Goliath Safaris

Goliath Safaris: Our full report

Rooms
6 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (96%) From 10 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 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. A smooth ground sheet provides a comfortable floor and a rug here and there adds warmth.

The canvas walls and ceiling are high, and mesh windows provide a breeze to keep the tents cool, while curtains keep the light out. Roll-down canvas flaps, extra blankets and hot-water bottles help to keep the tent warm during the colder winter nights (June to mid-August). Solar storm lanterns provide ambient light in the rooms, and small solar-charged torches provide enough light to read by. However, since the main lights in the room are turned off at 9.00pm, it’s advisable to bring your own torch for a stay at Goliath.

The en-suite bathrooms are reached through a flap in the rear wall of the tent, where a canvas-walled extension houses a fully flushing toilet and a plumbed-in washbasin. Beyond this is an open-air shower, with a wooden platform on the pebble floor, and water heated by a wood-burning stove.

A wide sandy path runs along the front of the tents, leading to the communal main area. A large, canvas structure with wooden pillars over a sand floor, this has a fantastic view across the river. In the bar area, decorated with photographic prints of the local wildlife, a few large fridges keep the drinks pleasantly cold. Adjacent is a lounge with comfortable chairs, a tea and coffee station, and a small collection of coffee-table books and other literary offerings. A water purification unit supplies clean drinking water throughout the day.

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 wooden 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, superb guiding, and the overall safari experience that travellers come for. 4WD game drives, canoeing and walks are mostly led by Stretch, whose knowledge of the park (and some of the individual animals) is extensive, and his approach to guiding is passionate and personal.

On our last visit, while canoeing down the Zambezi, we stopped when Stretch saw an elephant that he recognised feeding on an island in the middle of the river. We got out of the canoes and slowly and carefully approached to within 5m of the animal – a wonderful moment as the sun was setting over the river. The following day we tracked lion through a combination of driving and walking until, after carefully manoeuvring around elephant, eland and zebra, we were able to approach on foot within 20m of the pride – an incredibly exciting experience, and a real testament to the skill of the guides.

In addition, Stretch has several fully trained and experienced canoe and walking guides, who share his passion and knowledge for guiding in the area. So while the experience of being guided by Stretch is a major part of the appeal of Goliath Safaris, you are still likely to get a superb safari experience if he isn’t available during your stay.

Our view

Goliath Safaris offers a comfortable adventure in a wilderness environment. The experience revolves around the skill, knowledge and personality of Stretch Ferreira and his guiding team, who have a real following. If you are looking for an informal but exciting safari experience, and the chance to approach large game on foot, Goliath Safaris would make a superb choice.

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 October 2016, the food was very good indeed.

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.

Our lunch, eaten informally in the lounge area, was a buffet of homemade pizza (a chicken and a vegetarian option) with a selection of salads and freshly baked bread, followed by fresh fruit.

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

For dinner, which was served more formally around the large dining table, we enjoyed a starter of tomato soup with a homemade bread roll. The main course was roast beef, roast potatoes and sweet potatoes, carrots and green beans. Dessert was a lovely crème brûlée.

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, 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.