Little Makalolo Camp
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
At a Glance
Sit in the log hide and see who comes down to drink
Relax by the pool between game drives
Large comfortable tented rooms
Great for a family with a two-bedroom family tent
Fantastic game viewing in the private Linkwasha Wilderness area
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
From mid May through to early August the days are warm and clear but the night time temperatures can drop below freezing. September through to May is generally hot in the day and warm at night, Hwange sees rain from late November to April.
The best time for game viewing is from August to early November, water is scarce, the bush has died back and game congregates around the pumped waterholes. Birdlife is prolific during the rainy season, and although the game has dispersed due to readily available surface water, this is still a great time to experience Hwange as the National Park hums with life.
To start planning your vacation to Little Makalolo Camp
Little Makalolo Camp is located in the heart of Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, next to a vibrant waterhole. This is an exclusive six room camp offering an unsurpassable game viewing experience in the country's largest protected area.
Little Makalolo, commonly referred to as 'Little Mak', is an exclusive camp offering comfortable and luxurious accommodation and facilities in a fantastic safari location. The camp is managed by the highly acclaimed Wilderness Safaris and the quality of guiding, service and accommodation at Little Makalolo are of the high standard associated with Wilderness.
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe's largest national park covering 14,500 square kilometers running along the country's eastern border with Botswana. Hwange is predominantly Kalahari sandveld interspersed with saltpans, grassland, mopane and teak woodland and acacia scrub. The environment supports a huge species diversity: over 100 species of mammal and 400 species of birds have been recorded in the area.
Hwange was proclaimed a protected area over 75 years ago and has since become a haven for great herds of buffalo and elephant. These large herds are supported through a network of pumps, tirelessly maintained and serviced through charitable donations, which bring borehole water to the surface to fill waterholes throughout the park.
Little Makalolo is set on one such waterhole providing an opportunity for guests of the camp to enjoy dramatic and diverse game viewing from the camp itself, and up close from the log-pile hide by the water.
The six rooms are all en-suite, with both indoor and outdoor showers. The main living area of camp has a spacious indoor and outdoor dining area, lounge, pool and an open camp fire area, perfect for the colder nights of winter.
The camp is committed to ensuring a light environmental footprint: solar power provides the all electricity and hot water used in camp.
The six tented chalets combine the classic canvas construction of a typical bush camp with the comfort of a contemporary safari lodge. The timber structure of the rooms is covered by canvas and mesh windows, allowing a breeze to blow through the rooms in the hot months, these can be closed for warmth in the winter. Each tent also has a fan and writing table with views out to the bush.
Lighting is provided by a combination of paraffin lamps and low energy LED lamps. In the winter the staff place a hot water bottle in the bed to take away the evening chill.
Double doors open out on to a small, shaded verandah for guests to relax during the heat of the day. All rooms have views over the waterhole in front of camp.
One double bedroom safari tent. This tent serves as the honeymoon tent and has a bath tub as well as indoor and outdoor showers in the ensuite bathroom.
One two-bedroom tent sharing a bathroom.
Five twin bedroom safari tents.
Little Makalolo does accept children, however, it is important to bear in mind that apart from guided safari activities, specific activities for children are not offered. It is also important to bear in mind that this is an unfenced camp in a big game area, as such, children should be supervised at all times by their parents.
The camp offers a complimentary laundry service with a 24-hour turn around.
There is no mobile phone reception or internet access in camp, however, the manager does have a satellite phone which is available in the case of an emergency.
Early morning and afternoon game drives are offered in one of the camp's two converted land rovers. Evening game drives focus on the nocturnal species with game viewing aided by the use of a spotlight. Professional guides can take guests out from camp on foot to experience walking safaris throughout this big game environment. There is also a log hide in front of camp overlooking the watering hole which offers fantastic opportunities to view and photograph animals as they come down to drink.
We have just stayed at Wilderness Safaris Little Makalolo Camp in Hwange. We traveled as a family of four with our two sons aged 14 and 12. We have been to Africa on safari many times, but never had such an incredible elephant experience as here. There is a unique, wood pile hide next to the water hole in front of camp where we sat and watched family after family of elephants come down to drink. In perfect safety and with our guide next to us the whole time we were less than 12 feet away from hundreds of elephants. One calf put her trunk into the hide to say hello. Wonderful.
Dickson Dube bends down and picks up a hard oval object from the ground, places it in the palm of his hand and holds it out for our inspection. Looks like eland, says Sarah like a true connoisseur. Looks like dung, I say with deadpan honesty.
Dickson smiles. Giraffe, he says. Same size and shape as eland, but flattened at one end. I've never really had much of an interest in dung, but I'm beginning to realise that if I'm ever to be a true man of the bush it's time I changed my ways.
But look at this. Dickson points the barrel of his gun at a neat pattern of indentations in the sand. Fresh this morning. We stare down at four oval shapes around a larger irregular pad. This time along with a surge of adrenalin and a hammer-beat in my chest I immediately recognise what I'm looking at.
Lion, confirms Dickson. You can always tell the cat family as they have three lobes at the bottom of the large pad. The dog family, like hyenas, only have two lobes and they also have claw marks at the front. Unless, of course, it's a cheetah. Cheetahs are the only cats that can't retract their claws. He pauses and stares into the distance in the direction the tracks are heading. I think now might be a good time to head back to the vehicle.
There is always a special thrill to walking in the bush. Although walking guides are specially trained and always carry a gun a .375 Holland & Holland Magnum round can stop a charging elephant in its tracks the sense of vulnerability puts all your senses on red alert.
The rustle of a leaf; a sudden burst of movement in the long grass; the warning calls of birds; the alarm call sneeze of an impala; vultures circling overhead: all are signs that there may be a predator nearby. In a vehicle you can watch the game while idly anticipating the delicious meal that awaits on your return to camp. On the ground, its you who might be the meal.
Dickson is a 25-year veteran of Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, and we were beginning to realise what an honour it was to have him lead us around. A guide can make or break a bush experience; while most are very knowledgeable, the ability to share that knowledge in a way that both inspires guests and meets their own understanding of the bush halfway is a rare skill indeed.
Hwange was the first game park Sarah visited when she lived in Zimbabwe 20 years ago and has a special place in her affections. Happily, Hwange still delivers some of the very best game experiences in Africa. By our third day we had seen two prides of lion, a leopard, a herd of 400 buffaloes and innumerable antelopes and spent a thrilling couple of hours watching a cheetah stalk its prey. Not to mention a very rare sighting of two hippos mating in a waterhole females of the Homo sapiens species, be very thankful you were not born Hippopotamus amphibius!
Then there were the hundreds (literally) of elephants we watched at close quarters from the log-pile hide beside the waterhole at Little Makalolo Camp as breeding herd after breeding herd came down to drink. Watching the family interactions was mesmerising: babies learning how to use their trunks; an adolescent chasing away a thirsty sable antelopes; the matriarchs keeping a wary eye out for predators.
Little Mak is a bush camp in the classic style. Small and intimate, it is hidden away in an area of mixed woodland and savannah grasslands in the south east of the park at the heart of a private concession. The dining and living areas are centerd upon a campfire looking out towards the waterhole. Elephants, hyenas, leopards and lions regularly roam around the tented accommodation at night.
Around the campfire after dinner, under one of the darkest night skies we have yet seen in Africa, Dickson spoke with passion about Hwanges long history and his sadness that the British have stopped visiting. Like many of his countrymen, he wont talk politics, but the message is clear: Hwange has some of the best game viewing in Africa. We have perhaps 35,000 elephants and huge herds of buffaloes. Since hunting controls were tightened in 2000, Hwanges lion population has doubled to around 450.
Ah yes, those lions. On our first sighting, we watched as two large males strode side by side across an area of open grassland as Dickson filled us in on their CVs. These two boys formed a coalition and took over from a dominant lion who had been in control of a pride of 21 for four-and-a-half years. Thats a long time for a lion; normally it is more like two years. Now the pride has split and the sub-adult females have mated with the new lions.
We managed to find our boys on most days and on one occasion followed one of them at close quarters after nightfall as he marked his territory, spraying on bushes and letting out a series of blood-curdling basso profundo snarls that seemed to make the air around us vibrate. At night, this sound is particularly full of menace and can be heard up to five miles away, acting as a deterrent to younger males looking for a pride of their own.
Our final, and most memorable, sighting was of the pride feasting on an elephant that had died of natural causes. The cubs gorged themselves on the soft meat of the elephants trunk before turning its belly into a giant climbing frame. Nearby, the four lionesses rolled around play-fighting and gently clubbing the youngsters.
Halfway through this touching family scene, one of the dominant males materialised out of the bush, greeting one of the lionesses with an affectionate sloppy-tongued lick down her back and around her neck. Despite their terrifying ferocity when hunting or fighting, lions are one of the most social of species, their interactions a joy to watch. We've seen plenty of the red-in-tooth-and-claw type of lion behaviour; this was as near to the Disney version as we are ever likely to get.
Louisa Verney (Staff)
Little Makalolo is a stunning small tented camp managed by Wilderness Safaris. The camp is within a private concession known as the Linkwasha Wilderness area, which is renowned for being one of the best game viewing areas in Hwangwe National Park. Our tent was very comfortable and it was lovely to hear the elephants quietly moving round camp in the evening when tucked up in bed.
It was fascinating to hear how Hwangwe is entirely a man made park which has been developed with pumped waterholes to encourage the vast herds of elephant to stay in the Hwangwe area rather than migrate to and from the Victoria Falls area each year.
Game Drives in Hwange National Park
Head out with your highly experienced professional safari guide in a converted 4x4 game-viewing vehicle. Game drives are a great way to cover lots of ground when out on safari, enjoy a very interactive experience and introduction to the area.
Zimbabwe is one of the best places in Africa to experience walking in the bush. The guides are of the highest quality, the game is fantastic and the different environments, throughout the country, are well suited for exploring on foot.
Location & directions
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Little Makalolo is set on a private concession: The Linkwasha Wilderness area, in the heart of Hwange National Park in north-eastern Zimbabwe.
How to get there
Little Makalolo Camp can be accessed by road or air from Victoria Falls. The drive takes about 4 hours, 2 hours of which are within the park itself. Light aircraft can be chartered to land at Makalolo Airstrip, which is a short drive to camp.