Zimbabwe Safaris are an excellent choice, even for the most seasoned African safari traveller. What makes a Zimbabwe Safari so unique? Zimbabwe is bordered by two major rivers, the mighty Zambezi River along the northern border, and the Limpopo River along with southern border, Zimbabwe is home to superb National Parks with great game viewing. It also is home to one of the world’s natural wonders, Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe Safaris are completely safe and still offer one of the best wildlife experiences in Africa today. Hwange National Park is real elephant country whilst Mana Pools offers great game viewing from land and water. Lake Kariba boasts beautiful sunsets, warm days and houseboats ideal for lazing and the tame safari whilst Victoria Falls is truly a deserving natural wonder if the world.
Zimbabwe takes its name from Great Zimbabwe, a fortified trading hub built in medieval times and used by Shona tribe. The country’s capital is Harare and the population is over 13 million. A big stomach among men is a sign of wealth, it means they can afford meat daily. Traditional healers called n’anga are widely used even to this day.
Right on the Zambezi River, there isn’t a waterway like it in the world that offers the big game, wilderness location, and adventure that you’ll find here. March to October is the time to go and November is when the mass elephant herds congregate at the river waiting arrival of wet season. Activities simply abound here and you can get out on foot, in 4×4, canoeing and boating and for those who like a challenge, tiger fishing. With over 380 bird species, exceptional numbers of buffalo, crocodiles, elephants, hippo not to mention predators this is a place like no other except perhaps its cross river neighbour, Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia.
Hwange National Park
Why Hwange? Well, where does one start other than exceptional wilderness that is jumping with wildlife, diverse activities including walking and 4×4, great accommodation options inside and outside the park catering to all budgets and styles and some of Africa’s finest guides. This is Zimbabwe’s largest park with a diverse scenery from semi desert scrub to forests, granite hills and woodland valleys. Home to over 100 mammal species including lion, leopard and rhino this place will get you close to action, particularly elephants. Dry season is best for mass herds around waterholes, August to October. Otherwise there is never really a bad time to visit Hwange.
David Livingstone once said ‘scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight’ and that is why we love Victoria Falls when seen by helicopter or microlight. This enormous waterfall drops 100 metres into a narrow gorge and during wet season, over 5 million cubic metres cascade down each and every minute! There is also the town called Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, small and tourist mecca, here you can get access to fantastic accommodation of all styles from hotels to lodges, camps and islands and of course outstanding activities like bungee jumps, gorge swings, tree canopy walks, zip line and walking tours of the Falls.
Lake Kariba & Matusadona
This is a holiday paradise and somewhere you can slow down the pace a little and really savour beautiful landscapes from lakes and inlets to mountains and valleys. Lake Kariba was only formed in the late 1950s and on its southern shore is Matusodona National Park. There are some great accommodation options in the area from safari lodges offering walking and game drives to house boats and luxury catamarans. Bird life is impressive due to the habitats and here you may also see rhino, buffalo, lion, elephants, crocodile and more. It’s not top of mind for many, never forgotten by us when we plan Zimbabwe safari holidays.
One of the least visited national parks in Zimbabwe, Gonarezhou is remote, undeveloped and truly wild. Diverse landscapes with prolific birdlife and of course multiple mammal species. Here its the elephants. Herds are large and unlike Hwange, they can be agressive so our highly qualified guides take care to ensure your experience is memorable and safe. Game drives and walking are done here. This is a prime spot for experienced safari enthusiasts rather than first timers.
This easily accessible national park has some of the country’s most extraordinary scenery with granite boulders and wooded valleys. This area is rich in human history, bushmen were here 2,000 years ago leaving rock art behind whilst years later, Cecil Rhodes chose it as his favourite area and where he would rest for eternity. His grave is carved out from the rock and marked by brass plaque. There is wildlife in the area too, it’s not just about rock art and history so allow a few nights here.
Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools offers some of Africa’s finest landscapes for canoeing safaris. With no previous experience necessary, you can head out for any duration from half and full days to multi day trips with fly camping. All the while professional guides are with you to ensure your safety, point out the wildlife and get you home to tell the tale around the campfire that awaits in camp.
Only in Zimbabwe can you be guided by the famous ‘Stretch’, one of Africa’s most renowned and remarkable wildlife safari guides. His ability to get you unimaginably close to bull elephants on foot is an unforgettable safari experience. Zimbabwe is home to numerous highly qualified walking safari guides and with multiple accommodation options available, it caters for everyone. Note this isn’t a child friendly activity with minimum age restriction usually 16 +.
The Smoke that Thunders
The must see natural wonder of the world, Victoria Falls offers so many ways to explore the spectacle and surround national parks. Fly high for an aerial perspective in helicopter or microlight, zip through the forest, swing over the gorge, walk at the top and bottom of the falls, swim in its waters or raft its rapids.
Capital of Queen Sheba
Zimbabwe is home to the Great Zimbabwe, ruins of the once capital of the Queen of Sheeba according to an age old legend. A unique testimony to the Bantu civilisation of the Shona, the city covers some 80 hectares and was built out of rectangular shaped granite stones carefully placed one upon the other somewhere between the 100 and 1450 AD. It was a trading centre renowned from the Middle Ages onwards and today you can see remains of the Hill Ruins, Great Enclosure and Valley Ruins. Considered relatively intact for its size and age, this site is great for those interested in history and culture.
Little known to the international tourist scene, Lake Kariba is one of our happy places and it is here you can savour scenic views and an abundance of wildlife from the comfort of your very own houseboat or luxury safari lodge. When the Zambezi River was dammed over 50 years ago, it created one of the world’s largest man made lakes that quickly became a holiday destination with water activities and tiger fishing plus traditional 4×4 safaris and rich local Tonga culture.
Burial Site of Cecil Rhodes
The Rt Hon Cecil John Rhodes (1853 – 1902), a British businessman founded the modern diamond industry and controlled the South Africa Company that acquired Rhodesia and Zambia as British territories. Also a noted philanthropist working for and donating to many charities and founding the Rhodes scholarships, Rhodes spent much time exploring Rhodesia and soon came across a remote, untouched hill within wilderness known today as Matobo National Park that locals call Malindidzimu, the legendary place of benevolent spirits. It is here you can see the burial site of Rhodes who used to spend hours admiring the view, remarking at its beauty and peacefulness. To Rhodes, this was the view of the world and where he did great thinking about the future of Rhodesia, the now Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls Hotel
A colonial classic, the Victoria Falls Hotel is surrounded by acres of beautiful gardens and overlooks the bridge and gorges. The entire hotel is filled with a feeling of old world charm as rooms are grand and decor is reminiscent of the bygone era. A large property, there are over 120 rooms of varying standards and in different wings, so it’s essential you know that not every room has a view. You will be guaranteed comfortable bedroom with ensuite bathroom and access to the main area with three restaurants, bar and lounge plus swimming pool, tennis court, library and onsite spa.
For those wanting to continue the tented safari style, this lovely exclusive camp features twelve luxury canvas suites with private decks and plunge pools right in the Victoria Falls National Park where wildlife roams freely. The main area of camp is slightly raised to afford gentle breezes and breathtaking views. Facilities include lounge area, bar and dining inside and out. All guests have the opportunity to meet the habituated elephants that call the national park home. In a nutshell, exceptional service, great food, spectacular views and unique elephant experience. You may also meet Sylvester, the onsite cheetah.
Set in a private concession within greater Mana Pools, Ruckomechi Camp is a charming safari holiday gem offering guests outstanding wildlife experiences, particularly elephant, lion and buffalo. Accommodation is in nine ensuite tents that each overlook the Zambezi River. The bedrooms are beautifully set up with ensuite bathrooms that have indoor and outdoor showers and an outdoor bath with a view. The main area is simple safari style with dining, bar, library and lounge all connected to the rooms by low rise walkways. In addition, there is a deck with infinity pool, much needed in summer and an inviting star gazing deck. Enjoy game drives, motorised boating pontoons and walking safaris plus wildlife hides and canoeing.
Nestled in a wildlife rich area bordering Hwange National Park, this fantastic tented camp offers just twenty people at a time the ultimate authentic safari holiday. By day explore Hwange on foot or in 4×4 and return to camp to relish the under canvas experience. The main area is open sided and beautiful with lounge, dining and bar plus pool and deck. For the brave, spend a night in Doves Nest, a treehouse overlooking the pan where wildlife come to drink. It has everything you need for an exciting sleep out, bedroom, bathroom for hot shower and even a hammock. There’s stairs leading up and a trap door so animals cannot reach you. This will be one of your safari holiday mega memories!
Hwange’s Shumba region is less touristy and this fantastic friendly camp looks over a perennial waterhole offering the perfect Zimbabwe safari holiday. There are spacious canvas chalets well equipped for a comfortable stay including ensuite bathrooms. The main area opens onto the camp fire area, the heart of safari life and the waterhole beyond. The highlight here is walking with guide extraordinaire, Dave Carson. Guiding quality is exceptional from Dave and his team as you venture out on foot and in 4x4s.
Within this one enormous private concession deep in Hwange National Park, you have three outstanding safari properties to choose from including Davison’s Camp, Little Makalolo and Linkwasha Camp. Each one is tastefully designed to blend with the environment and maximise the safari holiday experience. Davison’s is the most simple and casual camp with nine ensuite bathroom tents all linked to the main area by sandy walkways. There is dining, lounge, bar, plunge pool, fire pit all overlooking a waterhole. Little Makalolo has six tents, one for families and very classic in safari style. The new Linkwasha Camp with seven ensuite tents and one family tent, has a stunning outlook over an active pan. The multi-level deck with pool will impress! Activities here are game drives and gush walks.
A phenomenally relaxing setting, Bumi Hills is Zimbabwe’s answer to beach luxury. Set on the shores of Lake Kariba, the lodge has lovely accommodation and an equally spectacular main area with resort style facilities including pool and spa. What attracts us here time and again is the landscape and activities. Get out on the water or explore the landscapes around you by taking part in the various activities that include game drives, boat cruises, fishing, guided walks, cultural village visits and platform and hide time, where you sit still and the wildlife comes to you. Our favourite for the fit is anti-poaching patrol. Head out on the property with the unit of men who protect the wildlife in the area and see first hand what goes on behind the scenes to keep the concession in prime condition and animals safe.
Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
They say this lodge is on the edge of serenity, the Gonarezhou which is a national park boasting pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife that very few get to see. Meaning place of the elephants, it comes as no surprise to learn that over 8,000 call this region home. Accommodation is uniquely designed letting the outside in through natural light and open sides. Expect space, calm colours and a casual comfort plus a seating area that commands superb views. The main area has lounge, dining area, bar and swimming pool. Head out with great guides for unrivalled access to the low veld wildlife of Gonarezhou.
Singita Pamushana Lodge
Situated in Zimbabwe’s untouched Malilangwe Reserve overlooking a lake, this lodge is what we call the uber Africa experience. You will explore wilderness very few in the world will ever see including 38 different habitat and ecological zones, hundreds of baobab trees and an unrivalled gatherings of birds with more than 500 species. It is also home to black rhino and fourteen species of eagle! Inspired by the Shangaan people, the forest style lodge is decorated brightly with mosaics adorning the walls. Accommodation is in just seven different suites, from 1 bedroom suites to the 5 bedroom villa. Each has spacious bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, private infinity pool and open architecture in the living areas. With two pools, jacuzzi, spa and gym you won’t want to leave. Day and night game drives, walking safaris, mountain biking, fishing, rock art, sundowner cruises and more await.
The amount of elephants seen from Somalisa in Hwange National Park was spectacular and the situation of the waterhole to the camp is unrivalled, at night you heard and saw lions making their way to the waterhole. Mana Pools was also a treat with there once again being an abundance of elephant but here the scenery really took our breath away with all the Ana Tree, it was something special to walk amongst them.
Completely overwhelmed by the people of Zimbabwe and the country’s history. Two significant highlights, firstly the Great Zimbabwe Ruins – we had them all to ourselves. The other, an afternoon in Motobo National Park hiking up to the burial site of Cecil Rhodes. The safari ending at Victoria Falls was perfect because we got to see first hand what David Livingstone once described as scenes so lovely.
Our favourite wild experience in Zimbabwe would have to be having the elephants integrate our vehicle into their herd at the water hole. They totally surrounded our vehicle as we had been parked there for so long, approx. 1.5 hrs, meanwhile we also got to watch a leopard catching fish and eating them. It was the most amazing feeling, topped off by the fact that all the vehicles had moved off and we got to experience this spectacular sight all to ourselves.
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