I had wanted to visit Bumi Hills Lodge for ages. The lodge has been repaired, renovated, and totally brought back to life after being forgotten and neglected for years. The lodge, perched on a ridge overlooking Lake Kariba on the Zimbabwean side, is not far from Matusadonha National Park.
The lodge was originally the product of 1970s Zimbabwe, or Rhodesia as it was then. In those days, the country was completely isolated by sanctions, and the people had to make the best of what they had. Tourism was mainly domestic and they put up lodges in the most beautiful settings all over the country. Bumi was one such lodge. On a bit of land sticking out into Lake Kariba, it was the perfect place for mad fishermen, of which there were many in those days.
Being a product of the 1970s, when import of materials was impossible, the people made use of whatever was available. What were available at Bumi were rocks… lots of them. So the lodge has rock buttresses, rock pathways, rock walls. It is rock solid.
The team which took over Bumi a couple of years ago has changed the face of it. No longer is it only a draw for the fisherman, it is a place for complete relaxation. The lodge has added a spa and the horizon swimming pool overlooks the lake in front, the interiors have got a Belinda Jones stamp on them, and the land around is protected with elephants, impala, buffalo, lion, and hyena wandering around.
Access to Bumi Hills can be by vehicle, although this is not recommended. The road from Karoi or Binga is a bit dodgy and can take the best part of a day. It is only for those people who just love to be bounced up and down in their 4x4s, clutching a beer for courage. The best way to get to Bumi is by plane or by boat. Bumi has its own plane, which transfers guests from Victoria Falls Town (1½ hours) or Kariba Town (½ hour). The boat brings guests from Kariba Town (1½ hours on a good day).
We flew from Victoria Falls airport with a quick spin over the Victoria Falls for fun – an added extra which was much appreciated. The flight took us along the Zambezi River over the gorges, past Mlibizi and Binga, with the Chizarira Hills in the distance. It was a great flight and part of the enjoyment of the trip.
As we approached the airstrip there was a herd of waterbuck on the runway; they refused to move off, so we had to fly up into the sky again and circle around. By the time we got back, the waterbuck had moved off and allowed us to land… the impala scattered as soon as they saw the plane coming down.
We climbed into a game-viewing vehicle for the ride up the steep hill to the lodge. It was a short trip during which we glimpsed an elephant bottom through the thick vegetation and heard the snort of impala. Welcome to Bumi Hills.