Great Plains, the tourism conservation organisation founded in 2006 by National Geographic filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert, is delighted to announce the opening of two Zimbabwe camps for the Spring 2022 season.
Mpala Jena Camp, which sits within the Zambezi National Park near Victoria Falls, and Tembo Plains Camp in the sprawling private Sapi Private Reserve offer a unique and unforgettable Zimbabwean safari experience.
“Home to five Unesco World Heritage sites including one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Zimbabwe is the perfect destination for those active and adventurous travellers. From a thatched, barefoot luxury escape on the banks of the Zambezi River to a canvas-and-stone forest hideaway, our two Zimbabwean outposts both bring something unique, offering guests the perfect twin-centre safari”, said Great Plains CEO Dereck Joubert.
Offering the perfect Victoria Falls accommodation, Mpala Jena Camp is an intimate safari camp positioned along the beautiful tree-lined banks of the mighty Zambezi River. A haven that epitomises barefoot luxury in its most refined form, the architecture team of Craig Hayman and Hannah Charlton, with the assistance of interior designer Tracy Kelly combined the elements of the pristine location by using thatched roofs in the main areas and flowing canvas luxury tents for the bedrooms.
The sand floor in the bar area, and the adjacent swimming pool, set the scene for the guests to kick their shoes off and relax after their morning game drive or river cruise, while the pool lounge makes you feel that you are right on the river.
The private concession is within the 138,000 acre Zambezi National Park which has a healthy and ever-increasing number of wildlife species, with higher concentrations of buffalo and elephants from June through to October. The Zambezi National Park, within easy driving access from Victoria Falls, has become an absolute gem of a reserve with some of the highest lions per density than any other Zimbabwean park. The river is a magnet for wildlife and ensures consistent sightings of massive crocodiles and hippos who make their presence seen and heard throughout the day and night. This area is perfect for bird watching throughout the year, but with a higher diversity of species from November through April.
Mpala Jena is, by design, sensitive to the environment of the Zambezi National Park. This is achieved by using canvas and local thatch in its construction and ensuring all the camp’s electricity needs come from its solar farm. The three double or twin bed configuration Suites, plus two 2-bedroom Family Suites, are under sand coloured, flowing canvas, with canopy ceilings and open (yet netted) views of the river frontage and are beautifully decorated by Tracy Kelly. Each suite has a shaded veranda area and en-suite bathroom facilities, including an indoor shower, separate loo, and double basins. The highlight of the suites is the outdoor bathrooms with a beautiful bathtub and outdoor shower. Decking in front of the tent leads to views of the Zambezi River’s calming and peaceful flowing waters.
Mpala Jena is conveniently located 10 miles inside the Zambezi National Park. Access to Victoria Falls town for opportunities to visit local attractions like the craft market, gorge swing, bungy jumping, white river rafting, and to see the iconic Victoria Falls themselves is possible. Still, Mpala Jena is far enough away from the hustle and bustle, allowing guests to relax and unwind whilst enjoying an incredible setting amidst the wild habitat of the Zambezi National Park.
Tembo Plains Camp is tucked away into a thick riverine forest on the edge of the Zambezi River, in the private 128,000-hectare Sapi Private Reserve, east of Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park.
“When I designed Tembo Plains, it was to reference the famous Zimbabwe Ruins without losing sight of our love of canvas and exploring. So, we ended up with a unique combination of canvas and stone walls. The semi-circular walls inside each tented suite isolate the bath and shower from the bedroom and indoor lounge areas bringing that architectural reference inside as well. Outside, a pack-stone wall design, referencing those Zimbabwe Ruins, continues along the back of the guest bedroom. It gives you a greater sense of privacy, often an issue in tents. Still, I didn’t want a completely ‘built room’. Hence, the front of each suite offers uninterrupted views of the Zambezi River flowing just meters away from the canvas ‘tented’ portion – all accentuating the luxury Zimbabwe safari experience,” comments Dereck.
The most luxurious accommodation within Tembo Plains Camp is the beautiful two-bedroomed Tembo Plains Suite. Comprising two suites flanking a shared lounge, dining area and pool, the Tembo Plains Suite is ideal for two couples or families travelling together and those guests looking for the ultimate private safari. The wine cellar and interactive 5-star kitchen feature a stunning stone design in the central area. The spa and curio store are each individually hidden discreetly behind beautifully weathered Zanzibar doors.
Painted dogs (wild dogs), lions and leopards are common around Tembo Plains, whilst buffalo are regularly seen up and down, and sometimes swimming the Zambezi River itself, as are elephants.
Nightly rates for all Great Plains camps are available on request. For more information or to book please visit www.greatplainsconservation.com