One of my favourite places to stay in Zimbabwe is Singita Pamushana Lodge, which whilst it is a five star luxury safari lodge, with a range of fabulous activities; for me it is their social program The Malilangwe Trust and especially The Neighbour Outreach Programme, which made all the difference to my stay and every guest staying at Pamushana supports these projects through any profits made from their stay.
Singita Pamushana has a strong social African heart, feeding approximately 19,000 local children each morning, (mostly under five year olds) a special maize porridge with added vitamins in it, at 413 feeding points, plus various community and conservation projects. When not on safari activities, guests can spend a very different morning out of the reserve visiting the local community projects and schools.
The Neighbourhood outreach program includes the feeding scheme which has been developed to make a positive impact on surrounding communities so that they will see the benefits of tourism and wildlife/conservation. Started in 2003 to provide supplementary feeding initially short term it is now a long term project.
Other continuing projects are the running of a local health clinic, assistance and advice for a small scale irrigation scheme, support with the provision and supply of stationary to rural schools, drilling of boreholes to provide water for communities, plus a communal fruit and vegetable garden.
Pamushana Lodge is situated on the Malilangwe Private Reserve, adjacent to the Gonarezhou Reserve in south eastern Zimbabwe. The diverse Malilangwe Private Reserve covers 130,000 acres, and consists of riverine forests, open plains, plus mopane woodlands. The adjoining Gonarezhou covers 5000 square kilometres, so this combined area is one of the biggest and most intensely diverse wildlife areas in the country.
Guests staying at Pamushana Lodge can enjoy regular sightings of the Big Five, and the reserve has one of the highest concentrations of the rare black rhino. Singita exemplifies co-operative conservation, with preservation of the landscape, protection of wildlife and partnership with the local communities at the heart of its philosophy.
Accommodation is in spacious and vibrant suites inspired by the architecture of the Shangaan people. There is one villa and six cottages. One of the cottages has a magnificent view over the largest section of the dam whilst other rooms oversee sections of the dam and bushveld below.
Outside the front of the cottages are private verandas, and plunge pools on the edge of the hill looking down on the reserve. The magnificent villa stands alone at the far end of the property and is accessed up a very steep but paved pathway, sitting on the highest point overlooking the dam and has three bedrooms with a kitchen, study, huge sitting room and private plunge pool. This is perfect for families or a group of friends.
The main entertainment area has two separate lounge areas, with lots of soft cushions and both lounges invite one to curl up with a good book and relax. The dining room has wonderful views and the character filled bar has a wide range of drinks as well as a coffee/espresso, cappuccino machine for lattes and choco/mocha toffee lattes too!
The expansive decking stretching out in front also includes the swimming pool, small pool and an open rock Jacuzzi, all with breath-taking views. Dinner is also eaten here under the stars and a telescope is available for star and wildlife spotting. Pamushana’s cuisine is not only quite delicious, but outstanding, whereby one evening they may offer a five or seven course specialist dinner accompanied by wines chosen especially to accompany the meal, all served in their ‘Baobab room’ and they are great at dealing with dietary requirements.
The management and staff are not only highly trained but simply charming and include a Sommelier and fabulous beauty therapist, offering Dermalogica treatments, as well as extremely knowledgeable and entertaining guides.
There are five guides at Pamushana and they will discuss all the available activities with you. You can go on game drives and walks in the reserve, take an early morning walk, which is the perfect way to get your legs going first thing in the morning.
There are also two game hides, one near the river, where you may like to spend a few hours during the middle of the day or indeed in the afternoon as part of your game drive. Fishing for bream, catfish, and the exciting tiger fish is also possible in the dam and great fun.
A boat cruise in the very comfortable pontoon boat is a simply wonderful way to do some bird watching and get up close to the hippo. Apart from the usual wildlife type activities, you may also like to walk to see some of the Bushman rock art, of which there are over 100 sites.
Malilangwe is the home of the big five, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant, not to mention African wild dog. Nowhere else in Africa can one also see the ‘Little 6 antelope’ in one place - grey duiker, Sharpe’s grysbok, steenbok, klipspringer, Livingstone Suni and Oribi. There are also 14 eagle species, eleven hawk and nine owl species, plus a wonderful variety of other bird species.
There are also mountain bikes, archery and two clay tennis courts a few minutes’ drive away from the lodge. The staff can organise badminton, volleyball plus there is a fully equipped gym. If you prefer to take things easy, the beauty therapist can be booked for massages and facials. Bush breakfasts and dinners can be organised in the wilderness too.
If you have enough time during your stay at Singita Pamushana, you can go and visit Great Zimbabwe, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a ruined city near the town of Masvingo in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe and was once the capital of the Kingdom.
It is understood to have served as a royal palace for the local King and building work started in the 11th century and continued up until the 15th century. Among the edifice's most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five metres high. Sadly, the city was abandoned and fell into ruin, but the ruins are still absolutely fascinating to go and visit on a full day guided trip.