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    Friday, 15 July 2016

    The wonder lodge of Bikita





    MATTHEW TAKAONA

    Bikita
    – Nestled in a tiny hill near Nyika Growth Point and about a kilometre away from Masvingo-Mutare Road is a lodge built in the form and style of the Great Zimbabwe Monuments.
    Chaka's Lodges and Holiday Centre is undoubtedly Bikita's best hospitality facility.
    It's unfair though to compare it at a district level. Chaka's Lodges which is 90km from Masvingo is unique, it matches any lodge anywhere in the world.
    The Lodge is not just a sleep and go place. It is an ecotourism destination although some of the products are still under development. It has superb accommodation (presidential, executive family suits and ordinary rooms), conference centre, fishing, boat cruising, canoeing and bird watching.
    This is a place to be for a quiet weekend, for a couple and for the family. It is also a place to have funny particularly at the dam.
    The products that are still under development are a swimming pool on top of the hill, an artificial beach, a museum and a conservancy area covering several hectares where wild animals will be kept.
    The Lodge has a captive breeding licence which allows it to keep a limited number of animals. Endowed with Rozva Dam that encircles an island, Chaka Lodges has been creative enough as this island will be used for private parties and weddings far from the madding crowd.
    What catches the eye as one arrives at Chaka is the unique architecture, the all-stone wall with a little sprinkling of mortar barely noticeable to the eye and the beautiful thatch above the stones and the view of the stone lodges tucked at the base of the hill and scattered right up to the top.
    The reception unit and the conference centre are all an open view as one arrives at the lodge; they are imposing and they present the majesty of the place.
    The rest of the units, can hardly be seen as they are tucked away in the vegetation and camflouged by the savannah trees and rock outcrops.
    Chaka's Lodges is totally wild.
    Sleeping at Chaka's is like sleeping out in the open as nature and in particular the rocks in the rooms are not disturbed. Rooms enclose rock boulders in their natural form. You literally sit and relax on top of rocks from inside your rooms. 
    The fertile imagination of the architecture is again found at play in room 1C where a baby court is a gap between two rock boulders and this is just by the side of the bed in the room.
    It is indeed wild.
    There are 16 stone-under-thatch units at the lodge, all with a total capacity of 32 guests.
    The furthest unit is about 30 metres up the hill. One needs to be fit in order to get there.
    And the view from there as is from most units of the lodge is angelic. Below the foot of the hill and barely 30 metres from the reception area stretches out Rozva Dam, the second largest water body in Bikita after Siya Dam.
    It stretches more than two kilometres up until its blue end meets the stretch of Chimukwavava hills, another source of beauty for the hospitality centre.
    Rozva Dam is the source of water for Nyika Growth Point and also feeds into some irrigation schemes in the area.
    Above the last lodge and about 60 metres up the hill is a beautiful swimming pool that is taking shape there.
    This is the highest point and from there one can see as far as the eye can reach including an eagle eye's view of Nyika Growth Point and part of a long stretch of Masvingo Mutare Highway.
    "The fear there has always been about snakes. We are in the wild, in the rocks and there are caves and ancient graves in this hill. I have however, never seen a snake in the room for the years that I have been here.
    "This place was said to be sacred and myth that big snakes used to stay in the place years back," said Phinias Muronza who is the Lodge Manager. Construction of Chaka's Lodges began around 2001 and work has been progressing gradually.
    "We are now ready and we are even ready for the official launch. We think we can have this launch sometime next year," said Muronza.
    He said Chaka Lodge received immense support from Bikita Rural District Council, the District Administrator's office in Bikita, the National Museums and Monuments and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
    "EMA is very happy with this project because they believe it's adding value to the water body. We are bringing value to the water body and therefore helping conserve it.
    "Our project scares away poachers as we will fence off this whole area. We have built retain walls that ensure that water running from the lodge area does not go straight into the dam but sips into the ground first
    "The lodge has become very important to Nyika Growth Point and Bikita in general as it is a source of decent accommodation for the visitors.
    "We have the NGO community and Government departments that do not only need accommodation but conducive places for conferences and Chaka has become the answer.
    "There are many products which will make this place popular that are still on their way and these includes house boats and speed boats," said Muronza.
    Chaka's Lodges is the brainchild of an enterprising Bikita businessman whose first name is Chaka. He is the source of all architectural innovations although he is not an architecture himself.
    The staff at the place is marvellous. They make you feel home away from home.
    The meals that are served there are a great treat and many would prefer their food served in their rooms after tiring walks up the slopes and this is gladly delivered at no extra cost.business news
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