Zambezi Expeditions: Our full report
Zambezi Expeditions (formerly known as Zambezi Lifestyles) offers simple accommodation in Mana Pools National Park.The camp is an unusual cross between a mobile camp and a permanent lodge, being set up at the beginning of each safari season in one of the national park’s campsites along the Zambezi River, where it stays until the end of the season. The camp is then broken down and reassembled in a different campsite the following year. The overall style of the camp allows guests a mobile experience in a stationary setting.
The overall feeling of Zambezi Expeditions is reminiscent of colonial safari camps from a bygone era, although the real focus of the property is on the safari experience rather than overly stylish accommodation. That said, the setting when we stayed in October 2016 was fantastic, and you can expect high standards of service.
With six simple tents, Zambezi Expeditions is a small and personal camp. The tents are quite compact compared to rooms at other camps in the park (a necessity considering that they are taken down, moved and stored at the end of each season), but they are tall enough to stand in, and have enough space to comfortably fit twin beds, and small canvas wardrobes. The en-suite bathrooms are accessed through canvas flaps at the back of the tent and include a flush toilet, and an outdoor bucket shower that is filled in the evening or on request. There is also a washbasin, for which hot water is provided in a Thermos flask in the morning and evening.
The tents are set either side of a simply but well-furnished open-sided mess tent with views of the river. Here you’ll find a dining table and small lounge area. The sides of this tent are open, allowing views of the river from a dining table and small lounge area. The overall feeling of the place is quite rustic, very much like a moveable campsite, but a well-stocked bar and a large fridge do afford some luxuries, such as bottles of ice-cold Zambezi lager.
Activities at Zambezi Expeditions include canoeing in Canadian-style fibreglass canoes. Such trips are always led by a fully qualified and experienced canoe guide, and you can choose to held paddle, or just enjoy a leisurely float downstream. On our last visit we were able to get incredibly close to an elephant grazing on one of the many islands in the middle of the Zambezi, before stopping in a shallow section downstream for sundowner drinks. While a trip down the Zambezi can be a very quiet and relaxing experience, it’s important to note that the river is home to a large number of hippos, and some big crocodiles, with close encounters a regular occurrence. Canoeing here isn’t for the faint of heart.
Game drives and walking safaris are also possible from camp, although these are often combined, so you could find yourself jumping out of your vehicle with an armed guide to follow lion tracks, or to approach some of the well-known elephants in the area, sometimes to within ten metres – a real testament to the quality of the guides in the camp.
On our visit the camp was set up in front of a shallow channel of the Zambezi. After this section of the river had been carefully checked for crocodiles and hippos we took an afternoon swim, providing a very welcome respite from the October heat.
Zambezi Expeditions combines the basic wilderness experience of a mobile camp with some of the comforts of a more permanent property. The camp provides a simple but comfortable base from which to focus on a superb safari experience, with flexible activities and top-quality guiding.
Country manager: Zimbabwe
- Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
- Ideal length of stay
- There is a minimum stay of two nights at Zambezi Expeditions. We would suggest either a two-night stay combined with a further two nights at Kanga Bush Camp, or three–four nights just at Zambezi Expeditions.
- Flights from Victoria Falls (2 hours), Hwange National Park (2 hours) or Harare (1 hour) into Mana Pools can be arranged and from there it's a game-drive to camp.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- On our first visit to Zambezi Expeditions in October 2016 we found the food to be varied, delicious and filling.
A light continental breakfast is offered around the campfire before the first activity of the day. This usually consists of hot porridge, cereal, fruit and toast.
Lunch is usually around 11.30am, on your return from the morning activity. We were served a buffet of slow-cooked spare ribs, potato salad, green salad, and freshly baked bread, with a refreshing fruit salad for dessert.
Before the afternoon activity, there is high tea in the main tent, where you will find a sweet and savoury snack, and a large jug of iced tea.
Dinner is served around 7.30pm, and is usually a three-course meal. On our visit, though, we enjoyed a buffet of chicken curry, vegetable curry, rice and popadums, with an array of homemade pickles and chutneys. We then had a slice of very tasty lemon tart for dessert.
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Individual dining is available on request, as well as private dining outside the entrance of your tent.
- Drinks included
- Drinks are included at Zambezi Expeditions, but fine wines and spirits are charged extra (and these may need to be requested in advance).
Bottled or filtered water is provided in the tents and in the main area.
- Attitude towards children
- Zambezi Expeditions does not accept children under 16.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No children under 16.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- Travellers with children would be better off considering Zambezi Expeditions sister property, Nyamatusi Mahogany.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Zambezi Expeditions
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Zambezi Expeditions 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
- The camp aims to run entirely on solar, but they do have a back-up generator. There are electric lights in the tents, but no plug sockets. To charge electronics, guests need to use the charging point in the main tent.
- There is no WiFi in the main camp, but it is available in the camp’s small office, where it can be used by guests in an emergency. Depending on the camp’s exact location there can be a sporadic cellphone signal.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The camp’s water is pumped from the Zambezi River and filtered multiple times. Toilets are flush, and there are bucket showers.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The nearest doctor is in Kariba, a few hours’ drive away. The nearest airstrip is 20 minutes’ drive from Zambezi Expeditions, which makes an emergency evacuation much quicker.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Lockable bags are provided for valuables which can then be given to the camp manager for safe keeping.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are dotted around camp.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- It is possible to have all laundry done at the camp, which is included in the nightly rate. It is usually returned within 12 hours during the summer months (September to November) and 24 hours in the winter months (April to August) when it takes longer to dry.
- Accepted payment on location
- No credit cards are accepted at Zambezi Expeditions. Cash is accepted in US Dollars, GB Pounds and South African Rand.
Other lodges in Mana Pools National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.