Masuwe Lodge - comfort and simplicity in the wild

Sally Wynn, Wild Zambezi • 4 August 2018

I am delighted to discover that, over the years, since I first visited Masuwe during Zimbabwe's tourism boom in the 1990s, this delightful, intimate, 24-bed lodge, situated just outside the town of Victoria Falls, has matured like a good red wine!   

It survived 15 years of "dormancy" during Zimbabwe's recent challenges, but thanks to the tender care of loyal staff, its lovely natural gardens and buildings were retained. 

In May 2017, after a complete re-build and re-furbishment, Landela Safaris re-opened Masuwe Lodge for tourism. 

Masuwe's best feature is its hilltop setting nestled sensitively into natural mopane woodland overlooking the Masuwe River.  The lodge is fenced and sits within a large 1000-hectare private wildlife property adjacent to Chamabonda Vlei in the western section of the Zambezi National Park Wildlife wander freely in the valley below.  

Nine comfortable and spacious en-suite "wilderness tents", all named after different local bird species, are built on stilted wooden decks around the hill with views out over the bush and the river valley.  A spacious  Honeymoon Suite with en-suite bathroom an outdoor bath is separated off and secluded at the end of its own pathway and a 4-bedded, double-storey self-contained home known as the "Family Nest" (pictured below) is located privately nearby for the use of family groups.

The re-build of Masuwe Lodge captures the best of comfort and simplicity.  I love practical designs inspired by Nature, so Masuwe's simple combination of natural stone and thatch with interiors of light-coloured canvas set on soft pale wooden decking works well for me.  Each Wilderness Tent has a lovely sense of space and simplicity, with large, extra-comfy beds facing expansive glass doors which open onto a generous decked verandah and out into the view.  

There are some attractive, yet practical touches.  

I loved the simple chandelier lampshades made out of poles and the bench made out of an old carved door from a traditional Tonga homestead.

The dressing area, bathroom and separate loo are cleverly divided off from the bedroom by a wooden partition that doubles as a wardrobe at the back.  The huge mosquito-net is drawn over the bed on “sliders" - a brilliant design!  

The tented units are linked by pathways through the natural woodland to Masuwe's central lodge area.  This has been re-styled as an expansive, open-plan lounge-bar-diningroom combination. 

One side has a large wooden deck which overlooks a wildlife-frequented waterhole.  We saw a variety of animals from here, including elephants, bushbuck, impala, slender mongoose, vervet monkeys and mopane squirrels.    

The other side of the central lodge has lovely green lawns with a night-time fire-pit and al fresco dining area and a sparkling swimming pool with loungers. 

The meals we had were delicious. Dinner was a simple, traditional braai (barbeque) with local specialities served at a candlelit table set under the stars next to the pool. 

Breakfast offered an extensive array of fresh fruits, yoghurts, bakes and traditional egg and bacon with all the trimmings, and for lunch, I enjoyed a delicious vegetarian lasagne, followed by the most mouth-watering chocolate brownie I have ever tasted!  Compliments to the chef!

Caisius Tembo, (pictured below left) the gentle giant of a man who manages Masuwe Lodge can be extremely proud of his staff, who were, without exception, warm, friendly and helpful.  Cas leads by example, as all good leaders should - always on hand to talk to guests, deal with anyone's needs and to assist his staff (even helping to serve the evening meal).  

I was particularly impressed with Gari, our guide (above right) who took us for an evening game-drive around the property sharing his extensive knowledge of the bush in a sensitive, quiet and unassuming way. The chilly and cloudy winter weather was not the best for sundowners overlooking the dam on the Masuwe River, but Gari provided delicious drinks and snacks to warm us up and there were blankets on hand for the journey back to the lodge! 

Oh.... and there was a wonderfully-welcome hot-water-bottle in my incredibly comfortable bed when I finally retired after dinner that night!  What a great sleep!

The next morning, we set off for a visit to the magnificent Victoria Falls which, in mid-July, were still in high flood!  We were most grateful for the loan of much-needed, heavy-duty jungle-green ponchos that Gari handed us when he dropped us off.  Well done Masuwe - these are perfect for the job and much more effective than those flimsy yellow plastic raincoats that most visitors are given!  We were by far the driest walkers in the Rainforest that morning!

Landela Safaris have got it right with the new Masuwe Lodge.  Attention to those comfortable little details in the simplest way, and with the minimum of fuss.  Just how I like it!  

Oh...and there's one more thing..... a little bird told me that there are exciting plans afoot later this year for the addition of a simple new outdoor "under the stars" bush experience at Masuwe Lodge.

WATCH THIS SPACE!

.....and it's all within just a few kilometres of Victoria Falls - away from all the hustle and bustle of the tourist town.... Just how I like it!

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