Visit the mysterious Great Zimbabwe Ruins to walk through the once-mighty ancient city of Bantu civilization. Next, venture off to the remote Save Game Reserve to spot wildlife on foot and from an open safari vehicle. Drive up into the scenic mountains of the rugged Eastern Highlands, then dip down to Harare, Chinhoyi and massive Lake Kariba for a boat cruise.
Travel into Zambia where we embark on a two-day canoeing adventure along the Zambezi River. Return to Zimbabwe and head for Victoria Falls, to admire one of nature's true wonders. From Vic Falls it's on to Hwange National Park for top-notch game viewing in Big Five territory. Last highlight in Zimbabwe - Matobo National Park - a surreal landscape dotted with cultural gems and wildlife treasures. Return to Johannesburg via Limpopo Province and a private game reserve, ending off where the adventure began.
This Zimbabwe & Zambezi River Tour sets out from Johannesburg in South Africa, where you are collected from the selected lodge.
Leaving South Africa's biggest city at 06:30 we drive north through the Limpopo Province to the Zimbabwe border. Arriving at about midday we cross the Beitbridge border and head northeast through rural Zimbabwe, making our way to Masvingo.
We spend our first night near the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, camping in simple comfort.
On day two we are up at sunrise for our trip to the Great Zimbabwe National Monument where the stone remnants of ancient Shona civilization await. The World Heritage Site of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins is one of Africa's most important archaeological sites, and according to legend was once the capital of Queen of Sheba's realm. We explore the ruins of massive granite edifices constructed between the 11th and 15th centuries and find out more about the rich history of Zimbabwe and the ruins.
From the great fallen city, we travel east to Save River Game Reserve, home to a rich array of wildlife and birds. For the next two nights, we stay at a private bush camp, that serves as our base for exploring the Save Conservancy on guided game walks and game drives in open safari vehicles.
Today we head up into the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, a beautiful mountainous region that enjoys a cooler climate than the lowveld.
Passing through Mutare, we drive to our next camp in the scenic and rugged highlands area, known for its waterfalls and forests. In the afternoon we embark on a short hike in the mountains, enjoying the scenery and relaxing in nature.
Day five kicks off early for the journey west to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. We stop for lunch (own expense) in the laid-back city of Harare, where western and African influence fuse together.
Then we drive on to Chinhoyi, best known for the Chinhoyi Caves located in the area. We spend the rest of the day exploring the natural area around the camp near Chinhoyi town.
Following the road that traces an age-old elephant migration route, we make our way down into the Zambezi Valley.
Our next stop is Lake Kariba, Africa's largest man-made lake. This afternoon we take a boat cruise on Kariba and enjoy a lovely sunset over this massive expanse of water. Tonight we camp on the shores of the lake, enjoying the stars over the still lake.
This morning we check out the resort town of Kariba, before crossing into Zambia via the big dam wall. Once in Zambia we travel to Gwabi, which is located where the Kafue and Zambezi rivers meet.
At our camp not far from Chirundu, we unwind and prepare for our canoeing expedition along the mighty Zambezi River.
On day eight we leave dry land behind, travelling by canoe for the next two days. We paddle along the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in Africa, best known for the natural spectacle along its course - Victoria Falls. The Zambezi flows through six countries, but we will only canoe along the section from Gwabi to Chongwe River, passing Mana Pools and plenty of hippos and crocodiles along the way.
We paddle with the current at an easy pace, watching for wildlife and birds as we take in the wild scenery. At night we camp on remote islands and on day 10 we transfer back to the camp at Gwabi by boat and enjoy a restaurant meal (own expense).
An early start on day 11 sees us back on the road, heading for world-famous Victoria Falls. We drive via Livingstone on the Zambian side of Vic Falls and then cross over the Zambezi on the Victoria Falls Bridge into Zimbabwe. We stay in Victoria Falls town on the Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi for two nights.
You are free to visit Victoria Falls to view this awe-inspiring natural wonder up close - an unforgettable sight! Explore the historic town and visit its lively markets, and enjoy some of the adventure activities available at Vic Falls, considered one of the top Adventure Capitals of Africa. Whitewater rafting on the Zambezi River, below Vic Falls, is rated as some of the best in the world, and flights over the Falls offer unparalleled views of the waterfall and surrounds.
We eat out at a local restaurant (own expense) on one of our nights at Vic Falls.
Today we return to the wilderness, leaving the magnificent Vic Falls behind.
We travel to a private bush camp in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's leading national park. Later in the afternoon we embark on an afternoon to evening game drive in an open safari vehicle, as well as exploring on foot. Hwange National Park covers 14 651 km², making it the largest reserve in Zimbabwe. Hwange is home to an abundance of wildlife, including the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) and the reserve is a stronghold for endangered African wild dogs.
In the evening we camp overlooking a waterhole awash with wildlife.
On day 14 we rise early, have breakfast at the bush camp and make our way to Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe.
From the worn grandeur of Bulawayo, we continue to our camp at Matobo National Park. The remarkable landscapes of Matopos Hills capture the imagination, consisting of large granite boulders and rocky outcrops strewn across the gentle hills and wooded valleys.
This afternoon we take a game drive in Matobo, stopping to track rhinos on foot - a rare and thrilling wildlife experience. After exploring Matobo, which is of cultural significance as well as being an important wildlife sanctuary, we return to camp.
Leaving Zimbabwe behind we cross back into South Africa, driving to our next camp not far from the border.
The camp is set in a private game reserve in the Kalahari sandveld habitat of Limpopo Province. In the afternoon we take it easy, looking out for game, exploring the reserve on foot, or simply unwinding in nature.
On day 16 we continue at a relaxed pace, covering the last stretch of our trip through Southern Africa. After breakfast, we travel back into Gauteng and the economic centre of South Africa - Johannesburg, arriving in the late afternoon.
This itinerary serves as a guide which is subject to changes in response to local conditions, such as climate and wildlife movements. This safari requires a flexible attitude and an adventurous spirit.
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