Our Memorable Trip To Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge

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We had the great pleasure of taking a leisure trip to the Gonarezhou National Park recently. A trip that was much anticipated, as we left the confines of the familiar for a safari wind down. We had a smooth journey from Harare to Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, grateful that we were making this road trip at winter’s tail end, so the heat was not too bad. The drive was about 7 hours long.

Upon arrival at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, a cheerful Bonani welcomed us and took care of our luggage. Some delicious iced tea was served as the welcome beverage. Afterward, we were escorted to the terrace overlooking the Save River. It is absolutely breathtaking, one of those moments when nature gives a big hello. We took in the beautiful views of the river and we spotted animals drinking on the other side. Although we arrived well after lunchtime, a good meal had been set aside for us which was well appreciated.


The guest rooms at the lodge are thatched chalets, which are balanced out over the river gorge. They are beautifully cool with lovely shady balconies and varying views of the river below. Our chalet was alongside a waterfall that would be flowing in the rainy season. The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed with lots of storage and surface space to use. I particularly loved the luxurious wooden floors, which turned out to be warm underfoot in the early mornings.

After the late lunch, we spent the afternoon exploring Chilo. We enjoyed the beauty of the aloe gardens which were in full flower as well as the mesmerising view of the river below.  At sunset, we made our way to the terrace where we sipped on some sundowners as we watched the animals below and the wonderful birdlife.

Early the next morning we woke up to a continental breakfast spread that was laid out on the patio, and by 7 am we were joined by our guide, Lloyd who led the way on a full-day trip to the Chilojo Gorge. The Chilojo Cliffs are the most prominent feature within the Gonarezhou National Park. Lloyd was a very capable guide, very knowledgeable, and attentive to our needs. We had a rewarding day of game viewing and came across impala, kudu, sable, duiker, steenbok, as well as elephant, jackal, lion, warthog, leopard, hippo, and crocodiles. We also spotted a variety of birds of prey including martial eagles, vultures, Bateleur eagles, and kites.

We had Tea on the way to the cliffs, and we reached the breathtaking Chilojo Cliffs just in time for lunch. Overlooking the Runde River Valley, the red sandstone cliffs are magnificent and a must-see for all visitors to Gonarezhou. After we had settled down and were busy taking in the scenery, we nearly fell off our bench when a long blackish snake, possibly a Mozambican spitting cobra or black mamba reared up out of the leaves on the ground near where we were sitting, but luckily changed course and slithered off under a nearby scrubby bush.

Later after our meal, we drove up to the top of the Chilojo cliffs which was breathtaking, and we photographed the stunning pinnacle. On our way back to the lodge we had sundowners on the Save river bed as we waited for a large herd of elephants to cross the river before we could cross safely. We arrived just in time for a delicious dinner of spiced pumpkin soup, a tasty chicken and tomato dish with veggies for the main meal, followed by Banoffee pie.  We then retired after the long adventure-filled day. Falling into bed exhausted but exhilarated.

On Day three we slept in a little and woke up to the sound of birds outside the room. The bountiful breakfast was both colourful and filling; we enjoyed it from the terrace. After breakfast, we visited the next-door self-catering camp, Nhambo. The rooms are very similar to those at Chilo lodge with lovely views of the Save River Valley. There is also a family unit with its own kitchen and dining areas, it accommodates eight guests in all.

In the middle of the camp is a communal kitchen with an upstairs dining area and bar, taking full advantage of the views. At Nhambo there is the option of taking meals at Chilo lodge if desired. Later that morning we travelled 10 minutes to see the nearby Chivilila Falls. These were very impressive, flowing over a very rocky section of the river bed, and with a shady spot overlooking the falls and pools. We relaxed to a picnic lunch at this breezy spot. Once again lunch was very tasty.

Later in the afternoon, we were taken down to the large sandy bank of the Save River for sundowners.  Chairs were laid out around a fire and we watched the golden glow of the sun over the river as it set. We socialised over some drinks and snacks. Supper was particularly delicious, a braai dinner where they cooked the steaks to perfection while you waited.

We woke up early on the last morning to take a quick tour to the confluence of the Save and Runde rivers. We had some last-minute action, as we had an amazing close encounter with an elephant along the way. We stopped for a coffee break at the confluence of the two rivers and managed to take in the beauty. We were hoping to see the rare Pels Fishing Owl along the way, but we did not manage to spot any! Back at the camp, we had breakfast, and then sadly it was time to leave this very special spot. The friendly and efficient staff made this a very relaxing and fun holiday. Chilo Lodge is a magnificent facility if you ever get the chance to visit Gonarezhou.