After trying out both participation and non-participation camping safaris, Peter and I decided to opt for something a bit different in Zimbabwe. We booked any all-inclusive stay at a luxury camp, where all the drinks and meals were included, plus whatever game drives, canoe trips or boating adventures you choose to do.
The tents were a touch nicer than what we had camped in previously in Africa…
…And since the tents were literally in the middle of the safari park they came equipped with our very own bullhorn to alert the staff if a dangerous animal approached, and walked us to and from our tent after dark.
Despite the lovely accommodations, I will admit that when we first entered this park I was a little disappointed. We weren’t surrounded by herds of animals at every corner like Chobe National Park. In fact, we weren’t even surrounded by humans—for our first two nights, we were literally the only guests in at our camp with five or six staff to serve us.
Once I settled in, I realized how fantastic it actually is to be in a game park with no one else around. The animals are so much louder when they’re not being drowned out by other people’s camera sensors opening and closing. And the sounds we heard throughout the nights from the jackals and the hippos and the birds were outstanding.
Furthermore, it was really fantastic to have the safari guide all to ourself for the first few days at the camp. It was completely up to our whim as to whether we boated or drove or otherwise.
Possibly my favorite experience of the safari was the walking safari we did. You can’t do walking safaris in many parks, but part of the reason the Zambezi River appealed to us was these safaris were allowed, with an armed guide.On the day of, we woke up early and hit the road at 6:30 am for a game drive, and spotted lion prints on the dirt road as soon we left the camp. After driving along their path for a while, the lions left the road into the bush, so we decided to do a walking safari and try to find them. It was such a blast to follow their tracks through the bush and try to figure out what kind of lions they were and what they were doing during the night.
Our guide’s final verdict was that they were a mating pair, based on the size of the prints and the fact that we could see imprints from where the female laid down to show submission to the male. Because mating pairs can be aggressive, we gave up the chase and focused on spotting other wildlife.
My favorite animal of the trip turned out to be a Bushbuck, an antelope with very interesting coloring. The legs are black and white, but the animal is mostly brown with spots.
Overall, it was an interesting experience for us to get a different safari experience, and I have a whole new appreciation for the parks that aren’t as frequently visited.