Perched on a sandstone outcrop overlooking the Malilangwe Dam, Singita Pamushana is best recognized by its leadwood-surrounded clifftop infinity pool and sweeping brick turrets that mimic the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe. Located in the private, 130,000-acre Malilangwe Reserve, the property is the ecotourism branch of the Malilangwe Trust, funding its far-reaching conservation and community initiatives with its steady stream of safari-goers. And now, after weathering a few less than stellar years for the country, the lodge’s refurbishment—and the perseverance of that glittering pool and those turrets—feels like a statement.
Unveiled in May, the new look brought to life by the Cécile & Boyd design team deliberately moves away from a bold palette of primary colors and black. They’ve instead chosen a palette of deep olive green, tobacco tan, black, white and brass, punched up by splashes of color on shower-wall mosaics and abstract artworks. Natural textures abound. The walls of each of the eight suites and one five-bedroom villa are constructed from weather-worn leadwood trunks and exposed brick; polished stone floors are softened with wool rugs; and chandeliers of intertwined glass rings hang from lofty, thatched ceilings. In the morning, low-slung sunrays reflect off brass details, creating a golden glow around the main area, that is “like walking into a Mayan temple,” comments guide Mark Friend. The concept is fresher, brighter, and more modern than before—a reflection of a newfound confidence within Zimbabwe.
In addition to refurbishing all of the existing rooms, Lodges 11 and 12 have been added to the lineup. Each features two en-suite bedrooms, expansive tiered decks, a private pool, and plenty of lounge space. Located slightly apart from the lodge, they are ideal for families or honeymooners seeking extra privacy. Villa nine has an enviable, light-flooded bathroom and outdoor shower with elevated views across the water. Manager Jason Turner tells me than when the water levels drop, there will be elephants so close below, “you can hear them breathing.”
Outside, there is a new floating corner deck equipped with a bar, fire pit, and self-service deli fridge. On the other side of the pool, the decking has been broken into multiple levels, creating private dining nooks for couples or larger groups, many with uninterrupted views of the dam. We gather here before morning game drives, clutching our coffees as dawn breaks, taking in the extended the view of the dam, surrounding sandstone cliffs, and mopane forests. We watch mist rising dramatically from the water and hear the evocative cry of the fish eagle echoing around the dam, calling us out on the day’s adventure.