African Wildlife Experience

What to Expect


HIPPO HAVEN, TURGWE HIPPO TRUST is located within the Save Valley Conservancy, in  the south east Lowveld of Zimbabwe and it is the largest wildlife conservancy in southern Africa.  The Conservancy comprises 750,000 acres of diverse wildlife habitat. It is home to elephant, hippo, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard and other species including many different species of antelopes and the endangered painted wild dogs.

Baboons and vervet monkeys, warthogs, bush pigs and sometimes Steve hippo share our lives at our riverside home, and it is not unusual for a leopard to walk past at night. Hearing calls often of lion, leopard, hyena and hippo makes for an exciting way to go to sleep.

We are deep in the bush, our nearest neighbors are eighteen kilometers away, the next over fifty kilometers and there are no trips to “civilization” during the period that you pay a donation to stay here with us and the animals. We can also take you to the amazingly wild and untamed National Park Gona-re-Zhou, the place of the elephants, during your stay here. Staying for two nights at the Chipinda pools tented camp

The Experience

The Turgwe Hippo Trust is obviously about hippos but when you make the donation to stay you will have the unique opportunity of living with us as we do in the bush. You may be lucky enough to meet a very special hippo Steve, who not only eats our little lawn but has horse cubes at the back door alongside bush pigs and baboons. You will see all of the Turgwe Hippos and the other animals that come along to the homestead.

At present warthogs, baboons, vervet monkeys, bush pigs and often kudu and impala. If you are lucky the resident herd of elephants will be down in the riverbed below the house and you can watch over twenty five elephants feeding from the comfort of a thatched gazebo. People tell us that the scenic views and the extraordinary relationships that have been developed over the years by us with the wild animals, is an experience that is one of the most memorable events in their lives. They tell us that in some ways those that have visited zoos that we are in the cage or paddock, and the animals who are all wild and free are actually viewing us. This homestead is first and foremost the animals home and we are the onlookers.

You can help us if you would like to with some of the work that we do here like snare patrols alongside the Trust’s five Rangers, which if we find snares you are saving an animals life, in fact many animals lives. The poachers use the same snare over and over again. We destroy the snares. You can come with us when we collect our drinking water which entails a trip of thirty eight kilometers there and back, and you never know what wild animal you will meet on the drive.

Simple things like picking up firewood, which is wood from fallen trees in order to heat the home made boiler, so that you have a nice hot shower, or road repairs or cutting fire breaks if you are in need of some muscle power exercise. Or you can just chill with a book and enjoy the animals and the views. Once you have paid the donation which covers transport from Harare to us, food, and accommodation you will be actively helping the Turgwe Hippo Trust operate and save lives of not just hippos but many of the animals that we share our lives with. I am told we are an artist paradise so if you just want to come here to paint this is the place to be.


Our Program

We welcome people from April through to end of September.  The following months are exceedingly hot and temperatures can go up to 45 degrees Celsius. From late April to August are our cooler, dryer months, so the weather is ideal during the daytime with the chance of rain occasionally.  The temperatures during the day are normally between 21 and 30 degrees Celsius. At night during June and July it can be very cold and the temperature can drop to 4 degrees Celsius.



People come here normally for 10 days and on the tenth day driving back up to Harare and on arrival you need an extra day as well.  We do not drive at night in Zimbabwe.

We can accommodate four people at one time as we have two cottages.

The wood cabin has a main bedroom with either one double bed or one double and one single.  En suite bathroom with shower, and hot and cold running water and flush toilet.  The lighting is by battery powered lights.  We cook for you in the main house and you have meals with us there.  You must like pussycats as there are cats in both cottages and they often sleep on your bed. 

The rock cottage has a double bed and  can sleep one couple or we can add a single bed for two people  to share. Same bathroom with flush toilet and shower with hot and cold water.

The lightening is also by battery powered lights.


The Savé Valley Conservancy is home to dangerous game including lion, buffalo  and elephants, therefore it is important to be aware of this and respectful that this is their environment. Karen Paolillo gained her professional guides license many years ago and has an extensive knowledge of the bush. People will not go unaccompanied in the bush for their own safety and should follow instructions at all times.

We live in a malaria area and suggest everyone consult their own doctor before traveling to Zimbabwe for the appropriate vaccinations and prophylactics. You are advised to get  your own travel insurance. Please contact us for details with regards to your stay, using the contact form.



The donation you give for your stay here enables us to continue the Turgwe Hippo Trust’s work, which is dependent entirely on donations. You are responsible for getting to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and from there we will arrange for your transport to us, an approximate six hour journey by car.  We can also suggest guest lodges in Harare to use for arrival and departure.



If you are interested in a totally unique experience, with the only place  helping hippos in Southern Africa, and you want to learn a lot more, not only about hippos but also about being in the bush with wild life in a home rather than on safari, then this is for you. Come and see us at Hippo Haven! Fill a contact-us form.