A Special Safari in Zimbabwe

I thought I knew what to expect with a safari in Zimbabwe, after all, I’d been here before. I knew the locations, the pools & hides, and I’d been to two of the three bush lodges.

What I didn’t know was that the experience would be totally different from before!

Elephant reaching up high for leaves
Elephant Reach

This was Zimbabwe, first in Hwange and then Mana Pools National Parks, in a country that is well-versed in the walking safari, where animals are relaxed around people on foot. After all, this has been common practice since Mana Pools was established, some 40+ years ago. These animals have been born and raised by animals that were born and raised (etc.) around people on foot. It’s the norm.

However, it was still thrilling!

Most animals completely ignored us. A few looked at us sideways but kept going, and some actually slowed or turned around to check us out.

When an elephant wants to get a better look at you, it naturally raises its head. Now if they also spread their ears, the message can be pretty threatening. Whether intended that way or not, I found myself ready to scramble! But I wasn’t truly in danger. They just like to remind us of who’s in charge and to keep our distance. No problem.

Black and white close-up image of an elephant lookind down at me
Staredown

It’s not just the animals

But it’s not just the experience with the animals that set this area apart. Even the landscapes are different. Mana Pools National Park, in the far north of the country, rests against the Zambezi River and looks out across to the mountains of Zambia. “Mana” means four in the local Shona language, and there are considered to be four permanent pools of water, plus the many others that are created or fill in with the rains.

The pools and banks of the river give way to stunning forests full of acacia, baobabs, ebonies, fig, and mahogany trees. The light that makes it way through the canopy create a stunning, sometimes blue backdrop for the lone animal in the forest. A photographer’s dream.

A lone bull elephant walks through the forest in Zimbabwe
Deep in the Forest

While we weren’t by ourselves in the park, the remoteness gives one the feeling of being nearly alone here. Travel by vehicle, search with binoculars and hop out on foot for a true safari experience. This gives you a wilderness experience like few others, and so worth it!

Over the course of twelve days in three different locations, we experienced seeing elephants, lions, buffalo, hippos, crocs, wild dogs, hyenas, warthogs and millions of antelope and birds from a totally different perspective. (Read more about that here!) The park does hold cheetah and leopard, however, we never saw any. Rhino are gone from this area.

Hitchin’ A Ride

Pro tip: Be sure to go with someone who knows what they’re doing on foot and stay in lodges that create amazing – and safe – walking safari experiences for you. You’ll be so glad you did!

Here’s who I recommend for a safari in Zimbabwe

  • TandaAfrika with Marlon du Toit, our photographic guide and host (beyond amazing!) TandaAfrika.com
  • African Bush Camps, who provides the driver/guide/ranger. We had Cloud as our ranger, and were so fortunate! The most recent camps I stayed at: Somalisa Expeditions, Zambezi Expeditions and Kanga Camp. africanbushcamps.com

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. Just my opinion!

Pin this for your next African Safari experience!

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