Bumi Hills, Zimbabwe

Photo: African Bush Camps & African Safaris

It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, you can’t take your eyes off the lake. Elephants are wading in the warm water when you wake up in the morning. A crocodile is basking on the red-sand beach nearby. Fishermen try to catch fast tigerfish throughout the day. Around them, huge African fish eagles swoop down in search of their own prize: Kapenta (Tanganyika sardines). A Cape bushbuck, an impala, or even a zebra could stroll through at any moment. While at night, you stare into the darkness wondering just how close the lion’s roar will get.

Your vantage point is a hilltop in the Bumi Hills Wildlife Area on the south shore of Lake Kariba. The lake, a man-made reservoir, is the world’s largest by volume. It lies in northern Zimbabwe—the true backroads of the Southern African country—with Zambia on the other side. The protected area borders Matusadona National Park. The rarely visited park is home to the Big Five and spectacular sunsets.

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is what drew you to this part of Zimbabwe. The oldest lodge on the lake first opened in 1972. It had 10 rooms, an infinity pool that looked like it tumbled down the hill, and unbeatable water views. The remote lodge was still impressive 40 years later, though some upgrades and moderization couldn’t hurt. So its new owner, award-winning African Bush Camps, closed the lodge for renovations. They outdid themselves. Bumi Hills’ stunning setting is now matched with a contemporary African lodge.

Photo: African Bush Camps & African Safaris

The heart of the lodge is an open-air lounge decorated with natural hues, wooden carvings, basket lamps, and sepia-toned wildlife photographs. The restaurant, the spa, the gym, and a pool table take up their own corners of the space. They all lead to an extensive deck, that infinity pool, and the lake that constantly commands your attention. Everything feels flawless.

A stone path, winding through colorful flowerbeds, leads down to a bar, a fire pit, and the rooms. The bar serves gin and tonics at sunset. Fires crackles late into the evenings. While your room feels like a perfect extension of the lounge. Its front wall slides open, so you always have a view of the water, whether you’re lounging on the bed or soaking in the freestanding bathtub.

At this point, the only thing left to do is get out on the lake. Yes, on is the correct word. A sunset cruise allows you to get up close and personal with the animals. You’ll be able to see, hear, and even smell elephants, buffalo, and hippos while watching the sky turn pink. It’s the best view in Zimbabwe.

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