24 hours at Verney's Camp, Hwange National Park
Verney’s Camp deserves its spot on our list of highly recommended premium experiences in Hwange National Park. Bushtracks' Brand Manger, Megan Conn, recently experienced all it has to offer; from the enthusiastic team, to the brilliant game viewing and unforgettable views, there is no doubt it is well worth a visit! Here is her experience:
Verney's Camp Main Area - photo Megan Conn
Verney’s is a private concession area situated in an extremely secluded part of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. A 90 minute transfer from Victoria Falls will get you to the park gates of main camp, where you will embark on a game drive in a comfortable 7 seater game viewing vehicle. The game drive through the national park lasts approximately 45 minutes to an hour, kickstarting your safari before you even reach the camp! With Bheks as our brilliant guide, this game drive was particularly astounding.
We learned fascinating facts about all things big and small, including the interesting habits of the Red Crested Korhaan – otherwise known as ‘the suicide bird’, and enjoyed a rare sighting of a leopard carcass in a waterhole alongside a young elephant carcass. The leopard was thought to have been caught off-guard by the crocodiles in the pan, and after losing its footing on a steep sandy bank, was then taken advantage of by the predators waiting eagerly below. It is extremely rare to come across a leopard carcass on safari, especially in a pan. A first for all of us in the vehicle. The suicide bird was a personal first, witnessing the bird fly up above the trees and suddenly turning and diving, hurtling straight down towards the earth below. We discovered that the bird pretends to fall when it knows a female is in the area, in the hopes that she will come to its rescue. Very sly, but definitely attention grabbing!
Leopard & Elephant Carcasses - photo by Megan Conn
Our safari had only just started but we were treated further with the likes of a curious, sleepy Black Back Jackal, who was lazing alongside a fellow scavenger, the Lappet-face Vulture. Another first, something I have never seen before, a baby roan antelope, which bears a striking similarity to a baby donkey. A pair of the second heaviest birds to fly, the Southern Ground Hornbill, which triggered fond memories for Bheks. Apparently there is a traditional belief in the local Ndebele culture that believes if you kill a Southern Ground Hornbill their flock will fly over your homestead, and anyone residing in that homestead will die in turn. He called it a “traditional conservation strategy”, as the birds are highly endangered.
Verney's Wildlife - photo by Megan Conn
Opting out of one of the game drive options, to catch up on work instead, proved to be an undeniably bad choice. The vehicle arrived back to camp with a flutter of whispers, promising to downplay the fabulous sighting, so that no one would feel left out. However it proved rather difficult to downplay the opportunity to watch a mother cheetah on a fresh kill with her young cubs. This scene was closely followed by a leopard sighting, in broad daylight! The female was spotted just around the corner from the cheetah family, casually crossing the road. I am stunned at how much Hwange has to offer!
Verney's Camp - photo by Megan Conn
The camp’s main area is comprised of a dining tent with an open plan kitchen allowing guests to observe the chefs, and a relaxing lounge tent complete with books, games and all the comfort you need for an afternoon nap. The rooms are fanned out on either side of the main area, with 2 rooms to the right and 8 to the left, creating an amphitheater effect overlooking a stunning view. The two rooms on either side of the main area are perfectly situated large family suites. In front of the camp is an expansive waterhole that is frequented by various game and bird life throughout the day and night. It’s a stretch of unspoilt wilderness, and sets the tone for a truly relaxing safari stay. All the rooms overlook this waterhole, providing the perfect ‘armchair safari’ opportunity for those who opt to stay in and make the most of what the camp has to offer.
Standard Double Tent - photo by Megan Conn
The rooms themselves are generously spacious, and contain everything you require from safari accommodation. Eight rooms are appointed with comfortable double or twin bed and an en suite bathroom. The bathroom boasts a shower, a flush toilet and a double vanity, all beautifully designed to retain the feel of an authentic luxury safari experience. The family suites, accommodate 4 people each, with ensuite bathrooms on each room for privacy and convenience. Each family room contains a main area for group gatherings and family time.
Time spent in the camp itself is fantastically relaxing.
The various guest areas are exclusive enough that, even with a full camp, you can still find a quiet spot alone. Having experienced both Machaba and Little Machaba in the Okavango Delta, I can confidently say that Verney’s has kept true to its brand, and is without a doubt as comfortable and luxurious as its sister camps across the border. The main area is equipped with WIFI that is surprisingly reliable, considering the distance of the camp from the towers in the region. Camp electricity is a hybrid of solar energy and a back-up generator. The world class ‘solar farm’ is out of sight, but visits are encouraged by the team of staff, and conducted with great pride.
Evening Drinks at the Solar Pan - photo by Megan Conn
The late afternoon tea spread of various snacks and drinks is served before your evening game drive, which ends off at one of the gorgeous solar pans during sunset. Verney’s staff offer consistently impeccable service and delightful conversation, whether you are within the boundaries of the camp or out on your safari expedition. This standard of excellence can also be found in the dining area, as these were truly some of the best ‘on safari’ meals that I have ever experienced. Chef Jackie’s cuisine was always lovingly prepared, and presented as a hearty helping with an artistic flair. The food was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, which always encourages the memories to linger for just a bit longer. Every night is rounded off with full bellies, conversation with the crowd gathered around the fire, and a beautiful day behind you. Well worth it and highly recommended
Morning after the camp fire - photo by Megan Conn