Detailed itinerary Hwange
Guests arrive before lunch at Ivory Lodge, Hwange, from either a road transfer or air charter. Ivory Lodge is a private concession a few miles outside of Hwange National Park in well wooded Terminalia, Zimbabwe Teak, Miombo and Acacia woodlands. Accommodations are in separate tree houses with views over a permanent waterhole. There is electricity here with a spacious living and bar area, ideally suited for a relaxed beginning to the safari to come.
Time to settle into the lodge and meet the guide.
After lunch it is a half hour road transfer into Hwange National Park to Main Camp, the park head quarters. Here guests will sign in and pay the necessary Park entry and camping fees for their whole safari duration.
We then proceed into the park area to where the horses and grooms will be waiting.
The professional guide leading the safari will give an introduction to the horses that are to be used on this safari and a safety briefing on what to expect and do’s and don’ts of riding in this wildlife area.
There will be time for a short ride of perhaps two hours to acclimate to the area and get to know ones horse and tack.
Riders will be observed for their riding ability and knowledge with some possibility of encountering some wildlife.
Once done with the short ride, guests and guides are on a game drive back to Ivory Lodge in time for drinks around the fire, a hot shower and three course dinner.
Over-night in the very comfortable tree houses of Ivory Lodge.
An early wake up call to prepare for the adventure ahead. Early starts are a must on the horse safaris! Guests will need to pack all belongings and then go for a sumptuous breakfast before once again returning to the Park.
Again meet at the horses and prepare for several hours of riding. Water, food, first aid kits and guests personal items for the day will be loaded onto the horses. All other luggage will go with the support crew to the camp-site.
The safari is led by a qualified Professional Guide who carries first aid equipment, a heavy calibre rifle, hand gun, compass, maps and GPS. These rides are of an exploratory nature with the possibility of routes having never been ridden before by humans or horses! The terrain is very flat with little horizon so good navigation by the guide is vital. Also accompanying the ride is one of our very skilled grooms and a National Parks ranger.
The ride will start at the eastern boundary of the Park and lead into the Park.
Riding is usually from waterhole to waterhole or open areas along well worn elephant paths. The pace will vary from walking to cantering through varied habitats of open waterhole areas, beautiful Zimbabwe Teak woodlands, thorn and teak scrub and stunning Camel thorn Acacia groves.
Various varieties of wildlife can be encountered along the way including mammals and birds of various species. The region is particularly good for elephant, giraffe, zebra, sable, Roan antelope, kudu and steenbok to name a few. Lion can be encountered as with buffalo and white rhino.
The direction and duration of riding is entirely dependant on many factors such as distance to the campsite, weather, time of year, wildlife sightings, rider’s abilities and vegetation conditions.
Generally we plan to have a light packed lunch somewhere in the bush, giving the horses a rest.
Camp is reached before dark. The horses are settled in, fed and watered. Guests are expected to assist with un-tacking and watering their horse. The horses ‘camp’ is an area enclosed by a high ‘wall’ of canvas sheeting and the whole camp is surrounded by a portable electric fence to keep the horses – and people – safe from lion and hyena.
Cold or hot drinks are available around the camp fire, along with snacks and stories of the day!
Hot bush bucket showers are set by the staff to refresh one before a tasty three course bush dinner under a canopy of leaf or stars.
The tents are comfortably spacious for a mobile expedition, with camp sleeping cots, mattresses, pillows, sheets and duvets. Extra blankets are available for the very cold months of May through mid August.
This camp will either be up for two or three nights depending on various ‘bush’ factors. This is a bush camp – no electricity, generators, phones, newspapers, walls or windows!
Day three, four, five, six
Another early wake up – with tea and coffee by the fire – most welcome on the sometimes below zero Hwange mornings! The day may start with a reasonable breakfast and then we will ride out the whole day from camp, or a light breakfast for a half day ride before coming back to camp for brunch.
This again depends on the time of year, weather, riding abilities and decision of the guide. In hot times it is normal to ride out as early as possible to be back in camp for the heat of the day. During cooler months we generally leave camp slightly later but ride out the whole day.
Exploring the areas and trying to approach wildlife from horse-back is the focus.
Often in the hot times when water is in the waterholes, we may wade or swim with the horses. Often good elephant viewing can be done at these times of the year due to the still plentiful grasses and water. As the bush changes throughout the seasons, so does the type of riding in response to where the wildlife moves to and that many elephant paths offer wonderful opportunities for trotting and cantering.
Wildlife encounters can be very close and sudden and thus riders must be very competent and confident to control their horses and themselves.
Being in areas never ridden before, most wildlife will never have seen horses; this is the exciting attraction of this area.
These days follow a similar routine, but short walks with the guide are also possible as he is licensed to conduct walks in these Park areas.
In this time, the camp will move location to one other area. Whilst the camp is being moved, guests will ride with a packed lunch and water to the next site, reaching there in the late afternoon.
Many of these finer details will be discussed with the guests by the guide during the safari. Due to the nature of the area and activities, a certain amount of flexibility of daily program needs to be realised as these are real safaris.
Please note – all litter is carried out of campsites and in the hot dry months bathing water is limited as area is semi desert, limited laundry can also be done. Drinking water is from clean borehole sources. All effort is made by our staff to completely clear the campsites to an absolutely natural state. Firewood is used by permission of the National Parks Authority.
On this day we will be riding from our mobile tented bush camp to the beautifully appointed and classy bush chic tented camp of Somalisa. Riding time will depend on our mobile camp distance from Somalisa and also to what time we arrive into the camp. Somalisa is also on an extensive private concession area inside the National Park, although there are no fences or big cutlines surrounding the concession. The camp is situated on the Masumamalisa Vlei, an ancient drainage line bordered by a variety of Teak, Terminalia, Red Syringa, Combretum and big Camel thorn groves. There is water available for the wildlife in font of the camp which can provide for some amazing experiences. Somalisa only has 12 beds and is a very naturally laid out bush camp with privacy and an exceptional intimacy with nature. The staff being excellent and the meals of a very high standard, this is the perfect end to some days of wilderness riding. If the we get to camp by lunch, there will be an opportunity to take a drive in the area to visit some of the waterholes nearby for some excellent wildlife viewing.
The support staff from the mobile will set up the horse enclosure near to Somalisa and have the guest’s luggage at Somalisa.
As always drinks around the fire, hot showers, comfortable beds and a wonderful dinner await in the evening.
The last early morning wake up to the sounds of the African bush, hot tea and coffee by the campfire overlooking the waterhole and discussions of the night sounds mark the transition of the riding safari onto fresh adventures.
Breakfast is served, farewells are said and then it is a road transfer through the Park with wildlife viewing to meet with guests onward transfer vehicle at Main Camp, a couple of hours away.
Depending on onward connections of flights or transfers, there may still be an opportunity for a quick drive or walk and farewell to the horses before departing from Somalisa.