Kariba, Zimbabwe

Photo: Bumi Hills Safari Lodge
Photo: Bumi Hills Safari Lodge

Usually the animals are out in the morning. Herds of impalas, waterbucks, and zebras are grazing in the tall grass. A lion is silently stalking the herd’s weakest link. While bobbing hippos look like they’re sleeping in the water. But not today.

You woke up before dawn and quietly followed a guide along the edge of Lake Kariba. Nothing. There wasn’t even a ripple in the water. You followed a path across the plains. Nothing. Only rugged mountains stood in the distance. You climbed into the hills, learning about the area’s birds, insects, and plants. Still nothing. It was beautiful and certainly peaceful. You wished you had just stayed in bed, though.

Even your guide looked disappointed. Most of the time, he’d at least be able to point out a huge African fish eagle circling overhead. Not today. Instead, he half-heartedly tried to get you excited about the big breakfast buffet that would be spread out on the deck when you returned to the lodge. He promised that tomorrow would be better. Then he stopped in his tracks.

Photo: Bumi Hills Safari Lodge
Photo: Bumi Hills Safari Lodge

Over the course of your walk, you’ve circled back to the lake. It’s no longer silent and ripple-free. At least 50 African elephants stand in or near the water. Young babies keep close to their mothers. Slightly older elephants stomp into the water and spray one another. While the elder elephants watch the scene and their surroundings from the shore. They’re joined by Cape buffalo, whose curled horns are massive. Plus a few rhinos are trying to ignore the commotion around them.

All of this commotion, as the rhinos would surely call it, is just steps from your lodge. Bumi Hills Safari Lodge sits on a hill overlooking Lake Kariba—the largest man-made lake in the world—in Northern Zimbabwe. Matusadona National Park, home to all of the big five, is to the east. Kariba, a city established with the Kariba Dam, is beyond that. While Victoria Falls, by far Zimbabwe’s most popular destination, is just a short flight away.

You have a relaxing room, featuring a balcony with panoramic lake views, at the lodge. Its infinity pool, spa, and terraces with fire pits overlook it as well. But the lodge is far from your mind right now. You have elephants, buffalo, and rhinos—the reasons you traveled to Zimbabwe in the first place—right in front of you. They just slept in longer than you for once.

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