12-Day Zimbabwe Bush & Falls

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Trip Details

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  • Trip Outline
  • Trip Includes
  • Trip Excludes
  • Booking
  • FAQ
  • This tour starts in Harare and ends in Victoria Falls
  • We can book your international flights
  • Fly to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport (HRE) in Harare. Fly from Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) 
  • A transfer from and back to the airport is included
  • We can arrange additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour for an extra cost

Itineraries

Day 1

Arrival in Harare and Transfer to Nyamatusi Mahogany Camps for Mana Pools National Park

Today, folks, we drive north and head to Mana Pools National Park. Located in the center of the Zambezi Valley and along the southern bank of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools is named after four large pools that are relics of ancient lakes carved by the river's current.

Upon arrival, you’ll make your way to Nyamatusi Mahogany Camp – the latest addition to the African Bush Camps collection. Set within a private concession in the Mana Pools National Park, Nyamatusi has been aesthetically designed, bearing style and serenity in mind. If you’re traveling with family, you’ll likely be assigned one of the two family suites nested under the ancient mahogany trees with an unrivaled view of the mighty Zambezi River. Today, rest, relax, and enjoy the camp’s hospitality and canoeing safaris, bush walks, fishing, and game drive activities.

Day 2 & 3

Mana Pools National Parks Tour and Activities

Did you know Mana Pools National Park has Zimbabwe’s highest concentration of hippos and crocodiles? Flanked by forests of mahogany, wild figs, ebonies, and baobabs, Mana Pools is an explorer’s paradise, allowing you to experience the beauty of nature in its most raw, organic form.

Deservedly one of Zimbabwe’s most popular wildlife destinations, the park is famous for its vast elephant herds and is one of the best places to find the endangered African Painted Dogs. In the past, people thought that dogs were pets that couldn’t be domesticated due to their natural hunting instincts or ran away from their owners’ homes at some point and settled in the wild, however, the African Painted Dogs are like wolves. You’d be wise not to irk any predators by going too close to them!

Mana Pools is regarded as one of Zimbabwe’s best national parks and is abundant in the African wilderness. While it’s possible to take a bush walk without a guide, we’d suggest that you explore the area with one all the same – given the dangerous predators lurking around, showing off by going on a solo mission won’t win you many accolades.

While you’re at Mana Pools, we propose taking a canoeing safari to best experience the ebb and flow of the Zambezi River tides while viewing pods of hippos and a host of other creatures relaxing along the banks. For those who love a good hike, walking safaris are an excellent way to explore the forests. Since the sparse vegetation, it’s easier to get close to the big ‘game’ and imprint their majestic patterns in your memories.

If birdwatching is your thing, this rugged UNESCO World Heritage Site is perfect for viewing aquatic birds. Be sure to carry a pair of binoculars to spot the gorgeous Southern carmine bee-eater, the rare Pet’s fishing owl, the chunky Rufous-bellied heron, the long-toed lapwing, and more. Your guide might be able to help you identify these soaring creatures by their distinctive calls or the color of their wings if they’re avid birdwatchers like you. Transfer back to the Nyamatusi Mahogany Camp at the end of the day to take part in night-time game drives and/or the catch-and-release fishing activities held by the Zambezi River.

Day 4

Onward Travel from Mana Pools to Lake Kariba + Bumi Hills Safari Lodge

Our next destination is the Bumi Hills Safari Lodge, which is the starting point for your Lake Kariba experience. Set on a range of remote hills in the wilderness, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is close to the Matusadona National Park, which is one of the few places where the wildlife moves freely between the park and Bumi Hills’ private concession. If you haven’t realized yet, the game viewing opportunities from within the comfort of your accommodation are aplenty.

Featuring the Zambezi escarpment as its backdrop and a stellar view of the shimmering waters of Lake Kariba, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is peace, serenity, and joy personified. Each spacious suite at the Lodge is equipped with all the modern amenities you’ll need, in addition to a private viewing deck that offers exquisite views of Lake Kariba and its surroundings. The Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is also home to a Baobab Villa that’s perfect for families to reside in. Aside from featuring indoor and outdoor dining decks, the property takes pleasure in personalizing your trip further by making a private butler, safari guide, and dedicated safari vehicle available to you throughout your stay.

Partake in game drives, bush walks, and fishing activities, or pay a visit to a local village to learn more about Zimbabwean customs, traditions, and way of life.

Upon arrival, you’ll be transferred to your accommodation, where you’ll have the chance to watch the sunset aboard a cruise along the Zambezi River. The River Zambezi lies upstream from Victoria Falls and flows through six countries namely Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique before emptying into the Indian Ocean. The river is also the most significant source of hydroelectric power for Mozambique and Zimbabwe, alongside nourishing a diverse array of birdlife, game, and fish species.

Day 5 & 6

The Lake Kariba Experience

Since Zimbabwe is landlocked, this is the nation’s answer to the seaside, part of which also lies in the neighboring country of Zambia. Before the lake was filled, the vegetation was burned to create a fertile area of land that later became the lake bed and a source of nourishment for the fauna in the neighboring Matusadona National Park. As a result of this fertile soil, the ecology of Lake Kariba is vibrant. You’ll find several varieties of fish in its pristine waters, including the kapenta, tilapia bream, catfish, vundu, and the extremely valuable tiger fish.

Lake Kariba is the world’s largest manmade lake by reservoir and volume and was filled between 1958 and 1963 following the completion of the Kariba Dam in the northeast while simultaneously flooding the Kariba Gorge on the Zambezi River. This activity of filling caused more than 20 earthquakes of greater than a magnitude of 5.0 on the Richter Scale. Strictly speaking, the lake is the ‘middle section’ of the River Zambezi, located between its source and mouth about 800 miles upstream from the Indian Ocean.

African mythology of the local Tonga tribe from the Zambezi Valley states that Nyami Nyami, the River God that is a resident of Lake Kariba, is a serpent-like creature measuring three meters in width. According to the myth, Nyami Nyami lived under a large rock close to the present-day Kariba Dam wall. Any man that ventured near the spot was sucked into the whirlpools with traces left behind of where he could have disappeared to.

The magnitude of the Kariba Dam is comparable to the size of an ocean and is a rare sight to gaze upon in the continent of Africa. There is a plethora of water-based activities to choose from, including sailing, motorboating, and other water sports. Soak up the magic of the vast watery wilderness and its beautiful islands, but keep that adventure junkie in check – the lake is full of crocs!

Day 7

Charter to Hwange National Park + Somalisa Acacia Camp

It’s challenging to get your fill of all the activities Zimbabwe has to offer, but goodbyes must be said, and we move onward to the Somalisa Acacia Camp which is our tour point for the Hwange National Park. We recommend hitting up Hwange during the dry season from July to October to see all the animals flocking to the park’s 60-odd watering holes.

Somalisa Acacia Camp is the perfect place to access Hwange National Park and engage in a safari experience so exhilarating that you’ll be left reeling. Tucked away beneath the dappled shade of an acacia grove, don’t be alarmed if you see an elephant grazing in the natural reserve from your backyard, especially because the camp has an elephant-drinking pool!

Somalisa Acacia Camp comprises two family tents and two guest tents that can hold up to 12 people at a time. The camp is equipped with inter-leading walkways between the parent's and children’s rooms (privacy for everybody!), and each camp is en-suite (no queueing when nature calls!). Each guest tent features gauze sliding doors that open up to a private deck offering 180-degree views of the surrounding bush. That is camping redefined to suit all the needs of city-dwellers like us.

Day 8 & 9

Hwange National Park Experience

Begin your day bright and early, gearing up for your visit to Hwange National Park – the home of over 40,000 elephants, African Wild Dogs, all the big cats, and more than 400 species of birds. If you want to truly connect with nature and find your zen in the outdoors, this is the place for you. Whether you watch the elephants trudging their way to the watering holes with their herd to get their fill or get up close on the chase when a pack of wild dogs goes hunting, Hwange National Park is all set to enthrall you.

Situated between Bulawayo and the great Victoria Falls, the Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest natural reserve. Its wide array of vegetation allows for an abundance of mammal and bird species to exist and thrive in perfect harmony. An essential stop on your Zimbabwe travels, the Park boasts uncrowded paths and viewing spots in addition to ruins and rock paintings depicting medieval life in Zimbabwe on display at the Bumbusi National Monument.

Hwange National Park was once the royal hunting ground of King Mzilikazi before it was declared a conservation area in 1929. The 14,650 km2 area is awash with scrublands, scattered woodlands, and iconic mopane trees. There is no dearth of wildlife wallowing in the muddy watering holes – you’ll be able to see everything from the waterbuck to the gemsbok, hyena to the baboon, zebra to warthog, and more. While lion sightings are common, leopard and rhino visibility is scarce. While most of the other animals roam around the reserve, the most popular viewing point to catch the elephants is the Nyamandhlovu Pan which is located 10km from the Hwange Main Camp.

Some birds spotted over time in the Park include crowned cranes, martial eagles, Cape griffons, black-winged stilts, southern-ground hornbills, and of course, the magnificent Kori bustard – arguably the largest and heaviest flying bird native to Africa. The omnivorous Kori bustard seldom flies and can usually be found on ground level, foraging in low bushes and trees.

If you want to showcase your prowess as a safari guide, take a crack at it by heading out into the open road in your vehicle DIY style. Be wary to stick to the roads, as off-roading is strictly prohibited.

Day 10

Onward Travel from Hwange to Victoria Falls

What an experience, eh? From Mana Pools to Hwange, the amount of wildlife you’ll have seen is incomparable. It’s time to move on to the last leg of our journey – heading to Victoria Falls, the second UNESCO World Heritage Site on our itinerary. Your visit to this beautiful southern African nation isn’t complete without taking in the sounds and majestic beauty of the crisp, impressive waterfall.

Also known as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ (Smoke That Thunders) and ‘Seongo’ or ‘Chongwe’ (The Place of the Rainbow), the Victoria Falls straddle the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe and are home to several unique species of plants and animals.

Day 11

Victoria Falls Guided Tour + Helicopter Ride

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls is 1,708 m (5,604 feet) wide and is formed as the Zambezi River plummets into a 108-meter-high cleft. The best part is that you can hear the waterfall from nearly 40 km away and see its misty spray from a distance of 50 km. Even though this iconic destination is shared by two countries, the views are better from the Zimbabwean side (trust us – we’ve seen both sides and Zimbabwe wins, hands down!). The aerial view, too, is spell-binding, so a guided helicopter tour (aptly known as ‘The Flight of Angels’) will provide you with plenty of photo ops and sights you’ll never have seen before.

By the by, it may interest you to know that the spray and mist emanating from Victoria Falls means that you’ll be able to see a clear daylight rainbow if you plan your visit between April and July. What’s more, if you happen to be at Victoria Falls when a full moon occurs, a “moonbow” can be seen forming amidst the foggy spraying. On full moon days, the Victoria Falls are open until later for guests to witness the enchanting lunar rainbow.

Day 12

Transfer to Victoria Falls airport for flight home

If you’re brave enough to say ‘goodbye’, life will reward you with a new ‘hello’ – at least that’s what writer Paulo Coelho says. Africa isn’t just a continent. It’s an emotion that we all want to relive every day for the rest of our lives. The trip may have ended here, but the journey doesn’t have to. What you’re taking home (or onward) with you is a treasure trove of memories, a wealth of information, lots of laughter, glorious sunsets, the serenity, and agitation of the water that has intrinsically calmed you and so many more profound lessons that can’t be put into words – they’ll stay there in your head and heart for you to reflect upon from this point forward. We started with ‘Mhoro’, ‘Sawubona’ and ‘Hello’. We part with ‘Mufambe Mushe’, ‘Hamba Kahle’ and ‘Stay well’. We hope you’ve enjoyed your stay in Zimbabwe!

  • Park fees (For non-residents)
  • All activities (Unless labeled as optional)
  • All accommodation (Unless listed as an upgrade)
  • A professional driver/guide
  • All transportation (Unless labeled as optional)
  • All flights during the tour
  • All Taxes/VAT
  • Round-trip airport transfer
  • Meals (As specified in the day-by-day section)
  • Drinking water (On all days)
  • Gifts
  • International flights (From/home)
  • Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour
  • Tips (Tipping guideline US$10.00 pp per day)
  • Personal items (Souvenirs, travel insurance, visa fees, etc.)
  • Increase in taxes and/or fees for parks set by the government
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