Goliath Safaris

Goliath Safaris: Our full report

Rooms
6 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (97%) From 7 reviews
Children
Best for 16+
Open
15 April–31 October (flexible)

Goliath Safaris is one of the most established safari operators in Mana Pools National Park, with nearly 30 years’ experience in the area. The company is part owned and run by Stretch Ferreira who, over this time, has gained a wealth of knowledge of the bush and its residents. A trip with Goliath is made by Stretch’s charisma, charm and hospitality, combined with a great location for game.

These days most safari operators in southern and eastern Africa fall squarely into either the ‘mobile’ or ‘lodge’ category. By contrast, Goliath Safaris Tented Camp stands firmly in the middle ground, between the two. While equipped with features normally associated with a permanent site (such as flushing toilets and hot and cold showers), the camp stays in the same location for around only six months (April/May to around October or November) before it is dismantled for the season, to be rebuilt in the same place the following year.

Even at its busiest, Goliath’s Tented Camp has only six Meru-style tents, so caters to a maximum of 12 guests. Each tent incorporates a bedroom with twin beds or a double with mosquito nets, a couple of bedside tables, a luggage cabinet and a wardrobe. The canvas walls and ceiling are high, and mesh windows provide a breeze to keep the tents cool. A smooth ground sheet provides a comfortable floor and a rug here and there adds warmth. Curtains keep the light out while roll-down canvas flaps can be released to cover the windows in the event of rain or a cold snap; extra blankets and a hot-water bottle are also provided. A low-energy LED ceiling bulb affords enough light at night to read by.

Through a flap in the rear wall of Goliath Safaris’ tents, the bathroom is a canvas-walled extension housing a fully flushing toilet and washbasin; a jug of water is provided during the day and in the early morning a canvas basin at the front of each tent is filled with warm water. Beyond this covered toilet area is an open-air shower, with a wooden platform on the pebble floor; hot and cold running water flow at a good pressure. Expect hand-wash and a few other complimentary toiletries too.

Goliath Safaris’ camp is set up beside the Zambezi and the communal main area – a large canvas structure with wooden pillars over a sand floor – has a fantastic view across the river. Here you’ll find a bar area and a lounge with a few comfortable chairs, and a small collection of coffee-table books and other literary offerings. A water-purification unit supplies clean, fresh drinking water all day and there’s a coolbox behind the bar for other drinks.

Beside the main area of the tented camp is a separate and semi-enclosed dining room, where brunch and evening meals are taken. A long dining table, set in the evening with candles and locally made beaded placemats, is flanked by a wooden fence adorned with black-and-white wildlife photographs and colourful paintings. At the foot of the table is an open view across the river as it gently meanders by.

But to dwell on the physical camp here is to miss the point; it’s the safari activities that travellers come here for – and Goliath Safaris includes a diverse range of options. 4WD game drives and walks are all led by Stretch, whose knowledge of the park (and some of the individual animals) is extensive. On a previous visit, Stretch stopped a game drive at one point when he saw an elephant that he recognised. We got out of the vehicle and slowly, carefully and gradually walked up to within 5m of it. This was an amazing experience – and an example of just how good his knowledge of the game in Mana Pools is. In addition, Stretch has several fully trained, experienced canoe guides who are on hand to help you explore the Zambezi. Fishing is also available but guests are advised to bring their own equipment and, because motorboats aren’t allowed inside the boundaries of the national park, excursions are conducted using canoes, often fishing from the banks of the river.

Our view

Goliath Safaris offers a comfortable adventure in a wilderness environment. The experience revolves around the skill, knowledge and personality of Stretch Ferreira – who has a real following; he’s very good indeed. If you’d like to walk up to elephant, or crawl up to wild dog, Stretch is the perfect guide to do it with!

Geographics

Location: Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Ideal length of stay: We'd recommend a stay of 3 to 4 nights at Goliath Safaris. The variety of activities mean you'll want to give yourself enough time to experience everything the camp has to offer.

Directions: Goliath is a five-hour road transfer from Lusaka or a two-hour flight from Victoria Falls. The nearest airstrip is Mana Main.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Stretch Ferreira and Flo Coughlan

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: When we last visited Goliath Tented Camp, in May 2013, the food was very good indeed – and all eaten in the open air.

Before heading off on your morning activity you’ll be served a breakfast of porridge, kept warm on the campfire – which is lit in the early mornings and in the evenings – and a selection of cereals and toast.

Lunch was a self-service buffet, eaten on our laps on comfy chairs around the campfire. We had homemade burgers and chips with a selection of salads, followed by fresh fruit.

Afternoon tea is taken in the main area overlooking the river; when we visited we were served a chocolate cake together with tea and coffee.

For dinner we enjoyed a starter of butternut soup with a delicious olive and tomato bread. The main course was sirloin steak with a red wine jus accompanied by potato rosti and salad. Dessert was a delightful lemon cheesecake.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Included except for premium wines and spirits.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Walking safaris: Mana Pools is a top destination for walking safaris. The open environment lends good visibility under a canopy of tall trees, and walkers often get very close to big game. The focus at Goliath Safaris is squarely on Stretch’s guiding; his passion and knowledge of the wildlife are the major draw.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Zimbabwe

Walking: Led by expert guides who know Mana Pools really well, guests at Goliath can enjoy gentle walks along the banks of the Zambezi River. The undergrowth in this area is often sparse and the landscape open, making for excellent walking terrain.

See more ideas for Walking in Zimbabwe

Children

Attitude towards children: Only children over 12 are accepted at Goliath Safaris Tented Camp. Should travellers wish to visit with children under 12 years then they would need to book out the whole camp; the minimum charge is for 8 adults.

Property’s age restrictions: No under 12 years

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: Expert Africa doesn’t recommend Goliath Camp for children under the age of about 16; there is very little to entertain youngsters in between guided safari activities and the area is very wild and open with game wandering through camp.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: The generator is switched on at 6.00am and switched off at 9.30pm, sharp.

Communications: There is no cellphone signal and only a two-way radio between camp and the game drive vehicles. The National Parks office, approximately ten minutes’ drive away, has WiFi but guests will very rarely if ever visit this.

TV & radio: None

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Kariba, which is about an hour away by road and air.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Goliath Safaris’ guides are in camp at night.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the camp and in the main area.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included.

Money: There are no safes in the tents. All valuables are to be left with the manager for safekeeping.

Accepted payment on location: Cash payments are accepted in US dollars.