Exploring Binga

Bryony Scrooby, Heartveld Adventures • 10 January 2020

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The little tourism resort of Binga situated near the western end of Lake Kariba is a useful launching point for visitors out of Bulawayo or Victoria Falls wanting to experience fishing or cruising on Zimbabwe’s “inland sea”. Once a popular recreational spot, it has long been neglected for tourism, but is now undergoing something of a revival.

Zambezi Cruise & Safaris now operate out of Masumu Lodge (and soon Kulizwe Marina Lodge) in Binga from where they run 2-3 night short lake cruises as holiday add-ons from Victoria Falls/Hwange or longer cross- lake cruises as part of their round-Zimbabwe safari circuits (see top image).  

For self-drivers, Binga is a convenient stop-off point for those travelling the long “back route” linking Victoria Falls/Hwange  with Kariba/ Mana Pools. 

Bryony Scrooby from Heartveld Adventures in Kariba recently went to check out the accommodation options in Binga, and she and her husband were pleasantly surprised at what they found.  

“We had a pleasant drive to Binga, and aside from a lot of domesticated animals (mostly goats), the road into Binga from the main Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road was good with only a few potholes. You can self-drive from either Victoria Falls (320kms/4 hours) or Bulawayo (420kms/5 hours). For those wanting to fly in, there is a newly-renovated airstrip near Binga.

In advance of our trip, I got in touch with Wayne and Cheryl who, as well as owning and running the Ponty Houseboat in Binga, also offer accommodation in the form of 3 lovely B&Bs. These are Fish Eagle, Hippo and the recently completed Gecko cottages.

Fish Eagle Cottage is the only self-catering cottage of the three.  It is attached to the left side of the main house and consists of an en-suite bedroom and bathroom, open plan kitchenette and lounge area with its own verandah. The bedroom has a double bed, complete with mosquito net and ceiling fan. There is a chest of drawers and separate shelving unit to unpack all your belongings. The bathroom is fitted with a shower, toilet and basin.

Gecko Cottage is a cosy cottage on the far right of the main building, very similar in layout to that of Fish Eagle Cottage, however it does not have a lounge or kitchenette, instead a charming coffee station, bar fridge and private patio with stunning views of the lake. The bedroom has a queen size bed with an en-suite bathroom and overhead fan.

Hippo Cottage is a unique 4-bedded double storey family cottage.  Downstairs is an open plan en-suite bedroom and bathroom, with a sitting area and verandah. The bedroom has a double bed, chest of drawers and ceiling fan. The open-plan en-suite bathroom is fitted with a tiled shower, toilet and basin. The outside shower has a jaw dropping view directly across the lake.  There is another small thatched and tented twin bedded room upstairs, reached by an outdoor spiral staircase. This would best suit older kids and not really adults as it can be a bit of a squeeze.  The view from here is amazing. 

Wayne and Cheryl are a charming couple and extremely accommodating. Upon arrival we were very quickly shown to our cottage (Fish Eagle) and then encouraged to go down to the shared entertainment area at the bottom of the garden. This area is close to Hippo Cottage and has a lovely swimming area with a deck overlooking the Lake. There is a nice braai and fire pit area as well. The deck was the perfect location to enjoy our sundowners and snacks after a long drive.

For those wanting to fish, just below the patio is a floating jetty, with Wayne and Cheryl’s houseboat moored to it.

After a good night’s sleep and a lazy breakfast on our verandah, where we were joined by Wayne and Cheryl’s very friendly cat and dog (which we promptly adopted as this trip’s “holiday pets”). 

We took a slow drive into Binga town to see what it had to offer. Binga is very small and does not boast a lot of amenities; aside from a craft centre and small museum, there is not a lot to do or see. What you must see whilst there are the hot springs, these are easy to find if you ask anyone for directions.

If you self-cater, ensure you bring all your groceries with you, as there are no shops of any substance in Binga.  But I would highly recommend choosing Cheryl's catered option, as she and her chef do an amazing job. Although we were mostly self-catering, we booked a dinner with Cheryl for our second evening and we were certainly not disappointed.  We were served a delicious fresh-water crayfish and avocado starter followed by fresh fish (caught especially for us that afternoon) and chips, with home-made bread rolls, coleslaw, broccoli and cheese. To end off we had a nice refreshing fruit salad with fresh cream and melted chocolate sauce. One of the most popular options on the menu is the “lake and steak”, a clever alternative to the normal “surf and turf.”

The cottages are all linked to the national grid and appliances like hair dryers and electric shavers may be used, as long as there isn’t a power cut. If the power does go out, there is a back-up generator which supplies the cottages. The hot water is heated by a wood-burning Rhodesian Boiler. For guests travelling with valuables, there is a safe in the main house. Phone signal is limited, but available up near the main gate. There is no Wi-Fi access.

For those not wanting to tow their boats all the way to Binga, there is an option to hire a boat (bait can also be bought), but this needs to be booked in advance to ensure the boats are available.

Sunset cruises are also available at an extra cost, but are well worth it.  We had a wonderful cruise, and it was the perfect way to end off our stay in this beautiful location.

Wayne and Cheryl’s Binga cottages are most definitely hidden gems, with great hosts, wonderful food and a very relaxing environment. I look forward to exploring that neck of the woods in the near future so we have an excuse to go back!"

For more info, contact Heartveld Adventures


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