New Activities in Zimbabwe
For this month’s blog, we would like to highlight some of the new activities that have recently opened up in Zimbabwe. Most of these are based in Victoria Falls, with its bustling tourism industry and reputation as an ‘adventure capital’. These activities really help to diversify what is available in town, and now there is much more on offer than simply adrenaline activities.
Further afield, horseriding safaris are now offered to guests at Imvelo Safaris Hwange lodges and an incredible new zip line and suspension bridge have opened in the Eastern Highlands- the ‘Skywalk’ and ‘Skyline’ with the aim of attracting more visitors to this beautiful region of Zimbabwe.
NEW IN VICTORIA FALLS
The Elephant Encounter affords guests the opportunity to unobtrusively interact with some of the biggest personalities in Africa, in a pristine wilderness environment overflowing with raw natural beauty. Guests spend time and connect with elephants in the most positive and natural way possible.
A number of art workshops led by an experienced tutor. The experience caters to everyone from beginners to professionals. You can choose to paint on a Breakfast Cruise, to paint a group of habituated elephants, to go on a village tour and more!
This constellation based activity sees you guided to a clearing in the African bush, surrounded by unobtrusive lanterns where you can lie back on cushions and chairs for a one-hour presentation on the African Night Sky. The talk combines astronomy with local folklore regarding the constellations historical, cultural and folklore tales.
Skydive and enjoy a ‘Flight of the Angels’ over the Falls in one! The Skydive Tandem Company offers skydiving with a 30-minute scenic flight and stunning views of Victoria Falls included.
Stay active and experience the culture and surrounds of Victoria Falls on a Victoria Falls Bike Tours. These guided tours allow you to learn about local culture, mythology, history and the natural wonders of the area in a way that will leave you enriched and informed. They offer 3-hour, half day or full day tours.
Imvelo Safari Lodges are thrilled to announce the launch of daily horseback riding activities for guests enjoying a safari at Bomani Tented Lodge and Camelthorn Lodge in the south of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s premier national park.
MUTARAZI ZIP LINE AND SUSPENSION BRIDGE
The SkyWalk consists of two suspension bridges allowing for the first time a full panoramic view of the Mutarazi Falls and its surroundings. One is 30m and takes you over the lip of the Falls and the other is 90m that is above the entire Falls.
The ‘SkyLine’ is the most beautiful zip line in the world. Depending on the weather you may find yourself flying through clouds or crystal clear skies over the 2nd highest waterfall in Africa. At an estimated height of 500m and flying for 400m at 50-70km/h it is both uplifting and exhilarating.
The Timeless romance of Rail Travel
There’s a certain magic to rail travel that can’t be found on a plane or on a vehicle. A voyage on a luxury train manages to combine adventure with total relaxation. The soothing rhythm of a steam engine, the timeless elegance of parquet flooring, plush upholstery, exquisite service and all the while an ever-changing view to toast outside the windows.
The cuisine and wine pairings can only be described as sublime and without television or Wi-fi in the public areas, time melts away. Some journeys are meant to be savoured.
A common misconception is that luxury rail journeys are expensive. However, this isn’t the case with most rail journeys coming in at cheaper than similarly luxurious hotels whilst including more. An example is that the Rovos Rail three-night adventure from Johannesburg to Pretoria comes in at USD$2050 per person sharing in a standard suite. This price includes accommodation, meals, excursions, all beverages including alcohol, 24-hour full room service and laundry. By using the train as your method of transportation you also save the cost of your airfare (on average USD$200 one way on this route). That leaves you paying USD$616 per night all-inclusive for a truly special experience. This is comparable to many mid-range safari lodges.
Another misconception is that you can’t see the country you are travelling through when travelling by train. However, this is also untrue, there are many options that combine rail travel with touring such as the ‘Shongololo Express’. The ultimate in touring, this train offers a true safari experience, by rail. The train traverses South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. A variety of off-train excursions are undertaken in a fleet of air-conditioned vehicles that maximise comfort while travelling comfortably during the night, the Shongololo Express saves you precious time, arriving each dawn at a new destination and allowing you to truly see a great variety of sights.
If you would like to experience the romance of a golden age of travel, of crisp white tablecloths, crystal glassware, epic views and epicurean delights contact us today.
Family-Friendly African Safari
When you think of you may not think of it as being a family-friendly holiday. However contrary to popular belief you can comfortably experience thrills of the African bush with your family. Today, children are specially catered to with children’s programs that are imaginative, immersive and engaging.
Here are our top tips on what to consider when picking the perfect destination for your dream trip:
- Make sure the lodge or camp allows children and check the age limit carefully.
- Check if the lodge has family suites available. If not what are the sleeping arrangements?
- Book a private vehicle. This will allow you greater flexibility than on a shared vehicle meaning you can opt for shorter drives or more frequent stops. Flexibility is key when you have little children.
- Stay somewhere with a pool- this will be invaluable in entertaining them on long hot days.
- Canoeing or walking safaris are generally not suitable for children under the age of 12.
- Find out what activities are on offer for children and if they offer a children’s programme.
- Bring a camera and/or binoculars for your children to use. It will help keep them interested and busy while game-viewing.
- Give children an animal checklist to tick off what they have seen and keep them interested and occupied.
Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia all offer great child-friendly options and these can be paired with a city break such as Cape Town or even a few days at the beach in Zanzibar.
Picking the right place to go is vital and it is key to have first-hand knowledge of what is both safe and enjoyable for children to do in the bush and this is where we come in! We have children and we live here and often travel with them so we can really advise you on what will suit you best. In today’s busy world, we believe that time out with your family is precious and we will ensure you get the best experience possible.
Combine Sporting Challenges and Safari!
Zimbabwe has a great sporting history and legacy – maybe due to its wonderful climate and beautiful outdoor areas. Taking part in one of many sporting challenges whilst visiting is the perfect way to achieve and
Having taken part in the annual Victoria Falls half marathon and the multi-day Matobo Heritage Trail Run I can attest to the feeling of triumph and comradeship that occurs at these events. There is no better way to kickstart your trip before some time relaxing in one of the country’s many wild areas- or combine with a stay in nearby Botswana, Zambia, Namibia or South Africa.
Below is a list of the most popular events in Zimbabwe and the links to the relevant event sites for more information. We have a long history of taking place in and planning people’s accommodation and touring around these events so please don’t hesitate to get in touch and start your adventure today!
Trail Running Events
May 09th to 13th
Mapungubwe Transfrontier Wild Run
A 92km, 3-day trail running safari experience through the culturally significant & wildlife-rich bushveld of the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area.
From the ancient Mapungubwe citadel in South Africa, to the savannah of Botswana’s Tuli block, across the mighty Limpopo River and along the gigantic Shashe River, through rural villages, past huge Baobabs & along ancient elephant trails etched into stone in Zimbabwe… this is the ultimate safari-on-the-run experience in one of Africa’s most sought-after big-game areas.
The Matobo Hills World Heritage Trail Run
The event is held over two days, with day one covering 30 km and day two covering 20 km. Runners followed GPS trails through the spectacular scenery of the Matobo Hills National Park. A small event with great camraderie and support throughout and the chance to view ancient rock art, incredible gorges and rocky outcrops, rural village life and great birding.
Umfurudzi Trail Run.
Umfurudzi Park is just 100km from Harare. This National Park has amazing landscapes and stunning waterways and offers day trippers and campers a wealth of outdoor activities.
The Umfurudzi Trail Run has four different route options available, offering 7.5km,12.5km, 25km and 50km Trail Run all with spectacular scenic routes.
The Far & Wide Sky Run
Described as Zimbabwe’s most challenging ultramarathon. The run takes place in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands in the beautiful wilderness areas of the Mutarazi Falls and Nyanga National Parks.
The Sky Run is an incredible ultramarathon trail run that can be run in a relay by three runners, two runners or by a single contestant. The total distance of the SKY RUN is 52.2 km however it can be run in relay teams of 2 or 3 runners.
PPC Matopos 33 Miler
Zimbabwe’s most popular ultra-marathon. The Matopos 33 Miler is the ultimate test of endurance. The run takes place in one of Zimbabwe’s most spectacular national parks. beautiful winding roads of the Matobo National Park, passing Malindidzumu, the Limpopo to Zimbabwe escarpment and then onto the city of Bulawayo.
There is also a 21km half marathon, the relay race (6 runners doing 9km each) or the 5km fun run – all along the same route. This truly historic marathon first took place in 1963.
Road Running Events
July 21st Victoria Falls
Econet Victoria Falls Marathon
One of the most scenic runs on the continent attracting runners from 24 countries worldwide. This race is one of the most scenic, wild and fun runs on the African Continent. Crossing the spectacular bridge border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the route offers great views of the Falls and river.
And with the routing through the Zambezi National Park, chances are good you may spot some wildlife. The official sunset cruise and after party are also extremely fun and well organised.
October 9th, Harare
PPC Msasa Marathon
The fun-filled event takes place in the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare allowing easy access to any destination pre or post race.
The 42km marathon begins at the PPC Msasa plant, where runners overcome the hot weather in a race that ends at Old Hararians Sports Club. 21 km and 5km fun runs are also available and this is a fun-filled family event with food and entertainment after the race.
Mountain Biking and Trail Riding
July 7th to 9th
Zambezi Cycle Challenge
The three-day stage event covers a distance of between 50 to 80 km each day. The event is a mixture of tough trails, rolling Jeep tracks and majestic scenery all taking place in the Zambezi National Park amidst herds of elephant and buffalo. Safety is well covered by professional personnel and the overall organisation is first class making this THE “must do bucket list” MTB event of central Africa.
Matobo World Heritage MTB Challenge
The Matobo Hills World Heritage MTB Challenge (referred to as the Matopos Heritage Challenge) is held each year and encompasses three days of superb mountain bike riding crossing the Matobo Hills World Heritage Site from west to east, south to north, and lowest to highest points. It includes exclusive permission to ride in the Matobo Game Park, home to Zimbabwe’s most significant rhino herd, as well as riding through numerous rural areas and private farms, all within the Matobo Hills.
How & why to combine your Zimbabwe safari with a beach break…
Wondering why to combine your safari with some time at the beach?!
- Africa has many fantastic and little known #beach destinations.
- The excitement of a #safari and it’s early starts can be tiring- rejuvenate with a few days at the beach before heading home.
- If you are travelling in a group doing both will mean there’s something to suit everyone’s taste.
- Many of these options have a great price point- it’s very affordable!
- Africa is a continent of contrasts and you deserve to see more than one side of it!
Here at Travel Wild we have years of experience at combining your Zimbabwean Safari with time at the beach. This means we ensure it couldn’t be easier for you. Some options that work well are listed below. Contact us to find out more about any one of these or other options such as Cape Town or Namibia.
There are connections via Johannesburg to Maputo, Inhambane and Vilancoulos– we work to ensure the smoothest connections for you and to make sure these work in your favour.
The beauty of Mozambique’s long Indian Ocean coastline is undeniable. There are popular beaches like Tofo, off-shore marine parks, the Quirimbas Archipelago; a 250km stretch of coral islands and the Bazaruto Archipelago farther south which protects rare marine life including dugongs. Given all these options we can definitely find the perfect place and standard of accommodation for you.
Daily flights from Harare via Nairobi with a small wait time in Nairobi. These flights are often very reasonably priced.
We recommend Zanzibar for it’s incredible value, family friendly qualities and for combining time at the beach with incredible culture and cuisine. With some of the continents most scenic and beautiful tropical beaches Zanzibar offers the quintessential ‘beach holiday’ experience. Many resorts offer packages at incredible prices but it’s hard to know which offer true value… we can help with years of experience we know which are family friendly- offer the best service and have access to the best beaches.
There are direct flights 5 times per week from Harare to Lilongwe in Malawi.
The country of Malawi is defined by the enormous Lake Malawi- it’s actually as large as an inland sea. The lake’s southern end falls within Lake Malawi National Park – sheltering diverse wildlife from colourful fish to baboons – and its crystal clear waters are popular for diving and boating. accommodation options that can be overwhelming- luckily we have the inside track and can advise you of exactly where to stay and what to do.
Any questions? We are sure you have lots and we are here to answer them! Get in touch with us today!
Laura & Brent’s visit to Hwange Bush Camp
The camp was really easy to find for a self-drive – head to Sinamatella and then take the road from there to Main Camp. A little past Mandavu Dam, we turned right taking the road towards Robin’s camp and 16 km’s later there is a small sign on the right saying Private Camp. Hwange Bush Camp is less than 2 km’s from there. The camp is situated in a small depression lined with Mopane trees, there are six very simple walk-in safari tents, comfortable with 12-volt lighting but no frills.
Tents have their own flush loos and a bucket shower system. (When you want a shower the staff heat water over an open fire and then come and fill your bucket for showering.) It works fantastically well, but it also makes you get the job done with minimal fuss – you don’t want to get caught all soaped up having finished the water in the bucket!
It’s an early wake- up call just before sun up and then there is tea and coffee with a simple breakfast around the log fire. Having rubbed the sleep out of your eyes, it’s time to start on the activities. It’s all about walking here, and the earlier you get out, the more chance of stumbling across fresh tracks to follow.
Spike is knowledgeable, kind and ready to share his passion for the African bush. He is extremely professional, safety conscious and tailor makes his walks according to client’s abilities and interests. He does not force the issue and is always respectful to the animals in whose environment he shares.
We spent 2 wonderful nights here, the staff led by Spike, were brilliant, the meals are all cooked over an open fire and would show some of the Michelin guys a thing or two! The camp was simplicity itself but lacked nothing!
This is about as far from the rat race one can get, a chance to experience a little piece of Africa like it was before man’s influence, a place to reawaken your soul and get back to basics. We highly recommend it.
5 Reasons to choose an Escorted Tour in Zimbabwe
For any traveller visiting an unknown country can be daunting and Zimbabwe can pose more of a challenge with little accurate information available online. The country actually lends itself to driven tours with a good tarred road network and attractions spread far and wide (and often far from commercial airports).
It is possible to tour the entire country including it’s many and varied attractions from Great Zimbabwe’s awe-inspiring ruins to Mana Pools National Park and Cecil Rhodes moving grave overlooking the unusual Motopos National Park. There is so much to see and do in this great country.
We think one of the best ways to see the country’s many charms is to take an escorted tour- this is where you travel with a driver who also acts as your guide throughout your trip. These trips appeal to those who enjoy the ‘doing’ and ‘experiencing’ instead of merely seeing; getting off the beaten tourist tracks; and who take a deep interest in their surroundings.
5 Reasons to choose an Escorted Tour
- It is Hassle Free. Your driver and guide will organise everything from checking fuel, oil and water levels, ensuring that vehicles have all the required safety gear, to navigating and dealing with any police roadblocks etc.
- Seeing the countryside. Driving allows you to view the countryside and countless small moments and small beauties in ways that flying never can. The scenery along the route is spectacular and many will find the traditional homesteads interesting.
- The Flexibility. As much as possible this is your schedule- choose to stop and explore when you see something of interest, wake up late if you prefer, eat where and when you want.
- Your Driver/Guide and soon to be friend! We cannot emphasise enough how much is revealed to you by being accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide. Your driver/guide will answer your questions as you go and show you hidden local gems as well as explaining the rich tapestry of flora, fauna, culture and history of the country.
- Meeting the People. Above all, Zimbabwe is known for its people – proud, warm, friendly – a people eager to share their country, their culture, and their hospitality with you.
Contact us to enquire about tailor making your escorted tour today- we will offer sample itineraries but don’t hesitate to make changes! This is your holiday and every aspect from which style of lodging, which guide and which vehicle is in your hands!
The Rise of the ‘Bush Camp’
A wide range of accommodation that is possible on safari, however we are seeing a trend in the return to a simple, rustic style of camp which we refer to as a ‘bush camp’. The reasons for this trend are many but the main one is the focus being not on the camps amenities but rather on the close connection with nature they offer and the high standard of guiding at these camps reflects this.
African bush camps are simple, ‘close to the ground’ camps with a simpler aesthetic and ethos. They often do not offer wi-fi and focus on a connection to nature and sense of ‘escape’. They tend not to be raised on boardwalks and some of these camps operate seasonally and are taken down for part of the year. Rustic does not mean primitive however, and accommodation is usually in spacious tents with comfortable beds, and en-suite bathrooms. These camps make the perfect setting for an authentic and wild safari experience.
Camp Hwange says they are
…Based on a simple philosophy of providing an authentic safari, where you become immersed in nature, experience the feel, the smell and the touch of the African bush, become a part of it, rather than a spectator.
They are in stunning locations, worth visiting simply for the lifetime experience they offer. It is often possible to walk, canoe or go for night drives from bush camps. The dining areas usually comprise both a roofed section and an area open to the stars. Dinners are often enjoyed under the stars, candlelit, and accompanied by the evening calls of the wilds.
One of the greatest things about an African safari is the feeling of being in a wild and remote place. Bush camps lend themselves to this sense of adventure.
In Zimbabwe some of the most notable examples are:
- Hwange Bush Camp
- Camp Hwange
- Somalisa Expeditions
- Little Makalolo
Mana Pools Area
- Zambezi Expeditions
- Changa Camp
- Rhino Safari Camp
Of course there are many other options and if this style of safari sounds like it would suit you please get in touch and we can tailor make the perfect itinerary to suit your interests and budget.
ROMANCE & ADVENTURE: Zimbabwes’ best sleep out options
Imagine being alone in amidst the sights and sounds of the African bush… hearing the jackals cry as you watch the sun set over a distant horizon, the smell of sage bush wafting on warm air as the southern cross appears glittering above you…
This is the appeal of a ‘sleep out’ on safari. You may ask ‘What is a sleep out?’ Well many of Zimbabwes’ best lodges now offer an opportunity to ‘sleep out’ under the stars for the night. Usually you head off to the sleep-out platform in the late afternoon by foot or by vehicle. Before or after sundowners and a meal your hosts depart leaving you and your travelling companion if you have one alone to enjoy the wilderness you are surrounded by. Most of these platforms are well equipped with full beds, linen and toilets as well as lanterns. All camps keep guest safety in mind giving you either a guide near by and/or a two way radio so you can contact camp if necessary and you are well above the ground and animals below.
I recently got to experience just this. As my partner and I watched the safari vehicle depart, golden dust rising behind it in the late evening light it became apparent how truly alone we were. The silence was deafening- something we aren’t used to in today’s world. We had been left with a full meal and drinks and so despite my twinge of apprehension and awe a glass of bubbly soon settled me and I could truly appreciate my surrounds. As we ate hot soup the air filled with a rich chorus of nocturnal insects that were soon joined by the mournful, haunting cry of a jackal. Awestruck and happy my partner and I watched a truly spectacular sunset hand in hand.
Bats flitted overhead as we ate a delicious main course and stars began to twinkle overhead while the remaining glow on the horizon faded. Moments like these make you incredibly aware of your senses and of the passing of time. After chocolate we headed to our luxurious bed, replete with feather duvet. We blew out the lanterns and drifted off to sleep with the contented rumblings of a family of elephants feeding nearby. I awoke a few times in the night to listen nervously to lions roaring in the distance and hyena calling closer by but managed to calm myself in the knowledge that we were safely above all the action and go back to sleep.
We woke in the glow of pre-dawn light to talk in hushed whispers as the sun rose. A thermos provided steaming hot water for coffee and as we finished it the rumble of the vehicle coming to fetch us seemed too soon… I looked back regretfully as we made our way down the stairs of the platform, it had truly been a very special evening and one which I would love to repeat.
Want to Try it? Here are some of the Best Options in Zimbabwe
The Hide Safari Camp – Dove’s Nest
The Hide boasts a comfortable split level structure with a deck and stairs up to a partially enclosed room with slatted windows and a door. The deck overlooks a beautiful pan where animals come to drink… They provide sundowners and private bush dinners.
Aptly named sleep out deck called “The Eye”. This tree house overlooks a waterhole and is equipped with a queen-size four post bed (complete with mosquito net), bathroom with an incredible view and a great selection of drinks.
Situated on a raised platform overlooking Madison Pan, this star-bed is a 20 minute drive from camp and can accommodate up to 4 guests. It includes bed rolls, a flush toilet and mosquito nets.
Overlooking Ray’s Pan, the Somalisa sleep-out accommodates up to 5 guests and has a loo and shower built into the structure.
The platform is equipped with a mosquito net, flush toilet and 2 beds that can be coverted to a queen- there is even a seating area so you can watch the action at the pan it overlooks.
Kanga has 4 sleep-out platforms – 2 sets of 2. Each has a mattress flat on a platform, under a mosquito net. A separate loo and bucket shower can be found under the trees, a 10 metre walk from the sleep-out. Bush barbecue dinner or breakfast can be arranged.
Life on board a luxury Houseboat on Lake Kariba
I lie somnolescent on a sun lounger… lulled into a dreamy state by the sound of water lapping at the boat’s sides, the warmth of the sun on my skin and the cool breeze.
The cries of a fish eagle cause me to stir and sleepily I sit and look outward. We are cruising past the shore with its iconic rim of dead trees. In one of the skeletal branches, the impressive bird is perched, throwing his head back as he calls, the eery cry echoing across the vast lake. I am on a houseboat in the midst of a vast, manmade lake created when the massive Kariba Hydroelectric Dam was erected on the Zambezi River in 1958.
Despite its controversial start, the shores of the lake provide crucial habitat for several species and it is a great place for bird and animal watching, fishing and relaxing. One of the best ways to experience this is as I am now, on a houseboat. There are many advantages to this style of travel- such as unpacking once but getting to travel between destinations, being on the water and the ability to choose self-catering or fully catered.
But back to the present moment! I walk across the boat’s top deck, help myself to an ice cold ‘Mazoe’ (Zimbabwe’s orange juice) and soda and join the rest of the group in planning the rest of the day. We decide to take out one of the small boats we are trailing behind us in the evening to fish, enjoy a sundowner and watch for animals along the lakeshore.
There’s something special about game viewing from the water. Instead of driving bumpy roads or spending long hours inside a vehicle, on Lake Kariba’s houseboats the game viewing is quiet, and the animals often come to you, relaxed in a way they wouldn’t be if you were on land.
The anglers among us are happy when we go out with one even catching a large fighting tigerfish- something that causes much excitement on the small boat as he tries to reel it in. It is released shortly after. However, it is the sight of a mighty bull elephant placidly grazing on the lakeshore as the sun sets in a fiery glow that stays with me.
We return to the houseboat as the sky darkens and stars appear. The onboard chef has conjured a delicious meal and we enjoy it with plenty of wine and the good cheer that comes from having a group of friends in close quarters.
As I drift off to sleep the boat moves slowly and steadily towards a new destination. I am content in the knowledge that I have a few more days of this happy routine; reading, drinking, eating, taking dips in the boat’s plunge pool and watching the shore for wild animals.
- What to see: Common sightings are buffalo, zebra, waterbuck, impala and hundreds of elephants every day. There is an amazing array of birds at Lake Kariba; including kingfishers, cormorants, storks, herons and of course the ubiquitous fish eagle.
- When to go: The area generally has very hot summers, averaging 38 degrees Celsius. The winters are usually mild with an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Wintertime, from April to August, is considered the best time to go to Kariba as many animals visit the lakeshore in this dry time.