Renowned filmmakers and globally recognised conservationists, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, have inspired not only generations of nature enthusiasts and wildlife documentarians, but their bushveld lifestyle has iconicized the Explorer-themed safari experience that defines the Great Plains collection of camps. Originating in Botswana and Kenya, the Jouberts’ legacy now lives on in Zimbabwe in the Private Sapi Concession adjoining the legendary Mana Pools National Park.
Sapi Springs and Sapi Explorers are the two newly unveiled safari camps and they are here to impress! They come with the signature style we have come to expect from Great Plains, and we are so excited to add it to our tailor-made itineraries and introduce our guests to these fresh, fine-tuned safari accommodations. Sapi is a whole new piece of Zimbabwean wilderness to discover, entrusted to Great Plains to cherish and conserve its unique value as a wildlife sanctuary. Named after the river on which it sits, Sapi Springs offers sublime simplicity without the frills and flairs of a luxury lodge, but with divine authenticity and a real exposure to the outside world. Sapi Explorers is a magnificent rendition of old fashioned Africa: draped canvas, travel trunks, paraffin lamps, and antique floor rugs. Here they are in more detail… Which one speaks to your inner explorer?
Small and intimate, lush and wild, Sapi Springs is located on a sandy, seasonal riverbed in a grove of indigenous trees. There are only three tented rooms, which are modest and unobtrusive, hiding among leafy surroundings, flecked with dappled light. On top of each canvas enclosure is a wooden platform raised towards the canopies, and this is where you’ll find the major draw card of Sapi Springs: open-air treehouse suites, which quite simply give you a room among the birds. Double or twin beds lie under a four-poster mosquito net, cocooning its inhabitants on wild, starry nights. Nothing more than a natural wooden balustrade surrounds the square platform and a pair of director’s chairs sit comfortably on the rustic deck for a perfect vantage point. Downstairs is the indoor bedroom, bathroom and a ground level lounge, offering everything you might need without taking away from the wild surroundings.
The sandy riverbed is the perfect place to sit and relax on a rug, leaning up against plenty of comfy cushions, while the camp’s chef supplies you with delicious eats, picnic-style. An old fashioned liquor case offers a selection of refreshments, which will go down exceptionally well in the shady, African atmosphere and your toes in the riverbed sand. A dining table up on the bank on an elevated deck is the place for more formal eating, but the emphasis on relaxed, easy-going vibes.
Taking a maximum of 6 guests at a time, the whole experience is personalised and it is ideal for a group on an adventure. The exclusive concession joins Mana Pools making the whole area over 300 000 hectares in size, but Sapi will be yours to explore exclusively. Game drives and guided walks are the safari activities on offer, both of which are excellently conducted, true to Great Plains’ high standards. This unique experience is reserved for adults and youngsters over the age of 12.
A second camp in the Private Sapi Concession, Sapi Explorers is a nostalgic masterpiece with elements of yesteryear throughout the five simple, but beautiful, canvas bedrooms. There are only five tents, so Explorers is ever so slightly larger than the three-bedroomed Springs, but with a limited 10 guests accommodated at a time, the experience is entirely exclusive. The tented suites are classic canvas walk-in structures with large antique carpets bringing red hues up from the floors, and ivory curtains to dress the room up from tent to bush boudoir. A writing desk with director’s chair, and old school travel trunks act as decorative pieces and practical ottomans. The gentle lighting comes courtesy of paraffin lanterns, adding to the appeal of the forgotten era of African travel.
A fantastic riverfront position makes the Zambezi the heart and soul of this camp and river explorations are offered in the form of motorised boating activities and quiet paddling on canoes. Sundowners, campfires, and breakfast served right on the river’s edge, every element of Sapi Explorers celebrates this ancient body of water that carves through southern Africa. Guests have the opportunity to experience up-close encounters with elephant, lion, leopard, hyena, wild dog, buffalo, eland, zebra and other ungulate species. And just imagine the presence of birds! Game drives and guided walks ensure that there are both land and water activities on offer, so there is no chance of missing out.
The Sapi Concession holds so much promise, so much magic, still waiting to be revealed. Both camps are charming, elemental, and full of adventure and they balance so perfectly with the excitement and busyness of Victoria Falls, or perhaps Botswana’s Chobe National Park. Zimbabwe is full of promise, and Sapi is giving us so much to look forward to!