Zimbabwe Holidays & Safaris
As the churning waters of the mighty Zambezi River disappear into a cauldron of swirling mist, the sheer magnitude and majesty of the Victoria Falls become apparent. These awe-inspiring falls are just part of Zimbabwe’s wealth of natural beauty. This incredible country is without doubt home to some of Africa’s most spectacular and varied scenery and as the life-giving waters of the Zambezi continue on their journey they reach Lake Kariba, the world’s largest man-made lake and a wildlife paradise. Those same waters continue on to Mana Pools, which is another truly stunning wildlife haven offering wonderful game viewing activities.
The Victoria Falls are without doubt one of nature’s most spectacular wonders. The waters of the calm and placid Zambezi River suddenly plunge more than 100 metres vertically down into the deep, basalt gorge throwing up great clouds of spray hundreds of feet into the air.
Famous the world over, the town of Victoria Falls itself is a mecca for those wishing to take the ‘Flight of the Angels’ over the Falls themselves or go whitewater rafting, bungee jumping or canoeing. Other activities in the area include horseback safaris, elephant back rides & interactions, microlighting, golf and kayaking, fishing, sundowner river cruises on the Zambezi River.
Our preferred lodges & hotels include:
Victoria Falls Hotel
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
The Elephant Camp
Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools National Park, established in 1963, lies along Zimbabwe’s northern border with Zambia on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River downstream from Lake Kariba. This unique park has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and comprises 2,196 square kilometers of remote and wild landscape, most of which is in accessible except on foot and therefore completely unspoilt. For the adventurous traveler, a canoe trip down on the Mana Canoe Trail is one of the best ways to experience the African bush. Mana Pools is also one of Zimbabwe’s best locations for walking safaris and ranks with the South Luangwa (in Zambia) and the Selinda area (in Botswana) as one of the best in Southern Africa.
In the local Shona language, the word ‘mana’ means four and refers to the four main pools for which this stretch of the Zambezi is famous – Main, Chine, Long and Chisambuk – which are the remnants of ox-bow lakes carved out of the river many thousands of years ago. These and other smaller seasonal pools dotted further inland hold water all year round, drawing all manner of animal and birdlife during the dry season. The plentiful acacia albida trees that characterize the floodplain also shed their protein rich pods during this time, providing vital sustenance for many species and in particular, the elephant.
Game viewing is excellent – especially in the dry season – and the park has the country’s largest concentration of hippo, crocodiles, buffalo and elephant to be found in and along the river. Greater kudu, Burchell’s zebra, impala, warthog, eland, baboons and common waterbuck are some of the larger herbivores seen regularly on the surrounding plains and predators such as lion, wild dog, spotted hyena, leopard, jackal and cheetah are often spotted. Mana Pools also offers fantastic birding with the river and sesaonal pans attracting large numbers of water birds as well as an excellent mix of species in the different types of vegetation within the park.
Our preferred camps in this area include:
Mana Pools Canoe Trails
Matusadona National Park & Lake Kariba
The Matusadona National Park is situated on the southern shore of Lake Kariba and covers an area of 1 407 square kilometres. Its boundaries are natural: the Ume River to the west, the Sanyati River to the east, Lake Kariba to the north, and the Matusdona Mountain range to the South.
The damming of the Zambezi River to form Lake Kariba was completed in the late 1950’s. The project was carried out to provide hydro-electric power to the countries of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, now Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. On completion of the dam the waters rose far faster than initially anticipated and the legendary Operation Noah saw a small but dedicated team of wildlife specialists rescue over 5 000 different animals trapped by the advancing lake waters. The lake is now a haven for animals and birds and marvellous for those who wish to go fishing or canoeing. A visit to the dam wall makes for a fascinating excursion as does a visit to the church of Saint Barbara, built by Italians in honour of those who died during the dam’s construction.
The remoteness of this protected area combined with the plentiful water supply provided by the lake combine to make the Matusadona home to a wide variety of wild animals. The big five: black rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo are all found here. Hippo and crocodile and a wide variety of water birds make use of the lake. Kudu, warthog, zebra, bush buck, impala, and numerous antelope species as well as over 350 documented bird species are also here. The call of the African fish eagle is frequently heard and ground hornbill, vultures, bateleurs, storks, geese, ducks, plovers and other water birds abound.
One of the striking features of the shoreline in the Matusadona is the forest of drowned trees. These make navigating the lake tricky, but form important habitats for aquatic birds and breeding grounds for the fresh water fish.
Our preferred camps in this area include:
Rhino Safari Camp
Changa Safari Camp
Bumi Hills Safari Lodge
Hwange National Park
At over 14 600 square kilometres, Hwange National Park, covers a vast area that was set aside for conservation purposes in 1929 and it is now Zimbabwe’s largest national park. Once the private hunting ground for the Ndebele kings, Hwange is home to a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna. Over 100 species of animal and 400 species of birds have been recorded and it is famed for its huge herds of elephant that congregate around the waterholes in the dry season as well as the sable antelope and a large population of big cats.
Choosing the right camp in the private concession areas is essential in order to get off the beaten track and enjoy walking safaris and night drives not normally allowed in other areas.
Our preferred camps & lodges in this area include:
Little Makalolo Camp
Bomani Tented Lodge
Malilangwe Private Wildlife Reserve
Malilangwe Private Wildlife Reserve boasts geological diversity, habitat variability and a wide variety of plant and animal species. The area is known for its magical sandstone outcrops, mopane forests, majestic baobab trees as well as over 100 rock art sites that date back more than 2000 years.
The reserve is home to one of the highest concentrations of the endangered black rhino as well as a healthy population of white rhino. Giraffe, impala, zebra & wildebeest can be seen whilst sable antelope and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest are to be found in the mopane woodlands. The lake below the lodge attracts hippo’s, crocodiles and monitor lizards and also offers anglers the chance to land bass, catfish, tilapia (bream) and tiger fish using fly, lure or bait. Large herds of elephant and buffalo are seen as well as big cats such as lion, hyena’s, the elusive leopard and wild dogs. Malilangwe is also a birders paradise with over 500 different species including fourteen types of eagle.
Our preferred lodge in this area is:
Matobo Hills National Park
Once the home of Lobengula, the great Ndebele king, and his warriors and now the burial place of one of his great adversaries, the famous Cecil John Rhodes, Matobo Hills is an intensely spiritual world of strange granite outcrops, ancient bushman paintings and brooding panoramas.
Rich in flora and fauna, Matobo Hills is also home to good populations of black & white rhino, sable antelope, leopard, the rare Cape eagle owl and the world’s highest concentration of black eagles. This rare, lush landscape is a highlight of any trip to Zimbabwe and can be explored by vehicle, on foot or by horseback.
Our preferred lodges include:
Big Cave Camp
Over 700 years ago Great Zimbabwe was the most dynamic medieval city in sub-Saharan Africa, home to twenty thousand inhabitantsand the nerve centre of a vast trading empire that incorporates much of modern day Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. These remarkable ruins, located just outside the southern town of Masvingo, are divided into a number of different sites ranging from the Hilltop Royal Complex to the Great Enclosure below. The Conical Tower still intrigues archaeologists today with its supposed sexual significance. The sophistication of the design and the carefully laid hewn stone is a relevation and well worth a visit.
From the haunting beauty of the Matobo Hills to the game rich plains of Hwange and from the true wilderness of Chizarira to the remote wilderness of Gonarezhou, Zimbabwe offers some of the most spectacular wildlife experiences on the continent.
The beautiful Eastern Highlands, which are often compared to the brooding beauty of Scotland are the perfect playground for those who like golf, fishing and trekking, whilst the ruins of Great Zimbabwe are testament to the rich cultural history of this stunning country.
Mana Pools Adventure
This trail is perfect for adventurous travellers, allowing the closest possible encounters with wildlife on one of the greatest rivers in Africa. This thrilling experience traverses the Mana Pools National Park, through the heart of Mana Pools and along the Zambezi’s shoreline, canoeing past countless hippos on the way! Each night is spent camping on the banks of the Zambezi River, ultimately finishing 65 km downstream. The trail is for the reasonably fit client and is led by an experienced guide. Support vehicles and staff assist clients and set up camp each day.
Day 1 – Fly from London Heathrow
Day 2 – Arrive Victoria Falls - light aircraft transfer to Mana Pools – Ruckomechi Camp – 1 night
Day 3 – Safety briefing & begin canoeing in Mana Pools National Park – 1 night
Day 4 & 5 – Full day canoeing & walking in Mana Pools – 2 nights
Day 6 – Finish canoeing – road transfer back to camp – Ruckomechi Camp – 1 night
Day 7 - Light aircraft transfer to Victoria Falls - Ilala Lodge - 1 night
Day 8 – Day flight to London Heathrow
2015 price from £ 2,185 per person
(The price of this itinerary is based on two people sharing a twin/double room on a scheduled departure excluding the cost of international flights London/Johannesburg/Victoria Falls/Johannesburg/London).
Day 1 – Fly from London Heathrow
Day 2 – Arrive Johannesburg & connect to Victoria Falls – road transfer to Chobe National Park – Muchenje Safari Lodge – 3 nights
Days 3 & 4 – Two full days game activities – day & night game drives, boat safari & bush walks – in Chobe National Park
Day 5 – Road transfer to Victoria Falls – Ilala Lodge – 2 nights
Day 6 – One full day for activities such as tour of the Falls, white water rafting, Flight of the Angels, boat trips, museums & markets, Livingstone Island lunch etc at Victoria Falls
Day 7 – Road transfer to Hwange National Park – The Hide – 3 nights
Days 8 & 9 – Two full days game viewing activities – day & night game drives as well as foot safaris – in the area
Day 10 – Road transfer to Matobo Hills National Park – Amalinda Lodge – 3 nights
Days 11 & 12 – Two full days to enjoy activities such as rhino tracking on foot, San rock art sites, visit to Cecil John Rhodes tomb & cultural visits
Day 13 – Road transfer to Bulawayo Airport & fly to Johannesburg & onward connection to London
Day 14 – Arrive London
2015 price from £ 3,630 per person
(The price of this itinerary is based on two people sharing a twin/double room & excluding the cost of international flights London/Johannesburg/Victoria Falls & Bulawayo/Johannesburg/London).