Experience the best of Zimbabwe! From incredible wildlife viewing opportunities in pristine nature reserves, to the iconic Victoria Falls and its 355 ft drop into the spectacular Batoka Gorge. This trip will be truly one-of-a-kind, with multiple opportunities to view the classic African safari animals. Our exclusive active safaris include the Elephant Express train and a “look-up” blind offering a unique viewing perspective and even the chance to practically touch the elephants’ toenails as they visit the watering hole. We'll even get a glimpse into everyday life of Zimbabweans with the opportunity to visit a rural home and school.
We'll enjoy three-course dinners under the African night sky, stay in four beautiful lodges, plus an overnight stay aboard the historic Stimela Star Train. It will be an experience like no other!
DAY 1: Arrival and transfer to Gorges Lodge
DAY 2: Victoria Falls and sleeper train to Hwange
DAY 3: Arrival in Hwange National Park and Elephant Express
DAY 4: Hwange National Park
DAY 5: Village/school visit and game viewing
Day 6: Elephant Express and transfer to Nehimba Lodge
Day 7-8: Game drives/walks and Nehimba seeps
Day 9: Scenic flight over Hwange to Victoria Falls
Day 10: Walking & canoeing safari
Day 11: Departure
Arrival and transfer to Gorges Lodge
Arrive at Victoria Falls Airport where our Zimbabwean safari experience begins. We'll meet the shuttle vehicle to transfer to the Gorges Lodge on the edge of the Batoka Gorge, 660 ft above the mighty Zambezi River (30-40 mins). Gorges and Little Gorges Lodges have arguably the most spectacular views in Southern Africa and offer a unique Victoria Falls experience from a peaceful and idyllic base on the edge of the Batoka Gorge. Gorges is also a pioneering lodge in Zimbabwe, as the first and one of only three lodges built on community-owned land in the country. Therefore, concession fees and royalties are paid directly to the local community council which helps to improve schools, domestic water supplies and health clinics in local villages.
Victoria Falls and sleeper train to Hwange
Enjoy a leisurely morning, lingering over a cup of tea or coffee on the veranda overlooking the Batoka Gorge. This morning choose to relax at the lodge or visit our neighbors at the nearby Chisuma Village to gain insights into the daily activities of a typical Zimbabwean rural community. Part of the tour includes a spontaneous visit to an individual household where our guests are welcomed and invited to join the traditional daily activities, such as crushing grain into meal, plowing the fields and brewing beer. Enjoy lunch at the Lodge or in Victoria Falls town, followed by a guided walking tour of the rainforest and Victoria Falls - one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Around 6pm, we’ll arrive at the Victoria Falls train station to board the Stimela Star, a one of a kind sleeper train to Hwange! Enjoy our last views of the “Smoke that Thunders” while sipping on a refreshing sundowner drink. The train departs at approximately 7pm. Once upon a time, this train was pulled by a steam engine, but today a diesel locomotive will pull us toward the Hwange National Park, the third largest national park in Africa. The vintage railway carriages chosen for this journey are classics from the WWII era - the polished wood furnishings and brass fittings are original and the last remaining remnants of the rolling stock from the heyday of African commercial train travel. Enjoy a three-course dinner in the dining car followed by cocktails in the cigar bar before heading off to bed. Alternatively, stay up and enjoy a night cap or a steaming cup of coffee or tea while watching the Hwange hills roll by and eventually the Hwange National Park! The train will arrive at Dete station near Hwange Main Camp in the early hours of the morning where our carriages will be uncoupled and remain for the rest of the night.
Arrival in Hwange National Park and Elephant Express to Bomani Tented Lodge
After enjoying a full breakfast on the train, we’ll disembark the Stimela Star and board a one of a kind game viewing train, the Elephant Express, for the remaining rail journey to southern Hwange and Bomani Tented Lodge! The trip takes 2.5 hours along the railway line on the eastern border of Hwange National Park. We’ll view game and enjoy snacks and drinks along the way!
Upon arrival in Ngamo station near Bomani, we'll board 4x4 Land Cruisers for a short game drive and transfer to Bomani for lunch and a siesta. Hwange National Park at 5,657 sq mi is the largest National Park in Zimbabwe and one of Africa’s great parks. Hwange is renowned for its incredible diversity of wildlife, boasting more varieties of mammal and bird species than any other Zimbabwean National Park. There are over 100 species of mammals, including 19 large herbivores such as buffalo, eland, sable and wildebeest, and over 400 bird species. However, the area is particularly famous for its population of elephant, some 45,000+ strong (based on the latest aerial survey). Combined with the elephants of northern Botswana this area is the world’s largest contiguous elephant population and a flagship for the Kavango Zambezi Trans Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
Southern Hwange is famous for the Ngamo plains, the largest savanna grasslands in the park, fringed with Acacia and Leadwood trees. This mix of open grasslands and woodlands provides the perfect mosaic of habitats for the full spectrum of both grazing and browsing herbivores resident in Hwange, and of course the carnivores that prey on them, too - Lion, Leopard, Painted dog and Hyena. This abundance of wildlife provides some of the best year-round game viewing to be found anywhere in Zimbabwe.
Hwange National Park - Bomani Tented Lodge
Wake up early and enjoy coffee or tea on the veranda overlooking the lodge waterhole. After breakfast head off for a morning game drive and walk in Hwange National Park’s acacia forests, escorted by a guide who'll share his knowledge and love of the bush with us. Game walks are an exciting option for photography of big game on foot. They are usually undertaken in the mornings and are conducted by a fully licensed and highly experienced armed professional guide. In this remote and wild area every walk provides fascinating insights into Hwange’s circle of life; watch Hwange’s elephants shake acacia trees to loosen and then eat the pods while dung beetles roll up the elephant dung containing acacia seeds into balls. Dung beetles bury these balls and the acacia seed is now ready to germinate and grow into a new tree!
Lunch will be served next to our famous 'look up' blind in front of Stoffie's Pan inside the park. Experience the majesty of Hwang's giants (the elephants) from a unique perspective on the ground and then from inside our unique 'look up' blind where we can practically touch an elephant toenail as they drink. After a rest and maybe a dip in the lodge pool, enjoy afternoon tea while watching the elephants, hippo and other game at the lodge waterhole. Then depart for an afternoon game drive followed by sundowners and snacks at Major Pan. Night drive back to the lodge for cocktails and snacks around the campfire with a 3-course dinner to follow in the main lodge area.
Village/school visit and game viewing – Bomani Tented Lodge
The lodge is deeply committed to bringing together local rural communities and safari guests, for their mutual benefit. Twenty minutes’ drive from the lodge our guests have the opportunity to enjoy an actual and un-orchestrated look at village life in rural Matabeleland. This morning sees an early start with breakfast in the dining room before heading to nearby Ngunyana Village. Here we'll walk from the village to nearby Ngamo School with the children on their morning walk to school. At the school we'll have the opportunity to interact and sing with the students before heading to Ngamo Village where we'll see the lodge's community initiatives firsthand, including meeting with the village headman. On our village visit we'll gain insight into the day-to-day life of rural Zimbabweans, including information on thatching roofs, tilling fields, milling maize and weaving baskets.
(Note: School visits are not possible during school holidays in April, August and December. Specific holiday dates are not confirmed until the start of the new calendar year.)
A lovely picnic lunch will be served under nearby trees before heading back to Bomani for a few hours of quiet time. As the African sun starts to cool in the afternoon, climb aboard the 4x4 packed with cold refreshments and snacks to drive along the Ngamo Plains, renowned for magnificent game viewing. Stop at a watering hole to watch the sun sink beneath the horizon before heading back to the lodge to freshen up for a delicious dinner under brilliant stars.
Elephant Express and transfer to Nehimba Lodge
After morning tea or coffee on the private deck, explore the wilderness one more time on foot or by vehicle, taking a guided early morning walk or game drive before a hearty breakfast. After breakfast, board the Elephant Express for the return trip to Dete Station near Hwange Main Camp (2.5 hrs) viewing game along the way. At Dete, we’ll meet our guide and 4x4 vehicle for the remaining 2.5-3 hr game drive to Nehimba Lodge (picnic lunch served en route).
Nehimba is situated on its own private concession in the northern area of the National Park where many of Hwange’s wild residents enjoy wandering freely through the area. The lodge’s waterhole is a mecca for thirsty pachyderms in the dry season – witnessing the parade of 500 elephants per day to the lodge waterhole is a common occurrence this time of year! The lodge sits on the edge of the vast wilderness area and its waterhole is one of the only reliable sources of water for hundreds of miles. Once at Nehimba, we'll settle in and take a seat with cameras overlooking the tranquil waterhole in front of the lodge and enjoy the African rustic charm. Relax with sundowners watching game come to drink in front of the lodge as the heat subsides for the day and the sun dips below the horizon.
A 3-course delectable bush dinner will be served under the African sky near the lodge waterhole.
Game drives/walks and Nehimba seeps – Nehimba Lodge
Spend the next two full days exploring and photographing this beautiful northern part of Hwange National Park by vehicle and on foot. The north is distinctly different from the southern part in terms of topography, habitats and species of wildlife. Nehimba is situated on the edge of the mopane woodlands of northern Hwange and the Kalahari sandveld of the west, offering the full spectrum and diversity of fauna that Hwange has to offer. The elephant hunting lions of this area are famous. The area is well watered so is host to large numbers of animals throughout the year, but particularly during the dry season. Game drives are conducted in specially modified Land Rovers designed to provide wildlife enthusiasts with ideal opportunities for photography. During drives, our expert guides enjoy sharing their extensive knowledge - be it while watching the African bush come to life as the sun starts to rise, or whilst marveling at a large elephant herd drinking at a waterhole as the sun slips behind the horizon.
One evening, we'll finish the game drive with refreshments and canapés at sunset at the famed Nehimba seeps. The seep is an ancient source of water once used by the San Bushmen, as well as being a place where elephant still dig for water and minerals. The sunset photography opportunities with elephants is second to none in this unique and peaceful spot.
For those who would like to view Hwange in a different light, guests have the opportunity to accompany a guide on a night drive through our concession. Filtered spotlights are used to spot various nocturnal species that can be found such as hyena, porcupines, civets, genet cats, and if we're lucky, perhaps even a leopard on hunt!
Scenic flight over Hwange to Victoria Falls
After a final breakfast in this remote part of Hwange, climb aboard an air charter over Hwange National park to Victoria Falls airport, game viewing as we fly over the park (1.5 hrs). At Victoria Falls airport, we'll meet a shuttle vehicle for the transfer to Zambezi Sands on the banks of the thundering wild waters of the Zambezi River, inside Zambezi National Park (1.5 hrs).
After settling into our luxury tents, enjoy afternoon tea on the main lodge deck while the mighty Zambezi rushes past. Afterwards head off for a game drive or a canoe paddle exploring the Siansimba Islands around the lodge, stopping off at a scenic spot to watch the sunset with sundowners and mouthwatering canapés.
Night drive back to the lodge followed by a superb 3-course meal under the stars.
Walking & canoeing safaris – Zambezi Sands River Camp
The day will start with coffee and tea at sunrise overlooking the Zambezi followed by a hearty breakfast. The morning will be on foot or vehicle exploring the shoreline and enjoying its wildlife. We return to camp for a light lunch, a dip in our private plunge pools and a short siesta.
In the late afternoon, we’ll canoe the Zambesi in stable inflatable canoes through gentle rapids and lazy channels past islands. This trip will culminate with a last sunset on the river bank enjoying a cool drink and tasty snacks. Freshen up upon returning to camp and enjoy a 3-course dinner on the deck overlooking the water.
Enjoy the last morning sipping tea or coffee on the private deck as the sun rises over the river and the mist settles followed by breakfast on the main lodge deck, taking in the sights and sounds of our Zimbabwean safari one last time before transferring to Victoria Falls Airport to catch our departing flight.
Gorges Lodge has arguably the most spectacular views in Southern Africa and offers a unique Victoria Falls experience from a peaceful and idyllic base on the edge of the Batoka Gorge. Gorges main lodge and the 10 stone-under-thatch rooms are set in a lush and magnificently landscaped garden with stunning views across the gorge and the pounding Zambezi River 200 meters below - truly breathtaking! The 5 luxury Little Gorges tents are set on the edge of the Dibu Dibu Gorge and also provide magnificent views of the Zambezi River.
Stimela is quite literally the word we use in Zimbabwe and Zululand for a train (derived from the rhythm of the sound the old trains made!). Stimela Star is the only private overnight sleeper train for tourists connecting Victoria Falls to Hwange National Park! The Star will transport us in comfort and old fashioned style overnight from Victoria Falls and we’ll awake rested and relaxed ready for adventure in Hwange National Park.
This luxurious tented lodge is situated in a private concession of the magnificent Ngamo Plains, on the edge of the remote and unspoilt southeastern corner of Hwange National Park. Bomani is famous for its unique scenery as well as its large herds of elephants and all other animals and bird life. Our fully licensed and knowledgeable guides will treat us to a safari experience we'll never forget!
Remotely nestled away on a huge private concession in the northern part of Hwange National Park, Nehimba Lodge combines luxury living, ultimate elegance and African charm to provide an exceptional safari experience. Our 9 spacious canvas-under-thatch tents are built on teak decks and along with the guest area, overlook the magnificent lodge pan, which is frequented by large numbers of elephants, particularly in the dry season.
This tented lodge is situated within the western area of the Zambezi National Park on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River upstream of Victoria Falls. Zambezi Sands is unique in that it features not only the Zambezi River and water based activities and glorious wildlife and scenery, but is also close to Victoria Falls.
Hotel accommodation on a double/twin room occupancy
Meals as indicated
Beer, wine and soda at lodges
Ground transportation as detailed
English speaking professional guide
National park entry fees
All tours as detailed
Meals not detailed in itinerary
Any other personnel expenses
*Please note the Elephant Express and the Stimela Star run according to scheduling specified by the National Railways of Zimbabwe and as such may be subject to delays and cancellations, which are beyond our control.