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Melanie’s Mana Pools, Victoria Falls, Hwange & Botswana Bonanza

Melanie’s Mana Pools, Victoria Falls, Hwange & Botswana Bonanza

14 Days

Mana Pools Victoria Falls Hwange Botswana Bonanza – 6 nights Mana Pools | 3 nights Hwange | 1 night Victoria Falls | 3 nights Chobe Enclave


Maddy is a passionate wild dog lover, who had always dreamed of seeing these unique animals in their natural habitat so her trip to Africa was designed incredible safari experiences in areas known for spectacular wild dog sightings. We settled on Mana Pools and Hwange in Zimbabwe, both of which are success stories for wild dog conversation and rehabilitation – the highlight of Maddy’s stay was her day spent at the Painted Dog Conservation Centre in Hwange. From Zimbabwe she moved on to Victoria Falls for one night in the impressive Thorntree River Lodge which included walking with rhinos and a game drive in the lesser known Mosi oa Tunya National Park. We decided to end her dream African safari in the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve which is adjacent to Chobe National Park in Botswana. This area, is known for its abundant wildlife and very different game viewing experiences so this was a perfect end to the trip. I was thrilled to be able to design this bespoke tour for her incorporating her specific dream of wild dogs with all that Africa has to offer.

Trip Highlights

  • Wild Dog Encounters
  • Hwange National Park
  • Bush Walks
  • African Bush Camps
  • Cultural Village Visits
  • Mana Pools Zimbabwe
  • Big Five Game Viewing
  • Painted Dog Conservation
  • Rhino Tracking
  • Beautiful Botswana


On arrival in Harare you are assisted to your scheduled flight to Mana Pools airstrip. Here you are met and transferred to your lodge where you check in for a three night stay for the start of your safari adventure.

Flight time – Harare to Mana Pools: approx. 1 hour and 35 minutes

In the Shona language, “mana” means “four”, and in this instance signifies the four large pools set inland from the Zambezi and offering year round water to a wide range of wildlife and aquatic birds. The pools are the remnant ox-box lakes carved out by the Zambezi River thousands of years ago. The Mana Pools National Park is a remote wilderness in the Zambezi Valley with stunning views of the Rift Valley Mountains. The park is a World Heritage Site where herds of elephant, buffalo, plains game and hippo as well as lion, the wild dog and superb bird life.

You will spend three nights in the Zambezi Expeditions Camp and a further three nights in Kanga Camp.

This morning you are transferred to Dandawa airstrip in Mana Pools for your scheduled flight to Manga Airstrip in Hwange where you are transferred to your camp in the Hwange National Park for a three night stay.

Flight time – Mana Pools to Hwange: approx. 1¾ hours

Hwange National Park is a dedicated nature “nirvana” consisting of 14,651 unfenced square kilometres in the west of Zimbabwe. The Park extends westward to link with the Kasane Forest and Chobe region of neighbouring Botswana. This glorious National Park rightfully boasts the highest concentration of wildlife species (mammals, birds, reptiles & insects) of any safari region in Africa. Hwange National Park has earned a world-wide reputation for its large herds of resident buffalo, its predators & more especially so, huge numbers of African elephant. Not only it is estimated that some 30,000 elephants reside within Hwange & make it their home range, but there is a millenniums old elephant migratory trail that runs from the Caprivi Strip through the Chobe region of Botswana, to the far south-eastern corner of Hwange National Park.

Hwange National Park is bordered by the privately owned Hwange Estate, which is home to the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe. This semi-habituated herd (a clan of over 450 elephants) received a presidential decree in 1990. This stated that elephants that roamed the Hwange estate should never be culled or hunted. Instead, they should symbolize Zimbabwe’s commitment to responsible wildlife management. Hwange’s presidential elephants are now known throughout the world, thanks largely to the work and writings of conservationist Sharon Pincott.

Today you are transferred to the Manga Airstrip for your return scheduled flight to Victoria Falls. On arrival in Victoria Falls you are met and transferred to your lodge for the evening.

Besides being one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a World Heritage Site, Victoria Falls is the unchallenged adventure capital of Africa with more than 50 activities available. At 1708 metres wide, Victoria Falls is the most expansive curtain of water in the world and drops more than 100 metres into the sheer Zambezi Gorge. Straddling the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, these Falls and the Zambezi River are the central points in an area of spectacular scenic beauty: from the Falls themselves to the broad, picturesque course of the Zambezi River upstream, the rainforest adjacent and the stark jagged gorge downstream, the power and timelessness of nature’s forces are evident throughout.

Flight time – Hwange to Victoria Falls: approx. 35 minutes
Transfer time – Victoria Falls airport to your lodge: approx. 40 minutes

This morning you are transferred by road from your lodge to Kasane. On arrival in Kasane you are assisted to your light aircraft flight to the Linyanti region of Botswana. Here you are met and transferred to you camp for a 3 night stay.

Transfer time – Victoria Falls Accommodation to Kasane: approx. 2½ hours
Flight time – Kasane to Linyanti: approx. 1 hour

The 125 000-hectare (308 000-acre) private Linyanti Concession bordering Chobe National Park’s western boundary is an enormous, wildlife-rich area, which creates an unrivalled atmosphere of remoteness and space. There are three main features of the Linyanti Concession: the Linyanti River, the woodlands of the interior and the well-known Savute Channel, famous as a sporadic and unusual watercourse. The Channel stopped flowing between 1980 and 2008; during this time it was an open grassland, home to a wide variety of animals. In 2008, the Savute Channel once more flowed, creating a water source that rapidly filled with aquatic life, wide varieties of waterbirds, and hippo, amongst other changes. With two-thirds of the Channel located in the concession, Wilderness Safaris guests have private and exclusive access to its abundant game.

These three features together with the floodplains, woodlands, grasslands, palm islands and scrub vegetation of the area harbour one of the densest dry season concentrations of elephant in Botswana – at times the Linyanti must have several thousand elephants roaming through the landscape. This phenomenon is one of the main attractions for travellers to northern Botswana, but the area is also important in holding good numbers of predators, providing an integral stronghold for species like the critically endangered wild dog, as well as lion, cheetah and spotted hyena.

The rare roan antelope found in the area can provide an equal thrill however, as can the high concentration of birds of prey, seasonal zebra congregations and the cathedral-like woodland of mature mopane trees. Aside from roan, other plains game includes red lechwe, Burchell’s zebra, blue wildebeest, impala, common waterbuck, sable, eland, southern giraffe, chacma baboon, vervet monkey, warthog, hippo and Cape buffalo. Nocturnal species often seen are lesser bushbaby, spring hare, aardwolf, serval, large spotted genet and, if you are extremely lucky, the elusive pangolin!

Today you say goodbye to this African wonderland and you are transferred to the local airstrip for your flight to Maun. On arrival in Maun, you check in for your flight to Johannesburg where you connect with your international flight home.

Flight time – Linyanti to Maun: approx. 40 minutes
Flight time – Maun to Johannesburg: approx. 1 ¾ hours

Mana Pools National Park: Zambezi Expeditions Camp

The legendary Mana Pools is known for its wildlife rich flood plains and magnificent views of the Zambezi River, with the Zambezi Escarpment in Zambia as a dramatic backdrop to the scenery. The river boasts some of Africa’s most amazing tiger fishing and adventure canoeing safaris, creating the perfect combination of beauty and fun and making this World Heritage site a must-visit national park.

Zambezi Expeditions offers one of the best ways to experience Mana Pools on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. The 12-bed luxury mobile camp comprises of 6 twin bedded mini-meru style tents with en-suite bathroom facilities including flush toilets and al fresco bucket showers, the camp gives luxury camping a new definition by virtue of its simple yet elegant and comfortable furnishings – taking guests back to that bygone era of the original expedition camps.

The camp has a minimum stay of two nights for a minimum of two people and is the perfect combination to include with Kanga Camp for an overall riverside and inland experience. Activities include game drives, walking safaris, canoeing safaris, fishing and bird watching.

Mana Pools National Park: Kanga Camp

Set in the most remote part of the World Heritage Site in Mana Pools is the Kanga Pan. The 12-bedded tented camp has en-suite bathroom facilities with outdoor showers and basins overlooking the water hole. Two of the tents are family/honeymoon tents with their own private dining and seating area. The main area has a comfortable lounge and dining area offering you uninterrupted views of a very active water hole. Relax in the upper deck lounge under the shade of a mahogany or sit on the deck below near the splash pool and enjoy Kanga − the old Africa in a new era.

The diverse area has multiple vlei lines, river systems of the Ruckomechi River, and mixed woodland types from Mopane woodland to Jesse bush and riverine forests. Kanga Pan itself is the only known water source in the area available throughout the year, making it a hub for wildlife and a delight to explore on foot. Pristine and undeveloped, this area gives you a pure, unspoilt, private African safari experience.

Besides game drives, bird watching and walking excursions, an hour’s drive brings you to the Zambezi flood plains in Mana Pools. Kanga works well in collaboration with Zambezi Expeditions to provide guests with an overall view of the inland and riverside experiences available in Mana Pools, one of the last remaining “untouched” wilderness paradises.

There are Six luxury meru-style tents all furnished simply yet elegantly, with en-suite bathroom facilities which include flush toilets and running hot and cold water.. The Tented Honeymoon suite is a luxury Meru-style tent furnished simply yet elegantly, with en-suite bathroom facilities which include flush toilets and running hot and cold water. All rooms have a view of Kanga Pan.

Hwange National Park: Somalisa Expeditions Camp

Somalisa Expeditions is set in the heart of Hwange National Park , and is known as the land of the giants for its big elephant herds. As an exact replica of the original Somalisa Camp, Somalisa Expeditions offers one of the most authentic ways to experience this exceptional wildlife haven. Nestled under an incredible grove of Acacias, along the edge of a seasonal flood plain.

Somalisa Expeditions’ main area includes a lounge and dining area on raised decking which overlooks a small pool, which elephants have become habituated to drinking out of. Add to this, the water hole is frequently used as a ‘mud-bath’ and a popular rendezvous for the elephants. The up-close encounters and photographic opportunities with these majestic animals is endless.

Consisting of six elegantly furnished Meru Style Tents, each tent has en suite bathroom with an outdoor feel. Activities include guided walks lead by qualified and passionate guides who will share their knowledge and love of the bush with you, game drives and night drives. Wildlife sighting include elephant, kudu, sable antelope, zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok, the rare and endangered roan antelope, buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, hyena and many other wildlife species.

Mosi Oa Tunya National Park: Thorntree River Lodge

Thorntree River Lodge is set in Zambia’s Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, just a short distance from the famous Victoria Falls. Thorntree River Lodge has been completely rebuilt with an environmentally-conscious design. Drawing inspiration from local customs and culture, it is a modern contemporary design with tented roof structures to maintain the feel of authentic Africa.

The lodge boasts 12 twin rooms with 2 sets of interleading units. Each unit has its own indoor and outdoor bathrooms, as well as a luxurious private plunge pool. The main lodge consists of a lounge with an open dining area, where the fine dining experience of African cuisine will come to life. A gym and spa overlook the mighty Zambezi River, and there is a small library with WIFI for our guests’ convenience. The communal deck is set on the edge of the stunning riverside, and is home to a sunken boma area and an infinity pool. Wooden decking floats on the edge of the river, and moves with the water level to create the illusion of sailing a boat, and help to achieve a seamless feel between river and land.

Linyanti Wildlife Reserve: Linyanti Ebony

Nestled between the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park, Linyanti is a rich yet diverse ecosystem that is fed by a permanent river flow. At the core of this wildlife haven is Linyanti Ebony, this intimate camp is made up of just four tents making it perfect for a more private and family oriented safari lodge experience. A unique place where you can embrace the “digital detox” and slip into the rhythm of an authentic and game-filled safari experience.

Built on raised decking overlooking the Linyanti Marsh, Linyanti Ebony is an intimate tented camp granting panoramic views of its exquisite natural setting. The camp’s mindful design offers an authentic, eco-conscious base from which to explore this significant wilderness. The main area encompasses an expansive lounge and dining area, sparkling plunge pool, cosy fire circle and boma; the perfect place to strengthen family ties on your Chobe safari.

The spacious two-bedroom family tent has a self-contained lounge area and private deck looking out over the wetlands plus, a spacious en-suite bathroom that features a shower and roll-top bath. Larger family groups or parties of friends travelling together can reserve Linyanti Ebony exclusively with a minimum of eight people.

INCLUDED IN PRICE Mana Pools National Park: Daily Safari Activities at Zambezi Expeditions & Kanga Camp

Game Drives:
Lead by experienced guides, you will see magnificent wildlife indigenous to the area. Your guide will show you the hidden spots best for game viewing and give you an insider’s knowledge. With years of experience, our African Bush Camps guides are some of the best in the business.

Canoeing On Zambezi River:
The Lower Zambezi River is the perfect setting for an adventurous canoe safari. Paddle along the tranquil waters of the Zambezi River and take in the pristine scenery of Mana Pools National Park from a unique angle. On your canoe safari you get the chance to see wildlife such as hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and incredible birdlife.

Walking Safaris:
Awaken your senses and discover all that the bush has to offer on a walking safari. Accompanied by one of our experienced walking guides, explore the wild for one to two hours. For a full day walking safari, a private walking guide will need to be pre-booked with us.

Try your hand at fishing from the banks of the Zambezi River. Fish for tiger, bream (tilapia), vundu, and many other species on a catch and release basis.

Armchair Safari:
Relax on the upper deck lounge under the shade of a mahogany or sit on the deck below near the splash pool and soak in the uninterrupted views of Kanga Pan’s hyperactive watering hole as the animals come to you – the perfect “armchair safari”. The Armchair Safari is best experienced during the dry season when the water levels are low.

Bird Watching:
Delight in the call of the African skimmer, photograph the Southern carmine bee-eater and the Narina trogon. Or simply sit back and enjoy their beautiful songs.

INCLUDED IN PRICE Hwange National Park: Daily Safari Programme at Somalisa Expeditions Camp

These sub-tropical thorn and sand flats on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, were once home to the nomadic San (Bushmen) who lived off the land and feasted on great herds of migrating game. Dry season game-viewing is assisted by the shallow pans threaded throughout the park. The natural salt-licks provide elephants with favorite mud holes for wallowing and sixty man-made waterholes give much needed water during the hot parched winter months when everything else dries up. Several waterholes have raised wooden hides in which you can spend many hours observing animals and the interactions between them. 400 species of birds are found here making it a bird watchers paradise, particularly in the wet season.

A stay at Somalisa Expeditions Camp includes: Morning & afternoon game drives, walking safaris, Hwange Main Camp village visits as well as a visit to the Painted Dog Conservation Centre

INCLUDED IN PRICE Hwange National Park: Painted Dog Conservation Centre

The Painted Dog Conservation Centre’ s mission is to create an environment where painted dogs can thrive. Fewer than 7,000 painted dogs are left across the entire continent. These painted dogs also known as African wild or hunting dogs are beautiful, unique, and fascinating social animals.
Painted dogs are native to Africa, and aren’t found in the wild anywhere else on the planet. They live in small pockets across a handful of countries including Zimbabwe, the home of Painted Dog Conservation. There are roughly 700 painted dogs in the centre which works with local populations of both humans and dogs—via conservation, education, and outreach programs—to help them not only survive here, but thrive.

The centre has put together a conservation model with a long term objective to make a significant difference to the painted dog population in Zimbabwe. They employ more than 60 people from the local villages to run our conservation programs and run our education and outreach programs. These efforts span everything from the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) team which patrols local areas daily as a direct form of protection for the dogs, the running of the Rehabilitation Facility where injured and orphaned dogs are treated before returning them to the wild. They monitor more than six packs of painted dogs on a daily basis across Hwange National Park.

The PDC evolved out of pure scientific research being conducted in Hwange National Park in the mid 1990s. It soon became apparent that vast majority of painted dog deaths outside of Hwange National Park were found to be due to human causes such as snares, traffic accidents and shootings which were led by a general ignorance and prejudice towards the species. This cemented their core approach to helping painted dogs, which remains the same today: to identify the critical issues and find a way to make a significant and lasting contribution to painted dog conservation, conservation of nature, and the lives of the local community with a special emphasis on the individual.

INCLUDED IN PRICE Victoria Falls – Mosi Oa Tunya National Park: Daily Activities and Tours at Thorntree River Lodge

The Falls’ local name, Mosi-Oa-Tunya – “the Smoke that Thunders” – more accurately defines the essence of the place: the rising, shining spray that can be seen 30km away. This vapour has the effect of adding moisture in the form of humidity to the air in the “splash zone”, so that a unique, small rainforest ecosystem clings to the edge of the Falls, providing a toehold for no less than 70 shrub and 150 herbaceous species, as well as trees such as pod and Natal mahogany, ebony, Cape and strangler fig and Transvaal red milkwood. There are two National Parks in the vicinity: the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe and the Mosi-oa-Tunya Zoological Park in Zambia, which means that herds of big game such as elephant and buffalo, as well as smaller species and even predators such as lion persist in the area.

Your stay at Thorntree River Lodge includes: Game drives in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, rhino tracking, bush walks, sunrise & sunset boat cruises, Simonga Village visits, a visit to Zambian side of the Falls, visit to the Livingstone Museum and canoe trips.

INCLUDED IN PRICE Linyanti Wildlife Reserve: Daily Safari Programme at Linyanti Ebony

Even amongst the most discerning of travelers, the Linyanti Channel is fast becoming Botswana’s most sought-after wildlife haven. Linyanti Ebony is home to some fantastic wildlife including a healthy population of predators such as lion, wild dog and several more elusive species delighting our guests year-round. Your memorable Chobe family safaris characterised by serene, sweeping scenes awaits.

Explore the pristine riverine ecosystem of a Chobe safari on foot or cruise through the crystal-clear waterways on an expertly guided mokoro trip, marvelling at the bird and aquatic life as you go.

Lead by an experienced guide, you will see magnificent wildlife indigenous to the area. Your guide will show you the hidden spots best for game viewing and give you an insider’s knowledge. With years of experience the African Bush Camps guides are known for being some of the best in the business.

Awaken your senses and discover all that the bush has to offer on a walking safari. Accompanied by an experienced walking guides, explore the wild for one to two hours. For a full day walking safari, a private walking guide will need to be pre-booked. Children under 16 can experience nature walks around the camp led by child-certified walking guides as part of the Cub Club. Since your safety is our first priority, walking safaris are usually conducted when the bush is not too thick

Maddy W, USA, 4th May 2019

Dreams do come true! Thank you Melanie for ALL of your assistance and expertise. I had the most wonderful time and everything you organised was perfect! I will never forget my experiences with the wild dogs that have so long captivated my mind and heart. Africa was everything I hoped for and more and I look forward to returning very soon. Thank you for your thoughtfulness in planning my tour around my requests and for the amazing accommodations you organized for me. I could not have asked for better! Thanks again.

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Cost Per Person Sharing

When this tour took place, the cost per person sharing was: $7700


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Susan Pattison-Wait
Susan Pattison-Wait
Managing Director & Tour Consultant
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Melanie Macphail
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Heidi Bedford
Heidi Bedford
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Anya Jarvis
Anya Jarvis
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Gail Davis
Gail Davis
Tour Consultant
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Tammy Harding
Tammy Harding
Tour Consultant
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Kerry Ririe
Kerry Ririe
Tour Consultant
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