Chilo Gorge - Gonarezhou National Park
Chilo Gorge - Gonarezhou National Park
Chilo Gorge - Gonarezhou National Park
Chilo Gorge - Gonarezhou National Park
Chilo Gorge - Gonarezhou National Park
Chilo Gorge - Gonarezhou National Park
Chilo Gorge - Gonarezhou National Park
Chilo Gorge - Gonarezhou National Park

CHILO GORGE - GONAREZHOU NATIONAL PARK - SOUTH EAST ZIMBABWE

Chilo Gorge is a luxury safari lodge on the edge of the stunning wilderness of Gonarezhou National Park in south-east Zimbabwe. This rarely visited park offers access to the pristine wilderness of Gonarezhou with fabulous wildlife viewing and through the work of Chilo director Clive Stockil there is a very powerful community and conservation story which is at the centre of how the lodge operates.

Chilo Gorge Tented Camp is a semi-luxury seasonal tented camp on the banks of the Runde River. This is an 'old Africa' camping experience with a good standard of comfort and a great place from which to explore Gonarezhou by vehicle and on foot.

The Ivory Trail Adventure is a mobile fly camping experience offering travellers the opportunity to explore remote corners of this large wilderness park at a relaxed pace.

LOCATION

The lodge is set on the edge of Goarezhou National Park in south east Zimbabwe.

Access is either via a 6-8 hour road transfer or a flight from Harare which takes around 90 minutes.  On arrival you are met and transferred the short distance to the lodge.

There is also a flight from Johannesburg to Buffalo Range which also takes around 90 minutes and then a 2 – 3 hour drive to the lodge.

LODGE

There are 10 beautifully appointed, thatched luxury lodges which are largely inspired by nature but with a designer’s passion for elegance, simplicity and luxurious touches. Locally crafted intricate reed weaving, individually carved jacaranda headboards, luxurious cotton bedding and a mini bar have all been carefully chosen for your comfort and enjoyment.

Each lodge has its own private balcony offering spectacular sunrises or sunsets and the opportunity for you to relax watching the resident elephants, crocodiles and hippos in the Save River that flows all year or to observe the diverse number of other river visitors throughout the day.

Each lodge also includes a mini-bar, tea and coffee facilities, mini-safe, ensuite bathroom with spacious shower and separate WC and complimentary toiletries.

Chilo Gorge Tented Camp (at Mahove) is set in one of the best locations within Gonarezhou National Park and offers guests the opportunity of experiencing this pristine wilderness area at close quarters.

A semi-luxury seasonal tented camp situated on the banks of the Runde River, the camp offers accommodation in 4 twin bedded ensuite tents with shower and flushing toilet. Meals are taken under the shade of trees or in a canvas boma in inclement weather.

Daily activities include game walks with the resident professional guide, game drives and birding to the Chilojo Cliffs and to the nearby water pans.

Chilo Gorge Tented Camp is open 1st May to 31st October every year.

The Ivory Trail Adventure provides safari enthusiasts the ability to explore remote corners of this pristine wilderness at their own pace. The exact route and campsites will be tailored to take advantage of seasonal hot spots and to accommodate your specific requests. And the mix of game walks and game drives can be tailored before and during the trip to match your requirements.

Your camp comprises 2-man dome tents with enough height to stand up, equipped with two stretcher beds, foam mattress, sheets and blankets/duvet (depending on temperature and season). There is a bucket shower with canvas frame to give privacy and duckboards underfoot. Each campsite has well-constructed and safe bush loos (long-drops). 

Enjoy the rustic simplicity of mealtimes under the shade of a gazebo or under the stars. The fly-camp comes equipped with LED lights for tents, kitchen and service area. There is an inverter on the game vehicle for camera battery charging and there are two vehicles for these trips - the 9-seater safari vehicle for guests and another vehicle for the equipment and staff who go on ahead and set up for lunch / campsite, as appropriate.

The Ivory Trail Adventure is available all year round however the stable weather and cooler nights of the dry season (April to October) often provide an excellent time to enjoy this itinerary.

ACTIVITIES AND WILDLIFE

At over 5,000 km² Gonarezhou is the second largest National Park in Zimbabwe cutting a swathe of sandstone cliffs, scrub and baobab trees along the country’s south eastern border with Mozambique. Largely undiscovered by the outside world this striking land is one of the last great pristine wildernesses in Africa and takes in a huge diversity of habitats. Lions, cheetah, wild dogs, hyena, buffalo, hippo and giraffe can all be seen within the boundaries of Gonarezhou but this country is known as the Land of the elephant. These massive, intelligent creatures are called Nzhou in Shona and give their name to the National Park where they number in their thousands. Gonarezhou National Park is one of Africa's last remaining true pristine wilderness areas.

Morning, Afternoon and Full Day Games Drives - into Gonarezhou National Park with your guide.

Game Walks in Gonarezhou National Park - there is no better way to explore an area than on foot. Chilo Gorge offers morning and afternoon game walks in Gonarezhou National Park with professional guides. Explore the Runde river floodplains from Chilo Gorge Tented Camp or some of the more remote corners of Gonarezhou when on the Ivory Trail Adventure fly camping experience. Game walks are also available for guests staying at the Main Lodge.  There is a minimum age of 12 years for game walks.

Chilojo Cliffs Safari - a full day excursion to the Red sandstone Chilojo Cliffs situated in the heart of the Gonarezhou National Park on the banks of the Runde River. Visit the Tembahata and Machanu Water Pans offering fantastic bird watching and view large herds of elephant and buffalo. A picnic lunch is served at the spectacular Chilojo Cliffs followed by a sundowner game drive back to the lodge.

Available in the dry season: April to November with the top of the Chilojo Cliffs normally only accessible between June/July to November when the Runde River is fordable.

Community Visit - the intimate working relationship between the lodge and the local Shangaan community makes a visit to Mahenye Village a uniquely rewarding cultural experience.  It will be a colourful and informative visit likely to include the Secondary School and local clinic and guests are encouraged to interact with the local villagers. This is a unique opportunity to spend time exploring an authentic village and watch daily village life in one of Zimbabwe’s remotest corners.  There is also a potential to visit the local palm forest to meet the resident palm wine maker. Your guide will explain how palm wine is produced, together with providing different samples for tasting.

Chivalila Falls - the 2.5km hiking trail from the lodge to the beautiful Chivalila Falls is a great way to start or end your day. Trekking through a rugged landscape will lead you to a view-point overlooking the Falls. 

Bird Watching in the Sacred Sand Forest - the three major rivers, the Chilojo Cliffs and the vast water pans in the park support a rich variety of birdlife including kingfishers, hornbills, eagles and raptors. Over 450 species have been recorded in and around Gonarezhou making it one of southern Africa's top birding destinations. The rivers attract many waterbirds from herons, storks and egrets to waders, African skimmers and nesting southern carmine bee-eaters. Purple-crested turacos flash crimson through the denser riverine and grey-headed, brown-headed and Meyer’s parrots squawk and shriek. The Chilojo Cliffs and the surrounding areas offer common sightings of Verreaux’s eagles, Peregrine falcons, black storks, swifts and other raptors, including bat hawks and Taita falcons and the local Sacred Sand Forest offers sightings of specials such as the green malkoha, narina trogon, chestnut-fronted helmet shrikes, and square tailed drongo.

GIVING BACK

Sustainability and conservation are central to everything the lodge does at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, and they understand that the local community is vital to protect the park. The first CAMPFIRE programme (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) in Zimbabwe was started here, and its principles have since been replicated across Africa and the rest of the world.

Gonarezhou is Shangaan country, and has been since at least the mid 19th century, when the local tribe arrived from central Africa during the great migrations of the Mfecane. Also known as the MaChangana, or the XiTsonga, they live not only around Gonarezhou but also across the border in southern Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland.

Clive Stockil grew up amongst the Shangaan and with the community, he has created a unique environment where local cultures, wildlife and responsible tourism are all able to thrive and enrich one another. The local community at Mahenye Village have built a school, clinic, police station and mill from income earned through tourism.

Any visit to Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge and Gonarezhou is as much about the local community as it is about the beauty of the natural landscape and the animals. Visitors can enjoy the riches of Shangaan culture, partake in the wisdom of ages, and witness first hand the bright promise of a truly sustainable future.

Continuing the positive momentum created by the CAMPFIRE programme the Mahenye Charitable Trust was set up by the Directors of Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge to help further benefit the community. The charity provides an easy way for guests and friends of Chilo to make donations and raise funds for the village, safe in the knowledge that the monies are being directed to projects that will directly benefit the local community. Projects are identified in conjunction with the village elders and the implementation supervised by members of the Chilo team.

CHILO GORGE LODGE IS OPEN ALL YEAR ROUND AND CHILO GORGE TENTED CAMP IS CLOSED FROM NOVEMBER THROUGH TO APRIL EVERY YEAR 

THE LODGE WELCOMES FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN OF ALL AGES.  PLEASE NOTE THAT CHILDREN AGED UNDER 12 CANNOT PARTICIPATE IN WALKING SAFARIS

Call +44 1386 830264 or Email [email protected]

Our expert staff are on-hand, happy to assist with any enquiry you have.Enquire