Bumi Hills – Haven of luxury
Being in control of the tiller bar of our thirty foot, 6 berth Tiki 30 catamaran was a great feeling and I’d found, through experience and instruction the right position to keep our sails full so that we skimmed across the water at a comfortable 6 knots. The last time I’d been on a catamaran was on the Tanzanian coast but here I was, sailing along the shoreline of Bumi Hills Safari Lodge, watching elephants, water buck and listening to the cry of the fish eagle.
Bumi Hills wildlife estate is situated 90 meters above Lake Kariba, west of Matusadona National Park and the Umi River and is located, as the name suggests, on a hill on a peninsula of land belonging to the Nyamanyami rural district. It has one of the best vistas of any lodge on the lake. Bumi reopened in August 2009 after renovations to the pool and communal areas. Stunning décor throughout the lodge was introduced by Belinda Jones interiors. The inﬁnity pool’s views are breathtaking, the rooms luxurious and the communal areas spacious and comfortable. All 20 rooms are lake facing and the 10 deluxe rooms have verandas on stilts with uninterrupted views. Conference facilities are available in the conference room and the indoor air conditioned dining room is used for larger groups. The bar and alfresco restaurant deck, which is built on stilts, also overlooks the lake and mountains of Zambia. Four generators keep the lodge running, solar panels heat the water, wireless is available and mobile phones are kept on silent and only used in private.
Bumi is more a haven of luxury and relaxation than a full on safari experience, which is apparent in the tranquil environment of the lodge. Game drives and walking safaris are predominantly conducted in the coolness of early morning and late evening. All activities are available throughout the day, weather permitting; we took our catamaran out at 11am as it was overcast and reasonably cool. Another mid-morning found us and Dean McGregor, the lodges’ resident Professional guide, visiting the viewing platform which is found in the shade of a magniﬁcent Mopani (colophospermum mopane) tree on the edge of the foreshore. European, little and carmine bee-eaters were among many birds spotted and elephants walked within meters of the base of the platform en route to an hour long wash in the lake. As keen ﬁshermen our evenings were spent hooking bream and watching the ctivities of elephant, waterbuck, kudu and impala as the sun set. Driving back to the lodge we were lucky enough to see four of the six resident lion pride.
Ornithology is phenomenal at Bumi and the surrounds with over 270 bird species being spotted. The plant life is also special and one can ﬁnd a myriad of interesting species that have adapted to the ancient basalt geology and varied soil types. The beaches around Bumi are characteristically red in colour. Bumi’s night skies are also renowned and the waiters are soon to be trained to offer night sky tid-bits to guests.
Bumi is currently focusing on expanding their very successful Anti Poaching Unit (APU), which presently consists of four men. The southern section of the estate experiences the biggest anti-poaching problems, particularly during the months of Nov to Feb, which is Kapenta breeding season and consequently ﬁshing is banned. At this time of year the APU team pick up approximately 50 snares a day compared to 150 a month at other times. The plan is to expand the Bumi APU to twelve men. They are currently looking for sponsors to contribute, in exchange for product marketing, to the $500 per scout per month costs.
Bumi is easily accessible by 12-seater Cessna Caravan with Solenta Aviation from Harare or Victoria Falls and fares become very competitive for groups of six or more. The real 4×4 enthusiast will undoubtedly enjoy the ’road experience’ into the lodge but for those with a less ambitious, self-preserving nature a return transfer by boat from Kariba is a lot more comfortable option.
The Bumi experience is certainly something very special with great activities, opulent décor, friendly knowledgeable staff, seductive relaxation and fantastic ﬂora and fauna. And ifou remember to bring your lucky ﬁshing shirt, you too will catch the most ﬁsh!