Lodge at the Ancient City near Masvingo, Zimbabwe

, September 21, 2020

One of Zimbabwe’s authentic, post-colonial architectural projects has been Lodge at the Ancient City, completed in the 1990s to emulate the brickwork and dimensions of the nearby ruins, known as Great Zimbabwe. It’s after this settlement that the country is named – “city of stones” is the Shona translation for Zimbabwe.

The hotel is made of a cluster of a dozen lodges, each large enough for catering small families. Thatch roofs and round brickwork make up the basic but uncompromising structure.

A communal pool and dining area serves breakfast, lunches and dinner overlooking a valley of Msasa trees and the ancient city itself, less than half a mile away. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important archaeological sites in sub-Saharan Africa, the city was built by the Shona people between the 11th and 15th centuries. Estimates suggest that the city could have housed up to 18,000 people at its peak size.

Trails at Great Zimbabwe

The city is made up of three distinct areas: the Great Enclosure, the Hill Complex, and the Valley Ruins. The Great Enclosure is the largest and most impressive structure in the city and is thought to have been the royal palace. The Hill Complex is home to a number of different temples and shrines, while the Valley Ruins contain the remains of houses, workshops, and other buildings.

Training Notes

From the Lodge at the Ancient City’s entrance, there is a quiet, tarmac road – not too busy compared with the main artery from South Africa. Runners can use this safely, heading east to the dam wall – 6km away. Alternatively, run west and connect with the Great Zimbabwe ruins and trails there (photo above).

The surface is good enough to road bike on, undulating toward the dam wall holding up Lake Mutirikwe. Follow this cycle loop for a 60km route.

There is a leisure pool at Lodge of the Ancient City, but not long enough to use for swimming lengths.

Book Lodge at the Ancient City at lodgeattheancientcity.co.zw