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“Laid back relaxing” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Chikwenya Safari Lodge

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Chikwenya Safari Lodge
Australia
Level Contributor
12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Laid back relaxing”
4 of 5 bubbles 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 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ianteese
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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28 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (10)
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English first
Calgary. Alberta
Level Contributor
26 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles 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 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank star33star
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Level Contributor
35 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 116 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2005

This was our second safari camp on our trip. We had heard rave reviews of this camp from other travelers and were expecting quite a treat when we arrived. Unfortunately, all of the management staff except 1 (Kevin) had been replaced. The new team had only been a few months together and it showed. No one seemed to know who was in charge of what duty and anything regarding the mgt staff was disorganized. The support staff of kitchen, housekeeping, etc did a great job. There is a very good selection of activities I highly recommend the canoe trip on the river. Just remember to paddle faster if the hippos try and box you in! The camp itself is very nice with thatched roof tents on platforms. Lot's of game and all the tents have good views of the river. Food was great. Tents were clean, bath areas include 2 sinks, indoor & outdoor showers, good privacy from other tents.

  • Stayed July 2005
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Hayesworld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
28 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 141 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 15, 2005

We stayed at Chikwenya after having stayed at Joa and Mombo in Botswana. Compared to those camps Chikwenya was slightly rustic, the tents were slightly smaller and not nearly so posh, but still clean and very livable. The camp is in a beautiful spot right on the Zambezi river. We were leery to go canoing because of stories of people being killed by hippos or crocs. One of our guides, Kevin, was so fabulous however (and trustworthy) that we decided to go -- it was so fabulous we ended up doing it twice. You can get amazingly close to the animals without frightening them, it was truly one of the highlights of our safari. The other great thing about Chikweyna was the staff, who were so fun and accomodating. Our guide Sasha was amazing (Zimbabwean guides undergo intensive training) and knowledgeable of animal, plants, and even the stars. One of our most special experiences on our month long safari was at Chikwenya. One night, right at twighlight, we were out on a drive and found a small pride of lions (3 females and two males). They were in a circular pattern around us (about 10-20 feet away) and started calling out to warn the other predators off. They make a low sound, so intense, that if you put you hand on the side of the range rover you could feel the vibration. Truly amazing.

Helpful?
13 Thank llwcl
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

Property: 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 #7 of 10 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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