When Tom and Lorraine Preston first stood on the site that would later become one of Zimbabwe’s most awarded safari camps, they looked down across the golden-grassed vlei line and saw a herd of elephants approaching, their heaving shapes dark against the setting sun. Perhaps, one day, Tom thought, those same elephants – and generations more – would make their way towards the natural waterhole just in front of his dream, The Hide Safari Camp. A place, right here in this beautiful acacia woodland, where animals and people could convene in harmony, and where his family would grow and share the incredible wilderness of Hwange with fellow adventurers.
And so, it was in 1992, that The Hide Safari Camp immediately established itself as a premium wildlife experience wrapped in warm, welcoming Zimbabwean hospitality. Because it is situated in a private concession on the eastern boundary of Hwange National Park, The Hide offers activities that allow a little more freedom to guests, including night drives and guided bush walks. The wildly romantic Dove’s Nest, a sleep-out option away from the main camp, also gives even the most audacious souls a little thrill from its perch on high.
A family affair
The Hide family has always been made up of people who are passionate about the safari experience. Included are photographers, a writer, conservationists, a fisherman, a mechanic, a farmer, a storyteller and a footballer. And each shares a passion for wildlife, for wide, open spaces and big, blue skies, for the wonder of dung beetles, for good wine, sturdy walking shoes and big hats! But most of all, each really “sees” the vision that Tom had, and since his sad passing in 1995, The Hide continues to surpass even his expectations. The evidence is in the delicious food prepared by Chef Amon, the warmth of the hosting, the level of guiding and in your luxury, tented accommodation, each developed and perfected over 25 years.
The camp’s focus is on the safari experience, delivered through exceptional guiding and a warm family feeling of hospitality, without compromising on style or luxury.
Much of the day’s action happens in front of the camp, where animals gather all day, from zebras, eland and giraffe to buffalo, wildebeest, lion and elephant. If you’re lucky, you may see a cheetah, leopard, wild dog, bat-eared fox or hyena. Guests find themselves making little independent forays down an intriguing tunnel (there’s a wine cellar en route!) and into the underground hide, which emerges on the edge of the waterhole, giving them a startlingly up-close view of the incredible micro-world right in front of the camp. Mornings are heralded by birdsong before even the first rays appear over the waterhole and twitchers can look out for lifers on the list of more than 450 species of birds found in the area.
Past, Present, Future
The Hide began its days with ten East African-style tents, each one en suite and with its own front veranda. Today, the main camp hosts up to twenty guests in beautiful tented accommodation under thatch. The Hide’s iconic dining area soars above the waterhole, almost heightening the experience of the surroundings and providing a sense of scale that honours the endlessly beautiful landscape.
Tom’s Little Hide, set away from the main camp and built as a tribute to Tom Preston, is perfect for exclusive or family safaris. The Private Hide, just on the other side of the main camp and a little way off, offers a private dining, lounge and plunge pool area with exclusive guide and vehicle, and completes The Hide’s impressive portfolio.
Over the years, The Hide has been voted “Best Safari Camp” seventeen consecutive times, but does not rest on its laurels; rather, it has upped the ante with its increased conservation efforts and community work in Hwange National Park and the surrounding areas.
Plans for the year ahead…
In celebration of 25 years of exceptional journeys, The Hide Safari Camp is planning various exciting events throughout the year, not least of which is a commemorative safari journey for repeat guests and the launch of a specially selected wine, which will be available to guests from the underground cellar. Look out, also, for the release of a nostalgic collection of photographs that tell their own stories from over the years.
“We plan to run a photographic competition, too, for anyone who has ever been a part of our lives – 25 Best Photos from 25 Years of Exceptional Journeys”. We can’t wait to see what comes in!”
Later, The Hide will be launching its “Silver Safari”, encapsulating all that this iconic camp has represented over 25 years. Authentic experiences, cultural encounters and incredible explorations are what it’s all about.
In addition, The Hide will look back on some of its favourite memories through the contributions of stories and anecdotes they hope to collect from staff, past guests and supporters of The Hide. Each of these will be shared, filling out a fantastic and fascinating history, but most of all reminding us why guests always leave The Hide not as clients, but as a member of the family.
2017, 25 years on… It’s going to be an exciting year – and the ultimate tribute to the enterprising, charismatic man who first stood on that wild land and saw extraordinary possibilities.
The Hide dedicates this anniversary to the people who created the camp, to all those who have and continue to work there and to all our guests and friends, to everyone who also believed in creating something exceptional in this wonderful corner of Africa.