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Announcing the Elephant Express

Announcing the Elephant Express

The game along the railway line inside Hwange National Park is varied and prolific.
The game along the railway line inside Hwange National Park is varied and prolific.




“All Aboard!  The Elephant Express is now departing Main Camp for Bomani and Camelthorn Safari Lodges. Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your seats, enjoy our refreshments and watch out for the wildlife en route!"

In February 1928 Hwange National Park was born as a game reserve in the statutes of government. Ted Davison, then 22 years old, arrived by train to take charge of this immense wilderness which is today one of the great national parks of Africa. It’s hard to imagine how he must have felt at the start of his lifelong adventure.

In 2014, in a warehouse in Belmont industrial sites, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, a new vision slowly became reality. The owners of Imvelo Safari Lodges had seen an opportunity to re-invent southern Hwange National Park safari transfers, using that same railway line. Over the next few months a unique railcar was ingeniously designed and built, a labour of love for all involved.

Imvelo’s Elephant Express is now on site, geared up to ensure a whole new safari experience. Guests will arrive at Impofu Siding, Main Camp, virtually the same spot where Davison alighted from his train nearly 90 years ago, experiencing something of the excitement the young ranger felt. Unlike Davison however, they will be pampered. Sipping drinks and enjoying snacks, guests will glide slowly along the railway line for the two hour trip to Bomani or Camelthorn Safari Lodges.

The Elephant Express seats 22 passengers, with all seats window-class for unobscured game viewing and photography. No detail was spared for guest comfort, including a flush toilet. Safety features include designing the railcar with independent engines and gearboxes at both ends of the vehicle, each providing powered travel in either direction. Using Toyota engines, the railcar drives like a standard gear-shift motor car.

There are sidings every 20km on the route from Impofu to Ngamo to allow passing traffic and drivers are experienced railways employees who receive regular refresher training. Guides will be on board at all times to ensure guests are comfortable and to interpret the wildlife and forests seen en route, including the Imbiza palm forest, declared a Special Conservation Area.

As well as scenic rail safari transfers, the Elephant Express will  provide sunset gameviewing trips across the Ngamo plains – a unique new way to experience this wildlife paradise. Field testing and trial runs are complete and the railcar will be operational in March.