Camp Amalinda opened in the mid-1990s and was very popular in the early years, and continues to be despite Zimbabwe's recent troubles. The camp is owned by Phil & Sharon Stead who retain a daily interest in its operation and marketing. Amalinda is part of a collection that includes Ivory Lodge in Hwange and the newly refurbed Bulawayo Club in the nearby town of the same name.
Amalinda emerges out of the thickets and rock kopjes and takes you quite by surprise. Hidden as it is around the rocks and bush of a small private conservancy, it is invisible until you’re practically standing in the little reception hut. Any wish to standardise the layout of the nine rooms was clearly futile as each one has been built to accommodate the odd boulder, tree trunk or serendipitous view of the dam. One room is approached through a giant cleft between the boulders, another is sub-divided by the interference of an outsize stone. Some of the rooms sadly lack a good-sized veranda from which you could enjoy the unusual surroundings in private, but you can’t have it all.
The rooms are classically decorated along that sort of wicker furniture, monkey-and-palm-tree print, old travelling trunk kind of way...not sure whether this genre has a name. I suppose it is vaguely colonial but with a contemporary twist which means it doesn’t look in the least bit dated.
In line with the whole “use what nature hath provided" theme, the pool is formed by a cunning dam-type arrangement on a large sloping rock, creating a natural infinity pool a la Flintstones. There is a pleasant pool house and lunch-spot nearby if you can’t summon up the energy to clamber up to the main lounge and dining room.
Sir Cecil John Rhodes pitched up in the 1880s in this neck of the woods with (among others) the ambitious project in mind of building a railway from the Cape to Cairo. A little off-shoot of that same railway pootled down to the Matobo Hills. Later, the track was taken up and some of the Rhodesian teak sleepers now form the hefty dining table (and convenient conversation piece) at Amalinda. On this dining table, you’ll be served food of a standard that will doubtless impress you and a quantity that will most likely leave you a few kilos to the good.
Amalinda is located on the border of the Matobo National Park and Safari Area. It is not a vast piece of land but is sufficient for a number of half hour ambles, clamber around on the statuesque kopjes and get some good bird-watching done. Aside from a few quite docile zebra, there is little wildlife. However, there is masses to do in the surrounding area. At least a full day (and upto 3 for those with the right interests) can be spent looking for rhino, visiting Rhode’s grave at the “View of the World" and checking out the many really fascinating examples of Bushman art (including wagons and men in pith helmets) that helped earn Matobo World Heritage site status.