Victoria Falls, Mana Pools National Park, Hwange National Park
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Embrace wonder on your 10-day Zimbabwe safari to find natural wonders and very few visitors. Wild dogs pass lion prides on the Hwange plains while elephants and buffalo cover the Zambezi riverbank. The spectacle of Victoria Falls pours to its basin with an unmatched grandeur. Here, you can have an incredible big-game safari all to yourself for authentic luxury and unique experiences that will have you reminiscing for a lifetime.
Victoria Falls – Lounging Around the Zambezi River
You will land in Zimbabwe, and the country will be quick to dispel myths and perceptions. Once here, you will immediately appreciate how vast and gorgeous the local terrain is. Zimbabweans are some of the happiest and most hospitable people on the planet, and despite their country’s problems, they present a positive attitude and are quick to make every visitor feel at home. Within one hour of arriving, you will find that the biggest danger comes from the wildlife, which actually poses no threat to your wellbeing.
Elephants roam beyond the national parks and are regularly spotted along the main roads and highways. Hippos will gather around the Zambezi riverbank and graze through the night. You will be connected to nature before you go on your safari. In another shattering of myth, you will find that Zimbabwe is a country that instantly makes you feel free. There will be an easy-going atmosphere and a sense that anything can be possible. You will not feel restricted although the camp staff will give you a safety briefing. Animals can be spotted from your suite, and as afternoon drifts into evening, you will listen to the wonderful roar of Victoria Falls nearby.
Mana Pools National Park – Easing Into the Safari Experience
Flying to Mana Pools, you will follow the Zambezi River, admiring how the river provides a border between two countries. Most of the landscape is ochre-hued, but around the river, there are green escarpments, which are areas where wildlife can thrive. You will land, and a wild atmosphere will fill the air. Elephants will march close to your lodge, buffalo will swim across the Zambezi, upsetting a hippo who wanted to bathe, and monkeys will shout from the treetops, alerting everyone to a lion nearby. There are no towns or cities for hundreds of miles, and there will be virtually no other visitors here.
Check-in to the waterfront camp and meet your private guide. He will explain different activities that are possible here, helping you construct your program for the next three days. A game drive will be best for today, which will be a slow journey that eases you into the safari experience and spots most of the large mammals. Lionesses will lounge in a clearing, watching you with fierce eyes, and zebras will kick up dust as they move from open plains to lush grassland around the river.
Day 3 - 4
Mana Pools National Park – Exclusive Safari on Land and Water
Zimbabwe was once the darling of African travel. Political problems have kept visitors away, and many believe that these problems have had an adverse effect on wildlife and conservation. This is a myth, and Zimbabwe has always had one of the best networks of protected areas. A lack of visitors has kept them pristine in comparison to countries where too many visitors crowd into smaller parks. It is also important to understand the sheer scale of the parks. Some of Zimbabwe’s parks are larger than US states like New Jersey, and most are contiguous with parks in neighboring countries, enabling the free movement of wildlife.
Mana Pools is the same ecosystem as Lower Zambezi National Park, but it is just across the river in Zambia. Elephants will use their trunks as snorkels while swimming between the two countries, and hippos will not swim, but they will walk along the bottom of the river, emerging every few minutes to breathe. Zebra and other ungulates do swim across either, and their journey can be witnessed directly from the camp. Leopards are a little tricky to spot here, but safaris are about the opportunity to experience wildlife as it really is in an untamed natural environment.
Game drives will help you track the big animals, going in search of prowling lions and spotted hyena and getting you up close with elephants and giraffe. Game walks will provide thrilling hours in the bush, especially when pachyderms mark the horizon. Local trackers have grown up alongside dangerous animals, so they know how to keep you safe. The focus will be on the ungulates, and sometimes you will walk amid zebra and wildebeest herds, really appreciating their behaviors and gestures. In most African national parks, this is not possible, but in Zimbabwe, it is part of the everyday experience.
One potential activity is a full day of canoeing along the Zambezi River. Most wildlife is seen around water, and by paddling the Zambezi, you will watch how daily life unfolds. The water will provide safety so you can come within just ten meters of a riverbank that is populated by elephants and lions. Hippos will fill the river, and the guide will ensure you to nimbly avoid them. This will be another great opportunity to come eye to eye with large and potentially dangerous animals. It will be possible to share a double kayak with your partner or to travel in two kayaks with guides doing most of the steering.
Hwange National Park – The Heart of the Bush
Mana Pools is lush and green, and it is a haven where resident wildlife can thrive. It is a landscape that can support a lot of life in a relatively small area. You will land in Hwange and witness the atmosphere change entirely. Arid and dusty savanna stretches out with baobabs and acacias scattered about the landscape. Wildlife thrives here. It just needs larger territories, and Hwange has this, stretching for almost 15,000 square kilometers.
Later, you will check-in to the boutique camp and venture on a game drive, admiring how a safari in different parks can be so different. At first, it will appear like there is little wildlife, but you will just need to travel a little further, and soon, you will see a profusion of life. Sable antelope will provide a dazzling sight, Impala will skip elegantly across the savanna, and wildebeest will gallop enthusiastically past the vehicle. Bachelor buffalo herds will huff and puff loudly in your direction, and a lone elephant bull may flap its ears as you pass.
Day 6 - 7
Hwange National Park – An Eclectic Safari on Open Savannah
Game drives will be the mainstay of the experience here although it may be possible to do a short game walk, depending on what animals are near the camp. By now, you will have encountered most of Zimbabwe’s famous animals. The focus will turn to drama over these two days. In Hwange, there is real competition for food and water, and predators compete for the best territories with lion roars echoing through the night. Elephant and buffalo herds will face off with males occasionally coming to blows. Antelope graze tentatively with many sentinels looking out for danger. You will track cheetah through the grass and may have the opportunity to even watch one sprint after an impala.
Your camp will be positioned in the most wildlife-rich area. Animals come for the permanent waterholes nearby, sometimes spending many days to reach the landscape around the camp. There are only six boutique safari tents, and the accommodation will not be like camping or glamping. Africa’s luxury safari camps are like high-end hotels in the bush. Think spacious bedrooms, fully functioning bathroom facilities, and ornamental features. You can hear the safari when lying in bed from elephant hoots to nearby grazers. Every morning, you will smell the landscape, guessing what passed by through in the night. Outdoor bush showers will be positioned beneath the stars, so the safari atmosphere is never interrupted.
Elephants love the camp because it has a swimming pool. They come to drink from it almost every evening, which is another indication of how people can only be visitors here. Hyenas are monitored through the day and night, and a large campfire will keep them away. Hippos are common, and you will see them out of the water here for a chance to appreciate their true size and bulk. As the safari continues, you will also search for rarer sights such as packs of wild dogs. By spending six days on a safari, you will come to appreciate distinct behaviors, specifically how zebra cluster together in amorous fashion while wildebeest are continually encouraging each other to run.
Victoria Falls – An Afternoon Encounter with the Falls
You will complete your safari by driving through Hwange from the camp to the northern gate. From here, it will only be an hour to Victoria Falls, and you will return to your lodge from day one. You will follow the sounds this afternoon as you visit the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Two-thirds of the waterfall is on the Zimbabwean side of the border, and a walking trail will take you to 15 viewpoints and four distinct sections of Victoria Falls. At first, there will be some water and mist, but if you get close to the main falls, then it will be impossible to stay dry.
Water tumbles over 100 meters into the abyss, and the falls are over a mile wide. Interestingly enough, it is the narrowness of the chasm that makes the spectacle so special. In some places, this chasm is barely 50 meters across. So, you can stand on a rocky platform, close enough to be completely drenched by the spray. It will make for an intimate experience, and you will soon realize why this wonder is indigenously known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, The Smoke That Thunders. Here, you will embrace nature’s power and feel the spray raining down on you. Your lodge is only three miles away, so you can soon warm-up and complete the afternoon on the riverbank, watching hippos and listening to the falls.
Victoria Falls – Free Day in Victoria Falls
Your final day will be left free, and there are many activities that you can choose. You can cross the border and view Victoria Falls from the Zambian side, take a helicopter flight above the spectacle, or cruise on the Zambezi River away from the falls. It is easy to spend a day relaxing around the camp, reading a book as monkeys swing past. Victoria Falls town is a small and cute town with a handful of restaurants. A sunset cruise will complete your day with drinks being served as hippos and elephants emerge along the banks.
Victoria Falls – Departure
After a relaxed morning, you will be transferred to Victoria Falls Airport for your outbound flight.
- Immerse yourself in the rugged, big-game wilderness during three days in Hwange National Park
- Marvel at Victoria Falls and feel the power of its roaring water
- Admire wildlife from photography hides and find elephants drinking from your swimming pool
- Enjoy multiple game walks during your six-day safari with a chance to spot rare and endangered species from up close
- Fly between Zimbabwe’s safari destinations in light aircraft, savoring the changing vistas down below
- Game drive at night, a thrilling complement to the twice-daily daytime drives
- Canoe along the Zambezi River, amid elephants and hippos in Mana Pools National Park
- Search for wild dogs and track lions across the savanna
- Feel the tranquility of the Zambezi with a Victoria Falls lodge along the riverfront
The best thing about a safari through Zimbabwe is that there are so few other visitors. In this vast Southern African wilderness, you will find lions roaming the savanna, elephants barreling across the bush, and hippos so abundant that they become neighbors. For all of the country’s well-publicized political problems, conservation has not been impacted. Visit Zimbabwe, and you get some of the finest safari experiences in Africa, specifically in terms of the wildlife, range of activities, and exclusivity of encounters.
Three standout destinations fill this ten-day luxury safari. Victoria Falls rarely needs an introduction, especially when it is known by its local name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, which translates as The Smoke That Thunders. Mana Pools is a UNESCO World Heritage wetland and a lush retreat for roving wildlife. Here, you will witness the bounty of nature, including animals that swim across the Zambezi from Zambia. Hwange is rugged and wild savanna and a dusty landscape of giants and dramatic scenes. It is here where you experience nature’s most evocative stories with great mammals that fight for survival and predatory scenes being a part of every day.
You will have three nights in each of these iconic destinations. Short safari flights connect the wildernesses, meaning you spend almost every moment in a national park. Accommodation is sublime, and in Victoria Falls, you are on the riverfront, barely three miles from the falls, and within earshot of hippos and elephants. For Mana Pools, you are also on the Zambezi, which is a prime spot to watch wildlife coming to drink throughout the day and night. The Hwange accommodation is a boutique and rustic bush camp where there is plenty of comfort that does not interrupt the calls of nature. Wildlife roams around the camp and elephants drink from the swimming pool, which will prove an indication of how close you are to Africa’s wildlife.
Along with exclusivity, the other big highlight to a Zimbabwean safari is the range of activities. Here, you can explore from every angle. Game drives can go off trail so you may get closer. Nighttime drives provide drama while photography hides offer stunning close-ups. In Mana Pools, you will spend a day in a canoe, being paddled along the river and looking up at wildlife. Both Mana Pools and Hwange offer daily walking safaris, enhancing your connection with the bush. So, on this luxury safari, you will not just encounter wildlife, but you will discover all its beauty and complexity from a complete range of angles. Don’t take just our word for it - consider reading some of our travelers’ reviews of Africa.
$6,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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