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Your Zimbabwe Safari: The Ultimate Guide

Zimbabwe is a highly rewarding safari destination. It’s home to the mysterious ruined capital, Victoria Falls, and the rugged Eastern Highlands.

Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s most renowned safari attraction. It’s known for its huge herds of elephants (especially during the dry season) as well as its abundance of big cats and other wildlife.

Another gem that offers a unique adventure is Mana Pools National Park. Situated in the northern region of Zimbabwe, on the southern banks of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park will leave you breathless with its beauty. This park allows for canoeing safaris and the chance to roam free among large game on guided walking safaris.

Zimbabwe Sunset

Matusadona National Park is another remarkable safari destination found in Zimbabwe. The park gets its name from the rolling Matusadona hills that form part of its water rich landscape. Matusadona Hills is located on the southern shore of Lake Kariba, in the middle of the Zambezi River.

Why You Should Visit Zimbabwe 

  • The iconic Victoria Falls. 
  • Home to some of equatorial Africa’s most majestic ruins. 
  • Walking and canoe safaris in Mana Pools National Park. 
  • Wander through the Eastern Highlands’ forests and boulder-strewn lunarscapes. 

Wildlife in Zimbabwe

The northern border of Zimbabwe is traced by the Zambezi River, which flows into Lake Kariba. It then passes through the hot, low-lying Zambezi Valley, and then the World Heritage Site, Mana Pools National Park. The Zambezi River provides water all-year-round for wildlife. On a Zimbabwe safari, you may often see predators like leopard, lion and crocodile. Kudu, impala, zebra, hippo, and waterbuck all live on the nearby plains. 

The sable antelope is the national animal of Zimbabwe and considered to be one of the country’s most populated species. 

The horns of this species have made them attractive with photographers, but they have also made them a favourite target for prize hunters. Conservation measures have been put in place to prevent the extinction of Sable Antelopes in the wild. It is estimated that numbers might be as low as 1,000. 

Sable Antelope Zimbabwe

In Hwange National Park, you will find brown hyena, bat-eared fox, and springhare are all. You may even get to see the critically endangered wild dogs, while nocturnal honey badgers are often seen at night in and around campfires. 

Zimbabwe is also home to over 650 bird species and is a great place for a bird-watching safari. No endemic bird species can be found in Zimbabwe, although the Eastern Zimbabwe Mountains Endemic Bird Area (an area of worldwide importance), has numerous near endemics (EBA). For birdwatchers, Zimbabwe’s National Parks offer exceptional service and several options for walking safaris. From November through April, a massive influx of migratory birds may be found here, including the eastern black-headed oriole, greater painted-snipe, livingstone’s turaco, and the southern carmine bee-eater. 

The winter months are the ideal time to see animals because of the dry weather (May-October). Animals flock around water sources when it is limited, which is especially true at the conclusion of the Dry season. 

A Few Of Our Most Popular Camps in Zimbabwe

Cultures in Zimbabwe 

Most of Zimbabwe’s population are descendants of the great Bantu-speaking migrants who first ventured eastward and southward across Africa 2000 years ago. They settled in the highveld, midveld, and eastern highlands of Zimbabwe as iron-makers and agriculturists. 

They began the long process to establish the distinctive Shona culture, which is so integral to Zimbabwe today. Their Bantu kin, the Zulu warriors King Mzilikazi, did not arrive until the second half of the nineteenth-century. Now they form the Ndebele, or Matebele. This is Zimbabwe’s second-largest community. Despite being late to the scene, there are many cultural similarities among Bantu-speaking communities. Together, they make up an overwhelming majority.  

Languages in Zimbabwe 

Currently, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages. This includes Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koi-san, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sign Language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa. It is important to note that English, Shona and Ndebele are the most widely spoken across the country. English, being the first official language and Shona the second.  

Where to Go 

Lake Kariba National Park  

Lake Kariba, with its 2,000km of shoreline, is the 4th largest man-made lake in the world, and the 2nd in Africa. It’s an impressive destination to visit, especially if you would like to experience authentic wildlife and walking safaris. Lake Kariba National Park is also rich in cultural heritage, which transcends through our safari camps and the indigenous community of Tonga people.  

Bumi Hills Boat Cruise Zimbabwe

Buffalo, waterbuck, zebra and other impala thrived in areas with abundant water and regenerative grasses. Lions are also coming back to the area  This has allowed for incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. The lake is home to huge Nile crocodiles, and the shores offer incredible herds of elephants and other members of the big five. Birdlife is also flourishing in this area. Keep an eye out for fish-eagles and other birdlife. 

Our Camps in Matusadona National Park 

Situated on the sparkling shores of Lake Kariba 

Bumi-Hills Safari Lodge- A Secret Riviera in the Heart of Africa 

Bumi Hills safari lodge is located in Zimbabwe’s most remote wilderness area, it is truly captivating. This haven of tranquillity overlooks Lake Kariba’s shimmering waters, with the Zambezi Escarpment as its backdrop. Kariba’s shoreline is rich in wildlife. The lodge’s location near Matusadona also allows wildlife to freely roam between Matusadona’s national park and Bumi Hill’s private concession. This creates endless opportunities for game-viewing, guided by our passionate team. 

Bumi Hills Safari Zimbabwe

Each of the ten suites is thoughtfully furnished with all the amenities you would expect from our luxury Lake Kariba lodge. Each suite has air-conditioning, an en-suite bathroom with a hairdryer and battery charging points. There’s also a mini-bar and private viewing deck. Baobab Villa is a two-bedroom villa in Bumi Hills. It has a living room bar, outdoor and indoor dining decks, and is perfect for families. The villa offers a personalized experience with a private server, safari guide, and a dedicated safari car. 

Our tranquil spa offers a relaxing retreat from the stresses of modern life. The sparkling infinity pool provides cool relief and endless views of Lake Kariba below. Our well-equipped gym offers a great opportunity for active guests. The lodge is close to Matusadona, which allows the animals to roam free between the national park area and the private concession at Bumi Hills. You can spend your days on the water or wandering around the surrounding area on a walking safari. Discover the secrets hidden within the fossilized dinosaur footprints that are unique to this area. Our guides are equipped and knowledgeable of the area. They will make sure your safari experience is a memorable one. Guided walking safaris, boating and birding, day-and-night game as well as cultural visits to the local community are some of the activities you can expect to experience on your trip. 

Practical Advice  

  • For wildlife viewing, June through October is the best month to visit Lake Kariba. However, September and October can be extremely hot. 
  • Malaria is prevalent in Lake Kariba. The risk of contracting is greatest during the rainy season from November through April. Take the necessary precautions. 

Mana Pools National Park  

Mana Pools is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It offers a wilderness experience in the most remote areas. Visitors to the park will find a variety of wildlife 

Mana, which means “four” in Shona, refers to four large pools found within the park. These are remnants of old oxbow lakes that were created by the powerful Zambezi. The Mana Pools National Park is in the middle Zambezi Valley and offers an incredible opportunity to take part in expertly guided canoe trails, among other activities. 

The Mana Pools National Park is renowned for its large elephant herds and for being the best place in Africa to see endangered wild dogs. It’s not just the wildlife that makes the park so appealing, but also how it allows you to live in the bush and experience the wild without being disturbed by large crowds.  

Our Camps in Mana Pools National Park 

Kanga Camp 

Kanga Camp located in a private concession of Mana Pools National Park, is an unspoiled wilderness paradise. Our seasonal Kanga safari lodge is located inland adjacent to Kanga Pan. It offers an authentic Mana Pools safari experience. Kanga Pan, which is located many miles from the Zambezi River, is the only source of water during the dry season. This makes it an ideal haven for wildlife. The diverse area includes a variety of vlei lines, mixed woodland types, ranging from Mopane Forest to Jesse bush and riverine trees. Kanga Camp is well-suited for collaboration with Zambezi Expeditions, where you can experience the thrill of canoeing and catch and release fishing on the Zambezi River. 

Kanga Zimbabwe

The solar-powered Kanga camp consists of six tents, each raised on wooden platforms to provide an elevated view of the Kanga Pan. The Meru-style tents are simple but elegant. They have floor-to-ceiling mesh windows to let in natural light and a breeze. Each tent has fans, an en-suite bathroom, outdoor shower and hot running water. Kanga also offers a family tent with a wrap-around terrace that faces the pan and has private seating and dining areas. A rolltop bath is available on the adjacent secluded deck in the honeymoon tent, making it a perfect spot for starlit nights. The upper deck lounge, which is shaded by a mahogany tree, is a great place to relax and unwind. Our plunge pool offers a refreshing oasis for the warmer, summer days. This Kanga safari lodge offers every comfort of home, including a charging station for your cameras and devices. 

Guided walking safaris are one of the many activities on your Mana Pools safari. Our passionate guides take great joy inleading thrilling game drives. They will be happy to share their love and knowledge with you. You don’t need to worry about the kids while on safari, at Kanga camp children over seven years old are welcome African Bush Camps prides itself in its family-friendly safari camps. Walking safaris at Kanga are not permitted for children under 16. This is due to their adventurous nature. Kanga Camp is closed during the dry and shoulder seasons, which runs from April to November. 

Zambezi Expeditions 

Zambezi Expeditions boasts one of the most stunning settings in Zimbabwe’s famous Mana Pools National Park. The camp is classic and comfortable, yet it offers a sense of intimacy with the natural world. You will fall asleep to the sounds of the river flowing with the chuckles of the hippo and wake-up to the spectacular African sunrise. Zambezi Expeditions will help you connect deeply with nature. 

Zambezi Expedition Zimbabwe

Each tent is set under the shade of winter thorn and ebony trees. It has an en-suite bathroom with hot bucket showers. The main area also has charging points for your cameras. A game drive in an open 4 x4 along the floodplains and into the Mana Pools UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must on your trip. 

Nyamatusi Mahogany- Embracing Family on Safari 

Nyamatusi Mahogany is the latest addition to African Bush Camps’ family-focused safari camps. It offers a luxurious safari experience that families will love. The camp features two tented suites as well as two family suites, nestled under old mahogany trees along the banks of the Zambezi River.  

Nyamatusi Mahogany Zimbabwe

Nyamatusi Mahogany’s experience is solar-powered and made from all-natural, locally sourced materials. You can enjoy uninterrupted views of the river, floodplain, and escarpment from the lounge, dining area, fire circle, plunge pool as well as your private suite. Our Mana Pools camp features two tented suites as well as two family suites All situated beneath the ancient mahogany trees along the shores of the mighty Zambezi River. The camp’s thoughtful and bespoke design captures the beauty and serenity found in its natural surroundings. Mana Pools is a paradise for explorers. It’s one of the few pioneer parks in the great African Rift Valley. You can expect maximum flexibility when you stay in a private concession within Mana Pools National Park.  

Children are welcome at this camp with their special Ngwana club starter pack. Children of all ages can visit our Mana Pools camp. However, because of the nature of the activities, only children 16 years and older are allowed on walking or canoeing safaris. 

Nyamatusi Camp- Ideal for the Eco-conscious Traveller 

Nyamatusi Camp is our flagship in terms of its eco-conscious style. This camp is set in one of the wildest and most remote parts of Africa, on the banks of the Zambezi, one of the world’s oldest rivers. Embracing comfort, this property embodies sustainable design. Fully solar-powered and built from all-natural materials it encompasses its wilderness location in the most elegant way. Here, your Mana Pools safari plays out against a sweeping riverine landscape, where epic encounters of the giants that roam this land await.  

Nyamatusi Zimbabwe

Consisting of six luxury tented suites, with uninterrupted views of the river and escarpment beyond, our Mana Pools safari lodge invites a blissful escape to nature. Each romantic guest tent is adorned with soft drapery and is replete with air-conditioning, indoor and outdoor shower and a private viewing deck, and a plunge pool. Thoughtfully located charging points are placed in your guest tent for those all-important cameras. Your Mana Pools safari follows the gentle ebb and flow of life on the river. Marvel at the incredible sights and sounds of one of Africa’s last remaining wilderness hinterlands from the cozy bar or, refreshing pool.  

Hwange National Park 

Hwange National Park, which covers an impressive 14,650 square kilometres of land, is the largest park in Zimbabwe. It’s located approximately two-hours drive from Victoria Falls and a 30-minute flight away. Named after a Nhanzwa chief, the park was once the royal hunting ground of the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi before it was designated a protected National Park on the 29th of September 1929. 

The park’s diversity of wildlife species is impressive, as you would expect. Nearly 400 species of birds and mammals can be found here.  

Hwange’s dry season, which runs from July to October, is the best time to visit. Large numbers of wildlife, including elephant herds, descend on the area to drink at the waterholes. This allows them to survive in the harsh environment. The wildlife will disperse in the park due to the heavy rains that fall from December to March, making it harder for them to be seen. However, the summer showers bring out stunning vegetation. As the local population of birdlife is bolstered from the Northern Hemisphere, as yearly feathered visitors migrate. This which creates amazing bird-watching opportunities. Hwange National Park is truly a year-round paradise. 

Our Camps in Hwange National Park  

Somalisa Acacia – Ideal for a Family Safari 

The most important symbol of Africa is the Acacia tree. Its silhouette is iconic to the African landscape, especially when watching a sunrise with vivid orange and pink hues. 

Somalisa Acacia offers a memorable family-friendly safari experience. This camp is suitable for younger children and smaller groups of safari-goers. The camp is located just to the west of its sister camp, Somalisa Camp and sits at the edge of Hwange National Park’s seasonal floodplain. Your chances of sighting elephants from you room is very high. Since your backyard is the largest natural reserve of Zimbabwe and is known for its diverse wildlife. Keep an eye out the swift cheetahs, graceful giraffes, honking hippos, and the dazzling zebra that might make an appearance. 

Somalisa Zimbabwe

Somalisa Acacia can be accessed from Victoria Falls International Airport by a 45-minute light-plane-flight landing at Manga Airstrip. A 30-minute game drive transfer will take you to the camp. You can also access the lodge by road, which is only a 4-hour drive away from Victoria Falls. Somalisa Acacia is open to children of all ages. It’s a great place for authentic and meaningful memories under the African skies with your family. Our camp has eco-conscious, functional design. A lounge, dining area, boma, and an elephant drinking pool make up the main camp area. The space is surrounded by Acacia trees, which create a gentle stream of light that reflects off the deck. This creates a feeling of security and tranquillity. The Somalisa Acacia splash pool borders wild elephant waterholes, which are frequented by these magnificent gentle giants. 

Somalisa Acacia can accommodate a maximum of 12 guests. The camp is composed of two-family tents that have inter-leading walkways connecting the children and parents’ rooms. There are also two separate canvas guest tents. Every guest tent has gauze sliding doors that lead to a private deck with 180-degree views over the surrounding bush. This camp is a blend of different textures, from copper to natural wood and face brick. It has a truly organic feel. The modern amenities in your guest tent include a fan and a battery charging station. There is also a wood-burning fireplace, a bathroom with a roll-top bathtub, and a fan. Your Hwange safari activities include game drives, walking safaris and birding. These activities are all included in your stay, and lead by passionate and qualified guides. They are natural storytellers and eager to share their passion for the bush with you and your family. 

Somalisa Camp- Zimbabwe’s Leading Tented Safari Camp – World Travel Awards 2019 & 2020 

Somalisa Camp provides guests with breath-taking views of the golden savannah plains of Hwange. A place where, one moment you are sipping on your gin and tonic listening to the distant baritone roar of a lion coalition on the hunt, and the next, you’re gazing over at a congregation of elephants mere meters away, peacefully sharing a sundowner with you.  

Hwange National Park is a land of contrasts from dense teak and acacia forest to vast open savannah, offering guests an exhibition of raw and diverse Africa. Somalisa Camp enjoys pride of place as our first-ever Hwange safari lodge.  It was built by our owner, Beks Ndlovu and is home to the quintessential African Bush Camps experience. Tucked away under the dappled shade of an Acacia grove, along the edge of an ancient seasonal floodplain. 

Somalisa Safari Zimbabwe

Our intimate bush camp is perfect for a relaxing Hwange safari with friends and loved ones. The elegant style is infused by natural wood and organic features of the bush. Kudhinda, the Zimbabwean national material, is thoughtfully paired with modern decor influences, creating an authentic contemporary African style. A full solar power farm and water purity system allow the camp to recycle 80% water used. 

Somalisa Camp leads the way in eco-friendly safari accommodation. It has been awarded the first GOLD Green Tourism Certification in Zimbabwe. Our seven tastefully furnished sailcloth tents are set on a private concession in the heart of Hwange National Park. This is where you will find nature and luxury seamlessly entwined. Your guest tent is replete with modern amenities such as a fan, a battery charging station, wood-burning fireplace and private viewing deck. Your bathroom, worthy of a special mention, is inspired by the romance of yesteryear, boasts an indoor and outdoor bathroom and features a copper slipper-style bathtub and endless views across the vast plains beyond. Perfect for a romantic safari experience. 

Explore legendary Hwange National Park through a variety of pursuits while staying at Somalisa Camp. Activities include walking safaris, game drives, birding and cultural visits. All are included in your stay and led by our qualified and passionate guides. These natural storytellers enlighten our guests by sharing their wonder and wisdom of the African bush. 

Somalisa Expeditions- Home of the Arm-chair Safari 

Somalisa Expeditions is full of adventure and will bring you face-to-face with Africa’s greats. As you sit in your chair, nature will come to you. Somalisa Expeditions  is home to the ‘arm-chair safari’. You can literally sit on the deck and watch the natural world unfold before you.  

Game drives, bush walks and bird watching excursions are included in your stay. Our professional guides make an experience more than just passive observation of sights. They show passion for beauty and wonder. Your curiosity about Africa’s wilderness will be awe-inspiring. 

Somalisa Expeditions Zimbabwe

Somalisa Expeditions captures the atmosphere of a mobile camp, but with all the comforts. You’ll feel more connected to nature by staying in these authentic expedition-style camps, which allows you to have an authentic experience of the wilderness without having to sacrifice any luxury. This camp’s honest, authentic design will allow you to truly explore Africa. Our Serengeti-style tents are modern and comfortable. 

Matobo National Park 

Matobo National Park can be found in southwest Zimbabwe. The Matobo Hills are a series of balancing rocks formed by the erosion of granite plateau. Stone Age rock art can be seen on the walls of Nswatugi Cave. 

Our Camps in Matobo National Park 

Khayelitsha House 

Khayelitshe House Zimbabwe

Khayelitshe House is located in the middle of the Matobo Hills just outside the border of the national park. Khayelitshe house is surrounded by iconic balancing stones and surrounded natural amphitheatres of huge boulders. Its name was derived from the Ndebele words “Ekhaya” and “Litshe”, which means “Home in the Rocks”. The charm of Khayelitshe House is due to its simple and organic design. The eclectic design draws inspiration from Africa’s travels and brings energy and tranquillity to your stay. Khayelitshe House is totally off-grid and inspires peace and harmony with the natural world. 

The property’s environmentally-friendly design is harmonious with the majestic, ancient landscape. The house is fully serviced with four bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms. It offers breath-taking views from every window and exudes a sense of isolation that is difficult to capture. Khayelitshe House is surrounded by over 1200 acres in breath-taking wilderness. It offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

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