One of our most-beloved ecotourism books is Africa’s Finest, recently published by renowned nature conservationist (and founder of Wilderness Safaris) Colin Bell and co-author David Bristow. Together they have given the safari industry a full audit and the book shines a spotlight on Africa’s most sustainable and eco-friendly safari operators.
Over the last year, we have featured several of the book’s top eco-resorts and this time around it’s time to focus on the beautiful country that is Zimbabwe. Even though this country has struggled with political and economic turmoil, against all the odds, Zimbabwe is fast becoming a popular and up-and-coming safari destination again due in part to its prolific wildlife and lush scenery, very experienced guides and in general, some of the friendliest people on the continent.
1. Little Makalolo Camp, Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park is arguably one of the finest wildlife destinations in all of Africa with one of the highest diversity of species of any park in the world. It’s also one of the best places to see the Big Five such as lions, elephants, leopards, as well as herds of the scimitar-horned sable antelope (Zimbabwe’s national animal) and the treasured white rhino. In fact, this park is famous for its successful breeding program of white rhino following the intense poaching that took place in the 1990’s which virtually wiped out every rhino (black and white).
Wilderness Safaris’ Little Makalolo Camp lies in the centre of Hwange and offers visitors exceptional game viewing opportunities due to its location overlooking an active waterhole. There is even a log pile hide in which you can lay in wait for the multitude of animals that congregate here daily to quench their thirst. Consisting of six spacious traditional-styled tents (all en-suite with indoor and outdoor showers), this is perfect for anyone seeking a small intimate camp in a remote, private location.
Travelers can also rest assured that every effort has been made to reduce the camp’s environmental footprint by installing solar power to heat water, low-flow shower heads and dual flush toilets.
2. Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe National Park
Founded in 1994, the Malilangwe Trust (a non-profit organization) was created to protect and manage the spectacular wilderness area of South Eastern Zimbabwe. Meaning ‘call of the leopard’, Malilangwe consists of such diverse vegetation such as savanna and mopane woodlands peppered with large granite koppies. Here you are likely to see a great variety of rare and threatened species such as leopard, lion, cheetah, wild dog, white and black rhino, sable, Lichtenstein hartebeest, nyala, klipspringer and a profusion of birds.
The luxurious Singita Pamushana Lodge was created on the reserve to enable guests to experience the magic and incredible diversity of wildlife of the area, while staying in the lap of luxury. Part of the exclusive Singita stable of lodges, this game lodge has incredibly lavish suites (varying from one to five bedrooms), situated amongst large granite boulders which are designed to perfectly blend into the environment whilst offering the best views and utter privacy.
Not only is this one of Africa’s most lovely, but also one of the most environmentally friendly safari destinations. This one small lodge takes it upon itself to provide a sizeable rural area of Zimbabwe with all its educational, health and employment opportunities, as well ensuring that there are around the clock anti-poaching controls.
Although the next two camps are not strictly featured in the book, we simply love sending our guests there and continuously get good feedback about the game experience and the hospitality.
3. Davison’s Camp, Hwange
Part of the Wilderness Safaris stable, Davison’s Camp lies in one of the most wildlife–rich areas of Africa, deep within the Hwange National Park in the south-eastern part of Zimbabwe.
Conveniently located across from an open plain and active waterhole, the camp draws in a vast array of wildlife, especially in winter as countless elephants like to gather around the waterhole. Amongst the abundant wildlife that you will be able to see here are great herds of buffalo, leopard, lion, spotted hyena, giraffe and lots of bird species – perfect for anyone seeking an authentic classically tented African experience.
4. Somalisa Camp, Hwange
Located in the heart of Hwange, Somalisa Camp oozes old African safari charm and the style of a bygone era and yet it is owned and managed by a dynamic young team.
Located on the fringe of an ancient seasonal flood plain, the camp offers visitors the opportunity of seeing an incredible array of plains game such as kudu, sable and the endangered and very rare roan antelope, as well as white rhino, elephant, leopard, lion and hyena.
It also features incredible views over the famous Kennedy Vlei line where wildlife is plentiful. Somalisa consists of six elegant canvas tents, and the camp tries to lighten its footprint by only making use of solar lighting.
5. Linkwasha Camp, Hwange
And finally, we thought we would also include this brand new camp which only opened this May! Also part of the Wilderness Safaris stable, Linkwasha Camp is one of Hwange’s most modern. Plus at this camp it’s all about the location.
Situated in the private Linkwasha concession, the camp overlooks a pan which attracts a superb array of game across all seasons. Consisting of eight en-suite luxury tents (and one family tent – making it an ideal family safari destination) its sumptuous contemporary interiors cleverly blends comfort with the essence of safari. All in what we think is definitely one of the best wildlife locations in Hwange!
These Zimbabwean camps are all shining examples of what is possible in the safari industry when you blend an exceptional safari experience with a commitment to sustainability, protecting the environment and all its wild inhabitants. We need to do all we can to conserve this incredibly beautiful country, its rural communities and animals if they are to survive in the 21st century.
As a footnote, it’s worth noting that Victoria Falls will be getting a new international airport and so visitors will soon be able to fly directly into Victoria Falls from where (within a 500km radius) there is some of the most amazing safari tourism product in Africa.