13 days from £3495pp plus international flights.
Zimbabwe is a beautiful and diverse country with so much to offer visitors. We've tried to showcase some of the best bits in this itinerary without breaking the bank. You arrive in Harare, and then the following day you travel north to being an exciting canoe safari on the Zambezi. This is followed by a few days relaxation and game viewing from the beautiful Lake Kariba, with sunsets that are beyond stunning. A trip to Zimbabwe would not be complete with a land safari, and Hwange National Park is the place for this. Known for huge numbers of elephants but also for a thriving population of wild dog, Hwange is excellent for both vehicle and walking safaris. Finishing off in Victoria Falls you can take it as easy as you wish. There's plenty to do here from sunset cruises on the Zambezi to visiting the iconic falls or if you fancy it, a bungee jump or white water rafting! By the time you go home we hope you will have had a good combination of activity and relaxation in Zimbabwe, complemented by renowned Zimbabwean hospitality and expert guiding.
When you arrive at Harare Airport, a friendly face will be there to meet you and transfer you to your home for the night, Bronte Garden Hotel. It's a great spot close to downtown Harare so you can explore if you wish, or simply relax by the pool amidst the lovely landscaped gardens, or in the pretty courtyard and take advantage of the famous Zimbabwean service and hospitality. We would suggest an early night as tomorrow is a very early start!
You will be collected nice and early from your hotel, at about 5.00am, ready for the drive north to Makuti where you will meet your guide and fellow travellers. Then it's on to Chirundu, the starting point of your 3 night canoe safari. You should arrive in Chirundu at about 11h30. After unloading the canoes and all the kit, an important safety briefing takes place along with some top tips to help you make the most of your next few days of paddling the river. Then you'll set off. Fear not, there will be a break at a suitably idyllic spot where you can enjoy a packed lunch before resuming the paddle. The aim is to set up camp on Kakomarara island by 5pm, it's a real adventure as you are bush camping and you carry everything you need for the canoe trip with you, in true pioneer style. Now it's time to wind down, relax and enjoy dinner. Today's river journey is about 18km.
The second day of your canoe adventure starts at sunrise, you have about 27km to paddle today. A cup of coffee and some biscuits will see you on your way and after a couple of hours it's time to stop for a hearty breakfast. You'll then carry on up the river taking in the sights and sounds until about midday when you stop for lunch and a siesta until mid-afternoon. This way we avoid the heat of the day. We should reach Lone Acacia Island, our next camping spot by about 5pm. Day 3 takes a similar shape as you paddle for 23km to Trichella Island where you will rest for the night. This really is a great way of immersing yourself in nature, and making the most of your close proximity to the animals that come to drink by the shore. You should be rewarded with some good game sightings and the birdlife along the Zambezi is excellent too.
On your last morning you are rewarded with a leisurely start as there is only 7km to paddle today. Enjoy a hearty breakfast before breaking up camp and setting off for Mana Pools. Make the most of your last couple of hours on the water and take in the beautiful surroundings. Arrival in Mana Pools should be about 10am, and after loading up the canoes and equipment you'll be taken back to Kariba and arrival there should be about 3pm. Now it's time for a water adventure of a different time as you board your houseboat for a few nights on this beautiful man-made lake.
This is a water experience totally different to your canoe adventure. The pace here is slower and you can do as little as you like, sit back and enjoy Lake Kariba. The boat will explore inlets and waterways and the lake itself, and there is a tender boat that can take you fishing and gameviewing along the lake shores. Sometimes it's possible to stop off on small beaches and enjoy a spectacular sundowner. Something previous visitors to Lake Kariba will know all about - the sunsets here are amazing displays of deep, rich colour before the skies get darker and then millions of shimmering stars appear. It's a magical place to be.
Changing the pace, you will enjoy a light aircraft flight to Hwange National Park for the land safari portion of your trip. Keep your camera on hand as the flights often present some good photo opportunities. The flight will be about 1h40. Your guide will meet you at the airstrip and take you on a game drive to your accommodation where you will have a chance to unpack and have freshen up before meeting other guests. Hwange has such a varied landscape and high densities of wildlife, so your days here should be action packed and full.
You will have two full days to explore and enjoy Hwange National Park. A typical day on safari here will start early at about 5.30am with coffee and a light snack before heading out to see what wildlife you may encounter. This area is usually good for hyena and wild dog. Return to the lodge for a hearty brunch and then your time is your own until 3pm. You may choose to take a siesta, chill out by the small pool or hunker down in one of the hides and let the game come to you, staff will be there to ensure you have everything you need. After high tea, with a tummy full of delicious cakes and savouries you depart into the wilderness for another game drive. A suitable spot will be found for a sundowner drink as you watch the sun make its way below the horizon, then returning to the lodge after dark with the spotlight to seek out nocturnal animals. Late afternoon is a rewarding time for both birding and game viewing. Dinner is always a lively affair, full of talk of the day’s adventures and what tomorrow holds in store. Why not enjoy further chat and a nightcap by the fire before retiring.
After a delicious breakfast your transfer will take you through part of the park to the main road north to Victoria Falls. Keep your eyes peeled when in the park as you never know what you might see. The journey will take a couple of hours and you will pass local Zimbabwean villages and the mining town of Hwange. On arriving in Victoria Falls you will be dropped at Batonka Guest Lodge, newly opened in June 2016. Nestled in a quiet suburb, just a short walk from the central hum of town, you will be assured of a friendly and comfortable stay and it's a great base from which to explore this exciting town and all that is on offer here.
This morning, after a tasty breakfast on the veranda you can enjoy a guided tour of Victoria Falls and learn about the history of the area and the falls themselves as you look over into Zambia. If the falls are at their highest, you may get wet, but they are a thing of astonishing beauty and not to be missed. You are free to explore until later on when a sunset cruise on the Zambezi has been organised. With snacks and drinks aboard the boat you can enjoy the Zambezi for a couple of hours and see the orange sun setting and lighting up the sky, it's both romantic and beautiful. There are some good restaurants in town where you can enjoy your final night in Zimbabwe.
Enjoy breakfast in the tranquil gardens before being collected and taken to the airport for your flight home. We hope you have enjoyed your glimpse of Zimbabwe, her beauty and the wonderful hospitality of her people and that you have some wonderful memories to take home with you.
Guide price from (pp sharing): £3495 (ex. international flights)
Price notes: 2018 guide price per person sharing in low season: from £3495.
Accommodation; BB at Bronte The Garden Hotel and Batonka Guest house; Fully inclusive at Tamarind Canoeing Safaris and Ivory Lodge; the houseboat is full board and water activities. Transfers to and from airports, and between accommodations. Sunset cruise, guided tour of the falls, national parks fees.
International flights, travel insurance, meals and drinks not shown, visas and vaccinations, tips, items of a personal nature, souvenirs, increase in park fees.
Getting there: This holiday starts in Harare and ends in Victoria Falls, if you prefer longer in a specific area, just let us know and we can tailor-make the itinerary to suit.
Set in a quiet residential neighbourhood, the hustle and bustle of town is just a short walk away.
Ideal location close to Harare city centre, surrounded by beautiful and private landscaped gardens.
A small, intimate lodge with its own private and busy waterhole.
Why stay on land when you can stay on water? Cruise around Lake Kariba aboard a splendid houseboat.
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Find the best time to visit Zimbabwe
Time: GMT + 2 hours
Flight time: Flights from UK to Harare or Victoria Falls are usually via Johannesburg and can take 12+ hours, although once the new Victoria Falls airport is fully operational there may be an option of direct flights – watch this space.
Language: English is the official language of Zimbabwe. Shona or Ndebele are also widely spoken by the majority of the population.
Visas: Visas are required for UK passport holders and can be obtained on entry into Zimbabwe.
Health: Malaria is a risk in many areas of Zimbabwe.