Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge

We know why you’re here in Gonarezhou; that’s why, when we built Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, we brought the outside in. Each lodge is light and spacious, simple and elegant, yet with all the comforts of home. We used a handsome palette of natural materials, to provide you with a haven from the heat of the day, a place to rest and recoup, and to prepare for your next big adventure. For when you’re looking to spend time with other guests, the main lodge has everything you need; a shaded swimming pool, a sumptuous lounge, a library, a bar and dining room, all surrounded by beautifully tended gardens. Even here, at the heart of Chilo, the great African wilderness is never far away. You can watch our local elephants, hippos and crocodiles cooling off in the waters of the river from the viewing deck.

Our all-inclusive luxury rooms sleep two and come with a spacious en-suite bathroom complete with complimentary toiletries. A private balcony and seating area commands superior views, offering a serene space to unwind after a lively day. Other amenities include a mini bar, tea and coffee facilities, and a safe. One option for families is the two luxury rooms with an extended interconnecting balcony, which provides easy private access between the rooms for all the family.

Gonarezhou is one of Zimbabwe's hidden gems, the park has been off the radar for quite some time but is gradually becoming the secret spot that safari lovers whisper about to their friends as one of the last truly remote and seldom frequented locations. Chilo Gorge has taken full advantage of this special location and offers an incredibly private safari experience. I experienced two days of intense game-viewing without encountering any other vehicles or travelers. It is truly, truly wild here. The classic thatch, stone and wood lodge is found high on a cliff overlooking a gorge, providing the most magnificent views. Gonarezhou actually means "place of many elephants" and the lodge overlooks the river where you can see the elephants making their way down for a drink. The landscape here varies from winding rivers that converge on flat floodplains, to thick impenetrable forest, baobab shrublands and high red sandstone cliffs. Some evenings we would have dinner set up beautifully on the riverbanks and have the most amazing chats in this magical setting. The food was great and they were even able to fully accommodate one of the gluten-free guests with thoughtful and delicious meals.The legendary conservationist Clive Stockil is the founding father of Chilo Gorge, and is so interesting to talk to as his knowledge and passion is unparalleled. He grew up with the local Shangaan community and speaks the language fluently, and is a fierce proponent of combining conservation and community upliftment as he believes strongly that “for the local population to care about protecting wildlife, they have to benefit from wildlife”. The community focus of the lodge is thus very impressive and inspiring. I felt very privileged to be able to explore this area before the rest of the world realises what a gem it is.

Three rivers run through Gonarezhou National Park; the Mwenezi to the west, the Runde through its heart, and the Save forming its eastern boundary. At over 5,000 km², it is the second largest National Park in Zimbabwe, cutting a swathe of sandstone cliffs, scrub and baobab trees along the country’s southeastern 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, first and foremost, 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 on the cusp of a great adventure; it forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, an area the size of the Netherlands straddling Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. This colossal tract of land encompasses three national parks including Kruger National Park and Limpopo National Park. As the fences come down, years of struggle and division will be forgotten as the animals of this vast land – above all Gonarezhou’s ubiquitous elephants – will once again be able to resume their ancient migratory routes.

The Gonarezhou Conservation Trust (GCT) was established in August 2016 and assumed management of Gonarezhou National Park (GNP) in March 2017. GCT is a ground-breaking partnership between Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) and Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), following almost 10 years of working together within Gonarezhou.

GCT is committed to protecting and conserving the wilderness, biodiversity, ecological processes, wild and scenic landscapes within Gonarezhou and Malipati Safari Area (MSA) boundaries. The park’s exceptional resource values will be sustained for present and future generations, while supporting its role in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area and regional economic development. The culture and history of the Shangani people will be recognised as one of the key components of the park.

Gonarezhou remains a National Park, wholly owned by the Government of Zimbabwe. The GCT uses a decentralised management system in the form of a co-management model. Management is directed by six Trustees appointed by ZPWMA and FZS, with approved work plans and guided by a Ministerially approved GNP Management Plan and jointly developed Trust rules. Policies and procedures primarily based on ZPWMA protocols.
 

Escape to the untouched wilderness of Gonarezhou National Park during a stay at the luxurious Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, situated just on the edge of serenity on a gorge overlooking the Save River. This cliff-side haven allows guests to be immersed in one of Africa’s last remaining pristine wildernesses, all while enjoying all-inclusive rooms and your own private balcony with serene views of the bush.

Located on the edge of the stunning wilderness of Gonarezhou National Park in South-East Zimbabwe, Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge combines the luxurious with the wild of the bush. Guests have prime access to a park that is rarely visited, resulting in interactions with animals that are utterly authentic. Gonarezhou also means “place of the elephants”, and the park calls itself home to to over 8000 of them.

Game Drives in Gonarezhou National Park
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 southeastern 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, first and foremost, 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 our resident Guides.

 

 

 


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 our resident 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.
Min age of 12yrs.
 

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 unrivaled bird watching & 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. This is the birthplace of the CAMPFIRE concept, which has since been replicated thousands of times around Africa. At it's core is the concept of "Community Led Conservation", and for his work setting up this initiative, and his ongoing commitment to conservation, Chilo Gorge Founder and Director, Clive Stockil, has won numerous international awards.

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
For those with a penchant for something a bit more active, 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. As the water cascades over age-old rocks, take in the sights and satisfy your thirst with some well deserved refreshments.


 

 



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 also provides sightings of specials such as the Green Malkoha, Narina Trogon, Chestnut -fronted Helmet shrikes, and Square tailed Drongo.


 

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