Sundown safari drive at Rhino Safari Camp, Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

In Africa, En-Route, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel, Zimbabwe by Janis2 Comments

Zimbabwe at its best

What an incredible way to end the day…

Sharing the beautiful Zimbabwean sunset with a lone elephant as your companion truly takes some beating.

I warn you now if you love elephants, keep scrolling.

A lone male elephant heading towards us with the sun behind him just before sunset at the Rhino Safari Camp in the Matusadona National Park on the shore of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.
Elephant at sunset
After our first evening sundowner cruise experience of sitting on a boat on Lake Kariba, watching the sun vanish before us, we’re hoping that the two sundown safari drives would match our ever-increasing expectations of this magical environment.

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A lone kudu, amongst a herd of impalas, on a grassy plain in the Matusadona National Park on the shores of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe.
Antelopes at sundown

Ohh and it did!

Gary and I were fortunate again that on our first sundown safari drive it was just the two of us and Mark our guide.

Jumping in the back of the open truck, we headed out in front of our lodges and immediately came across a bull elephant. We’d see them saunter by from our room.

An elephant walking through the camp right outside our lodge.
An elephant walking through the camp

We sat and watched for a while; however, the elephant had already had his mud bath and was now a lovely ochre colour and was reluctant to take another dip.

We sat and watched for a while; however, the elephant had already had his mud bath and was now a lovely ochre colour and was reluctant to take another dip.

A close-up of the head of a young male elephant with one tusk broken off in the Matusadona National Park on the shores of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe.
One and a half - close-up

Further along, we watched some impala, but I was still hankering to see one of my favourite animals again, that’s the hippo.

On this morning’s game drive, we had been lucky enough to see a cheetah, which very few and far between.

Good to know!

Ensure you take a hat and sun cream, you’ll need it. Oh, and of course your camera and binoculars.
A young male elephant, tinged orange after a mud bath, walking towards the shore in the Matusadona National Park on the edge of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe.
One and a half - on the move

Matusadona National Park

An African dream

We drove around the bay of the island, which was the first time we had headed in this direction and the evening sky and the view across the pasture and the lake was breath-taking.

It was made all the more special that a herd of elephants graced our view. This place is wonderful, I wish more people would come and experience Zimbabwe for its splendours.

A row of four elephants in a line on the water's edge in the Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe.
Elephants on an evening stroll
A juvenile elephant, following a baby elephant, on the water's edge in the Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe.
Keeping a close eye on junior
Mark spotted Kudu in the distance, but by the time we had sat and enjoyed the company of the elephants for a while, the Kudu had moved on.
A close up of an infant elephant with its parent close by, in the Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe.
Who could resist this little fella?
All was not lost; my wishes were to come true, and there was a lonesome hippo in the distance. 

An interesting fact

I’ve seen warthogs quite a few times in Zimbabwe, and as you would guess by the name, they are members of the pig family. However, I didn’t realise that they lived underground and often sharing their home with snakes. Did you?

The Majestic Hippopotamus

And a grin from ear to ear
More often than not, hippos’ trundle into the water when you get close, which is why you should never get between a hippo and the water. Even though they are herbivores, they have no hesitation in killing people. Hippos are the biggest killer in Zimbabwe. 
A lone hippopotamus foraging on land. Set against a backdrop of red rust rocks in the Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe.
A lone hippo
Well, we stopped at a reasonable distance, and it was incredible, to me, these hefty creatures are magnificent and deserve the respect they are given. 
A side profile of a lone hippopotamus on land looking at us in the Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe.
Getting closer!
We sat and watched for a while, slowly, but surely it headed to the water and as gracefully as a fully-grown hippo can, slid into the water. 
A lone hippopotamus is returning to the water in the Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe.
Going for a dip
I struggled to wipe the smile off of my face.

A helpful guide

If you're considering an adventure around Zimbabwe, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.

Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.

Bradt Zimbabwe Cover

The beautiful Lake Kariba

As the evening draws in
Mark then pointed out the pair of Fish Eagles perched high in the tree, they were watching their prey and also keeping a keen eye on us.
A pair of Sea Eagles perched on a branch of a petrified tree on the edge of Lake Kariba in the Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe.
A pair of Fish Eagles

The light was beginning to fade, so, Mark then drove us over to a spot between the island and Matusadona National Park.

We jumped out the truck and with our Gin & tonics in our hand we stood and watched the evening sun disappear before us.

Janis and our guide Mark chat next to our trusty Landrover during a break on our evening safari drive at Rhino Safari Camp next to Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe
Janis and our guide Mark
Though to make the moment even more magical an elephant was enjoying the pasture, just by us and as the evening sky drew in, the elephant sauntered off into the sunset.
A silhouette of an elephant, against the golden hues, after the sun has set, in the Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe.
Elephant in Silhouette
Believe me, none of this is staged, this experience needs to be seen to be believed. 

Fancy heading to Lake Kariba...

for an unforgettable experience?

Lake Kariba is around 356km (221 miles) from Harare, at present, there are no scheduled commercial flights, so your best option is to drive. Allow 5 to 6 hours for your journey, the roads are tarmac, however, can be slightly hectic at times. But don't let this put you off Lake Kariba is a magical experience.

There are also two tolls en route which are two Zimbabwe Bond each.

Rhino Safari Camp, Lake Kariba

The following evening...
After a refreshing glass of iced tea, we’re raring to go for our next sundown safari drive. We’re off to see if we can track the buffalo, Tettindra spotted from the mornings bush walk and also see if the lions are close behind.
The Land Rover Safari truck parked in front of the boma at Rhino Safari Camp next to Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe
Rhino Safari Camp before we head out
Moving off Rhino Island and into Matusadona National Park, we immediately see hippos, impala and lots of incredible birds. Lilac crested rollers, Goliath heron, Guinea fowl, and storks.
A hippopotamus, strolling on the outskirts of the Rhino Safari Camp in the Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe.
A strolling lone hippo

On safari in Zimbabwe

They remain elusive

Keen to track the buffalo we saw this morning we head out, but it’s still about a 45 minutes drive, especially as we want to stop to take photos along the way.

We head to the plain and can see plenty of impalas but no buffalo, we also spot warthogs, but they are very skittish. We head further around and along the riverbed but still no joy, even the big hippo wallowing has moved on.

A view across the vlei to a herd of crazing impala in the Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe.
Impala grazing

We keep a lookout for the pride of lions, but once again, no sign. You can’t be lucky every time; otherwise, you will take all for granted.

We then head towards the watering hole we stopped at earlier and saw plenty of birds, small crocs on the water’s edge.

A petrified tree in the still waters of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe.
Stillness of the evening
A Sea Eagle fishing in the still waters of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe.

Taking flight

Is Zimbabwe for you?

Take a peek at our Victoria Falls and our Morning safari posts and start creating your own adventure for yourself. 

Search for your flights in one easy place with ebookers.com and open up a world of options. Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.

An uncertain African Safari

Some you win, some you lose
The sun is just on the edge of setting, so we head back towards the Island to see if we can watch some wildlife for when it starts to get dusky.
A silhouette of a hippopotamus grazing next to Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe.
Hippo grazing at dusk
We arrive on the lake’s edge just before the sun goes down, there are a herd and a pod of hippos, and also an elephant in the distance. I’ve learnt that if the hippo is on land, then it’s a herd, if they are in the water, then it’s a pod.
A herd of hippopotamus grazing, after sunset, next to Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe.
Hippos in silhouette
We are once again able to cherish some memorable moments on Lake Kariba and scenes that will stay with me forever. 
A mixed bunch of birds and hippos grazing after sunset on the shores of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe.
Hippos returning to the water
Quietly chatting within our small group, we enjoy our G&T’s, and, in the background, we can hear the honking of the hippos as they make their way into the water.
Janis at dusk besides an inlet on Lake Kariba with a herd of hippopotamus grazing at the water's edge
Janis with hippos in the background
It was nearly dark, and just before we headed back to camp, the stars began to appear.

A video of our afternoon/evening safari

We have created a little YouTube video of our experience - perhaps check it out?

Why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

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Inspired to visit Lake Kariba?

You really should stay at Rhino Safari Camp; the sunset safari drives will leave you with memories for a lifetime.
Search for your flights in one easy place with ebookers.com and open up a world of options. Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.
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Comments

    1. Author

      I totally agree they are one of my favourite animals. We’ve been lucky enough to visit Zimbabwe a few times and it’s incredible when you see the hippos in their own habitat, although if you are on a small boat and they decide to submerge it can be a little unnerving.

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