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Well off the beaten track

Well off the beaten track

Well off the beaten track

Imagine you’re on a mountain bike enjoying the sounds and scents of the wilderness when your guide waves you to stop. Feeding casually ahead is a magnificent bull elephant – this is a road block with a difference. Your group waits patiently for the elephant to move off, which he does in due course, but it’s a good excuse to break for a picnic under a shady acacia tree. For once, time does not matter and the day is yours to lose in the African bushveld.

Game viewing by mountain bike is on the cards for Imvelo Safari Lodges’ latest project in southwest Hwange National Park where it has taken over an exclusive concession. Deep Kalahari sands make much of this area inappropriate for biking, but geography and elephant have worked to make it a possibility here.

Ancient windblown fossil sand dunes are separated by valleys where elephant paths have compacted the terrain, hence the concept of biking. With the working title of Wild Jozibanini, ‘Jozi’ for short, this area is wild and remote – it has never been used for tourism and was most recently inhabited by San Bushmen well over 100 years ago.

“Jozi will be an experimental project for Imvelo,” said a spokesman for the group. “We are breaking new ground in terms of the remoteness of the location in Hwange, and the unique environment lends itself to fresh concepts of going ‘on safari’. We can develop ideas which are not an option for other operators in the Park.”

Imagine sitting in a comfortable, secure steel hide at full moon, watching wildlife at a waterhole with a backdrop of stars in a crystal sky. Imvelo’s unique ‘Look-up’ hides are sunken, so that your view is toe-height to an elephant. An inquisitive hyena sniffs only centimetres away from your camera. Game viewing from a hide by moonlight is yet another exclusive activity planned for Jozi.

Imvelo envisages a small, exclusive camp in this truly wild place that will provide guests with a full-on wilderness experience. A small, exclusive, tented fly camp providing high quality accommodation will be built on a raised deck, creating an unobtrusive elephant-proof barrier, complete with ensuite hot showers and flush toilets.

Ideally, this will be a two day add-on for guests from either of Imvelo’s other properties in Hwange, Bomani or Camelthorn Safari Lodges. These guests will be looking for adventure; the day-long transfer to Jozi will be a ‘pump run,’ resupplying waterholes en route, providing an opportunity for guests to get involved should they want to, helping with refuelling and running repairs to equipment.

More from this issue:
ZT17 (June 2014) - Main Menu
ZT17 (June 2014) - Full Content Listing

More from the Zambezi Traveller:
Hwange Destination Profile