Renowned safari journalist and expert Lisa Grainger recommends her favourite African camps, from savannahs teeming with Big Five, to star-lit desert wildernesses.
Recommended place to stay:
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe|africanbushcamps.com|
Official star rating:
Old-fashioned in spirit but relatively new in build, this bush camp in Zimbabwe’s best-known National Park, Hwange, is run by exceptional local guide Beks Ndlovu. Elephants are the star attraction here, and often come to drink from the pool (yes, while you’re in it) – as the guides are trained to walk in close proximity with these hulking beasts, you can also go for a stroll with them.
It’s set beside a watering hole, surrounded by pretty grassland and floodplains, and shaded by acacia woodland. The tents are simply furnished but immensely comfortable, with thoughtful touches such as bedside lights and trunks for valuables. Creatures regularly walk through camp at night – and with a torch you can watch them through netted windows from your bed.
This is a place to experience the real Zimbabwean wilderness, in safety and comfort.
Game & game viewing
A Big Five area, the 400 bird species and 100 animal species here include the endangered roan antelope and white rhino. There are more than 30,000 elephant in this park – and guides are trained to walk (in safe proximity) to them, to enable guests to watch them up-close.
Guides & guiding
Guides in Zimbabwe are expertly trained, and passionate about wildlife, so the wilderness experience is often world-class. Beks Ndlovu is widely sought after for private safaris.
Local community & conservation
All guides are local, speak local languages (as well as European ones) and are involved heavily involved in anti-poaching, conservation and water projects in Hwange through Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe. Five dollars from every guest, every night, is donated to a local community development charity.
Taking the kids
Children aged 7 and over are welcome at the main camp, all ages at the neighbouring Acacia camp. There’s an arts and crafts club, a ‘junior’ guide walking expedition, and pizza-making workshops with the chefs.
Although staff are friendly and used to looking after and playing with children, it is a Big Five area, so children have to be strictly supervised. Under-16s are not able to join walking safaris, but are instead encouraged to follow nature trails around the camp.
A 4.5 hours’ drive from Bulawayo, or 30 minutes from Manga airstrip, Hwange, which is 2.5 hours’ flight from Harare, or a 1-hour flight from Victoria Falls.
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Food & drink
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