Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Gonarezhou National Park, Mana Pools National Park, Zambezi River, Hwange National Park, Makalolo...
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
This 10-day Zimbabwe safari is a celebration of everything that Africa offers to its travelers. Enjoy a private luxury reserve with easy Big Five sightings in Malilangwe, take in a world wonder at Victoria Falls, explore a vast unchartered national park with Gonarezhou, be mesmerized by the charms of the wetlands in Mana Pools and then conclude with the drama of the savannah in Hwange. The beauty of mixing game drives with walks and boat safari will bring you an encompassing and expressive 10-days...
Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve – An Opulent Welcome to Zimbabwe
Malilangwe is one of Southern Africa’s spheres of luxury, where you watch elephants from a private plunge pool and fine dine as lions roar in the distance. Safari is easy here with an exotic cast of animals attracted by the reserve’s permanent water that migrates into the reserve from the corners of The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Operated by one of Africa’s legendary luxury names, this reserve will ease you into the safari experience, without forgoing any Western comforts. You will change planes at O. R. Tambo International in Johannesburg, flying north to this savanna in the southeast of Zimbabwe. Cocktails and champagne are served on your first afternoon game drive as silhouetted animals grace the panorama as you dine, and you only need to sit back on the balcony to enjoy many of the continent’s animals as the lodge looks over a floodlit waterhole that is populated throughout day and night.
Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve – The Charm of the Big Five in a Private Reserve
Lions are seen in the distance, basking in the morning sun with their golden manes rippling in the breeze. Elephants move gracefully past your vehicle and hidden amongst the bushes, you can spot rhinos, a mother and calf returning your gaze. Buffalo are commonplace here, and sometimes the guide must stop and wait for them to clear the rutted four-wheel drive trail. In Malilangwe, you will have an excellent chance of spotting a leopard, your guides’ intimate knowledge helping to uncover their hiding places. These are the Big Five and deserve their place as Africa’s biggest icons, and while this private reserve does not support a remarkable profusion of life, its mixed habitat provides residence for an array of life, including the famous five.
The schedule will be flexible as you may wish to lie in after your journey to Africa. Activities can be tailored to your energy levels, but it is worth going on at least one game drive in search of these revered mammals. Short bush walks are a possibility, and it is possible to keep exploring in the dark with a nighttime safari about the weird and wonderful of the savanna. Malilangwe’s ease comes from its compact size as you will not need long or adventurous activities to start spotting the icons. Rather, you often just need to sit back and watch the show from your private lodge verandah or plunge pool. So soak up the luxury, tick off the famous sights, and gradually tune your senses to the wilderness.
Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve – Day Trip Safari Into the Unexplored Wilderness
On the first couple of days, you will find yourself photographing every elephant, stopping at each zebra, and delighting in every new species uncovered. But your safari is about atmosphere and immersion, about surrounding yourself with nature’s theater, not knowing what is going to happen next. Gonarezhou shares an unfenced border with Malilangwe and stretches over a vast area, butting up against South Africa and Mozambique. The region is wild and untamed, and the animals’ behavior is tinged with aggression and belligerence. Without any permanent lodges, this is one of Africa’s last big-game frontiers, mostly unexplored and certainly not understood by the human world.
The animals are very similar to Malilangwe and neighboring Kruger National Park, yet they are scattered and spread, harder to find, and more likely to surprise. On a day trip, you can take a picnic and feel the thrill of an expedition as you bump through a canyon of red granite boulders, following prints in the dust. There will be a profound sense of freedom as no other people or vehicles are in sight, nor much evidence of their presence. So you can keep exploring, getting stared at by an elephant and listening to the rolling beat of hooves across the plains. When you return to Malilangwe, you will be tired and dusty, but your luxurious bathtub will be just one way to cool off and re-energize.
Day 4 - 5
Mana Pools National Park – Beauty of the African Wetlands
Light aircraft connections bring both convenience and speed as they link the parks found in the different corners of Zimbabwe. While practical, your flights are also mesmerizing as the colors of the wild flow beneath your wingtips, especially on today’s flight across the Chimanimani Mountains. Coming in for a landing, you can see the park’s four permanent pools that were created by river channels that stopped flowing many centuries ago. Mana translates as “four” in the local Shona language, and these expanses of water attract all manner of wildlife throughout the dry season from April to November. You will have landed in a place of abundance with food and water to support high numbers of animals. And like revered real estate in the city, predators, and giants voraciously protect their territories.
These two days are fully flexible, and after an introductory game drive, the guides will outline the different activities. In almost all parks, you must be in a vehicle for encountering the predatory cats as walking simply is not safe. But boat and canoe safaris provide a unique perspective of the carnivores not seen from above but from eye level. A lion pride stares straight back at you, perhaps a cheetah or hyena may slip silently just ten meters away, or an elephant squirts water, and you are just out of range. In Mana Pools, motorboat safaris can get you close to a larger number of animals, but a canoe safari approaches silently to bring an even greater level of intimacy.
Swap wheels for walking and the animal focus is different. Avoiding the cats, guides lead you onto open floodplains, which stretch out from the four main pools – named Main, Chine, Long, and Chisambuk. Eland and kudu wander nearby, herds of impala skip past on two sides, distinguishable from the equally large herds of duiker. Sable antelope point their spiraled horns in your direction while zebra waits inquisitively as you approach. Then there are baboons and vervet monkeys, the odd mongoose poking its head out, even a harem of buffalo grunting close by. With a walking safari, there are no fences or barriers, so you move silently, and you are not seen as a threat, meaning most animals will not run away. From this inspiring perspective, you can drink in the subtleties of behavior and style, the safari experience going far beyond the obvious. Over these two days, game drives can be complemented by these unique activities, the safari always feeling new and nuanced.
Makalolo Concession – Following the Elephants Through Acacia Woodlands and Teak Forests
You will move from a landscape of abundance to one of scarcity, where the battle for survival roars in your face. Grasslands turn brown, the acacia scrub is bulldozed down by elephants, and shallow pans shrivel in the dry season sun. Somehow, Hwange is home to one of Africa’s biggest concentrations of wildlife. Hwange symbolizes the precarious balance of nature as so much is able to survive, but only the elephants and buffalo truly seem to thrive. As Zimbabwe’s largest and most famous park, some 3.4 million acres of wilderness are yours to explore. Keeping the experience exclusive, you will be staying in the private Makalolo Concession with your luxury tented camp open to nature’s sounds and the savanna as your personal playground.
In this landscape, you can game drive and walk at the guides’ discretion, and diversifying the experience are the convergent habitats, such as the acacia woodlands and teak forests that are occupied by thousands upon thousands of elephants. Follow the trunks through the trees with a brass band of hoots guiding you to flapping ears and twirling trunks. The elephants will surround you, each scene imbued with intimacy as babies chase away warthogs, infants playfully bash their heads, and colossal tusks crash into tree branches with silent standoffs between herds at the waterhole. In this kind of landscape, you will not count or tick off what you see so much as you will immerse yourself in the behavior of the herds, never sure what they will do next.
Makalolo Concession – Predators Hunting Prey on the Grasslands
Out on the plains, you can see hundreds of animals in a single view. The antelope and zebra graze in the open, their sentinels pricking their ears to detect a predatory threat. Across these arid lands, there is a profusion of cats, and a few days in Hwange is a prime chance to see them prowling. They hunt in the early morning and late afternoon, as well as during the night. Sometimes you will spot lionesses inspecting their menu, looking around for a target to attack after dusk. On other drives, you will find a leopard bounding down from a tree, keeping to the high grass as a wildebeest herd plays unwittingly close.
Cheetahs and wild dogs also provide mesmerizing scenes. Though usually hard to spot, these predators are relatively easy to find in Hwange. Spotted hyena charge past you at regular intervals, their snarl such a contrast to the delectable grin of the smaller brown hyena. Sometimes, you will only see the predator, but wait around, and the scene will slowly play out as the hunter biding its time in creeping ever closer to the herd. When vultures swirl, the guide will take you closer to a ragged carcass fought over by birds and jackals. On another point in the safari, you may see the actual kill or the immediate aftermath, perhaps a lion roaring with authority, mane splattered with the blood of a young zebra. All of these scenes are possible in Hwange, as well as the other parks you visit on this 10-day Zimbabwe safari, but they will never grow old.
Makalolo Concession – Continuing the Private Safari in the Heart of Hwange
Three days is the recommended minimum for Hwange, given its size and beauty. You can track scenes over multiple days, such as a hyena that is harassing a wildebeest herd one evening, and then found finishing off the carcass the next morning. Your camp is located in a private concession, so it is possible to stay close and develop a detailed understanding of the residents. Game drives can take you further afield and into the land of the elephants or that of the lions. After eight days on safari, there may be some animals you will have yet to see, so the guides can specifically tailor the game drive towards finding them. Or you might have a favorite, an animal you want to understand in more detail. Whatever the program you create with your guide, the safari will continue your rich engagement with ancient animals on lands that few people have had the fortune to explore.
Victoria Falls – Serene Cruising on the Zambezi and Victoria Falls
Move next to the natural wonder of a spectacle of incredible power to complete your time in Zimbabwe. Fly north to spend the day at Victoria Falls and be deafened by its growling roar and enthralled by the spiraling spray. Photos do not do justice to the falls, as they are unable to represent the sheer volume and power of the water. A guide will lead you on a walking trail that runs most of the length of the falls, where there are many points for treating your senses to the enormity of it all. Then for a final evening in Zimbabwe, you will take a boat cruise down the Zambezi River as sunset colors flicker on and off the water’s surface. Tonight’s accommodation is a legendary five-star hotel that is close enough to see the clouds of spray emitted from the falls.
Victoria Falls – Relaxed Day on the River Before Departure
Before your afternoon flight, there will be plenty of time to relax on the banks of the river and enjoy the odd troop of vervet monkeys that jump past. Take breakfast and lunch at the hotel, and then transfer to the airport for your international departure.
- Enjoy the luxury and the ease of a safari in Malilangwe, one of Southern Africa’s premier private reserves and an elegant first stop as you look for the Big Five
- Journey into unchartered territory with a full-day game drive in Gonarezhou National Park, an expedition that will be full of adventure and strange encounters
- Explore the magical wetland of Mana Pools and the abundant wildlife on game drives, walks, and activities on the water
- Immerse yourself in the world of the elephants as you explore the acacia woodlands and teak forests of Hwange National Park
- Spot the big cats on a daily basis throughout your safari, with the open plains of Hwange providing a great chance to see them stalking and hunting their prey
- Cruise the Zambezi River at sunset and watch the colors ripple off the water, one of Zimbabwe’s most iconic experiences
- Feast your eyes and your ears on Victoria Falls, the Zimbabwean side of the spectacle making for surreal photos of rainbows in the spray
- Fly between the parks and reserves on light aircraft, the expedited journeys also providing thrilling views over the country’s landscapes
- Tailor your safari program throughout, benefiting from Zimbabwe’s trademark flexibility and diversity
$9,995 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 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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