Hwange National Park

Imvelo offers so many one of a kind experiences

Imvelo likes to do things differently – with a focus on experiential safaris such as tracking elephant herds on mountain bikes to canoeing close to big game, their passion and expertise lies in getting their guests out of the vehicles to explore Hwange National Park in a more intimate and active way, as well as offering truly immersive community interactions. Quite simply their partnerships with the frontline communities and the work they have done to preserve the wildlife in Hwange National Park is unmatched. Imvelo – changing the way you safari

Not only is the way you can safari while at the Imvelo camps exciting and unique, Hwange National Park itself is a true hidden gem. With so few camps in and around Hwange, it is likely guests will not see another vehicle or human other than the warm and hospitable Zimbabwean camp staff and yet the park is teeming with incredible concentrations and varieties of animal species and one-of-a-kind experiences to enjoy…all at unbelievable value for money. And a huge drawcard there is definitely more elephant than guests in the park ( upwards of 50000 elephant!).

Imvelo guests can truly discover all the many facets of this incredible park and the unusual experiential activities that are possible on safari, using a combination of their different camps providing more connected travel, purposeful travel, unforgettable travel!

Imvelo Safari Lodges - Walking with Rhinos and Rainbow - credit Logan Carter
Walking with Rhino

The first white rhino back in Matabeleland North Province in almost 20 years have found themselves a new home at the Imvelo Ngamo Wildlife Sanctuary, bordering Hwange National Park.

It is so incredible for us to finally say, if you visit Camelthorn Lodge or Bomani Tented Lodge, you will now have the opportunity to potentially see the Big5! We are extremely proud of the paradigm shift with our communities taking on being custodians of the two first rhino bulls.

Enjoy a tour of the sanctuary headquarters – meet some of the Community Wildlife Protection scouts on duty that day, and then take a walking tour to view and spend time with the rhino and our Cobra Rangers guarding them 24/7 – lots of photo opportunities and quality time to watch and enjoy our white rhino in their new home on the Ngamo plains! ( This is at an extra cost).
Follow all the updates at Hwange Community Rhino Initiative

Huge scale support

The support Imvelo has given is staggering through fundraising with donors and of their own time and resources, a safari with this company is life-changing – as the work they are doing on the frontline has transformed tens of thousands of lives and they look after at least 25% of Hwange’s wildlife. Below are just a few highlights of what they have achieved – but more can be found at Hwange needs you. Travelling with Imvelo is truly purposeful.

  • They provide over 500000 school meals annually to 11 schools – feeding over 3000 children
  • They have built, renovated and improved 15 classroom blocks and donated 37000 school books.
  • They have provided critical dental and eye care to over 42000 patients
  • They pump water from 19 wildlife pumps sustaining over 25% of Hwange’s wildlife
  • They have set up the Community wildlife protection unit called the Cobras – 40+ local scouts to help reduce poaching.
Immersive-community-visits-purposeful-travel-hwange-africa-hidden-gems-credit Mark Sissons
Immersive community visits

When on safari at Bomani or Camelthorn, interaction with the local communities in a completely unrehearsed and authentic situation is for most, a life-changing few hours. During school term, we get up early and meet children walking to school.  Before long, our guests are walking and the vehicle is filling up with the smaller children, who burst into song!  Many other options exist for our guests to meet the people of Ngamo: classroom interaction; a game of soccer; helping with the school lunch (which is donor funded and organized by Imvelo); visits to a family home; meeting the Headman; calling in at the small, picturesque market - these are some of the things Imvelo often do with their neighbours and partners in tourism.

Elephant Express Rail car

If there’s a more fun way to travel to Imvelo’s Camelthorn and Bomani camps we haven’t seen it yet! The Elephant Express is Imvelo’s one-of-a-kind rail car which travels 80km from the small railway town of Dete to Ngamo siding, just minutes from both camps. The eastern boundary of Hwange National Park is marked by an historic railway line – part of Cecil Rhodes’ dream of an empire stretching ‘from Cape to Cairo’ with the railway line as its backbone. The Elephant Express seats 22 passengers and the finishes are comfortable and elegant. They include individual coach seating, a chemical toilet, teak tables, plenty of space for luggage, and a large aisle that allows guests to walk around comfortably and provides unrestricted game viewing. Imvelo also provides drinks of all kinds and delicious snacks en route!. This is an absolute must do experience!

A pride of lions in the shade in front of the the Elephant Express
Close up photography of elephant at Hwange
Look-up blinds

With all the active waterholes in Hwange, Imvelo installed two water-level photography blinds – at Stophie’s pan near Camelthorn and Bomani and at Jozibanini pan – allowing for toe and snout level photography of Hwange’s thirsty herds! But these aren’t any ordinary photography blinds. By modifying standard steel shipping containers, including fitting it with a flush loo, and sinking it deep into the Hwange sands, Imvelo has created a cool, secure place from which to watch wildlife coming to drink. You are so close that you can feel the spray when elephants flick water over their bodies; you can smell the fresh, raw scents of the animals as if you were in their midst.  Photographers will literally have a field day with the ground-level perspective from their lenses; the worn toenails and wise eyes of elephants are irresistible subjects to capture on camera.  Sitting quietly and watching the interactions of the animals arriving for a drink of water is infinitely rewarding. Sometimes, incredible things happen; inquisitive young lions have been within touching distance as they investigated the new scents of the people in the hide.

All-day safaris aka “Pump runs”

Hwange’s dry seasons, wildlife has subsisted here on water originally pumped by windmills, later replaced by diesel engines and now solar power. In the southern sector of the Park, Imvelo Safari Lodges shoulders the responsibility for 19 pumped waterholes. This means Imvelo is looking after approximately 20- 25% of the waterholes that sustain Hwange’s wildlife.

A popular activity is to take an all-day trip into the Park visiting the waterholes to drop off fuel and oil for the motors as well as rations and supplies for the pump attendants. A picnic lunch is then enjoyed near one of the waterholes followed by a leisurely game drive back to the lodge in the afternoon, ending with sundowners at one of the waterholes close to camp. Please note this activity only happens in the dry season when the water is pumped (usually between June – October).

Elephants in the bush
a group shot of a guided walk with Elephants
Walking safaris

The Zimbabwe Professional Guides have long been considered the best trained in Africa and therefore exploring the African bush by foot on a walking safari is a must-do while on safari in Zimbabwe. We recommend every guest on safari should go on at least one walk with their guide because the experience on foot is wholly different and there is no greater way to feel connected to nature. It’s a wonderful way to be active on safari while allowing your guide to show you his love of his work, the beauty of all things big and small and to give one a glimpse into the infinite interconnectedness of nature. In our opinion, the only thing better on safari than the adventure of walking, is probably sitting and watching.


Always ready to explore new ways to experience our magical environment, Imvelo’s latest activity is canoeing – not on one of Africa’s great rivers, but on Ngamo’s seasonal wetlands. Let’s caution at the outset that this activity will be dependent on the season’s rainfall. Slipping quietly along on a golden pond, drifting past photo opportunities with the game grazing on drier land – just cannot be compared with bouncing along in a LandRover. Pushing past a watery wonderland of lotus lilies, mesmerizingly close to brilliant birdlife, with no current pulling or whitewater rushing just ahead, is a truly special, tranquil and relaxing experience which we can now highly recommend.  Available on the Bomani concession from January – March ( but check if available due to rainfall first).

Elephant viewing from canoe
cycling in the bush next to Elephants
Mountain biking

For millennia, elephant feet have been tramping paths in the fossil dunes of Jozibanini in the remote south west of Hwange Park. Thousands of years ago the wind blew the Kalahari sand into troughs and peaks which can still be seen in places, and the elephants finished the job, to make pathways where today mountain bikes can move easily.  Biking in the Park is unique to Jozibanini Camp and a rare opportunity because elsewhere the deep Hwange sands make it impractical. An active, fun, adventurous activity – offered nowhere else!

If happiness is the goal, then adventures should be a priority
Richard Branson

Thank You

Thank you to Imvelo Safari Lodges, Mark Butcher, Hauke Dressler, Logan Carter, Duncan Watson, Amy Olivier, Brendan Judge, Will Whitford, Gemma Catlin, Victoria Falls River Lodge, Golden Africa Safaris, David Dugmore for their incredible imagery. For any information on these photographers please contact Africa Hidden Gems.