Zim Girl

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Zim Girl last won the day on October 17 2017

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About Zim Girl

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    Lancashire

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  1. @kittykat23uk It was certainly an epic trip and really enjoyed reading your report. Feel your pain regarding the first guide but you have had an amazing time despite that. Stunning pictures and super sightings.
  2. @TonyQ I swear those pigeons in post #84 have just sat in a tin of yellow paint!! Your pictures from your Gambia trip have been excellent - so many beautiful birds.
  3. @janzin Wonderful report - stunning pictures as usual, I really enjoyed reading it. Far too many amazing pictures to single any out, but did just love that Goliath Heron in the last post Don't worry, I doubt you will have put anyone off going to Zambia. You have just highlighted the need not to take anything for granted and ask loads of questions beforehand.
  4. @vikramghanekar We did a 12 night mobile safari with Kichaka in September 2014 and had a fantastic time. Please see my trip report
  5. @Tdgraves Lovely sighting of the cheetah on foot - wonderful stuff. We also stayed at Somalisa in 2011, on our first trip to Zim.
  6. @ZaminOz I have just purchased the Panasonic FZ330 (UK version of the FZ300) to upgrade from my current FZ200. I had the usual debate with myself between buying another bridge camera or an entry level DSLR and as usual the bridge camera won. I don't want the expense or weight of buying/carrying extra lenses and I find the Panasonic FZ cameras very intuitive to use. I think given my basic photography knowledge, I have got pretty good results from the FZ200 and was very happy to upgrade to the FZ330. It doesn't have the 1" sensor like the FZ1000 but it has the extra zoom to 600mm that I need for wildlife photos and also the constant F2.8 throughout. The FZ330 is now supposed to be better weather proofed (always a bonus over here!) and there are other minor differences and improvements that I still need to work through. It got good reviews when the model was first released so I am looking forward to using it.
  7. @Rcfengen Also really enjoyed reading this report - great stuff!
  8. @michael-ibk, @AndMic Great trip report and photos as usual. So good of the dogs to see you off the floodplain and I loved all the Kudu pictures at Kanga Pan.
  9. @michael-ibk What a fabulous afternoon with the dogs, enjoying this report a lot. I have many,many great memories from Mana Pools and I am so pleased to see it is delivering again for you and @AndMic
  10. @Antee This is going to be a very interesting report. Great close up of the Pallas cat.
  11. @michael-ibk I always look forward to a Mana trip report. A welcome party from a leopard and the dogs - can it get better??
  12. Great start @michael-ibk Loving this already.
  13. Thank you @jeremie, @michael-ibk, @Botswanadreams, @optig, @Alexander33 I really do hope that this has inspired people to go to DRC. Obviously it has many issues including security, however on the ground Virunga National Parks management takes the safety of it's visitors very seriously hence the armed escorts, as do the ICCN rangers in Kahuzi-Biega. Also we used an experienced tour operator in Steppes Travel. They regularly arrange trips to countries like DRC and only use trusted ground operators. We can certainly vouch for them and how well we were looked after while we were there, Martin was an absolute star. I encourage anyone thinking of going to also make the effort to combine both Parks. It was extremely interesting to be able to compare both species of gorilla and we fell a little bit in love with the people at Kahuzi-Biega NP as well as dusty, chaos filled Bukavu. Thanks everybody for reading along and for all your comments and likes.
  14. Wednesday 20th September So we were now coming to the end of our Congo adventure. We left Mikeno Lodge at 7.45am for the drive to Goma, where we would be crossing at the new one stop border into Gisenyi, Rwanda. We reached Goma at 9.30am. Martin needed to sort out some paperwork at the Virunga NP office so he asked if we wanted to have a wander around while he was in there. We said that was fine and we agreed to meet him back at the vehicle in half an hour. We walked down the main street to a big roundabout and managed to dodge the traffic well enough to cross around it and back down the other side. The street was very busy with people but nobody took any notice of us. We spotted a statue at the bottom of the road and headed towards it. This is a monument erected by Joseph Kabila in 2009 to represent the ‘Chukudu’. The Chukudu is a wooden scooter that is seen everywhere in this part of Eastern Congo. It is used to transport produce and can be seen piled high with potatoes and bananas etc in the villages and along the roads. We took a couple of quick pictures and then made our way back to meet Martin. Signs like this were up all over Goma to relay warnings about possible eruptions of Mt Nyiragongo We drove to the border crossing which was in complete contrast to the rustic, ramshackle huts at Cyangugu. We had our passports exit stamped and then we walked over to the large, very modern building that is the Rwandan border point. We had our bags searched by dogs and also by hand before being allowed to enter. Inside the queues were not too long and it perhaps took about half an hour to purchase the entry visas and go through. On the other side, driving from the border point and into Gisenyi was like entering a different world. The difference between the black, dusty lava strewn streets of Goma with it’s huts and never-ending rolls of razor wire and the green, clean, paved streets and quite impressive houses of Gisenyi with front lawns and drives was hard to believe. In fact, Martin pulled into a car wash to get his vehicle cleaned. He said he would be stopped by the police for driving such a dirty car! We were now on the long drive back to Kigali. On the way Martin took a call from the owner of the ground agent he worked for. He was in the area guiding clients and wondered if he could meet us for a chat. We agreed and we stopped off at a café in Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri). We had a packed lunch from Mikeno Lodge and ate it there while chatting to Marcel, the owner. He just wanted to know if we had had a good trip and was there anything they could have done to improve it. We told him we were very happy with how things had gone and how well Martin had looked after us. We arrived in Kigali at around 2.45pm with just enough time to visit the Genocide Memorial. We hadn’t had time to come here when we were last in Rwanda so were very keen to see it now. I know many people have visited it so I don’t need to say too much other than it is a very well presented and thought provoking place to be. We stayed until closing time then met Martin for the last drive to the airport. So with lots of hugs and goodbyes we walked into the terminal and there ends our wonderful adventure to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  15. Martin came to find us after lunch. The Congohounds were back and we could go to see them. We walked down to their compound which is not far from the lodge. The handlers were waiting to meet us. I didn’t make a note but I think they said there were 10 bloodhounds, they also have 2 springer spaniels. They were going to put on a little demo for us. The chief handler went into the enclosure and picked one of the dogs, a female called Sabina. The others are alert now, waiting to see if they were going out as well Harnessing up Sabina. Unfortunately it started to rain quite hard now so could only take pics on the phone. He harnessed her up then asked us if we would “like to touch?” Needing no further encouragement we knelt down and stroked and cuddled her, not that she took any notice of us as she was ready to go to work. He took the plastic seal off the top of a water bottle and asked his colleague to rub it in his hands, this was put in a plastic bag. He then ran off to go and hide somewhere. When he called in to say he was ready the handler put the plastic bag over the dogs muzzle for a couple of seconds and gave her the command to find. She was off. The handler had her on a long line and we all followed. She seemed to pick up the scent trail immediately, criss-crossing the lane ahead. A couple of times she stopped and smelt the air then off she went again. After a few hundred yards she veered off the lane and into the forest. We had to be quick to keep up in here as she was moving fast and obviously knew she was close. Then she stopped and started jumping at a tree, we looked up and there was the other handler hanging on and grinning. He had a tube of treat paste ready for her as a reward. On the walk back to the compound the handler explained how that was quite a difficult search for the dog as his colleague’s scent would be all over this area as he works here and the reason she stopped a few times during the chase was because she was trying to detect his most recent scent to follow. The dogs are used for tracking poachers within the national park, which they are having a good deal of success with. However, their main issue at the moment is that the Congohounds rangers only have jurisdiction in the Park. If a poacher makes his way into one of the villages the rangers cannot follow without waiting for the police to accompany them, by which time the poacher will have disappeared. So at present the Park management is trying to come to some arrangement with the police to allow them access into the villages and the power to arrest poachers.

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