Considered one of Zimbabwe’s best secret, a once in a lifetime experience is certainly what my last adventure of 2020 was. After several years of traveling around Zimbabwe, there are a handful of places that remain on my bucket list. The mystical Aberfoyle lodge in Honde Valley is one such place and a December adventure in celebration of my birthday seemed fitting.
What we loved
The views and environment! – The drive through the tea plantation is simply magical. What an experience! You are immediately transported into a green wonderland and the beauty is breath taking. The lush golf course surrounded by 360 degrees of nature and greenery. The sounds of the nearby waterfall and surrounding forests! What a dream, a true wonderland! If you are a nature lover, this is your ideal location.
The fresh air and ideal weather – Weather does not drop very low, which makes for the best holiday experience unlike many other destinations in the Eastern Highlands. With not to many chilly nights, we were happy.
The food – This was a bit of a miss and hit, I had requested halaal food in advance but was not to happy with the reservations team who seemed to not be to experienced in halaal food. Although being assured they would provide halaal food, the team on the ground did not get the request. Catering to all dietary requirements seems so natural in this industry, I would say I was appalled by how a top rated resort failed to ensure our dietary requirements were met. Resorts should be inclusive , I doubt an international traveller wanting say vegan would have encountered the same challenge.
After a stressful trip through the muddy roads due to the high rainfall , it was not the news we wanted to hear especially after insisting several times with our booking contact. Luckily for us, the chicken was halaal and the chef made generous portions for our meals and went the extra mile for my birthday celebration. The chef and kitchen staff managed to redeem the terrible mistake by the booking team. This was much appreciated and welcomed . Thank you to the Chef and team on the ground.
The under construction gallery – A few years back, I heard of the stunning gallery that was to be built and designed by a leading local architect. The under construction building is certainly going to be the highlight of the venue and charming feature. The majestic structure is a showstopper; in some ways it brings a more visually attractive structure than the dated rooms.
What we didn’t love
The road! – Travelling during the rainy season after the skywalk was a disaster. Our car struggled to make it up [ even though asking before if our low rise would be fine] and we did end up getting stuck in the mud. Thankfully the friendly locals helped us and while the manager helped us down on our last day as you will see in the vlog video. The road home was by far one of the worst experiences of my life. A total of 3 flat tires. First one in Honde Valley, another in Julisdale then the next just after the Harare tollgate all dude to bad alignement from the road. Thanks to some good Samaritans, along the way we made it back. 2 ladies stuck on the road is not ideal! We just glad to have made it in one piece. A shuttle service from Montclair would certainly be better or travelling in the drier months. I certainly have dinner conversations for a few years.
Cleanliness – Our room, which was an executive room but had an ant problem, which was definitely not quite ideal for a luxury experience. At some point, there were ants on the bed! The room servicing could have been better and general upkeep. There is a need for better quality control and room checks. While the lodge has a rich history especially with the tea estate, legacy I still feel their rooms could be more memorable and modern. After Bumi Hills and Amalinda, it was hard to appreciate the décor and overall room experience.
From buying plantain and coffee from the small-scale farmers, an exciting tour of the Eastern Highlands Tea Company, to waking up to breath taking views and even our car issues. It truly was a special trip that I got to enjoy with my sister before her new life away from Zimbabwe.
This is certainly a lodge to watch and with so much possibilities especially once the gallery is opened.