Next port of call for our stay was Somalisa. We were met at Main Camp – a large, self-catered camping accommodation on the edge of Hwange National Park where most camps come too to pick up guests – we were met by a very vivacious and charismatic gentleman called Mike, who offered us some cold drinks before we began our transfer through the park to Somalisa.
On route (about 2 hours give or take, depending on what you see), we came across numerous breeding herds of elephant with the smallest calves, tonnes of impala, some gnu dotted around and lots of wonderfully colourful migratory birds. At this time of year, the park becomes alive with the noises of these birds coming from Europe and eastern Africa to breed.
Before arriving at Somalisa, we heard news from some passing self-driving vehicles that some cheetah had been spotted (excuse the pun!) in the area. Mike asked us if we would like to take a small detour and of course we said yes. Hwange is such a vast area and the landscape changes frequently and dramatically. From Morpani trees which have been culled by elephants who enjoy snacking on these delicious plants – at this time of year they can be filled with cicadas or ‘Christmas beetles’ which look like the snitches from Harry Potter when they fly and scream like they are being attached by something horrific! The landscape changes to open planes and fossilised riverbeds to almost desert like vistas dotted with palm trees and white sand blown over from Botswana’s Kalahari. Finally, we came across the cheetah! Around a small thorn bush, we could see a mum cheetah lying slightly away from the bush but wrapped in and around the branches within the small bush were some adolescent cheetah cubs. Tails flicking away the flies in the heat and chests rising, slightly panting, it was a lovely sight. The cubs began stretching and emerging out of the bushes and would just brush their heads against one of their siblings, then flop down and try to start snoozing again.
We moved off after this sight and onwards to Somalisa. Arriving at Somalisa they welcomed us with a traditional welcoming song and a cool drink. Whilst we went through some important information with one of the camp managers, our bags were taken to our rooms. We were escorted to our rooms which are all located around the back of the main mess area and are wonderfully spacious. Huge beds with views of Hwange outside, with an open bathroom with his and her sinks, a huge copper bath and inside and outside showers.
The main mess area is wonderful with squashy sofas and a touch of tradition. It overlooks a watering hole frequented by many elephants and the other incredible installation Somalisa has is a pool specifically for elephants to drink from, which enables you to get almost within touching distance of these huge animals as they use their trunks to suck out some fresh water to quench their thirst.
We had a fantastic stay at Somalisa, with delicious food and wonderful staff looking after us. We were most impressed with their covid precautions as well. If you felt uncomfortable with being in contact with anybody at all, they will assign your own personal butler and housekeeper to look after all your wants and needs and you need ever encounter anybody else. However, they were excellent with their cleanliness in general, and if requested all staff would wear masks, but as it is an outside camp, everything is done outside so their wasn’t really any need for masks to be warn, but the option was there.
Our next blog will feature some more tales from Somalisa and in particular, look out for the story about another mother cheetah and some younger cubs’ encounter with a rather grumpy hippo!