Pack your bags and get ready for a safari adventure unlike any other! On this special group getaway safari to Zimbabwe, you will be invited to work behind the scenes on local conservation projects and enjoy cultural experiences. From meeting local school children in rural villages to assisting the pivotal critical pumped water program for the wildlife in Hwange National Park and assisting conservationists and anti-poaching teams, this is a once in a lifetime travel opportunity. Observe the wildlife on thrilling game drives, admire the picturesque landscapes with sundowners and make a real difference on safari.
Welcome to Zimbabwe! Upon arrival at the Victoria Falls Airport, you will be greeted by a local representative. They will transfer you on the 30 minute journey to Gorges Lodge, for a smooth and comfortable start to your safari adventure. Check into your room, relax and make yourself at home.
The views from Gorges Lodge are arguably the most spectacular of any lodge in Southern Africa. It is a peaceful and idyllic base, from which to enjoy your Victoria Falls experience. The property was built on community land and when opened back in 1995, was one of the very first pioneers of community based ecotourism in Southern Africa. Today, it is an outstanding example for a sustainable community based tourism model. Following an introductory orientation to your trip, your lunch will be served with some time to explore the huge indigenous garden on property with stunning views into the Batoka Gorge.
Later today, you will be taken on an evening excursion to see the black eagles and other birds of prey that inhabit the gorge, accompanied by refreshing sundowners and canapés. Afterwards, join in a traditional dance and drumming show, followed by a delicious three course ‘Zimbabwean braai’ in the garden under the stars. What a way to end your first night on safari!
The enchanting Victoria Falls features the largest sheet of falling water on earth. This mesmerizing spectacle is something that simply cannot be missed on an authentic discovery of Africa. The sheer mass of water cascading down the 100 meter drop across nearly 2 kilometers, generates a thunderous roar and a magnificent spray of water that can be seen for miles. This world renowned attraction promises to captivate you from your very first glimpse of the "smoke that thunders".
Start your day with a stunning sunrise over the Batoka Gorge with an early morning tea or coffee on your private veranda, followed by breakfast in the main lodge.
Following breakfast, you will head into Victoria Falls town, where you will be taken on a guided tour of Zimbabwe's most well known attraction, Victoria Falls! “The smoke that thunders” is truly one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. Enjoy your exploration of this breathtaking beauty, covering several different viewpoints and endless photo opportunities.
After this morning's exploration, you will board the Elephant Express Rail Car for an out of the ordinary and exciting transfer! The Elephant Express is a one of a kind 24 seat private rail car that traverses the historic colonial era railway line, which runs along the edge of Hwange National Park and onward to Victoria Falls and the famous bridge. In this open air train, you will sit back for a relaxing ride that will take you winding through the bush. A light lunch and drinks will be served on board, as you admire the spectacular views and thrilling wildlife sightings throughout the entire journey.
Once you have arrived on the Ngamo plains, you will disembark the express train for a drive to the signature ‘Look Up Blind’. Literally standing at toe level with the elephants, this up close viewpoint offers outstanding photography opportunities. This adventure will be followed by sundowners over Stoffie’s Pan, before you are dropped off at your home for the next five nights, Camelthorn Lodge. Freshen up in your room and then enjoy a slide show presentation on the local conservation and community projects and how your group will get involved over the next few days. Dinner will be served under the stars by the campfire with the elephants at the waterhole.
From what used to be royal hunting grounds before it was declared a National Park in 1929, Hwange is now Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve. This diverse landscape of mopane and teak forests, semi-desert scrubland and granite hills, is teeming with a wide variety of mammals and birds. Although it is a year round destination, Hwange is particularly appealing during the winter months of April to October, when large concentrations of animals flock to artificially pumped waterholes, as the seasonal pans dry out. The park’s network of waterholes sustains life when natural resources are unavailable. Massive herds of elephant make their presence felt during the dry period. Everything from buffalo, zebra, sable and roan antelope, to lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog, can be seen.
Enjoy an early morning breakfast at the lodge, before heading to a village next to the Mlevu School. Today, you will have the privilege of walking to school with the sweet local kids and attending their school assembly. Afterwards, you will meet with the village headmen and head masters for an introduction into the typical Zimbabwean village life, as well as life on the front line of Hwange National Park.
After getting to know their world and experiences a little better, you will have the chance to enjoy a variety of community activities in the area. These include equipping the village well with a new pump cylinder, painting murals and accessorizing classrooms, making presentations with the class about a "Day in the life of an American kid”, collecting firewood and water to drop off with elderly village widows and widowers, helping the local village mothers to prepare and serve lunch for the school, teachers and group, and lastly, participating in the afternoon sports activities, which may include soccer, netball or baseball.
Please keep in mind that these community activities are subject to change, depending the size of the group and the budget available for the community projects. At the end of the day, you will return to the lodge, where you will be welcomed back with a dinner under the stars at the Bomani pan.
The southeast corner of Hwange features the famed Ngamo plains, known to offer some of the best game viewing in the entire park. Predators like wild dog, cheetah, jackal and lion, all patrol these plains and the surrounding woodlands. Over the past few years, wild dog, cheetah and lion have all denned in and around the Bomani concession, which borders Hwange. Because of this, their young are being raised and cared for in this area, offering incredible opportunities to experience these threatened predator species.
Over the course of the next two days, you will be dedicated to monitoring the activities of the various predators in the area. Typically, your work will begin before dawn, as you are dispersed on foot and by vehicle alongside the expert guides and trackers in search of the target species. The specific excursions will depend on the wildlife movements and activity, but could include looking for absent individuals or animals caught in or by snares, in which case a vet will be collected and deployed, and monitoring any dens for illegal activity to reduce the risk of snares, and if illegal activity is discovered, a Scorpions anti-poaching unit can be collected and deployed. Other activities may involve monitoring the predators patrols and hunts, using GPS to record range and movement, as well as creating maps to detail it all, or even visiting the Scorpions anti-poaching basecamp, to learn more about their work patrolling the southern part of the park.
In the afternoons, you will head back to the lodge for lunch or enjoy a picnic out in the field, depending on how far you are from the lodge. You will also share your findings from the day, reviewing the Pack ID photos to monitor individuals, downloading GPS tracks to plot on maps, etc. Researchers and representatives from local conservation groups may also join your group in the field and in the evenings. Please keep in mind that the conservation activities are subject to change, depending on the wildlife movements and activity, the size of the group and the budget available for the conservation projects. Predicting the wildlife movements more than a few weeks or months in advance can be quite difficult, so the actual conservation activities will be finalized closer to the departure date.
Enjoy a tea or coffee early this morning, before packing your things for a full day trip into the park. Today's adventure includes a one of a kind ‘pump run’ with a delicious picnic lunch and a siesta under the trees at the Mfagazaan Pan.
Hwange’s wildlife, specifically their famous elephant herds are kept sustained during the dry season by a pumped water program, which began back in the 1930’s. Today, these trademark ‘pump runs’ combine game viewing in remote areas of the park with practical hands-on conservation. Today, you will have the chance to participate in the supply and maintenance support of these wells, alongside the local dedicated pump attendants, who are the heartbeat of Hwange and its water dependent wildlife. Your efforts today will directly support literally thousands of elephant, among many other types of wildlife.
Following your picnic lunch in a remote southern part of the park, you will head out on a game drive back to the lodge. Driving from pan to pan, weaving between the crowds of jostling elephants that come pouring in for the water makes for a fun, memorable and extremely rewarding day. Back at the lodge, you will have time to refresh, unwind and enjoy a delicious dinner, followed by an evening around the campfire reliving the amazing wildlife experiences that Hwange has provided.
After an unforgettable and meaningful experience in Hwange National Park, you will board the Elephant Express Rail Car once again for the 2.5 hour journey to Dete, with game viewing en route. Upon arrival, you will be met by a local representative for your shuttle transfer to the Zambezi Sands River Camp. This spectacular lodge lies on the banks of the thundering wild waters of the Zambezi River, inside Zambezi National Park. This road transfer will take roughly 3 hours and you will be provided with drinks and snacks during the ride.
Once you have settled into your luxury tent, you will embark on a lovely sundowner cruise along the mighty Zambezi River. This will be a beautiful and relaxing way to enjoy your first evening in the Zambezi National Park. After sailing along the picturesque waters, you will head back to the camp to freshen up for dinner. A superb 3 course meal will be served this evening, as you listen to the gentle sounds of the Siansimba rapids in front of the lodge.
The Zambezi is Africa’s fourth-largest river. Winding from Angola through Zambia to Victoria Falls, from where it travels east forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, filling Lake Kariba, before crossing over Mozambique and finally emptying into the Indian Ocean. Above the Falls, the south bank is a pristine wilderness protected by the Zambezi National Park – forested sandveld combines with the floodplain near the river to provide a special variety of habitat, scenery and wildlife for the modern explorer. It is a springboard to all of the activities the area has to offer. For the adrenaline junkies there’s white water rafting, bungee jumping and crocodile cage diving. Or you can soak up the serenity of the Zambezi on a canoeing trip, or sunset cruise.
Start your day with a coffee or tea at sunrise, overlooking the beautiful Zambezi, followed by a hearty breakfast. This morning, you will head out on foot to explore the shoreline and admire its wildlife. Park rangers, Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching team and local staff routinely patrol this section of Zambezi National Park for illegal snaring or signs of poaching by Zambians from the north bank. Your group will provide extra eyes for these teams, as you enjoy this fascinating hands-on experience in detecting cross border poaching activity in support of Park Rangers.
After a light lunch back at the lodge, enjoy a refreshing dip in your private plunge pool and a short siesta. In the late afternoon, you will depart for a fun canoe trip on the Zambezi. You will hop in stable inflatable canoes and make your way through the gentle rapids and lazy channels, past the Siansimba islands just in front of the lodge. This trip will culminate in one final Zimbabwean sundowner on the banks of the river, sipping on cool drinks and enjoying tasty snacks. Return to the lodge via a "night eyes" game drive, before sitting down to a lovely farewell dinner around the boma fire. For one last evening in Africa, fall asleep to the calls of the wild.
Following an early morning tea or coffee on your private deck, make your way to your final farewell bush breakfast on the banks of the Zambezi. Appreciate the surrounding views, enjoy your company and soak up the experience. After returning to the lodge, you will pack up your luggage for your road transfer back to the Victoria Falls Airport, a journey of about 1 hour.
Although you won't want this incredible safari adventure to end, you will be leaving with unforgettable memories and the experience of a lifetime! Safe travels home!
Welcome to a Zimbabwe escape of living on the edge! Gorges Lodge is only a 30 minute drive from Victoria Falls town and offers a unique experience from an idyllic base on the edge of the Batoka Gorge - a perfect choice for your Victoria Falls safari adventure! At Gorges, you are invited to relax away from the hustle and bustle of town and settle into a peaceful atmosphere nestled in a landscaped garden. Gorges is famous for its spectacular views and the attentive staff on property are renowned for their warm hospitality. Whether you are enjoying a cup of coffee at sunrise on your private veranda or a cool refreshment by the pool at sunset, you will be drawn to the stunning views of the impressive Batoka Gorge and the fierce Zambezi River below.
Nestled deep in a woodland estate of Camelthorn and ebony trees bordering Hwange National Park, is the striking bush retreat Camelthorn Lodge. This shaded camp has the cool, soothing feel of escaping from the heat of summer. 8 secluded forest villas are comfortably appointed and have fireplaces, sliding doors and downstairs verandahs. An upstairs covered patio, accessed by an outside spiral staircase can be used as a romantic sleep-out. The main lodge is built around a massive Camelthorn tree and decorated in earthy hues and textured fabrics. Expansive dining and living areas feature a bar, teak lounge, deck and splash pool. Enjoy al fresco dining, fire-side coffees and up close photography opportunities from inside the underground blind. Explore Hwange National Park on extensive morning, afternoon and evening game-drives in open 4x4 vehicles, led by passionate and knowledge professional guides. Take part in an excursion to drop fuel and supplies off at the life-giving waterhole pumps, aka a "Pump run!"
Strung along the banks of the magnificent Zambezi River, within the Zambezi National Park, the Zambezi Sands River Camp commands exquisite vistas from raised decks. 10 Bedouin-style luxury tents are spacious, well-appointed, light and airy. Each opens up to private decks with splash pools – the ideal place to unwind whilst watching the slow passage of the mighty river as it flows by. Two of the tents have an inter-leading walkway, ideal for families. Canvas central areas and large decks provide comfortable spaces to socialize and dine in unpretentious style. Exciting game drives and walking safaris are conducted through the reserve. A laid-back riverside ambiance and activities such as canoeing, fishing, island picnics and sun-downer cruises by boat enhance the overall experience. Victoria Falls town and the magnificent Victoria Falls are only an hour drive away (45 minutes of which is a game drive in the park) and a guided tour of the Falls is included in the rate (Vic Falls entry fee is not included).
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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