Day 1: Bulawayo
ARRIVAL IN BULAWAYO
After a night flight from Europe and a transfer in Johannesburg, your hunt for the jewels of Zimbabwe will begin.
You take over your rental car and discover Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe with approx. 653,000 inhabitants. It is capital of the province Bulawayo Province in the southwest of the country. In Zimbabwe, the main roads are well tarred and have little traffic. For the side roads you need a car with high ground clearance and for national parks an off-road vehicle is always recommended.
The Khami Ruins in the west of Bulawayo are the first jewel you can discover. About 20 km outside the city you can visit these remains of a former palace complex in a picturesque hilly landscape in the forest. Smaller are the ruins in Great Zimbabwe, but very suitable for a half-day excursion.
Day 2: Great Zimbabwe Ruins
BULAWAYO - LAKE MUTIRIKWI NP (approx. 315 km / approx. 04:00 h)
The way leads you to the ruins of Groß-Simbabwe in the Mutirikwi National Park. A first longer drive through the country. Via the A9, where tolls are levied, you will arrive at your destination for the next two nights after a 4 hour drive: Norma Jean's Lakeview Resort.
This National Park is home to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, a ruined city 39 kilometres from Masvingo. The name Zimbabwe means 'big stone houses' or 'honoured houses' depending on the dialect. The settlement on the plateau of the same name was the capital of the extinct Munhumutapa Empire (also Monomotapa Empire), which included parts of Mozambique as well as today's Zimbabwe. In its heyday from the 11th to the middle of the 15th century, Great Zimbabwe had up to 18,000 inhabitants, was used by the monarchs of Zimbabwe as a royal palace and was the centre of political power. A truly impressive jewel of the architecture of its time.
Once you have mastered the steep ascent to the former seat of the King of Greater Zimbabwe and seen the massive, massive walls from the 11th century, you think it was worth it. But the Great Enclosure in the valley trumps everything: 255 metres long, up to eleven metres high, it is the largest medieval building in Africa - completely built without mortar. Book a guide - it's worth it!
Day 3: Great Zimbabwe Ruins
LAKE MUTIRIKWI NP
A day to relax and enjoy... About 10 km away at Lake Mutirikwi lies your privately managed resort - very beautiful. With a lush green garden, lake view and offers for all budgets you will find a first relaxation. Perfect for a hike.
Day 4: Mutare
LAKE MUTIRIKWI (NP) - MUSANGANO LODGE (317 km / approx. 04:10 h)
Today you explore Zimbabwe from the wonderful National Park to the Musangano Lodge in Odzi situated about 30 km outside Mutare. A trip through the rural regions of Zimbabwe and thus into the east of the country. Fertile mountain valleys of a more than 300 km long mountain world with waterfalls and extensive forests form a strong contrast to the rest of the country. Ancient stone ruins of past cultures and tea and coffee plantations still today transport the visitor into a tropical-exotic world. The journey takes you via Gutu and Nyazura partly over unpaved roads and lets you experience this country.
Day 5: Mutare
The mountain world in eastern Zimbabwe inspired the European colonists and pioneers from the very beginning. They recognized the great economic perspectives that were offered to them here. So today you can experience this wonderful landscape and imagine in the core area of the Shona how some of the most fertile and modern farms once took over the supply of the Kand.
Today this part of Zimbabwe is only slowly rebuilding, but the people here welcome you friendly and open. Make a detour to the Honde Valley, one of the most charming valleys in the Eastern Highlands. Also visit the Eastern Highlands Country Club which you can reach from Hauna.
Eastern Highlands Tea Estate
Day 6: Mutare
EASTERN HIGHLANDS / MUSANGANO LODGE
The lodge, under German management of Bigi and Gerd, offers many activities in the surrounding area. Marked hiking trails of 1 to 3 hours duration are available through the forest landscape. Many native bird species can be discovered.
Perhaps you would like to go on a mountain bike tour or prefer to go fishing in the Osborne Dam Recreational Park, about 45 minutes away? Also the nearby Chikundu Game Park offers you the wildlife of the region.
In addition, there are cultural encounters with the locals, as the Bigi and Gerd like to offer young artists support true to their philosophy: Our friends, who visited us from abroad, enjoyed meeting the locals very much, as it gave them an insight into the lives of the simple Zimbabweans. These experiences formed the basis for our concept of Musangano Lodge as a place where people come together to do something important - whatever it may be. We imagined Musangano as a meeting place for travellers who want to learn more about the people of the country they are visiting.
Day 7: Matobo National Park
MUSANGANO LODGE - AMALINDA LODGE / MATOBO NP (584 km / approx. 06:45 h)
Today it gets a bit more intense with the drive to Matobo via Gweru and Bulawayo back to the Matobo National Park. There the Amalinda Lodge is your destination. "A Wilderness of Granite"
This exclusive private safari lodge is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe's oldest national park, hidden in an ancient Bushman sanctuary. The granite domes and Kopjes Castle reflect the essence of the peace and majesty of untamed Africa, where animal and bird species thrive in abundance. The area is known for its healthy population of endangered rhinos and is one of Zimbabwe's most sought-after destinations.
The trip will be worth it!
Day 8: Matobo National Park
MATOBO NATIONAL PARK
It is comparatively small (425 km²), but with its rocks that look like oversized stream pebbles and the huge granite ridge, Matobo National Park is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa. And the leopard richest.
But also culturally, not only the grave of the British conqueror Cecil Rhodes, but much more the largest gallery of rock paintings in the world can be found in Matobo NP. More than 10,000 years old paintings tell a special African history of mankind that has been proven to have developed in this region for more than 40,000 years.
The park is suitable for a one or more day excursion by jeep and is home to rhinos.
Day 9: Eastern Hwange National Park
MATOBO NP - BULAWAYO (66 km / 0:50 h) / BULAWAYO - HWANGE NP (Transfer 365 km / 4:41 h)
Today is travel day again and it starts early. Before you bring the rental car back to its station at the airport you should visit the ruins of Khami. The second largest ruin of the country was once the center of a state whose power and influence reached far beyond today's borders. The tranquillity there is only disturbed by a few visitors.
In the centre of Bulawayo one quickly notices that it is not a grown city, so much the core reminds of a chess board. Before you return the car at the airport and then transfer it to the Hwange NP, you should visit one of the museums in the center. The Museum of Natural History certainly offers the best overview of nature and wildlife in Zimbabwe. The Mzilikazi Art and Craft Center in the northern part of the city on Taylor Avenue is home to many young artists and craftsmen - ideal for inexpensive souvenirs.
In the late afternoon you arrive at Bomani Lodge and have a first game drive ahead of you. An eventful day lies behind you.
Day 10: Eastern Hwange National Park
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
The village Ngamo Village, on whose land some of the IMVELO projects and lodges are located, welcomes you in the morning followed by a tour through the IMVELO community projects.
Return to Bomani for brunch and a siesta or one to two hour excursion to the underground observation post at the waterhole. There you will get very close to Ellis and other wild animals.
The afternoon game drive ends with a sundowner and snacks in the Major Pan and ends with a night drive back to the lodge. After a short refreshment drinks and canapés are ready around the campfire and later a 3-course dinner in the Main Lodge.
Day 11: Eastern Hwange National Park
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
This day offers from the early morning an excursion to the park.
On the unique pump run the situation of the water holes and their pumps can be checked (in Zimbabwe there is only enough water at these pump stations). A picnic lunch and a siesta under the trees in Mfagazaan Pan will let you experience the smell of Bush.
A leisurely afternoon drive back to the lodge goes from one level to the next with lots of wildlife watching on the way.
A campfire, soft drinks and later a delicious dinner round off the day.
Day 12: Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK - VICTORIA FALLS (Transfer approx. 175 km / 2:17 h)
Today you leave the Hwange National Park and your destination is Victoria Falls - the city at the wonderful waterfalls. Depending on the code number, these are among the largest in the world.
Your transfer first takes you by Elli Express from IMVELO to Dete and then by car to Gorges Lodge at the edge of the gorge. Once there you move into a small chalet or room and are impressed by the 250m deep gorge of the Zambezi River.
In the afternoon there is the possibility to get very close to the Victoria Falls in the city, or to make a first sundowner cruise on the Zambezi. Return to the lodge for a 3-course dinner at the lodge.
Black eagle viewing
Victoria Falls Tour
Day 13: Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
After breakfast you will visit a school in the surrounding area and learn from daily life in Zimbabwe with the children and teachers. Or take the shuttle to Victoria Falls Town for a guided tour of the waterfalls with time for some souvenir shopping followed by a picnic on the banks of the Zambezi.
After lunch, visit the nature reserve and crocodile farm and enjoy a high tea on the terrace of the Victoria Falls Hotel and then take the afternoon shuttle back to Gorges Lodge. In the evening, the Gorges Lodge team will pamper you with a dinner overlooking Batoka Gorge.
Day 14: Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
A full day's finish is waiting for you today and will once again encourage you to take part in some of the many other activities in Victoria Falls. Together with IMVELO, you can go to a local village early in the morning or climb the canyon with lunch on the Sambezi River.
A helicopter flight with the Flight of Angels directly over the waterfalls is also worthwhile (subject to a fee and CO2 compensation recommended).
If you have not yet seen enough wildlife, a full day safari to Chobe National Park in Botswana can also be arranged (subject to a fee).
Day 15: End of Itinerary
DEPARTURE FROM ZIMBABWE