From the mighty Victoria Falls to the abundant wildlife of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe offers a rich bounty for intrepid travellers who dare to make the trip to one of Africa’s forgotten highlights. A raft of new luxury safari camps and outfits have opened in the past year, following the completion of a new Victoria Falls Airport in 2016, which has improved access to ‘The Smoke that Thunders’ as the 108-metre high waterfall is known by locals.
A duo of luxurious camps from Great Plains Conservation, which supports sustainable initiatives and conservation programmes in northern Zimbabwe, have added some much needed gleam to the region’s accommodation offering. The four luxurious canvas tents of Mpala Jena Camp sit upstream from Victoria Falls on a private concession on the banks of the Zambezi, 16 kilometres from the falls.
Between looking out for the legendary white impala (Mpala Jena, locally) and great herds of buffalo and elephant, guests will bask in private plunge pools and copper bathtubs, and embark on private game drives or boat trips on the Zambezi. Set slightly apart from the rest of the camp, the two-bedroom Mpala Jena Suite offers generous space for families or two couples travelling together.
Further north in Sapi Reserve, Greater Mana Expedition camp offers a more intrepid safari experience, with accommodation during the six-night tour spread out over three different locations. Daily tours take place on foot or by canoe across the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which spans the reserve and nearby Mana Pools National Park.
Global Plains isn’t the only company bringing five-star hospitality to Zimbabwe. Further upriver, between Victoria Falls and Hwange, Matetsi River Lodge opened last year with 18 river-facing suites on a broad stretch of the Zambezi, with safari options powered by 4x4, boat or foot; and May sees the reopening of Singita Pamushana in Malilangwe Reserve, a 130,000-acre wilderness that’s teeming with wildlife.