Zimbabwe is a country that has been in the news a lot over the last couple of decades and not always for the right reasons. However, there are many changes taking place and the country is reinventing itself with a new image, which is why a Zimbabwe safari might be an ideal choice for a holiday destination.
With some truly spectacular safari parks, a stabilising political situation and a greater emphasis on tourism, now could be the perfect time to visit as Zimbabwe safari adventure holidays look likely to grow more popular every year.
Before we talk about the political situation and how tourism is changing Zimbabwe lets tell you why you should take a safari in Zimbabwe with details about the best national parks and wildlife spotting Zimbabwe offers:
Hwange National Park
Zimbabwe safari parks have much to offer the traveller looking for an authentic safari holiday. Camp Hwange is a recently built luxury camp situated in a private concession inside Hwange National Park, about 80 kilometres from Main Camp. It offers an intimate and unique Zimbabwe safari experience for the discerning traveller. It has the advantage of being near the Masuma Dam where there is a viewing hide and several waterholes in the vicinity.
A purpose built log pile hide near the camp waterhole affords visitors the opportunity to view animals in their natural habitat. A steady procession of elephant, buffalo, kudu, wildebeest, zebra are a common sight. The resident lions are regularly sighted amongst other predators like leopards, cheetah, wild dogs, serval, black backed jackal and spotted hyena – classic Zimbabwe safari experience.
Guests have the option to do a walking safari with experienced guides or vehicle game drives. Even more exciting is the option of a night drive – the camp has a special concession to conduct night drives within the park.
Mana Pools National Park
In the north of the country, along the Zambezi Valley, lies the Mana Pools National Park. This park, together with adjoining safari areas, forms a substantial conservation area and UNESCO World Heritage Site covering an area of 676,000 hectares.
In 2010, the area extending from Lake Kariba and the Matusadona National Park, including Mana Pools, was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. And in January 2013, the area was declared a RAMSAR wetland.
The Mana Pools Safari Company operate a camp along the Zambezi River, 40 kilometres downstream from the border town of Chirundu. It’s a seasonal camp, normally open from April to November, or as the rains dictate. It has a prime position overlooking a floodplain and the river, offering guests wonderful game-viewing opportunities.
The floodplains are home to large numbers of elephant, buffalo, zebra, antelope, hippos and crocodiles. And where there is prey there will be predators, namely lions, wild dogs, hyenas and the elusive leopard, with lion sightings common during the drier months of the year – in short, it’s everything you would expect on a Zimbabwe safari.
Other guest activities include canoeing, photographic safaris, walking safaris in the company of an armed professional guide and fishing.
Gonarezhou National Park
In the southern region of the country, along the border with South Africa, is the Gonarezhou National Park, the second largest after Hwange. It was established as a game reserve in 1934 and proclaimed a national park in 1975. More recently, the park has become part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, an area encompassing 35,000 kilometres square straddling Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
This novel concept facilitates the free movement of visitors within the designated area without the hassle of border formalities. It is designed to give wildlife greater freedom to roam and visitors the opportunity to do so much more on safari.
Gonarezhou is a uniquely rugged and unspoilt area. There are park lodges in the south of the park at Swimuwini camp on the Mwenezi River and luxury tented camps at Chipinda Pools. But for the most part it remains largely undeveloped other than basic campsites, which are run by the national parks.
This is undoubtedly the 4×4 enthusiast’s dream destination. Activities in the park focus on self-drive game-viewing and camping, with recreational fishing available at some of the exclusive campsites.
Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge is the only permanent luxury lodge in the area, perched on a cliff top overlooking the Save River on the boundary of the park. It offers full day excursions into Gonarezhou covering the Chilojo Cliffs, and the pans which are a permanent source of drinking water for wildlife.
Expect to see elephant, buffalo, kudu, impala, nyala and all the big cats as you explore the park. Self-drive game-viewing, camping, recreational fishing and birding are popular activities, and abundant birdlife makes this a paradise for birdlovers.
Zimbabwe safari – a summary
All told, Zimbabwe is growing more attractive as a tourist destination. The quality, diversity and pricing of product suits all budgets. So, whether you are looking for a backpacking adventure or a high end luxury safari you won’t be disappointed. In addition to the larger national parks there are many more, smaller parks and conservancies in the country to choose from. Add to that the Victoria Falls and you have a prime destination.
Without doubt Zimbabwe has a checkered political history but following recent elections and this year’s 20th UNWTO General Assembly attended by 150 countries, the world is once again opening its doors to the country. It is often the case that tourism is the pathway towards reintegration and this is something Zimbabwe is keen to explore. It has been earmarked as a strategic industry in the national plan for economic recovery. Much like Vietnam in the 90s and the Balkans in the 00s it is hoped tourism will be a major boost to the country after the troubled times.
In a world where bad news goes viral so quickly there have been obvious problems with managing perception. But don’t let the bad press deter you. For anyone planning a trip to Africa, Zimbabwe safari adventure holidays are certainly worth considering.
About the author
Delina is a Zimbabwean tour operator. She has lived in Zimbabwe all her life. Her company Call of The Wild Safaris conducts adventure and fishing safaris in the region. For any information or advice please feel free to contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org.