Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
At a Glance
Set in it's own private concession, Somalisa offers you an exclusive game viewing experience without the risk of running into countless other vehicles and with the added bonus of being able to night drives within the concession.
Scan the branches for lounging leopards as you drive through the quiet teak forest
Sit on the edge of the pool and look up into the eyes of the planet's largest land mammal
Stop in one of the wide vlei's, gin and tonic in hand, as the sun goes down - then take a night drive back to camp following the beam of the spotlight as it picks up the nocturnal animals
Watch the big bull elephants stand and wait at the solar powered water pumps - they know when the sun becomes powerful enough to get them working and don't miss out on a single drop
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 Somalisa Camp
Somalisa is located in a private concession at the heart of Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. Known as 'the home of elephants', a visit to this luxury camp results in an interaction with the planet's largest land mammal that is unlike any other.
Somalisa, and her smaller, more family-friendly sister-camp Somalisa Acacia, are set back to back on an island of large shady acacia trees in a private concession in the heart of Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. The camps enjoy great views along the savannah of the Kennedy Vlei line where herds of elephant process towards the camp to drink from the camp swimming pools or bathe in the mud at the waterholes.
Both Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia feature small swimming pools in which to cool off during the heat of the day. At Somalisa they have had to build a second pool for their guests as the first was being emptied quickly over the day as huge numbers of elephant came to drink from it, understandably seeming to prefer the sweet borehole water to that of the muddy waterhole below. This extraordinary sight is worth the trip to Hwange in itself, to sit mere yards from full breeding herds or huge bulls, greedily sucking and slurping up water, is quite an experience.
Somalisa Camp has seven luxury tented rooms, each with wooden floors and canvas walls and roofs. Each has extremely comfortable double or twin beds, a writing desk, deck to the front, indoor fireplace and ensuite bathroom with flush toilet and indoor and outdoor shower, as well as a copper rolltop bathtub.
Somalisa Acacia has just four tents; two large family tents, with one double bedroom and one twin bedroom, and two standard tents. This camp welcomes children of all ages and they have developed an exciting Kid's Programme for their young guests.
Activities from here are varied, including game drives, walking safaris, game viewing from hides and bird watching.
Somalisa Camp consists of seven tents, while Somalisa Acacia has two family tents and two standard tents.
All tents are en-suite with flush loos, indoor and outdoor showers with hot running water and beautiful copper bathtubs.
Hot water bottles are provided to ward off the chill over the cold winter nights. The tents also have an internal fireplace which are lit during the cooler months.
There are no age restrictions at Somalisa Acacia and they have two fabulous two bedroom family tents. However, Somalisa is not recommended for children under the age of 7 years old, and there is a minimum age of 16 for walking safaris at both camps.
Meals are taken at the mess tents of either camp. Dining is communal and guests are joined by their guides and the management who are adept at answering the endless questions you have at the end of a day's safari. The guides will always keep an eye on the waterhole below and it is not uncommon to spot lion and hyena coming down to drink in the darkness. If you do wish to dine privately though this can of course be arranged.
Activities at Somalisa include guided walking safaris and game drives as well as game viewing from hides and bird watching. The highly qualified and passionate guides are trained and tested by Beks Ndlovu, owner of the camps and himself a highly recognised Zimbabwean guide.
Sophie Levey (Staff)
When we arrived at camp there was a huge herd of elephant drinking from the swimming pool at the front of the main deck - what a welcome! This is a great place for people of all ages and Somalisa Acacia caters extremely well for young children, with beautiful family tents and plenty of activities to keep them entertained. The hot water bottles in our beds and log fire in our tent were a really lovely touch and well needed for those chilly evenings!
Eliza Walker (Staff)
I visited the newly renovated Somalisa in November 2015 and was overawed by the sheer luxury and comfort of the camp and the tents. Every little detail had been thought of and the tents had been put together in a way that really demonstrated their desire to go that extra mile. Rather than just standard canvas walls the tents have beautiful buckles on the inside that can be used for pulling up the sides so that you can have your tent as open or closed as you wish. The roll top copper bath tubs are just incredible and there are also indoor and outdoor showers so that you really have all of the options. The staff here are absolutely fantastic and nothing is too much trouble, and there really isn't anything quite like relaxing in the new swimming pool whilst watching the elephants drinking out of their pool just below you. The camp faces out to an active watering hole, with tents 1-4 having especially good views. Behind and facing out to a watering hole of its own is Somalisa Acacia, a brilliant options for large groups traveling together, or families as there are a couple of wonderful two bedroom family tents here. Both lodges offer the same five star service, guiding and food, and you really just couldn't go wrong with a stay here.
Louisa Verney (Staff)
These beautiful tented camps are positioned within a grove of acacia trees. Each tent has huge sleigh beds and a great colonial feel. The camps each have a small swimming pool over looking the waterhole. It is magical to spend some time by the pool and watch the game come down to drink. We were lucky enough to spend an unbelievably memorable afternoon getting up close and personal with a breeding herd of elephant as they drank from the pool and took a mud bath.
Sarah Clegg (Staff)
I visited Somalisa with my family in September 2012, having begun our trip in Victoria Falls the day before, we were picked up early in the morning and driven to Main Camp, the northern entrance to Hwange National Park. Met there by the camp manager, complete with a cold bottle of local 'Zambezi' beer, and we began the 2 hour game drive to camp. It quickly became apparent that Hwange really is the 'land of elephants'. Large breeding herds moved through the mopane woodland and huge bulls stood sedately watching our progress. However, nothing could have prepared us for the sight that greeted us at Somalisa, perhaps 50 elephants were queuing up around the camp's small swimming pool trying to reach over and around one another to slurp at the cool water within. Somalisa is in a beautiful spot on an old floodplain offering great views of the animals moving in towards the waterhole. The large acacia trees provide lovely shade on the island, although do keep your eye open and listen to the safety briefing as the big bulls like to retreat to this shade once they have sated their thirst.
Somalisa is a very comfortable camp, and Hwange a fascinating park, well worth a visit. The general game was great, cheetah, lion, buffalo, hyena, sable etc etc
The mornings were very cold when I visited, this is characteristic of the dry winter air of Hwange so do remember to take plenty of layers if traveling in the winter months of the dry season.
Zimbabwe in Style
Mana Pools, Lake Kariba, Hwange & Victoria Falls
from $7700 pp 11 nights
- A perfect balance of relaxation with activity; from walking safaris, game drives, canoe excursions and fishing
- Watch elephants walking along the shore of Lake Kariba before taking an afternoon swim
- Visit the raging Victoria Falls
Location & directions
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Somalisa is set on a private concession at the heart of Hwange National Park in north-eastern Zimbabwe.
How to get there
11-hour international flight to Johannesburg International Airport, followed by a 1-hour 45-minute flight to Victoria Falls. It is then a short charter flight to Manga Airstrip in Hwange followed by a 30 minute drive to camp. Alternatively, you can fly via Harare and charter into Manga Airstrip. It is also easy to transfer by road to Hwange Main Camp, 1 hour 30 minutes, where you will be collected by a representative of Somalisa who will drive you to the camp.