Ruckomechi, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe (3 nights)
Find your love for nature and love of life at remote Ruckomechi, bordering World Heritage Site Mana Pools along the legendary Zambezi River, where wildlife abounds. Sleep high in the Star Bed treehouse at Parachute Pan, comfortably snug under the miraculous African sky, serenaded by the many sounds of the night. A jackal’s evocative cry, elephants’ deep-bellied rumbles, the mournful hoot of a Verreaux’s eagle-owl, and the spine-tingling roar of lion in the distance. The sounds of Africa.
Boat or canoe on the Zambezi for iconic wildlife panoramas. Elephant herds crossing near; ear-twirling hippos bobbing in the water; crocs sunning themselves on the banks; bee-eaters nesting there and fish-eagles calling plaintively from the skies or a nearby perch. Catch a sunrise or sunset for even more stunning sightings.
Welcome a wild menagerie around camp: lion; leopard; hyena; buffalo; African wild dog; a vast range of antelope; and many others. Walk with a guide through golden albida forests, where elephants forage for pods on tiptoe, moving through the trees like phantoms. All in all, pure magic.
NOTE: Ruckomechi is open seasonally between April and mid- to late November.
Little Makalolo, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe (3 nights)
Set in the heart of Hwange, Zimbabwe’s largest national park, Little Makalolo offers off-the-charts game viewing. The log-pile hide directly in front of camp provides thrills like no other. Particularly in winter, hide out as legions of elephant and buffalo come to the waterhole to drink, as well as rare antelope such as sable and roan, giraffe and other plains game, a rich variety of birds, a host of small creatures, and sometimes predators such as lion, leopard, or cheetah. A wildlife congregation – completely oblivious to your presence.
Day and night game drives yield plentiful sightings; a slow, guided nature walk helps you appreciate the smaller creatures and the region’s biodiversity. Spend the night in the elevated Star Bed at Madison Pan, seeing and hearing wildlife gather under a canopy of stars.
Hwange’s original intimate bush camp, Little Makalolo offers privacy, relaxation, remoteness, and close-up wildlife encounters. Even from its raised pool deck, with its front-row seats overlooking the active waterhole.
Savuti Camp, Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, Botswana (3 nights)
Follow in the ancient tracks of Africa’s great plains game – giraffe, zebra, eland, roan, and sable – as they roam through the game-rich grasslands of the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. Where predators proliferate, lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs among them. Watch dust clouds swirl behind seemingly endless buffalo or elephant herds, moving towards the water to quench their thirst or cross the channel, often thrillingly close. Ease into a nature walk, focusing on the smaller creatures and birdlife, some of Botswana's 559 recorded avian species.
Wildlife encounters await at every turn. Sleep out in a Star Bed on the banks of the romantic Zibadianja Lagoon, seeing all the way to Namibia – and the most incredible, fiery sunsets imaginable. Doze off to the sounds of the creatures of the night. When the water’s high, boat across the lagoon and renowned Savuti Channel, sighting multiple hippo pods; crocs slithering into the water; herds of red lechwe bounding through the reeds; otters; jacanas, darters, and various other water birds; and half-submerged elephants chomping on the roots of the ubiquitous water lilies. Spend an hour or so fishing (catch-and-release), or just drinking it all in, along with your sundowner.
When the water’s low, get intimate with wildlife from the camp’s log-pile hide; the animals won’t know you’re there, and what you observe is phenomenal. Or take to the skies by helicopter, for a Google Earth view of the Linyanti’s waterways threading through the savannah, and all the wondrous life they sustain. Linyanti, Botswana.