So whether you are looking for a classic safari vacation or a sports-and-safari combination, there is something here for you. Hwange and Mana Pools boast a real wealth of wildlife to excite even the most seasoned safarist, while Victoria Falls provides plenty of animal encounters and loads of exhilarating activities!
If classic safari is your priority, we recommend a trip to Hwange very highly indeed. This is the largest national park in Zimbabwe, with almost 15,000 sq. km of wetlands, woodlands, and desert sands! Wildlife numbers had fallen significantly due to hunting, but following the park’s achievement of game reserve status in 1928 populations began to increase. This trend continued until 1961, when Hwange was named a national park, and today there are 108 species of mammal and over 400 types of bird!
At YZ, we love Hwange, and we suggest three properties in particular for solo travellers. The first of these is The Hide, located within a private concession on the park’s south-east border. During green season and mid-season, there is no single supplement, while during high season there is a 25 per cent surcharge on the per person sharing rate. This camp has just ten classic safari tents, including standard and deluxe accommodation. One unit is suitable for wheelchair users and all options include a private veranda with superb views of a nearby waterhole! Activities focus on getting out into the concession to view all the animals, on game drives and walking safaris. And as you might expect from a property named The Hide, there are lots of hides for wildlife viewing, not least Dove’s Nest, a tree house!
Another ace place for solos in Hwange is Bomani Tented Lodge, within a private concession in the eastern region of the national park. This property belongs to the Imvelo Safari Lodges portfolio, so responsible tourism and luxury accommodation come as standard. There are nine tents and a family bungalow – all are constructed from canvas and metal and feature a private veranda with amazing views across the plains. As at The Hide, activities here are centred on checking out the local wildlife, via day and night game drives and daytime walking safaris. You can also get involved in Imvelo’s ‘Pump Runs’, where you head out with a guide to visit eight waterholes and to drop off fuels and supplies. Excursions to the local village are possible too. Bomani is an excellent option if you take a keen interest not only in seeing wildlife but also in learning about the local area!
Finally, in Hwange, we give a big thumbs-up to another Imvelo property. This is Nehimba Lodge, in the northern part of the park. Located in a private concession, Nehimba offers outstanding day and night game drives and morning guided walks. Not far from camp, there is a hide, where you can get really close to passing wildlife! Other activities include visiting the Nehimba Seep, which is very popular with elephant, as well as Mandavu Dam and Mtoa Ruins. Nehimba Lodge itself is very luxurious, with each of its seven teak-and-thatch chalets providing a comfortable place to rest up in between your trips out into the park. The accommodation features a fan, tea- and coffee-making facilities, outdoor shower, and private balcony with views across to a busy waterhole. It is small wonder that Zim’s Safari Operators Association have named Nehimba Lodge the Best Safari Lodge in the country!
The second destination we have in mind for solo travellers to Zimbabwe is Mana Pools, in the north of Zimbabwe. The name refers to the number of large pools in the area – Mana means ‘four’ in the Shona language. This area of Africa also boasts plenty of smaller pools, in addition to banks and islets and beautiful forests. In 1984 Mana Pools achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status and in 2013 it became a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. Although threats remain in the form of mining and poaching, today the wildlife is thriving – it includes the largest populations of hippos and crocs in Zimbabwe, in addition to immense herds of elephant and buffalo during dry season. The birdlife is worth a mention too, as over 350 species have been recorded so far!
Our top property for solos here is Kanga Camp, in the west region of the Pools. This camp is owned by African Bush Camps, the company belonging to famous safari guide Beks Ndlovu and his wife Sophia. Solo travellers enjoy a reduced rate if they stay here during high season, from 1 July to 31 October. Kanga has just six tents, constructed in a classic safari style. Inside, all are very well appointed, with comfy beds and en-suite facilities. From your private veranda, you can gaze out across the lush landscape and watch for wildlife! The main activities here are day and night game drives and morning game walks – and the standard of guiding is exceptionally high. You can also go canoeing or fishing on the floodplains of the Zambezi River, only an hour’s drive away! And approximately 1km from camp there are four sleeping platforms, perfect for spending a night under the stars while listening to the sounds of the bush. Kanga is one of our favourite camps in Mana Pools!
Lastly, we bring you Victoria Falls. This is the world’s largest waterfall, wowing visitors from every corner of Planet Earth! It was love at first sight for Livingstone in 1855 and nowadays people flock to the Falls to marvel at this natural wonder and to take part in a broad range of activities. Whether you favour extreme watersports, serene river cruises, or a bit of both, the Falls has something to suit. And with two national parks in the area, it is super for safarists too!
The property we recommend for solo travellers here is Ilala Lodge Hotel, offering the closest accommodation to Vic Falls in Zimbabwe! On foot, the Falls are just 10 minutes away. From most of the rooms, the spray is visible! There are 34 rooms in total, all fully air conditioned and equipped with oodles of creature comforts. The Hotel is set in its own gorgeous gardens, ideal for relaxation in between activities. And there are a lot of things to do – guests need only pop to Ilala’s Activities Desk for staff to arrange white water rafting, bungee jumping, gorge swings, Falls tours, river cruises, game drives, elephant rides, helicopter flights, and much more! For sports-and-safari, Vic Falls really is the best available.
If you are feeling tempted to travel solo to any of these exciting destinations, just give us a call and we can start planning your vacation!