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Vundu Camp

Vundu Camp is a small tented bush lodge set in thick riverine woodland on the banks of the Zambezi River in the exclusive western side of Mana Pools National Park.

Vundu Camp is one of the few genuine ‘owner run’ camps left in Africa and will appeal to wildlife enthusiasts who wish to enjoy an in depth bush experience with great guiding and the chance to explore on foot. The camp itself is very comfortable while retaining an authentic bush feel. Owner Nick Murray is also passionate about wild dogs and has assisted wild dog research in Mana Pools for many years, so anyone with a special interest in these engaging predators would find it interesting to spend time with him. The ethos of the camp is to provide comfortable accommodation and good food, combined with a first class safari experience, and while Nick is not always in camp, the management team and professional guides provide personal hospitality and superb guiding.

Rooms

Vundu Camp accommodates up to 18 guests in eight chalets built on to solid platforms and constructed of timber and canvas. The front of each chalet is floor to ceiling gauze making the most of the river views and cooling breeze, and curtains can be drawn at night time. One of the tents is a family chalet and suitable for four, with two en suite tents linked by an open hallway under one large roof (there are no outdoor bathrooms in the family unit). Each chalet is comfortably furnished with beds, mosquito net, sofa and coffee table and a dressing table. The en suite facilities include a dressing area with hanging space, a plumbed shower, flush toilet and basin. A door then leads to a second open bathroom enclosed by canvas walls and complete with flush toilet, plumbed shower and basin. Charging facilities and standing fans are provided in each chalet.

Central Areas

The main area is an elevated timber structure under thatch with open sides, and provides a very homely lounge, bar and dining area with lovely river views. Below is a campfire where breakfast and after dinner drinks are taken.

Facilities

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

Habitat & Wildlife

Mana Pools National Park, a World Heritage Site, is a beautiful wilderness area, in northern Zimbabwe where the floodplains of the mighty Zambezi, wooded with acacia and mahogany trees, stretch out on either side of the river.

During the dry season, the floodplains teem with a wide variety of wildlife and birdlife. Herds of elephant, buffalo, kudu, eland, and waterbuck graze the sweet grasses or browse on the tasty albida pods. Lion and sable rest in the shade of the giant figs. Fringing the floodplains, the thick ‘Jesse’ bush shelters the shy creatures such as leopard, honey badger, nyala and bushbuck. Wild dog roam through the area, and crocodiles bask in the shallows, awaiting their chance of a meal when the animals report to quench their thirst. Hippo are everywhere. There are also plenty of big elephant bulls, a couple of which are very relaxed and can be approached on foot. The birding is superb, with both woodland and floodplain habitats to explore. During the late season (late August onwards), both white fronted and carmine bee-eaters nest in the banks of the rivers providing a colourful spectacle complete the impressive list of birds to be seen.

Activities

Nick Murray is a Zimbabwe professional guide, and he and his team ensure a high standard of guiding on their activities which include morning and afternoon game drives, walks, boat cruises, fishing and canoeing excursions (although we do not recommend canoeing along the Mana Pools shoreline due to safety concerns, as hippo and crocs have been known to be aggressive towards canoes). Daily activities are flexible according to game movements and local conditions. The immediate area close to camp has been designated as a ‘concession area’ for Vundu and Nick has chosen to keep it as a mainly walking area, with morning activities generally involving a walk, while game drives will venture further into the National Park.

Seasons

Vundu Camp is open from May to November, though game viewing conditions will be best from July to October.

Children six years and older are welcome, though a private vehicle needs to be booked (at extra cost) for families with children 12 years and under. Walking safaris will also not be possible for younger children (10 years is generally the age limit, but this will be at the guide’s discretion). The family unit provides very good family accommodation for those with younger children wanting to be all under one roof. The camp is very much a bush camp, however, with big game wandering through camp, and so will generally be more suited to older, more adventurous families.

Vundu Camps are operated under the name of Bushlife Safaris and Bushlife Conservancy is the funding partner, raising funds for conservation mainly in the Zambezi River Valley area. Bushlife Conservancy provides equipment and logistical support for ranger patrols and coordinates efforts to identify, detain, and arrest poachers and other illegal intruders throughout the valley. The Bushlife Support Unit was set up in 2015 to consolidate anti-poaching efforts in the area in collaboration with Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks). Work includes: the enforcement of antipoaching efforts to protect elephants, pangolins, painted dogs, and other wildlife; promoting the conservation of natural resources; and supporting Zimparks Rangers and their families.

Work also involves funding health, welfare and educational projects for local communities bordering the Park. This includes the establishment of community education initiatives. In 2022, two dozen conservation clubs were started in the Hurungwe district adjacent to the Mana Pools National Park boundary with the aim of educating the next generation of conservationists in local schools.

Conservation work undertaken includes the Carnivore Research Project which was initiated at the request of Zimparks and aims to determine numbers, distribution and behaviour of key predators in Mana Pools National Park. Predator impact on the African wild dog is one of the objectives of the project, as well as managing plans for increasing numbers of other species and managing human wildlife conflict.

The Bushlife Conservancy has also been involved in the collaring and monitoring of elephants and works with Zimparks to stop the poaching of pangolins and support the release of recovered live pangolins back into the wild.

ALTERNATIVE CAMPS IN The MANA POOLS NATIONAL PARK