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12-Day Zimbabwe: Life in the Bush

Day 1 | Arrival & Black Eagle Viewing at Gorges Lodge
12:00 am
Day 2 | Victoria Falls Tour and Village Visit and Interaction
12:00 am
Day 3 | Jozibanini Camp, Southwest Hwange National Park
12:00 am
Day 4 | Mountain Biking at Jozibanini Camp
12:00 am
Days 5 & 6 | Fly Camping Between Jozibanini and Bomani Camps
12:00 am
Days 7 - 9 | Community-Based Tourism and Conservation at Bomani Tented Camp
12:00 am
Day 10 | Zambezi Sands River Camp via the Elephant Express
12:00 am
Day 11 | Walking & Canoeing Safaris from Zambezi Sands
12:00 am
Day 12 | Depart from Victoria Falls
12:00 am

ABOUT

This signature transformational journey is an immersion into the communities and conservation of Zimbabwe’s National Parks. Begin your trip at the thundering Victoria Falls, where you’ll learn about the black eagles that soar over the deep Batoka Gorge, and join community members for lunch at the local Chisuma Village. Then you’re off to the remote corners of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest. Peddle among the park’s gigantic elephants on a mountain biking safari, hike across the bush on a 2-day fly camping trip, discuss conservation challenges with the Scorpions anti-poaching unit, and volunteer in Hwange’s frontline villages. Finish your trip back on the winding waters of the Zambezi River with walking and canoeing safaris.

FROM:

5899 per person

TOTAL DAYS:

9

“We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”
― Andy Goldsworthy

"Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination. "

―Roy Goodman

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open."
―Jawaharlal Nehru

Sometimes you gotta say "What the F&$#", make your move. Joel, every now and then, saying "What theF&$#", brings freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future.

~Joel Goodson, Risky Business

"Who looks outside, dreams; Who looks inside, awakes. "

~ Carl Jung

  • Day 1 | Arrival & Black Eagle Viewing at Gorges Lodge


    Notes:





    Arrive at Victoria Falls Airport and meet your transfer vehicle to Gorges Lodge. Perched 200 meters above the mighty Zambezi River, Gorges Lodge offers a unique Victoria Falls experience along the edge of the Batoka Gorge.


    Spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool and enjoying the amazing views. Then, in the evening head off to the Dibu Dibu River for sundowners and snacks as you watch the lodge's resident pair of black eagles soar only meters away (weather permitting).


    Afterwards, stroll back to the reception area, where you’ll be entertained by talented traditional dancers and enjoy a tasty 3 course meal. Retire to your chalet and doze off to the sound of the river rushing below you.


    Overnight: Gorges Lodge

  • Day 2 | Victoria Falls Tour and Village Visit and Interaction


    Notes:

    Enjoy an early breakfast before heading to Victoria Falls town for a guided tour of Zimbabwe's foremost attraction - the 'Falls'. Known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “the smoke that thunders” in indigenous Tonga, Victoria Falls lives up to its name with a powerful mist and impressive roar.

    After the Victoria Falls tour, we’ll embark on an immersive cultural experience at Chisuma Village, located near Gorges Lodge. In 1994, Gorges was the first Zimbabwe lodge to be built on community land and to this day, the local people are the lodge’s partners and landlords. We’ll enjoy a traditional lunch in the village and then spend the rest of the afternoon meeting local leaders, families, and community members. You’ll learn about their daily lives and the impacts that responsible, community-based tourism has had on their village.

    In the late afternoon, hike back to the Lodge and stop at a spectacular viewpoint for sundowners overlooking the Batoka Gorge.

    Overnight: Gorges Lodge
  • Day 3 | Jozibanini Camp, Southwest Hwange National Park


    Notes:

    After breakfast, transfer to Victoria Falls airport for a 1.5 hour scenic flight to the exclusive Jozibanini Camp in the most remote corner of southwest Hwange National Park. 


    Once a ranger’s station, Jozibanini was abandoned 14 years ago. In its absence, elephant poaching raised its ugly head in the area in 2013. After these incidents, Imvelo Safari Lodges established an outpost at Jozibanini, which staff and a few privileged tourists could use as a base for both managing water resources and having 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 the park’s pump attendants and about 25% of Hwange’s thirsty wildlife in the dry season.


    After arrival, you’ll receive a debriefing on the Jozibanini story and settle into your tent, before venturing out for a game drive and picnic lunch at the Jozi waterhole. Later in the afternoon, join your guide for a walking safari, exploring the region around camp and tracking elephants and other game which frequent the waterhole. 

     

    Enjoy dinner under the stars before retiring to your tent for the evening. If you’re feeling adventurous or in need of more star gazing, the beds can be rolled onto the deck of the tents for an extraordinary star-bed experience gazing skyward at the sparkling Hwange sky.


    Overnight: Jozibanini Camp

  • Day 4 | Mountain Biking at Jozibanini Camp


    Notes:

    After breakfast over the campfire, we’ll pack day bags and head off on a 15km guided mountain bike ride on the elephant paths around Jozibanini. The ecosystem here is semi-desert, akin to the Kalahari in neighboring Botswana. The windblown, fossilized sand dunes are separated by shallow valleys where elephants have compacted the terrain, creating solid tracks for our mountain bikes.

    Your guide will set up a picnic lunch under a shady tree where you can rest before the 15km ride back to camp in the afternoon. Then, in the early evening, head to the underground blind for a few hours of spectacular photo opportunities of the wildlife at the waterhole. Once the sun has set, take a quick drive back to camp for a tasty dinner under the glorious night sky.

    Overnight: Jozibanini Camp

  • Days 5 & 6 | Fly Camping Between Jozibanini and Bomani Camps


    Notes:

    For the next two days, you’ll explore the remote southern corner of Hwange National Park on foot, walking between Jozibanini and Bomani camps. We’ll walk approximately 10-15K per day, with a break during the middle of the day. There will also be some driving.

    For part of one day, you’ll join the Scorpions anti-poaching team on patrol. Visit their camp for lunch, and learn about their role taking on poachers in remote corners of the park. 

    We’ll also visit one of the “pump attendant” camps. Hwange’s famous elephant herds and all the park’s wildlife are sustained during the dry season on a pumped water program that started in the 1930’s. You’ll join staff providing supplies and maintenance support to the wells and pump attendants, directly supporting thousands of elephants and other animals. The pump attendants are the unsung heroes of wildlife conservation in Hwange, providing the lifeblood of the park and its wildlife - precious water.

    Call to Adventure: Pumped Up

    Hwange is a case study in the challenges and choices that arise with conservation efforts. Hwange’s first park warden designed its pumped water system to keep elephants and other wildlife from migrating during the dry season. The plan worked to great effect, but has had unintended consequences. Soaring elephant populations are straining park resources and wildlife is now reliant on the artificial water sources. Nevertheless, there is a responsibility to maintain the pumps and support the wildlife whose habitats humans altered.

    Plunge into the complexities of conservation in Zimbabwe as you meet with ex-poachers, park monitors, pump attendants, and nearby villagers. Listen to their stories, ask them questions, and discuss what they believe should be done to shape the future of the park.

    Consider how human involvement has created some problems and solved others? How would you mediate a solution in Hwange? How would you weigh human interests against conservation ideals? Are there similar conservation dilemmas happening in your own backyard? How can you address the issue - a vote, a letter, volunteer time, financial donations?

  • Days 7 - 9 | Community-Based Tourism and Conservation at Bomani Tented Camp


    Notes:

    For the next three days, you’ll explore the successes and failures of community-based tourism in the frontline villages on the border of Hwange National Park. 

    At one time, indigenous rural communities received very little direct benefit from Zimbabwe’s booming tourism industry. For the rural villager living next to a national park, wildlife was by no means an attraction; elephants ate their crops and lions killed their livestock. The animals were problematic and not something to encourage, let alone protect. Tourists were strange people that traveled past in buses and planes, who sometimes waved but spent their money elsewhere.


    Imvelo has made concerted efforts to create a stronger relationship between wildlife conservation, responsible tourism, and local community support. On this journey, we will visit several villages, both those which have benefitted from tourism, and those which haven’t, as a point of comparison and dialogue. We will meet with local leaders, including the village headman and school headmasters to learn more about typical Zimbabwean village life and life on ‘the frontline of Hwange National Park’.  We’ll also partake in some of the following activities:

    • Equipping the village well with a new pump cylinder

    • Painting murals and accessorizing a classroom with posters and teaching aids.

    • Class interaction – making presentations a “Day in the life of an American kid”.

    • Collecting firewood and water and dropping it off with elderly village widows/widowers

    • Helping local mothers prepare and serve lunch for the school, teachers, and group.

    • Afternoon sports – participants and Imvelo staff put together teams to play a school team in either a soccer or netball match or alternatively teach how to play baseball.

    Overnight: Bomani Tented Camp

  • Day 10 | Zambezi Sands River Camp via the Elephant Express


    Notes:

    Enjoy early morning tea and coffee before heading into Hwange for a final walk. Return to Bomani Camp for a late breakfast and then board the Elephant Express for your rail car transfer to Dete Siding. You will then be transferred by road to Zambezi Sands River Camp.


    Zambezi Sands River Camp is set on the banks of the thundering wild waters of the Zambezi River, inside Zambezi National Park. After settling into your luxury tent, enjoy a late afternoon snack on the main deck while the mighty Zambezi rushes past. Afterwards head out on a game drive, stopping off at a scenic spot to watch the sun set with sundowners and mouthwatering canapés. Take a night drive back to the lodge and then enjoy a superb 3-course meal out under the stars before retiring to your tent.


    Overnight: Zambezi Sands

  • Day 11 | Walking & Canoeing Safaris from Zambezi Sands


    Notes:

    Start the day with coffee and tea at sunrise, followed by a hearty breakfast. The morning will be on foot, exploring the shoreline and enjoying its wildlife. Park rangers and staff routinely patrol this section of Zambezi National Park for illegal snaring or signs of poaching by Zambians from the north bank. Our group will provide extra eyes for these teams and get some hands-on experience in detecting cross border poaching activity in support of Park Rangers.

    After the walk, we’ll return to camp for a light lunch, a dip in your private plunge pool, and a short break. Then, in the late afternoon, we’ll canoe the Zambezi River in inflatable canoes. We’ll pass through gentle rapids and lazy channels, culminating in a last sunset on the sand bar, where we’ll enjoy a cool drink and tasty snacks. Return to the lodge via a ‘night eyes’ game drive before enjoying a farewell dinner around the boma fire. Your final dinner is a great time to celebrate and synthesize the experiences of your trip.

    Overnight: Zambezi Sands


  • Day 12 | Depart from Victoria Falls


    Notes:

    Enjoy your last morning sipping tea or coffee on your private deck as the sun rises over the river and the mist settles. Then have breakfast on the main lodge deck, taking in the sights and sounds of your Zimbabwean safari one last time before your road transfer to Victoria Falls Airport to catch your departing flight.

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