Highlights of Victoria Falls & Hwange
Breathtaking wildlife viewing, walking safaris suitable for kids, and the best-trained guides make Zimbabwe the perfect safari destination for families. With the recent reintroduction of a pair of white rhinos into Hwange, it’s once again become a Big Five national park, and with family-friendly lodges and activities, it’s a great choice for a first safari. Victoria Falls is the adventure capital of Africa where your family can enjoy anything from zip-lining and rafting to sunset cruises and much more in between.
Be awe-struck by the mighty Falls
Spot hippos on a sunset river cruise
Hurtle across gorges on zip lines
Jeep safari to spot big game
Get up close to elephant in a hide
Track rhino with expert rangers
Highlights of Vic Falls & Hwange day-by-day itinerary
Arrive into Victoria Falls, perched on the banks of the Zambezi and the adventure capital of Africa. As the name suggests, this small town is home to Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. From wherever you are in the town, you can hear the rumbling backdrop of this huge torrent of water, the mist rising like smoke into the sky. It’s not for nothing that the locals call the falls ‘the smoke that thunders’.
This evening offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy a sunset river cruise. The kids will be excited to catch their first glimpse of animals such as hippos swimming in the river channel and crocodiles basking on the banks.
Day 2, Victoria Falls
Rise early to visit the magnificent falls. An early start offers the best chance to avoid the crowds and there is nothing quite like seeing sunrise over the water as it thunders into the canyon below. Children will be thrilled to receive a shower from the mist that this throws up.
In the afternoon, enjoy one of the many activities within the town and wider region. Thrill seekers will enjoy hurtling across gorges on a series of zip lines or taking a jet boat safari down the mighty Zambezi River. For those families who prefer a more sedate option, choose a game drive within Zambezi National Park, go horse riding or fishing, or perhaps take a steam train ride for a taste of the old explorer’s lifestyle.
Day 3, Victoria Falls – Hwange
After breakfast, head to Hwange National Park. You will travel first by road to the tiny little railway station of Dete before boarding the Elephant Express railcar. This old-fashioned single-car train has open sides for optimal game viewing – keep your eyes peeled for species such as baboons, warthogs, zebra, and giraffes. Drinks and snacks will be served en route and children will be able to join the train driver up front and may be able to have a go at driving the train.
Later continue to your tented camp, located within a private concession and home for the next three nights. After dinner, sit around the campfire and listen to some of the guide’s best safari stories – all building up the excitement ready for tomorrow’s first full day in the bush.
Day 4, Hwange
Rise early for a full-day jeep safari. No two days on safari are ever the same so the wildlife that you will see will vary according to the season and whatever nature has in store for you. Hwange is the third biggest national park in Africa and has the highest mammal density of all, so the wildlife spotting is superb. You are likely to encounter many of the Big Five including lions, buffalo, and huge numbers of elephants. You will also quickly learn to spot the difference between the many species of antelope, such as Eland, Impala, Steinbok, and Kudu.
The landscape here is also truly spectacular and ever-changing. One moment you will be driving across open plains in search of cheetahs. The next you will be bumping your way through vast mopani woodlands. As Zimbabwe still has very low visitor numbers, you will often have huge areas to yourselves. There is certainly no jostling for position with jeeps crowding around animals as you can get in other parks.
In the middle of the day, stop for a picnic lunch under the shade of an acacia tree next to one of the pans, whilst your guide keeps watch for wildlife nearby. After lunch, you have the unique opportunity to go down into an underground hide which has been specially built next to a water hole. This gives you a truly phenomenal up-close-and-personal encounter with the resident elephants that come to drink here year-round.
Day 5, Hwange
In the morning, meet some of the other inhabitants of Hwange National Park, enjoying a community visit to the nearby villages. There is a strong relationship between the camp where you are staying and the local community, and your morning may be spent dropping off supplies at the local school or clinic. Kids might enjoy a visit to a local school or a game of football with the local children or sometimes accompany the villagers on a game drive, jam sandwiches in hand all-round!
This afternoon visit an inspiring rhino conservation project. This has seen the introduction of the first pair of white rhinos into the area since the early 2000s, and critically, the rhinos are homed on community land. All the money generated by tourists is reinvested into nearby villages and has helped to build a maternity clinic, develop school classrooms provide free school meals. You will meet the anti-poaching team and their tracker dogs and will be able to get up close to these truly magnificent and prehistoric-looking creatures.
Later this afternoon, head out on foot with your guide for an elephant approach walk. Using their expert tracking skills, the guides will lead you on a short walk through the bush where you can get close to elephants as they forage for food, a truly exhilarating experience!
Read More Day 6, Hwange This evening you will be staying in a remote tented camp where you can experience the true bush lifestyle. This camp has no communal mess tent, but simply a campfire where you will gather in the evenings to stargaze, toast marshmallows, and enjoy the ambient sounds of the bush. Close your eyes and listen to birds singing, elephants trumpeting, and possibly even lions growling in the distance. Don’t worry, you will be well looked after by the camp staff and guides who will be thrilled to show you the wildlife that abounds here in this little-known corner of the park. Some creature comforts are forgone here but kids will be delighted by the bucket shower experience! (If this does not appeal, you can switch to a more ‘standard’ camp). Day 7, Hwange Day 8, Hwange – Victoria Falls Day 9, Victoria Falls
Head further south within Hwange National Park, combining your safari with a ‘pump run’. This involves delivering supplies to the rangers who look after Hwange’s man-made water holes, which offer a vital lifeline to the animals during the dry season. Enjoy a picnic lunch en route under the shade of a camelthorne tree before continuing your safari. If you have already ticked off the Big Five, you can switch to a search for the Small Five, including Buffalo weavers, Elephant shrews, Rhino beetles, Ant lions, and leopard tortoises.
Take a mountain biking excursion close to the camp, learning how to track wildlife, and understand the varied medicinal qualities of the local flora. Later, visit the on-site underground hide where you can again enjoy the thrill of this unique perspective, getting within touching distance of elephants. There may be newborn babies or wise old grandparents with huge tusks and a colossal stature. It is fascinating to observe the different relationships within the herd and you will quickly learn that each elephant has its own distinctive character.
Take a light aircraft flight back to Victoria Falls for your final night. Perhaps head out for a sunset Zambezi cruise if you have not done this already.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Day 6, Hwange
This evening you will be staying in a remote tented camp where you can experience the true bush lifestyle. This camp has no communal mess tent, but simply a campfire where you will gather in the evenings to stargaze, toast marshmallows, and enjoy the ambient sounds of the bush. Close your eyes and listen to birds singing, elephants trumpeting, and possibly even lions growling in the distance.
Don’t worry, you will be well looked after by the camp staff and guides who will be thrilled to show you the wildlife that abounds here in this little-known corner of the park. Some creature comforts are forgone here but kids will be delighted by the bucket shower experience! (If this does not appeal, you can switch to a more ‘standard’ camp).
Day 7, Hwange
Day 8, Hwange – Victoria Falls
Day 9, Victoria Falls
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Zimbawe in pictures
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