Heading to the bush to learn about oneself - a trip to Chirundu with Zambezi Valley Safaris

Mana Brightman - Off 2 Africa • 8 July 2019

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In early July, I snuck away from Harare’s hum of belching generators and the endless lines of desperate fuel queues to a much-needed breathe of fresh air at  Zambezi Valley Safaris'  Chirundu Safari Lodge and Tamarind Tented Camp.

It’s funny how as soon as you settled down for a road-trip with a good book in hand and gaze out of the window periodically at the land passing by, you instantly start to relax. I felt a calmness, and probably the closest feeling to happiness I’ve felt in a while, settle inside of me knowing I was heading to the bush once more – it’s where my heart has always belonged and always yearned for.

As we drive up to the gates of Chirundu Safari Lodge, glancing to the right at a small dam, we see a large herd of buffalo quenching their day’s thirst at the water’s edge. What a sight for sore eyes! 

Walking up the stairs and onto the outdoor veranda where a long table was set for our buffet lunch, again our sights took in a small group of elephant bulls drinking and splattering the cooling mud across their wrinkled skins. THIS certainly beat what I left behind back in Harare!

Chirundu Safari Lodge is a wonderful place for anyone wanting to escape Harare for the weekend. It will take about 5 hours if you’re self-driving from Harare (with the traditional stop at Lion’s Den of course!) and 6 hours or so if travelling with a transfer.

There are 10 ensuite double or twin bedrooms, all air-conditioned and the lodge itself is capable of accommodating 20 people or so.

There is wifi (not that you should need it!!), a pool to cool off in whilst watching the hilarious antics of all who visit the local watering hole, secure parking for vehicles, a privately licensed airstrip (Chirundu II) with 24 hr security for those wishing to fly in and a boat launch site and security for moored boats at the famous landmark in the area – the Pump House.

Transferred by game vehicle, you take a lovely scenic drive across the private concession, bumping into yet more buffalo herds, handsome and dainty bushbuck, trotting erect-tailed Pumbas (i.e. warthogs) down to Tamarind Tented Camp which is nestled inconspicuously along the Zambezi River opposite Kanyemba Island.

It’s a camp which leaves very little of our human imprint on its surroundings, blending in with the bush as much as possible. All your basic needs are met and you’re guaranteed to be quite comfortable which then leaves you free to really connect back with nature and take in the bush sounds around you.

There are 15 double or twin ensuite tents capable of fitting 3 adults (some can fit 2 adults and 2 children) comfortably in each. There are either gas or solar geysers providing hot water for quick refreshing showers, no air conditioning and absolutely no wifi. This place is great for getting “off-the-grid” which is something more and more of us will strive for as the years go by. 

For the more adventurous, the Zambeasy Campsites near the iconic Pump House are built on their own peninsula island with a body of water on either side – views of the mighty Zambezi River on the one side and a small canal on the other, where the canoeing and boating activities usually start from.

There are currently 5 completed camp sites, soon to be 9. Each is a good distance away from the other, so you get your own privacy. Each site is beautifully lawned, has its own ablution block complete with shower, wash basin and toilet with hot and cold running water and toilet paper provided.

There is a wood-cooking braai station and a power plug point and lighting. Tents are available for hire if needed. Honestly, what more could you need?

There are lots of activities on offer from the lodge, the tented camp and the campsites, including game-drives, guided walks, fishing, boating or sunset cruises on the Zambezi River, bush dinners, survival/bush-skills demonstrations and sundowners at the Pump House or on the sandy beaches of the Zambezi floodplain.

One of the highlights is an anti-poaching/scenic bush flight over the concession area (2700 hectares or so), Rifa area and towards the boundary with Mana Pools National Park.

This was my first flight over this area and it’s absolutely amazing once you’re up there looking down upon the river’s intertwining channels and tributaries, spotting the different animals as well as keeping an eye out for anything suspicious-looking which you report to the pilot and the National Parks ranger who will be in the plane with you.

A first for me - something I didn’t think I’d EVER do, is canoe trip down the Zambezi River! I have a very healthy respect for the temperamental “happy” hippos as well as the lurking prehistoric crocodiles - discouraged by the stories I’ve heard of my father’s experiences in his pro-guiding days. BUT I must say, if you place your trust in your two accompanying guides, it’ll be one of the most exhilarating experiences you’ll ever do! I am so glad to have ticked that off the list, not that it was ever on it in the first place, but sometimes you’ve just got to take the bull (Life) by the horns and go along for the ride. You might just find you learn something about yourself.

To conclude, Chirundu Safari Lodge, Tamarind Tented Camp and the Zambeasy Campsites are all about the EXPERIENCE more than a luxurious stay. It’s a place where the owners and staff make you feel like you’re part of the family and I cannot extend more heartfelt thanks to them for inviting me, on behalf of our Off 2 Africa team, to come and stay with them and see what they have to offer.

Mana Brightman is a travel consultant at Off 2 Africa in Harare.  Contact her for help with arranging your trip to Chirundu or to many other exciting places in and around Zimbabwe. 

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