Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools, Lake Kariba and Victoria Falls
(Minimum 10 guests, maximum 18, tailor-made options are available)
Day 1: Arrive in Harare and travel to Pamuzinda Safari Lodge
When you arrive at Harare International Airport, your driver will welcome you to Zimbabwe and drive you to Pamuzinda Safari Lodge in an air conditioned vehicle. This transfer will take roughly one and half hours in comfort. You have the option of spending the afternoon in peace, enjoying the nature around you. Alternatively, you can choose from a broad spectrum of activities. For instance, you can visit Chengeta Primary School, meet the Pamuzinda elephants and interact with them, glide down the Serui River on a guided canoe excursion, go out on a horseback safari or explore the 13,000-acre pristine wildlife habitat on a guided game drive before enjoying your “Welcome to Zimbabwe” “braai” or barbeque dinner.
Day 2: Enjoy a full day at Pamuzinda Safari Lodge
This is your “arrival” day that you can use to acclimatize. Savour the sensations of the wilderness that embraces you. Have a lie in, relax by the swimming pool after your leisurely breakfast or go for a wander around the spacious grounds. If you are feeling active, you have the option to choose one of the several activities available at Pamuzinda Safari Lodge.
Day 3: Travel from Pamuzinda to Mana Pools National Park
When you wake from a relaxing night’s sleep, you can enjoy a complimentary hot beverage on your private balcony. Watch the Serui River as it flows past and enjoy the birds in the reeds before making your way to the restaurant for an early breakfast. Chinhoyi Caves, your next destination, are roughly two hour’s drive from Pamuzinda. The limestone and dolomite caves tunnel their way under the ground. You can explore the Wonder Hole with the magical
Sleeping Pool. This is a sinkhole that contains stunning cobalt blue water that is also very clear. Divers have found out that the water is at least 90 metres deep.
Your journey continues northwards for a four more hours. The town of Karoi and Makuti service station lie on your way. After Makuti, the road wilds its way down the escarpment in several hairpin bends. At the foot of the escarpment, you reach the wildlife-rich areas of the
At Chirundu, the border town with Zambia, you will meet the tender boats for your two hour cruise down the Zambezi River to your accommodation for the next days, Mana Safari Lodge. You have good chances of seeing lots of wildlife whilst you travel. Elephants manage to hide entirely as they browse in the reeds on the islands. Carmine bee-eaters dig their tunnel-nests into the vertical riverbanks. The iconic African fish eagles soar over the water and stoop to catch prey. Pods of hippos defend their territories and raise their heads above the water to watch the boats glide by. Nile crocodiles slither into the river from their warm basking spots on the sandbanks.
Day 4: Enjoy the wildlife of Mana Pools National Park
Game drives in open 4×4 vehicles give you the very best photo opportunities in the early mornings and late afternoons. The landscape of the Mana Pools shoreline shows up wonderfully in glorious, soft light. The diverse wildlife of this area is unique. Mana Pools National Park has UNESCO World Heritage Site status since 1984. When you explore this amazing park in depth, you will easily understand why. Huge Ana Trees (Faidherbia albida) are the giants of the Zambezi floodplain. Elephants browse the lower branches, often stretching up as high as possible or rising up on their hind legs to reach for green branches.
Elephants also especially enjoy the seed pods that are very rich in protein. Kudus and Eland antelopes browse the dark green, dense Natal mahogany trees. As you travel along the dusty roads, you will continually catch tempting glimpses of the glittering Zambezi River. Now and again, you will follow one of the loop roads to the river. Here, you have a full 180° view over the wide river with its many sandbanks, its dense reed thickets and islands that change dramatically in size depending on the water levels. The mountains on the Zambian side of the River form a stunning backdrop to these beautiful scenes.
Day 5: Another full day in Mana Pools National Park
Early morning and late afternoon wildlife watching from an open 4×4 vehicle or perhaps a guided walk to stretch your legs are your options for the day. Mana Pools is famous for its very nonchalant bull elephants that call shoreline their own. They have names, bestowed on them by the local guides and rangers. The guides can recognise them by the shapes of their ears that collect scars and tears throughout a long life or by the shape and length of their tusks. These elephants frequently stroll across camping sites and through lodge grounds completely unperturbed by the visitors who gaze in wonder and photograph them.
Mana Pools is also famous for its high density of predators that follow their prey to the shoreline and life-giving water, particularly in the dry season. Lions follow the large herds of buffalo and lie in ambush as the buffalo pass, enveloped in their own clouds of dust. Leopards find gnarled trees to climb and to hide their prey in. Spotted hyenas are opportunists. They will sometimes steal the meat from the camper’s braai but will also hunt their own prey or take over when the lions leave. Highly endangered African wild dogs also occur in Mana Pools and are quite frequently see, particularly in the dry season, due to the openness of the landscape. If you are lucky, some of these beautiful predators may cross your path during your visit. In the meantime, there are herds of elephants, pods of hippos, several species of antelope and roughly 400 bird species to watch, sometimes even from the lodge.
Day 6: Travel from Mana Pools to Kariba Safari Lodge
It is a good idea to fortify yourself with a good breakfast before tackling the two and a half hour transfer through the interior of Mana Pools that will take you to the tarred road. From here, a comfortable coach will take you on a further hour’s drive to Kariba town. Kariba Safari Lodge is your destination for today. You have time to settle in to your room and enjoy lunch whilst savouring amazing views of Lake Kariba and the Matusadona mountain range in the haze beyond the water. After being so busy on safari, this afternoon it is time for you to relax! Later, refreshing sundowners on the patio will accompany your first of several breathtaking Lake Kariba sunsets. In the evening, you will have a chance to savour dinner either in the open-air restaurant or on the sandy beach.
Day 7: Cruise from Kariba Safari Lodge to Matusadona National Park
In the morning, a half-day tour of Kariba Town is on your agenda. You will have the opportunity to view the Dam Wall, the Chapel of Santa Barbara and look down on the huge expanse of water from the Kariba Heights. After this, you can meet the people of Kariba in Mahombekombe Township. Following this tour, a short drive will bring you to the harbour. Here, you will board your cruise boat that will take you across the enormous 250 km expanse of Lake Kariba. Your thrilling and at the same time relaxing adventure on board is about to begin!
Whilst the crew gets ready to make way, you can settle into your comfortable cabin. You have an en-suite shower and WC at your disposal along with gorgeous views of the Lake. When you are ready a delicious lunch awaits you. As you dine, you can admire the Matusadona Mountains and the islands that you travel past.
The late afternoon is classically sunset cruise time! Board the tender boats and watch the stunning landscape while you savour delicious snacks and refreshing drinks. As you cruise along the shoreline, wildlife encounters are no rarity and the bird watching is fantastic. After dinner on board the main boat, you can fall asleep to the sounds of the wilderness around you.
Day 8: Cruising Lake Kariba
Early morning cruises by tender boat enable you to approach close to the wildlife on the shoreline without disturbing the animals. If you wish, you can endeavour to fish for some delicious bream for snacks to go with this afternoon’s sundowners. Another option is to visit a fishing village and meet its people whose existence depends on the Lake. Whichever choices you make, it will certainly be a day of exciting adventure in this remote wilderness area.
Day 9: Cruising and crossing Lake Kariba
Just before dawn, your journey continues with a thirteen-hour cruise through the Kota Kota narrows and on into the vast Sengwe Basin. It’s time to relax, enjoy your breakfast and lunch on board, cool off with a dip in the pool and read a good book. Don’t forget to admire the fascinating landscape as you pass.
When you arrive at your mooring spot, it’s once again time to explore the new surroundings with the tender boats. This amazingly beautiful riverine area holds gorgeous views in store for you around every corner. Cruise in between the stark skeletons of drowned mopane trees, watch crocodiles, hippopotamus and a plethora of bird species. Savour some mouth-watering snacks and relax in this peaceful and remote part of the Lake. Watch another blazing sunset with a gin and tonic or another favourite cold drink.
Day 10: Another day on Lake Kariba
This morning, you will have your continental breakfast on board the tender boat, whilst exploring the Sengwe River system. Lunch and a siesta on board the main boat will keep you occupied during the three-hour cruise to the mooring for the last night, Elephant Bay. Your cruise boat will moor on the sandy beach. You have a chance to get some more fishing done whilst watching local fishermen pass you by in their canoes on their way to a night’s fishing. If the weather is good and the lake conditions allow it, you will have a beach braai (barbeque) for dinner, beside a crackling campfire and under the velvety African night sky. Enjoy your final night on board the boat.
Day 11: Cruise to Masumu River Lodge
In the early you have another chance to bait a hook and catch a fish or to look for wildlife and birds on a short tender boat cruise. Then it is time for breakfast aboard the main vessel. While you enjoy your meal, the boat will be en route for an hour to Binga. On arrival, your host will make you welcome at Masumu River Lodge. If you are feeling up to it, an optional tour of Binga is available from here. This tour includes a visit to a museum that gives you an insight into the lives and history of the Tonga people. Also, you will explore the natural hot springs as well as a crocodile sanctuary and breeding station and a local school or Tonga village. Masumu River Lodge’s bar is ideally placed to allow you to savour one last Kariba sunset.
Day 12: Travel on to Victoria Falls
Enjoy your night on terra firma and watch the sun rise over the Lake before you tuck in to a delicious breakfast. The comfortable bus ride to Victoria Falls takes about five and a half hours where you will arrive in time for lunch. Get comfortable in your room then have a look at the vast range of optional activities that are available in this so-called “Adventure Capital of the World”. For the evening, it is worth considering the famous Boma Dinner and Drum Show. If you are once again drawn to the Zambezi River and a quiet evening then a Sunset Dinner Cruise may be more to your liking. Bus transfers are available to the venues from your accommodation.
Day 13: A full day in Victoria Falls
Voted one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Victoria Falls are on everyone’s “Bucket List”. We highly recommend a tour of the Falls and Rainforest followed by lunch at the Lookout Café. The café’s location is breathtaking, with a view of the Gorge and the Victoria Falls Bridge. Many options for your afternoon remain. For instance, you can negotiate prices for a handmade memento at the huge craft market or in one of the various shops in town. Victoria Falls is easily negotiated on foot. If you feel adventurous, you can bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge, hurl yourself off a cliff on the gorge swing, whizz over the gorge on one of the zip line activities. An unforgettable experience is a helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls. This comes highly recommended at high water levels when you have difficulty seeing much at ground level because of the strong spray.
Day 14: Departure from Victoria Falls Airport
Make the most of your relaxing morning before you board the bus that takes you on half an hour’s drive to Victoria Falls International Airport for your flight home.