Ascending the steep hill to Norma Jeane's Guesthouse can mean only one thing: the view of Lake Muturikwi - Zimbabwe's second biggest lake - is going be awesome.
But the garden, fed by the abundant summer rains, does its best to thwart you in your quest for the perfect place for sundowners after a day spent exploring the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe. Kept in pristine order, the garden all but covers the delightful tin-roofed colonial house and, along with a chorus of birds, ensures total tranquillity in this idyllic - and seldom-seen - corner of Zimbabwe.
We visited Norma Jeane's in the height of summer. Indeed according to Norma, we brought the much-needed summer rain with us so no complaints there, and at this time of year the countryside is as lush as the British Isles. Norma's garden was in full bloom taking centre stage over the lake and blue mountains beyond. The lake peeps through the trees to be sure but in winter we suspect the view to be even better with the foliage thinned out.
Norma Jeane's Lakeview Resort is a charming and welcoming hotel near Great Zimbabwe, and in our opinion, the best accommodation option in the Masvingo area bar none. With a variety of rooms - all immaculate - from en suite hotel rooms to self-catering family cottages, there's space for everyone and every type. Service is as friendly as you will get in Zimbabwe - high praise indeed - and the rooms, facilities and restaurant provide enough comfort and relaxation for any holiday in Zimbabwe.
With devout regulars and a turn of fortunes in the national economy, Norma Jeane's is once again thriving. Plans are afoot to offer a cruise across the lake to the game reserve for a walking safari and a game drive. Boat cruises are available through the neighbouring Great Zimbabwe Hotel and Norma plans to install a swimming pool at the guesthouse, which will be a welcome extra.
Eight en-suite hotel rooms; four self-catering family rooms; all with private balconies and lake views; restaurant serving full breakfasts, a la carte lunches and set-menu dinners; large verandah with lake view; residents lounge
Excursions to Great Zimbabwe Ruins (guided recommended); Lake Muturikiwe boat cruises; sailing, skiing and other watersports; fishing; guided and self-drive game viewing safaris; guided bush walks and birdwatching; San rock art sites