Africa Adventure Consultants travelers the Dugas family recently took a multi-generational family safari to Zimbabwe, exploring both the Victoria Falls area as well as the stunning and diverse Hwange National Park. The family enjoyed a variety of adventures including canoeing down the mighty Zambezi, morning ‘safari sun salutations’ to get the blood moving before a big day, checking out close up views of elephant toes from an underground blind, riding horses on the Ngamo plains, and more – they took full advantage of all of the experiences made available to them during their stay.
We couldn’t be happier that they had an amazing safari experience in Zimbabwe, and to top it off, their adult daughter Sofia kindly shared a blog with us with some of their safari stories.
Zambezi Sands Camp is an Imvelo Lodge snuggled on the impressive Zambezi River. Its name, meaning “Great River,” is no joke; we quickly learned this while paddling down the river in canoes. I only made it through level 0 but I feel they should have been counted as Level 1 (minimum!) given the bobbing hippo heads nearby. Unfortunately, I learned hippos have nothing to do with how they rate rapid difficulty. Don’t allow my exaggerations to scare you—mostly, we cruised down the river, went on game drives, enjoyed dinner with other guests, and sat by the fire. Though the nights were cool, mornings were fantastically cold. Every morning, I did sun salutations (yoga) to greet the sun but mostly to get my blood flowing!
After 3 nights and three sunrises in the Sands Camp, my family of five plus my two adventurous grandparents all made our way to Nehimba, a sanctuary in Hwange National Park. Ray, our guide sat with us during meals as we listened intently to his stories. Right behind us, herds of elephants would come drink fresh water from the water pumps. Here, we walked through the bush with Ray learning about native plants, the incredible lives of termites, and most interesting of all: elephant poop. Elephant poop is seriously underrated. Ray especially amazed me because of his sensitivity and care of the small things. Among other things, he pointed out the Small Five–animals often overlooked and outdone by the Big Five. He also woke up for sunrise yoga with the manager of the lodge, my brother and me.
Here, we were greeted by the guide Big Boi, a character we’d heard lots about. He is just as fun in person as they say. Although it was a bit crowded the first night (granted, we were so spoiled at this point), there was still a feeling of intimacy as I walked to the fire and found myself looking up to find a sky full of stars. After a full day in the sun, I got dehydrated (always drink more than you think you need) and had to spend the night in our tented lodging. Twice, the staff came to check on me and bring me food and water. The next day, every single staff member asked how I was doing— not out of compulsion— they genuinely care how the guests are doing. We spent a memorable four nights here sharing laughs, stories, cultural backgrounds and histories, and of course wonderful food. Highlight? Standing so close to an elephant you can see every hair on its leg in the underground elephant lookout.
More like Gorg-eous camp! Okay, that joke got really old, really fast. But it’s true that the view is enough to make your stomach— and mouth— drop to the floor. We had one night here which was enough for me. I prefer the more in-the-middle-of-nowhere places like Nehimba where you know you are truly in the bush. This was a lovely place to spend the night and wind down before traveling a long distance. I had a blast singing Shosholoza at the top of my lungs with a local a capella group. I was considering dancing away with them and joining the a capella group, but I decided to wait until the next Zimbabwe trip.The experience was a rock-your-socks-off trip. Not only because I forgot to pack socks, but also because every experience was so stunning, even if I did have socks they would have just split in two. I plan to return this May and look forward to sharing more smiles and earth-shattering laughs with the amazing folks I met.
Photos courtesy of the Dugas family