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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in Zimbabwe

Safari on the Elephant Express across Hwange National Park

Breezing over the plains in this open-sided railcar feels like no ordinary transfer…

By Mark Butcher
Managing Director of Imvelo Safari Lodges

Along the north-eastern boundary of Hwange National Park, remnants of Africa’s colonial history can be seen peeping out of the terrain. This section of the railway line built in 1904 as part of the British imperial dream to run a railway from Cape to Cairo, links the small village of Dete to the open grassland of the Ngamo plains and Bomani Tented Lodge. We use this rail line for our 24-seater railcar, The Elephant Express, that transports our guests  to the south-east remoter regions of Zimbabwe’s largest national park. A bumpy car ride would make for a very uncomfortable journey but breezing over the plains in this open-sided railcar feels like no ordinary transfer.

It takes two hours cruising along at 25 miles per hour, three hours if you count the minutes spent stopping for your first glimpse of Hwange’s extraordinary creatures. You might think that the animals would be deterred by the sight of a railcar but the trainline has been part of Hwange’s scenery since 1904 slicing through the land on its way to Victoria Falls. It even predates the park itself, which wasn’t officially declared until 1928. This means the wildlife here is as nonchalant about the trainline’s presence as it is a termite mound.

On your journey you might come across a couple of lion or even families of cheetah who use the raised track as vantage points to scout for prey. Or it could be elephant plodding across the way, wildebeest cantering through the tall grass and if you’re lucky, you might catch a thrilling encounter between predator and prey. Your driver will glide you along slowly to get a good look or completely stop for you to relish the moment. One thing’s for sure. When you finally arrive at Bomani you’ll be grinning like a Cheshire cat.


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Alfred & Mark Butcher

Mark Butcher is an eco-tourism professional with a passion for linking local communities directly to wildlife conservation. In the 80s, he was a ranger for the Zimbabwe Department of National Parks and Wildlife and later, the Provincial Wildlife Officer in the Matabeleland North Province adjacent to Hwange National Park. Mark is now the Managing Director of Imvelo Safari Lodges, a selection of properties that directly benefit disenfranchised communities around Hwange.

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Adele, who's travelled extensively in Zimbabwe. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember – the ranger who can show you the best game viewing and fishing spots on the Zambezi, the guide who’ll introduce you to ‘moonbows’ at Victoria Falls and the locals who’ll share their dinner with you.

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