Camp Amalinda, the place of granite – 1999

Camp Amalinda – The Place of Granite

The Matopos is a place oi granite outcrops and stunning scenery. A place where the Black Eagle is more prolific than anywhere else in the world and where leopards share the rocks with inquisitive rock hyrax and dancing klipspringers.

Accommodation in the Matopos is diverse, but there is one place slightly different from all the rest. In fact, it is slightly different from any other lodge in the country and wehen the only thing one can find to complain about is that there could have been a tad more salt in the scrambled eggs, then you know you’re staying in a place of quality.

Camp Amalinda is the ‘Place of Granite’. Built amongst the rocks that set apart the Matopos from anywhere else on the continent, the camp is the dream child of John and Linda Bennet. It began eight years ago when John decided to start up a camp to cater for mobile safari clients. The area lies on a large but mainly non-arable farmstead and couldn’t be better situated. As John’s business developed, so did Camp Amalinda and now it is not only a place for safari clients to rest, but is a lodge in its own right.

And what a lodge it is. Camp Amalinda has ten exquisitely designed rooms, one of which even boasts its own bushman painting. The rooms are nestled into a granite Matopos kopje and consequently all are very different in design. There is, thankfully, no glass at all in the lodge so the only thing separating you from the sounds and smells of the African nights, are the mosquito nets and thick bedding which keeps you tucked up at night.

The Camp is just one kilometer off the main road, but upon reaching the end of the dirt track, any first time visitor will be left wondering if they are in fact in the right place. The reception is hidden away amongst the trees and rocks and a hot face cloth and cool drink is the start of the immaculate service one receives here. All the rooms, lounge areas and dining room carefully blend in with the landscape so that the whole place is completely unobtrusive to the eye from the ouiside.

The en suite rooms have shinning bathrooms with the same tastefully appropriate decor that appears throughout the rest of the Camp, even down to coat hangers designed to resemble the Msasa tree pod. There is something extremely decadent about showering under steaming hot water, whilst leaning on the very rock that forms the landscape.

Amalinda certainly has bathrooms with views unparalleled in any other latrines in Africa. It’s the perfect place for those extremely annoying toilet bookworms to do whatever it is that they do!

The swimming pool is forged around the rocks and is cleverly designed so that from a distance it appears that the water cascades over the rocks and gushes deep down into the Matopos below. Perfect to sit with ice cool drifls in the company of the managers, guides or taff and wonder if the ‘Out of Africa’ era ever really disappeared.

Suitably relaxed and awed, it was time to adjourn to the bar area for aperitifs before dinner. I feel that I must point out here how patient I have been at not discussing the ‘food’ aspect of this great place. (Read Helen’s article on Bulawayo, April/May issue! — Ed). The bar area ‘along with the library, winter lounge area, dining area and honeymooners secluded spot are all tucked away in the rocks, exquisitely furnished and with atmospheres all exclusively ‘Amalinda-ish’. The three-course dinner was beautifully presented and delicious. Creamed spinach vol-au-vents, followed by crocodile curry, impala schnitzels and a selection of vegetables. And one of those very high calorie and scrummy desserts, washed down with plentiful good quality wine and some excellent and amusing conversation.

Pete and Sharon, the managers, joined in with the ever-changing conversation, although a word of advice if you go there, don’t mention Hillary or Bill. . ..

The following morning we found ourselves woken at dawn with piping hot tea, to experience something truly African. . .a ride through the bush on an elephant. There is something undeniably special about sitting on Africa’s greatest mammal, swaying with the rhythm of its stride as it plods its way through the bush. I must however, point out that elephants definitely do not plod whilst trying to climb rocks and it’s usually at this stage that one holds onto the guide with all one’s might, wondering why he hasn’t sworn at you for just kicking him very hard in the armpit. Another show of Amalinda’s great service!

As we waded back through the water we knew that despite the high possibility of not walking terribly well the next day, it had all been worth it. Besides, there are not too many mornings where I manage to get in a couple of hours ele-riding before eating a great breakfast with all those delightful fattening fry-up things and hot muffins dripping with honey. This is not to mention the copious amounts of tea and oh yes, all that healthy, fruity stuff.

Amalinda is a place that will always stay in my mind, and in the words of the extremely enthusiastic English guy, driving out of the Camp, as we drove in, “You’ll love it – I can’t describe how awesome it is. I wish l could stay forever”.

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