Zimbabwe’s attractiveness as a safari destination has lagged behind its neighbors in recent decades, due primarily to its history of political and economic challenges. However, our personal travels in Zimbabwe, following the removal of Robert Mugabe, showed us some of the best wildlife viewing we’ve seen in recent years. Famous destinations, such as Mana Pools and Hwange, still host incredible populations of wildlife that recall the classic safaris of a bygone era.

But it’s the commitment of Zimbabwe’s safari community – a group of dedicated conservationists, who acted as stewards of their country’s wildlife resources – that has enabled her wildlife to thrive, despite the past lack of government support. These are the people who make a conservation wildlife safari in Zimbabwe so special.

Among those whose devotion insured the ongoing survival of Zimbabwe’s wildlife is Clive Stockil. Clive and his team have supported Gonarezhou National Park throughout the years when government resources were scarce. I knew nothing of this unique area when I visited Clive at the Chilo Gorge Lodge. Taking me across the Save River in his Land Rover, Clive introduced me to Gonarezhou over a two-day safari, during which we stayed at his small and simple safari camp (no electricity, no Wi-Fi, no mobile phones!). This is a park that has never seen large numbers of safari visitors. It was clear to me that the plentiful wildlife was not totally accustomed to safari vehicles – we had to keep our distance. I came away with an overwhelming sense of what it must have been like when people first began traveling in Africa to see its magnificent wildlife. I felt as if I’d stepped through a time warp and had been rewarded with a glimpse of Africa’s past glories.

If you haven’t experienced a safari in Zimbabwe in recent years, I strongly recommend you add it to your list of “must see” conservation wildlife destinations.

Tom LaRock