In a recent interview about Zimbabwe, Julian Edmonds, Chief Commercial Officer from Fastjet, described the country perfectly in three words: “God’s Own Country”. This made us pause for a moment, soaking in his words, the sentiment shared. Zimbabwe is truly a destination unrivalled. Ecologically biodiverse, unique and various in landscape as well as colourful and rich in culture, a visit to Zimbabwe satiates a wide range of curiosities and bucket list experiences.
Being inspired by Julian’s words, a virtual adventure was embarked upon, researching and seeking out the hidden gems of Zimbabwe’s treasure chest. With the vision to showcase the vast and wild wonders of this largely untouched destination, a list was formed. The below encases the country’s wildest waterways, untamed terrain, remote locations wrapped in the unequivocal Zimbabwean hospitality, all robed in luxury accommodation.
Opening the treasure chest, this is what we discovered, sharing our golden listicle for the ultimate African experience:
Mana Pools Safari Lodge, Mana Pools
Beginning with the extreme, we embark on our explorations of Zimbabwe at Mana Pools Safari Lodge. Mana encapsulates wild and remote Africa in its most untamed – extreme in wildlife, biodiversity, space, exclusivity and light. It answers the call of the intrepid traveller, the adventurer, the philosopher and the researcher – offering its unique ecology for the inquisitive, hidden paths for exploration, landscapes for contemplation and its vistas as a muse.
The lodge is set upon the Ruckomechi River in mana pools, a daily invitation to wildlife to quench their thirst; a constant possibility of sighting a variety of species. Set beneath riverine figs and African Albida trees, the thatched chalets boast sweeping views over the floodplains towards the Zambezi River. One is able to access the lodge by water, an hours ride through remote river channels, a bucket list experience in itself.
Kariba Safari Lodge, Kariba
From one extreme to the other, we head to Kariba Safari Lodge, a location of panoramic vistas, secluded beaches and wild waterways. A stay at the lodge offers to quench cultural, photographic, active as well as relaxing activity options, and of course – epic sunsets. Each room boasts broad views of the lake, gifting views upon azure blue Kariba waters from the comfort of your bed. A swimming cage below, leading off the sandy beach, allows for dips in the lake without the fear of sharing space with crocodiles or hippos – the swim allowing for the feeling of living on the edge, yet encased in safety. Spend your days by the pool, a half-day fishing expedition, exploring the dam wall and cultural centre in town, island picnics and sunset cruises. Bliss!
Shashani Matobo Hills Lodge, Matobo
Matobo is a destination unto its own. Undulating granite rocks, steeped in history and cultural significance, Acacia and Mopane woodland, sandy soils and golden grassland – a topographical mosaic unlike any other in the country. Its massive rocks covered in colourful lichen emanate a tranquillity and peace, held in the grooves and folds of eons of erosion, nature sculpting the rocks over time.
Shashani Hills Matobo Lodge is placed on the edge of a huge rock dome, views spanning over woodland and characteristic granite formations. Exploring your surroundings on foot, horseback or classic safari vehicle in search of ancient cave paintings, plains game, rhinos, or an expedition up to ‘Worlds View’, the burial spot of Cecil John Rhodes, and other pioneers in history – the activities each fascinating and varied. Matobo is a destination to feed the soul, absolutely distinctive in nature, inviting your quiet curiosity to explore its granite kingdom.
Nantwich Lodge, Hwange
On the western wing of Hwange National Park, bordering the Matetsi concession as well as Chobe National Park in Botswana, sits a bespoke eco-lodge atop a hill – Nantwich Lodge. Remote, refurbished and resurrected from a bygone era, the lodge is built from the foundations of responsible tourism, simple yet refined, with a personal twist.
Nantwich encourages presence and curiosity, calling travellers to engage, immerse and interact with their environment. Walking safaris led by a professional guide awaken your inquisitive side, leading you through wildlife corridors, gifting the understanding of the interwoven and fragile nature of our ecosystem. Gin bars invite personal creations for specific palettes and the pool with a view time to observe the vista beyond. Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest national park, the western border wild and abundant with game moving freely between concessions and countries. The surrounds of Nantwich are known for its cat population – a sighting of lions in and around the lodge a common occurrence. Nantwich Lodge offers the wild fringed with holistic and interactive experiences, taking adventure into your own hands.
Masumu Lodge, Binga Lake Kariba
Masumu River Lodge embraces the lesser known western side of Lake Kariba. Rich in culture and scenery, Binga offers game viewing, river cruises, fishing expeditions, Batonga Museum visits and a trip to the natural hot springs. The lodge promotes awareness and encourages encounters with the local Tongan tribe – unique to Binga and culturally fascinating. Optional excursions to the local school and villages within Binga give guests the chance to understand rural Tongan life, as well as the opportunity to make an impact – through gifting time or donations. Binga is remote and untouched, time and experiences your own, shared with the wild wonder that is Lake Kariba.