Wilderness Safaris is betting big on wildlife lovers coming to see some of the best game in Africa in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. Their just-opened luxury camp Linkwasha sits in a private concession so rich with game that during my recent visit we saw in our first twenty-four hours what others would be lucky to see in two weeks. Some of the highlights were catching a pregnant hippo out of the water; taking a bush walk with the guide who is ranked #3 in all of Africa into a breeding herd of elephants; watching a cheetah take down a waterbuck as we sat at lunch; and spending more than an hour with a mother lion and her cubs. We even saw a rare leopard tortoise and a shooting star by the Southern Cross.
Sitting on grassy plains that reminded me of East Africa, the nine-tent camp features lounge, dining and library tents that are surrounded by wide decks on different levels with a small infinity pool at one end a fire pit that is perfect for post-dinner chats or cocktails. The decor within the army green tents exemplifies 21st-century safari chic. Comfy couches mix with modern leather safari chairs and copper drum tables; while local crafts like woven baskets and wood carvings have been given a contemporary twist. In the dining tents the pendant lights have shades that resemble overturned woven palm baskets with unfinished edges and placemats hand-beaded by local tribeswomen. In the guest tents, raffia rugs cover the wooden floors and beds are draped with mosquito nets, but there’s a sleek edge to the interiors and even the deck furniture that faces the pan and its endless parade of wildlife.
Wilderness has brought some of the best of their team here so despite the fact that it is brand-new the old hands running the camp make you feel instantly welcomed into a family. If Linkwasha is the sign of what is to come in Zimbabwe tourism, then Botswana is in for some serious competition, and at a much better price.
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