The Ultimate Summer Safari – Zimbabwe


Melissa Siebert


December ushers in the rains and summer season in Zimbabwe’s massive wildlife showcase: the renowned Hwange National Park. Zim’s largest reserve – 5 657 highly diverse square miles of Kalahari sands seeping into teak woodlands and golden savannah grasslands – delivers some of the best game viewing on Earth, all year round. The summer months in Hwange, from November through March, offers endless enticements. Thunderstorms flashing across the area's famed Ngamo Plains, veritable sound and light shows; the best season for birding; lush landscapes as the bush greens, as trees bud then flower, as newborns emerge across the plains. As the clouds unleash, refreshing the land and its creatures, and the sun reappears till the clouds gather again.





Our ‘Ultimate Summer Safari’ takes you to stunning Linkwasha, our contemporary, luxury camp on the edge of the Ngamo Plains, in the heart of Hwange. Preface your four nights there with a visit to majestic Victoria Falls, staying at the historic Old Drift Lodge on the banks of the legendary Zambezi River, just seven kilometres upstream from the Falls – starting to flow more dramatically with the onset of rain. Book your trip to take place during this year's summer months - from November 2021 through March 2022.



Imagine a journey such as this:





Victoria Falls – Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders – remains a highlight on any southern Africa itinerary. The largest curtain of falling water in the world, the Falls figuratively knock you out and literally drench you from certain points – a thrilling baptism. Aside from natural wonders, there’s a feast for adrenalin junkies: bungie jumping; white-water rafting; helicoptering; microlighting; or ziplining.



Family fun at the Victoria Falls. Image by Alexandra Fuller


With a story dating back to the turn of the twentieth century, when the area was a crossing point for goods and cattle, elegant Old Drift Lodge nestles in a riverine forest on the banks of the iconic, vast Zambezi, always a magnificent sight. Elephants, buffalos, and herds of sable, eland, zebra, giraffe, kudu, waterbuck, and impala are regular guests. Sited within the Zambezi National Park, the lodge offers morning and afternoon game drives; guided nature walks; and river safaris. Ease into Africa in their stylish, en-suite, beautifully furnished canvas rooms, melding into the landscape. Each has a plunge pool and ‘bath with a view’. And what a view…one that travellers have been appreciating for centuries.








Linkwasha and its panoramic views of the Ngamo Plains immerse you in the bush, as an ongoing stream of elephants, buffalos, wildebeest, zebras, sable antelopes, eland, and other game travel past the ground-level rooms to the busy waterhole in front of the main area. With exclusive access to the Makalolo and Linkwasha protected areas, game drives and guided walks yield a wildlife bounty, including predators such as lions, cheetahs, and African wild dogs, and more than 400 bird species. Nine elegant tents nestle under a tree canopy, shaded in the environment’s neutral tones as well as bolder Ndebele patterns, reflecting local culture. On certain evenings, you might be joined for dinner – perhaps just drinks – as elephants siphon their fill from the pool, then rumble off into the darkness, just as the stars come out.





Summer is a special time at Linkwasha, with warm, sunny days and cooler evenings, as Graham Simmonds, a frequent visitor and Wildernes Zambezi Travel Shop Manager, describes:


‘Bushes, trees, flowers, grasses all start to emerge from where there was once nothing – the colours on the ground change – and animals start to flock to certain areas once deemed inhospitable, but now offering sustenance aplenty. It takes two to three weeks for the landscape to turn from desert into a green oasis.


‘Once the morning or evening thunderstorms roll in and drench the parched Earth’, Graham continues, ‘there is an electricity in the air. From the amazing lightning shows, but also from an expectation of rejuvenation and explosion of life from the animals that have made it through the dry spell.





‘The rains are not constant ‘, he adds. ‘They come, they deliver, and then they disappear till the next day. The dust settles, and the animals are more relaxed as they don’t have the relentless heat sapping their energy’.


Graham enthuses about the ‘mini-migrations’ of various plains game, as well as buffalo, zebra, giraffe, and others employing a ‘safety in numbers’ strategy.


‘Predators keep up with the herds looking for the new grasses’, Graham says. ‘The same grasses that will make their milk more nutritious, so when they have their young, they will grow faster and stronger’.




Birdlife proliferates during summer – ‘the summer migrants as well as the waders start to make every puddle, waterhole, and stream their home’, says Graham; raptors fill the skies once the rains start.


All told, these seasonal changes make for superb photo opportunities.


‘Photographically, this is a spectacular time of year’, says Simon Stobbs, Wilderness Chief Sales Officer. ‘Dramatic skies and green grass make for great backdrops, with lots of young around (warthog, kudu, impala, wildebeest, and so on). There is always action when there are lots of young ones around’. Adorable action as the youngsters learn to walk, play, feed/hunt, drive their parents and siblings crazy; not so adorable, but thrilling, when predators set them in their sights.





‘Migratory birds are in town, and many are extremely colourful and photogenic’, Simon adds. ‘Like the woodland kingfishers, African emerald cuckoos, and southern carmine bee-eaters, for instance. There are also many migratory eagles present – such as the steppe, lesser-spotted, and Wahlberg’s eagles, which all offer great photo ops’.




Other pros of a summer in Zimbabwe, and in general:


  • Fewer travellers at that time of year means, most likely, a more exclusive experience and usually lower prices than in the winter.
  • In Hwange/on the Ngamo Plains, animals are apt to use the roads more often in summer, seeking open space where they get a clearer view of any approaching danger – which means uninterrupted game viewing.The Victoria Falls are at their most spectacular after the summer rains.
  • It’s warm! All year round, the best game-viewing times are early morning and late afternoon/evenings. In summer game-drive temperatures are pleasant; you don’t have to huddle under a blanket in the open vehicle. During the heat of the day, there’s plenty in camp to keep you cool, entertained, or chilled.
  • Temperate evenings are just right for sleeping in Linkwasha’s Star Bed, out at Scott’s Pan, under a magical blanket of stars.


So pack lightly, and experience the wonder of a summer safari soon…


Book your Summer Safari now! 





To note: summer season in the southern hemisphere is from November through March. Leave the cold and wet winter behind and make your way to our Wilderness camps over the 2021 and 2022 summer period. Click here to enquire about your next adventure.


Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.