Little Vundu: Our full report
On the banks of the Zambezi River, Little Vundu is an intimate, semi-permanent camp often privately reserved ...... for families or small groups. Part way between a private mobile camp and a more solid lodge, this is a good base from which to explore Zimbabwe’s most famous national park, Mana Pools.
A few kilometres upstream from its sister property, Vundu Camp, Little Vundu offers a more rustic safari experience, but with the same strong emphasis on superb guiding. The priority here is to deliver a top safari experience, rather than focusing on creature comforts: the camp is often used as an overnight stop on the multi-day Mana Pools Canoe Trail.
As a semi-permanent camp, Little Vundu is simple in construction, put up each year in May and taken down in November. The five Meru-style green canvas tents are nestled under ebony and acacia trees along the riverbank, on what at high water is a small island in the mighty Zambezi. Each is simply furnished with twin beds, electric fans, and a small canvas storage area for luggage and clothes – more than large and comfortable enough for two people. Through a canvas door at the back of each tent is an open-air en-suite bathroom with a flush toilet and bucket shower.
Connected to the tents by dirt paths through the bush, the main area continues the rustic, traditional style. Essentially it’s little more than a mess tent housing some comfortable seating and a communal dining table. This said meals are typically served under the sky – although if the weather doesn’t play ball guests can always retreat under cover.
While none of the team from Expert Africa has yet stayed at Little Vundu, on our last visit in October 2018 we were impressed by the back-to-basics feel, with the focus firmly on the location and surrounding bush rather than overt luxury: think nightcaps around the campfire and hearty meals cooked over an open fire rather than a luxurious lounge area, air conditioning or gourmet food.
Activities at Little Vundu include game drives, walking safaris and canoeing. You will normally talk with your guide the evening before to choose which activities you would like to do the next day. This said, one of the key aspects of a stay at Little Vundu is the flexibility of activities. You may set off in the morning on a drive, but this certainly won't stop you hopping out of the vehicle with your guide and continuing on foot if this is the best way to get a good sighting!
Owned by Nick Murray, one of the best guides in Zimbabwe, the guiding at Little Vundu is of a very high standard. We know this as the guides are often shared between Vundu and Little Vundu, and we have always had fantastic experiences at from the former.
Little Vundu offers one of the simplest safari experiences in Mana Pools, and aside from fans in the rooms and en-suite bathrooms it offers little in the way of luxuries. What it does offer though is some of the best guiding in the national park and an incredibly varied safari experience in a truly stunning environment.
Country manager: Zimbabwe
- Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
- Ideal length of stay
- We recommend a 3–4 night stay at Little Vundu. The camp offers a wide range of activities, and most travellers could happily spend 2–3 days just walking here.
- Due to its remote location, Mana Pools is almost exclusively accessed by light aircraft, usually from Harare, Victoria Falls or one of the other parks within the county. There is a good network of these light aircraft flights; ask us for details.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Although we visited in October 2018, we have not yet stayed at Little Vundu so cannot comment full on the food here. However, the team at Vundu Camp has always produced excellent meals during our stay there and we would expect something very similar here.
We understand that with advanced notice the camp will be able to cater to most dietary requirements.
Typically guests might expect a light continental-style breakfast of cold meats, cheeses, cereals, and tea and coffee with hot breakfast cooked to order.
Lunch might be some kind of substantial salad, pasta dish or similar. And dinner is typically a three-course meal.
- A stunning location on the banks of the Zambezi River and some of Mana pools best guides make Little Vundu a great spot for birdwatching in Zimbabwe. Highlights include bee-eater colonies, kingfishers and plenty of raptors.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Photography holidays
- Little Vundu's guiding team, headed by owner Nick Murray, is one of the best in Zimbabwe. Canoeing the Zambezi, approaching wildlife on foot and exploring Mana with one of Nick's guides gets photographers up close and personal with their subjects.
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- Walking safaris
- Mana Pools renowned for its walking safaris, the open environment gives good visibility and walkers can often get surprisingly close to relaxed elephants, or packs of wild dogs in the company of a fully qualified professional guide from Little Vundu.
- See ideas for Walking safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Little Vundu welcomes children aged 10 years and older, but this is flexible, especially if the camp is taken on a private basis.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Minimum age 10 years
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- With considerable caution, we can recommend Little Vundu for mature children over 10 – largely because the owners’ children also spend time in camp, so the owners themselves are very understanding of the needs and interests of children on safari.
- This is a very open safari camp and dangerous animals pass through. Children must be under parental supervision at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Little Vundu
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Little Vundu have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- A small diesel generator is on during the day and charges an inverter in the tents, giving guests light throughout the night. There are also UK-style plug sockets in each of the tents for charging batteries.
- All game-viewing vehicles have two-way radios. There is no cellphone reception or WiFi.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Water is pumped from the Zambezi River and filtered multiple times for washing and showers. Bathrooms are fully plumbed, with flushing toilets and hot and cold running water.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- All guides have first-aid qualifications, and there is a doctor on stand-by in Harare.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- All guests are escorted to their tents after dark.
- Fire safety
- There is a fire extinguisher in the mess tent.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Included, although as underwear is not accepted, a small pot of washing powder is provided in each tent, so guests can handwash their smalls.
- There are no safes in the tents; all valuables should be handed to the manager or guide for safe storage.
- Accepted payment on location
- No credit cards or travellers' cheques are accepted at Little Vundu. Cash payments may be made in US dollars, South African rand or GB pounds.
Other lodges in Mana Pools National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.