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Zimbabwe Scheduled Group Safari Info

Zimbabwe Safari: Victoria Falls & Undiscovered National Parks

10 days, 9 nights | Safari from $5,498 per person13 days, 12 nights | Flight + Safari Combo from $7,198 per person Info
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Overview

Track Elephants on Foot

Whether tracking elephant on foot through pristine grassland or paddling a canoe on the Zambezi River, Zimbabwe offers memories to last a lifetime. Explore Hwange National Park via 4×4, spotting cheetah, hippo, elephant, impala, zebra, and much more as you go.

Spend days on the Zambezi River—paddling a canoe out to the uninhabited Siansimba Islands or sipping sundowners aboard a speedboat. Experience the thrill of walking through the bush with experienced guides, learning to read animal tracks in the dirt and sense changes in wind direction. Ride a section of the historic Cape-to-Cairo railroad line through miles of backcountry, watching giraffe and lion cross in front of you from your open railcar. Stay in perfectly situated camps and lodges, with views of plunging gorges and watering holes from your beautifully appointed rooms. From beginning to end, savor an active and experiential journey into one of Africa’s less-known regions.

During your safari, witness phenomenal Victoria Falls (standing on your own two feet and from the “flight of the angels” helicopter transfer); track elephants on foot—an awe-inspiring, up-close experience; learn about the history of Zimbabwe and its colonial past; safari by 4×4, foot, boat, and even railroad to encounter cheetahs, elephants, and lions; enjoy warm and welcoming hospitality at the best camps in Zimbabwe. All lodgings on your active safari share a commitment to responsible tourism—providing guests with an immersive experience in nature and the surrounding culture, while also helping preserve the wilderness and enrich the local economy.

Safari Style: Scheduled Group Safari
Activities: Victoria Falls visit, walking with elephants, boat cruise, tiger fishing, game drives, train ride, cultural exchange, and optional paddling
Accommodation: Deluxe safari camps and lodges
Getting Around: Foot, 4X4 safari vehicle, motor boat, kayak, light aircraft
Meeting & Departure Point: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Tour Highlights:

  • With a knowledgeable guide, follow trails along the rim of Victoria Falls.
  • Get closer than you imagined possible to wild elephants inside a lodge’s innovative underground “look-up” blind.
  • Walk through conserved farmland into a remote village, where you’ll likely be joined by local children on their way to school.
  • Discover the fascinating history of Africa’s Cape-to-Cairo rail line as you ride along a stretch of it through Hwange’s backcountry.
  • Experienced, knowledgeable guides
  • All meals and drinks (including house alcohol)
  • Safari lodges and premium tented camps (with private baths)
  • Airport meet-and-greet service
  • All safari activities as outlined
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • Internal flight(s)
  • All park fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the CW Safaris staff
  • Guest Rating:

    Our guide, Andy Trivella, was an absolute delight and a profound master of the flora and fauna of the bush.
    I feel like I now have a PhD in zoology. This is a cliche, of course, but I hated when the safari ended.
    E. Dunn

Itinerary & Accommodations
Day 1 Victoria Falls

Touch down at Victoria Falls Airport and begin your Zimbabwean Safari. A shuttle will meet you and whisk you to Gorges Lodge, nestled in a garden setting and perched on the edge of the Batoka Gorge, 200 yards above the mighty Zambezi River. Spend the afternoon relaxing in the tranquil beauty of the lodge. Unwind by the pool, sipping a fresh-squeezed juice and taking in the stunning view.

Late afternoon, stretch your legs and join your guide on a walk through the lodge’s gardens – boasting 90% indigenous plants – leading to a striking outlook along the gorge. This is the ideal place to savor a glass of cold sauvignon blanc and slice of bobotie (curried meat) quiche, while watching the lodge’s resident pair of black eagles soar within feet of you. African black eagles (also known as Verreaux’s eagles) are a highly specialized bird of prey, who almost exclusively hunt rock hyrax—a small, rodent-like relative of the elephant. Black eagles pair for life, building nests and hunting together. Other large birds you may be lucky to view include the peregrine and taita falcons, lizard and jackal buzzards, harrier hawks and the occasional fish eagle.

Following sundowners with the eagles, stroll back to the main lodge where you will be entertained by their energetic team of talented traditional dancers—you might even get pulled in to join them! Then enjoy a tasty three-course dinner—such as butternut squash soup, beef stroganoff and peach crisp—in the main lodge area, overlooking the gorge, before retiring to your chalet and falling asleep to the sound of the river rushing below you.

Included: Airport transfer, leisure time and black eagle walk / breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beverages

Day 2 Victoria Falls

Wake up to the sound of the rushing river below and enjoy your morning tea or coffee out on your private veranda overlooking the gorge, followed by a breakfast of fruit, yogurt, toast and porridge in the main lodge dining area. Then head to the town of Victoria Falls for a guided tour of Zimbabwe’s prime attraction – the ‘Falls’ remains one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. No description, no matter how vivid, can prepare you for the reality of Victoria Falls. Natives call it “the smoke that thunders.” Geologists call it “the greatest known curtain of falling water,” and “Seventh Wonder of the Natural World.” The majestic Zambezi River sends more than 560,000 cubic meters of water per minute plummeting over the edge of this massive gorge, with a width of one and a quarter miles and a depth of more than 330 feet. The falls transform the placid Zambezi River into a ferocious torrent exploding into clouds of spray seen from miles away. Yet thanks to its remote location, the surrounding wilderness is peaceful and pristine. Walk along paths that meander through the rainforest – leading you from one awe-inspiring viewpoint to another. There will also be opportunity to visit the craft village to buy hand-carved souvenirs, for those interested.

After working up an appetite, you will be treated to a picnic lunch on the banks of the Zambezi River or at a local café before heading back to Gorges Lodge in the afternoon. Upon return to the lodge, you’ll have the option to hike down to the bottom of Batoka Gorge or visit the nearby Chisuma Village, where you’ll meet villagers and participate in some of their daily activities, such as crushing grain into meal, ploughing the fields and brewing beer. For those looking for a little rest, you may opt to settle in on your deck with a good book.

Or, you may wish to indulge in an optional  ‘Flight of the Angels” helicopter ride over Victoria Falls. This ride gives you an unparalleled sense of the breathtaking glory and enormity of the falls, which is quite a different spectacle (and photo opportunity) than seeing it from the ground. This option can be requested and pre-paid in advance by contacting Country Walkers.

Pricing: $150 USD pp (minimum of 2 guests) for a 12-13 minute ride plus NP fees of approximately $14 or $290 USD pp (minimum of 3 guests) for a 25 minute ride plus NP fees of approximately $14 (the national park fees must be paid direct in-country in cash).

In the evening, enjoy an al fresco dinner in the lush garden under the stars.

Included: Visit to Victoria Falls, Batoka Gorge hike, community visit / breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beverages

Approximate Travel Time: 1 hour

Day 3 Nehimba – Hwange National Park

After breakfast, set off on a full day road transfer to Nehimba Lodge in the northwest of Hwange National Park (formerly Wankie Game Reserve), famed for its large elephant herds and diversity of wildlife. Along the way there will be plenty of rest stops and some game viewing. Just before entering the park, the road leads unexpectedly through an open coal mine. It’s a strong contrast to the glorious, preserved wilderness of Hwange, and underscores just how important your tourism is to supporting the national park and its wilderness. Founded in 1929 and named for a local Nhanzwa chief, Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s biggest and oldest game reserve. Hwange is home to a staggering 108 mammal species—the largest array of mammals in any national park in the world. Here lions, cheetah, and endangered painted hunting dogs pursue wildebeest and zebra. As you drive to Nehimba Lodge, you’ll pass through Sinamatella, giving you an opportunity to view game before you even go on an official game drive. A packed lunch enjoyed at waterholes popular with pods of hippo will sustain you en route. The northwest part of the park is known for its mopane woodlands—also known as the butterfly tree—a species that grows only in the hot, arid, low-lying sections of Africa. Basalt lava flows and grayish-white dolomite hills dot the landscape, as well.

Upon arriving at Nehimba, settle in and start to unwind as you explore your home for the next two nights. Time permitting, join your guide on a late afternoon bush walk to a nearby waterhole, where you’ll see hippos, elephants, impalas and zebras. Following sundowners, you’ll return to camp with a spotlight – keeping an eye out for nocturnal animals.

Upon return to camp, a delectable three-course dinner awaits under the African sky. Dinner might include spinach and tomato parcels baked with garlic sauce and cheese, mint-crusted lamb cutlets, and berry panna cotta.

Included: Game drives, walking safari, land transfer / breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beverages

Approximate Travel Time: 5-6 hours on mainly paved roads

Day 4 Nehimba – Hwange National Park

Prepare your day packs and set off with your guide for a full morning of tracking elephant herds on foot. Hwange is home to Africa’s largest herd of elephant during the dry season, when you’ll be visiting. By walking to find these beautiful beasts, you’ll have up close encounters that are truly exhilarating! Punctuating the flat grasslands are kopjes—large, ancient rock formations, whose nooks and crannies provide a refuge for small animals, including insects, lizards, snakes and rock hyraxes (the favored prey of the African black eagle). Kopjes offer oases in the middle of the plains resulting in an array of rich vegetation. Predators often use the tops of kopjes to scan the plains for prey.

Enjoy lunch back at the camp and a chance to relax by the lodge’s freshwater swimming pool—a favorite destination for Hwange’s thirsty herds during the dry season.

In the evening enjoy sundowners and canapés in front of a nearby pan. Then immerse yourself in the cuisine of Zimbabwe by helping the chef prepare a traditional Zimbabwean braai (a cookout) for dinner.

Included: Game drives and walking safari / breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beverages

Day 5 Ngamo Plain – Hwange National Park

Savor early morning tea or coffee on your private deck followed by breakfast in the main lodge and then head out for one last morning walk through the Nehimba Concession. On returning to camp, pack your bags and head by 4×4 to Impofu Siding, near Hwange Main Camp (2 hours). Here, you’ll set off on a unique railroad adventure.

At Dete you will board the Elephant Express rail car for a leisurely and picturesque ride down the railway line. It’s a marvelous way to view game, cruising along in the comfortable train car. The rails run straight as a ruler for miles and miles, and wildlife, such as cats, often sit on the tracks, and elephants and giraffes cross in front of you. The train tracks are part of the historic Cape to Cairo Railway—a breathing remnant of colonial history. The unfinished railway was the late 19th-century vision of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia (current day Zambia and Zimbabwe), and funder of the eponymous Rhodes Scholarship. He wanted to construct a railway bridging the 4,200-miles separating Cape Town and Cairo in an almost straight line, thus joining the two British possessions in Africa and forming a continuous “red line” of British

Dominion from north to south. A railway was a critical element in this scheme to unify the possessions, facilitate governance, enable the military to move quickly to hot spots or conduct war, help settlement; and enable intra- and extra- continental goods trade.  Of note is the famous Victoria Falls Bridge, which crosses over the Zambezi River, catching the spray of Victoria Falls. For over 50 years, it was a critical route for passengers and freight to cross between Northern and Southern Rhodesia.

You’ll be traveling in a converted rail car that’s been fitted with a Land Rover engine, gears, clutch, brakes, and specially adapted wheels. Your train is operated by two expert engineers who have spent their life’s work with the national railway – they’ll quickly tell you that driving this hybrid railcar is their dream retirement. The southern section of the line was completed during British rule before the First World War and has an interconnecting system of national railways using the Cape-gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft. 6 in). The length of line that borders the edge of Hwange National Park is the longest straight stretch of railway line at 114km. Traveling along this historic rail line in a refurbished train car is a spectacular treat for the train buff. Packed snacks and lunch will be served on board during the two-hour trip to Camelthorn. *This railway tour is dependent on the National Railway Line and their permission, but it has been operating regularly to date.

Upon arrival you check in to your home for the next three nights, Camelthorn. Settle into your forest villa and then head off for a late afternoon game drive and walk into Hwange National Park. You’ll arrive at a picturesque pan for sundowners and canapés. The flat terrain of the Ngamo Plains in this part of Hwange offers incredible, endless vistas and is an exquisite place to watch the sunset and hear the sounds of night falling upon the plains, as nocturnal critters begin their day.

Head back to the lodge for a delectable three-course dinner under the ancient Camelthorn tree on the terrace, then retire to the campfire for coffee, hot chocolate or a night cap, and stories into the evening.

Included: Game drive, train ride / breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beverages

Approximate Travel Time: 4-5 hours by 4X4 and train (both game activities)

Day 6 Ngamo Plains – Hwange National Park

Wake up early beneath the acacia canopy listening to the plethora of birdlife that live around the lodge, while sipping coffee or tea. After breakfast, head off for a game drive and walk. Today you’ll learn the secrets of the expert “Zim pro guides”, as they lead you on a walking safari to find elephants. You’ll pay attention to which way the wind is blowing, the alert of monkeys, and other on-the-ground tips your guide provides. You’ll walk noiselessly through acacia forests, and you might even sneak up on a grazing zebra. It’s a thrilling experience, but in the presence of these expert guides, you’ll feel safe, as well as awed.

A casual lunch (a well-deserved cold beer and cheeseburger, possibly) will be served in our exclusive ‘look up’ blind in front of Stoffie’s Pan. The blind is an old shipping container that’s been camouflaged as a termite heap and buried in the ground under an ancient Mitswiri tree. It’s an incredible opportunity to get close to the elephants. For elephant lovers, it doesn’t get better than this.

While this is truly a day for the elephants, you’ll find that big cats, myriad plains game, smaller critters and birds aplenty are there for the sighting. This national park also has a series of pumps, which provide a lifeline for wildlife and the travelers who venture here to experience it. Several boreholes were dug and water pumping stations built by park rangers in the 1950s, during a time of drought. One of the generator-charged pumps is located at Stoffie’s Pan. These man-made pans have ensured water for wildlife for years now reducing the need for wildlife to migrate outside of park boundaries during the dry season – which has proven especially dangerous as there are hunting grounds on their migration routes. Boreholes have also been created for the neighboring communities that have formed and now thrive on the edge of the park.

Take a leisurely drive back to Camelthorn and enjoy a few hours at the lodge, either bird watching around the camp or taking a siesta in your villa hammock before your late-afternoon game drive in the park. Stop at a watering hole to watch the sun go down, while sipping aperitifs, before heading back to the lodge to freshen up for dinner in the main lodge dining area.

Included: Game drive, walking safari, lookup blind / breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beverages

Day 7 Ngamo Plains – Hwange National Park

This morning sees an early start with breakfast in the dining room before taking a short drive to nearby Ngunyana Village. From here, you’ll start walking down a series of dirt paths, where you’ll join up with local schoolchildren on their two-to-three mile morning journey from the village to nearby Ngamo School. At the school, you’ll meet the principal, tour the classrooms and share about yourself with the students. Then continue walking through the village to see what is happening in local life that day. Depending on the season, you’ll gain insight into the day-to-day life of a rural Zimbabwean: if you’re there in May, you’ll learn about tilling crops; September means thatching roofs. This warm and welcoming community offer glimpses into their lives. You’ll be invited into the home of the headman of the village—an eloquent speaker who is as likely to pose questions as he is to answer them. It’s an excellent opportunity to see firsthand how community and conservation work closely together. Following this visit, you’ll end your walk under the shade of nearby trees to enjoy a lovely picnic lunch. Then it’s back to the lodge for a few hours of quiet time.

As the African sun starts to cool, climb aboard the 4×4 packed with cold refreshments and snacks and drive along the Ngamo Plains one last time. Stop at a watering hole to watch the sun sink beneath the horizon before heading back to the lodge to freshen up for your delicious dinner under the camelthorn tree.

Included: Village visit & walk, game drive / breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beverages

Day 8 Zambezi River

After breakfast, you wish your lovely hosts farewell and join your guide on an hour-long charter flight over Hwange National park to Victoria Falls and your last camp on the banks of the Zambezi River. After experiencing the dry season in inland Hwange, relish a few days exploring the water. During your stay you’ll see massive, fat hippos and stealthy crocodiles, and experience the water by boat and kayak.

Settle into your luxury tent and then enjoy a tasty late lunch (curried chicken and pineapple salad with tomato-mozzarella pinwheels, perhaps) on the main lodge deck while the mighty Zambezi flows past. This afternoon set off on an exploratory boat ride, stopping off at a scenic spot to watch the sun set. The thrill of recreational fishing for tigerfish is included for guests who are interested (tigerfish are highly regarded as being the best freshwater game fish in Africa – and a real fight!).

Included: Boat cruise, tiger fishing / breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beverages

Approximate Travel Time: 1 hour charter flight & 1.5 hour transfer

Day 9 Zambezi River

Today is a day at your leisure. Enjoy early morning tea or coffee on your private deck overlooking the river and enjoy a number of activities: you might choose to paddle in a canoe exploring the Siansimba Islands or take a morning bush walk incorporating some buffalo tracking. Or, perhaps you want to take the morning off and relax on your own – simply enjoying your surroundings. Following any activity, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous bush brunch on the river’s edge before returning to the lodge for a siesta (or a spot of fishing!). In the afternoon head off for a game drive, returning to camp in the evening for a sunset ‘drift’ on the water with refreshments and snacks.

This evening you celebrate the adventures you’ve had in the company of newfound friends during your final farewell dinner on the main lodge deck.

Included: Game drive, walking safari, canoeing, boating / breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beverages

Dates & Prices

Scheduled Group Safari 2017 Pricing

2017 Dates
Per Person Single Supplement Info
Oct 3 - Oct 12 $5,498 $1,198

*Pricing based on double occupancy. Reserve early for best pricing; prices and dates are subject to change.

Flight + Safari Combo 2017 Pricing

2017 Dates Single Supplement Info FLIGHT + SAFARI Info
Oct 1 - Oct 13 $1,298
Flight + Safari

CW Safaris is pleased to introduce our Flight + Safari Combo to complement our Zimbabwe safari.

This package consists of competitively priced round-trip airfare, comfortable pre-tour accommodations, airport transfers, breakfast, and your complete safari with on-trip inclusions. This Flight + Safari Combo departs two days before your scheduled tour (one night aloft, one night pre-tour in Johannesburg), so you’ll have ample opportunity to feel rested at the start of the safari.

This gives you everything you need to simplify your journey, while we take care of all the details.

Pre-Trip

DAY 1 - In flight to South Africa

Today you’ll depart your hometown, flying overnight en route to Africa.

In flight to South Africa Accommodation: Zimbabwe Safari: Victoria Falls & Undiscovered National Parks

DAY 2 - Johannesburg

Arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa and transfer to your comfortable hotel. Settle into your room, where you’ll have time to rest and relax before your safari begins.

Johannesburg Accommodation: African Rock Hotel

This hotel in a gated community provides a restful first night in Africa, with nine luxurious rooms, a swimming pool, wellness center, bar, and the wonderful Blue Hippo restaurant, presided over by master chef Christine Agumba.

Wireless Internet available. Credit cards accepted. Laundry service available. Hair dryer provided in room.

DAY 3 - Victoria Falls

Following an included breakfast this morning, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your included flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to begin your safari.

Victoria Falls Accommodation: Zimbabwe Safari: Victoria Falls & Undiscovered National Parks

Post-Trip

A transfer will be provided to the Victoria Falls airport for your return flight home from there.

Stay a Little Longer

CW Safaris offer many enticing post-trip extensions ranging from an urban safari in Cape Town, South Africa to Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.  Refer to our website or contact  our office for more details.

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Guides

Our Guides

Andrew Esterhuizen

Andre Esterhuizen (better known as ‘Chap’) gained Zimbabwe’s notoriously stringent Professional Guide qualification when he was just 22 years old, testimony to his dedication to this chosen career path. Born in Bulawayo, Chap attended the elite Christian Brothers College before serving his apprenticeship in the safari industry, although his experience in the outdoors began a long time before that during many childhood wilderness and camping trips with his family. Chap has worked as a freelance guide in many wild areas of Zimbabwe, as well as in the Selous in Tanzania, and, more recently, in Hwange and Matobo National Parks, where walking in historic areas is a specialty.

Andy Trivella

Andy was brought up in West Nicholson, Zimbabwe, a rural outpost of Matabeleland, where his father was an executive with an extensive cattle ranching, beef, and canning operation. Early years were spent on the farm followed by boarding school at Milton Secondary in Bulawayo. He served his apprenticeship as a tool, jig, and die maker but the day he qualified as a journeyman was the day he quit the workshop to follow a life outdoors in the African bushveld, always his first love! Licensed as a professional safari guide since 1999, he has worked in every big game park in Zimbabwe, as well as to Liuwa Plains and the Lower Zambezi in Zambia, specializing in Hwange National Park, famous for its elephants, and in Matopos National Park, famous for its black rhino.

Sibahle “Sibs” Sibanda

Having grown up in western Zimbabwe, “Sibs,” as he’s affectionately known by friends and coworkers, was first introduced to guiding by his brother. Since 2000 he has led groups through many regions in southern Africa and is licensed through Zimbabwe’s famously stringent guide regulations. He’s skilled at safely tracking elephants on foot and enjoys sharing his native Hwange National Park with guests. Fluent in seven languages (Ndebele, English, Tonga, Nambya, Zulu, Tswana, and Shona), Sibs has a special passion for, as he puts it, “helping developing communities that surround safari areas” and has worked as a cultural guide with the San people of the Kalahari. “My country is such a friendly, hardworking nation,” he says. “I’m overjoyed to share its rich cultural heritage, wildlife, and scenery with visitors.”

safari tour extensions

Extend your adventure, add a Safari Extension to your itinerary.

  • Rwanda: Virunga Mountain Gorillas

    Face-to-Face with Endangered Primates

    Set off into the verdant wilds of Volcanoes National Park to discover one of the last strongholds of the endangered mountain gorilla.

    Learn More

  • South Africa: Cape Town

    Culture on the Cape

    Explore the varied attractions of Africa’s southern tip, splitting your time between cosmopolitan Cape Town and the surrounding beaches, vineyards, botanical gardens, and historic towns.

    Learn More

View all Extensions

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