We set off towards Bumi Hills Safari Lodge and Spa for our last night of the trip. I was really looking forward to this. My wife had previously been to Bumi Hills with work middle of this year. Some close family based in Johannesburg got engaged at Bumi some 3 years ago if I recall correctly. I had to see and experience Bumi Hills for myself. Other close friends actually got married there as well. Bumi Hills Safari Lodge first opened in 1975. Interestingly, it is also only an hour flight from Victoria Falls. We cruised towards Bumi and we were greeted by a warm and friendly Bumi Hills Team.
We left Umbozha House Boat for dry land and I felt really welcomed before we even got anywhere. Even the elephants across from where we docked, stopped walking if only to see us arrive.
We jumped into the truck and headed up the hill to Bumi. The view of the landscape as we arrived at Bumi was breathing taking. You literally have to go see it for yourself. The truck pulled into the Bumi Hills entrance and stopped right in front of the lodge entrance. The friendly staff greeted us as we disembarked and gave us a welcome drink. We had travelled for several hours to get to Bumi and the majority of travellers were finally in one spot for the final night. Fiona was there to greet and checked us all in immediately while we hung around the lobby area.
While Fiona checked the large group in, I waited my turn and took the liberty of wandering around the lobby area. I really liked the feel of the place. I saw some interesting art pieces I could use for our home (if the Bumi Hills team would only just allow me to take ‘em home :-))
I proceeded to the pool area before Fiona checked me in personally. Given everything I had heard, the infinity swimming pool with the view of Lake Kariba was definitely worth the wait. Wow!
Once checked in, we were shown to our rooms before a game drive later that afternoon at 4pm. I took my time and explored my great room, took in the view of the lake from the balcony before taking a walk around the rest of Bumi. I discovered that I was booked into one of the 10 premium rooms at Bumi. The room itself was beautiful and the view was to die for literally. I was booked into ‘Hippo’ that night. The room was spacious, had a private balcony with a view of the lake and the Starvation Island used for Operation Noah many years ago.
The Hippo Bathroom.
The Hippo Balcony
Some of my fellow travellers quickly discovered the bar, others swam in the pool and a few took a much-needed power nap given the travel that day. Having explored my room, relaxed for a bit and dropped off my luggage, I popped into Kukondwa Spa; sadly just to have a look at the facilities. If I had had more time on this trip, I definitely would have indulged in some spa treatment, especially with the view I saw from Kukondwa Spa that day.
It was approximately 4pm when we gathered in the lobby for the game drive. Dardley was our guide that afternoon. We jumped into the truck and headed out soon afterwards. You could immediately tell that Dardley had a wealth of knowledge of the area and indeed the wildlife. We quickly stumbled upon some elephants and antelopes within the first 5-10 minutes of the game drive. The elephants looked thinner than usual. Dardley informed us that this was very normal for this time of the year. Once the rains started, there would be more vegetation and therefore more food for the animals and the entire wildlife population.
Once out in the bush, one realises just how amazing the wildlife ecosystem is. Throughout this particular game drive, I kept thinking and I’m sure I said it out loud a few times – Zimbabwe is indeed a beautiful place! Bumi Hills is a great and unique example of that beauty. Of all the game drives I had been on, I really enjoyed this one. Here’s why: who would have thought Lake Kariba as the back drop with elephants, antelope, zebra and eland to see? We were so lucky to drive up real close to an elephant as she (if I recall correctly) ate right in front of us. That’s Bumi for ya!
After stopping to watch the elephant eat, we ventured forward on the game drive. We came across some antelope, zebra and a variety of birds to name a few.
We drove past the Bumi Hills airstrip. We discovered a plane just parked there. Sophie, a fellow traveller, took the photo of me and ‘my’ plane. The idea was to have that ‘check out my plane’ photo opportunity. Clearly you and I know the real truth.
We continued on our game drive and found a wonderful place to have sundowners. The rest of the team, who had gone on their game drive, joined us as we watched the sunset together. It was truly magical, it really was. The Bumi Hills team laid out a nice surprise for us. We had snacks and your choice of beverages as we spent the last night together as a group just watching the sunset.
The sun finally set and we returned to the lodge. Now back at Bumi, most of the group returned to their rooms and got ready for our last dinner together. We ate, drank and gave thanks to the organisers of the entire trip. Whilst giving a vote of thanks as it were, I implored the group to continue talking and working together within the Zimbabwean travel industry to promote Zimbabwe as the preferred destination in the region. After dinner, some retired to their rooms, others like myself mingled and hovered around the terrace bar for a bit before heading back to my room for a quick change, a quick dip in the pool to help me cool down and finally off to bed.
We had an early start the following morning so we got up earlier than usual and prepared to leave at approximately 6am. I took one last look at the infinity pool, one last shot of the garden, I jumped into the waiting truck and we headed back to Umbozha for our final departure.
Before we left the Bumi Hills shore that morning and with the entire group together, we had a small ceremony where Phil Dobinson of Umbozha House Boat relaunched Umbozha House Boat officially by christening the boat with the traditional champers. We all celebrated, applauded and sadly for me, we prepared for our trip home.
One day soon, I will return to Bumi Hills Safari Lodge and Spa and this time with She who must be adored. There’s something magical about the place and its breathtaking sunsets. The trip to get there is worth the journey.
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