Visiting: Hwange National Park – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
8 Days / 7 Nights
Small Group Tour
The Cecil Safari: Back To Zimbabwe
In August of 2014… We spent time filming and photographing Cecil the Lion, Jericho and their pride.
In July of 2015… Cecil was killed by an American dentist. For “sport”.
In August 2017… We returned to Zimbabwe, with a purpose.
In the summer of 2018 we go back to see Cecil’s Pride and continue our efforts to save the world’s wildlife. Our mission is to extend our Community’s reach, strengthen our ties, expand our existing Community in Africa and educate us further. To learn more about the great challenges we face in eradicating the trophy hunting of Africa’s threatened and endangered species. Back to Zimbabwe – The Cecil Journey Continues
In the Summer of 2018 now it’s YOUR turn… Join The Ultimate Zimbabwe Safari: The Cecil Safari 2018
Day 1: Arrive Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park (Wednesday)
Hwange National Park – Cecil The Lion’s Home
Hwange National Park – Cecil The Lion’s Home Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s biggest reserve and home to a profusion of wildlife, including giraffe, lion, zebra and approximately 40 000 elephants. It provides sanctuary for all the country’s endangered species, including a population of wild dogs thought to be among the most sizeable surviving groups on the continent. Terrain ranges from desert dunes and savannah lands, to rocky outcrops and sparse forests, and visitors have the choice of game drives or guided walks as a means of experiencing the park and its creatures.
Welcome to Africa. On arrival in Johannesburg International Airport, you will stay in transit to check in for your onward international flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION – US passports do not require visas to enter South Africa BUT must have at least two empty pages in their passports for each country visited. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure from the last country visited.
- 10:50:AM Depart Johannesburg (JNB), SA 40
- 12:30:PM Arrive Victoria Falls (VFA), SA 40
Welcome to Victoria Falls. On arrival at Victoria Falls Airport you will clear customs & immigration and collect your luggage. You will then walk through to the arrivals lounge. Here our group will be met and transferred to a shared charter flight to Somalisa Camp in Hwange National Park.
Please note there are strict guidelines regarding size and weight of luggage for charter flights. Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions document for details regarding these restrictions. Should you need to arrange for excess luggage to be stored while you are on safari, we are happy to help make these arrangements (extra charges will be applied for this service).
Estimated Charter Flight Times:
- 1:30pm depart Victoria Falls (VFA)
- 2:15pm arrive Hwange airstrip
On arrival at Hwange’s Airstrip, we will be met by a guide from Somalisa who will transfer you to camp. You might even see some lions on the way!
On arrival at Somalisa Camp, you will be greeted by camp staff and checked-in to your tents. There will be a brief camp orientation and safety talk, followed by time to relax, freshen up and enjoy a light afternoon snack before departing on your evening game drive at 4:00pm.
Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia Camps are set in the heart of Hwange National Park. Hwange is known as the land of the giants for its big elephant herds and was home to Cecil the Lion, his ‘brother’ Jericho and their beautiful pride of lions. Nestled in a stunning location tucked away on an acacia island along the edge of an ancient seasonal flood plain, Somalisa provides guests with breathtaking views of the savannah plains across the famous Kennedy Vlei line. Recently re-built, Somalisa Camp has upgraded its level of accommodation to that of complete comfort and luxury whilst still maintaining its focus on the guiding and hosting of guests to ensure the ultimate guest experience. Are set in the heart of Hwange National Park, known as the land of the giants for its big elephant herds. Somalisa is an authentic bush camp, a blend of old African charm and elegance together with an exclusive safari experience. Its stunning location tucked away on an acacia island along the edge of an ancient seasonal flood plain gives it breathtaking views of the savannah plains of the famous Kennedy Vlei line. At Somalisa Camp, you will experience the heightened romance of the African Bush in one of the most natural environments in Africa. This is the way Africa was meant to be explored.
Each elegantly furnished Sail Tent is fitted with gauze sliding doors, a glass wood-burner fireplace for the cold winter nights, an overhead fan for the hot summer days, has en-suite bathroom facilities including flush toilets, an indoor and outdoor shower, as well as a copper slipper-style bathtub.
The main decking area includes split level decking with a separate lounge and dining area, as well as a small splash pool for guests overlooking the ‘Elephant Pool’. There is also a natural waterhole where herds of game congregate to drink and where guests can relax whilst soaking in the African bush.
Activities include guided walks lead by qualified and passionate guides who will share their knowledge and love of the bush with you, game drives and night drives. Wildlife sightings include elephant, kudu, sable antelope, zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok, the rare and endangered roan antelope, buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, hyena, and many other wildlife species.
Accommodation: Luxury tent, on an all-inclusive basis for 4 nights
Rates include: All meals, all beverages except premium imported spirits and champagne, two safari activities per day, National parks entry fees & laundry
Activities available to Somlisa’s guests include guided walks lead by qualified and passionate guides who will share their knowledge and love of the bush with you, game drives and night drives. Wildlife sightings include elephant, kudu, sable antelope, zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok, the rare and endangered roan antelope, buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, hyena, and many other wildlife species. The Kennedy vlei is littered with flamboyant colors from all its seasonal wildflowers that emerge as the first rains begin, and as the grass dries out, the large herds of buffalo, zebra, and elephant are in abundance.
Day 2: Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park (Thursday)
5:00am – wake up call with light breakfast
6:30am – depart for game drive with transfer to a special outing to the African Bush Camps Foundation projects including Mambanje School, the Mambanje Lion Guardian and the Mambanje Cattle Boma’s – these are important aspects showing how Communities are benefiting directly from Tourism and how some of these projects are adding real value to the livelihoods of the communities as well as to the sustainability of the habitats in which they live in.
In the schools, it is the Foundation’s hope that they incorporate the ‘tourism dollar into funding for the education of their children. The Foundation supports vulnerable children within primary schools as well as AIDS orphans through scholarships and funding for secondary schooling.
Lion conflict cases around Hwange National Park (HNP) in Zimbabwe have declined by a half to three-quarters of their previous levels since the relatively recent introduction of the ‘Longshields Lion Guardian Programme’ in 2012. Long Shields Lion Guardians are local people who form a link between conservationists and their communities, providing information and encouraging cooperation – is an important initiative which has proved very successful. Far fewer livestock lost and far fewer lions killed amounts to a win-win scenario for lions, researchers, wildlife authorities and local people, through a shared sense of ‘ownership’ of both the problem and its solution.
As part of funding given by African Bush Camps Foundation, they focus on reducing human-animal conflict, which poses a significant risk to the survival of all carnivores in the wild, through a detailed understanding of the ecological and social factors that influence conflict. In the Hwange area, this conflict arises from lion predation on the livestock of rural communities who frequently retaliate by killing the lion as the people are subsistence farmers and the cattle are a vital part of their being able to support their families.
Lunch will be served as a picnic today. We will enjoy an afternoon game drive on our way back to camp, stopping for Sunset drinks and snacks along the way.
Day 3: Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park (Friday)
5:00am – wake up call with light breakfast
6:30am – depart for game drive with transfer to hear an inspiring talk by the camp’s Conservation Manager, Richard Hoare, on the Hwange Management Plan, The Water in the Park, Friends of Hwange and other conservation projects on the go.
Richard spends his time working in two areas: firstly, helping to ensure they will be operating in an environmentally sustainable way and secondly, getting staff and guests alike to understand a lot more about conservation issues in and around the places they operate. A qualified veterinarian who also has a Ph.D. in biological sciences, he has over 30 years experience in research and varied conservation work in several African countries.
Lunch plans will be confirmed the prior evening.
3:00pm – High Tea/Snacks
4:00pm – depart camp The day will come to a beautiful close with an afternoon game drive, sunset drinks and snacks as a group at a waterhole, followed by dinner in camp.
Day 4: Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park (Saturday)
5:00am – wake up call with light breakfast
6:30am – depart for game drive with transfer to learn about the Lion Research Program in Hwange and we will be hearing from them about Lion Research, Wild Dog (Painted Dog) research and other activities that the researchers do in Hwange National Park.
The Hwange Lion Research Project, which has been running for 15 years, is aimed at understanding, managing and conserving the lion population of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park through the collection of valuable long-term monitoring data of population demographics, ecology, and behavior. The project is run under the auspices of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology which has grown to be one of the largest and most productive conservation research institutes in the world.
Lunch plans will be confirmed the prior evening.
3:00pm – High Tea/Snacks
4:00pm – depart camp Our final sunset in Hwange will be enjoyed on our afternoon game drive, followed by dinner and fond farewells in camp.
Day 5: The Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Sunday)
6:30am – wake up call
7:30am – breakfast
8:30am – check out/depart for a short game drive with transfer to The Painted Dog Research Facility. This is an informative visit, with a voluntary donation per person (already included in trip costs) toward the research and upkeep of the facility.
Painted Dog Conservation was originally established as Painted Dog Research in 1992. At this time, the human-induced carnage from snares, shooting, and road kills accounted for 95% of all dog mortalities in Zimbabwe. During the subsequent years, a strategy evolved establishing a combination of direct action policies and long-term education and community development programs. Driven by the desire to make a substantial, lasting contribution to painted dogs, nature conservation and importantly to the lives of the local people, the project now employs some 45 staff in its various programs.
The Painted Dog Conservation was founded in 1992 by Dr. Greg Rasmussen, for the protection of the painted dogs and their habitat. Painted Dog Conservation works to engage and incorporate local communities in protecting painted dogs in Zimbabwe. The painted dog, or African wild dog, was once common in Africa with estimates of over half a million spread among 39 countries. Current estimates put their numbers at about 3,000. Since PDC’s creation, Zimbabwe’s wild dog population has increased from 400 to 700 individuals.
Daily anti-poaching patrols provide direct protection for the dogs, while at the same time making a significant contribution to conservation. The PDC Rehabilitation Facility allows PDC to deal with any eventuality concerning injured or orphaned individual dogs or the translocation of entire packs from problem areas.
Read More – http://www.painteddog.org
10:30am – board the vehicles for transfer to Elephant Camp just outside Victoria Falls.
12:30pm – arrive/check-in at Elephant camp. We will have a brief orientation, then time to settle into our rooms and enjoy a late lunch.
Overnight: The Elephant Camp
Elephant Camp is located in a private concession bounded by the Masuwe River, and the Zambezi Gorges, some 10 kilometers from the town of Victoria Falls. Elephant Camp enjoys the breathtaking view of the gorges which separate Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Elephant Camp offers exclusive suite accommodation in 9 luxury tents. All suites are gorge facing and boast a private viewing deck and plunge pool, private lounge area, air-conditioning and fans, bath (with a view), inside and outside shower, minibar and tea coffee stations, 220V main Electricity. All suites are mosquito proofed with mosquito nets. The lounge, bar and dining area lead out to a sun-kissed pool from where the roar of the water rushing over gorges becomes a constant beat and soon settles into the background like an old friend. It is calming and therapeutic to sit back, watch and listen to “the smoke that thunders”.
Guests are offered a close interaction with wildlife in particular elephant at the Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary, as you will have an opportunity to meet the Wild Horizons elephant whilst in Camp.
Accommodation: tent suite on a full-board basis for 3 nights Includes: All meals, accommodation, drinks (excluding premium brands), complimentary mini bars in the rooms
4:00 pm – depart for a short drive to the gorge to enjoy sunset drinks, snacks and hear a bit about the Wild Life Trust and how Elephant Camp is committed to ensuring the success of future wildlife generations.
7:00 pm – Short presentation by Charles Brightman, Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit with pre-dinner drinks and appetizers
Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) was established by Charles Brightman, a Professional Guide, local safari operator, and conservationist, together with the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. VFAPU has since worked in close cooperation with the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police on anti-poaching efforts. They patrol a 50 square kilometer area around Victoria Falls with 18 full-time scouts to combat poaching in all its forms. Whilst VFAPU’s activities are largely directed at the removal of snares and the apprehension of subsistence and commercial poachers, a great deal of time is spent educating and reinforcing the benefits of conserving the areas natural resources.
VFAPU’s work has been recognized by the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism as the four-time recipient of the ‘Green Globe 21 Award’ for Conservation Efforts in Zimbabwe. Charles Brightman has been personally recognized as a finalist in the Safari Awards category for ‘Best Personal Contribution to Wildlife Conservation’.
7.30pm – dinner at camp
Day 6: The Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Monday)
6:30am – Optional Experience: a Morning walk with Sylvester – In April 2010, in the Lowveld area of Zimbabwe, a cheetah gave birth to five cubs. Sadly within two days, the mother and four of her cubs were fatally attacked by a male lion, something which is common between apex predators in the wild. The sole survivor was discovered by a game scout who witnessed the event and the cub was named after him. At two days old, Sylvester still had his umbilical cord attached and unopened eyes.
Over the following months and years, with the hard work and devotion from his initial foster family and many other dedicated caregivers, Sylvester not only survived his hard start to life but has thrived in his role as ‘ambassador cheetah’. As Sylvester was never destined to become a pet, and being a specially protected animal on the endangered species list, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management have naturally been involved from the outset with Sylvester’s welfare. Cheetah do not survive in the wild without experiencing the maternal care of a mother for the initial twenty-two months of their lives, so wild release was not an option for Sylvester. A plan needed to be formulated for a future permanent home for Sylvester, and in this regard, Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust became involved.
The Sanctuary that VFWT operates from has large areas of open vleis where a cheetah can exercise naturally and build up the speed for which they are renowned. With no large predators around and the support from his three caregivers, who exercise him extensively and assist in nurturing this orphan, Sylvester has settled in to his new life with vigour. Through our educational program, Sylvester interacts with schoolchildren and guests who visit the Elephant Wallow during other activities. He has become an ‘ambassador’ cheetah, interacting with the public to raise awareness of the peril of the cheetah as a species, and the challenges they face being on the endangered species list. It has been a delight to see that, depsite his handling by human caregivers, Sylvester’s natural instincts have not been totally lost and he has successfully hunted and killed small game at the sanctuary.
- 8:00am – breakfast
- 10:00am – depart camp as you will be taken on a private guided tour of Victoria Falls. The tour will begin with a visit to the world-renowned Victoria Falls where you will explore the geological history of the area that created this magnificent spectacle. The sights, sounds, and aromas of the Falls are truly an awe-inspiring experience that provokes humbling feelings from within – here, indeed, is nature’s supreme masterpiece. No photograph can begin to depict the reality, and nothing prepares you for your first sight.
To discover how Victoria Falls was formed and what local customs and traditions surround this area, it’s well worth taking a guided tour. These tours of the Victoria Falls are extremely informative and end with a visit to the local art and crafts center.
- 11:30am – lunch in Victoria Falls at the Lookout Cafe, overlooking the Zambezi River. We will enjoy spectacular views of the Batoka Gorge, Victoria Falls Bridge and the spray of the Falls at this semi open-air cafe. The menu offers cafe style cuisine to suit every taste, accompanied by refreshing beverages and a lively cocktail menu.
OPTIONAL Adrenalin activities available while at Lookout Cafe (additional costs to be paid directly by guests):
- GORGE SWING – Zero Gravity – Imagine swinging in a child’s swing in the playground…now imagine a giant swing 95m long and 120m high above water…now imagine a 70m free fall before you begin swinging. Stop imagining and test your courage!
- THE ZIP LINE – Experience the adrenalin rush traveling a speed of 106 kmh hurtling 425m across the gorge, while suspended 120m above the breathtaking beauty of the Zambezi water below. Ready yet?!
- THE FLYING FOX – Take a running jump into thin air over the chasm, soaring horizontally through the air over the turmoil of the Zambezi below.
- 1:00pm – Return to camp and have a short siesta for some leisure time. You may enjoy a nice nap, dip in the pool, or schedule a spa treatment in the privacy of your tented suite.
- 3:30pm – Bhejane Trust visit & presentation Bhejane Trust (‘Bhejane’ is the local Ndebele name for Black Rhino) is a non-profit trust, established in 2010 by two Zimbabwean conservationists, Trevor Lane and Stephen Long, initially with the idea of monitoring the Black Rhino population in the Sinamatella area of Hwange National Park in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife Authority of Zimbabwe.
Stephen then based up at Sinamatella and commenced the monitoring program. However, he soon found that he was having to assist Parks in many other facets of their operations, not only the rhino monitoring. He ended up helping on ranger deployments, carrying diesel to pumps, fixing pumps, installing donated solar pump units, Park staff welfare, helping provide for tourist camp sites, and a host of other duties, as the Park staff had the enthusiasm and ability, but not the vehicles and equipment to undertake these tasks.
The operations of the Trust then extended to the Zambezi National Park, close to the renowned Victoria Falls, where Trevor has been instrumental in reviving the Chamabonda Vlei section, resuscitating old boreholes, drilling new ones, installing solar pumping units and getting pans revitalized after over ten years of not being pumped. He is also assisting the Parks on road development, fire management, anti-poaching, monitoring game populations, and other facets of restoring this park to its former status.
Bhejane Trust has thus evolved to an entity which is assisting National Parks in many of its field operations, facilitating research work, acquiring donor funding, as well as the Rhino monitoring. Bhejane Trust intends to expand its conservation programs over the next few years to include the Matetsi area, the Kazuma Pan National Park and the Robins area of Hwange National Park.
Much of Bhejane Trust funding comes from a volunteer, or Field Assistance, programs, which makes it possible for conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts to join up with the Bhejane team, and enjoy this rare and exciting opportunity to experience the real Africa of vast, remote places, and to actively assist in the conservation and survival of the magnificent wild animals which inhabit this wilderness.
We will return to the Elephant Camp and freshen up for dinner.
- 8:00pm – dinner at Elephant Camp and the chance to discuss all we have seen and heard today.
Day 7: The Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Tuesday)
- 6:00am – Another optional opportunity to visit with Sylvester
- 8:00am-9:30am – breakfast at your leisure This morning we will enjoy breakfast at camp, then will be treated to a very special elephant interaction.
- 11:00am – depart for Elephant Art Experience – This collaboration between Wild Horizons and Art of Africa is certainly one for the bucket list. Spend time with Africa’s gentle giants – interacting, feeding, and truly observing their characters and ways. Easels and palettes await beneath the trees and in front of the wallow, where the herd descends to splash and play in the cool mud. A private tutor is provided to guide guests through a painting workshop, using their sketch pads and brush to capture the moment.
- 12:30 am – Wild Horizons Wildlife Trust Presentation – Wild Horizons pioneered the establishment of the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, which is a non-profit organization promoting conservation awareness, together with education and empowerment of local indigenous communities, through sustainable use of indigenous resources. The Trust is dedicated to protecting the area’s unique indigenous fauna and flora, in collaboration with authorities, local communities, and other stakeholders. Projects include the rehabilitation of injured or orphaned wildlife, anti-poaching and wildlife veterinary assistance through our Wildlife Laboratory, disease sampling within the local community and livestock and human/wildlife conflict mitigation. There are four areas in which our projects focus: Community Outreach and Training, Wildlife Research, Veterinary Laboratory, Wildlife Rehabilitation.
- 12:45 pm – Lunch After the presentation, we will enjoy a sumptuous lunch, including drinks at The Wallow and return to the camp for some afternoon leisure time.
- 4:00 pm – We will return to camp to relax
- 4:30pm – depart for transfer to the Zambezi River above the Victoria Falls for a sunset cruise. We will enjoy cruising the placid, upper Zambezi River and celebrate the setting African sun setting on the river.The luxurious Zambezi Royal offers a unique and intimate way to view the Zambezi River. This single level cruise boat was custom built to maximize comfort, style, practicality and service. This contemporary vessel is equipped to to cater to every need with lush furnishings, ample spaciousness and a more intimate setting of just 28 guests max.
During the premium two-hour guided Sunset cruise, guests can look forward to 5-star service on board, consisting of imported wines and spirits alongside gourmet hot & cold appetizerss. A variety of game is consistently spotted, such as elephant, hippo and crocodiles, as well as a vast plethora of bird species. The Zambezi Royal is the optimum way to view the beautiful stunning scenery and surrounds of the upper Zambezi River.
Following our sunset cruise, we will return to the Elephant Camp.
- 8:00pm – farewell dinner at Elephant Camp which will surely leave you wanting to return to Africa to experience more of it’s warm embrace.
Day 8: Departure (Wednesday)
Breakfast at your leisure
11:00 am – depart from Elephant Camp for transfer to the Victoria Falls Airport, where you will connect with your international flight to Johannesburg, South Africa
This itinerary includes the following:
- 4 Nights at Somalisa Camp on all-inclusive basis
- 3 Nights at Elephant Camp on all-inclusive basis
- Victoria Falls (VFA) to Somalisa Camp
- All meals as described above
- Gratuities for accommodation, meals, transfers, presentations & activities described above
Meet and Greet
- Meet & Greet – Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) to Charter Flight, on the way to safari
- Hwange – Field trip to African Bush Camps Foundation projects
- Hwange – Somalisa Game Drives
- Hwange – Conservation Manager presentation by Richard Hoare
Hwange – Hwange Lion Research presentation
Hwange – Painted Dog Conservation
Victoria Falls – Morning walk with Sylvester at Elephant Camp
Victoria Falls – Tour of the Falls
Victoria Falls – Art with Elephants at The Wallow
Victoria Falls – Wild Horizons Wildlife Trust presentation
Victoria Falls – Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit presentation
Victoria Falls – Bhejane Trust visit & presentation
Victoria Falls – Sunset Cruise on Zambezi Royale
- Hwange airstrip to Somalisa Camp
- Somalisa Camp to Painted Dog Research Facility and onward to Elephant Camp
- Victoria Falls – all road transfers between Elephant Camp and various presentations and activities
- Elephant Camp to Victoria Falls Airport (VFA)
A portion of the proceeds from this trip is being donated to Zimbabwe Conservation organizations: Hwange Lion Research Project, Conservation Wildlife Fund Hwange, Anti-Poaching Units, Painted Dog Research.
This itinerary does NOT include the following:
- International flights and domestic flights
- All meals not mentioned above
- All activities not mentioned above
- Travel insurance
- Gratuities for optional activities
- Items of a personal nature
- Zimbabwe tourist visa(s) – USD30 per person, single entry
Luggage on the charter flight is restricted to soft-sided bags and a maximum of 20kgs/44lbs Per person including hand luggage.
Laundry is available in the camp so luggage can be restricted.
If guests wish to leave main luggage in storage in Vic Falls whilst they travel to Hwange, this can be arranged at a storage cost of $ 5 per bag per day.
Meals have not included 10% gratuities
you are interested in joining us on this amazing journey, please contact us today. Space is limited.
Please submit your information through our form for more information. One of our travel specialists will contact you within 24 hours.