Request Help Planning Safari to Zimbabwe

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Jun 17th, 2012, 12:47 PM
  #1
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Request Help Planning Safari to Zimbabwe

Last year my husband, 18 year old daughter and I went on a 3 week private safari to Tanzania, and as a result we fell in love with Africa. Now we want to explore Zimbabwe. We're thinking of going for 2-3 weeks in August 2013. We are nature, wildlife and adventure lovers, so we were thinking of Hwange...possibly staying at Somalisa Camp. Also thinking of going to Matusadona NP...possibly staying at Musango or Rhino Camps. And naturally we want to visit Mana Pools and stay at Goliaths Camp. A short visit to Victoria Falls would also be included (we haven't decided where to stay there).

When we went to Tanzania we used a local Tanzanian safari operator to help organize everything. Does anyone have any recommendations as to good safari operators to help plan our trip to Zimbabwe? Any recommendations will be appreciated. Naturally, we'd prefer to use a safari operator based in Zimbabwe. Are there substantial cost savings if we do all the organizing and bookings ourselves without the use of a safari operator?

We also hope to combine this trip with a stop in Cape Town in order to go cage diving with great white sharks.
WanderlustCanadian is offline  
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Jun 17th, 2012, 03:48 PM
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We are going to Zimbabwe at the end of August with basically your same itinerary. We are staying at Somalisa and Rhino Camps and spending 6 nights in Mana Pools with Doug Macdonald who is a private guide. He booked our whole trip and has been incredibly responsive. We would have had him with us the whole time but he was already booked for the time of our trip so we are going to have him guiding us in Mana Pools. We are staying at Little Vundu and Chitake Springs in Mana Pools. His email contact is [email protected]. I will obviously have more information when we return in September but I am really impressed so far.
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Jun 17th, 2012, 07:55 PM
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Hi Wanderlust - another message in support of Doug who will be our guide in Mana in a couple of months. If you want to go with Stretch in Mana, you can get directly in touch with Goliath but I've heard from Stokeygirl that they don't organize any transfers, so you may be better going with a Zim based operator/guide like Doug. Have you read the latest Zim TRs on Safaritalk? Kavinga Safaris and Craig Van Zyl have provided great experiences to their guests as described in the reports.

Happy planning!
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Jun 18th, 2012, 07:54 PM
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lhgreenacres & sangeeta...thank you so much! I will contact Doug MacDonald, Kavinga Safaris and Craig Van Zyl, and I'll check out Safaritalk as well. Naturally, I look forward to reading both of your trip reports once you return from your upcoming trips.

Sangeeta...will Doug be with you your entire trip? We had the same guide with us the whole time in Tanzania, and it was nice. The appeal with Goliath's is naturally Stretch, so there wouldn't be any point having a guide with us in Mana Pools if we have Stretch. Where will you be staying in Mana Pools?
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Jun 18th, 2012, 09:44 PM
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Hi Wanderlust - we will be 3 Safaritalk members heading to Zim this August. We have a 12 day core trip to Mana (for all 3 of us) and then 2 of us will head off to Matusadona for 4 extra days. Doug will be guiding us for the 12 days in Mana but in Matusadona, we are staying at Rhino Camp and since we are basically going there for the rhino tracking, we thought it would be okay to be with the local camp guides.

In Mana, we'll be 3 nights at Chitake Springs, 5 nights at Little Vundu, followed by 4 nights walking along the Zambezi shoreline, heading towards Chikwenya (2 nights each at 2 different campsites).

I had also heard a lot about Stretch and read all the mesmerizing Goliath newsletters that I could lay my hands on - but the problem we encountered was that Stretch has a fixed seasonal camp and would not have been able to guide us either in Chitake or for our shoreline walk. Like you, we wanted one guide throughout, so we lucked out when we found Doug on Safaritalk.

At Chitake and for the shoreline walk, we will be using mobile camps.

I wish I knew how to paste links, but do read Paolo's report on ST (he went with Craig), yeahyeah's report (with Kavinga) and Wilddog's report (with Doug). All of these people spent a fair amount of time in the park. If your time will be divided amongst Hwange, Matus and Mana and you are not particularly interested in Chitake, then Stretch is obviously a fantastic option. I would have personally loved to add another 3 days with him myself, but my budget had other ideas!

Hope that helped. Lhg can probably give you a lot more insight into Hwange. We had originally thought of doing some primitive camping in Hwange but the Hwange-Mana charter costs threw a spanner in the works. Anita has researched Hwange quite a bit - perhaps she can chime in.
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Jun 20th, 2012, 02:20 PM
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I stayed at Somalisa in 2010 and loved it! The camp manager who also guides is Dudley (officially, "Dardley".) African Bushcamps (Somalisa's owner) also have camps in Mana Pools, so you could use them for the entire trip and they would take care of the transfers, etc.
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Jun 23rd, 2012, 03:23 AM
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Hi I would also suggest you look at a company called The Wild South Safaris. they run private tours thru the region and have very experienced guides. www.thewildsouthsafaris.weebly.com. Their guides also cover the cultural aspects of the region, an area which is often not touched on too much.
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Jun 23rd, 2012, 08:20 AM
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I worked with Chris Worden at Zambezi to set up our trip this fall. http://www.zambezi.com/. They have been great to work with and can help you plan something at any budget level.
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Jun 23rd, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Wow! Thanks so much to everyone for the great suggestions! I'm going to contact everyone mentioned and see what we come up with. It sure helps to get recommendations!

Sangeeta...I went on Safari Talk and read the trip reports you mentioned. I have a question regarding Chitake Springs...what is the experience there that you don't get in Mana Pools? Should this be an area we should look into as well?
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Jun 24th, 2012, 05:19 PM
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WLC - Chitake is also in the Mana Pools National Parks- not along the Zambezi in whats called the flood plains but about an hour drive south in the interior.

Am going with Sangeeta there in just over a month. Chitake I believe is the only spring that runs during the dry season in these areas and hence attracts huge herds of animals. Also its possible to see good lion prides and interaction here. There is also a chitake pack of wild dogs though given how much area these guys traverse, you could theoretically see the Vundu pack here and the chitake pack more north as well. A bit raw, the only way to experience Chitake, is on foot. So the vehicle drops you at the campsite and then collects you at the end of the stay- In between its all walks. Those reports would highlight the experience people had.

In a recent bushlife safaris newsletter, they mentioned over 5-6 packs and over 100 dogs in Mana -For us to stay at Chitake, Vundu and then further east is also to maximise our chances with different packs.
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Jun 24th, 2012, 06:05 PM
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On Hwange - my final plan with Doug before we changed it on account of transfers was 1 night in Main Camp and 3 nights in Ngweshla Camp. Main Camp is closer to the gate and the wild dog research people which I had wanted to visit and Ngweshla area is well known for good sightings - Somalisa does few drives here too but we were pitching up with camps etc.

If I plan Hwange again, would possibly do Somalisa or Makalolo in the wildlife heavy areas instead of camping and then camp in a more off beaten area like Sinametella but there are more options away from the most obvious circuits like Robins camp site, Masuma dam etc...
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