Ultimate Hwange Adventure

Remote, Exclusive & Wild Hwange Safari - 10 Days

Itinerary in Brief:

Day 1    Charter flight to Northern Hwange for dinner with the elephants - Overnight Nehimba Lodge - 3 nights

Day 2    Morning yoga and scenic drives around Northern Hwange    

Day 3    All-day safari and picnic at Mandavu Dam    

Day 4    Elephant Express train to Bomani Tented Lodge or Camelthorn Lodge for 3 nights

Day 5    Village visit and "Look-up" blind    

Day 6    Meet the Cobras APU and game drives/walks on the Ngamo plains    

Day 7    Full day safari to Jozibanini Camp for 3 nights

Day 8    Mountain biking and walking safaris at Jozi    

Day 9    Thrilling game drives and walks (and optional village/school visit)    

Day 10    Scenic flight to VFA and international departure


Day 1: Charter flight to Northern Hwange for dinner with the elephants

Arrival in Victoria Falls and transfer for your scenic flight over Hwange

Arrive at Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls Airport and clear customs, after which you’ll be met by a representative from Imvelo Safari Lodges who will help you transfer to the domestic air terminal for your scenic 1hr flight to Nehimba Lodge in Hwange National Park. The flight will land at Giraffe Springs airstrip where you will be transported to camp by road in a 4 x 4 vehicle ( 20 minutes). Your arrival in camp will likely be met with 50 to 200 elephant in camp drinking from the lodge waterhole... it's now time to relax and smell the elephant!

Sundowners at Nehimba camp overlooking the waterhole

After settling into your tented chalet, enjoy sundowners overlooking the productive Nehimba waterhole, toasting your adventures to come in Hwange National Park, followed by dinner under the stars surrounded by elephant!

Day 2: Morning yoga and scenic drives around Northern Hwange

Morning yoga and scenic drives around Northern Hwange

While at Nehimba, we really recommend you try yoga with us in this beautiful expansive wilderness area. Be surrounded by nothing but natural flora and fauna; there is no better way to start a day in the wilderness. Amy Olivier, manager at Nehimba, is a qualified yoga instructor and is ready to join her guests in a yoga session at any time.

Game drives and walks exploring Northern Hwange National Park

After breakfast, we’ll depart for the morning exploring the Nehimba concession and the beautiful northern part of Hwange National Park. As you’ll see, the north is distinctly different from the southern part both in topography, habitats and species of wildlife. Nehimba is situated right on the edge of the mopane woodlands of northern Hwange and the Kalahari sandveld of the west, and so offers the full spectrum and diversity of fauna that Hwange has to offer. The elephant hunting lions of this area are famous. The area is well watered so is host to large numbers of animals throughout the year but particularly during the dry season.

We’ll return to the lodge for a leisurely lunch and then afternoon siesta or perhaps relax by the lodge swimming pool, frequented by Hwange's thirsty herds during the dry season. Later in the afternoon, we’ll depart for a sundowner game drive ending at the famed “Nehimba seeps,” a specially designated conservation area and one of the only year-round, naturally occurring water sources in the massive Hwange National Park. The seep is an ancient source of surface water that was once used by the San Bushmen. Today the area is frequented by elephant, who can be found digging for minerals as well as enjoying the water. It is a magical place in the dry season, often referred to as an “Elephant Cathedral.” The sunset photography opportunities with elephants is second to none in this unique and peaceful spot.

Back at the lodge, enjoy dinner and drinks around the lodge campfire watching the elephants slurp from the waterhole just steps away.

Day 3: All-day safari and picnic at Mandavu Dam

Full day safari exploring Northern Hwange

Enjoy an early morning tea or coffee on your private deck followed by a hearty breakfast in the main lodge. After breakfast, board a game viewing vehicle for a morning game drive exploring the dams (lakes) of Northern Hwange, ending at Mandavu Dam for a picnic lunch. Mandavu Dam is situated in a scenic hilly spot only 15-kilometres from Sinamatella Camp and is a wonderful location for both bird watching and game viewing, including many crocodiles and large pods of hippo!

Return to the lodge in the late afternoon, stopping for sundowners on the Nehimba concession, followed by a night drive back to the lodge. Filtered spotlights are used to pick out the various nocturnal species that can be found such as hyena, porcupines, civets, genet cats, and if you're lucky, perhaps even a leopard on hunt!

Day 4: Elephant Express train to Bomani Tented Lodge or Camelthorn Lodge

Elephant Express train to Bomani Tented Lodge or Camelthorn Lodge

After breakfast back at the lodge, embark on a 2-3hr game drive exploring the northeastern part of Hwange National Park before reaching Dete Railway Station just outside Hwange’s Main Gate. From Dete, we’ll board Imvelo’s one of a kind game viewing train, the Elephant Express, for the 2.5hr trip down the eastern border of Hwange National Park to Bomani Tented Lodge and Camelthorn Lodge located in the southeast corner of the park.

Southern Hwange is famous for the Ngamo plains, the largest savannah grasslands in the park, fringed with Acacia and Leadwood trees. Here this mix of open grasslands and woodlands provides the perfect mosaic of habitats for the full spectrum of plains game resident in Hwange including wildebeest, buffalo, kudu, waterbuck and sable. Predators are regularly spotted, especially lion, jackal and cheetah. Leopards and wild dog also known to frequent the area.

We'll arrive at Ngamo siding in the late afternoon, depart the Elephant Express and board 4 x 4 game drive vehicles for an afternoon game drive and sundowners. Following a beautiful Zimbabwe sunset, we'll night drive back to the lodge looking for nocturnal wildlife just starting their "day." Enjoy a delectable 3-course dinner out under the stars followed by coffee or a night cap around the campfire.

Day 5: Village visit and "Look-up" blind

Imvelo Safari Lodges is deeply committed to bringing together local rural communities and our safari guests, for their mutual benefit. Twenty minutes’ drive from the lodge our guests have the opportunity to enjoy an actual and un-orchestrated look at village life in rural Matabeleland.

This morning sees an early start with breakfast in the dining room before heading to nearby Ngunyana Village. Here you will walk from the village to nearby Ngamo School with the school children on their morning journey to school. Once you arrive at the school you will have the opportunity for some interactions and singing with the students before heading to Ngamo Village for an un-choreographed visit where you will see some of Imvelo's community initiatives firsthand, including a meeting with the headman of the village. On your visit to the village you will be able to gain insight into the day to day life of a rural Zimbabwean including information on thatching roofs, tilling fields, milling maize and weaving baskets.

This afternoon, head back into Hwange in search of game before making a stop for a bush lunch next to our specially built underground game-viewing blind at Stoffie’s Pan aka the "Look-up" blind, named such because its located at the water level so you'll be looking up at the elephants! After lunch, we’ll enjoy some time in the blind with snout-level viewing of thirsty elephants just feet way! The blind is furnished with comfortable seating and a toilet as well.

In the late afternoon, we’ll continue to explore the Ngamo plains on foot and by vehicle. After sundowners, we’ll night drive back to camp, exploring the Bomani concession, looking for nocturnal species that prowl the plains after twilight.

Day 6: Meet the Cobras APU and game drives/walks on the Ngamo plains

"Dawn Patrol" with the Cobras APU - We’ll rise well before dawn and join the Cobras, Imveo’s anti-poaching unit, for an early morning “dawn patrol” of the border of Hwange National Park. Park rangers and the Cobras routinely patrol the border areas of the park for illegal snaring or signs of poaching – our group will provide extra eyes to these teams and get some hands-on experience in detecting poaching activity in support of the Cobras and National Park rangers. This activity is subject to availability of the Cobras and conditions on the ground.

Afternoon game drive or walking safari - After a few hours of rest back at the lodge– and maybe a dip in the pool - we’ll depart for an afternoon drive and walk. Per National Park regulation, vehicles must stay on the roads so we often combine a game drive with a spontaneous walking safaris to explore more terrain off the roads. Walking safaris are usually undertaken in the mornings or late afternoons and are conducted by a fully licensed and highly experienced armed Zimbabwean professional guide. In this remote and wild area, every walk provides fascinating insights into Hwange’s circle of life; watch Hwange’s elephants shake acacia trees to loosen and then eat the pods while on a smaller scale dung beetles roll up the elephant dung containing acacia seeds into balls. Dung beetles bury these balls and the acacia seed is now ready to germinate and grow into a new tree!

Just before sunset, we’ll 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 brilliant stars, the Milky Way and the Southern Cross.

Day 7: Full day safari to Jozibanini Camp

Enjoy an early morning tea or coffee on your veranda before a hot breakfast in the main lodge. Then grab your day pack for a full day safari or "pump run" deep into the southern part of Hwange.

Imvelo’s trademark "pump runs" combine game viewing in remote areas of the park with practical hands-on conservation helping to maintain 16+ waterholes and pumps which the wildlife rely on for water during the dry season. Many of these pumps have been converted to solar-hybrid pumps in recent years. We'll learn about the challenges of maintaining this system in conversations and hand-on activities with your guide and the pump attendants who spend the dry season living at the waterholes to keep the pumps running.

We'll also make a stop at the Makona Ranger station near Jozibanini Camp and meet some of the national park rangers who patrol in this remote corner of Hwange (this visit is dependent on whether the rangers are at base at this time). Imvelo funded and installed a state-of-the-art solar powered water pump at Makona which provides water for the rangers, their organic vegetable garden and for wildlife at the nearby Makona pan. In addition, the solar array provides power for lights and radios at the station.

We’ll arrive at our rustic and wild Jozi camp just before sundowners. Dinner will be under the stars and around the campfire.

The Jozi Story - Jozibanini has an interesting story which reinforces the importance of your visit here. A ranger station named Jozibanini was abandoned in the early 2000's due to lack of park funds, leaving the south and west of the park largely un-patrolled by rangers and never visited by tourists. As a result, tragically elephant poaching raised its ugly head in this area in 2013. After these poaching incidents, Imvelo Safari Lodges decided to establish an outpost at Jozibanini which staff and a privileged few tourists could use as a base for both management of water resources and a safari experience unlike any other. Presence in the area would also deter poachers, and who better to employ to protect the new project than ex-poachers who have turned over a new leaf. By introducing tourism, the Jozi project has helped protect and conserve hundreds of kilometers of remote park, and regular traffic on the route has translated into reliable support for both parks pump attendants and about 25% of Hwange’s thirsty wildlife in the dry season. To learn more about the Jozi story, watch this video.

Day 8: Mountain biking and walking safaris at Jozi

After breakfast over the campfire, grab your day pack and then head off on a guided mountain bike ride through the elephant paths along the inter-dune troughs around Jozibanini. The ecosystem here is semi-desert akin to the Kalahari in neighboring Botswana. Ancient windblown fossil sand dunes are separated by shallow valleys where elephant paths have compacted the terrain, providing Imvelo with the opportunity for a unique experience of game viewing by mountain bike.

Your guide will set up a lovely picnic lunch for you under a shady tree where you can have a siesta before the bike ride (or vehicle if you prefer!) back to camp in the afternoon.

In the late afternoon, we’ll head into the underground “Look-up” blind for spectacular photographic opportunities of the wildlife, just feet away, at the Jozi waterhole. We’ll enjoy sundowners inside or atop the Look-up blind and once the sun has set, take a quick drive back to camp for a tasty dinner out under the glorious night sky.

If you’re feeling adventurous or in need of more star gazing, the beds can be rolled into the deck of the tents for an extraordinary star-bed experience gazing skyward at millions of stars in the dark Hwange sky.

Day 9: Thrilling game drives and walks (and optional village/school visit)

Exploring remote southern Hwange from Jozibanini Camp - Enjoy an early morning game drive or a guided game walk through the area around camp once more experiencing Hwange’s magnificent elephant on ground level and go tracking for the different species to be found in this part of the park such as lion, wild dog and buffalo.

After returning to camp, relax and experience a fabulous brunch out in the open at the Jozi pan, enjoying the solitude of being in a completely untouched and isolated spot within the pristine African bush.

In the early afternoon, head off again on by foot, bike or game drive vehicle to explore another part of the far remote southwestern corner of Hwange National Park. You may also opt to visit the nearby Makona park ranger station and meet some of the park rangers who help protect and patrol the deep south of Hwange.

Enjoy one final alfresco dinner under the Milky Way and the Southern Cross before retiring to your tent for the night.

Alternative morning activity: Visit St. Joseph's School and Gibi Xegu village

Alternatively, in the morning you can choose to visit St Joseph's School located in the village of Gibi Xegu village about 1.5hr from camp on the border of Hwange. This village and school is supported by Imvelo Safari Lodges but given its very remote location, it receives few visitors and less support from tourism currently. Over the past few years, Imvelo has solarised the school water pump, installed a tank for water storage, provided daily lunch for all 160 pupils during the dry season and provided textbooks and teacher training through the Hwange School Projects. Our guests are warmly welcomed by the students and teachers, with the occasional chicken being offered as a thank you gift for the visit!

Day 10: Scenic flight to VFA and international departure

After one final breakfast in the bush, you’ll transfer to the Libuti airstrip (20-minute game drive) and board your light aircraft for the 45 minute – 1 hr scenic flight over Hwange National Park to Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA). During the flight, you can appreciate the grandeur of the park, the varying topography and the differences between the south and the north - the north features hills, granite kopjes and mopane woodlands versus the Kalahari sandveld and plains of the south and west.

After arriving at VFA, say goodbye to Zimbabwe (until next time!) and connect to your international flight for home.

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