African safaris aren’t generally the first idea that jumps to mind when planning a family holiday, and we think that’s a shame.
After all, a safari provides a wild playground for bonding, exploring and creating lifelong family memories. And isn’t that what going away as a family is all about? Set atop an enormous granite rock in Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe, Big Cave Camp provides just such a playground for the perfect family safari.
As the story goes, Big Cave Camp was originally created as a recreational facility for the Waddy family back in the 1980’s, before later being converted into a lodge. Having lived in Zimbabwe for four generations, The Waddy’s are from ‘pioneering stock’ and are a family of avid bush lovers. As a result, Big Cave Camp has been designed with family in mind.
Family Accommodation at Big Cave Camp
Big Cave Camp offers a selection of accommodation options. Ranging from large family rooms to twin chalets, families can choose the option best suited to their needs. Made from granite, each of the thatched A-frame cottages has its own en-suite and private balcony and exudes a sense of authentic Africa.
Activities at Big Cave Camp
With its incredible granite kopjes and rugged wilderness, Matobo Hills provides the perfect place for families to explore, hike and learn about the many species flora and fauna that call this unique area home. There are also numerous rock art galleries that can be visited from the camp, which provides a fascinating insight into the ancient world of Khoisan people. Guided game drives and nature walks will allow you to get up close to wildlife and explore the spectacular natural scenery, while back at the lodge, the pool provides the ideal spot to sit back and relax while the kids splash about.
"I’d like to thank you and all your staff for their warm and welcoming hospitality and for accommodating us in your beautiful lodge.
The lodge is stunning, the rooms beautifully appointed, the staff just lovely and the food outstanding. And the views… the views are magnificent. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Big Cave Camp, hoping to return in the near future and will definitely recommend a visit to your Lodge to anyone travelling to the Matopos."
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – the value of tourism cannot be underrated when it comes to community development and upliftment.
Giving back is a huge part of the ethos at Big Cave, and the camp has been involved with the local community since the 1990′s. Since its early days, clients that visited Big Cave were encouraged to donate funds, which were then invested into various community projects. One of the camp’s biggest focus areas over the years has been the Whitewaters Secondary School in Matobo, and the pupils that attend the school.
With 60% of the 460 school children being orphans, the school is in constant need of support. While some of the children are being cared for by grandparents, relatives neighbours or orphanages; the reality is that many of the children have no-one and it’s not uncommon to hear about their child-headed households.
Big Cave shares a little more about these children:
“In order to afford basic necessities like food and toiletries, children as young as 13 work in the fields at the end of the school day and some children do not attend school because they have to work to bring in money. Attending school has its own challenges. It is rare to find a pen, pencil or piece of paper in class because they are unaffordable. Children struggle with concentration because one meal a day is not enough for a growing and active child. Children can walk up to 20km each to get to school. School fees are the last of their priorities: only 15% can afford to do their ‘O’ levels and 5% can afford to do their ‘A’ levels.”
Clearly, the situation is far from ideal. However, in an effort to try and help as many of these children as possible, Big Cave is calling upon people to sponsor these children and help give them the childhood that they deserve. The project has been particularly successful over the past year, with sponsors covering the school fees and uniforms for 12 children (7 of which were paid for by T&G Wood), and Julia Phippen donated 4 bicycles which are helping children transport themselves to and from the school.
Get to know some of the children attending Whitewaters School and find out how you can help here. As little as $150 could pay for a child to attend school for an entire year. That’s a pretty worthy cause if you ask us.
A little more about Big Cave Camp
Nestled in amongst the boulders on top of a large granite whaleback, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Big Cave Camp’s thatch buildings were just a part of the rocky landscape. Blending seamlessly with the environment, the camp’s sophisticated African architecture incorporates the colossal boulders into its design, and boasts exceptional views across the famous Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe.
Written by: Mareike Pietzsch
Zimbabwe, wedged between Botswana and Mozambique, is a dream destination for walking safaris. “Why’s that?” you may ask. Well, Zimbabwe has dreamy landscapes (desert, bushland, rolling mountains), a tradition of guiding, and, of course, fantastic wildlife – with a guarantee to see the Big Five.
Zimbabwe has many national parks and green areas, which are dotted around the country for nature lovers.
A green patch near Bulawayo, Matobo Hills or Matobo, covers an area of 420km² and is dotted with granite koppies and wooded valleys. “Matopo Hills is a breath-taking backdrop for these amazing creatures. Our two guides have a wealth of knowledge of the bush and the Matobo history!” says David Waddy who runs Big Cave Camp.
Walking safaris with rhino in Matobo are run by Big Cave Camp. David Waddy says, “Our walking experience only takes place with a limited number of guests to view white rhinos up close on foot. Guests spend a large amount of time observing these rare species in their natural surroundings.”
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This camp is located on a large private reserve and is built on a hill with panoramic views across the park to other hills and with the typical sight of rocks precariously balanced at all angles on view for miles in the distance. The approach is via a dirt track and the feel is of total isolation.
The camp consists of a small number of individual chalets scattered across the hill with a common area for guests to eat and relax in a small central building. Within the camp itself are numerous large boulders and indeed the public rooms incorporate one of these into the living space to stunning effect.
The Chalets are spotless and perfectly functional with good showers and comfortable beds but the balconies offer the perfect place to take in the sunset and view the Zebra and Wildebeest grazing in the valley.
The camp manager Lynn made our stay a true pleasure and we cannot thank her enough for her hospitality. Even though we were on our own at the camp we never felt uncomfortable due to her kind and relaxed nature. Everything was organised and efficient. The food be it breakfast lunch or dinner was excellent.
We were able to complete a tour with Shepherd who is a knowledgable and enthusiastic guide. He loves his job and this made for a great adventure when we were able to walk in the bush to see the bushman art and visit worlds view. Shepherd collected us from our hotel in Bulawayo and dropped us off at the bus station after our two day stay. Lynn even arranged for packed lunches to be provided for the bus journey.
We visited with my wife and 10 year old daughter and the memories of Big Cave Camp will remain with my daughter for life. She loved the Lizards and the Dassies (a kind of Rabbit) scurrying about everywhere. The screeches of Baboons and the talk of Leopards roaming the area added to the sense of being somewhere special.
This is not a luxury camp in the sense of 5*deluxe facilities but if you want to be close to nature,to experience warm hospitality and efficient service.to have good food and company and professional guided tours then go here. You will not regret it. Thank you again Lynn and Shepherd and I promise you I will be back.
Stayed January 2017, travelled with family
Quiet and peaceful in the bush, amongst rocks and caves. Very unique and different. Had a great morning bush walk; several animals around in the afternoon; close to Matobo National Park to explore World's View; good facilities and service; excellent food.
Reviewed on Tripadvisor
Some Guest Feedback from recent guests at Big Cave Camp.
A quick message to confirm that the mad Brits managed to find their way through Bulawayo and on to Norma Jeans with the minimum of hassle thanks to you and Laura's excellent instructions. We tried to email from there without success so we're doing it now. We've been home nearly a week now but haven't got the dust out of our nostrils yet. I realised that Big Cave was the Africa I'd been looking for, and Jen is in close agreement here. Your hospitality was second to none, and Sheppard definitely the best guide of the whole trip. We'll be telling the tales for a long time
yet,and the "White Rhino" is rapidly spreading in Cornwall!, Thanks again for looking after us, and don't retire too soon as we intend returning with our friends in a couple of years. Hope you coped with the Bikers OK.!
Louis and Jenny
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