Zimbabwe’s Newest Safari Lodge Lets You Live Among the Elephants, Giraffes, and Lions

Most safari lodges rely on game drives to stay in business. But at the new five-star safari lodge Molori Mashuma in northern Zimbabwe guests don’t have to put in quite as much effort—because the big five are right there in camp.

Opened in August, Molori Mashuma—the newest member of the Rora Private Collection—is unfenced and situated within the wildlife-rich Mashuma Pan, where everything from leopards to elephants come to drink in Mana Pools National Park. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a healthy population of almost every African animal Noah managed to squeeze onto the ark.

Like its sister properties (Sable House, Moledi Gorge, and On Oyster), Molori Mashuma is as intimate as it is luxurious. The camp features just six spacious tented en-suites all outfitted with AC and creature comforts like a minibar, an outdoor shower, a clawfoot tub, and perhaps best of all, a private deck.

“To be able to just sit in complete luxury and watch herds of elephant, playful baboon, lion, buffalo, cheetah, and a variety of buck go about their day calmly right in front of the camp is unimaginable,” Molori co-owner and conservationist Eric Ichikowitz told.

With more than 450 species of birds flying through, Mana Pools also belongs on every birder’s bucket list.

Of course, guests who want to stretch their legs can always go for a guided stroll in pursuit of impala and giraffes. All of Molori Mashuma’s guides have a minimum of five years of bush walking experience and are members of the Zimbabwe Professional Guides Association. According to Ichikowitz, it’s the best qualification for walking safari guides on the continent. Most of the lodge’s staff come from local communities.

“We have wonderful examples of employees who were employed initially as manual laborers and who are now butlers, executive housekeepers and talented chefs,” says Ichikowitz.

Service at Molori Mashuma, Ichikowitz says, is personal. For example, after a guest told their reservations manager that she missed her dogs while traveling, the team tracked down pictures of her beloved pups, printed, and framed them. The photos were waiting for her in her suite when she arrived.

While pets aren’t allowed at Molori Mashuma, kids are more than welcome. The two 3,300-square-foot family suites have double bedrooms, a central living area and a private plunge pool. The main lodge also has a 5,457-square-foot deck with communal areas including a pool for the littles and a bar for the adults where it’s always 5 o’clock.

That said, unlike safari lodges where it’s a 5 a.m. game drive or nothing, here the staff is flexible and no guest has to feel guilty for sleeping in.

“We operate according to our guests’ time and wants and needs,” says Ichikowitz. “If they prefer to go on a game drive at 9 a.m. we do it. If they’re on a great wildlife sighting, we don’t want to rush them back for meals, we take meals to them.”

Of course, the beauty of staying at Molori Mashuma is that you don’t have to spend hours bumping around in a Landcruiser. Just take it from the well-traveled tour operators who visited the lodge right after its opening.

“The feedback was how wonderful it is to be in a natural environment that allows wildlife to wander through the large pan that Molori Mashuma is situated on, and in some cases, right through camp,” says Ichikowitz.

Rates from $1,724 per night.

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