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Somalisa Expeditions

Somalisa Expeditions is a comfortable, intimate tented camp set in woodland but overlooking an open vlei in a private concession in the heart of Hwange National Park.

Somalisa Expeditions is a classic tented camp which is ideal for people looking for an comfortable (but not overly luxurious) tented experience and a genuine bush atmosphere. The tents are smaller and with fewer frills than sister camp Somalisa, but are perfectly adequate and comfortably authentic for anyone who prefers a more grounded experience. The management and staff are welcoming, the guiding is good and the food is lovely. Whilst Somalisa Expeditions will usually suit guests who are keen to see big game as well as get out on foot for some of their safari, one of the best features of the camp is the water hole in front of camp which is very close to the main areas and attracts a huge amount of game during the day, principally elephants. From June to October the waterhole will have elephants visiting every afternoon, and you can to sit and watch the elephants in between game drives.


Somalisa Expeditions caters for a maximum of 14 guests in six accommodation tents, one of which is a family tent. The tents fan out either side of the central areas and overlook the open plain and hillside. The tents are built on raised wooden platforms and are comfortably furnished with proper beds under a mosquito net, a writing desk (with charging facilities), comfortable chair, a coffee table and standing fan. To the rear of the tent is a dressing area with sliding door leading to the partially open air bathroom consisting of a flush toilet, vanity and plumbed shower. The verandah to the fore of each tent has two comfortable chairs. The family tent comprises two en suite tents (one with a bathtub as well as shower) linked externally via the shared deck.

Central Areas

The central areas of the camp comprise a main mess tent with lounge and open fireplace and an indoor dining area leading down to the camp fire and outdoor dining area. Beyond this is a deck with sunloungers and a swimming pool which overlooks a small watering hole from which elephants often drink during the dry season, offering wonderful up close experiences.


Wi-Fi – No
Power for Charging – Yes
Swimming Pool – Yes

Habitat & Wildlife

Hwange is the largest of Zimbabwe’s wildlife areas. Situated in the south-western corner of the country at an average altitude of around 3,000ft, it covers an area of about 1.5 million hectares, along the border with Botswana.

The Park covers the transition zone between the Kalahari sands and the moist savannah woodland. The poor soil and harsh climate have not stunted or limited the variety of habitat: over 230 trees and shrubs and 138 grass species make up some of the more than 1,000 flora species found here. This diversity allows for more than 50 mammal species to co-exist.

Lacking permanent rivers, Hwange is managed with numerous man-made waterholes which are pumped to provide water for most of the animal species and which form the magnate around which most game-viewing takes place (many of the waterholes have hides). The park has a very sizeable and healthy elephant population (it is not uncommon to see over 150 at a time around the waterholes during the dry season), and other larger mammals to be seen include giraffe, impala, zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe, kudu, duiker, roan antelope, waterbuck, eland, gemsbok (along the drier western border), reedbuck, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and hippo. Unfortunately, rhino are now seldom seen.

The area is also excellent for bird life, most represented by bush country species: babblers, starlings, bustards, ostrich, cranes, hornbills, francolins, guinea fowl, shrikes, etc., although raptors are plentiful and storks, geese and ibis can be seen at the waterholes.

Game viewing is excellent with good general game, big herds of buffalo and all the major predators present in the area. However Hwange is perhaps best known for its huge elephant populations, and from June through to October huge numbers can be seen visiting the various waterholes throughout the park, including the pan in front of camp. Hwange is also an excellent place to see the majestic sable antelope.


Activities focus around game drives by day, mostly within the Somalisa Concession but potentially further afield in the park, especially to the nearby Kennedy pans and Ngweshla Pan. Night drives are allowed on the concession before dinner and afford the opportunity to seek out nocturnal species, whilst nature walks with professional guides can also be taken. It is also possible to book a private guide and vehicle for the day and visit the village of Mambanje just outside the park and learn about the community initiatives taking place there.


Somalisa Expeditions is open all year round, though game-viewing is best from July through to October.

Somalisa Expeditions only accepts children from 12 years old and there is a family tent (with the two tents connected externally so better suited to older children or those that are confident travellers). The waterholes in front of camp are great for providing entertainment in between game drives, and the excellent guiding on offer will ensure an enthralling safari experience for more adventurous or older families.

Somalisa Expeditions is owned by African Bush Camps who contribute a certain amount per stay in camp to the African Bush Camps Foundation – a non-profit focused on conservation, education, and empowerment in the communities near the company’s camps.

The company has introduced environmentally sound operating practices into camps including low energy and renewable energy technologies, minimising water consumption and implementing sound waste management.

The Foundation is actively engaged with research projects in Hwange National Park including those monitoring lion, wild dog, cheetah, elephant and zebra populations. Individual ID photographs are supplied by the camp’s guides to researchers and there is currently a project to individually identify a number of elephants in the Somalisa concession. Guides also participate in the monitoring of birds of prey and vultures by forwarding sightings to a continental database for Africa.

The Foundation runs a programme called ‘Hwange H2O’ which provides water for wildlife in the dry season by maintaining eight deep boreholes which supply water into seven water pans within the concession; and also by supporting other NGOs who deal with water issues in the park.

Community initiatives include the support of the local primary school and the village of Mambanje in Hwange by installing infrastructure at the school and planting a community vegetable garden. The Foundation also supports two local women’s groups which make handicrafts and jewellery. Items are sold at the curio shop in camp.