Another reason we love Zim is its wonderful wildlife – it is well worth considering Hwange National Park and Mana Pools if you are looking for classic safari! The world’s largest waterfall, Vic Falls most definitely has the wow factor and a stay in the area really is the trip of a lifetime. Ever since David Livingstone visited in 1855, people have flocked to the Falls to gape at the sheer splendour of this immense cascade! White water rafting… bungee jumping… gorge swinging… zipwiring… – these are just a few of the activities available. If you need to take time to recover between extreme sports, you can book a river cruise, enjoy some shopping in Vic Falls town, and pop to the local villages for a bit of culture. And safari fans will relish trips to the national parks of Victoria Falls and Mosi-oa-Tunya, in addition to elephant interactions, lion walks, and birdwatching.
All these activities – and more! – are possible from our pick of the properties for private groups in the area. This is Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, positioned on a high plateau overlooking Zambezi National Park. Just 15 minutes from the airport and only 5 minutes from the Falls, the Lodge is excellently located. It is a classic safari lodge, except much bigger than the standard offering! There is a grand total of 72 rooms and suites, from standard to deluxe accommodation. All are very well appointed, with a lot of creature comforts – air conditioning, fans, mosquito nets, mini bar, tea/coffee station, and en-suite facilities including a delightful rainfall shower. Additional things to do from the Lodge include sampling a traditional meal at famous The Boma eatery and taking part in the Vulture Culture Experience, a very interesting conservation exercise!
For private groups who wish to focus all their attention on wildlife, Hwange National Park comes highly recommended. This is Zimbabwe’s largest national park – it boasts nearly 15,000 sq. km of wetlands, woodlands, and desert sands! Hwange’s wildlife had been in a state of severe decline due to hunting, but numbers began to rise steadily following the park’s achievement of game reserve status and national park status, in 1928 and 1961 respectively. Despite recent attempts at poaching, today Hwange is home to 108 species of mammal and over 400 types of bird! This really has been a remarkable recovery.
Two properties in the park are particularly well suited to private groups. The first is The Hide, on Hwange’s south-east border. This camp contains ten classic safari tents. There are three different categories of accommodation, including a unit that is accessible for wheelchair users, but all options have in common a private veranda with amazing views of a nearby waterhole! This means that you do not even have to leave your room to see the local wildlife. However, venture out, and you will find plenty more opportunities to check out all the Big Five and a lot besides! The Hide occupies a private concession, so game drives are possible at night as well as during the day. The morning is the time for walking safaris. Walks are a great way to see all the small things that you tend to miss while in the vehicle. And as its name indicates, The Hide also has lots of hides from which to observe nature, including Dove’s Nest, a tree house!
Our second pick within Hwange is Wilderness Davison’s. Located in the south-east region of the park, within the Linkwasha Concession, this is another classic safari property – it is named after Ted Davison, the very first Head Warden of Hwange! Surrounded by false mopane trees and close to a busy waterhole, this camp also attracts impressive amounts of wildlife. All of its nine tents have views of a waterhole from a private veranda. Day and night game drives are available, as are walking safaris and visits to a local village. Owned by Wilderness, Wilderness Davison’s is a little larger than other camps and lodges in the company portfolio. It has a very friendly atmosphere, brilliantly suited to groups of travellers!
The final Zim destination to mention here, is Mana Pools. This region is located in the north of the country. The word Mana means ‘four’ in the Shona language, referring to the four large pools that dominate the area. However, there are also many smaller pools, as well as masses of banks and islets and beautiful forests. Mana Pools was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2013! Unfortunately threats to the region remain in the form of poaching and mining, but presently the wildlife is going strong, featuring Zim’s largest concentrations of hippos and crocs, plus huge herds of elephant and buffalo during the dry season. And the birdlife is equally impressive – to date, over 350 species have been recorded.
Our favourite property for private groups in Mana Pools is Goliath Safaris Tented Camp, in the north part of the region and alongside the very scenic Zambezi River. This camp is owned by Stretch Ferreira, one of Zimbabwe’s most famous guides! As you would expect, the standard of guiding here is first rate. Both game drives and walking safaris are led by Stretch himself, while other activities include canoe excursions and boat trips. Each day is organised according to what you want to do, and when night falls you are guaranteed a good night’s sleep in very comfortable accommodation! Goliath has six tented rooms, classic safari style, with high ceilings and mesh windows to encourage cool breezes. There are mosquito nets too, and en-suite facilities include an outside shower.
If any of these destinations appeals to you for private group travel, just give us a call to find out more!