Rhino Safari Camp - a very special kind of authentic African wildlife experience.

Elizabeth ffrench-Constant • 1 November 2023

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We were lucky enough to visit Rhino Safari Camp at the perfect time of year for weather as it was not too cold or too hot, being the beginning of September, and the experience was incredible.



Nestling amongst shady trees on the Matusadona National Park shoreline of Lake Kariba, what this area has in profusion is elephants! Sadly, due to poaching, rhinos are no longer here, but there are plans in the future for this to change. The owners of the camp are very committed naturalists and conservationists, and the whole ethos is in keeping as close to nature as possible.



Elephants at morning, noon and night! Don’t be surprised if one of them, affectionately known as “Cornflakes”, pitches up for breakfast! The area around the camp is home to the elephants as well, and sometimes it’s easier to have a quick drink from the paddling pool than walking all the way to the edge of the lake which is quite low at present. Especially when you are a youngster! 



For this reason, guests are asked not to bring any fresh fruit to the camp and particularly citrus, which is a favourite treat for elephants: they love to eat the fruit of the wild monkey orange trees. If any fruit or dried meat (biltong) has been brought in, guests are kindly requested to leave it in the fridge , which is securely fastened to stop the hyenas from opening it. We were shown the dent in the fridge door incurred when the local hyena had attempted to get in by jaw power!

The camp itself is simple yet comfortable.  The unprententious thatched roofs of the main building and separate chalet bedrooms keep it cool and the main reception bar area is an open air structure with no walls, perfect to feel very much at home with the ellies when they do visit, to scratch against the nearby tree or simply just to see what is going on! 

All of the chalet bedrooms look out over the lake and are spaced sufficiently far apart to give a real sense of authentic Africa and privacy!

We had the option to go on afternoon fishing trips for the four days that we were there, and although we didn’t catch lots of fish, we did enjoy the birding, particularly the little Wire-tailed Swallows that were quite happy to perch on the end of my fishing rod! 

The setting, up a nearby small creek in the sunset hours, was spectacular. The fish that we did catch were good size bream that the camp prepared for us as a special hors d’oeuvre! Delicious when so fresh! 

In addition to game drives around the concession, which is private to the camp, we were also offered the chance to walk in the early morning.  This was magnificent. The air is cool and we found a beautiful green python, lying on the grass which borders the lake! He had come out early to warm up in the sun, but was still sluggish enough to allow us to get very close and intimate, even to touch his cold skin!

We continued our early morning walk with our guide, Pete, into a shallow valley, which had recently been discovered to be a prehistoric treasure trove. Fossilized bones of dinosaurs! These are the remains of crocodilian-like dinosaurs and are distinctive in appearance, being silvery grey in colour, standing out clearly from the rock in which they are embedded!

Also from the same period, lots of fossilized wood too!

Finally, we concluded our walk returning to the safari vehicle to visit some more elephants taking a morning mud bath! The population and herds here seem to be thriving with plenty of young and baby elephants, some so young that they are still covered with their infant hair! It's possible to sit and watch elephants for hours as they are so entertaining, with their very empathic approach to each other, stroking with their trunks, tolerating the babies who are play fighting, rolling in the mud, practicing elephant yoga on their hands and knees!

We were enthralled by Rhino Safari Camp. The staff, who are mostly local Tongans, looked after us very well.  We would thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting a very special kind of authentic African wildlife experience.




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