Imvelo Safari Lodges2023-09-06T16:08:04-05:00

Imvelo Safari Lodges

If you’ve never been to Zimbabwe before, you’re in for a treat. It’s one of the most beautiful, enigmatic, diverse and friendly countries in Africa. At Imvelo, we aren’t just about luxury lodges and there’s more to us than spectacular experiential photographic safaris – we believe in enriching the lives of those who live around us as well as our guests by ensuring that it’s the local people and wildlife that directly benefit from our visitors. Our program has blossomed into a showpiece and model for truly successful community-based ecotourism in Zimbabwe.

Why Imvelo Safari Lodges?

Experiential safari lodges and camps that make a difference: Imvelo Safari Lodges have four very unique camps in and around Hwange National Park. And while our lodges certainly deliver luxurious creature comforts, we firmly believe that travelers today are increasingly seeking the luxury of exclusivity, of remote places, of small intimate camps and unique, authentic interactions with nature and local people. And this is where we really excel. For us, it’s all about enjoying a safari in new and unique ways, like our Elephant Express rail safaris, bush yoga, underground blinds, biking, walking and even canoeing safaris to name a few! Coupled with our incredibly impactful community and conservation programs and immersive cultural activities, Imvelo really is doing things differently and offering a very unique safari experience.

Camps & Lodges

Imvelo Safari Lodges offers a portfolio of four individually unique lodges and camps in Hwange National Park. Each has been meticulously designed to offer all the comforts of home, a splash of luxury and an exciting dash of uniqueness. On top of this, the locations have been carefully selected for two vital reasons: the local communities dedication to our conservation partnership and their proximity to some of nature’s most impressive wonders in Hwange, famed for its thousands of elephants.

Camelthorn Lodge

Camelthorn’s eight forest villas are nestled in the cool woodlands on the southern edge of Hwange’s famed Ngamo Plains. One of only three lodges in Zimbabwe built on community land, Camelthorn offers both a spectacular wilderness experience as well as un-choreographed and meaningful cultural encounters in the nearby villages, the lodge’s partners and neighbors.

Camelthorn Lodge Fact Sheet
Camelthorn Lodge Wetu iBrochure
Camelthorn Lodge high-resolution photos

Bomani Tented Lodge

The definition of a classic tented safari camp, Bomani is situated in a private concession on the magnificent Ngamo Plains, on the edge of the remote and unspoilt southeastern corner of Hwange National Park. Bomani offers nine tented accommodations plus a private two-bedroom family suite and a thatched chalet set around a prolific waterhole.

Bomani Tented Lodge Fact Sheet
Bomani Tented Lodge Wetu iBrochure
Bomani Tented Lodge high-resolution photos

Nehimba Lodge

Situated in a huge private concession in northern Hwange, Nehimba’s nine spacious canvas-under-thatch tents overlook the magnificent lodge waterhole which is frequented by huge numbers of elephants and other game, particularly in the dry season, and has been called “the greatest elephant show on the planet.”

Nehimba Lodge Fact Sheet
Nehimba Lodge Wetu iBrochure
Nehimba Lodge high-resolution photos

Jozibanini Camp

With just six tents on raised teak decks, Jozibanini is a small and exclusive adventure camp situated in one of the most remote and unspoiled areas in the far south of Hwange National Park. This is a truly wild place allowing guests to completely unplug and enjoy a unique untamed wilderness experience.

Jozibanini Camp Fact Sheet
Jozibanini Camp Wetu iBrochure
Jozibanini Camp high-resolution photos

Active Safaris

Imvelo likes to do things differently – with a focus experiential safaris such as game viewing from canoes on flooded plains or tracking elephant herds on mountain bikes in southwest Hwange at Jozibanini Camp. While we love game drives just as much as the next safari operator, our passion lies in getting our guests out of the vehicles to explore our Zimbabwe in a more intimate, active and experiential way.

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. On a walking safari, all your senses are heightened and you can see, hear, smell and feel the bush. Small mysteries of the bush are unlocked and explored; tracks are investigated; and the wide variety of animal poop becomes an unexpected and fascinating learning experience!

Canoeing Safaris

Imvelo continues to innovate and introduce world class safari activities for our guests to enjoy on safari with us in Hwange! 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.  Slipping quietly along on a golden pond, drifting past photo opportunities with the game grazing on drier land- truly one of the most spectacular safari activities out there. Pushing past a watery wonderland of lotus lilies, mesmerizingly close to wildlife, with no current pulling or whitewater rushing just ahead, will certainly be a memorable experience! This activity is dependent on the season’s rainfall.

Mountain Biking Safaris

At Imvelo’s remote adventure camp Jozibanini, guests can explore the area around camp on mountain bikes! Jozi is located in far southern Hwange, where for millennia, sand from the Kalahari has blown and piled into small dunes. In between these dunes are hard packed, fossilized troughs that elephants and other wildlife use to transit the area. These are the paths that will be used for the mountain bike safaris, providing a solid surface for biking. Our biking excursions are flexible though generally short and easy going (15km or less though longer rides are possible). There is always a vehicle available for support and refreshments!

Unique Safari Experiences

And while our lodges certainly deliver luxurious creature comforts, we firmly believe that travelers today are increasingly seeking the luxury of exclusivity, of remote places, of small intimate camps and unique, authentic interactions with nature and local people. And this is where we really excel. For us, it’s all about enjoying a safari in new and unique ways, like our Elephant Express rail safaris, underground “look-up” blinds and more.

Rhino Experience

In 2022, a groundbreaking conservation project was launched when two male rhinos were reintroduced to the Hwange ecosystem by Imvelo in collaboration with a host of community groups, NGOs and the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority. Guests on Imvelo’s Rhino Experience will learn about the Community Rhino Conservation Initiative – CRCI for short – as well as how the rhinos are protected and future plans for the initiative. Travelers then walk to join the rhinos and the Cobras guarding them where they will enjoy lots of photo opportunities and time to appreciate Thuza and Kusasa in their new home. Guests staying at Camelthorn, located on the same community land as the Ngamo Rhino Sanctuary, sometimes enjoy a surprise visit by the rhinos at the lodge itself! 70% of total funds generated from visits to see the rhino go directly back to the communities.

Elephant Express

If there’s a more fun way to travel to Imvelo’s Camelthorn Lodge and Bomani Tented Lodge in Hwange National Park, we haven’t seen it yet! The Elephant Express is Imvelo’s one-of-a-kind railcar which travels 80km from the small railway town of Dete to Ngamo siding, just minutes from Camelthorn and Bomani lodges. 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!

Look-Up blinds

With all the active waterholes in Hwange, Imvelo installed two water-level photography blinds – at Stophie’s pan near Camelthorn 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. The sheer thrill of sitting in the blind in safety and comfort close enough to elephant to count the cracks on their toe nails has surpassed every one of our expectations! And over full moons guests can even spend the evening in the blind watching the wildlife come down to drink with a backdrop of stars in a crystal sky, and if you’re really enjoying yourself why not overnight in the blind – what an incredible experience, not available anywhere else in the National Park!

Pump Runs

Hwange National Park has no major rivers and for the past 70 years during 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 18 waterpumps. This means Imvelo is looking after approximately 20- 25% of the waterholes that sustain Hwange’s wildlife – a huge commitment of which we are truly proud!

The engines require diesel, oil and monthly services and the pump attendants who operate them require rations and pay. 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. Our Pump run usually ends 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). In the green season an all-day game drive can be enjoyed roaming across a huge section of the park stopping for a picnic lunch and siesta under a cool tree near a lily-covered pan.

Pop-Up Spas

Imvelo Safari Lodges know how to take it to another level with pop-up spa services on offer! The spa treatments fall in line with Imvelo’s proud tradition of empowering the community through providing jobs, as their beauty therapists have been hand-picked from the surrounding community areas. Travelers can enjoy treatments (head, foot, shoulder & neck massages, as well as mani/pedis) in the most spectacular settings!

Meet Butch and the Imvelo Safari Lodges team

Mark ‘Butch’ Butcher – Managing Director and Guide

Even though ‘Butch’ is Imvelo’s Managing Director, he still spends as much time as he can spare in the bush. Butch’s wildlife career started in 1979 when he became a ranger for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management. He completed a BSc in Zoology and Botany at Rhodes University before moving on to work for Zimbabwe’s Forestry Commission. As Provincial Wildlife Officer, Butch was responsible for all the wildlife that roamed within 1.8-million acres of indigenous forest. He quickly discovered how essential the local people’s support was to the well being of the estate. Butch began to develop programs that would both engage the people and benefit the natural ecosystems. He finally left the Commission to develop these initiatives from the other side of the fence. Butch’s lifelong passion for Hwange – its elephants, wildlife and communities – formed the cornerstone for Imvelo Safari Lodges to grow into what it is today. Read More

Community and Conservation

Imvelo Safari Lodges has proven that engaging and empowering local communities bordering national parks is the first and most important step in conservation. To that end, they have an exhaustive list of thoughtful, innovative and impactful programs to achieve their goals, some of which are highlighted below. Read More

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