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By Emma 01 August 2018

Zimbabwe’s tourism took a turn for its worst during the early 2000s. However, since its very recent regime change, in which President Robert Mugabe was deposed in a peaceful coup at the end of 2017, we have been in full preparation for the country making a massive comeback. Before too long, ‘Zim’ should get back to attracting the terrific tourist numbers of the 1990s!

To us, nothing says comeback more than the new properties popping up in Zim, as well as the investment in existing camps. First, YZ takes a look at what’s new…

1. Verney’s Camp, Hwange National Park

Located in a private concession in the heart of Hwange National Park, Verney’s Camp is set to open in May 2018. It is surrounded by a teak forest, which opens up onto the drama unfolding around an impressive and popular waterhole, the natural playground to continuous elephant herds and other Big Five wildlife. Listed in the Machaba Safaris portfolio, this camp is a great tented option in northern Zimbabwe – definitely one to watch!

2. John’s Camp, Mana Pools National Park

Having opened in April 2017, John's Camp is one of the newest camps in the country and comes highly recommended for travellers seeking a scenic and adventurous camp in Mana Pools. It is named after John Stevens, a highly regarded safari guide, and your stay here will be jam-packed with quality guiding, impressive wildlife encounters, and sundowners of serious note, overlooking the mighty Zambezi River.

3. Victoria Falls Island Lodge, Victoria Falls

A visually stunning lodge of light woods, white interiors, and expansive views of the Zambezi, Victoria Falls Island Lodge is operated by Zambezi Crescent and welcomed its first guests in August 2017. The treehouse suites, all with private plunge pools, are located on an idyllic island upstream from Victoria Falls, and are perfect for honeymooners looking for a quiet retreat – with the option of exploring the Falls as well.

And now we look at what has changed – some properties have gone for a new look and others have improved their activities…

1. Bumi Hills Safari Lodge, Lake Kariba

Setting the stage for a romantic sundowner, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is perched right on the edge of a remote hill, with the Zambezi escarpment as its backdrop and the vast Lake Kariba providing ample entertainment. Thanks to its stunning renovation, the lodge is fresh, contemporary, and one of our favourite bases for boat cruises, fishing trips, and game drives along Lake Kariba.

2. Bomani and Camelthorn lodges, Hwange National Park

There has been a lot going on with Imvelo Safari Lodges in recent months (checked out the private overnight sleeper train, the Stimela Star, which is launching this year). From new family suites to the addition of lodge plunge pools, properties like Bomani Tented Lodge and Camelthorn Lodge are being renovated and adding new things to do to their activities lists, in anticipation of Zimbabwe’s brighter future. In particular, we are delighted with the horse riding safaris, launched in March 2018 and the first of their kind in southern Hwange. There are seven well-trained horses available for all levels of ability, and we’d highly recommend giving the experience a go. Most of the wildlife is unaware of your presence, so you can get really close to the animals, often even riding alongside big game.

3. Singita Pamushana, Gonarezhou National Park

The hidden gem of Zimbabwe, where even the locals and well-travelled safari enthusiasts have rarely explored, Gonarezhou National Park is seeing a huge and very welcome revamp. Uber-luxury lodge Singita Pamushana has just undergone a stunning transformation, with two new suites added, the lodge deck and living space extended, and the interior design is freshly inspired by bold and rich African patterns. Throw in the fact that this area is off the beaten track yet easier to get to thanks to new flights to Buffalo Range International Airport (BFO) twice weekly from Johannesburg, and you have the perfect recipe for a superb safari to Zimbabwe!

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