Before jumping into what to consider when booking an African safari, did you know that safari is a Swahili term meaning, “a journey”?
In the past, this journey usually involved a lot of trophy hunting.
With certain wildlife facing the threat of extinction, thankfully, those days are just that. In the past.
If you’re planning on travelling, an African safari ought to be on your bucket list. To ensure your trip is a memorable one, it pays to consider the following when booking for an African safari.
1. Make sure to book your African safari in advance
While you’re making plans for your trip, there are so many others doing the same thing.
Safaris in Africa have become so popular over the years. It’s no surprise that many camps get booked out months or even, years in advance.
If you postpone booking for your safari, you only limit yourself and may end up adjusting your plans to fit in with what is available.
In fact –
This may end up costing your more money if the only camps available when you are ready to book are expensive than others.
2. Knowledge and experience of the guides
When booking an African safari, find out about the experience and knowledge of the tour guides at the camps you consider visiting.
A tour guide with good communication or interpersonal skills plus a wealth of knowledge can make yours a memorable trip.
Thus, it is worth it to opt for a safari camp or lodge with guides who are good at their job.
A way to know which of those camps has good (licensed) guides is to pay attention to the reviews of those camps by other guests, be it on their websites, social media accounts or on sites such as TripAdvisor.
While guide accreditation differs from one country to another, in Zimbabwe aspiring guides undergo years of extensive training before getting their license to practice.
Zimbabwe’s process of obtaining a guide license is regarded as one of the most extensive and highly reputed in Africa.
3. Duration of your trip
Another thing to remember when booking an African safari is that each night you spend at a camp will cost you.
Depending on your budget, you will have to work out the number of nights you want to spend at the camp.
One night is certainly not enough because such a short time will not allow you to fully experience the safari camp and all the activities it has to offer.
Spending more than one night may help you know more about the area, its creatures, and plants. All things said, your budget will determine how long you get to stay at one safari camp.
4. Fly-in or drive-in safari
How will you get to the safari camp?
As you search for the ideal safari camp to visit, make sure to find out how one accesses the location.
Some camps are in remote areas and this means they often aren’t accessible using road transport.
Thus, guests will have no other option but to use small planes to get to the camps.
Unsurprisingly, this mode of transport adds to the total cost of the trip. So, work within your means and select which safari camps suit your budget.
5. Know and work within your budget
Knowing what your budget is helps you – or your tour operator – to know what choices of a safari camp and activities to focus on.
The options are overwhelmingly many, and a budget eliminates some of those thus making the booking process much easier.
Of course, working within your budget may mean doing away with some of your needs.
But, it is way better to choose an option is cheap enough but does not meet all your needs instead of choosing an expensive option which is way beyond your financial means.
Going on safari is not cheap at all.
The best camps with the best activities and viewing are the most expensive.
Prices will vary not only according to the location of the camp but the season.
When booking for an African safari, work within your budget.
If you want tips on how to lower your costs without lowering the quality of your experience, read our blog here.
While the best camps might have the best activities, keep in mind that –
6. An expensive lodge doesn’t always guarantee an experience of a lifetime
Safari lodges are like hotels since they both offer a range of services with different prices.
While at a hotel you can expect to pay more for better services or a more luxurious experience, safaris tend to be more complex.
Spending more money at a safari camp may get you better lodging and food.
At cheap safaris, you may have to go without certain comforts like hot water.
However, the quality of your lodging is not a reliable indicator of the quality of the activities one can partake in.
Lastly, when booking an African safari, consider –
7. The best time to go on safari
It stands to be argued that as the seasons change so does the safari experience.
Still, when booking an African safari, make sure to find out the best time to visit the safari you plan on go to.
Prices charged during the high and the low season tend to differ, so good deals are to be had in the low season, but it is important to know the difference, as your experience may be different.
Generally, in the Southern parts of Africa, the high season is from July to October.
During that time, water sources are limited, and animals will merge at the available sources in large numbers.
When the rainy season starts, the animals disperse. The dense vegetation may make it hard to spot the animals.
On the plus side, there are lots of birds and young animals being born to see during the rainy season.
Depending on where you want to go in Africa, acquaint yourself with the seasons of that area so you can make an informed decision.
Like we said above, a safari in Africa ought to be on your bucket list. If you’re interested in exploring the beautiful areas in Zimbabwe, please click here for more information.
The quickest and easiest way to become a rhino expertFirstly, is a Black Rhino even black? Is a White Rhino well, white?
The answer to both questions is NO.
That’s right! Both species are, in fact, grey with the Black Rhino having a darker shade than the White Rhino.
So, how do you tell the Difference Between a Black and White Rhino?
There are several differences between the two species.
However, the main difference lies in their size, the shape of their lips and what they eat.
The White Rhino is the second largest land mammal after the elephant. Its name is said to have been derived from the Afrikaans word, wyd, which describes the shape of its mouth and means, wide.
The theory goes that the Dutch settlers in South Africa initially called them “wijd mond rhino”, meaning “wide-mouth rhino.” Early English settlers mistranslated the term “wyd” to “white” and hence the name, white rhino while the darker rhino was called the Black Rhino.
The White Rhino is a grazer and its wide and square upper lip is adapted for easier feeding on grasses. If you happen to spot one while on safari, you will notice that it is usually facing downwards so its mouth is always close to the ground when grazing.
Unlike the White Rhino, Black Rhino are browsers and their smaller, hook-shaped lips allow them to grasp prickly shrubs and trees. They are always facing upward so that there is no need to for them to lift their heads when feeding off trees.
And What Is The Difference Between a “Black” and “White” Rhino?
• Black Rhino are slightly smaller and shorter than White Rhino.
• White Rhino have longer foreheads and slightly longer tails than their Black counterparts.
• White Rhino also have bigger heads and longer necks due to the muscles required to support the neck when grazing.
• Again, the hips of a White Rhino are lower than its shoulders and this gives it a sloped shape to its resulting in a sloped shape to their back unlike the black rhinos that have dipped backs.
If you are on safari –
You generally should expect to see White Rhino more often than Black Rhino. There are two reasons for this – the behaviour and quantity of the species.
Firstly, Black Rhino are private, anti-social creatures which spend much of their time in thick vegetation, browsing the twigs and bark from small trees and shrubs.
On the other hand, White Rhino are a bit more sociable and can be found in larger groups. Since they eat grass, you are more likely to see the White Rhino out in open spaces.
Secondly, there are far more White Rhino left than the Black Rhino which are now critically endangered.
Did you know that Matobo National Park is one of the last sanctuaries for the Black and White Rhino?
When you visit us at Matobo Hills Lodge, you can expect to go on game drives where you will get to view these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
An opportunity your grand children may never have.
If you are interested in learning more about the various activities in store for you at Matobo Hills Lodge –
Today is World Environment Day.
This year the theme is “Beat Plastic Pollution” and official commemorations are taking place in India.
The Prime Minister of the country, Narendra Modi, took to twitter and wrote:
“Greetings on #WorldEnvironmentDay. Together, let us ensure that our future generations live in a clean and green planet, in harmony with nature.”
Matobo Hills Lodge joins the global community in celebrating World Environment Day.
We understand the destructive impact of plastic on the environment.
Therefore, we actively encourage our guests to responsibly dispose of their non-biodegradable rubbish.
We remain committed to spreading awareness of responsible tourism.
Graffiti Ruining Historical Monuments
Matobo National Park is home to several caves such as Silozwane and Nswatugi.
These caves contain rock paintings which have been tainted by illicit markings made by tourists.
There have been instances of people scribbling on or scratching the walls thus defacing the rock art.
The increasing defacement of the art, which has a cultural and religious bearing, is a cause for much concern.
3 Reasons Why We Discourage Graffiti
Firstly, defacement of these rock paintings is illegal.
It diminishes the value of our natural landscapes which draw many to the heritage sites.
These sites are tangible and sacred proof of our development as humans and our interaction with the environment.
Again, leaving graffiti on rock art destroys its aesthetic value.
Graffiti ruins the experience for other tourists who travel to see the art and learn about the history of the painters.
Can The Markings Be Removed?
But, some types of graffiti can be removed following specific procedures and using specific chemicals, though not easily.
However and unfortunately –
Some, like scratches, are permanent and cause irreparable damage.
This is why, on this World Environment Day, we discourage scribbling graffiti on our historical monuments.
What You Also Need To Know On This World Environment Day
Since 2003, Matobo National Park has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is due to its geographical, cultural, and historical significance.
The natural landscape, which was once home to the San people, contains some of the world’s most magnificent caves and rock paintings.
These rock paintings depict the way of living of the hunter-gatherer people and are between 1500 and 10000 years old.
Did you also know that Matobo National Park has one of the highest concentrations of such rock paintings?
In Southern Africa!
There are several different caves in the nature reserve and these include the Pomongwe and Inanke cave.
If you are boarded close to some caves, you will get to hike directly to them.
Otherwise, caves further from you will require a game drive and short hike.
The caves are also subjected to erosion due to temperature changes and contact with weather elements like water.
Though this tends to make the paintings hard to understand, they are still in a relatively good state.
Unlike vandalism –
Erosion does not pose a huge threat to the preservation of the rock art.
It is part of the natural connection between the paintings and the rocks.
Measures need to be put in place to discourage graffiti which poses a threat to the conservation efforts of concerned stakeholders.
When you visit us, one of the activities you can do is visiting the caves and learning about the rock art.
For more information on all the other activities in store for you, click HERE
PRESS RELEASE: Matobo Hills Lodge wins TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2018
We have been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor.
For the 4th time in a row!
Matobo Hills Lodge couldn’t be more delighted.
Our Lodge continues to establish itself as a first-rate Zimbabwean tourist destination.
We strive to ensure that Guest Happiness is central to our business operation.
We owe our gratitude to our valued guests for the positive reviews on TripAdvisor.
It is these reviews which helped us scoop the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
We are saying thank you to all the guests who have been happy with our services.
It is our hope that these positive reviews will attract more guests to our Lodge.
We encourage everyone to leave honest reviews of our services.
Yes – we said it. HONEST reviews.
Such reviews will help other travelers get a clear picture of what they can expect.
What Management Has to Say About The News
Joshua Elliott, the Managing Director of Matobo Hills Lodge says,
“Management and our dedicated staff are very happy to be receiving this award.
It is our intention to continue offering our guests value for their money.
We want to ensure that their stay at our Lodge is beyond their expectations.
We intend to keep pushing the boundaries of guest service and value.
Matobo Hills Lodge hopes to win this award again next year.
We will do our very best to ensure that happens.
Should that happen, we will be inducted into the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame.
This would be a great incentive for us.”
What You Need to Know About the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
Firstly – did you know that TripAdvisor the world’s largest hospitality review site?
Its Certificate of Excellence initiative has been running for seven years now.
Who is eligible to receive to the award?
The award is designed to acknowledge businesses which always receive great reviews.
These business are in the hospitality industry.
They include hotels, restaurants, safari lodges and so on.
What is the criteria for selection?
- The Certificate of Excellence considers the recency, number and quality of reviews. These reviews must have been submitted over a year.
- To qualify for the award, organisations need to have the minimum number of reviews.
- Organisations need to be listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. These 12 months begin on 1 April and end on 31 March.
- The businesses also need to have a rating of at least four out of five.
When are winners announced, you might ask?
Winners of the award are announced annually.
And, this is usually done towards the end of May.
For more information on Matobo Hills Lodge and how to book your stay, please visit our website.
Alternatively, drop us an email on email@example.com .
St. Augustine once said, ‘the world is a book and those who don’t travel only read one page.’ If you haven’t been on safari in Zimbabwe, there are some pages you are missing out on.
Travelling soothes your soul and expands your mind to experiences outside our immediate surroundings.
A luxury safari in Zimbabwe is something we recommend you experience at least once in your lifetime!
That moment in an open safari vehicle, the African Sun high in the sky, when you first sight elephants or lions off in the distance, or hear your first laughing pack of hyenas near your camp simply cannot be replicated. It is a priceless moment, a moment of understanding with Mother Nature herself.
These experiences are generally not cheap however; and there are reasons for that.
- Most Zimbabwean safari lodges are remote and situated far away from central business districts.
- Water is often pumped from a borehole.
- Electricity might be self-generated.
- The supply chain is often distant and tortuous over difficult terrain.
- Most Zimbabwean safari lodges depend on travel agents who are paid commission.
- Tourist boards take a chunk of turnover.
- Lodges often make financial contributions towards the sustainability of the nature reserves.
So a luxury safari in Zimbabwe can never be at bargain basement prices.
The following are tips designed to help tourists lower their costs while still enjoying many of the perks of a luxury safari in Zimbabwe
1. Focus on a workable itinerary.
If this is your first visit to Zimbabwe then the temptation might be to see it all.
Too many National Parks and tourist spots in one trip can be both exhausting and expensive with long fuel-guzzling journeys, short stays and multiple park entry fees.
Pick a few highlights, plan a maximum four-hour journey between stops and then stay for a few days at each enjoying an in-depth exploration of the area. You can always come back….
2. Do away with certain perks.
Work within your budget.
Glamour and safari seem to go together these days but Ernest Hemingway explored Africa with a tent, stretcher and a few camp attendants, there wasn’t a plunge pool in sight.
Do you really need such ultra-luxuries as a spa, personal butler, an air-conditioned tent, gourmet meals cooked to order and a large selection of wine.
3. Safety In Numbers.
Just like the Wildebeeste there can be some huge advantages to travelling in a “herd.”
Travel with friends, family or in an arranged group (if you can handle it). Groups can often negotiate better deals. Sharing vehicle and guide costs can be a big saving.
However, group safaris can be restrictive since the itinerary may not be flexible. Different generations of people may want different types of safaris. Choose your companions wisely.
4. Travel during off-peak seasons.
Even though roads may be harder to navigate, going on safari during the green season is cheaper than during the popular dry season.
During the wet season (usually January to April in Zimbabwe), fewer people travel.
Reduced demand pushes prices down as lodge operators aim to fill their empty beds. The upside of going on safari during the green season is that animals are breeding, the young are exuberant and frolicking, birds are migrating and in colourful plumage.
The landscape is lush, green and blossoming. Clouds shine, brood, form shapes, tint the sunset. In every direction there are extraordinary backdrops for the keen photographer or gin & tonic sipper.
5. Opt for self-drive when going on safari in Zimbabwe
A luxury safari in Zimbabwe can now be a road trip. Tourists being hassled by police road blocks is a thing of the past.
Driving yourself is not only easy on the pocket but also ensures you have the freedom to plan and adjust your route at the last minute.
There’s flexibility in stopping for breaks, picnics or taking pictures. You have the choice of roads and where to stay overnight. If camping is your thing rent a vehicle with a roof top tent. With only camping fees to pay accommodation costs are kept to a minimum and self-catering is an option.
6. If you can pitch your own tent, do it.
And whilst on the topic of camping, most national parks in Zimbabwe offer camping facilities. Prices may differ depending on whether the facilities are fully-serviced camps with amenities or simply a cleared space for a tent.
Camping facilities are a great money saving option but if you prefer the sanctuary of a building then search out cheaper accommodation at the national park chalets.
7. Take advantage of any discounts on offer.
Do research on different lodge operators, are they offering specials?
These deals might involve longer stays or travels during the off-peak season. They might have a last-minute booking rate and if there are enough of you they might do a deal.
Never be afraid to ask what’s available and when, you might be pleasantly surprised!
To Find Out Why There Has Never Been A Better Time To Visit Zimbabwe, Click Here.
Blessing is a “Confident, Mature and Disciplined young man.” says Operations Manager Mr Grey Nyama
Having joined Matobos Hills Lodge on the 19th of February 2018, he first started on attachment from his hotel school.
His strong work ethic created an impression on his bosses and soon he was promoted to Trainee Restaurant Manager, a position he has occupied since the 1st of May.
Now in his third year of studying towards a Diploma in Tourism and Hospitality Management, Blessing plans to finish his studies next year.
As someone who proudly values his job at the Lodge, Blessing intends to finish his studies on a Block Release Program because it is important to him that he is available “as and when” needed to carry out his duties at the Lodge.
Before joining Matobo Hills Lodge, Blessing worked as a waiter at Debonairs Pizza in Johannesburg, South Africa. He worked there for a year and had hoped to raise enough money for him to pay for his tuition at The Global Institute of Hospitality and Tourism located in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Blessing says it was important for him to figure out various ways to earn an income and that is why he
decided to travel to South Africa and look for work.
Even though transitioning was hard at first, Blessing learnt to adapt and eventually found his firm footing at Matobo Hills Lodge, a place he now describes as “home.”
When it comes to his job, an easy-going Blessing says he enjoys talking to clients.
Interacting with guests is crucial to him because guests who feel welcome and comfortable are happy.
Happy clients are more likely to visit the lodge again, keeping him busy. Blessing says the worst days are the few days when there are no clients to interact with in the lodge.
Blessing believes people should come and experience the beauty of Matobos Hills Lodge because the place is naturally tranquil and allows one to connect to our magnificent Zimbabwean Mother nature.