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  • Writer's pictureMana Brightman

Wild Goatravel: Rukuru Camp Visit

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Rukuru Camp is best described as being as similar to Mana Pools as can be, but it's not Mana Pools. As Mana is becoming more and more inaccessible to locals being able to drive around or bumping into other people every kilometre or so, this camp is the perfect alternative through-and-through with incredibly reasonable rates!

Located below the border town of Chirundu on its own private concession and just 60kms upriver from Mana Pools, you can get to Rukuru (open throughout the year) by taking a boat transfer (15 mins or so) or driving in (45 mins or so). However, during the rainy season, even a 4x4 is liable to get stuck so the best option is via boat during this period. Situated under beautiful shady trees, Rukuru is just waiting for you to kick off those city shoes and make it your home-away-from-home.

Two large ponds are fully stocked with bream to entice all the kiddies' dreams of being Zimbabwe's future fishermen. Occasionally you'll see the Giant or Pied Kingfishers swoop in to grab a tasty snack too. Elephants drift silently here and there but are always nearby and are a permanent presence in camp, somehow seeming to enjoy the goings-on of us humans and perhaps also knowing that they are safe here. One can sit around the campfire at night softly

talking to each other and gazing at the stars, whilst the elephants go about their business, trunks swooping up the pods fallen from the Faidherbia Albida (Apple Ring) trees, all literally one metre away from you. There is something to be said about looking up into an elephant's eyes and feeling at total peace with one another at that moment. We tend to forget how much we, as Zimbabweans, take this for granted because tens of thousands of people will never get the chance to even remotely experience this. Treasure the moments, store them away in memory to look back on and re-appreciate.

There is both a catered and self-catered option available at Rukuru which is currently set at US$60 per person per night self-catering and US$160 per person per night catered (rates subject to change without notice). Both options include very comfortable tented accommodation, use of all facilities (including a swimming pool), a Professional Guide always in residence, Safari vehicle, Game Drives & Walks, Full complement of staff, cooks and a chef, fully equipped kitchen, drinking water & ice provided, Plugs & USB Charging ports plus solar fans in all of the rooms. Not included in the rates are National Parks & River Usage fees, drinks and boat hire (see below):


Small boat hire: US$100.00 per day

Pontoon hire: US$150.00 per day

Fuel: US$1.50 per Ltr

Guests to provide bait, blocks and all fishing tackle

The owner and manager of Rukuru is Blake Muil who has 28 yrs of privately guided safaris throughout Africa under his belt and who has a quiet, respectful and humbling way of showing you his world in the bush. During our days in camp, we did two walking safaris with him through the most beautiful riverine woodland and along the river beds, sundowners in two stunning locations, a breakfast boat cruise in front of a peaceful herd of elephants browsing along the banks and drifting downriver we watched a group of bull elephants playfully swimming across the river channel onto one of the islands. The birdlife of about 350 species is enough to keep all the Twitchers enthralled and the animals that we saw were elephant (obviously), impala, waterbuck, hippo (again, obviously), kudu, buffalo, a nice big herd of eland, a young male lion, porcupine, civet, warthog, hyena and probably an animal I haven’t seen before, but also a pair of Large Grey Mongoose (or Egyptian Mongoose) which were scurrying along in the riverbed being ‘haggled’ by the Plovers.

Blake also offers Bush Courses to both teenagers and adults alike aspiring to become Professional Guides and Hunters and these usually take place over the course of 5 nights, 6 days. Definitely well worth it if you’re looking into getting into these professions.

‘Rukuru’ means ‘great’ in the local dialect and describes this little camp perfectly. What more could you want? Everything is right there, the camp is just waiting to welcome you!

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