Rugged African Experience (In Luxury)
‘The Rugged Africa Experience’
On arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you will be met by your personal tour guide who will escort you on your connection flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
On landing at Victoria Falls, a 90 minute speedboat transfer will bring you to Rhino Island Safari Lodge in Matusadona National Park, where you will have a 3 night stay in a thatched bungalow.
Matusadona National Park is located along the southern shores of Lake Kariba, the largest manmade lake in Africa, created when the Zambezi River was dammed in 1959. The damming project forced the wildlife into untamed wilderness areas around the lake, creating an incredible game viewing sanctuary with superb fishing and birding. The park has a well established buffalo population and a small concentration of black rhino, as well as abundant elephant, hippo, crocodile, and lion.
Rhino Island Safari Lodge is the only lodge of its kind in Matusadona. The lodge offers the avid nature lover remoteness and spectacular lake views in a fantastically diverse game area. The lodge is simple and authentic, but very comfortable. The six thatched bungalows, each set on a raised platform about 3 meters off the ground, have en-suite bathrooms and uninterrupted lake views.
The schedule for the first three days will include bush walks, boating and game drives in open 4×4 vehicles. The walking safari usually departs before sunrise, passing through the mopane and riverine woodlands which are the dominant ecosystem of Matusadona. This is one of the best places in Africa to track the elusive black rhino, observe a myriad of birdlife, and get within whispering distance of elephant bulls. In the afternoon you will continue game viewing by Land Rover or by boat – a good way to see much of Matusadona’s spectacular wildlife.
From Rhino Island Safari Lodge you will be transferred back to Lake Kariba, from where you will be taking an early morning charter flight to Mana Pools National Park. From here you will be driven to a luxury tented camp. For the next couple of days you will be up at first light, setting off on foot to explore Mana Pools, where you will have a wonderful chance to get really close to the wildlife.
The unpredictability of bush walks at Mana Pools makes for an adrenalin rush when meeting elephant, buffalo, impala, waterbuck and baboons up close. There is even the possibility of seeing lion, leopard, and wild dog. You will cover a fair amount of ground on each walk, but with lots of stops to look at the big game and, just as importantly, to see the smaller, fascinating details many safaris miss, such as game tracks, dung beetles and butterflies, which normally cannot be seen from a vehicle. Depending on what you will find each day, you will be doing a combination of driving (day and night), boating and/or bush walking.
Mana Pools National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wildlife paradise.
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The luxury tents at Mana Pools are nestled amongst a grove of beautiful riverine forest, including
trees such as huge old Zambezi figs, ebonies, rain trees, wild mangoes and tamarinds. Each tent
has twin beds with teak furnishings, which include a wardrobe and dressing table. En-suite
bathroom facilities include flush toilets, hot showers and a wash-stand. A covered lounge and
bar, open-air dining area and campfire seating are shared by all.
From Mana Pools Tented Camp you will take an early morning boat transfer to your put-in point
on the Zambezi River to start the canoe safari. After some basic instruction on the art of paddling
and a general safety talk, you will board your 15 foot, 2/3 person canoe and meander down the
mighty Zambezi, quietly paddling and drifting with the river’s current. This two day Zambezi River
canoe safari will take you through the Mana floodplains and Mana Pools National Park with its
plentiful game, passing hippos and herds of elephant, attracted to the lovely groves of trees
growing along its banks. Some of the Zambezi days will be spent in narrow channels, separate
from the main river, amidst an abundance of bird and animal life. There will be stops during the
day for a bit of relaxation as well.
Special private tented camps are located along the Zimbabwe side of the Zambezi. Each
camp features comfortable, insect-proof tents with cots, mattresses and sheets, as well as
separate flush toilets and shower tents. Each camp is fully staffed.
A pre-breakfast walk each morning will enliven you and give you ample opportunity to stretch
your legs for a long day on the water. Your luggage will be collected outside the tents every day
and transferred by vehicle to the next camp. Only the daily essentials are transported in your
canoe with you. Picnic lunches are generally set up along the riverbank, while excellent dinners
will be enjoyed in the camp at night.
You will take a charter flight from Mana Pools to Hwange, Zimbabwe’s largest national park,
located on the extreme eastern edge of the great Kalahari Desert. After settling into Hwange’s
comfortable tented camp ‘Somalisa’, you will enjoy lunch in front of its permanent waterhole
with its teeming wildlife. After lunch you will take your first game drive in search of giraffe,
wildebeest, impala and elephant, retuning to Somalisa in time for a gourmet dinner. While
dining, you will enjoy the nocturnal theatre of Africa’s wildlife coming to drink at the illuminated
waterhole. The next day will begin with a two hour ‘walk on the wild side’, which will give you the chance to
discover some of Hwange’s secrets, where encounters with elephant, zebra, wildebeest, and
giraffe are common. Over the next few days you will explore the park by Land Rover day and
Hwange is remarkable for its wide variety of mammals, which are attracted to the park’s scarce
dry-season water sources. Hwange is also one of Africa’s great elephant sanctuaries, home to
more than 30, 000 specimens.
Somalisa Tented Camp, in the heart of Hwange National Park, is an authentic bush camp with a
blend of old African charm and elegance. Its stunning location, tucked away on an acacia
island on the edge of an ancient seasonal floodplain, gives it breathtaking views of the savanna
The camp has six canvas tents with en-suite bathrooms, flush toilets and romantic outdoor
showers. The main camp area and pool, tucked away in a soaring canopy of trees, overlook the
pan where large herds of game congregate. Innovative gourmet meals, often prepared with
organic produce, will be on offer every day and will be complemented by excellent wines. Solar
lighting will ensure your comfort, without interfering with the environment and the area’s natural
You will return to Victoria Falls by charter flight and then to OR Tambo International Airport
in Johannesburg, from where you will travel to your international destination.