Booked!”
Reviewed December 13, 2012

Little Makalolo is simply spectacular. My husband and I visited Zimbabwe in Sept. 2012 and stayed in 3 camps. Little Makalolo was our absolute favorite. We fell in love with Africa, are returning in March of 2013. I insisted that Little Makalolo be included on our 2nd itinerary. It is the only camp we will re-visit, although each was wonderful in it's own way.
From the moment we arrived on the bush airstrip & began our 20 minute ride to camp with Buli, our first guide, I was blown away by the amount and variety of game in the area. Little Mak & Hwange National Park are in part of the Kalahari, and at that time of year the only water available is in pans (waterholes,) so the game is always plentiful and easy to view.
Upon arrival at Little Makalolo we were warmly met by the manager, Rania, and her assistants Tracy and Vee. They treated us very kindly throughout our stay. Nothing was too much trouble, and I truly enjoyed time spent in conversation with each of them. After each game drive they were waiting to greet us as the vehicles pulled up with moist towels, refreshments and smiles.
The food at camp is plentiful and delicious. First, an early breakfast around the campfire before heading out for the morning. Upon return to camp at 11:30 a.m. there is a full brunch - a buffet of cooked items (such as chicken or a casserole) side dishes and salads, plus a grill where a gentleman will cook omlettes and eggs to order, bacon etc. Following lunch is siesta time during the heat of the day.
However, there is no need to lie around! The log pile hide (or blind) at the waterhole is not to be missed for up close, safe viewing & exceptional photographic opportunities. Huge parades of elephants come and go all day long, not to mention sable and roan antelope, giraffe, zebra, buffalo and more. After siesta, there is tea or cold drinks with savory and sweet snacks, & then off for the afternoon / evening activities! Stop for a sundowner cocktail with snack & then see game at night. You return to camp for an 8 p.m. full, lavish dinner with wine or coctails. I believe I gained weight there.
We were lucky enough to stay in the Honeymoon Tent, the farthest away from the main camp and closest to the waterhole. Little Mak is an initmate camp with only 5 or 6 comfortable, tented rooms.
Our first night there was our 25th wedding anniversary. The staff surprised us with a champagne dinner for two poolside with a private waiter. Upon retiring for our first night in the bush, we were serenaded all night long by two male lions roaring between our tent and the waterhole. What a heart racing thrill!
First thing the next morning, Buli said "Shall we go find those lions?" and we were off! We found them within 20 minutes and were treated to a great show.
Buli was an exceptional guide, full of knowledge, skill, humor and personality. He was one of the 2 top guides we had in our entire time in Africa. We were sad at first to hear he was leaving for a trip home during our stay (but happy for him.) Buli is a smart, fun man who obviously understood & shared our joy when we saw something new.
We had 2 additional guides at Little Mak who were also wonderful!
The first was Mike - a man whose enthusiasm was contagious. He can talk forever about a bone or the stars! I learned so much from him. Not to mention that he found us a pride of 16 lions, UP CLOSE, and threw his hands up in the air to celebrate. Wonderful!
Then we were fortunate enough to have some time with Dixon. Dixson is mild mannered, funny and an excellent tracker. He asked our interests and then set about to find what we wanted to see. The highlight of our time with him was the cheetah he raced to find for us, and the wild ride to get there. Great fun!
While most guests generally stay with 1 guide for their entire visit, we gained something different & wonderful from each of our guides. I can safely say that you can't go wrong with any guide at Little Makalolo.
Our time there felt too short and the stay was characterized by exceptional service, a feeling of family, fantastic game, a manager, guides and staff who have a passion for what they do and the wildlife of Zimbabwe. I can give them no better compliment than to return.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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3 Thank tkdbb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London
Level Contributor
62 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed December 13, 2012

We stayed here for 4 nights in November - WOW - it ha the most vibrant waterhole I have ever come across ( and we are seasoned safari goers). EVERY day there were elephants, giraffes, zebras - and on other days a herd of buffalo, sable antelopes and wildebeest - absolutely amazing! We were given the honeymoon tent, which has the best view and during the heat of the day I sat there watching the comings and goings - It was truly a fantastic experience. The log pile hide is also great - you sit in there for an hour and we were fortunate on each of our trips as elephants, buffalos and zebras came to drink - the elephants are so close you could also touch them!! I got a lovely mud bath from one of them ;o)

Game on the drives was also quality - not quantity, but when you saw Something you saw it GOOD - we were fortunate to see 3 cheetahs and 2 wild dogs within 5 minutes of each other!! We also saw a large pride of lions including the black maned male - and he was so handsome! Along with Mum and 5 cubs.

A truly fantastic place that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend - We will definitely return in the future.

The hostesses were great - Rani was lovely and so passionate about the place. Our guide was Honest and he was brilliant - he also had an interest in taking photos so always got us a great view with the sun on the right side of the vehicle.

All food was first class - never had a bad meal all the time we were there - and there was a great selection of drinks always on offer (you help yourself as and when you fancy them).

10/10 - I ccan't rate this place highly enough!

Room Tip: Ash for tent 6 - honeymoon suite - great views
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank paula f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridgeshire
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed November 20, 2012

We spent 3 nights at Little Makalolo. This camp is located in Hwange National Park. It is unfenced and in the middle of nowhere. It is an incredible setting.
The Zimbabwean staff at Little Mak were out of this world. We have honestly never met nicer people than Rania and her team. We won't forget Vee's smily face every morning as she handed us hot water bottles for the freezing cold early morning game drive!
Our guide, Honest, was really good. We saw lots of game, particularly on the afternoon/early evening drives. The highlight was a rhino. We also came across lions on a couple of occasions. The roar of the lions was a sound we won't forget in a hurry!
On our final evening, the staff laid on a special candlelit dinner for the two of us. This was to mark a special event. What a marvellous evening. It was completed by Buli, one of the guides, singing to us by the campfire. Lovely people indeed.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank creedence
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Harare, Zimbabwe
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
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.
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
77 reviews
56 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
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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Helpful?
2 Thank HayKay1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Allentown, PA
Level Contributor
97 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
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...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank BenSAllentown_PA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, North Carolina
Level Contributor
91 reviews
49 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
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
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank mid214
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

Property: 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 22 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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