Experience Africa's most enchanting wildlands in Hwange, Mana Pools, and Matusadona National Parks.
Zimbabwe hosts some of Africa's most enchating wildlands. Clustered in the remote northern part of the country, along the valley of the Zambezi River and the border with Botswana, are three national parks that are celebrated strongholds for Africa's wildlife: Mana Pools on the Zambezi, Matusadona on the shores of Lake Kariba, and Hwange. The parks are at their best during the dry season, when hordes of thristy animals crowd around the permanent rivers and waterholes. And the high point of this spectacular wildlife adventure is an exciting canoe float down a calm stretch of the mighty Zambezi River, a magnet for all the area's game and perhaps the best way to get great views of hippos, elephants, and all the other animals who come to the river to drink. This is truly a not-to-be-missed adventure for any wildlife enthusiast!
11 days of easy to moderate walking safari, canoeing, game drives
- Canoe close to incredible wildlife, including hippo and elephants, in Mana Pools National Park
- Track black rhino in Matusadona and marvel at the thundering waters of Victoria Falls
- Zimbabwean guides are the best in all Africa and we've chosen the best of them
- Explore the great Zambezi River (named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its beauty and diversity), and camp on its banks
Duration: 11 days Start Location: Victoria Falls End Location: Victoria FallsDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Arrive in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by 2pm today. Upon arrival, a representative from Mountain Travel Sobek will meet you and escort you to our connecting light aircraft flight to Ruckomechi Camp , located in Mana Pools National Park, a World Heritage wildlife area. Backed by hills and bordered by a magnificent river, Mana Pools has a huge variety of habitats and is quite “park-like” in its appearance. We’ll fly one hour and 35 minutes into the Ruckomechi River area of Mana Pools, then transfer to the lovely Ruckomechi Camp, the finest in the area
Day 2 : Mana Pools National Park
Today we will enjoy morning and afternoon game drives from Ruckomechi Camp in search of resident animals. Mana Pools National Park is one of the most exceptional game reserves in southern Africa. Its huge floodplain has scenic views across the Zambezi of the Zambian Escarpment, and unusual sausage and baobab trees are scattered among the acacia and mopane woodlands. Large numbers of animals, including concentrations of buffalo, congregate along the river and springs during the winter dry season when our safaris operate. This is a superb time for walking and canoeing, since the animals can be seen close at hand. Kudu, zebra, impala, and waterbuck roam the surrounding plains, and elephant take advantage of the plentiful Acacia albidatrees in the area.Lion sightings, in particular, are quite exciting in Mana Pools, while other predators include wild dog, leopard, and cheetah. Bird-watching tends to be good, with the river attracting large numbers of waterfowl.
Day 3 : Begin Canoe Trail
After meeting the canoe guides and going through a thorough safety briefing, we'll begin paddling downstream about 7 miles in sturdy Canadian canoes to our mobile camp in Mana Pools National Park.
This is a relatively easy distance to cover today (partly because we always paddle downstream) and gives us a chance to get familiar with the canoes and the various paddle strokes required. Upon arrival, camp is already set up for us. By means of lively campfires, hurricane lanterns and a warm atmosphere permeating the camp, mobile camping allows us to get closer to nature. These camps are specially outfitted to create a true sense of wilderness experience while still allowing for those essential camp comforts. We'll sleep in dome tents along the Zambezi River and enjoy a cool drink at sunset.
Days 4 - 5 : Zambezi River
Each day we will awaken before dawn for tea, coffee, and biscuits before getting on the water just before sunrise. This is a magical time on the river as the water is usually calm and the peace and tranquility are amazing. We will normally paddle for about 2 hours before beaching the canoes on the bank of the Zambezi and setting out on a game walk. We take a few hours to explore on foot and unravel some of the intricacies of the bush with our expert guides.
We then continue in the canoes until we find an ideal lunch spot, around midday. Lunch is carried in the canoes and typically consists of a salad, bread, and sandwich meats. After lunch, we can rest in the shade or take another short walk before moving on in the canoes to our next mobile camp, arriving by dusk. Each day we walk or canoe about 12 to 16 miles between camps. The exact daily routine will vary depending on wildlife movement and group desires.
Day 6 : Matusadona National Park
After an early morning game drive we take a charter flight to Kariba, then board a boat for the crossing of Lake Kariba to Matusadona National Park. Matusadona is noted for its big herds of buffalo and elephant that graze the grassy lakeshore and thousands of water birds that nest among flood-killed trees. This is great walking country since two-thirds of the park is inaccessible to vehicles. The park is a special sanctuary for the highly endangered black rhino (the ones with the prehensile lip), and our expert guides are often successful in tracking them down for exciting encounters on foot. (Poachers have practically eliminated Zimbabwe’s rhinos—one of the facets of African conservation that we’ll learn about during the course of this trip.) Lions are also commonly seen here.
Day 7 : Explorations at Matusadona National Park
We’ll track game on foot, spending two to three hours at a time. While walking we’ll enjoy intimate contact with the African wild as we learn about all kinds of African animals, from the mighty elephant to the lowly dung beetle. We’ll also take game drives to spot lion, cheetah, bushbuck, waterbuck, kudu, and large herds of impala.
Days 8 - 9 : Hwange National Park
A charter flight brings us to Hwange National Park. Located on the eastern edge of the Kalahari Desert, Hwange boasts the largest variety of mammals of any African game reserve. Its dry woodlands, open pans, and palm-dotted plains are home to a great variety of animals, including the sable, roan, and kudu antelopes as well as zebra, giraffe, lion, cheetah, and a growing population of Cape hunting dog. Hwange is also one of Africa’s great elephant sanctuaries, where herds of more than 100 animals are often seen together. Observation of dry season waterholes affords excellent photographic opportunities, as animals are attracted to the scarce water in Hwange. Overnights are in a special private deluxe camp in the game-rich Makololo area, a huge wilderness within the park that is closed to the public. Here we can take nature walks and have total privacy on our game drives.
Day 10 : Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
We fly or drive to Victoria Falls this morning and transfer to our group lodge, The Elephant Camp. Situated on a private concession within and bounded by the Masuwe River and the Zambezi gorges, The Elephant Camp has breathtaking views of Victoria Falls as well as the spectacular gorges which separate Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The Elephant Camp is a luxurious and intimate lodge under canvas within easy reach of Victoria Falls and all its attractions and activities, yet secluded in its own private game reserve so as to allow close-up encounters with wildlife. We’ll enjoy an elephant interaction at the wildlife sanctuary here in the afternoon.
Day 11 : Depart from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
This morning we tour Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side before heading to the airport for afternoon flights home. You may also decide to stay on a few more nights to explore this adventure capital of Africa, which boasts numerous exciting activities, including white water rafting, bungee jumping, microflights over the falls, and lion walk safaris. Call to talk with a Regional Specialist about adding our Victoria Falls Extension.
DATES: Best time to go: June - August Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
$1,000 internal air
Ruckomechi CampMana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Ruckomechi Camp accommodates guests in ten spacious en-suite tented unit, all of which overlook the Zambezi River. Each tent has both indoor and outdoor showers, and the camp boasts a favorite amongst guests: its outdoor "bath-with-a-view" in a secluded, scenic spot. The central dining, bar, library and lounge areas face the escarpment and are connected to the rest of the camp by low-level walkways that minimize our environmental impact. There is a separate deck with infinity pool for swimming and sun bathing, and an inviting, cushion-strewn star gazing deck.
The Elephant CampVictoria Falls, Zimbabwe
The Elephant camp is situated only 10 minutes from Victoria Falls in a private concession within the Victoria Falls National Park. With an emphasis on exclusivity, the luxury tented suites all have private decks and plunge pools.
The suites are all equipped with indoor and outdoor showers, huge baths, private lounges, mini bar and tea/coffee stations, overhead fans plus air conditioning and are all mosquito proofed.
Davidson's CampHwange National Park
Davidson's Camp lies deep in Hwange National Park, in the south-eastern Linkwasha Concession - one of the best game viewing areas of the entire Park. It is a classic African tented camp, with the units tastefully hidden beneath a grove of false mopane trees, overlooking a waterhole and open plain.
Named after the founder of Hwange National Park and its first warden, Ted Davison, this camp, with its 8 tents and a family tent, offers a wonderful bush experience. Both the tents and the separate main area, comprising a lounge, dining room, and open campfire area and pool, look out over the productive waterhole.
Changa Safari CampMatusadona National Park
Accommodation at Changa consists of luxury tented suites each individually displaying truly unique African influences, from rustic wood, leather and weavery, against crisp white linen and locally made furniture. Styled with complete comfort in mind each tent has ensuite facilities and “under the stars” outside shower and bath. Whether you choose to relax in the comfort of your tent or enjoy spectacular lake vistas from your own private veranda you will be reminded time and again of the endless beauty around you.
All tents are mosquito proofed and we have fans for your comfort during the hot months. We pride ourselves on exclusivity, getting away from the hustle and bustle deserves nothing less.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way. This trip features local guides in Zimbabwe and various MTS staff to smooth each transition point along the way. Guide assignments will be given in your Final Bulletin, sent out about 3 weeks before your trip.