Some Useful Information for Zimbabwe SafarisNestled in the middle of southern Africa, biodiverse and beckoning adventure, is Zimbabwe. Moving beyond past hardships into a promising future, Zimbabwe offers wildlife and landscape experiences to match any on the continent, standing strong with arms open wide to the traveler. A newer safari industry and quieter parks and reserves see fewer crowds, and the remoteness of many tourism areas make for trademark Global Basecamps adventures!
Sharing borders with Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa, Zimbabwe is a nexus of classic southern Africa with world famous highlights. The safari scene in Zimbabwe is one of unique destinations as opposed to the established circuits of some other countries in southern and east Africa, so readiness for adventure and imagination is a must. The wide range of bush camps scattered across this ecologically diverse country - many of them remote and outfitted for a luxury destination experience - allow access to its forests, scrublands and savannas and resident wildlife. Home to expansive protected areas that host bountiful and diverse animal communities, Zimbabwe’s natural environments offer tours well appointed to be a top life experience. For adrenaline junkies, the whitewater rafting and bungee jumping on the Zambezi River is available; for those seeking tranquility, look forward to cocktails from the vista of your lodge deck and watch browsing wildlife go by from your seat on a specially designed safari train car.
Gathering around seasonal waterholes, naturally full April to December and some pumped in the dry season, are the creatures that make Africa’s wilderness famous. The Big Five, including rhino (both the white and the critically endangered black) and herds of Cape buffalo and elephant dwell together with lion and leopard. These mainstays of safari wildlife share the landscape with the less familiar wild or “painted” dog, and sable, gemsbok and endangered roan antelope, along with scores of other species.
Fulfilling your life’s dreams of viewing wildlife in their native habitats will become a reality during conventional, daytime jeep-based safari drives, but be prepared to expand your mind with truly unique alternatives. Night drives, walking and mountain bike safaris, and wildlife viewing from hidden game blinds are some of the exhilarating options that Zimbabwe safaris have to offer. Unique even beyond these is the most relaxing and decadent wildlife viewing experience venues around: the Impofu siding railway in Hwange National Park. The largest park in Zimbabwe, packed with herds of herbivores and cunning predators, is home to the Imvelo Lodge, one of the top lodges in the country and builder of the railway. Crossing the outstanding birding grounds of Hwange’s Ngamo Plains, the rail line connects the park to majestic Victoria Falls as it traverses beautiful natural scenery and a gorgeous arching bridge span. For bird life, Hwange’s Mandavu Dam is a prime spot and should be at the top of the birder’s Zimbabwe safari checklist!
Reaching the more remote safari camps is often best done through one of Africa’s most spectacular means of travel: small bush plane. Zimbabwe’s luxury camps, such as those found on the shores of Matusadona National Park’s Lake Kariba, offer prime food and drink along a lakeshore of stunning scenic beauty. Fishing, boating and other recreational opportunities, in concert with more top quality animal encounters, are standard. Here, and at the Mana Pools National Park just another short flight away, exist the finest of birdwatching opportunities. Mana Pools retains UNESCO World Heritage status, with wetlands and floodplains composed of four large seasonal pools that nourish seemingly endless numbers of birds and mammals.
The topography and geology of Zimbabwe go far beyond just serving as a backdrop for its biodiversity; the gorges, highland plains and rock formations present their own kind of splendor that has led to their international acclaim. By far one of Zimbabwe’s most renowned sites and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls is simply a must-see for any tour of Zimbabwe. Located just across the border from the Zambian city of Livingstone, the “smoke that thunders” as translated from Mosi-oa-Tunya in the regional Bantu Kololo language is measured to be the largest waterfall on the planet! Over one thousand cubic meters spills over the crest every second on average, and at over twice the height of Niagara Falls and nearly half again as wide (approaching two kilometers!), it is a spectacle the defies description. Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, adjoining the Falls area, teems with exceptionally approachable birds and mammals that have few predators and make for a truly winsome viewing experience. Activities in this areas can include visits to Livingstone, river cruises and rhino tracking, and the constant proximity to Victoria Falls makes Mosi-oa-Tunya a particularly vibrant locale. Upstream lies Batoka Gorge, site of the cliffside Gorges Lodge which boasts captivating views of the Zambezi, river wildlife and the wet season plume of mist from the cascade.
In the remote bushveld interior of the country lies Matobo National Park, small in size but abounding in geologic scenery and biodiversity. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, its balancing kopje boulder formations rise abruptly from the surrounding land and exemplify Zimbabwe’s granitic landscape. Matobo’s wildlife claim to fame lies in its density of leopards, the highest on the continent, as well as rebounding numbers of white and black rhinos! The oldest national park in the country, it was a historic dwelling area of the San culture, now more populous in Botswana and Namibia. Thousands of their cave paintings are found throughout Matobo.
Cultural diversity, both current and historic, is central to understanding Zimbabwe: from the energy of contemporary life in the busy capital of Harare to the classic life of the rural villages, people are the lifeblood of this country. Opportunities to visit with village schools and other community activities can be a highlight of your trip. Take advantage of opportunities to visit with contemporary villagers at Ngoma and elsewhere in addition to visiting historic cultural sites.
With their remoteness and freshness, Zimbabwe safari tours present an experience unlike others you’ll find in Africa. This resilient country has overcome much to rise to the position it is now in as a premiere safari destination, and awaits your visit with Global Basecamps.