The accommodation on the mobile safaris is in either large walk-in luxury tents ....
Hwange Mobile Camp: Our full report
There aren't any up-market permanent safari camps on the northern side of Hwange National Park, but at Expert Africa we're very excited to be able to arrange tailor-made mobile safaris here.
The environment here is very different from Hwange's Kalahari sandveld further south; it's more rugged and rocky – with large stands of mopane woodlands, interspersed with open plains. Ephemeral streams drain rough hillsides and end in a few large, man-made dams (lakes) – some of which have game hides built beside them. This northern side of Hwange is generally quieter than the busier areas of Kalahari sand further south and east.
There are good populations of resident game here. Large herds of elephant and buffalo are common especially in the dry season – as are giraffe, kudu, waterbuck, zebra, impala and even eland. Lion and leopard are resident as are packs of wide-roaming wild dogs, and the dams harbor a thriving population of hippos and crocodiles. Hwange's last population of wild black rhino still live here, deep within the park.
In fact, the location of Hwange Mobile Camp here varies, depending on what's available within the park at the time. Sometimes we use private campsites, which are exclusive to our guide's party; at other times you'll stay near one of the the dams, in tiny 'public' campsites – Mandavu Dam or Shumba Dam. Generally in this area you'll see very few other visitors; it's a very exclusive experience.
The camp itself usually caters for 2-6 guests, often in a private party. It's run by three staff (a chef, a tracker and a 'camp hand'), all of whom are versatile enough that guests aren't required to do anything apart from relax and enjoy themselves. It also means that the guide can give his undivided time to the guests, which enhances the experience for all concerned.
On our last visit here, in August 2010, our professional guide was David - a top professional guide who proved to be just as comfortable tracking rhino, as he was at approaching elephants. (We only use a handful of top guides on these trips; all will be armed and are fully-qualified professional walking guides with “Zim Pro” licenses.)
On our last visit, we spent a whole morning tracking black rhino. The tracker would go ahead, scouting for fresh tracks, and we followed eagerly behind. Tracks aren't easy to spot in this rocky environment, but after tracking for a while, we found plenty of very fresh evidence of the rhino (middens, scrape marks and evidence of browsing) … even though a sighting of the beast eluded us on this occasion.
During the tracking, we were distracted by a close encounter with a small breeding herd of elephants – which the guide carefully ensured that we treated with respect and watched from a safe distance.
On another occasion, down beside one of the dams, David took us to approach a couple of elephant bulls drinking and splashing in the water. Eventually we got to within about 20m of them, having first checked that we were comfortable being so close.
Activities here include walking and 4WD safaris – the timings of these are very flexible, depending on the group. That said, the afternoon activity usually finishes after a sundowner as park rules don't allow for night drives. The walking here can be as energetic as you wish – ideal if you really want to stretch your legs properly and get some exercise.
This kind of a mobile safari camp focuses much more on its activities than the fine details of the camp. However, the camp area consists of simply an open-sided mess tent, the all-important camp fire, and accommodation in either semi-luxury tents or luxury tents. Specifically:
- Semi-luxury tents are 3x3m walk-in dome tents. These are always used on mobile trips which move camp on a regular basis. They are fractionally cheaper than the Luxury tents. (Read more about these Semi-luxury tents here)
- Luxury tents are 7x4m, and these are used when the camp remains in one location for three nights or longer. These are a little more costly than the Semi-luxury tents. (Read more about these Luxury tents here)
Our viewMobile safaris aren't for everyone. We recommend them primarily for an excellent one-to-one experience with the guide. However, on this one, we were very impressed by the high standards of service, food and accommodation. It was more luxurious than we'd expected, and in most respects it easily matched the standards of comfort that we'd expect from a high-end safari lodge - plus the guiding and wildlife experience was first class. We'd very confident in highly recommending Hwange Mobile Camp as a great safari in northern Hwange.
Ideal length of stay: We'd recommend a minimum of 3 nights. Ideally, if time allows, we'd suggest spending 2-4 nights in one of the permanent camps in the Kalahari areas of southern/eastern Hwange, and then another 3-4 nights on this mobile safari in the rugged north.
Directions: Its about a 3 hour drive from Victoria Falls and about 3.5 hours drive from Main Camp in Hwange
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: During our visit in August 2010, the food was of a very high standard - equivalent to that served at a good quality safari camp.
Breakfast is generally served around the campfire, prior to going out on your morning activity. A selection of cereals, hot porridge and toast are laid out for guests to help themselves, as well as tea and coffee.
When we returned at the end of the morning lunch was served. We had spaghetti bolognese served with a green salad as well as a beetroot salad. This was followed by fresh fruit salad and a selection of cheeses and biscuits.
Later that evening, for dinner, we had a starter of tomato and basil soup served with garlic bread. This was followed by rolled pork stuffed with spinach and served with roast potatoes and a selection of mixed vegetables. Desert was apple crumble cooked in individual ramekins served with hot custard. All of this was cooked over a camp fire and was very delicious!
Dining style: Group Meals
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Local beer, wine and soft drinks are included on all of these safaris. • On the semi-luxury safari house wine is served with dinner and bottled water, beer and soft drinks are also available. Spirits are not included so bring your own bottle of gin should you want a g & t. Otherwise spirits can be provided at an extra charge. • On the luxury safari all local drinks, including spirits, are included with meals and activities. It is advisable to list your drinks preference when booking so they can stock up in advance.
Walking safaris: Hwange Mobile Camp concentrates on walking safaris, and has a fully-qualified professional walking guide and tracker. Black rhino and elephant frequent the area; tracking them would be typical of a morning's activity. However, these walking safaris aim to introduce travellers to the flora and smaller fauna as well as the big game.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zimbabwe
Wildlife safaris: This area of Hwange has a scattering of loop roads, in interesting country with plenty of game and few visitors - so it is also possible to explore the area on 4WD safaris whilst you're on a mobile safari.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Zimbabwe
Attitude towards children: Children over the age of 12 are welcome.
Generally recommended for children: We'd only recommend a mobile camp like this, in big game country, for older children (12+) who are mature for their age, and have probably had some experience of previous African safaris – and come as part of a larger family group.
Notes: Children will need to be supervised by their parents at all times.
Power supply: None
Communications: There's a radio in the vehicle for emergencies.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The guide is trained in first aid; the nearest doctor would be in Hwange town, Bulawayo or Victoria Falls – many hours' drive away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The camp hands and guide are in the camp with you.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A limited laundry service is available, except for days when the camp is moving. For cultural reasons this does not include underwear which you will need to wash yourself.
Money: There are no safes in the tents.