A Zambezi River Story - Fauna Travel

A Zambezi River Story

Aerial view of the falls at Victoria Falls River Lodge / Courtesy of Zambezi Crescent Collection

Fauna Sample Itinerary – 12 Days

Journey downstream on the mighty Zambezi River, the fourth largest in Africa, and explore how your story fits into this wild place. The river has supported great civilizations and is still a source of life for the people and wildlife of central Africa today. This trip will put you in touch with the water as you traverse the northern border of Zimbabwe, with highlights that include a Victoria Falls helicopter flight and traversing Mana Pools National Park by boat. We recommend taking this trip in May to coincide with the fullest falls and opening of camps in Mana Pools.

This trip will put you in touch with the water as you traverse the northern border of Zimbabwe

Fauna only books the best lodges and camps for our itineraries to ensure that you have an inspiring travel experience. Contact us to customize this to your preferences, dreams, and room availability.

Your custom travel playlist includes Tendai Muparutsa’s “Zimbabwe Tatenda”
Muparutsa combines soulful lo-fi vocals with acoustic instrumentals–predominantly the mbira, an instrument that bears a Zimbabwean name–setting just the right tempo for floating downstream.

Day 1-3: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls River Lodge

Island treehouse suite at Victoria Falls River Lodge / Courtesy of Zambezi Crescent Collection luxury African safari Zimbabwe

Start your trip upstream on the Zambezi with a stop at Victoria Falls, the largest curtain of water on Earth. There is no shortage of places to stay in the area, but our favorite lodge is Victoria Falls River Lodge because of its Island Treehouse Suites. The modern suites occupy an island in the middle of the Zambezi and stand above the river on tall stilts.

Day 1: Arrive in Victoria Falls. Board a helicopter as soon as you land for a dramatic tour over the falls to set the scene. Your bags will be transferred to the lodge. Finish your day with a massage and a dinner under the stars to unwind.

Day 2: Have a safari appetizer with a morning and/or afternoon game drive in Zambezi National Park. Feel free to relax today because you are likely recovering from a long flight. Take a bath or read a book on your deck and watch for elephants in the water.

Day 3: You can take a closer look at Victoria Falls on the final day here. Spend the morning on a land-based tour of the falls or picnicking on an island right above the cataract in season. End the day with a sunset river cruise.

We’ve sent you some reading material, including, The Zambezi
The Zambezi traces the history of the communities that have lived along the great river from prehistory through the modern era, using rarely referenced Portuguese sources. It’s a history that engagingly unites history and ecology. View on Amazon

Day 4-6: Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

Bumi Hills

View of Lake Kariba from Bumi Hills / Courtesy of African Bush Camps
View of Lake Kariba from Bumi Hills / Courtesy of African Bush Camps

Lake Kariba, the largest manmade lake in Africa, is your next stop downstream on the Zambezi. The vast lake is used by the towns in the area as well as the wildlife that roam its many national parks and protected areas. It’s a place to both explore and relax and consider how it all fits together. We recommend a stay at Bumi Hills, a luxurious hilltop lodge with panoramic views of the lake.

Day 4: Wake up in Victoria Falls and then take a short flight to Bumi Hills airstrip. Spend the afternoon lounging in the beautiful pool overlooking the lake.

Day 5: Take a long excursion into the lake today for a boat-based safari. Picnic on the shore or walk around to look for elephants. Game drives are also available.

Day 6: Spend the morning in one of the villages near the lake to get to know the people of Zimbabwe. The afternoon can be spent however you wish, but we recommend another sundowner on a boat.

Day 7-11: Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Little Ruckomechi & Tembo Plains

Elephant at Chikwenya, Mana Pools, luxury Zimbabwe safari / Ruth and Kyle De Nobrega / Courtesy of Wilderness Safaris
Elephant at Little Ruckomechi, Mana Pools / Ruth and Kyle De Nobrega / Courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Mana Pools is over half a million acres of protected national park and conservation lands along the banks of the Zambezi River. It’s a spiritual place for some people. Something about the abundant wildlife and how the light plays through the trees gives nature lovers a wistful look. There are multiple camps in the area, but we like Little Ruckomechi and Tembo Plains camps for this itinerary because they are great places to stay and are also positioned at opposite ends of the park along the river.

Day 7: Fly from Bumi Hills airstrip to Little Ruckomechi Camp. Little Ruckomechi has a classic tented safari vibe and location that really embeds you into the wild. Take an afternoon or night game drive if you are up for it.

Day 8: Spend the morning and afternoon on walking safaris, and get to know the landscape up close. How does being on foot change your perspective?

Day 9: Spend the day boating downstream through Mana Pools to transfer to Tembo Plains on the other side of the park. You’re combining a water safari with a transfer to your next camp. Tembo Plains is a reserve-level Great Plains camp, so you will feel rewarded with the most luxurious tent after a long day on the water.

Day 10: These are only suggestions–this is your trip, not ours. What has been resonating with you? Game drives, walking safaris, or boating? Do more of that today.

Day 11: This is another choose-your-own adventure day–but hopefully, you spend the sunset by the river.

Day 12: Fly to Harare for your trip home or an itinerary extension.

Consider adding an additional story element to your trip.
If you are a veteran safari traveler and would like to set a further theme, opt for boating or walking safaris as much as possible over game drives. See if it takes you deeper into the place. However, if this is your first safari, take the drives–they are amazing.

Suggested Itinerary Extensions

Zanzibar or Cape Town

Beach lounge at &Beyond Mnemba Island / Courtesy of &Beyond luxury Zanzibar beach resort
Beach lounge at &Beyond Mnemba Island / Courtesy of &Beyond

If you aren’t quite ready to go home, we suggest extending your trip in Cape Town or Zanzibar. They are both located along air routes back through Europe and the United States and provide a good contrast to your safari. People looking for food, culture, and a bit of hiking will enjoy Cape Town, whereas a stay at &Beyond Mnemba Island in Zanzibar makes this an incredible bush-to-beach itinerary.

&Beyond Mnemba Island / Courtesy of &Beyond

Contact us to start planning your journey into the wild.

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