Zimbabwe is home to Africa’s most highly trained safari guides and the wildlife viewing is incredible. In fact over 20+ years we have had more close encounters of a wild kind in Zimbabwe than anywhere else in Africa!+
Start your safari in Mana Pools on the Zambezi River – think hippo, elephant, lion, wild dog, buffalo and more right outside your room. Fly onwards to Hwange where flat topped acacia trees and open grass savannahs are home to an astonishing number of animals. I have personally seen over 1,000 elephant drinking under the light of a full moon here. The safari ends at the world’s largest waterfall – Victoria Falls.
This value safari is quite luxurious. If you want a lower cost, yet high quality, value safari with great guides check out our “2017 Best Value African Safari” on our Specials / Exclusive Offers page.
Welcome to Africa.+
You will be met on arrival and assisted to the Doreale Grande Hotel shuttle. Located only 5 minutes from the airport the Doreale Grande is a 5 star hotel with a 3 star price. It knocks the socks off other similarly priced airport hotels.
Accommodations: Doreale Grande Hotel, 1 night, bed and breakfast
Johannesburg Airport Doreale Grande: A 5 star hotel with a 3 star price located a couple minutes drive from the airport. We are pretty sure the adjoining casino and mall, which are great for people watching, subsidizes this place. Weather permitting we recommend taking your breakfast on the outdoor patio overlooking the pool, lawns and gardens.
You want great wildlife, up close? Hold onto your hat. Fly via Harare to Mana Pools and Ruckomechi Camp (light air transfer included in land cost).+
Set on the banks of the hippo and croc filled lower Zambezi River it feels as if you are in the middle of a zoo exhibit. Herds of buffalo and elephant wander throughout the camp – especially during the months August through October. It is common to be driven to and from your room as walking would be unsafe. Lion, leopard, wild dog and many other species are regularly seen. Activities include day and night wildlife viewing drives in open 4×4 vehicles, professionally guided walks, boating, canoeing and fishing for the world’s greatest fresh water fighting fish – the Tiger fish. A night spent “Under African Skies” can also be arranged.
Accommodations: Ruckomechi Camp, 3 nights, all inclusive
Ruckomechi Camp, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe – Some of our fondest days in Africa have been spent at Ruckomechi Camp. There is nothing like drifting down the river, by boat or in a canoe, with a cool drink in hand as a family of elephant splash along the shore line, local fisherman smile and wave, and hippos rise and submerge around you like a game of “whack a mole”. All the while enormous crocodiles keenly watch, baboons bark in the trees, and white headed fish eagles cry plaintively. The rooms have their own cool safari style which we really like. They are comfortable and clean with flushing toilets and hot showers. The camp’s main areas are designed for getting to know other guests. Traditionally meals are taken communally around a large table where everyone shares their latest wildlife sitings! Everyone in our office agrees if you had to spend the rest of your life in one place in Africa this would be it!
The open grass plains and teak forests of Hwange are simply stunning – in fact this is, in our opinion, one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in all of Africa!+
Travel by air (included in land cost) to Linkwasha Camp set deep within the National Park on a private concession (meaning no crowds). Fancy watching of a herd of elephant drink from the camp swimming pool – while you are in it? How about lion padding around your tented room at night? We aren’t kidding. These are regular occurrences here. Activities include day and night wildlife viewing drives and professionally guided walks. When out and about keep your eyes peeled for rhino in addition to the usual suspects – buffalo, cheetah, hyena, leopard, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, wild dog, sable, kudu, warthog, hippo, and many others! A night spent “Under African Skies” can also be arranged.
Accommodations: Linkwasha Camp, 3 nights, all inclusive
Linkwasha Camp, Hwange, Zimbabwe – We love this place! Linkwasha’s 8 rooms are luxurious with proper beds, ensuite toilet, shower, lights, fan, and AC / heating along with massive sliding glass doors. The main area has spacious indoor areas for cool nights and expansive decking with a plunge pool for warm days. In over 20 years of exploring Africa I would say that Linkwasha is one of the best examples of what a comfortable, authentic, safari experience should be. They have really nailed being comfortable while not feeling removed from the wilderness experience.
Fly onwards (included in land cost) to Victoria Falls – the world’s largest waterfall. Known locally as “the smoke that thunders” they are a mile wide and 300 feet tall.+
You will stay 2 nights at the Victoria Falls Hotel which is the closest hotel to the Falls. We will arrange a guided tour of the falls, a quiet sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, and a morning elephant interaction / safari. We also suggest high tea on the hotel’s verandah and a helicopter flight over the Falls.
Accommodations: Victoria Falls Hotel, 2 nights, deluxe stable wing room, bed and breakfast
The Victoria Falls Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – Why stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel? As a close Zimbabwean friend once said “it is the right thing to do”. Built in 1904 this place is like a living museum. Over the years the Vic Falls Hotel has hosted heads of state and Hollywood stars. We always choose the Deluxe Stable Wing rooms which are much more spacious than standard rooms yet still a good value. Remember to lock your windows as baboons are wont to enter your rooms and rifle your bags. High tea on the verandah overlooking the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia, with the Falls in the background, is a long standing tradition. Voted #15 hotel in Africa by Conde Nast 2013.
Ultimate Africa Exclusive: Private check in, complimentary high tea, complimentary evening cocktail on Stanley’s Terrace, in room pre-dinner canapé and drink service, butler service, specialized turn down service, complimentary mini bar offering, complimentary wi-fi, massage voucher, and VIP gifting.
Road transfer to the Victoria Falls Airport
April through May, 2017: $6,450
June through October, 2017: $8,300
Prices are per person and do not include international flights and some regional inter-Africa flights.
Specials and exclusive offers
Depending upon the time of year you intend to travel we may be able to secure free nights or discounted rates at certain properties on this trip. Please don’t hesitate to ask.
Clients paying by check can save 2.5% off their land costs
What you get
– Lower Zambezi River, Mana Pools, Hwange, and Victoria Falls
– 12 wildlife viewing / safari activities
– Africa’s best safari guides
– Africa’s Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) – really close
– Day and night wildlife viewing drives in open 4×4 vehicles (no minibuses) with unlimited mileage and guaranteed window seat
– Walking safaris with professional guides at Ruckomechi Camp and at Linkwasha Camp
– Boat and canoe safaris with professional guides at Ruckomechi Camp
– Optional night spent sleeping “Under African Skies” at Ruckomechi Camp and / or Linkwasha Camp (at no extra cost)
– Guided tour of Victoria Falls
– Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River
– Morning elephant interaction / safari
– Bird watching
– All park and entrance fees
– Expert English speaking guides
– 1 night at the D’Oreale Grande Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis
– 3 nights Ruckomechi Camp on an all inclusive basis
– 3 nights Linkwasha Camp on an all inclusive basis
– 2 nights Victoria Falls Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis in a Deluxe Stable Wing room with private check in, complimentary high tea, complimentary evening cocktail on Stanley’s Terrace, in room pre-dinner canapé and drink service, butler service, specialized turn down service, complimentary mini bar offering, complimentary wi-fi, massage voucher, and VIP gifting.
– VIP airport meet and assist in Johannesburg, Harare, and Victoria Falls
– Airport transfers in Johannesburg and Victoria Falls
– 3 light air transfers (Harare to Ruckomechi Camp, Ruckomechi Camp to Linkwasha Camp, and Linkwasha Camp to Victoria Falls)
– 9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
– Private dinner under the stars at Linkwasha Camp
– All drinks at Ruckomechi Camp and at Linkwasha Camp (waters, teas / coffees, sodas, beers, wines, spirits)
– Laundry at Ruckomechi Camp and at Linkwasha Camp
– No tsetse flies / no vaccinations
– Confirmation package with a wealth of predeparture information
– Major bragging rights at the office (and pretty much everywhere else)
What isn’t included?
– International flights from your home city to Johannesburg / from Johannesburg home and 2 scheduled commercial flights within Africa (Johannesburg to Harare, and Victoria Falls to Johannesburg)
– Trip insurance
– Tips / gratuities
– Some meals and drinks (i.e. when staying bed and breakfast lunch and dinner and most drinks are not included and when on safari premium spirits / champagne are not included)
– Spa treatments (unless stated)
– Telephone calls
When to travel
This trip is best April through October each year although during September and October there is little water coming over the Falls – we refer to it as “Victoria Walls”. It can also be quite hot during October.
Getting to Africa
From North America there are direct flights to Africa from Washington DC, New York and Atlanta. Alternatively you may fly via Europe, or even Dubai, to Africa. If you let us know the name of your preferred departure city we can provide you with airfare options. Air tickets may only be booked 330 days in advance. Please note air fares are subject to change over time. Most light aircraft transfers between lodges and camps are included in the land cost and are noted on the itinerary.
Is this a group trip?
This is not a group trip. This trip can depart on any dates for 1 or more people (the trip costs have been based on 2 guests traveling together). With additional guests costs may change.
How much luggage can I bring?
As small aircraft are often used to transfer travelers between lodges and camps body weight and luggage weight are important safety considerations. Baggage is strictly limited to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) packed in one or two soft sided bags plus a small backpack per person. This includes camera equipment. Suitcases will not be permitted. If you wish to exceed the luggage limit please inquire about the extra cost of doing so.
At Ruckomechi Camp and Linkwasha Camp activities, such as wildlife viewing drives, are shared with other guests (no more than 6 guests per vehicle) and led by professionally licensed, local English speaking guides who are based at each safari camp / lodge. They know their areas intimately. Your safety and comfort are their highest concerns. They are also trained and prepared to respond to medical emergencies. If you prefer to have a private guide and vehicle at any location this can be arranged at extra cost.
Do I need shots?
No. Most travelers do take anti-malaria tablets for the safari portion of their trip and get a Hepatitis A shot. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist in your hometown to discuss any special concerns you might have.
Do I need an entry visa?
American passport holders visiting South Africa do not need an entry visa. However an entry visa is required for Zimbabwe. Upon arrival at the Victoria Falls Airport a Zimbabwean entry visa may be purchased for US $50 cash per person.
How far in advance to book
Most of the properties we recommend are small and dearly sought after. To ensure availability of accommodations we suggest planning and booking your travel arrangements at least 9-12 months in advance. If planning closer to your travel dates we may need to look at alternate properties to make things work.
How to make it happen
At Ultimate Africa Safaris we do it all – from hotel and lodge bookings, to air tickets and travel insurance. We handle dinner reservations and celebrations as well – we love celebrations! The first step is to check availability at the various properties. We will then prepare a personal proposal for you. To learn more call our Seattle office toll free 1 800 461 0682. From outside the USA / Canada call on 425 793 8877. We are in between 9AM and 5PM weekdays. Alternatively email us at email@example.com
No money, no funny
To confirm an itinerary we require a 25% of land cost non-refundable deposit per person. Your land payments may be made by credit card (MasterCard, Visa or American Express) or by debit card (MasterCard or Visa). Alternatively payments may be made by personal, business or certified check made out to Ultimate Africa and posted to our office. Clients paying by check can save 2.5% off their land payments which will be credited to your invoice upon receipt of the check payment (please do not deduct this from your deposit amount). Future discounts will be applied to land payments made by check. Deposits must be accompanied by completed reservation forms. Upon receipt of your deposit full trip details will be posted to your address. This includes a confirmation letter, invoice, country specific information, travel checklist (what you need to bring), and final air / land itinerary. Your final trip payment will be due 75 days prior to your departure.
Make sure you are covered
All clients are required to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance plan before trip departure. This should cover you for events such as tour operator bankruptcy / financial default, trip cancellation, delay or interruption, lost or delayed baggage, emergency accident, sickness and evacuation, 24 hour medical assistance, traveler’s assistance, and emergency cash transfer. For coverage we suggest Travel Guard insurance. The total premium will be based on your total land / air cost and your ages. If you provide our office with your credit card details we will purchase / complete the insurance formalities on your behalf.