A Christmas Safari at Musango Safari Camp in Zimbabwe

Musango Safari Camp

As the holidays were quickly approaching we had a debate about how we could make our Christmas in Africa a special one. When we were given the opportunity to have a safari at Musango Safari Camp in Zimbabwe and jumped at the opportunity. Spending a holiday on safari is certain to make it an unforgettable one.

After all, any holiday that is spent with wild elephants, exotic birds, and hippos is one to take note of. Musango Safari Camp is situated along the banks of Lake Kariba deep in a valley. Musango is by all accounts in the bush of Zimbabwe and the journey to the camp only added to its allure.


A Safari Christmas in Zimbabwe


Lake Kariba

While many people are freezing their butts off in the states and Europe you can be basking in the African sun in Zimbabwe. The holidays in the states are spent rushing around as every gets ready for the festivities. The result is stress, traffic, and crowds so it shouldn’t be a surprise that many are prone to depression during the holidays.

Africa is the cure to all that. Relaxing in nature is one of the greatest proven stress relievers and a safari brings you that much closer to the wild. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that soothes your soul as you take in the African air wilderness. It’s one of the many reasons we love Africa and have grown a deep fondness for the “bush.” I hate to be that cliche, but let me quote Hemingway, “I’ve never known a morning in Africa I was not happy.”


Musango Safari Camp


Getting to Musango was by all accounts a journey. It took us two days of driving on remote roads in Zimbabwe, but that is why we bought our trusty Land Cruiser! While most guests may arrive by plane we wanted to drive into Musango ourselves. It was one of the best decisions we’ve made in Africa. The region surrounding Musango was gorgeous and the drive was a true African adventure.

The two days to Musango were spent on single-track dirt roads winding through villages, under baobabs, and through small streams. The lake was not some flat body of water we had come to expect. There were rolling hills, mountains, and the lake itself is set in a valley that is green and lush during the wet season. As we drove into camp it became obvious the location was nothing short of spectacular. We were overwhelmed with the sense of being lost in the bush of Zimbabwe.

When we did pull into Musango after hours on the road we were relieved. The main lodge is littered with stories, photographs, and Steve and Wendy Edwards welcomed us to camp as everyone sat down to afternoon coffee. It was a warm welcome that you can only find at owner-operated camps around Africa. The perfect way to spend a holiday.

Musango Safari Camp Zimbabwe

After introductions, we were shown to our personal tent that was situated along the banks of Lake Kariba. The tents were well maintained, clean, and comfortable. It’s hard to call them tents when they feel more like rooms. No need to worry about bucket showers here as all the showers are tiled with river pebbles and fed hot water from a trusty donkey (a wood fired hot water heater).

Sundown Musango

Nights at Musango Safari Camp are spent listening to hippos grunt and munch on the grass below our tent. In the morning we could watch impala, bushbuck, and elephants walk by grazing on the grass between our tent and the lake. However, Musango is still family-friendly with an electric fence around the camp, so we weren’t worried about an unexpected visitor in the middle of the night. Though, there are a few residents that we were always happy to welcome.

A Bushbuck in Zimbabwe

When spending a holiday away from home we don’t look for amenities you might find at chain hotels, but for a personalized touch and memorable experiences. For us, Musango Safari Camp excelled at that and made for a Christmas we likely won’t forget. After all, watching the sunset on a herd of elephants is better than sitting in traffic or wrapping expensive presents.

Sunset in Africa

Christmas at Musango Safari Camp


Musango Christmas

Steve and Wendy welcomed all of their guests into their family and threw a wonderfully festive Christmas feast. We knew we’d have a wonderful meal when we all sat down to the round tables designed for a family. There are no private tables here, everyone is together as family. It’s a theme that we find at some of our favorite lodges in Africa and we hope it continues.

Christmas In Zimbabwe

Dinners at Musango are some of the best we’ve had in Africa. We’ve had splendid meals that are elegant, but the food at Musango is all about the understated. You won’t find garnishes or fresh ricotta cheese here.

It’s bush food at its finest, or as the safari guides would call it “mom’s cooking”. Everything was excellent – from the fresh baked bread to even the muesli at breakfast. When Christmas dinner was served and we had some of the best roast beef we’ve ever had in our lives and given the previous meals we definitely were not surprised.

What ensued was a long afternoon spent exchanging gifts, relaxing around camp, spotting some mud bathing elephants, and a dip in the pool. Once the sun started to hang low in the sky we all set out on the Pontoon boats and made for the nearest sandy beach for sundowners. Have we mentioned sundowners before? Watching the sunset over Lake Kariba and the bush was the perfect end to Christmas day for us.

Book A Stay at Musango Safari Camp


Holiday Activities in the Bush


Our holidays were spent not doing the usual activities this year. We enjoyed activities like boat cruises, fishing, village tours, birding, bush walks, game drives, and taking in the African sun. What kind of activities can you always do at Musango Safari Camp?


Boat Cruises


Elephants Bathing In Zimbabwe
Elephants Bathing In Zimbabwe

Taking a pontoon along the lake and spotting wildlife from the tranquility of the water is magical. It was something we first introduced to along the Chobe River.

However, there we were usually flanked down by dozens of other boats and safari-goers. At Musango, I never saw one other boat on Lake Kariba. When we went for cruises it was just us, the lake, and the wild game that inhabit its banks.


Fishing


A big draw for some visitors is a chance to find some of the legendary fish in that live in Lake Kariba. After getting our fair share of fishing on the Chobe River (and not being much of fishermen and women) we gave this one a skip but did see many other guests reel in some fish.


Game Drives


Game Drive in Zimbabwe

Hopping in a classic game viewer and taking off into the bush is one of our favorite things to do in the world. Each drive is a unique experience that is never predictable. While your body may get fatigued sitting in a game viewer the experience of spotting hidden treasures never gets old.

Being this deep in Africa means that these animals are truly wild and viewing them does not feel like a tourist attraction. You won’t find yourself on a game drive with dozens of other game viewers on the roads like you do in The Kruger. Here it is just you, your expert guide, and Africa.


Bush Walks


Bush walks in Zambia

What is probably the most extraordinary experience as Musango is taking a bush walk with Steve. With decades of experience in the bush and leading guests around the surrounding area, he has a sharp knowledge of his surroundings and will ensure guests will have connected with the bush.

Steve’s knowledge of the surrounding area has even led to the discovery of fossils, fossilized trees, and prehistoric man sites. The sites all add to the mysticism of the bush along the banks of the lake.

With Steve’s experience, you can track down lions, elephants, and buffalo on foot and may come face to face with Africa’s big five. We set out in set out in search of some African buffalo, and made sure to have some clothes to help camouflage us in the African bush and a sturdy pair of safari boots.


Village Tours


Village In Zimbabwe Below Lake Kariba

Holidays in resorts can often feel like living in a bubble, it’s easy to lose your grounding. While the bush humbles you, visiting the local village reminds you of just how fortunate you are. In Africa, we are so often confronted with how fortunate we are and just how welcoming people are everywhere in the world.


Birding


Lake KAriba
Africa

With over 400 bird species surrounding Musango and inhabiting Matusando National Park birders will feel right at home. While we’re novices at birds we still love seeing the varieties and learning about some fascinating animals in the bush. A highlight of Musango came right when we arrived, the top viewing deck at Musango was flanked by three separate flycatcher’s nests and we got to see the small chicks grow and leave home!


Final Thoughts on Musango Safari Camp


Elephants in Zimbabwe

It’s a story we’ve come to find again and again as we never want to depart a place and head to the next location. So of course, it rang true with Musango Safari Camp. We were sad to leave and Zimbabwean family and the beautiful camp. Our time at Musango was the perfect escape from the modern world and the hustle and bustle of life.

The whole atmosphere of Musango is unique as it is a classic safari camp stuck in time. You won’t find slick new bells and whistles here, but instead a true African wild experience and feeling with Steve and Wendy and the rest of the Musango team.


Book A Safari At Musango Safari Camp


Game Drive in Zimbabwe

Musango Safari Camp

It’s a story we’ve come to find again and again as we never want to depart a place and head to the next location. So of course, it rang true with Musango Safari Camp.

We were sad to leave and Zimbabwean family and the beautiful camp. Our time at Musango was the perfect escape from the modern world and the hustle and bustle of life.

Book A Stay at Musango Safari Camp


General Info for Traveling in Zimbabwe


Victoria Falls

Visas to Zimbabwe

Visas for Americans traveling to Zimbabwe cost $30 USD payable in cash at the border. Visas are good for 30 days. Americans have the cheapest visas while the Canadians and Brits have it the worst at $75 and $55 respectively. More info on visas here. As we were traveling between Zambia and Zimbabwe we opted for the recently released KAZA visa that is a dual visa good for both countries, it costs $50.

Cash in Zimbabwe

Having enough USD before you enter is sure to make life easier. If coming from Livingstone there is a Barclays Bank in town that is able to change cash for you. If coming into Kariba, we found an ATM in Siavonga on Lake Kariba (Zambian side). The ATM’s in Zambia dispense Kwacha, so you will have to change that into USD before you enter. I would be hesitant to run out of USD anywhere in Zimbabwe besides Vic Falls, Harare, and Bulawayo.

Language in Zimbabwe

The three main languages in Zim are English, Shona, and Ndebele. You will be able to get by fine with English in Zimbabwe.

Food In Zimbabwe

The local meal in Zimbabwe is sadza and is a combination of maize, relish, and meat and it is delicious!


Want To Know More About Zimbabwe?

Lake Kariba

We drove around Zimbabwe and love the people and the country. Read more about travel in Zimbabwe!

Travel in Zimbabwe An Honest Opinion


Book A Safari in Zimbabwe


Tongabezi Lodge

Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They made suggestions for camps and lodges then presented you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.

However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day that way you can select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you through booking your safari. With experts on staff, they can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details much like a travel agent.

Plan Your Safari in Zimbabwe


Check Out Some Lodges in Zimbabwe


Ruckomechi Camp

Ruckomechi Camp

Ruckomechi consists of 10 large spacious safari tents. Each room is stylishly decorated and has a large bedroom area. The en-suite bathroom has an amazing shower that opens up to the Zambezi via a tent flap allowing you to choose indoors or outdoors, we choose outdoors.

A unique experience at Ruckomechi is a bath on the banks of the Zambezi River, where guests can soak in a bubble bath. We, of course, had to take full advantage of this enjoyed a romantic bubble bath together while listening to the sounds of the wild.

Read About Our Time At Ruckomechi Camp

Book A Stay at Ruckomechi Camp


Little Makalolo

Little Makalolo

We stayed with Wilderness Safaris in Mana Pools National Park and absolutely fell in love with their camps. We were more than excited to experience their Little Makalolo camp while in Hwange.

Little Makalolo is special as it was one a few private camps located within Hwange National Park. Wilderness Safaris enjoys a large concession for their sole exclusive use within the national park. It serves well for those looking to disconnect from the modern world and reconnect with the bush.

Read About Our Time At Little Makalolo

Book A Stay at Little Makalolo


Victoria Falls River Lodge

Looking for the perfect Victoria Falls Accommodation? On the banks of the mighty Zambezi River is the secluded Victoria Falls River Lodge.

Set among the wildlife in the Zambezi National Park, but still deep enough in the bush to go undetected is the ideal lodge to experience Victoria Falls from.

Read About Our Time At Victoria Falls River Lodge

Book A Stay at Ngorongoro Victoria Falls River Lodge

There are a few things that one should pack for an African Safari. We help you create your safari packing list and share some of our favorite safari products.


What To Pack For Zimbabwe

Elephants in Zimbabwe

There are a few things that one should pack for an African Safari. We help you create your safari packing list and share some of our favorite safari products.

Things to do in Crete
Travel Insurance

We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage

SafetyWing is perfect for digital nomads. See our full review here!

Check Rates


Overland Tour in Africa

Traveling Africa on your own can be daunting to many travelers. However, there is no need to fear with overland tour companies who will show the ropes and a great time. You can check out some of them here to compare the different companies and possibly score a discount.

African Safari Tours


Grayl Waterbottle
Travel Water Bottle

Plastic pollution is a problem in Africa so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere. The tap water in Tanzania is generally not safe to drink, but a water purifier, like the Grayl waterbottle, works well!

However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.

Best Travel Water BottlesGrayl Ultralight Water Bottle


Travel in Zanzibar
Camera Gear

Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. Our favorite pocket-sized point and shoot camera for quick trips are the Sony RX100V. It takes fantastic photos and video and is the size of your palm. 

For more professional photographs we use our Fuji XT-3, and LOVE IT.

Fuji X-T3

Best Cameras for SafariBest Cameras for VloggingBest Travel Cameras

Safari Hat

A good hat is both stylish and functional. In peak dry season there is little to provide shade, UV rays are intense and can easily burn the unsuspecting traveler. Check out our full break down of the best safari hats here!

Shemagh

I used this a lot in the on my Ruaha safari. Early mornings in the park can be pretty chilly so it helps break the cold. Once the sun comes out temperatures climb and things get very dusty. So, I use the shemagh to cover my face and electronics.

Safari Boots

If you’re wondering what necessities to bring to Africa then sturdy shoes are perhaps the most important thing you will need before you get to Africa.

I love my Merrell Moab Ventilators and have been going strong in them for two years! Check out my other recommendations on women’s shoes, and we have a post on the best safari boots.

I cannot stress a good pair of shoes enough because if you land anywhere outside of South Africa a quality pair of hiking shoes will be hard to come by. If you plan to walk around a lot get thick rubber soled shoes as acacia thorns are prone to stab through thin shoes. Cameron learned the hard way one day when he pulled a thorn out of his foot that went straight through his thin rubber sandals.

Best Binoculars for Safari

Binoculars

If you want to be able to spot and identify wildlife and birds then a good pair of safari binoculars is a must.

Safari Clothes for Africa

Safari Clothes

Packing the right safari clothes is always a good idea, but it’s never essential because you can wear whatever you want. We also go in-depth on the best women’s safari clothes!

Safari Bag

great daypack for travel is a solid idea to throw your stuff in for game drives and bush flights. Or you could try out a safari backpack.

Safari Pants

Lightweight pants that are made from synthetic material are tremendous to have in your pack. It’s what we wear most days when traveling around Africa as they’re comfortable, antibacterial, and protect our legs from mosquitos (malaria).

We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors. What’s great is they’re useful beyond Africa as they are a travel staple and we pack a pair everywhere we travel.

I like two pairs, one pair is made by prAna and rolls into capris and the other are convertible pants. For men, prAna makes the Stretch Zion Pant, a tremendous pair of hiking pants for a reasonable price.

Women’s PantsMen’s Pants

Safari Shirt

You’ll want a safari shirt while on safari. They are lightweight and keep the bugs away. Plus they look ideal in photos and blend into the environment around you!

Shop on AmazonShop on BackcountryShop on REI

Africa Adapter

Adaptor

You’ll need this adaptor in Southern Africa, and this one in Eastern Africa.

Buy Before You Land


Africa Guidebook

Guide Book

Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights. Are you going on safari? We always carry our Robert’s Southern Africa Bird Book and a good mammal guide.

Lonely Planet


Things to do in Crete

Rainbow Sandals

Sandals are great for walking around at night when you’re relaxing. Get yourself some Rainbow brand sandals, seriously everyone around you will be wearing them – and for a good reason. They are uber comfortable once you break them in and last forever!

Rainbow Sandals


Buff Headband

Buff

I love my buff. I usually wear it for keeping my hair back, but it’s also served its purpose as a scarf and wet rag too. Buffs last for years and aren’t only helpful in Africa. I actually wear mine every day when I’m snowboarding in the mountains. It’s been one of my top travel accessory investments ever!

Buffs


Things to do in Crete

Sunscreen

Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Africa. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.

We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.

Purchase Sunscreen


Beach Packing List Sunglasses

Sunglasses

Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.

We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.

See Sunglasses


Best Travel Towel - REI Micro Lite towel

Travel Towel

Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.

Best Towels For Travel

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