The one-week Zimbabwe & Botswana Budget Camping Safari takes you on an exciting journey of discovery through Zimbabwe and Botswana, exploring top wildlife, cultural and historical highlights.
Starting and ending at the famous Victoria Falls, this affordable camping safari takes you game viewing in the top Zimbabwe game park - Hwange National Park. Visit Bulawayo to meet the friendly people of Zimbabwe and experience their vibrant culture. Explore the fascinating history and cultural heritage of Zimbabwe's people at Khami Ruins and go game viewing in Matobo National Park, hosting rich animal and bird populations.
Then cross into Botswana and stop over at Elephant Sands where game and birds can be spotted up close, before continuing to Kasane. Here we take a sunset boat cruise along Chobe River and venture into Chobe National Park on a morning game drive - superb for bird and wildlife watching.
During this trip you are likely to come across activities that encourage tourists to participate in lion, elephant or other wildlife interaction. This includes walking with lions, riding elephants and any other tourist operation putting travellers in close contact with animals that would normally live wild and separate from human contact.
We absolutely do not encourage or endorse this type of wildlife interaction operation. For more information on why this is not good for Africa's wild animals, please see our detailed blog post on the subject.
Zimbabwe’s largest and best-known game park, Hwange was once the royal hunting grounds of the Ndebele warrior-king, Mzilikazi. We arrive in time to embark on a thrilling night game drive in a wildlife concession area adjacent to the national park. Our first game drive takes us in search of a variety of nocturnal animals, including the evasive leopard.
Hwange National Park covers over 14 600 sq km’s of grassland plains, scrub bush and salt flats close to the Kalahari Desert. The park boasts one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, hosting around 400 bird species and 105 mammal species, including Africa’s Big Five. The wilderness area is known for its vast elephant herds claimed to be one of the longest surviving elephant populations in Africa. Hwange, located in western Zimbabwe, and Chobe Park, in eastern Botswana, form part of an extensive wildlife corridor that enables elephants and other wild animals to migrate across vast areas.
On day two we venture into Hwange National Park in open safari vehicles for an adventure-filled day of game viewing in Zimbabwe's flagship national park. During the heat of the day, we make our way back to camp for lunch and a rest, before returning to the bush to explore further. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times for game viewing, because many of the large animals are most active at these times, with grazers and predators generally stirring around dusk and dawn.
Hwange is known for its cheetah sightings, and also protects an abundance of buffalo, giraffe and zebra. This is the only protected area in Zimbabwe that is inhabited by sizeable populations of brown hyena and gemsbok. Hwange National Park is home to all of the specially protected wild animals of Zimbabwe, including one of Africa’s largest groups of endangered African Wild Dogs. While at Hwange we visit the Painted Dog Conservation Project to find out more about these threatened canines and the efforts to save them.
After our afternoon wildlife exploration in Hwange Park, we head back to the camp at dusk and settle in for the night.
Leaving Hwange Park, we drive further south-east to our leafy camp near Bulawayo - Zimbabwe’s second largest city.
Bulawayo's wide tree-lined avenues and attractions make for a pleasant visit. Go to the bustling curio market at the Old Town Hall to browse the wide array of locally made handicrafts and artworks created by skilled Zimbabwean craft-makers, even trying your hand at bargaining. Revisit Zimbabwe’s past, journeying back in time to colonial and tribal times at the National History Museum.
This afternoon we visit a significant archaeological site near Bulawayo - the Khami Ruins. The ruins are of notable cultural value to the people of this region and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The former capital of the Kingdom of Butua under the Torwa Dynasty, Khami dates back to 1450 AD when it replaced Great Zimbabwe as capital.
Today we take a short drive to Matobo National Park accompanied by knowledgeable local guides. On our half-day trip to the scenic Matobo Park, we experience the tranquil beauty of this diverse park, visiting the sacred Matopos Hills. One of the largest concentrations of endangered black and white rhino in Africa is found in this reserve and we take a thrilling guided bush walk (conditions allowing) in search of these pre-historic looking creatures. The park is also known for the dense population of leopards, so we keep an eye for these and other wildlife found in Matobo National Park. This geologically unique game park is home to a variety of other wildlife, including various antelope species, giraffe and zebra. Matobo also hosts an exceptionally high number of black eagles, as well as an abundance of other bird species.
It is said that the boulder-strewn landscape of Matobo, which means “Bald Heads” in Ndebele, was formed by river erosion over 2000 million years ago. The spirits of deceased Ndebele chiefs are thought to dwell among these wind-sculpted granite hills making Matobo an important place in indigenous folklore. Hundreds of San (Bushman) rock paintings are also found in Matobo Hills adding to the cultural significance of the area. Imperialist and mining magnate, Cecil John Rhodes, is also buried at Matobo, at his request.
You have the option of upgrading to a full day tour which includes a village visit and historical highlights of Matobo Park. After exploring Matobo, we return to Bulawayo to experience the city's nightlife after encountering the creatures and cultural gems of Matobo Park.
On day five we travel from Zimbabwe into Botswana, making our way to our overnight lodge near Nata, in the north-eastern part of central Botswana. We arrive at our next stop, Elephant Sands, in the afternoon. The remainder of the day is free for you to relax, rest and swim in the pool, watching out for wildlife at the watering hole in front of the lodge.
The lodge is unfenced allowing wildlife to roam into the area and visit the waterhole, often resulting in unforgettably close wildlife encounters.
This morning we drive north to Kasane, the closest travel hub to Chobe National Park. This scenic game park is reputed to host one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa.
Later this afternoon we take a sunset boat cruise on the Chobe River, an excellent way to get up close to the wildlife and birds of Botswana's leading national park. As we cruise along the river large mammals, various reptiles and an array of birds are frequently sighted. The easier sightings being hippos, elephants and crocodiles, as well as buffalos and baboons. Also watch for lions, bushbuck, kudu, sable and giraffe, possibly even puku antelopes found nowhere else in Botswana.
The Chobe River Cruise offers exceptional bird watching opportunities, from fish eagles, plovers and spoonbills to ibis, storks and other waterfowl. Simply watching the scenery go by as the sun sets over the bush is a beautiful sight.
On our final morning, we embark on an open vehicle game drive in Chobe National Park - one last chance to spot the wildlife of Botswana. After our last foray into the African wilderness, we leave Chobe and Kasane behind, crossing back into Zimbabwe.
A short drive later we reach Victoria Falls where this fabulous journey ends. We highly recommend that you book an extra day or two at Victoria Falls to enjoy adventure activities and explore further.
Please note that this safari requires a mandatory Safari Pass (Local Payment) at an additional cost. The Safari Pass includes most of the tour highlights and activities, as well as some accommodation en route. This compulsory payment can be made when booking your tour, or at the start of your trip, payable directly to your tour guide. Contact African Budget Safaris for the detailed itinerary listing what is included in the Safari Pass and see the Full Pricing above for rates.
This Zimbabwe & Botswana Budget Camping Safari is also available as an accommodated tour. Please contact us for more details.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
Matobo National Park: