Breathtaking Victoria Falls & Hwange Safari: Luxury Lodges and Intimate Experiences

A 10 day trip to Zimbabwe 
4.25
4.25 out of 5 stars
4 reviews

Laid-back and luxurious, this 10-day safari will envelop you in the big-game charms of Zimbabwe’s wilderness. Handpicked lodges provide contemporary comforts, private activities are tailored to your mood, and the leisurely pace ensures that you safely discover the captivating brilliance of an African safari. Expect intimate encounters with the famous mammals and experiences unique to Zimbabwe with beautiful moments of surprise that will celebrate the diversity of the wild.  Consider reading more of our Zimbabwe safari tours and safaris for even more inspiration as you plan your journey.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Victoria Falls, Zambezi National Park, Zambezi River, Hwange National Park, Nehimba Concession, Ngamo Plains

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Zambezi National Park – A Luxurious Escape on the Banks of the Zambezi River

Within an hour of landing at Victoria Falls International Airport, you will be relaxing on the banks of the Zambezi River at Zambezi Sands River Camp. Your decadent tented suite has a wooden deck and private plunge pool overlooking the river, along with an enormous en-suite bathroom, spacious lounge area and sun-loungers for drifting away to the Zambezi soundtrack. They are called tented suites because the walls are made of canvas, but that is where any comparisons to camping end. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and solid wooden floors complete a structure that expertly blends into its surroundings. Soon you will recognize the importance of the canvas walls in how they allow a soporific soundtrack of birds and monkeys to send you to sleep.

You will be greeted at the airport for the 45-minute transfer to your accommodation. Check in and the rest of the day is at your leisure, with a choice of activities along the water. Victoria Falls is an hour away, accessed via an easy cruise along the Zambezi. Guides take you to the lip of the falls, where the water gushes past at phenomenal speed. They then lead you to the Mosi-au-Tunya park gate, where a walking trail leads you to a number of sublime lookout points. It will be your first day in Zimbabwe, and you will already appreciate the scale of the country’s nature and wilderness. Standing before Victoria Falls makes anyone feels humbled, such is the ferocious power and diaphanous beauty of the spectacle.  Read more about what to expect with our reviews for Zimbabwe safari and learn from our other travelers to this country.

What’s Included: accommodation at Zambezi Sands River Camp, airport transfer, tour, lunch, dinner 

Days 2 – 3: Zambezi National Park – Victoria Falls, Big-Game Safari, Zambezi Activities and Riverfront Tranquility

Nature will arouse your senses every morning as tropical birds flutter past, the odd hippo returns to its wading space, and monkeys and baboons provide entertainment as you sip your coffee. Relax, take your time, and allow the gentle rhythm to take over. There will be nothing artificial to break the scene, and the wilderness imbues an endearing escapism. Zimbabwean hospitality is famous, and the staff will bring your meals and drinks to your private deck, or you can lounge in the main lodge area, sipping on beers, cocktails, soft drinks or wines. It will feel like a boutique five-star hotel, but you are hidden away in a national park with wild animals as your neighbors.

Like the rest of this safari, these two days are flexible, and you can tailor a program to your interests. It can be as active or as relaxed as you would like. Cruise along the river and spot hippos and elephants amongst other wildlife. Cruise at sunset and discover completely different scenes. Go canoeing on the river, be guided to a local village, return to Victoria Falls, try fishing along sheltered banks, and explore the park on game drives and on foot. Guides also present you with little extras--perhaps a private picnic on a remote riverbank, with brilliant views over a hippo pod, or maybe a sunset canoe trip which is great for watching animals along the riverbank. Safaris in Zimbabwe are always flexible and these two days can include any of your dreamy ideas.

What’s Included: accommodation at Zambezi Sands River Camp, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Hwange National Park (Nehimba Concession) – Game Drive to a Private Concession and Luxury Lodge in Remote Northern Hwange

The western side of Zimbabwe is an unbroken corridor of wilderness which stretches from Victoria Falls in the north towards the Kalahari. Hwange National Park is just a one-hour drive from Zambezi National Park that is likely to pass hundreds of migratory elephants. It is then a two-hour game drive to the lodge. You will slowly travel as you take the time to explore different waterholes, tracing zebra and kudu that roam freely between the two parks. Hwange National Park covers some 15,000 square kilometers, although the ecosystem is even larger than that, with unfenced borders that connect Hwange with parks and reserves in Botswana. To the north, you will find thick woodland, rolling granite hills, and dense savannah, a landscape that’s adored by lion pride, elephants, and giraffe, amongst many others.

Check into Nehimba Lodge and take lunch on the verandah to enjoy your first impressions of the waterhole beneath the lodge. You will see wildlife here at all times of the day, mostly zebra and antelope throughout the morning and early afternoon, and then large herds of elephants throughout the evening and into the night. Just sit back, sip on a drink, and enjoy the show. Game viewing is intimate in this northern part of the park, and you will wind through the trees to find a magnificent sable antelope, explore rocky hills to find large lion prides, and be surrounded by giraffe on the edge of the woodland.  You will soon spot close to 40 or 50 different mammal species, and when you are back at the lodge, you will only need to sit on the verandah to watch the wildlife at the waterhole.

What’s Included: accommodation at Nehimba Camp, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 5 – 6: Hwange National Park (Nehimba Concession) – Intimate Safari and a Choice of Activities in One of Africa’s Ultimate Wildernesses

Open your curtains, and there may be a zebra herd taking a drink with their black and white stripes juxtaposed with colors of sunrise. Admire the horns of roan antelope as you eat breakfast, and soon your guide will come to meet you and discuss your day’s program. Nehimba is hidden in a private concession, so only you and a maximum of 12 other guests can access a large area of game-filled wilderness. Of course, you can also explore beyond the concession and the rest of the national park, which is on such a scale that it still feels like a private safari playground.

Perhaps you will choose a morning walk for one hour spent around the lodge that will bring beautiful moments with wildebeest, red lechwe, springbok, and giraffe. Or maybe you will set out on a game drive to seek out cheetahs and leopards as they prowl in the morning light. Special photography hides are dotted across the concession to create some of Africa’s most intimate wildlife moments. You can spend the whole day exploring and take a picnic to come across tens of thousands of animals. Or you could drive for two hours, return to the camp, relax, then head out on another shorter activity. This is a safari that can be as adventurous or as relaxed as you would like. Watch the waterhole through the evening, or head out on a unique nighttime game drive, one that’s great for finding leopards on the move.

Your lodge is beautifully appointed with spacious thatched suites raised on teak decking. They feature indoor and outdoor living areas and huge beds that glimpse out over the Nehimba Pan. The lodge’s central area has a swimming pool, dining area and large lounge, all with the grand views over the pan. It is all incredibly comfortable, and the en-suite bathrooms provide all the modern comforts while maintaining your immersion in the bush. The surroundings are what make Zimbabwe such a captivating safari destination as packs of wild dogs scamper through the trees, their majestic fur coats coming in all manner of shades. Young elephants flap their ears in shows of aggression, building their strength for battles to come. Hundreds of wildebeest gallop past the safari vehicle, watched by lionesses perched on a rock. Soon you will realize that safari is not about catching sight of a few animals as much as it is an opportunity to understand a wild world and marvel at all the subtle interactions between species.

What’s Included: accommodation at Nehimba Camp, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Hwange National Park (Ngamo Plains) – Exclusive Game Viewing on the Elephant Express Railcar

As you traverse Hwange, you will watch habitats merge as woodland becomes thinner, the landscape grows flatter and gives way to open plains that continue beyond the horizon. Rather than a game vehicle, you will travel on the Elephant Express, an exclusive, boutique railcar that trundles slowly through the park. Through the windows, you can watch buffalo herds, giraffe towers, migratory elephants and more. After two hours, you will be surrounded by open plains and extraordinary vistas that extend many miles in every direction. Such openness will make the game viewing incredibly easy and is ideal for finding the predators on a hunt, even at a distance.

Your double-story villa at Camelthorn Lodge is tucked amongst light woodland to bring views over your small water baths that are favored by unusual creatures like mongoose and bushbuck. The en-suite bathroom has a bath with a view and all the contemporary comforts. On the second floor, you will find a hammock and day bed while the ground level deck has comfy chairs for savoring the views. This is one of Zimbabwe’s flagship lodges, and there is an endearing level of intimacy, with just eight villas and no other lodges for tens of miles. As with Nehimba, the safari program is tailored to your interests.

What’s Included: accommodation at Camelthorn Lodge, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 8 – 9: Hwange National Park (Ngamo Plains) – Iconic Safari Experiences on the Untouched Ngamo Plains

There will be tension at sunrise as five lionesses are prowling, their yellow coats blending into the scorched colors of the plains. They will creep slowly and silently, merging themselves into the landscape as they attempt to approach a buffalo herd. The big male buffalo will spot the pride and make a show of defiance.  You will be close enough to hear him huffing aggressively yet the lionesses will continue unperturbed, splitting up until they slowly encircle the herd. There is no longer any stealth, just continual shows of aggression, the lions attacking the herd then retreating as horns charge their way. It is a deadly game, the predator seeking to isolate a predetermined calf, the buffalo aiming to stay as one strong unit. You will watch it all unfold for an hour, and there is no predicting who will win the day’s battle.

These Ngamo Plains are excellent for predatory encounters. They are also a place for some very unique elephant experiences. The open landscape makes it safe to track elephants and giraffe on foot and there is also a great hide for watching elephants loom over you from eight meters away. Cheetahs are easily found on the open plains, their camouflage easily uncovered from the raised vantage point of the safari vehicle. Wild dogs continue to impress while nighttime drives explore a whole new world, where strange animals are illuminated by spotlight. There are over 100 mammal species in Hwange, and by exploring both sides of the park, you will keep finding new and exotic animals. Spend three days, and you will see a lot, but spend six days, and you will come to understand how this mystical world works.

What’s Included: accommodation at Camelthorn Lodge, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Hwange National Park to Victoria Falls – Unique Aerial Safari and Departure

The last nine days will have been all about the details; the look in a leopard’s eye, a zebra calf protected by the herd, roan antelope gracefully skipping past the lodge. An aerial safari on this last day will help you to appreciate the scale. You will fly by light aircraft from southern Hwange to Victoria Falls, soaring over the landscapes that you have come to love over the last nine days and admire the habitats as they collide 3,000 meters below. At Victoria Falls, you will transfer onto your international departure and leave the wilderness of Zimbabwe behind as you travel home.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Price 

Your custom trip package will include accommodations, transportation within the country, guided tours and activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. 

Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates!