Zimbabwe is undoubtedly one of the most stunning countries in Africa, boasting a wide range of outstanding game parks and natural wonders. On this birding and big mammal safari, we guide you through the golden trio of Zimbabwe—beginning at the breathtaking Mana Pools National Park, followed by a visit to the majestic Victoria Falls (recognised as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World), and concluding at the unparalleled Hwange National Park.
This tour was meticulously crafted to highlight Zimbabwe’s natural world in all its glory. Anticipate encountering a vast array of bird species alongside impressive big game as we leisurely explore each destination, ensuring we absorb the richness of these remarkable landscapes.
On arrival at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, a Sustainable Birding representative will meet you at arrivals and do a quick meet and greet, before transferring you to your hotel in Harare, so you can relax and get some sleep ready for a great adventure ahead.
Where you will be staying: Amanzi
Our journey begins en route to one of Africa’s greatest game parks – Mana Pools National Park. It stands as a true emblem of raw and unbridled wilderness in Zimbabwe. Nestled along the mighty Zambezi River, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and birders alike. The park’s allure lies not only in its stunning landscapes, characterized by vast floodplains and meandering rivers, but also in its remarkable biodiversity. Mana Pools is renowned for its abundance of wildlife, offering close encounters with iconic African species such as elephants, lions, buffaloes, and the endangered African Wild Dogs. Beyond its big game, the park’s ecosystem thrives with an impressive diversity of birdlife, allowing for an impressive count of species with over 380 birds recorded. With its unique blend of scenic beauty, diverse ecosystems, and thriving wildlife, Mana Pools National Park promises an immersive and unforgettable safari and birding experience in the heart of Zimbabwe’s wilderness.
We’ll catch a flight to Mana Pools, taking roughly 1 hour! On arrival, we’ll check in to our beautiful lodge, and then head into the park.
The next few days will be a blend of birding and game drives with leisurely walks through diverse landscapes. This region, characterized by mixed bushveld, tall Mopane woodlands, riverine thickets, and the Zambezi River, supports an incredible variety of birdlife and mammals.
Our focus on bird species includes Lilian’s Lovebird, African Skimmer Black-throated Wattle-eye Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Mottled and Böhm’s Spinetails, Pel’s fishing owl, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Crested Guineafowl, Narina Trogon, Eastern Nicator, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, and Purple-banded Sunbird among others. Mana Pools is also a fantastic park for raptors such as African Harrier-Hawk, Dickinson’s Kestrel Hooded and White-backed Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Bateleur, and Martial and Tawny Eagles.
Night drives promise excellent sightings of nocturnal species like African Wood Owl, African Barred Owlet, and Verreaux’s Eagle Owl.
In terms of mammals, Mana Pools’ fame rests on its abundant African Elephants, frequent predator sightings—especially of African Wild Dogs—and regular appearances by Lion and Leopard. Other inhabitants we may encounter include African Buffalo, Greater Kudu, Eland, Waterbuck, Plains Zebra, Hippopotamus, African Civet, Side-striped Jackal, Spotted Hyena, and Honey Badger, adding to the allure of our wildlife encounters in this remarkable region.
This exceptional park exceeds our highest praise. Undoubtedly a trip highlight, we dare say, an experience of a lifetime. Plus, the safari lodge offers top-tier quality, cocooning you in luxury amidst the captivating beauty of Mana Pools.
Where you will be staying: Ingwe Pan Camp
Today, we’re set to return to the capital. We’ll devote the morning to further exploration of this splendid park before embarking on a five-hour journey back to Harare.
Where you will be staying: Amanzi
The next morning, we’ll be heading to the airport to catch a flight to the largest waterfall in the world, the roaring Victoria Falls. On arrival by mid-morning, we’ll head to our lodge to get some refreshments before a visit to Victoria Falls, immersing ourselves in the spectacle of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The falls promise a remarkable display, cascading with a substantial volume of water that generates a misty veil, earning its nickname, ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. This awe-inspiring sight highlights the falls, seemingly shrouded in a misty haze, offering a profound understanding of the majestic grandeur.
The following day will be dedicated to a full-day birding expedition around Victoria Falls. Our focus will revolve around the mixed acacia thornveld, dense riverine woodland, and select sections along the Zambezi River, presenting opportunities to observe diverse waterbirds. Our primary targets encompass the area’s core specials like Rock Pratincole, Black Egret, Rufous-Bellied Heron, White-Backed Night Heron, Little Bittern, Western-Banded Snake Eagle, Osprey, African Finfoot, White-Crowned Lapwing, Half-collared Kingfisher, Collared Palm Thrush, Grey-Headed Parrot, Bathawk, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Schalow’s Turaco, Brown-necked Parrot, Collared Palm Thrush, and Brown Firefinch, among others. Additionally, we anticipate encounters with numerous widespread and common species, including the Grey Go-away-bird, African Fish Eagle, Green Wood Hoopoe, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, African Paradise Flycatcher, Red-faced Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Ashy Flycatcher, White-browed Robin-Chat, Village Weaver, and African Pied Wagtail.
Where you will be staying: Aberfoyle Lodge
Over the next few days, you’ll be visiting one of Africa’s wildest destinations, Hwange National Park.
Hwange stands as an expansive and emblematic wilderness in Zimbabwe, renowned for its sprawling landscapes and abundant wildlife. Spanning over 14,600 square kilometers, this iconic park teems with diverse ecosystems, ranging from mopane woodlands and acacia savannahs to grassy plains and teak forests. The park’s focal point, the life-sustaining waterholes and natural pans, attract an impressive array of wildlife, including massive herds of African Elephants, buffalo, zebra, giraffes, and a plethora of antelope species. Hwange is a haven for predators as well, hosting healthy populations of lion, leopard, cheetah, and African Wild dog.
Hwange is also a prolific birding location, boasting a remarkable richness of birdlife with over 400 different bird species. Among the prominent ‘specials’ we’ll seek are the Secretarybird, Grey Crowned Crane, Kori Bustard, Three-banded Courser, Red-billed Spurfowl, Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Racket-tailed Roller, Southern Ground Hornbill, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Meyer’s Parrot, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Mosque Swallow, Arnot’s Chat, Southern Pied Babbler, and Yellow-billed Oxpecker, among others. Expect exceptional sightings of various raptors, including a diverse array of vultures such as Lappet-faced, White-headed, White-backed, and Hooded Vultures, alongside Bateleur, Martial, Tawny, and Wahlberg’s Eagles, Brown and Black-chested Snake Eagles, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Dickinson’s Kestrel, and the elusive African Hobby. The park’s diverse habitats promise encounters with francolins, barbets, bee-eaters, hornbills, kingfishers, mousebirds, woodpeckers, shrikes, robins, flycatchers, starlings, sunbirds, waxbills, and an extensive array of other beautiful species.
The three days spent in this stunning park will be truly special; we might find it hard to say goodbye!
Where you will be staying: Bumbusi Wilderness Camp
Today, we’ll be driving back to Victoria Falls Airport, where we’ll be flying back to the capital. The drive takes approximately two and a half hours. Once we arrive in Harare, we’ll transfer you to the hotel, where this tour will sadly be coming to an end.
The next morning, you’ll be transferred to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, where you’ll get your international flight back home.
Where you will be staying: Amanzi
Slow – this tour was crafted to fully immerse in every destination, gaining a large count of both birds and wildlife.
Easy – a few on-foot birding activities but nothing too strenuous.
We would need a 25% deposit to secure your place on this tour.
The above cost is based on a group of 6. Please enquire if you require a private tailor-made version.
Best time of year to visit:
The prime time for a birding holiday in Zimbabwe falls during the rainy season from October to March. Abundant food sources, the presence of migrants, and many species adorned in breeding plumage make this period the best suited for visitors. However, it’s worth noting that some safari lodges close during November, and only open again in April.
At Sustainable Birding, our goal is to ensure that every birding holiday we create contributes positively to bird conservation efforts and local communities. Our determination to promote sustainable travel led us to become founding members of Tourism Declares Climate Emergency. As part of this commitment, we have established the world’s pioneering carbon scoring and offsetting framework for tailor-made holidays. Feel free to request us to carbon score your individual trip!
The Sustainable Birding Company is a subsidiary of Far and Wild Travel, a tailor-made tour company based in Cumbria, UK. Far and Wild Travel offer sustainable, luxury, tailor-made tour itineraries throughout Africa and around the world.