victoria falls

Victoria Falls and wildlife safari This adventure-filled 9-day Zimbabwe safari will take you to three of the country's most prized destinations – Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and Mana Pools.

Your journey at a glance

Start your adventure at the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls. Known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunder), this is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. Here, you will stay at the charming Victoria Falls Hotel, where you will have the opportunity to take advantage of nearby adventures such as an unforgettable helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls, horse riding, elephant back safaris, sunset cruises and hiking. Next, you will venture to the beautiful Hwange National Park. Renowned as an elephant stronghold, Zimbabwe’s largest national park offers a variety of landscapes, from desert sands and sparse woodland to grasslands and rocky outcrops.

Spend your days exploring your surrounds on game drives and walking safaris before retreating to the comforts of Somalisa Camp. The last leg of your adventure takes you to the remote destination of Mana Pools National Park, which is tucked away within the middle of the Zambezi Valley. Here, you will unwind at the superb Kanga Camp, which offers exciting activities such as twice-daily game drives and interpretive bush walks.

What to expect …

Transfer to Victoria Falls National Park Day 1

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On your arrival at Victoria Falls International Airport you will be met by an andBeyond representative who will transfer you by road to The Elephant Camp.

Overnight in Victoria Falls Day 1- 3

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Victoria Falls is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. Declared a World Heritage Site, the Falls are the stuff of legends, romance and myth. Long before the Scottish missionary and explorer Dr David Livingstone ‘discovered’ the Falls in 1855, the local Batonga people had named them Mosi-oa-Tunya, ‘the smoke that thunders’. Livingstone named them for his queen. Today, the village rightly claims the title of Adrenaline Capital of Africa, home to a seemingly endless variety of adventure sports from bungee jumping to canoeing and white water rafting.

Spend two nights at The Elephant Camp in a luxurious tented suite with private viewing deck and plunge pool. Your stay includes all meals, local drinks, complimentary in-room mini bar, two transfers per day to Victoria Falls town and laundry.

Adventures include an opportunity to interact with the elephants at Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary, sundowners at the Batoka Gorge as well as nature and bird walks on the concession.

Feel the spray of the Smoke That Thunders Day 2

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Walk in the footsteps of explorers of old as you make the pilgrimage to wonder at the beauty and power of Victoria Falls, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Set off accompanied by your &Beyond guide and make the drive into the charming and historical town of Victoria Falls. As you disembark, the thunder and spray of the falls will mark the way as you set off to explore this magnificent World Heritage Site.

Spanning nearly two kilometres (over a mile) and dropping 103 metres (338 feet) at its highest point, Victoria Falls is the largest curtain of falling water in the world. The immense volume of water that drops over the craggy rocks (500 million litres, or 132 million gallons, per minute at full flow) throws up a cloud of spray that can be seen miles away. So awesome is the noise and mist that the original local name given to the waterfall was Mosi-oa-Tunya or “the smoke that thunders”. Discovered by British explorer and missionary David Livingstone in 1855, the falls were renamed in honour of his queen.

Led by your guide, immerse yourself in the lush rainforest that has sprung up around the falls as you make your way along the scenic paths. Wonder at the graceful Victoria Falls Bridge, constructed in 1905 and hear about the history of the area. Gaze into the depths of the craggy Batoka Gorge and weave your way along the edge of the falls, slowly zigzagging towards their zenith. Enveloped in rainbows created in the cool spray, marvel at the spectacle as the emerald waters of the broad Zambezi tumble and roar into an endless chasm. Pause for a moment at the statue of David Livingstone and try to image his wonder and exultation at first glimpsing this unforgettable natural spectacle.

Wind down from your adventure on the shaded terrace of the gracious and iconic Victoria Falls Hotel, which dates back to 1904, where you will indulge in the ceremony of high tea surrounded by the elegant reminders of a bygone colonial era.

Flight to Hwange National Park Day 3

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After an early breakfast you will be transferred to the Victoria Falls International Airport for your light aircraft flight to Hwange National Park, where you will take a game drive transfer to Somalisa Camp

Overnight In Hwange National Park Day 3 - 5

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Zimbabwe’s largest national park, the elephant stronghold of Hwange is a game-rich area roughly the size of the Bahamas that was once the royal hunting grounds of the Ndebele warrior king Mzilikazi. It was proclaimed a national park in 1929. Here guests can explore a variety of landscapes, from desert sands and sparse woodland to grasslands and rocky outcrops. Vast herds of elephant and buffalo, gemsbok and packs of brown hyena can be found in this pristine slice of wilderness, which also boasts one of the largest surviving populations of wild dog.

Situated on a floodplain in the middle of Hwange National Park, Somalisa Camp boasts elegantly furnished canvas tents with ensuite bathrooms, flush toilets and romantic al fresco bush showers. The pool and the stunning guest area overlook the pan. The sitting room and dining areas are tucked under a soaring canopy of trees.
Guests will feast on innovative gourmet meals, complemented by a superb selection of South African and Australian wines. Adventures on offer include bush walks led by qualified and passionate guides, morning and evening game drives in open 4×4 safari vehicles, and game viewing from hides. The resident wildlife includes elephant, kudu, sable antelope, zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok, the rare and endangered roan antelope, buffalo, giraffe, white rhino, lion, leopard and hyena, amongst others.

Spend three nights at Somalisa Camp, in a tent with ensuite bathroom. Your stay includes accommodation, all meals, all beverages except premium imported spirits and champagne, two game viewing activities per day, National Parks Fees, laundry and transfers from nearest airstrip.

Look to the skies for Hwange’s avian residents Day 4

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Birds at Hwange are an attraction to behold. With over 470 bird species, most of which are native, the region is teeming with feathered inhabitants that can be viewed during morning, afternoon and evening drives.  The past dry spell, coupled with a recent era of lush bush, has ensured that new species frequent Hwange, resulting in a colourful mix of land birds and aquatic dwellers.

Bird lovers will be spoilt for choice when confronted with birdwatching opportunities. The African sun silhouettes numerous flying figures as they circle overhead in pursuit of prey, to quench their thirst or simply to stretch their magnificent wings across the endless sky.

Keen birders should take note of the different seasons, migrations and possible sightings. The pans draw hundreds of feathered residents, including flocks of crowned cranes, clearly discernible thanks to the blond, spiky plumage atop their stately heads and their deep crimson chins. Hwange is home to some of the largest flying birds, the elegant, long-legged kori bustard and the stately secretary bird. These incredible birds prey on unwary snakes and rodents that slither and race through the long grasslands. Raptors dominate the sky and the tree tops with their razor-sharp crimson talons. The astounding sight of the martial eagle swooping down on its ivory and slate wings to capture unsuspecting prey is simply stunning.

The landscape acts as a canvas for the multitude of birds that dots the clear, blue sky, sitting on tree branches, wading in the translucent waters or hopping along the ground.

Walk through the Hwange National Park bushlands Day 5

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Experience Zimbabwe as the first explorers did, on foot and in awe of its untouched nature and allure. Walks through the Hwange National Park are allowed in private concessions and are and experience that is both awe-inspiring and humbling, as you tread along the very paths animals roam free on and observe their intimate lives from a careful distance. It is the perfect experience to allow you to appreciate the natural environment. The slow pace of the walk and the interpretive skills of the safari guides open your eyes to a new and fascinating world. The unique perspective garnered during a walk awakens a sense of fulfilment and sensory appreciation. The walk through the park leaves you feeling connected and at one with the earth, encouraging you to relax, unwind and connect with nature.

The walking safari begins with a fireside coffee and delicious muffins before heading off on foot to explore some of nearly 2 500 hectares (6 200 acres) of pristine African bush. Walkers will be instructed on the identification of various tracks, as well as on the smaller wildlife and plants that live in the park and that are often missed during a game drive. End the tour with a newfound appreciation of the bush, having explored the breath-taking landscape beneath the warm African sun.

Flight to Mana Pools National Park Day 6

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Today, after a wholesome breakfast, you will be transferred to the airstrip for your light aircraft flight to Mana Pools National Park, where you will take a game drive transfer to Kanga Camp.

Overnight in Mana Pools National Park Day 6 - 9

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Situated in the middle of the Zambezi Valley, the Mana Pools National Park offers professionally guided canoe trails, affording the excitement of close up views of an abundance of wildlife along the banks of the Zambezi. This remote and untouched conservation area is renowned for offering high concentration of game and excellent game viewing opportunities during Zimbabwe’s dry season.

Located on the only private wilderness concession in Mana Pools National Park, the intimate Kanga Bush Camp overlooks a busy waterhole. Each of the six ensuite Meru-style safari tents boasts a comfortable bed, hot bucket shower and flush w.c. The tent’s private veranda is the perfect place to sit back, relax and watch the activity at the busy waterhole. The guest lounge and dining areas are on a raised observation deck that enjoys the shade of some large trees, and guests can also enjoy a refreshing dip in the splash pool.

Guests enjoy twice-daily game drives in open 4×4 safari vehicles and interpretive bush walks, where they can learn to track wildlife with a professional guide. Canoeing safaris on the Zambezi River can also be organised in advance, as well as full-day excursions to River complete with hearty picnic lunches.

Spend three nights at Kanga Camp, your stay includes accommodation, all meals, all beverages except premium imported spirits and champagne, two game viewing activities per day, national park fees, laundry, and transfer to and from nearest airstrip.

Traverse the floodplains of the Zambezi in an open safari vehicle Day 7

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Spectacularly remote and boasting magnificent landscapes intersected by the Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park offers rich and spectacular wildlife viewing. While the reserve itself is only 2 196 km² (850 square miles), it is part of a vast wildlife conversation area that stretches from Lake Kariba in the west to Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique in the east and covers 10 500 km (4 055 square miles). Without any fences to limit them, animals move freely in this area, as well as north across the river, into conservation areas within Zambia. This means that there is a thriving population and variety of wildlife to be seen at Mana Pools.

The area covered by game drives depends on the amount of rain that the park has received, with drives in the dry season concentrating on the riverine areas, as water sources dry up elsewhere and animals are attracted to the banks of the Zambezi. Large herds of elephant and buffalo can be seen on the wide floodplains, as can zebra, kudu, eland, impala and many other antelope species. Mana Pools is particularly well known for its large bull elephants and the expert guides leading your game drive will know where to find individual animals. Towards the end of the dry season, as foliage becomes more scarce, many of these gather in the open woodlands that flank the river, where they can be sometimes be seen standing on their hind legs beneath the albida trees, straining to reach the last remaining seed pods. This can be a spectacular sight to behold, particularly in the surreal light that filters through the trees, unimpeded by the scant undergrowth.

With a wide variety of prey species found within the park, the area is also home to a number of predators and game drives are likely to seek these out. Several prides of lion have made this their territory and they are regularly spotted. The park is also particularly well known for sightings of the endangered wild dog. Leopard, cheetah and hyena are also occasionally encountered, although they are shy and far less readily spotted.

Explore the realm of Nyami Nyami, the river god Day 8

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The Zambezi River is the lifeline of Mana Pools National Park, extending throughout the entire reserve and giving it its name, which translates to Four Pools, a reference to the remnants of four ancient oxbow lakes carved out by the river before it changed its course. Once a major route for the dark trade in slaves and ivory, the river now attracts a plethora of wildlife species and birds. Activities at Mana Pools are centred on the mighty waters of the Zambezi and guests can choose between a range of adventures, from fishing and birding to river cruises and canoeing.

The Zambezi is inhabited by the sharp-toothed tiger fish, the fiercest game fish found in African inland waters, and Mana Pools is famed for some of the best tiger fishing spots on the continent. Keen anglers will thrill to the fight as they trawl to slow-moving river waters in search of this mighty adversary. Other fish species that are regularly caught include tilapia bream and barbel, or catfish. Fishing is best in the early morning or the afternoon.

River cruises provide a new perspective on the area as you glide along quiet waterways, enjoying the opportunity to get up close to water birds and wildlife. Choose to explore the river on pontoon boat or via speedboat, although park regulations limit the areas where speedboats are allowed. Alternatively, opt for an even more intimate river experience as you paddle yourself in a canoe. Accompanied by a professional guide, glide with the current, stopping to gaze at elephants, hippos and crocodiles from a safe distance.

Both river cruises and other activities along the Zambezi’s banks offer the ideal opportunity for birdwatching, highlighting an extraordinary amount of various bird species. Mana Pool is home to more than 350 bird species and the Zambezi River and the floodplains provide the ideal habitat for a great deal of them. Several types of kingfisher can be easily spotted along the river, as can darters, cormorants, herons and storks. African fish eagles perch in the high trees lining the river, while colourful colonies of the beautiful little carmine bee-eaters nest in the sandy banks between August and November. Some of the more rarely spotted yet worthwhile species include the elusive Pel’s fishing owl and the African skimmer.

Departure Day 9

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After a mouth-watering breakfast, you will be transferred to the airstrip for your light aircraft flight back to Victoria International Airport for you outbound International flight.