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Undoubtedly, the Mavuradonha Mountains are one of Zimbabwe's
hidden treasures (even to locals) - a little known area of
pristine bush situated only 180km due north of Harare. This
stunningly beautiful wilderness area of some 600 sq kilometres
has been, and still is, totally unpopulated since the Bushman
and Monomatapa Empires.
to the ruggedness and remoteness of the Mavuradonhas, there
is only one road into the Wilderness that terminates at Kopje
Tops Lodge - the only way to get around is on horse back or
foot. No electricity and throbbing generators to disturb the
peace, you will feel you are truly away from it all and may
never want to return to civilisation!
focusing on horse riding safaris there are a multitude of
safari options to take depending on your riding ability.
safaris are lead by fully licensed professional guides with
many years' experience in the area - your guide will help
you make the most of the safari.
A magnificent stone and thatch structure sitting high amongst
the trees. This 3 level lodge is where we meet for meals and
drinks. Level one consists of dining room and bar area - level
2 is the library and level 3 is a flat viewing platform to
give you your first views of the amazing expanse of the wilderness.
Accommodation is in 6 chalets scattered at the base of Kopje
Tops, sleeping up to 12 guests all with full ensuite and hot
showers. There is a bath in the double room.
A more rustic yet very comfortable bush camp situated a day's
ride from Kopje Tops Lodge. After a long day in the saddle
you will appreciate the hot bucket showers, comfy beds and
wholesome, freshly prepared meals. Our staff will take care
of your every need. Set above the Tingwa River Bat Caves is
a remote camp deep into the Wilderness. All our supplies are
brought in via porter or packhorse as there are no roads.
In the evening we usually watch the flight of the giant Egyptian
Fruit Bats whose numbers have been estimated at up to 20,000
and are the largest known colony south of the equator. For
the more adventurous your guide may take you deep into the
caves to explore the bats habitat.
The Tingwa Valley safari is more a concept than a fixed itinerary.
It means you stay at Kopje Tops Lodge or Bat Caves camp and
do not camp out in the wilds of the bush as on an explorer
safari. The riding also tends to be a bit easier than on the
All our safaris are extremely flexible and we try to make
the daily itinerary fit around guests preferences. So instead
of a fixed itinerary we like to list the Tingwa, Mavare, Rwazi,
Dateema, Mashonjeri, Buro, Musengezi, Mananuku, Fundumwe Rivers,
just to name a few, to explore. There is also the McGrath,
Rusty and Schellenberger waterfalls, Dead Elephant gorge,
Incognito, Bat Caves, The Roof of the World, Makura Spilling
tables and ancient fortresses of the Monomatapa Empire and
a thousand other as yet unexplored places.
Even a week's safari is too short to explore all of the above.
You will return to Kopje Tops Lodge amazed by the diversity
and magnificence of the Mavuradonha. You will have stepped
back into the past, experiencing the thrill of exploring a
virgin wilderness area far from the madding crowd.
Explorer Safari (experienced riders only)
If you want to experience what it was like for the early explorers
sleeping on a mountaintop or on the sandy floor of a cave,
this safari is a must for you. You will feel the wind in your
face, the proximity of the bush and the calls of the wild
the Explorer safari we travel deeper in the heart of the wilderness
and so for one or two nights we sleep out rough carrying our
own food, water (wine for dinner), washing in rivers, a spade
for a loo and sleeping on the ground with a mat or grass bed
and sleeping bag.
safari starts the same as the Tingwa Valley but we carry on
from Bat Caves and the riding becomes progressively harder
the elephant paths narrower and more precipitous as we climb
higher into the mountains. We always end up somewhere spectacular
to spend the evening: a cave, an ancient Monomatapa fortress,
or perched above the world on a mountaintop to watch the moon
set on one side and the sunrise on the other.
set daily itinerary on this safari other than to say that
the first and last nights will be spent back at Kopje Tops
Lodge, two nights at Bat Caves and the remaining nights out
rough deep into the Wilderness. Depending on guests we can
either spend two consecutive nights out rough (or more) or
head back to the comfort of Bat Caves for hot showers after
one night rough. We can then proceed on in another direction
the next day for another night out rough.
up to 120 kilometres of challenging riding in 4/5 days this
Explorers safari is only for experienced confident riders.
The terrain is extremely rugged.
You are on a fine steed amidst spectacular mountain scenery,
surrounded by the wild without another tourist in sight or
sign of civilisation. Most people say it's the best trip they
have ever been on.
We start with leisurely breakfasts, stop in beautiful places
for mid morning tea, followed by a longish lunch normally
at a spectacular swimming hole to rest the horses and ourselves.
We like to arrive into Bat Caves Camp in time for sundowners
and a hot shower before dinner. Good food, comfort, not too
much hard riding and the opportunity to learn about the unique
flora and fauna of the Mountains from your professional guide
are highlights of this safari.
DAY 1: Transfer to the Mavuradonha Wilderness normally arriving
before lunch. Relax in the comfort of Kopje Tops Lodge or
get to know your horse with a sundowner ride before dinner.
DAY 2: Early morning tea/coffee is served in your room before
proceeding to Kopje Tops Lodge for a full cooked breakfast
to stand you in good stead for your day in the saddle. Our
route takes us roughly in the direction that the Tingwa river
flows but with tracking Elephant and other game, visiting
cave paintings swimming in waterfalls and natural pools and
having 600 square kilometres of mountainous wilderness to
explore means that we hardly ever take the same route twice.
We lunch normally somewhere we can swim and sunbathe a little,
reaching Bat Caves in time to witness the evening flight of
DAY 3: Breakfast when you want before setting off for a day
tracking game through the tributaries of the lower Tingwa,
Dateema and Mashonjeri Rivers. There is nothing like catching
up with a herd of elephant you have been tracking for hours.
No guarantees of finding them but that is half the fun and
experience of learning about the bush. Return to Bat Caves
for a second night.
DAY 4: Breakfast at about 7.30 before heading out for the
return journey. You can decide on the type of terrain you
want to ride and how hard or easy it should be. The professional
guide will then work out the route with you. Some are mountainous
with precipitous paths, some quick and relatively easy. Some
are best for Cave Paintings, others meander along rivers lined
with tall waterberries beside open vleis. There are at least
ten different ways back through eight different Valleys ensuring
you never take the same path home. Arrive back into Kopje
Tops approx 1630.
DAY 5: The five day safari includes a full days ride out from
Kopje Tops with a second night at the lodge. A very popular
ride, this day takes you through the African Villages to the
West of the Mavuradonhas. Guided by members of our staff who
live there you will gain a fascinating insight into the ways
of the rural African peoples and get a glimpse of their culture
contact us for a detailed quote
of horses: Ex-Polo ponies, Arabs, Quarter horse-cross and
Thoroughbreds. All sure footed, experienced and very well
schooled by our talented grooms. The horses are all conditioned
to seeing game. Between 14 and 16 hh in size.
Weight limit: Maximum weight 210lbs if experienced riders,
180lbs if novice.
Tack: Mostly English style leather and Wintecs, some stock/McClennon
Kopje Tops Lodge: Can accommodate up to 12 guests in six chalets,
with full ensuite facilities.
Bat Caves Camp: Up to 8 guests. Rustic bush camp, a day's
ride from Kopjetops Lodge. Four rooms, each with own longdrop
loo and hot-bucket shower offsuite
Tingwa Valley Safari: Max 6 guests
Explorer Safari: Max 6 guests - experienced and competent
riders only. Minimum of six nights. Parts of this safari involve
sleeping out "rough". Minimal equipment, porterage
Min. number of Guests: Two (2). We shall consider single guests
on request min. 4 nights.
Children on request.
Guides: Every safari is accompanied by a fully licensed professional
Grooms: An experienced groom accompanies each safari as well
as your professional guide. The groom will tend to the horses
during the day and nights as well as tacking on any shoes
that should come off.
Group bookings: Please contact us for bookings over twelve
guests. Extra accommodation is available in the five-bedroomed
main house. Also available for private house parties.
Single Supplement: We do not charge a single supplement.
Safety and first aid: Your guide will give you a comprehensive
safety talk prior to each safari. Guides also carry fully-equipped
first aid kits. Hard hats available.
Other activities: We welcome non-riders at Kopje Tops. Price
for non-riders on application.
Food: Fresh bush cuisine is prepared every day by our experienced
chefs. Specific dietary requirements can be catered for on
How to get there: Two and half hours drive north of Harare
(180km), the last 20km on dirt roads. We can transfer clients
by road from Harare or use the airstrip-situated 12km from
camp. Light air craft charters can be arrange to any destination
in Zimbabwe from the Mavuradonha's.
Weather: December to early March is rainy season (summer),
with heavy showers usually in the mornings and afternoons.
March to November usually dry. May to end July is winter season
- can get chilly in the mornings and evenings, however the
days are normally very mild, with daily temperatures averaging
26 degrees C.
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