The Ultimate Western Zimbabwe Experience

Particularly suitable for those who have previously visited the Victoria Falls and want to further explore Zimbabwe, this itinerary highlights the superb community and conservation work carried out by Imvelo Safari Lodges while providing unforgettable wildlife and nature experiences. Each lodge is unique and each area has its own attractions. This trip includes a journey on the Elephant Express railcar, a light aircraft flight within Hwange National Park and a stay in the one of the most unique and remote bush camps in Africa – Jozabinini. Finish your tour at Zambezi Sands with sundowners  on the legendary river.  Imvelo Safari Lodges is our oldest partner in Africa and consistently wins awards for the quality of its accommodation, its activities and not least the work the company carries out for Zimbabwe and its people.

As with all our tours, your participation makes a real difference to the welfare of animals and lives of local people – and on this trip you will get a chance to see exactly what your money can do.

This is a high season itinerary and is available between May and October 2019. 

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Day 1

Arrive at Victoria Falls Airport where your Zimbabwean Safari experience begins. You will be met by our Imvelo shuttle vehicle for your road transfer to Gorges Lodge on the edge of the Batoka Gorge, 200 metres above the mighty Zambezi River (30 mins). Spend the late afternoon sipping delicious refreshments by the pool enjoying the amazing view and then in the evening head off to Dibu Dibu for sundowners and snacks while you watch the lodge’s resident pair of black eagles soar only metres away from you.  After the black eagle viewing take a leisurely stroll back to the main lodge reception area where you will be entertained by our team of talented traditional dancers and then enjoy a tasty 3 course dinner in the main lodge area, overlooking the gorge before retiring to your chalet and falling asleep to the sound of the river rushing below you.

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Day 2

Enjoy early morning tea or coffee and breakfast, Batoka Safaris will road transfer you to Victoria Falls town (approx. 30 mins) where you will be taken on a guided tour of Zimbabwe’s foremost attraction – ‘the Victoria Falls’. “The smoke that thunders” remains one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. Embark on your road transfer to Dete Station (2hrs) where you will then board the Elephant Express rail car for a slow ride down the railway line game viewing all the way into camp. Packed snacks and refreshments will be served on board the Elephant Express to Ngamo Siding near Bomani Tented Lodge (approx. 2.5hrs). Bomani Tented Lodge is situated on a private concession on the edge of the remote and unspoilt south eastern corner of Hwange National Park. Hwange is famed for its huge herds of elephants (they number upwards of 45,000 in the park!) but the Ngamo Plain attracts a variety of other plains game including wildebeest, buffalo, kudu, waterbuck and sable too. Predators are regularly spotted, especially lion, jackal and cheetah. After settling in to your room and freshening up, a tasty 3 course dinner will be served under the stars next to the lodge waterhole (weather permitting). After dinner a night drive will be on offer through the lodge’s private concession.

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Day 3

Early morning wake up with coffee or tea before departing in the game viewing vehicle into Hwange National Park to an area of acacia forests surrounding the Ngamo Plain where guests can leave the vehicle and be guided on foot by one of Imvelo’s fully licensed armed guides. Return to Bomani for brunch and either a siesta or an hour or 2 relaxing by the pool, overlooking the waterhole. Your afternoon game drive departs at approximately 15h00 and finishes up with sundowners around one of the famed waterholes in the area. Night drive back to the lodge for showers and refreshments around the campfire before your 3 course dinner in the main lodge area.

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Day 4

After breakfast head to Ngamo Village, for a very special morning that gives guests a chance to experience a real and un-choreographed interaction with local villagers. The visit culminates in a tour of the school and a singing performance by some of the children followed by a class interaction where children have an opportunity to meet guests and vice versa. Return to Bomani for lunch overlooking the camp waterhole before your afternoon game drive on the Ngamo Plains in Hwange National Park ending up at our unique Look Up blind at Stoffie’s Pan for sundowners and canapés and the truly remarkable close encounters with wildlife that are a feature of the Look Up. Night drive back to the lodge and then enjoy a 3 course dinner out under the stars.

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Day 5

Enjoy an early morning tea or coffee on your veranda before a hot breakfast in the main lodge. Then it’s time to pack up for a full day safari or “pump run” deep into the southern part of Hwange, enroute to your next camp, Jozibanini. Imvelo’s trademark pump runs combine game viewing in remote areas of the park with practical hands-on conservation helping to maintain 15+ waterholes and pumps which the wildlife rely on for water during the dry season. Many of these pumps have been converted to solar-hybrid pumps in recent years. We’ll learn about the challenges of maintaining this system in conversations and hand-on activities with your guide and the pump attendants who spend the dry season living at the waterholes to keep the pumps running. You will make a stop at the Makona Ranger station near Jozibanini Camp and hopefully meet some of the national park rangers who patrol in this remote corner of Hwange if they are in base camp. Imvelo funded and installed a state-of-the-art solar powered water pump at Makona which provides water for the rangers, their organic vegetable garden and for wildlife at the nearby Makona pan. In addition, the solar array provides power for lights and radios at the station. You will arrive at our rustic and wild camp just before sundowners. Located in the south west of Hwange National Park – approx. 6 hours’ drive from Bomani which means it is very remote, wild and exclusive – great for adventurers and seasoned safari goers. Small and intimate – just five tents on raised decks – ensuite bathroom with running water, bucket shower and star beds for sleeping under the stars. In keeping with the rustic nature, all dining is al fresco round the campfire.

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Day 6

After breakfast over the campfire, grab your day pack and then head off on a guided mountain bike ride through the elephant paths along the inter-dune troughs around Jozibanini. The ecosystem here is semi-desert akin to the Kalahari in neighbouring Botswana. Ancient windblown fossil sand dunes are separated by shallow valleys where elephant paths have compacted the terrain, providing Imvelo with the opportunity for a unique experience of game viewing by mountain bike. 

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Day 7

Learn about the history of Jozibanini and the importance of your visit here. A ranger station named Jozibanini was abandoned 14 years ago and tragically elephant poaching raised its ugly head there in 2013. After these incidents, Imvelo Safari Lodges decided to establish an outpost at Jozibanini which staff and a privileged few tourists could use as a base for both management of water resources and a safari experience unlike any other. Presence in the area would also deter poachers, and who better to employ to protect the new project than ex-poachers who have turned over a new leaf. By introducing tourism, the Jozi project has helped protect and conserve hundreds of kilometers of remote park, and regular traffic on the route has translated into reliable support for both parks pump attendants and about 25% of Hwange’s thirsty wildlife in the dry season. Your guide will set up a lovely picnic lunch for you under a shady tree where you can have a siesta before the ride back to camp in the afternoon. In the early evening head into the underground blind for a few hours of spectacular ‘toe nail’ photographic opportunities of the wildlife at the waterhole. Once the sun has set take a quick drive back to camp for a tasty dinner out under the glorious night sky.

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Day 8

Depending on the timing of the charter flight today (flight times confirmed 24-48 hours in advance), you’ll have time for more exploration in the area of Jozi following breakfast. Enjoy an aerial view of the park on a charter flight north to Nehimba Lodge – situated in the North-West of Hwange National Park. During the flight, you can appreciate the grandeur of the park and the varying topography. The north is different to the south and features hills, granite kopjes and mopane woodlands versus the Kalahari sandveld and plains of the south and west. Situated on a 43,500-acre private concession, Nehimba Lodge is in prime territory for the large migrating herds of elephants during the height of the dry season (July – October). Being on the concession allows for night drives and bush dinners. The lodge itself is comprised of nine large canvas-under-thatch tents – each with an outside shower and lovely private decks to enjoy the view. All rooms and the main areas look out to a large waterhole which is frequented by animals throughout the year – in particular the elephants in dry season. Night drives and bush dinners are possible on the concession. Late this afternoon, you’ll set off for Nehimba Seeps nearby – a fascinating open plain where elephants dig for water and minerals as it is one of the few natural water points in Hwange – excellent for game viewing. Enjoy sundowners and light snacks in this incredible setting before returning to the lodge for dinner and drinks around the campfire watching the elephants slurp from the waterhole just steps away.

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Day 9

Guests will head out with their guide for game drives and walks, exploring this beautiful Northern part of Hwange National Park. The north is distinctly different from the Southern part both in topography, habitats and species of wildlife that can be seen. Stop off at the Nehimba Seeps for a mid-morning tea break. Return to the lodge for a leisurely lunch then a siesta or perhaps relax by the lodge swimming pool, frequented by Hwange’s thirsty herds during the dry season. In the afternoon, head out on a game drive in the park, ending with cool refreshments and canapés and at sunset over one of this areas famed waterholes. Back at camp our guests can enjoy a relaxing bath or shower to freshen up before enjoying a three course dinner in the main lodge area followed by reliving the days’ safari around the campfire, later fall asleep to the sounds of the African bush around you.

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Day 10

Early morning tea or coffee on your private deck followed by breakfast in the main lodge and then once again pack day packs for a full day game drive and walks. A picnic lunch will served during the day at one of the beautiful spots in the park. Return to the lodge in the afternoon and relax on the deck overlooking the waterhole, enjoying an ‘arm chair safari’ while a variety of wildlife come down to the lodge waterhole, followed by a final 3 course dinner in northern Hwange.

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Day 11

Enjoy early morning tea or coffee on your room deck followed by breakfast in the main lodge dining area before transferring by road to Sinamatella (2 – 2.5 hours) for your onward road transfer to Zambezi Sands on the banks of the thundering wild waters of the Zambezi River, inside Zambezi National Park (2.5 hours). Settle into your luxury tents and enjoy high tea before setting off on an evening sunset ‘drift’ on the water with refreshments and snacks. A superb 3 course dinner in the main lodge area out under the stars before retiring to your tent and falling asleep as the river rushes past.

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Day 12

Enjoy early morning tea or coffee on your private deck overlooking the river followed by a sumptuous breakfast on deck overlooking the river. Guests will head out with their guide for a game drive and walk, exploring this beautiful part of the national park. Stop off at one of our picturesque picnic spots for a delicious packed lunch and siesta before taking a slow drive back to the lodge in the afternoon. Once back in camp relax for an hour or two in your private splash pool watching the game and birdlife on the river’s edge. Refreshments and snacks will be served before a 3 course dinner in the main lodge area.

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Day 13

Enjoy your last morning sipping tea or coffee on your private deck as the sun rises over the river and the mist settles and then head off for a paddle in the canoe exploring the Siansimba Islands around the lodge followed by a sumptuous bush breakfast served on the river’s edge before your road transfer to Victoria Falls Airport to catch your departing flights.

Included

Includes: accommodation, all meals, soft drinks, beers, wines & local spirits, laundry, all transfers including Elephant Express and charter flight, all activities as shown

Excluded

International flights, Zimbabwe Visa