I have always felt a unique connection to Zimbabwe, and my family ties run deep in the country. It was a dream come true for me to be hosted by African Bush Camps on an educational to experience four unique regions, including the top reserves in the country.
With direct flights from Cape Town to Harare on Airlink, Zimbabwe can be easily combined with a stay in South Africa.
We spent one night at Kingsmead Guest House, located in the upscale suburb of Borrowdale. The guest house is the perfect “escape” in the metropolis of Harare with beautifully manicured gardens, well-maintained rooms, and effortless hospitality. Kingsmead Guest House is the perfect base to overnight in the capital city of Zimbabwe.
Mana Pools National Park
The following day we boarded our private charter, directly from Harare Airport to Mana Pools National Park, which is widely regarded as one of Africa’s finest spot for game-viewing and birdwatching.
Situated on the banks of the Zambezi River with the Zambian escarpment forming the backdrop, nothing prepared me for the beauty of this reserve. The location just takes your breath away! Nyamatusi Camp is a relatively new lodge and one of African Bush Camps’ premier camps for a reason – it’s fully solar-powered and built from all-natural materials. These blend seamlessly into the pristine environment of Mana Pools Game Reserve.
Mana Pools is a photographer’s delight; the emerald greens of the untouched bush, coupled with the blue of the Zambezi River, makes for incredible photo opportunities. Along with walking safaris and game drives, our knowledgeable guide, Lovemore, kept us completely enthralled and entertained with the history of this unique reserve.
We had a three-course dinner on the banks of the Zambezi with no other guests in sight. A memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life!
Next on our journey through Zimbabwe was a two-night stay at Bumi Hills, built on a hill overlooking the shimmering waters of Lake Kariba. From the public areas, you could easily be mistaken into thinking that you are in the Mediterranean, not in the landlocked country of Zimbabwe.
The public areas offer the most magnificent views of the wildlife-rich shoreline and the vast expanse of the lake, forming the backdrop. The proximity to Matusadona allows for the wildlife to freely move between the national park and the lodge’s private concession, creating endless game-viewing opportunities from the comfort of the lodge’s elevated position.
Bumi Hills is the perfect Segway between safaris: offering a relaxed game experience in a private concession, walking safaris, fishing, and private beach picnics on Starvation Island.
The most memorable experience at Bumi Hills was cruising on the lake in a specialised safari boat, trying our hand at fishing and enjoying sundowners overlooking large pods of hippos and floats of crocodiles.
Hwange National Park
From Bumi Hills, we continued our journey to African Bush Camps’ Somalisa Camp, located in Zimbabwe’s most loved and well-known game reserve, Hwange National Park.
Somalisa Camp is a must-visit for guests who want to experience a truly unique elephant experience, and the lodge has converted their swimming pool into an elephant drinking hole. Sitting on the edge of the deck, watching these incredible animals drink from the pool every afternoon, allows you to get incredibly close to these huge animals.
Calvin, our guide, was entertaining and as African Bush Camps head guide in Zimbabwe, he has a deep knowledge and respect for the bush. This made our short stay extraordinary.
Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
Our group then moved to Victoria Falls where we stayed at IIala Lodge for one night. Victoria Falls is the first city in Southern Africa to have over 70% of its population vaccinated due to the importance of tourism to the country.
Ilala Lodge is located within walking distance of both the city of Victoria Falls and the National Park. It offers beautifully manicured gardens, so it feels like a home away from home. The Victoria Falls were at a high level when we visited, and we were the only tourists in the National Park, which was a once in a lifetime experience.
I then stayed at the beautiful Victoria Falls Safari Club for a night. The lodge has four properties in the resort, offering a range of accommodation to suit all budgets. Buffalo Bar overlooking the active waterhole is the perfect place to end your day with a sundowner.
For my last night in Victoria Falls, I visited the charming Old Drift Lodge, located inside the Zambezi National Park. It’s a mere 7 kilometers from the centre of Victoria Falls.
A truly unique experience is to arrive at Old Drift Lodge by boat as you pass their tents that line the mighty Zambezi River. Each of the tents has its own pool on a raised deck, as well as an outdoor free-standing claw-footed bathtub with the best views you can imagine overlooking the Zambezi River.
My final thoughts on travelling to Zimbabwe?
Undoubtedly Zimbabwe is a country that gets under your skin! After the turmoil and uncertainty of the past year, it is amazing to see the investment and calibre of lodges being developed and the high standard of guiding throughout. As guests are slowly returning to Africa, I really felt truly blessed to have this incredible opportunity to experience the beauty of Zimbabwe away from the crowds.
Written by Robyn-Lea Meyer