Wilderness Davisons Camp: A Symphony of Untamed Wilderness and Adventure

Article: Rudo Nhamoinesu

“What a large herd of elephants and so many calves, I really don’t mind this roadblock!”

We were brought to a halt by these magnificent creatures on our journey to Wilderness Davisons camp from the airstrip, my guide echoed my sentiments and excitement. Observing my delight, and once the “mothers” had kindly let us pass, we paused by a waterhole just a few metres away. Given the intense heat during Hwange’s dry season (the prime safari time), it made perfect sense for hundreds of elephants to congregate at this watering hole. These elephants were divided into various family units, and we spent that time watching the different interactions, complete with an occasional trumpet from the matriarchs scolding their young and the odd squabble over the freshwater deposit. It was a scene reminiscent of human communities, a stark reminder that we share more similarities with elephants than we might think. The vast, untouched landscapes of Hwange offer the chance to experience the wilderness in its purest form. Nothing here is staged, the elephant spectacle in front of us isn’t scripted and the monkeys scampering up a tree are certainly not actors! This moment, this breath of freedom, served as a reminder that there is a world teeming with vibrant life beyond our urban confines.

Embarking on a safari conjures up different meanings for different people. For me, it is an opportunity to let go and breathe. We often find ourselves fenced in by urban life – “limitations of sorts” – but here you are presented with the wild, untamed wilderness and an atmosphere brimming with possibilities! I was thrilled to start my 5-day safari with Wilderness, beginning with Wilderness Davisons camp in Hwange. Wilderness Davisons is the third of the Wilderness camps in this region, the other two being Wilderness Linkwasha and Wilderness Little Makalolo. Having experienced the other two camps, Wilderness Davisons promised a unique encounter, an intimate 9-tented camp tucked within mopane trees, exuding an adventurous spirit. Named after Hwange National Park’s first warden, this quintessential safari camp provides an authentic safari experience. The rooms are tastefully decorated in natural hues, and equipped with all necessities for a comfortable stay. The main area of the camp reflects a classic safari camp, adorned in traditional safari style with two decks that offer prime views of the waterhole. The swimming pool is a delightful addition, especially appreciated after a morning of exhilarating safari activities. The ample shade of the upper deck is a perfect spot to observe herds of buffalo, zebra, and elephants going about their day or for a nap.

Sunsets in Hwange are a sight to behold, akin to divine artwork with hues of fiery orange and red sprayed across the evening sky. The setting sun marked the end of my first day on safari. The silhouettes of impalas and giraffes drinking at the waterhole, the encroaching night, and the warming glow of the bonfire combined to create a perfect end to the day. By this time, most fellow guests had returned from their game drives. There is a unique satisfaction in sharing stories of the day’s adventures, and you can understand my delight when tales of lion and leopard sightings were shared. Wilderness camps are located in prolific, unfenced wildlife areas, thus the thrill of such encounters is an emotion that defies description. After formulating our itinerary with our guide Edwin, we were ready to settle down for supper.

Following a delightful dinner, I was pleasantly surprised with a birthday cake specifically prepared for me. Celebrating my 30th birthday couldn’t have been more memorable. The joyous birthday serenade, backed by the distant animal sounds, made me feel truly fortunate. This is the hallmark of Wilderness, they consistently go above and beyond to ensure you feel cherished and special, regardless of the celebration. The team puts in extra effort for you!

The next day began with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call. As I hastened out of bed to shower and prepare for the day, I paused to watch the sunrise. Sitting on my veranda, I listened as the bush sprung to life with the dawning of the day. Birdsong filled the air, and the silhouettes of animals meandering towards the watering hole created a serene tableau. The scent of the earth, trodden by countless hooves, added to the joy of anticipating another day filled with adventure. One could take hundreds of photos of this moment, but nothing exceeds the pleasure of being present in it. Running somewhat behind schedule, I got ready promptly and descended to the main area. My fellow guests had already begun their breakfast, a splendid array of fresh buns, fruits, cereal, and porridge. After helping myself to a bowl of porridge and a robust cup of coffee, I joined them around the fire. As we watched the sun rise fully, the air filled with laughter. I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the day that lay ahead. It’s often heartwarming to share this experience with guests who are primarily first-time travellers to Zimbabwe, and for some, even Africa. The sparkle in their eyes, their passion for the wilderness, and their sheer excitement serve as a reminder of our immense fortune to call this place home.

After breakfast, we were all set for a day promising thrilling adventures in the wild! Our first mission: find the lions. Wilderness Davisons is situated in an extraordinary location that boasts vast plains. With large herds of zebra, buffalo, and wildebeest, it is the ideal hunting ground for predators. We had heard of a lion kill the previous night, and our guide Edwin Muchenje had a hunch about where these lions might be. We headed there, stopping occasionally at various waterholes to watch elephants take their morning drink and learn more about the bush. Eventually, we found them: a pride of three lionesses and a large male, bellies full, resting under a Zambezi teak. It was an exhilarating moment; one might even say adrenaline-inducing. Edwin parked the vehicle as close as he dared, and the lions, unperturbed by our presence, continued with their morning routine. Wilderness, as custodians of over 6 million acres of wild land across Africa, stand for providing guests a window into the wild. This unfenced ecosystem allows the animals to thrive, preserving the wilderness for future generations. Conservation is a cornerstone of Wilderness’s ethos; their commitment to protecting these animals ensures you enjoy a phenomenal safari experience.

As the lions moved away to seek more shade, we found a lovely spot by another waterhole for our tea and freshly baked biscuits before heading back to camp where a sumptuous lunch awaited us. Regardless of the Wilderness camp you choose, your safari experience will be enriched by the presence of an incredible guide whose knowledge of the surroundings is profound and whose passion for this vast wild land is infectious. As the day evolved from lunch to high tea, to an exquisite sundowner in the bush watching a family of giraffes taking their last drink before retreating to safety for the night, the magic of the wilderness was undeniable. The sunset, with its vibrant bursts of orange, purples and reds, painted a perfect backdrop to this scene.

Nights at Wilderness Davisons are a delight. We gather around the bonfire, sharing our stories from the day’s safari and our lives. Safari has a unique way of uniting people from all walks of life. For me, it’s truly wonderful to meet people who share the same passion for travel and adventure. I hope that you too decide to visit the bush and experience the unedited, untamed luxury that Wilderness has to offer.

Happy Travels!

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