Chilling at Changa – Matusadona N.P – Zimbabwe

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in News, Trip Diary

Spectacular views of Lake Kariba

Spectacular views of Lake Kariba

Our Cessna 206 touches down on the dusty Fothergill Island airstrip, an island located in the middle of magnificent Lake Kariba. To welcome us is the camp manager, Andrew.  After loading our luggage we set off across the emerald green island towards Changa Safari Camp, a 20-minute drive away.   At this time of the year, when the lake is at its lowest, (end October through February) the island is high enough (or the water low enough) for us to reach the camp by 4 wheel drive.   When the water is at its highest, one would boat from Fothergill Island to the camps private jetty.   We set off,  the scenery is breath taking, shoreline is dotted with an abundance of bird life and the healthiest looking impala.  As we drive, it’s clear to see from the parched earth and bare Mopane trees that the summer rains have yet to arrive in Kariba.  Arriving at Changa Safari Camp, we are welcomed by Andrews wife  Jean and Kingston, our guide. Once in the main lounge area, a cool face cloth and iced drink is a welcome reprieve!  We meet Jean, Andrew’s wife and Kingston our guide and after the required welcome chat and camp formalities, we are shown to our rooms.

Our luxurious tents are to the right hand side of the swimming pool, tucked away beneath the butterflied leaves of Mopane treeson the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.   Here on the shores of Lake Kariba, the setting of the camp could not be better.  

The main lounge area

The main lounge area

With the Matusadona mountains in view, the proximity to nature and true wilderness setting is unparalleled … four and a half kilometres of shoreline on a private concession ensure that this luxurious tented camp is going to be the ideal location for our three night stay.

Accommodation at Changa is in the form of eight luxury mosquito-proofed tents each decorated tastefully and with a unique African flair, from rustic wood to leather and woven basketry, crisp white linen to locally crafted furniture.   Six tents (Numbers 1 – 6) are double en-suites each with private veranda, outdoor bath and shower and two tents are inter-leading family tents, (Numbers 7 & 8) and offer mirror design and finishes just that they have an extra room which could be used for a kids or third person.  Most important in any camp are the beds!  Super comfy, I’ve a large double bed that faces the lake and offers not only spectacular views via huge gauze windows, but at the same time, the breeze off of the lake.  To the left hand side of the bed is a small dressing area complete with writing desk and large mirror. Adjacent to the dressing area is a lake facing shower with hot and cold running water and flush toilet. His & here’s basins are also designed so as to offer views of the lake whilst brushing your teeth!  Then for the adventurous, there’s an outside shower and bath, all complete with a selection of personalised amenities. (Shampoo, sun block, bug sprays, lip salve, etc.).  Above the bed are two over-head fans and that offer a welcome respite from the mid-day sun. Beside each bed are side-tables with lamps which work 24/7.  (both via generator and inverter) Every detail has been carefully thought of at Changa and each tent is complete with a bug coil, insect repellent, a security bag for valuables, laundry bag for washing (which is done daily and returned immaculate ironed) and multi-plug adjacent to the bed for charging. A generator runs between 05h00 – 10h00 & 17h00 – 22h30 and during this period, a hair dryer is available.

The main area is comprised of an open sided lounge onto a deck and then the beach. It is here that the Wifi and coffee station is

meals are superb at Changa

meals are superb at Changa

found. The lounge is where formalities are done and is an ideal place to relax and enjoy a cold beer or soda. For convenience, there is a guest toilet close to the lounge and departure area Adjacent to the main area is a separate dining area where breakfast and lunch are held. To the front of the lounge area is a large wooden deck that leads down onto the beach and fire pit area.  Behind the pool is a  well-stocked bar with an assortment of cold beers, sodas, spirits, water and wines.  And when the temperatures get too hot, there is no better place to take a dip in the raised plunge pool which is set on the edge overlooking the beach. The pool area is complete with sun loungers, beach towels and a variety of private nooks where one can relax on a sun lounger and enjoy the magnificent vistas. The pool area has a toilet and changing facility.  .

No dining experience is ever the same at Changa and on my first evening, I find myself enjoying a delicious meal of freshly caught Bream set around the campfire on the sandy beach in front of the camp. Illuminated by torch flames and hurricane lamps, we enjoy a meal like no other whilst listening to the rhythm of the waves and watching the bright starlit sky.  The food at Changa was certainly a highlight of my stay and a worthy mention for a camp located in such a remote part of Zimbabwe.

Activities at Changa are varied and tailored around each guest’s interests ensuring that you make the most of your stay. In fact, the team went out of their way to ensure we enjoyed all that was on offer.  Being keen on wildlife photography, I opted to join Kingston for the early morning game drive inside of the Matusadona National Park.   So at 05h00 together with a knock at the door my tea tray arrives at my door.  With sunrise at around 05h15 and temperature’s reaching the high 30’s by around 09h30, it’s best to begin your game drive as early as possible in order to enjoy the action before it gets too hot.   It’s also recommended to visit the park in the morning because often the lake is too choppy for boating which is far better an activity in the afternoon.  The game has been hit hard in Matusadona, however on our first morning out, we came across a stunning pair of mating lions.  On our second morning out and in the same area of the park, a  striking pair of male cheetahs. A worthy reward for getting up early and heading out at day break! And for the energetic or those wishing to follow a track off road, a guided bush walk accompanied by Kingston is also a fantastic way to enjoy the bush.

Some of the best views ever

Some of the best views ever

After lunch, I spend the rest of the day relaxing by the swimming pool and under a shady Terminalia tree.   Time flies by when on holiday and its soon 15h30 and time to gather at the lounge for high tea and delicious cake.  Thereafter, we depart for the jetty and our afternoon activity.   On the first afternoon, we cruise the shoreline in search of hippo, crocodile, elephant and a variety of aquatic birds.  Lake Kariba is famous for its dead trees and the sunset on the lake is spectacular. For photography, the dead trees pose as perfect silhouette sticking oddly out of the lake.

On my second afternoon, we opt for the smaller, faster speed boat that will take us to explore  Selati Gorge. The gorge is breath taking as we make our along.   Whether it’s be just cruising, fishing or fast moving,  Changa offers a variety of boats.

 

After three perfect nights it was time to depart Changa for our next destination. Taking to the skies from Fothergill airstrip, myoverall perception of Changa is that this special place provides the ideal base in which to immerseyourself; it’s off the beatentrack, away from it all and intriguingly secluded in the heart of an interesting and diverse eco-system, partly man-made, partly formed over centuries.  Here, one is forced to unwind, relax and enjoy the rhythms of nature and the beautiful of surroundings.  

So next time you want a bit of lake, beach  and bush, make sure to include Changa Safari Camp on your itinerary, you won’t be disappointed!

Stunning colours to end another day

Stunning colours to end another day

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