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Zimbabwe - Southern Africa
 
Until 2001 it was seen as one of the finest countries for a top-quality wilderness experience. The guides were the best in Africa, and the Zambezi River, the open plains of Hwange and the unique Kariba shoreline were settings for enthralling game viewing adventures. The political chaos of the last eight years saw a drop in tourism and the closure of many lodges and camps.
Yet it is now ready to welcome tourists again and we think that as soon as political change happens it will quickly revive as one of Africa’s most exciting destinations. There are still tens of thousands of elephants and vast numbers of plains game in Hwange with almost no-one to see them. Herds of buffalo, carefully protected rhinoceros and prides of lion roam the Kariba shoreline watched by pods of yawning hippo and crocodiles which lurk menacingly in the semi-submerged tree lines. Paddling and drifting down the Lower Zambezi for a few days on a canoe remains an unforgettable adventure, while the Chimanimani Highlands are some of the best for walking in Africa.

A number of Zimbabwe’s best camps are still running and are set to thrive as tourists return. Makalolo Plains is a luxury tented camp deep in southern Hwange, almost besieged by elephants as the long dry season advances. At Ruckomechi you can enjoy walking and thrilling game drives in the dreamlike landscapes of Mana Pools as well as sunset boat rides on the Zambezi, and in Kariba Steve Edwards superb little Musango Camp is now joined by a reopened five-star Bumi Hills Safari Lodge. And of course, that grand old lady, the Victoria Falls Hotel with her classic courtyards and red tiled roof, established in 1904 – still the best place to admire the mile-wide waterfall. So, if you want to beat the rush back to this magnificent destination, call Africa Exclusive and we’ll organise a magical fly in safari. The camps and lodges are running well, the wildlife is in great condition, the infrastructure works and the patient and friendly people will welcome you with open arms.
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Zimbabwe
CALENDER: JANUARY TO MARCH
 
The rains are falling across Zimbabwe which makes for a damp safari, but the birds love these conditions and Summer migrants flock to the area around Victoria Falls and the Upper Zambezi. Birding highlights include the rare greater painted snipe, the stunning carmine bee-eater, and relatively common local species such as the black-headed oriole and Livingstone’s turaco.
CALENDAR: APRIL AND MAY
 
Victoria Falls is a great natural wonder of our world, and it’s at its most powerful following the April rains. Nothing can prepare you for the scale of these waterfalls, or the noise the crashing water makes hitting the bottom of the ravine. Equally lush, and less busy, is Hwange, known for its populations of gemsbok and brown hyena. You might also climb into the Matopos Hills, ideal leopard habitat.
CALENDAR: JUNE
 
There’s something about the soft winter light in June which makes photographers visiting Zimbabwe go weak at the knees. There’s none of the glare which you get in full sun, so it’s like having a permanent soft box. The high season is yet to begin, but nevertheless game viewing is excellent. Take advantage of the quieter parks and lower lodge pricing to treat yourself to an unforgettable wildlife experience.
CALENDAR: JULY AND AUGUST
 
In the middle of the Zimbabwean winter, big game herds gather across Hwange including thousands of elephant. There’s plenty of water in the rivers and lagoons of Mana Pools, which are best explored by boat or canoe. The high water levels also make it possible to spend a day rafting on the tumultuous Zambezi River, or flying through the spray erupting over Victoria Falls in a helicopter, plane, or microlite.
CALENDAR: SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER
 
By September Zimbabwe’s groundwater has largely disappeared and temperatures are increasing. Vast numbers of animals move to the banks of the Zambezi River and permanent water holes. Game viewing is easy, as guides know exactly where the animals will be. With lower water levels also comes the possibility of rafting the rapids below Victoria Falls. It’s certainly not for the fainthearted, but there are few things on earth more exciting.
CALENDAR: NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER
 
The weather breaks suddenly in November, and for two months spectacular thundershowers bring much welcome rains to Zimbabwe. Fresh grasses shoot, and with the security of shelter and food herbivores begin to calf. Watch newborns take their first steps under their mothers’ watchful eyes. Summer migrants get colourful breeding plumage, and there’s a general feeling of wellbeing and plenty in the parks.