zimbabwe – matabeleland

Hidden jewels

Hereafter you will find a spectacular itinerary through beautiful Zimbabwe including the guaranteed true bush-feeling lifestyle of Hwange National Park, the graceful giraffe encounters in Cawston Wildife Estate and the special white rhino sightings in Matobo National Park – all from the back of a horse, if you fency.

Zimbabwe at its very best in 15 Days!

June 2019: Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from a two weeks travel route through the breathtaking scenery and unforgettable wildlife parks in Zimbabwe. A country, that struggles far more than over a decade, tormented by its political corruption and the economic downwards spiral, where the poorest of the poor suffer the most and everyone else tries to make a plan for a living. However, this reality is much different for tourists, it’s actually one of the safest, friendliest and most spectacular countries in Africa to visit! And this support is very much needed for its residents. A journey here will take you through some attractive African sceneries, from highveld to lush mountains, from dry savannah-like plains to the mighty Victoria Falls in the North. You can spot the Big Five in their natural habitat, while enjoying the bush feeling to its fullest. So, here you can find some ideas for an individual itinerary and what you would like to discover in this extraordinary country. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable view of the mighty Zambezi falling into the gorge – the Victoria Falls, stunning wildlife encounters in beautiful reserves and some relaxed African braais to end a perfect bush day.

Short summary:

  • Length – 15 days / 14 nights
  • Total km – ca. 675km
  • Vehicle – 4WD SUV
  • Road conditions – tared, gravel, sandy and potholed
  • Accommodation – Tented camps, camping, safari
  • Highlights – Hwange National Park, Victoria Falls and Matobo National Park

If you have about two weeks of vacation and you are looking for a true bush adventure and unforgettable wildlife encounter while feeling safe and being friendly welcomed, Zimbabwe is the perfect match for you. You can even opt for some memorable days with Ride Zimbabwe to enjoy the bush from the back of their well-trained horses. During driving days, keep in mind to not drive during darkness as it bears many risks due to crossing wildlife, bad road conditions and other hazardous possibilities, so plan always enough time to reach your next goal within the sunlight.

BUQ Airport – Matobo National Park drive about 55km; 1hr

Day 1 – 3: Most likely you will arrive in the early morning hours, allowing you to pick up your car and drive calmly through the grand colonial architectural town of Bulawayo, if needed you can stock up on food and drinks. From there, you head southwards towards Matobo National Park. You can either stay at Matobo Hills Lodge and explore the park on your own or have some stunning white rhino encounters from the back of a horse with Ride Zimbabwe. If you go for the second, it’s just a short drive after the entrance gate until you reach Rowallen Park where you will be greeted by the Ride Zimbabwe team, that will wait for you already. From now on, it’s going to be all about horses, rhino trackings and afternoon teas – welcome to your relaxed heaven. James, as your guide, will show you the beauty of this amazing reserve, with long morning and afternoon rides, sundowners at Cecil Rhode’s graveyard and lekker braai evenings. Your accommodation will be an unfenced tented camp in the middle of the nature with an ablution block and hot, outdoor showers – the real nature experience for all outdoor-lovers.

Matobo National Park – Cawston Wildlife Estate drive about 100km; 1hr 30min

Day 4 – 6: After enjoying a last morning ride in Matobo you can now head northwards aiming for the family-run Cawston Wildlife Estate; a perfect choice for anyone looking for some outdoor adventure. The road conditions are fine, you will pass one toll gate after Bulawayo staying on Vic Falls road until you reach the dirt road leading westwards that will bring you to the private reserve. You can either stay in the tented camp and go for game drives or have some fun horse safari days with Ride Zimbabwe. If you choose the latter, the Ride Zimbabwe and Cawston team will wait for you to greet you with an afternoon tea. Enjoy yourself on the beautiful veranda overlooking a waterhole where you will  spot your first wildlife before you head out to explore the terrain on the horse’s back. The next days will be dominated by morning and afternoon rides, sundowners in the bush and even some game drives or morning walks if you would like to experience the reserve from a different perspective. You will sleep in the spacious, unfenced tented camp with some bushbabies as neighbours close to the veranda. If you are lucky you might hear the leopard callings in the night, look carefully for its tracks on the ground you might even be privileged to spot these very shy cats in the bush.

Cawston Wildlife Estate – Hwange National Park drive about 290km; 3hr 30min

Day 7 – 11: Today you can head during the late morning hours northwards into the vast bush lands of Hwange National Park, among the 10 largest national parks in Africa! The last hour of driving will be already in the park on gravel roads towards the mobile bush camp that Ride Zimbabwe has set-up just for you. You will find yourself in the middle of the bush with tents, a bush toilet and a bush shower. An electric fence will be separating you as well as the horses from the lions, hyenas an other predators that might be interested in your little camp. Keep in mind this is a Big Five territory, hence the team will take the necessary precautions. This is a very unique outdoor experience that you can only get with Ride Zimbabwe, otherwise you would have to stay in any of the national park camps. To track the animals by horse is however an adrenaline-full adventure as you never know what lays behind the next bush. Sure, its a safari to remember and very different to a self drive or guided game drive. If you stay with Ride Zimbabwe for this memorable experience, the morning and afternoon rides will give you an idea about the stunning plains of the park with its gorgeous wildlife, amongst you might spot elephants, buffaloes, zebras, ostriches, giraffes and even lions from the back of a horse. Hwange has a very large number of wildlife, more than 100 types of animals including one of the world’s largest elephant population and 400 species of birds can be found in this special park. James will be your guide, be sure he knows every species to be found here, providing you with the adventure you would like to have.

Hwange National Park – Victoria Falls drive about 230km; 3hr

Day 12 – 15: Last morning ride in wildlife heaven and a goodbye to your four-legged friends before you head further north to settle down in Victoria Falls for a couple of nights. Here the adrenaline-pumped city and the mighty Zambezi awaits you. You can book yourself into a small cottage of Victoria Falls Restcamp, which will allow you to walk through the town and to the waterfalls, that are at its best during the golden sunset hour. Take one day to cross borders into Zambia by walking over the bridge, offering a stunning view into the Zambezi gorge. You will get a day visa for about 55 USD and can enjoy the Zambian side of the waterfalls, allowing you to indulge into a very different and more open view of the falls. Here you can even walk down into the gorge and be on the same level as the mighty Zambezi river. The last day you can enjoy a self drive through the Zambezi National Park, a beautiful piece of land, situated at the riverbanks of the Zambezi, where plenty of animals, especially elephants and buffaloes, come to quench their thirst. Enjoy your last day before leaving this unique country from the Victoria Falls airport offering so much for all outdoor-adventure-lovers. Bybe bye, salut and lisale kuhle

If you have any questions, contact me, read my numerous blog posts about my 3 months volunteering time in Zimbabwe or follow my adventures on Instagram.

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