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Hidden Jewels of Zimbabwe

A Rare Treasure for Safari Aficionados – Discover Some of Africa’s Richest Wildlife Enclaves!
Day 1: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Arrive in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where we meet our Expedition Leader. Our Zimbabwe adventure begins at the Victoria Falls Hotel, a 5-star colonial landmark that offers the same splendid panorama and genteel Edwardian ambience that made it a legend when it opened in 1904. The sprawling white hotel sits perched above the Zambezi Gorge in full view of the falls, surrounded by expansive lawns and tropical gardens. Once we are settled into our rooms, afternoon activities include a privately guided tour of the falls before returning to the hotel for our Welcome Dinner and to rest up for our journey to Hwange tomorrow. 

Day 2: Fly to Hwange National Park
We depart this morning by light aircraft for Hwange National Park. From the airstrip we drive to Little Makalolo Camp, our base for the next three nights. Situated within a remote private concession within the vast bounds of Hwange, Little Makalolo is one of very few camps that exist within the park boundaries. A vibrant waterhole directly in front of the camp attracts plentiful wildlife, offering hours of entertainment from the raised deck or even during a soak in the plunge pool. A log-pile hide also overlooks the waterhole in front of camp, for unobtrusive wildlife viewing opportunities.

Days 3 & 4: Hwange National Park
Bordering the Kalahari Desert on Zimbabwe’s western edge, Hwange is the largest and most legendary of Zimbabwe’s national parks. Its 5,600 square miles are comprise of predominantly desert sandveld supporting teak and mopane woodlands and dry acacia scrub, interspersed with saltpans, grasslands and granite outcrops. The varied habitat is home to enormous herds of elephant and buffalo and a vital predator population including lion, leopard and cheetah. Other animals frequently sighted include zebra, giraffe, sable, roan, blue wildebeest and impala. Hwange also harbors a few rare white rhinoceros. Other endangered residents include gemsbok, brown hyena and African wild dog. Bird life is exciting, too, with more than 400 species in the park. Our focus is game drives, however, a well-situated bunker hide provides an idyllic way to spend a lazy afternoon while watching passing wildlife. Bush walks with renowned guides are also a highlight, safety permitting.

Day 5: Fly to Lake Kariba - Fothergill Island - Matusadona National Park
Fly this morning via light aircraft to the Fothergill airstrip, then transfer by boat to Changa Safari Camp on the shores of Lake Kariba in Matusadona National Park. The park is a vast, watery wilderness encompassing 338,000 acres of unfenced splendor. Rugged mountains, springs and streams, miomba woodlands and mopane scrublands, riverine vegetation, crystal-clear lakes and grassy shoreline all combine to create a unique set of habitats for healthy mammal populations. Many of the animals currently thriving in the park owe their existence to Operation Noah, a historic wildlife rescue exercise launched by Rupert Fothergill soon after the completion of the dam in 1958 and resultant flooding of a huge portion of the Zambezi Valley.

Day 6: Matusadona National Park
We explore a sampler of the park on wildlife drives, guided walks and a pontoon boat cruise, all of which are sure to reveal exciting sightings. We'll meander through the multitude of bays and river inlets where the birdlife is prolific, and elephant and antelope abound. Elephant, which have adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle, are often seen along the shoreline of Lake Kariba, while hippo and crocodile are found in the water. Many different species of waterfowl are found in the reeds or perched on the partially submerged trees still standing since the creation of the lake more than 50 years ago. These airy trees, remnants of great hardwood forests, provide homes for bats and insects, and nesting sites for fish eagles, darters, cormorants and kingfishers. Lion, leopard, hyena and cheetah are present, and a small but important population of endangered black rhino roams the park. After a full day of safari activities, retreat to the deck of our lakeside camp to toast the setting sun with a memorable cocktail before dinner.

Day 7: Fly to Mana Pools
Return by boat this morning to the airstrip, then fly to Mana Pools and transfer to Ruckomechi Camp. Set on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River brimming with hippo, our camp enjoys a spectacularly scenic location within a large grove of acacia and mahogany trees backdropped by the Great Rift Valley escarpment. The Mana Pools section of the Zambezi Valley is true wilderness, with one of the highest dry-season concentrations of animals in Africa. On these wide floodplains we find great herds of enormous elephants and big, burly buffalo, graceful eland, and plenty of predators including lion, leopard, cheetah and jackal. Rafts of Nile crocodile lie on the river's edge. Among the 380 bird species in the park are the Nyasa lovebird, Livingstone’s flycatcher, banded snake eagle, yellow-billed kites and huge numbers of carmine bee eaters that burrow nests into the sandy riverbanks.  

Days 8 & 9: Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools lies on the southern bank of the Zambezi River, bordering Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. Together the two parks protect a riverine environment that supports an intense concentration of wildlife, ideal for exploring by canoe safari. Mana means "four" in the Shona language, referring to the four large pools, remnants of ancient oxbow lakes, which sustain great numbers of hippo, crocodile, elephant, buffalo, Burchell's zebra, waterbuck, kudu and aquatic birds on islands and sandbanks. Canoe and walking safaris provide a perspective on wildlife along the riverbank and in the water that simply isn’t available in a vehicle—not to mention an utterly still environment unsullied by the sound of motors. Stops on the bank for tea and coffee and short walks into the forest are intimate and exclusive experiences where we rarely see another soul. We also explore other parts of the park on wildlife drives in open 4x4 safari vehicles, allowing us to get very close to big game and larger herds of animals.

Day 10: Fly to Harare / Depart
Our Zimbabwe safari comes all too soon to a close as we fly back to Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, to meet homeward flights. 

Physical Rating: Easy

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