Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou, Falls, Hwange & Mana

12 days
4.9 /5
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  • Day & night game drives
  • Safari walks
  • Boating & canoeing at Ruckomechi
  • Excellent big game & predator viewing
  • Victoria Falls adrenaline activities


Your 12-day journey allows you a privileged insight to the hidden wildlife gems of Zimbabwe.

Begin at the wild and remote Chilo Gorge in Gonarezhou National Park: a little-visited region that boasts incredible landscapes and wildlife in almost total exclusivity. Next, jet off to The Elephant Camp in the adrenaline capital of Africa – the town of Victoria Falls - where a host of thrilling activities await you. You then continue to Hwange National Park, where from the luxurious surrounds of Little Makololo Camp, you venture out into one of Zimbabwe’s premier wilderness areas for thrilling encounters with a variety of big game. Your final destination is the absolutely stunning Mana Pools National Park, where Ruckomechi Camp sits perched on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. Here, you are able to take to the wilderness on foot, by vehicle and canoe to fully absorb the magic of Africa.

Perfect for the experienced safari-hand or newcomer alike, this adventure will fulfil any wildlife enthusiast’s dream that can be combined with an onward journey to Botswana’s game reserves.


  • Tour Duration: 12 Days

  • Start: Harare
  • End: Victoria Falls

Accommodations Visited

Largely undiscovered, unspoilt and unique - Zimbabwe has many hidden gems, on this trip you will discover our favourites. Experience Africa’s wildlife and wilderness in authentic safari camps, with genuine hospitality in incredible locations, this is Africa for the seasoned traveller…
Ramona Cilliers

Ramona Cilliers

Africa Safari Expert

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Days 1-4: Welcome to Gonarezhou

Gonarezhou & Malilangwe, Zimbabwe
Detailed breakdown

Days 1-4: Welcome to Gonarezhou | 4 Nights

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Gonarezhou & Malilangwe, Zimbabwe

On arrival at Harare International Airport, you will be transferred to a waiting charter plane for your flight south to Gonarezhou National Park. Your guide from Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge meets you and you set off on a game drive to camp. This is a wild country of sandstone cliffs, thick bush and enormous baobab trees, cut through by the Save River.

Perched on the cliffs overlooking the river, the lodge blends in perfectly with its surroundings in a symphony of wood, stone and thatch. The main building houses multiple indoor and outdoor dining and lounging areas, and a large crystalline swimming pool set in an immaculate garden. In the river below, hippos crash and chortle, while herds of elephants arrive throughout the day to quench their thirst.

For your first game drive, you set off in the golden light of the late afternoon, into this vast and untamed landscape where you may not encounter a single other vehicle. The area is known for its herds of buffalo that kick up clouds of dust as they move: a huge black phalanx of hooves and horns, shadowed by a cloud of white egrets feeding on the insects they disturb. Elephants also occur here in large numbers but even they are dwarfed by the gigantic grandeur of the huge baobab trees that are dotted across the landscape. Plains game abounds in the region, and these are closely followed by a variety of predators.

You slowly become immersed in the intricacies and wonder of this primal and pristine landscape over the following days, where nature dictates the rhythm of your experience. Crisp, clear mornings give way to sultry afternoons filled with the soporific calls of birds in the trees, the sun loses its bite, and the land breathes out, time drifting like the shadows creeping across the cliffs.

You have the freedom of space, and nature dictates your itinerary - you may choose to walk to the nearby Chivilia Falls to take in the breathtaking scenery from the viewpoint, or set off on a flycamping mission to the Chilojo Cliffs, where an epic landscape of sandstone and acacia provides the backdrop to the never-ending wildlife dramas that unfold around you.

Days 5-6: The Smoke That Thunders | 2 Nights

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You bid Chilo Gorge farewell and fly north to Victoria Falls and The Elephant Camp. Set on a private concession downstream from the falls, the lodge is close enough to see the spray rising from the gorge. This intimate and luxurious camp is close to enough to the town of Victoria Falls to easily access a host of activities, yet far enough out to give you a wonderful sense of the wilderness. Here you are able to interact with the local elephant herd, animals that have been rescued and are in the process of being rehabilitated to return to the wild. In addition, the local ambassador comes in the shape of a cheetah named Sylvester!

You arise early to sip freshly brewed coffee and watch the mist curling off the river in shafts of sunlight. With a full day ahead of you to enjoy all that Victoria Falls and its environs have to offer, you are spoilt for choice. The highlight must be to visit the falls themselves: where the Zambezi River plunges over a crack in the earth’s crust and boils into the narrow gorge below. Standing close to the edge, you feel a rumbling symphony of sound and spray wash over you in an awesome display of nature’s power. It is little wonder that these falls, one of the Natural Wonders of the world, are known to local tribes as ‘The Smoke that Thunders’ - the spray is visible for miles around, and the noise can be heard from a considerable distance away.

Days 7-8: Into Hwange | 2 Nights

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Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Set off to meet your charter flight to Hwange National Park and Little Makololo Camp. Located in a huge private concession, the area has a great diversity of habitats and a year-round abundance of game. Driving along, you spy elephants and giraffe, as well as impala and zebra grazing in the open. With a wonderful sense of anticipation, allow a sense of freedom to take hold, while the breeze wafts the heady aroma of the wilds around you; sage, earth and dry grass.

The landscape changes as you drive through it; open grassy plains give way to acacia woodlands, which in turn come to forests of teak trees. These habitats support a plethora of game, and you keep a close eye out for lurking predators. As dusk approaches, your guide selects a scenic spot to stretch your legs and admire the view. A hamper packed with sundowner drinks and snacks appears, and while sipping on your favourite cocktail, toast your arrival in the glorious light of the setting sun.

The next day, join a guided safari walk to really feel the earth of Africa underfoot, where you find every one of your senses engaged, and all of them with a clarity that comes from being on foot in this untrammelled wilderness. With your guide’s expert interpretation, you learn of the smaller details you have missed from a vehicle, tiny pieces in the vast jigsaw puzzle of life.

To round off the experience, you visit the log pile hide at the waterhole for a few hours, where you sit invisible, watching the elephants come to drink, closer than you could ever have imagined.

Days 9-11: The mysteries of Mana Pools | 3 Nights

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Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

After a hearty breakfast on the viewing deck, return to the airstrip for your flight to Mana Pools. You follow the ribbon of the great Zambezi River downstream, pass the mighty Lake Kariba, and continue over the Lower Zambezi. Bisecting a huge valley with escarpments on either side, the meandering river forms a series of vast pools that give the park its name.

On landing, your guide takes you on a game drive to Ruckomechi Camp. This delightful and intimate lodge is located on the bank of the river in a position to maximise the spectacular views.

The Mana Pools National Park is home to an incredible density of wildlife, and Ruckomechi is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this with a private concession that allows for a wholly exclusive experience.

Driving out along the floodplains, you will encounter hippos jostling each other in the river, while crocodiles bask on the sandbanks. Herds of elephants come down to the water, and you can sit for hours watching these enormous beasts taking such enjoyment in drinking, splashing and bathing. African fish eagles swoop overhead and the air is filled with their enigmatic cries. Antelope skittishly drink at the water’s edge, ever wary of lurking crocodiles. Venturing into the woodlands away from the river, you seek out any signs of the predators that abound in this region. Lion, leopard and hyena all have a strong presence here but the most thrilling encounter would be to find a pack of African wild dogs.

For a wholly different perspective, your guide takes you on a canoeing safari to get close to the water. Beaching the canoes downstream, you set off for a walk, where you engage every one of your senses while following game paths that might never have felt a human tread.
After a day filled with encounters that have opened your eyes to the wonders of nature around you, felt the wind in your hair and the sun on your limbs, it is a delight to return to the comfort of the camp for a satisfying cocktail in the bar and a sumptuous meal below the stars, listening to the hippos chortling in the river beyond the fireplace.

Day 12: Goodbye Zimbabwe

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Bid the Zambezi farewell as your guide drives you back to the airstrip. Looking out at the river from the airplane window, you reminisce on the adventures of the previous days- canoeing the Zambezi, the roars of lions at night, the astonishing colours of an African sunset… memories that will remain with you and compel you one day to return to Zimbabwe.

Inclusions tick icon


  • Shared light aircraft flights as per the itinerary
Exclusions tick icon


  • International flights
  • Airport taxes
  • All meals and drinks not specified
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature