Visiting: Hwange National Park – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
9 Days / 8 Nights
20 Persons on sharing basis
August 24, 2017 – September 1, 2017
From our Blog Post: The Cecil Safari: Back To Zimbabwe
In August of 2014… We spent time filming and photographing Cecil the Lion, Jericho and their pride.
In July of 2015… Cecil was killed by an American dentist. For “sport”.
In August 2017… We return to Zimbabwe. This time will be different.
Because this time… we return with a purpose.
A purpose and resolve and a mission to extend our Community’s reach, strengthen our ties, expand our existing Community in Africa and educate us further. To learn more about the great challenges we face in eradicating the trophy hunting of Africa’s threatened and endangered species. Last time we were tourists.
This time… we want to bring you with us… Blog post continued here: Back to Zimbabwe – The Cecil Journey Continues
Join Us on The Ultimate Zimbabwe Safari:
Day 1: Arrive Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park (Thursday, August 24)
Hwange National Park – Cecil The Lion’s Home
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s biggest reserve, home to a profusion of wildlife, including giraffe, lion, zebra and approximately 40 000 elephants. It provides sanctuary for all the country’s endangered species, including a population of wild dogs thought to be among the most sizeable surviving groups on the continent. Terrain ranges from desert dunes and savannah lands to rocky outcrops and sparse forests, and visitors have the choice of game drives or guided walks as a means of experiencing the park and its creatures.
On arrival into Victoria Falls Airport, you will clear Customs and Immigration, check into your Charter flight to Somalisa Camp. Charter flight will be approximately 50 minutes in light aircraft.
On arrival at the Camp Airstrip, groups will be transferred in open 4×4 game drive vehicles into camp – approximately 45 mins. Somalisa Camp & Somalisa Acacia Camp will be home for the next 4 nights.
Have a light lunch or high tea on arrival with a short time to relax and freshen up before the afternoon game drive. Sunset drinks and snacks will be enjoyed at a point in the park and return to the camp for dinner.
Overnight: Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia Camp – our home for 4 nights
Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia Camp is set in the heart of Hwange National Park, and is known as the land of the giants for its big elephant herds and is home to Cecil the Lion, and his “brother” Jericho and their beautiful pride of lions. Nestled in a stunning location tucked away on an acacia island along the edge of an ancient seasonal flood plain, Somalisa provides guests with breathtaking views of the savannah plains across the famous Kennedy Vlei line. Recently re-built, Somalisa Camp has upgraded its level of accommodation to that of complete comfort and luxury whilst still maintaining its focus on the guiding and hosting of guests to ensure the ultimate guest experience.
Each elegantly furnished Sail Tents with gauze sliding doors, a glass wood-burner fireplace for the cold winter nights, and an overhead fan for the hot summer days, has en-suite bathroom facilities including flush toilets, an indoor and outdoor shower, as well as a copper slipper-style bathtub.
The main decking area includes split level decking with a separate lounge and dining area, as well as a small splash pool for guests overlooking the “Elephant Pool” and a natural waterhole where herds of game congregate to drink and where guests can relax whilst soaking in the African bush.
Activities include guided walks lead by qualified and passionate guides who will share their knowledge and love of the bush with you, game drives and night drives. Wildlife sightings include elephant, kudu, sable antelope, zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok, the rare and endangered roan antelope, buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, hyena, and many other wildlife species.
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 are also included.
Day 2: Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park (Friday, August 25)
Early morning Game Drive and breakfast in camp
We then proceed to a special outing to the African Bush Camps Foundation projects including Mambanje School, the Mambanje Lion Guardian and the Mambanje Cattle Boma’s – these are important aspects showing how Communities are benefiting directly from Tourism and how some of these projects are adding real value to the livelihoods of the communities as well as to the sustainability of the habitats in which they live in.
In the schools, it is the Foundation’s hope that they incorporate the ‘tourism dollar’ into funding for the education of their children. The Foundation supports vulnerable children within primary schools as well as AIDS orphans through scholarships and funding for secondary schooling.
Lion conflict cases around Hwange National Park (HNP) in Zimbabwe have declined by a half to three-quarters of their previous levels since the relatively recent introduction of the ‘Longshields Lion Guardian Programme’ in 2012. Long Shields Lion Guardians are local people who form a link between conservationists and their communities, providing information and encouraging cooperation – is an important initiative which has proved very successful. Far fewer livestock lost and far fewer lions killed amounts to a win-win scenario for lions, researchers, wildlife authorities and local people, through a shared sense of ‘ownership’ of both the problem and its solution.
As part of funding given by African Bush Camps Foundation, they focus on reducing human-animal conflict, which poses a significant risk to the survival of all carnivores in the wild, through a detailed understanding of the ecological and social factors that influence conflict. In the Hwange area, this conflict arises from lion predation on the livestock of rural communities who frequently retaliate by killing the lion as the people are subsistence farmers and the cattle are a vital part of their being able to support their families.
Depending on the way the day is planned, lunch will be served as a picnic offsite, or guests will return for a later lunch/high tea before the afternoon game drive. Sunset drinks and snacks to be enjoyed as a group at a waterhole.
Day 3: Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park (Saturday, August 26)
Morning Game Drive and breakfast.
Mid-morning, we will hear an inspiring talk by the camp’s Conservation Manager Richard Hoare on the Hwange Management Plan, The Water in the Park, Friends of Hwange and other conservation projects on the go.
Richard spends his time working in two areas: firstly, helping to ensure they will be operating in an environmentally sustainable way and secondly, getting staff and guests alike to understand a lot more about conservation issues in and around the places they operate. A qualified veterinarian who also has a Ph.D. in biological sciences, he has over 30 years’ experience in research and varied conservation work in several African countries.
Afternoon Game Drive, sunset drinks and snacks as a group at a waterhole, dinner in camp.
Day 4: Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park (Sunday, August 27)
Morning Game Drive and breakfast
Our intention for today is to learn about the Lion Research Program in Hwange and we will be hearing from them about Lion Research, Wild Dog (Painted Dog) research and other activities that the researchers do in Hwange National Park.
The Hwange Lion Research Project, which has been running for 15 years, is aimed at understanding, managing and conserving the lion population of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park through the collection of valuable long-term monitoring data of population demographics, ecology, and behavior. The project is run under the auspices of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology which has grown to be one of the largest and most productive conservation research institutes in the world.
Afternoon game drive, followed by a surprise evening activity.
Day 5: The Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Monday, August 28)
Early morning game activity at Somalisa – let’s hope we see Jericho one more time.
We will then check out and transfer to The Painted Dog Research Facility en route back to Victoria Falls. This is an informative visit, with a voluntary donation per person toward the research and upkeep of the facility.
Painted Dog Conservation was originally established as Painted Dog Research in 1992. At this time, the human-induced carnage from snares, shooting, and road kills accounted for 95% of all dog mortalities in Zimbabwe. During the subsequent years, a strategy evolved establishing a combination of direct action policies and long-term education and community development programs. Driven by the desire to make a substantial, lasting contribution to painted dogs, nature conservation and importantly to the lives of the local people, the project now employs some 45 staff in its various programs.
The Painted Dog Conservation was founded in 1992 by Dr. Greg Rasmussen, for the protection of the painted dogs and their habitat. Painted Dog Conservation works to engage and incorporate local communities in protecting painted dogs in Zimbabwe. The painted dog, or African wild dog, was once common in Africa with estimates of over half a million spread among 39 countries. Current estimates put their numbers at about 3,000. Since PDC’s creation, Zimbabwe’s wild dog population has increased from 400 to 700 individuals.
Daily anti-poaching patrols provide direct protection for the dogs, while at the same time making a significant contribution to conservation. The PDC Rehabilitation Facility allows PDC to deal with any eventuality concerning injured or orphaned individual dogs or the translocation of entire packs from problem areas.
Read More – http://www.painteddog.org
After the visit, we will board the coach and transfer to Victoria Falls – approximately 2 hours.
Check in to the camp for four nights on a fully inclusive basis.
Lunch will be enjoyed at leisure on arrival before the afternoon activities.
Sunset drinks and snacks and welcome on the terrace of the main camp, with a talk by one of the Wild Life Trust researchers who will explain exactly what the trust activities are and how Elephant Camp is committed to ensuring the success of future wildlife generations.
Welcome Dinner at leisure in camp.
Overnight: The Elephant Camp
Situated on a private concession within and bounded by the Masuwe River and the Zambezi gorges, The Elephant Camp and The Elephant Camp West have breath-taking views of the Victoria Falls’ spray and the spectacular gorges which separate Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Elephant Camp is a luxurious, intimate lodge under canvas within easy reach of Victoria Falls (approximately 10km) and all its attractions and activities, yet secluded in its own private game reserve. The Elephant Camp offers exclusive suite accommodation for only 24 guests in 12 luxury tents.
The Elephant Camp West is an extension of The Elephant Camp, extending to the West of the current facility and catering to groups and families. The facility operates independently of the main camp ensuring a more intimate and serene experience for groups and guests. The Elephant Camp West offers exclusive suite accommodation for only 16 guests (8 adults and 8 children) in 4 luxury tents. Each suite in The Elephant Camp West can accommodate two adults and two children.
All suites are gorge facing and boast a private viewing deck and plunge pool, private lounge area, air-conditioning and fans, bath (with a view), inside and outside shower, mini bar and tea/coffee stations. The lounge, bar and dining area lead out to a sun-kissed pool from where the roar of the water rushing over gorges becomes a constant beat and soon settles into the background like an old friend. It is calming and therapeutic to sit back, watch and listen to “the smoke that thunders”…
Select Spa Treatments are available in the privacy of your suite (subject to availability, on request at an additional charge). Access is by road transfer from Victoria Falls (15 km from Victoria Falls Airport and 10 km from Victoria Falls town), Livingstone and Kasane.
Day 6: The Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Tuesday, August 29)
1/2 the group, Early morning Walk with Sylvester
1/2 the group, Wild Horizon Elephant Interaction:
The “Elephant Wallow” provides a magnificent setting for visitors to enjoy meeting the Wild Horizons orphaned elephant herd, and the handlers who have looked after them for many years. Guests enjoy a presentation on the orphan elephants; detailing the life of the individual elephants; their history, personalities and the long-term plans for them. This presentation is followed by the opportunity to interact with these gentle giants on a personal level, getting to know a little about each of their individual characters whilst at the same time providing unique photographic opportunities.
As the group will also be learning about Miz Ellie and her release herd, time will be made to take a short walk into the concession to try and locate the small herd.
Wild Horizons currently has two release programs underway; they have this year released 7 of the orphaned elephants that have been through the “soft” release program onto a Wild Life estate. This has been very successful to date and we continue to monitor the elephants’ acceptance of their new home on a daily basis.
The second release consists of the original matriarch Miz Ellie and a group of 3 orphaned juveniles who are on a “soft” release program, in preparation for the day when they will be released into one of Zimbabwe’s National Park areas. A soft release involves the elephants being released into an area that is still familiar to them, and where they still have access to the other elephants in the elephant program, however, they are no longer managed on a daily basis by humans and are encouraged to shy away from any form of human habitation.
Return to the camp for breakfast all together
After breakfast, we will transfer into town for a Private Guided Morning Tour of the Falls
Tour of the Falls Zimbabwe
The Victoria Falls reaches its zenith in about May each year. It’s a truly awe-inspiring experience – the sight, the sound, the smell; the humbling feeling that here indeed is Nature’s Supreme Masterpiece. No photograph can begin to depict the reality…and nothing prepares you for your first sight. Your guides will accompany you through the Rainforest and they will give a brief history of the Falls themselves as well as detailing the flora, fauna, bird & wildlife and other points of interest. Guides are also happy to assist with photographs whilst visiting this most spectacular of waterfalls. Raincoats will be provided
After the falls tour, we will be taken to the Lookout for Lunch at The Lookout Café with the most beautiful view of the gorges and the Victoria Falls Bridge
The Lookout Café (included in accommodation package)
OPTIONAL Adrenalin activities available – Anyone who wishes to do the canopy tour can arrange this for another time as it takes 2 hours.
THE VIC FALLS CANOPY TOUR – Tree top adventure offering a unique birds-eye view of one the seven natural wonders of the world
GORGE SWING – Zero Gravity – Imagine swinging in a child’s swing in the playground…now imagine a giant swing 95m long and 120m high above water…now imagine a 70m free fall before you begin swinging. Stop imagining and test your courage!
THE ZIP LINE – Experience the adrenalin rush traveling a speed of 106 km’s hurtling 425m across the gorge, while suspended 120m above the breathtaking beauty of the Zambezi water below!
THE FLYING FOX
Take a running jump into thin air over the chasm, soaring horizontally through the air over the turmoil of the Zambezi below.
OPTIONAL Elephant Art Experience
This collaboration between Wild Horizons and Art of Africa is certainly one for the bucket list.
Spend time with Africa’s gentle giants – interacting, feeding, and truly observing their characters and ways. Easels and palettes await beneath the trees and in front of the wallow, where the herd descends to splash and play in the cool mud. A private tutor is provided to guide guests through a painting workshop, using their sketch pads and brush to capture the moment.
After lunch, we will return to the camp for some leisure time and maybe a much-needed afternoon siesta.
Later this afternoon you will be collected and transferred to Chamabonda National Park with the Bhejane Trust guides and researchers. An informative afternoon excursion through the park learning about what the program does.
Bhejane Trust (“Bhejane” is the local Ndebele name for Black Rhino) is a non-profit trust, established in 2010 by two Zimbabwean conservationists, Trevor Lane and Stephen Long, initially with the idea of monitoring the Black Rhino population in the Sinamatella area of Hwange National Park in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife Authority of Zimbabwe.
Stephen then based up at Sinamatella and commenced the monitoring program. However, Stephen soon found that he was having to assist Parks in many facets of their operations, not only the rhino monitoring. He ended up helping on ranger deployments, carrying diesel to pumps, fixing pumps, installing donated solar pump units, Park staff welfare, helping provide for tourist camp sites, and a host of other duties, as the Park staff had the enthusiasm and ability, but not the vehicles and equipment to undertake these tasks.
The operations of the Trust then extended to the Zambezi National Park, close to the renowned Victoria Falls, where Trevor has been instrumental in reviving the Chamabonda Vlei section, resuscitating old boreholes, drilling new ones, installing solar pumping units and getting pans revitalized after over ten years of not being pumped. He is also assisting the Parks on road development, fire management, anti-poaching, monitoring game populations, and other facets of restoring this park to its former status.
Bhejane Trust has thus evolved to an entity which is assisting National Parks in many of its field operations, facilitating research work, acquiring donor funding, as well as the Rhino monitoring. Bhejane Trust intends to expand its conservation programs over the next few years to include the Matetsi area, the Kazuma Pan National Park and the Robins area of Hwange National Park.
Much of Bhejane Trust funding comes from a volunteer, or Field Assistance, program, which makes it possible for conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts to join up with the Bhejane team, and enjoy this rare and exciting opportunity to experience the real Africa of vast, remote places, and to actively assist in the conservation and survival of the magnificent wild animals which inhabit this wilderness.
During this trip, guests will meet up at the waterhole where they will enjoy sunset drinks and snacks before returning to the camp around 7pm.
Tonight – we have a big surprise for you! Get your dancing shoes ready!
Day 7: The Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Wednesday, August 30)
1/2 the group, Early morning Walk with Sylvester
1/2 the group, Wild Horizons Elephant Orphans Interaction
Return to the camp for breakfast all together
Mid-morning, we will transfer into town for you to enjoy helicopter rides, shopping, visit Victoria Falls Hotel, cultural visit to a local village – choices can be made ahead of time
Just before lunch, we will return to the estate and meet up at The Wallow at Elephant Camp for a lunch and presentation by the Wildlife Trust and Charles Brightman of Victoria Falls Anti- Poaching.
Wild Horizons Wildlife Trust
Wild Horizons pioneered the establishment of the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, which is a non-profit organization promoting conservation awareness, together with education and empowerment of local indigenous communities, through sustainable use of indigenous resources. The Trust is dedicated to protecting the area’s unique indigenous fauna and flora, in collaboration with authorities, local communities, and other stakeholders. Projects include the rehabilitation of injured or orphaned wildlife, anti-poaching and wildlife veterinary assistance through our Wildlife Laboratory, disease sampling within the local community and livestock and human/wildlife conflict mitigation.
There are four areas in which our projects focus: Community Outreach and Training, Wildlife Research, Veterinary Laboratory, Wildlife Rehabilitation. Read More….. http://www.wildhorizons.co.za/conservation-community
Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit
Charles is a Zimbabwean Professional Guide. He’s Ops Coordinator and leads the team at the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit. These men work closely with National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) was established by Charles Brightman, a Professional Guide, local safari operator, and conservationist, together with the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. VFAPU has since worked in close co-operation with the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police on anti-poaching efforts. They patrol a 50 square kilometer area around Victoria Falls with 18 full-time scouts to combat poaching in all its forms. Whilst VFAPU’s activities are largely directed at the removal of snares and the apprehension of subsistence and commercial poachers, a great deal of time is spent educating and reinforcing the benefits of conserving the areas natural resources.
VFAPU’s work has been recognized by the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism as the four-time recipient of the Green Globe 21 Award for Conservation Efforts in Zimbabwe. Charles Brightman has been personally recognized as a finalist in the Safari Awards category for “Best Personal Contribution to Wildlife Conservation”.
Read More…. http://vfapu.com
After the presentation, we will enjoy a sumptuous lunch, including drinks and return to the camp for some afternoon leisure time.
Later this afternoon at 4pm, we will need to put on our Number Ones (smart attire) will be required to dress smart (Collar and long pants) and transfer to the Victoria Falls Train Station for a sunset sojourn aboard the magnificent Bushtracks Express. This is a wonderful 2-hour journey with a full bar and canape snacks.
On arrival back at the train station, we will transfer back to Elephant Camp for dinner.
Day 8: The Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Thursday, August 31)
This morning we will enjoy a Rhino Drive on the Nakavango Estate with a presentation by Ian Du Preez on the Rhino and protected species within the estate, as well as orientation of the Nakavango Volunteer Program
The Nakavango Conservation Programme has five major focal areas:
Read more/…. http://www.nakavango.com
After our morning of enjoying one of the most fascinating of endangered species, The Rhino, we will transfer back to Elephant Camp for lunch.
Later this afternoon, we will transfer to the Zambezi River Jetty Site to board the Zambezi Royale for a luxurious river cruise as the sun sets. Full bar and snacks included.
Return to the camp for a farewell dinner.
Day 9: Departure (Thu, September 1)
Breakfast at leisure
Check out and transfer to the Victoria Falls airport for the flight to Johannesburg and onwards home.
Victoria Falls Activities:
Luggage on the charter flight is restricted to soft sided bags and a maximum of 20kgs/44lbs Per person including hand luggage.
Laundry is available in the camp so luggage can be restricted.
If guests wish to leave main luggage in storage in Vic Falls whilst they travel to Hwange, this can be arranged at a storage cost of $ 5 per bag per day.
Meals have not included 10% gratuities
Please submit your information through our form for more information. One of our travel specialists will contact you within 24 hours.