Lake Kariba Cruise, Mana Pools Safari and Victoria Falls
Cruise and Safari Zimbabwe Itinerary
(Minimum 10 guests, maximum 18, tailor-made options are available)
Day 1: Arrive at Pamuzinda Safari Lodge
On arrival at Harare International Airport, your driver/guide will meet you and transfer you to Pamuzinda Safari Lodge. This is a journey of one and half hours in a comfortable private bus. Spend the afternoon relaxing or choose from a variety of activities including a visit to the Chengeta Primary School, elephant interaction, guided canoe excursion, horseback safari or a game drive on the 13,000-acre pristine wildlife habitat before enjoying a “Welcome to Africa” barbeque dinner.
Day 2: Pamuzinda Safari Lodge
Take this day to “arrive” in Africa, enjoy the sights and sounds of the bush that surrounds you. Sleep in, spend the morning by the pool after your sumptuous breakfast or stroll around the gardens. Alternatively, you pick one of the many activities on offer at Pamuzinda Safari Lodge to take part in.
Day 3: Pamuzinda Safari Lodge to Mana Pools National Park
After a restful night’s sleep, enjoy a relaxing hot beverage from your room’s private balcony overlooking the Serui River before having an early breakfast. A two-hour journey takes you to Chinhoyi Caves. These limestone and dolomite caves and tunnels branch out from the Wonder Hole and Sleeping Pool, a natural sinkhole with striking cobalt blue crystal clear water believed to be at least 90 metres deep.
The road journey continues for a further four hours, passing through the towns of Karoi and Makuti before the scenic twists and turns take you down the escarpment through the wildlife areas of the Zambezi Valley and down to Chirundu.
Here, you will meet the tender boats for a two hour trip down the mighty Zambezi River to Mana Safari Lodge. Chances are that you will see plenty of game along the way. Elephants browse in the reeds on the riverbanks, Carmine bee-eaters nest in the high banks and African fish eagles soar overhead. You may encounter a pod of hippos that pop their heads up to look at the passing boat or watch Nile crocodiles slide into the water from their basking spot on the riverbank.
Day 4: Mana Pools National Park
Early morning and afternoon game drives in open 4x4 vehicles will show you the beauty of the Mana Pools shoreline landscape and its many-faceted wildlife. Mana Pools National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The more you see of this stunning park, the more you will understand why. Huge Winterthorn trees (Faidherbia albida) tower over the Zambezi floodplain. Their lower branches are all browsed to an equal height by elephants who particularly love the protein-rich seed pods.
Deep green Natal mahogany trees are browsed by Kudus and Eland antelopes. Between the trees, tantalising glimpses of the sparkling Zambezi River are constant reminders of where you are. When you follow one of the loops down to the riverbank, you have an uninterrupted view over the broad river, its sandbanks, reed beds and islands with the mountains of the Zambian escarpment in the background.
Day 5: Mana Pools National Park
Morning and afternoon game drives or a guided walk for a change, are on your agenda again for today. Mana Pools National Park boasts some very relaxed elephant bulls that wander along the shoreline on their search for food. The guides have given them names and recognise them by the shapes of their ears or their tusks. These bulls often wander through campsites and lodges undisturbed by the people who admire and photograph them.
Mana Pools National Park also has a relatively large population of predators from lions and leopards to spotted hyenas and the highly endangered African wild dogs. With a bit of luck, you may get to see some of these apex predators together with the plethora of elephants, hippos, antelope and almost 400 recorded bird species.
Day 6: Mana Pools National Park to Kariba Safari Lodge
After breakfast, a two and a half hour road transfer through safari areas will take you to the main road. There, you transfer to a mini-coach for an hour’s drive to Kariba town on the south side of the Zambezi Escarpment. Settle in at Kariba Safari Lodge and enjoy lunch on the elevated deck whilst drinking in the views of the lake and the majestic Matusadona mountain range. An afternoon of relaxation lies ahead before you have sundowners on the patio and enjoy the first of many legendary Kariba sunsets. Dinner will be served in the open-air restaurant or on the beach.
Day 7: Kariba Safari Lodge and Matusadona National Park
This morning, you will enjoy a half-day tour of Kariba which includes a visit to the Dam Wall, Santa Barbara Chapel, Kariba Heights and Mahombekombe Township. After the tour, you take a short drive to the harbour. It is time to board your cruise boat for four nights of thrilling and relaxing adventure crossing the vast 250 km of Lake Kariba.
Settle into your comfortable cabin with en-suite shower and WC then enjoy a delicious lunch whilst admiring the Matusadona Mountains and the small islands that you pass. In the late afternoon, on a sunset cruise in the tender boat, you will enjoy succulent snacks and refreshing drinks together with wildlife encounters and the breath-taking landscapes of Lake Kariba. Enjoy the sounds of the wild at night and the wavelets lapping at the side of the boat whilst you sleep.
Day 8: Cruise on Lake Kariba
Morning and afternoon outings by tender boat will take you close to fascinating wildlife on the shoreline. You will also have an opportunity to catch some juicy bream for your afternoon snacks. Perhaps you would like to meet the inhabitants of a fishing village on the lakeshore. Enjoy a day of exciting and fascinating activities in this most remote of wildlife areas.
Day 9: Cruise on Lake Kariba
The boat will cast off just before dawn and begin its thirteen-hour cruise through the Kota Kota narrows into the expansive Sengwe Basin. Breakfast and lunch will be served on board. This gives you time to relax as you cross half of this vast expanse of inland-ocean, en-route to the Sengwe River system.
On arrival at our mooring spot, the tender boats will take you out to explore this strikingly beautiful riverine area. You will cruise amongst the drowned mopane trees encountering crocodiles, hippos and other wildlife. Indulge in some delicious snacks and the ultimate relaxation of cruising in this serene and secluded area. Enjoy it with a gin and tonic or your favourite beverage while watching another majestic sunset.
Day 10: Cruise on Lake Kariba
A continental breakfast will be served on the tender boat, whilst you explore more of the Sengwe River. You will return to the main vessel for lunch and a siesta during the three-hour cruise to the final night’s stop at Elephant Bay. Here, the cruise boat will moor on the beach. You will have an opportunity to do some fishing and watch the local fishermen in their “dugout” canoes go about their daily lives amongst the islands and inlets of the area. Weather and lake conditions permitting, dinner will be a beach braai (barbeque) enjoyed around a campfire under the canopy of the stars. You will return to the boat for the night.
Day 11: Masumu River Lodge
The early morning provides your last chance to catch a fish or go on a short tender boat cruise before returning to the main vessel for breakfast. In the meantime, the boat will be cruising the final hour to Binga, where your host will welcome you at Masumu River Lodge. An optional afternoon tour of Binga is available here. The tour includes visiting a quaint museum dedicated to the Tonga people, the natural hot springs, a crocodile breeding sanctuary and a local rural school or Tonga village. You will return to the lodge in time to appreciate your last Kariba sunset from the bar overlooking the islands of this magical, immense inland ocean.
Day 12: Victoria Falls
After a comfortable night’s sleep and early breakfast, a five and a half hour bus transfer brings you to Victoria Falls in time for lunch. Once settled into your room, you can peruse the many optional activities available in Zimbabwe’s thriving tourism hub. The famed Boma Dinner and Drum Show or Sunset Dinner Cruise are worth considering, with regular bus shuttles to the venues from the hotel.
Day 13: Victoria Falls
The Victoria Falls are one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and feature on everyone’s “Bucket List”. Hence we highly recommend the Falls & Rainforest Tour with lunch at the Lookout Café overlooking the Gorge and the Victoria Falls Bridge. You can spend the afternoon negotiating prices for a handmade curio with one of the vendors or visiting the various shops in this charming town. It is easily small enough to discover by foot. For the more adventurous, there are the options of bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge, gorge swings, a number of zip line activities or an unforgettable helicopter flight over the Falls.
Day 14: Victoria Falls Airport
Enjoy a relaxing morning before boarding a transfer bus for the half hour drive to Victoria Falls International Airport for your flight home.