The Best of Zimbabwe
A Journey to Victoria Falls, Hwange, Kariba, & Mana Pools
The Best of Zimbabwe
An extraordinary and often overlooked safari destination, Zimbabwe is a fascinating country and well worth the visit. This small country boasts one of the world's largest waterfalls, vast wilderness areas full of game, stone ruins of ancient cultures, and a friendly and welcoming people.
On this 11-day safari, you'll visit the best Zimbabwe has to offer. Starting at the legendary Victoria Falls you can wander the paths along the edge of the chasm or enjoy a sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi River. Continue your journey south to the enormous wilderness of Hwange National Park. Search for elephants, lions, and other wildlife on game drives or bush walks. You'll then fly to Lake Kariba for two nights of game drives and boating as you marvel at the abundant water birds. Your final stop will be the remote and spectacular Mana Pools National Park. Set in the broad Zambezi Valley, Mana Pools is the perfect place to search for game on foot or quietly paddle the river as the animals come down to drink.
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Days 1-2 | Victoria Falls | Gorges Lodge
Arrive at Victoria Falls Airport where your Zimbabwe safari experience begins. You will be met by a shuttle vehicle for your road transfer to Gorges Lodge on the edge of the Batoka Gorge. The lodge is perched 600 feet above the mighty Zambezi River. Victoria Falls offers lots of activities. Take a guided tour of the magnificent Victoria Falls, enjoy a sunset cruise on the Zambezi, fly over the Falls on a scenic flight, visit a local village, enjoy sundowners while watching black eagles soar along the Zambezi cliffs.
At Victoria Falls, the earth splits open and swallows one of Africa’s greatest rivers, the mighty Zambezi, creating the largest sheet of falling water on earth. As the water hits the narrow depths of the Batoka Gorge beneath, it blasts a cloud of mist skywards, lending the falls their local name ‘mosi-oa-tunya’ (the smoke that thunders). When the Zambezi is its fullest, the mist hangs a permanent raincloud above the falls, showering visitors on even the sunniest of days and visible for miles around.
Above the falls on the upper Zambezi, boats cruise the tranquil water at sunset while the distant spray catches the fading light downstream. Below the falls, the Batoka Gorge’s rocky walls funnel the lower Zambezi into a chain of world-class rapids, prime for white water rafting.
Aside from being a UNESCO world heritage site and a natural world wonder, Victoria Falls also forms a natural border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The falls can be seen from both countries, and for the most part the same activities are offered on both sides, from helicopter scenic flights to village visits and souvenir shopping.
Gorges Lodge is a 14 mile road transfer from Victoria Falls and a 12 road transfer from Victoria Falls Airport. Gorges offers the most exquisite views and are well worth the effort of traveling. The lodge is situated on a natural outcrop overlooking the Batoka Gorge, some 650 awe-inspiring feet above the mighty Zambezi River cutting its way downstream after falling over the Victoria Falls. Accommodation consists of 10 stone thatch chalets. 4 of the chalets are double story and the other 6 are single story both with private verandas that provide stunning views. The chalets are set in an indigenous garden and have en suite bathrooms with showers, mosquito nets, overhead fans and tea and coffee making facilities. The main lodge is built on stilted decking, crafted of indigenous hard wood and has a lounge, dining room and bar that all offer extraordinary views right over the gorge and the Zambezi far below. Included for each night stay: one round-trip transfer to Victoria Falls and 2 activities. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks incl.
Days 3-5 | Hwange National Park | Somalisa Expeditions Camp
If you have dreamed of an Africa with expansive plains and wide horizons, where elephant and buffalo traipse in huge numbers towards waterholes and giraffe browse from flat topped acacias while a blazing sun sets behind them… you can find it in Hwange. As Zimbabwe’s largest national park, Hwange has a sizeable reputation that it wholeheartedly deserves.
The sight of hundreds, if not thousands of elephants and buffaloes streaming towards you as you sit at a waterhole is indescribable. There is nothing like the sound of elephants' peaceful rumbling or the deep thundering of buffalo hooves on hard ground when they spook, wary of lions that may lie in wait.
This sight and sound of a waterhole in the midst of pristine wilderness visited by huge numbers of animals is typical of Hwange. Beyond the sights and sounds, the feeling of Hwange is what will remain with you: awe and peace from spending time in a true, preserved wilderness.
Somalisa Expeditions Camp is set in the heart of Hwange National Park, known as the land of the giants for its big elephant herds., Nestled under an incredible grove of Acacias, along the edge of a seasonal flood plain, Somalisa Expeditions offers an authentic bush experience.
Six elegantly furnished canvas tents with en-suite bathrooms; flush toilet and romantic alfresco bush showers make up this camp. The décor echoes an era of old from colonial times to the ancient tribes of Africa telling the story from all corners of this magnificent continent.
Somalisa Expeditions’ main area includes a lounge and dining area on raised decking with an adjacent white sane campfire for relaxing evenings under the stars. The camp overlooks a small pool, which elephants have become habituated to drinking from. In addition, the water hole in front of camp is frequently used as a ‘mud-bath’ and a popular rendezvous for the elephants. Guests can enjoy some up close photographic opportunities with these majestic animals, most particularly in the dry season. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks incl.
Days 6-7 | Lake Kariba | Musango Safari Camp
Lake Kariba is a vast manmade lake stretching for over 5000 square kilometres, and is 220 kilometres long and over 40 kilometres in width. It is one of the largest dams in the world. The dam was constructed on the Zambezi River along the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and is owned by the two countries. By flooding Kariba Gorge and the Zambezi River between 1958 and 1963, Kariba Lake was born. One of the world’s largest animal rescue attempts took place in the area, under the name “Operation Noah”. The team rescued more than 6,000 animals and relocated them to Matusadona National Park and the surroundings of the lake. The lake generates hydro electric power for both countries and has a very good commercial kapenta fishing industry. The sheer size of it makes it easy to forget it’s a dam and in certain places it almost feels like an ocean. The name “Kariba” is derived for the Tonga word karive, meaning “trap”. It is well named as the river has been trapped by the dam across the gorge.
Musango Safari Lodge is a private wilderness retreat on an island in the Matusadona National Park on Lake Kariba, overlooking the Ume River and Matusadona Mountains. Hosts Steve and Wendy Edwards guarantee personal attention at all times. Musango is the only owner-run safari camp on the Lake. The accommodation at Musango consists of 6 large twin luxurious safari tents, each with an en-suite bathroom built of natural stone. Musango also boasts two large honeymoon suites with private plunge pools. These tented rooms are set in thick forest, and all face east over the lake, towards the rising sun. Your professional guide, who is also a photographer and ornithologist, will ensure guests receive nothing but the best whilst at this wildlife paradise. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks incl.
Day 8-10 | Mana Pools National Park | Zambezi Expeditions Camp
It’s hard not to be dramatic when describing the grand beauty of Mana Pools National Park. This park in the north of Zimbabwe is a unique oasis often described as a ‘garden of Eden’. It is a remote gem that leaves you awed and humbled by the landscape, a landscape that feels both eternal and wonderfully alive. Mana Pools is a designated UNESCO world heritage site.
The name Mana means four in the Shona language and comes from a series of four pools, remnants of oxbow lakes that run parallel to the river among the ancient floodplains for which Mana is famous. These wide green floodplains dotted with giant Albida trees edge the Zambezi river and offer breathtaking views of the purple-hued escarpment rising dramatically across the river. The floodplains attracts huge amounts of wildlife, especially in the dry season, and you’ll quickly get the sense of being one of a privileged few to experience this wild place.
Mana is known for its immense bull elephants and the sight of an elephant standing upon its hind legs to stretch for the seedpods of a giant tree upon the floodplain has become iconic. Mana raises goosebumps and leaves you with vividly remembered impressions: the sound of clashing ivory echoing across the valley while two massive elephant bulls fight; or sunrises that coax the smell of overnight dew out of the floodplains.
Mana Pools is not all about elephants; you can expect to see large numbers of plains game and if you are lucky the predators that follow them. Large congregations of grazing animals can be seen on the floodplains and you would be unlucky on a three-day stay to not see a predator.
Zambezi Expeditions is a mobile safari located on the shore of the Lower Zambezi River with Mana Pools National Park, well known for its wildlife rich flood plains, the mighty Zambezi River and the magnificent views of the back drop of the Zambezi escarpment.
The camp consists of 6 twin bedded tents, with en-suite bathroom facilities that include flush toilets and an alfresco hot bucket shower. The camp gives luxury camping safaris a new definition by the virtue of its detailed furnishings and facilities which include 12 volt lighting and charging facilities for cameras. A well serviced mess tent with a dinning and seating area forms part of the camp. Our wonderful Shona and Tonga staff will arrange brunch, tea and cake, and dinner. The camp can communicate by satellite phone in case of emergency.
Day 11 | Harare, Zimbabwe
This morning you will be transferred by road from Mana Pools to the Harare Airport for your onward flight (about 6 hrs). It is possible to fly instead of drive for an additional cost.
As our Best of Zimbabwe Safari is a private, tailor-made itinerary, there are no specific departure dates. Just let us know your potential travel dates and we will check on availability of all services.
- Accommodation as specified in itinerary
- Meals and local drinks
- Safari activities at each lodge (varies between lodges but may include game drives, walking, canoeing, boating, fishing, village visits)
- Gorges Lodge includes 1 round-trip transfer to Victoria Falls/night and 2 activities/night (ie: guided Victoria Falls tour, village visit, traditional dancing, black eagle viewing, gorge walk, Zambezi River sunset boat cruise)
- Airport transfers (Victoria Falls & Harare)
- Transfers between lodges
- Internal flights between Hwange, Kariba, and Mana Pools
- Services of professional, English speaking guides
- All international flights and departure taxes
- Entry visas
- Travel insurance (required)
- Accommodation not specified in the itinerary (i.e. pre-/post-safari extensions)
- Optional activities and excursions
- Activities in Victoria Falls
- Staff gratuities
- Premium/imported beer, wine, spirits
- Items of personal nature and toiletries
- Increases in park fees/government taxes
PAYMENT: A non-refundable, 20% deposit is required within 7 days of receipt of invoice to confirm booking. Balance is due 7 weeks before departure. If booking is within 7 weeks of departure date, entire balance is due upon receipt of invoice.
Other terms & conditions apply.
$6990.00 (Apr-May 2020)
$7675.00 (July-Oct 2020)
*Rate is per person sharing. Single supplement applies
Length: 10 days/9 nights
Route: Starts in Victoria Falls; Ends in Harare.
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