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Found 153 results

  1. Last month, while I was at Camp Hwange, I had the opportunity to visit Dave Carson’s new bush camp, simply called Hwange Bush Camp. It’s a semi-permanent camp, that opened in May and only for seven months until November, located in the remote northern part of the park, near Deteema, half way between Robin’s Camp and the crossroads with the main road from Sinamatella to Main Camp . The camp is managed by one of the best Zim pro guides and certainly the best for that part of Hwange, the experienced Spike Williamson. Here are some pictures that I made during my visit. For more information, here is the address of a website : http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/hwange-bush-camp.html
  2. http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/more-than-7-500-animals-ready-for-african-animal-ark-operation-20170619 http://clubofmozambique.com/news/from-zimbabwe-to-mozambique-more-than-7-500-animals-ready-for-african-animal-ark-operation/ ~ This June, 2017 news article from South Africa's News 24 explains the preparations made to relocate more than 6,000 animals from Zimbabwe's Savé Valley Conservancy to Mozambique's Zinave National Park. Sponsored by the Peace Parks Foundation, German entrepreneur Wilfried Pabst is donating the 6,000 animals over the next three years. The foundation will fund the relocation costs. The long-term plan is to establish a high density wildlife area within Zinave National Park.
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2017/jun/19/rewilding-mozambique-trophy-hunting-elephants-giraffe-poaching-zimbabwe-sango-save-zinave ~ This June, 2017 article in the U.K. Guardian explains how high fee trophy hunting in Zimbabwe's Sango Wildlife Conservancy is partially funding the transfer of 6,000 animals to Mozambique's Zinave National Park. German entrepreneur Wilfried Pabst is donating the animals from Sango, which is located within the Savé Valley Conservancy in eastern Zimbabwe.
  4. While looking for other information on the web I came across this report on the translocation of seven elephants from South Africa to Zinave NP in Mozambique. First Elephant Translocated to Zinave National Park, Mozambique Zinave NP is north-east of Kruger NP and directly east of Gonarezhou NP in Zimbabwe it doesn’t actually adjoin either of these two parks but with them it is along with Banhine NP and Limpopo NP part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. During Mozambique’s civil war it seems that almost all of the large game was wiped out in Zinave so it’s great to see that animals are now being reintroduced. Already zebra, wildebeest and giraffes have been brought in from Kruger in 2012 and 13 and the plan is to move more animals to Zinave in the future from Kruger and also some from Gorongosa NP further north. In Gorongosa some of the animals that survived the war and didn’t need restocking like common waterbuck are now extremely common so the park is a good source for these animals to restock Zinave. All of the animals are initially being released into a fenced sanctuary. Zinave should be able to provide a home for 2000 elephants so I have no doubt that plenty more elephants will be moved to the park in time. With so much depressing news about wildlife being reported it’s great to see so positive news for a change Here’s another interesting article on the park Finding refuge: The untapped potential of Mozambique's Banhine and Zinave Unfortunately it seems that re-establishing a wildlife corridor between Zinave and Gonarezhou may prove difficult but it would be good if some way could be found to allow animals to move around between parks as they did in the past. Remarkably surveys of wildlife in Limpopo and Banhine NPs found WILDLIFE DIVERSITY IN LIMPOPO NATIONAL PARK Click on the map in the article on the Peace Parks Foundation website to see the location of these parks.
  5. Having an interest in Africa’s culture/history as well as it’s wildlife I thought it was time for a thread on a subject that perfectly combines these two interests and that hasn’t come up as far as I can recall very often and that is rock art. I’m not any kind of expert on this subject and haven’t visited a huge numbers of sites but I thought I’d write a brief intro before getting to some photos from the places I have been to. All over Africa there are fine examples of rock art, ancient paintings and engravings or petroglyphs, such art has been found on all continents except Antarctica but there is more of this art in Africa than anywhere else in the world. The Saharan Region is especially rich in both paintings and petroglyphs which provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the ancient peoples of this region and the of wildlife that they lived alongside, much of this artwork dates from a wet period when the Sahara was not a desert but a lush green land of rivers and lakes, lush grasslands and savannahs. Besides depictions of people and their cattle and other livestock there are numerous representations of easily recognisable wild animals like giraffes, elephants and white rhinos in countries like Libya and Algeria far outside their modern historical distribution. Sadly much of this rock art is found in areas of the Sahara that are no longer accessible to tourists due to ongoing political instability, I don’t know enough about all of the countries of this region so there may be some sites that are safe to visit, certainly it should be okay to visit some of the sites in the Ennedi region of Chad, I have not done so. I have only admired the extraordinary engravings of giraffes for example found in Niger in photographs in Nat Geo and online. Here’s a link to the Trust for African Rock Art click on the countries highlighted to see photos of this extraordinary art. While rock art can be found in various places in East Africa the largest collection of paintings (that I know of) is as at Kondoa in Tanzania just south west of Tarangire NP, although I’ve not visited Kondoa the rock art sites are not that hard to get to being only 9kms from the main highway going south from Arusha to Dodoma. While the site is accessible it’s only 3.5 hrs drive south of Arusha it is somewhat off the beaten track as far as Tanzania’s northern safari circuit is concerned and most people going from Arusha down to say Ruaha NP or Selous GR would tend to fly rather than drive. You really need to make a special trip to visit Kondoa as you’re not likely to be passing by, therefore few tourists visit these paintings. The depictions of elongated human figures and local wildlife are thought primarily to have been painted by the Sandawe people, related to the San peoples of Southern Africa and speaking a similar click language the Sandawe were likewise originally hunter gatherers. Here’s a guide to Kondoa Rock Art of Kondoa Irangi Further south, Southern Africa has an abundance of rock art, around the whole region numerous caves and rock shelters have been richly decorated with depictions of the local wildlife and people, for the most part these paintings and pictographs were created by San hunter gatherers and later Khoekhoe herders. The pictures are in many cases not actually depictions of the real world as observed by the San, but are in fact scenes taken from the spirit world visited by their shamans during trances brought on during ceremonial dances. The frequency with which certain animal species were depicted depended on their spiritual significance to the people of the area. In South Africa (& Lesotho) where there could be anywhere up to 30,000 rock art sites and over 1 million images, the eland was the most totemic species in the Drakensberg and Maloti Mts for example there are whole galleries of eland paintings. In Namibia and Zimbabwe depictions of eland are far less frequent and giraffes much more common, other animals like zebras, rhinos, elephants and ostriches are also commonly depicted. I don’t know if this reflects a difference in the past abundance of these animals or simply their significance to the artists who portrayed them. Many of the painting and petroglyphs date back to around 2,000 years or so ago, although it’s recently been confirmed that some of the oldest paintings in South Africa date back to 5,000 years ago. The tradition may go back far longer but paintings on sandstone apparently don’t last for more than a few thousand years due to the porous nature of the rock. There are also much more recent paintings but it’s generally thought that certainly in South Africa the San stopped painting soon after European colonisation, large numbers of San died from smallpox brought in by the settlers or were killed in conflicts with the newly arrived whites and also the expanding black tribes that were encroaching into their territory. Conflict was inevitable as the San saw no distinction between wild game and domestic livestock regarding both simply as meat to be hunted, the severe reduction in their numbers, the disruption to their culture and mixing with other peoples brought an end to their production of rock art. While I’ve not visited rock art sites in the Sahara or East Africa I have been to a couple of sites in Zimbabwe and in Namibia, as with the rest of Southern Africa the San were the original inhabitants of Zimbabwe and would have lived throughout the country, they produced the majority of the rock art found at over 15,000 sites around the Zimbabwe. One of the highest concentrations of rock paintings can be found in the Matobos Hills just south of Bulawayo throughout these beautiful hills caves and rock overhangs were decorated by the San. The most accessible of these caves sites in Matobos National Park is Nswatugi Cave which has some of Zimbabwe’s most impressive paintings and is also conveniently close to Malindidzimu or World’s End the spectacular burial place of Cecil Rhodes. Nswatugi Cave a Guide to the Big Game of the Matobos. Rhodes Matopos NP as it was originally called was created in 1926 after Cecil Rhodes bequeathed the area to the country, much of the original big game that would once have been found in the Matobos had been hunted out. When it was decided in the 1960s to set aside an area of the park as a game preserve that would be restocked with suitable wildlife, they needed to know which species they should reintroduce, caves like Nswatugi provided a perfect guide to the original fauna of the park. At another site that I’ve not visited known as the White Rhino Shelter is the faint outline of what is clearly a white rhino, a species that was entirely extinct in the country when Southern Rhodesia was founded in the 1890s, exactly when they became extinct is not known (as far as I know) but this evidence of their former presence led to their reintroduction. There is now a healthy and seemingly well protected population of southern white rhinos and also black rhinos in the park. Some of the other game hasn’t fared quite as well some species like buffalo were actively exterminated some years ago for reasons of foot and mouth disease control and a lot of game was poached during the recent chaos, but hopefully more restocking will be carried out in future when the opportunity arises. Photographing rock paintings can be a bit of a challenge as you can’t use flash which would damage the paintings, so I wasn't sure how well my photos would come out when I visited Nswatugi a few years ago. These paintings are perhaps 2,000 years old and have survived remarkably well considering that Ndebele rebels hid out in caves like this one during the first Chimurenga or freedom war that lasted from 1894-97. It was from hideouts in the Matobos that they launched their guerilla war against the white settlers that nearly extinguished the fledgling colony of Southern Rhodesia. The large animal in the centre of the scene is an eland The artists would often simply paint on top of the earlier paintings frequently creating a jumble of images which can make it a little difficult to make out some of the individual animals and people, the shapes below the eland appear to be entirely abstract and I don't recall what their significance may have been if known. Probably the finest painting of giraffes in Zimbabwe This would appear to be a female greater kudu Greater kudu bull Giraffes, zebras, antelopes and other animals Plains zebra
  6. In two months and a couple of days, we will be winging our way to Kenya! I cannot wait and have nothing left to plan!! I am thrilled that a friend from work and her high-school aged daughter decided to join us at the last minute, which should make the experience that much better (unless I drive her bonkers with my many exclamations.) My boss is retiring at the end of the school year and she considered going with us too; the timing wasn't right as we leave two days after school gets out and she has to stay through the end of June. So now I am wondering about a "next safari," when I haven't gone on the first one yet! What say you, collective Safari Gurus? This might be a teacher's trip, so probably shorter than the 2 weeks that I'm going this year. Daughter will be doing an internship next summer so I won't have to work around her schedule, although we will be pretty much restricted to mid-June to early-August again. PS That we I in the title is going to drive me bonkers. Can someone fix it to we?
  7. Hello Everyone, I have been a silent member of ST for a long time now. I have not posted any trip report (I started one and never finished it) till now, out of pure lethargy and nothing else, all the time enjoying reading other's! Thanks to some encouragement from Sangeeta, I am posting some of my images taken on a trip to Mana Pools in July 2016. This was a photography trip arranged by Wild-Eye South Africa, hosted by Morkel Erasmus, a great photographer from South Africa. The agenda for this trip was chasing the heavenly mana light, rather than chasing sightings (although we did chase a few sightings, albeit unsuccessfully). As a result you will find images of common subjects, presented in entirely different light (pun intended) :-). Morkel was a superb host and teacher and we had a small (just 3 guests) but lively group. I don't think I have laughed and enjoyed so much on any other safari that I have ever been. We stayed at a camp hosted by Tess Arkwright and Dave (they have a small operation called Mwinilunga Safaris), a great couple. We were guided by Kevin Lou, a Zim pro guide who was absolutely fun to be with and we always felt very safe with him. After that preamble, here are a few images. Can anyone help in putting images from my album (already uploaded on ST) here?
  8. As @@twaffle stated in her superb trip report http://safaritalk.net/topic/16602-the-hundred-acre-wood-and-the-search-for-heffalumps-and-woozles/ , there are many trip reports on Mana Pools, and it's hard to imagine I have anything new to offer. But, I for one, love reading EVERYTHING I can get my hands on while trip planning, and so there may be something I write that inspires someone else, so I will push on. I also like preparing these trip reports, as they become like a diary to me, to read on those dreary work days when Africa seems just too far away, and I need to remind myself why I continue to work! And so it was, after reading many of these said reports on Mana Pools, and of the reportedly outstanding Doug MacDonald, that I found myself, on the 2nd of December 2014, sending these words to Doug: "Hi Doug, I feel really silly asking, but I hear you book up really quickly, so I was wondering how far ahead I should book you if I wanted a September 2016 private safari in Zimbabwe?" Doug, to his credit, did not make fun of me, and did in fact answer my email (which the other guide I contacted at the same time did not, and still hasn't), and we started planning our adventure. Initially I had another couple coming with hubby and I, but unfortunately they had to pull out only a few months out from the trip. Fortunately we were able to go on our trip regardless, although with some changes and extra expenses for us. Our itinerary was: Depart Brisbane 16th September 2016, then 2 nights Victoria Falls, 4 nights Davison's camp in Hwange, 3 nights Chitake Springs, and 6 nights Mucheni 2 on the floodplains. We were supposed to have 2 nights in the Chikwenya Lodge as well, with 4 in Mucheni 2, but they changed hands and shut, so we ended up remaining on the floodplains. Our original itinerary had Doug guiding us in Hwange, but unfortunately when our friends pulled out it just added to the cost too much, and so we didn't meet Doug until Mana Pools. I wish we had had Doug guiding in Hwange From Mana Pools we flew to Harare, then on to Johannesburg to stay overnight, before heading up to Rwanda and Uganda to see the gorillas (trip report here http://safaritalk.net/topic/16804-habituation-gorilla-trek-uganda-2016/ ) Australia to Africa is a long way! This time we flew South African Airlines from Brisbane to Perth and then Perth to Johannesburg, where we had a 6 hour stopover at 5am. I had slept quite well on the Perth to Jo'burg flight, but we elected to get a room at the airport hotel (cost around US$70) to get another few hours sleep. It was a good decision. When we landed in Victoria Falls, we felt refreshed and ready to go. We stayed at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, overlooking the lovely waterhole and the vast Zimbabwe plains. Our first activity (all planned and booked by Doug), was the sunset cruise on the Signature Deck of the Zambezi Explorer. It was a lovely relaxing introduction to our safari. Hubby anxiously awaiting his first Zimbabwe beer of the trip! Having slept well overnight, we were up very early as Doug had arranged for us to be picked up at 5.30am, to get to the gates of Victoria Falls in time for opening, and sunrise at 6am. I had found a small ebook about how to photograph Victoria Falls, http://www.danielpeel-photography.com/how-to-photograph-victoria-falls-e-book so I knew I wanted to head straight for Viewpoint 8, to get a shot of the falls with the sun rising.... this one.... Unfortunately we weren't the first photographers lining up at the gate, so the other two, who also know where to head, ended up getting a slightly better position to my left. Never mind - they were very kind and let me sidle up as close to their tripod as I could! I took many shots of the falls: We had thought about crossing to Zambia for a dip in Devil's Pool, but then we thought - ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND!!! - and elected not to!! This was the only spot there was a rainbow at the time we were there. It was the correct time of the month to photograph moon bows when we were there, but we didn't do it. It is quite a different view from the Zambian side! Being dry season the water was low, which made it quite interesting I thought, with the variation in the water flow along the falls, and we also didn't get wet! I was there in January 1999, and I got absolutely soaked! It was much easier photographing the falls without constantly worrying about a wet lens. Back on the Zimbabwean end, there was an astonishing amount of water here! I could stand and watch water like that all day. Of course we had to say hello to Dr Livingstone too: We were on a tight schedule, though, as we were being picked up at the gates at 8am for our helicopter ride. We had wanted to go early, before the really harsh light, but it did mean we only spent 2hours at the Falls that morning. We had planned to possibly go back (which would have meant paying another entrance fee) but we ended up elsewhere....(it involves cocktails and lawns!).
  9. @@Game Warden made a suggestion that a topic could be started here for those of us going to Mana Pools with @@Doug Macdonald in November 2017. As well as myself I think that @@ice and @@Seniortraveller (plus I think her sister and a friend) are signed up. As well as fostering a sense of unearned smug self-satisfaction I thought it might be useful to have a topic in which anyone going or has previously gone on a similar venture could ask questions, give advice or just get to know each other a little better before meeting. I am grateful for the report provided by @@Atravelynn and @@SafariChick and the insights into what we have let ourselves in for
  10. I am planning a trip to Zimbabwe in September, 2018 and just realized that is an election year. Should I be concerned about this? We can't go in 2017 and we don't want to wait until 2019. We will be doing 3 nights in Hwange and 9 nights in Mana Pools with hopefully Doug Macdonald. As we can go at any time, would late August, early or mid September be best. Really hope to see wild dogs. Is 3 nights enough for Hwange?
  11. Hi everyone, This is my first post...I hope it's in the right place. We are looking for help in planning a safari for 2018. We really want to see ***wild dogs*** and predators/elephants/rare animals...as well as all other wildlife. We are avid photographers and have narrowed the trip down to two options...for the most part. The question is which is the better option for what we are looking for, I.e. Wild dogs. Both options are in the same price range. We know nothing is guaranteed but are looking for reliable sightings during the times we are going. Option A - Botswana in late June 2018 1 night Vic Falls 2 nights Lebala Camp 2 nights Lagoon Camp 3 nights Little Kwara Option B - Zimbabwe and Zambia in June or August or September 4 nights Nkwali Camp in S. Luangwa 4 nights John's Camp in Mana Pools *****Which is the best month for option B taking into account what we want to see? We welcome all advice/information/opinion. Thanks in advance for the help. Cheers, Eric
  12. Hi, Safaritalkers, I just got back from my 2017 vacation (Israel and Jordan) and am back on track to go back to Africa in 2018! I realized that is where my heart is and I dream about going back there all the time. (my son is studying abroad in Jordan so that was great to go see him there as well, but no lions....) I've done two Africa trips--one to Botswana in June 2012 (3 camps in the Delta, Sandibe, Okuto, and Shinde), and Victoria falls. The second trip in 2015 I visited in May and went to Mashatu (Botswana), and Sabi Sands, and Phinda in South Africa. I'm very interested in trying a "green season" trip for the different experience, especially in terms of photographic potential, but I wanted to get some frank advice. First of all the bugs--I don't love bugs, but I understand of course there are more of them in the summer. But how bad is it? Are there mosquitos constantly buzzing in your ears all night long? (LOL) Also, I'd like to be able to see baby animals, and am trying to figure out which month is optimal, January, February, or March. Also, the heat--is it really bad, i.e. like you can't sleep? I'm a Southern California person so I'm not used to humidity, but I also don't plan to be doing walking safaris, which I believe is not usually done at that time of the year anyway. I'm thinking Zimbabwe because I haven't been there and I really would like to economize a bit on this trip. I saw some camps in Zimbabwe in green season where you can get specials for as little as $250-$350 a night, and I would like to stay in that range if possible. I also may be traveling on my own, another reason for Green Season since I understand you can often get single supplements waived or lower at that time. Has anyone here done Hwange in green season? Or should I look at going back to Botswana? I think Botswana even in green season will be out of that price range. If I went back there I would be interested in Chobe and maybe the Nxai pans, but I'm not sure about Chobe in green season. Also I am very interested in hides--I loved the hides at Mashatu, but I"m not sure if hides work well in the summer months. I'd love to hear from anyone who has experience with green safaris about your thoughts. One other thing, having done very luxurious camps like Sandibe and Phinda I am actually looking for a more "camping-like" experience this time (although not participatory camping). I'm thinking I may try to include Mashatu and do their tented camp instead of the lodge, where we were last time. Also, I was wondering if anyone has any experience with &Beyond's mobile camping trips in Botswana? They look very nice but are still pretty expensive. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
  13. Working on planning 1st safari. Looking for some feedback from all of you who have visited southern Africa, especially if you have been there in December. If you were going in the first half of December and you want at least one camp/lodge (they could be at the same place or different places for each of the items listed) where you could do or have: a walking safari get on the water in a boat or canoe to view wildlife go on a night drive get up close and personal with the animals watching from a hide sit on a deck at camp/lodge and watch elephants or giraffe (or other wildlife but those would be our favs) walk through great game drives with experienced, knowledgeable guides feel like you are really experiencing what you envision "wild Africa" to be great African décor or quirky, fun accommodations Which of the following places would be your favorites --- both reserves/parks and feel free to share if you have favorite a camp/lodge that you have stayed at there? Botswana - Chobe National Park Botswana - Mashatu Game Reserve Botswana - Moremi Wildlife Reserve Botswana - Okavango Delta South Africa - Kruger National Park South Africa - private reserve near Kruger (if so, please say which one) Victoria Falls (stay on the Zambia or Zimbabwe side? And stay in town or on a property that also has wildlife?) Zambia - Lower Zambezi Zambia - Mosi Oa Tunya Park Zimbabwe - Hwange Zimbabwe - Matusadona Feel free to add a park/reserve if there is one we should consider but not on the list, especially if you have a camp/lodge you recommend there. I ruled out Mana Pools in Zimbabwe because of the time of year we are going but am open to considering it if others have gone in December with good wildlife experiences. We are looking for different experiences at each location and probably 4 different reserves/parks staying 3-4 nights at each. The focus is wildlife but also would like different accommodation experiences such as one with a tent, a tent on a raised platform, a hut/cabin, and/or a lodge but all with en suite toilets and at least sinks for washing up. Outdoor shower would be fine. We are not interested in mobile camping, really want the place to be more permanent. Hoping as it's the green season we can also find some good deals with cheaper prices or free night special. We do have a budget but I am interested to hear what places you would rank among your top choices, where you think you can get great value and where it may be worth splurging a little for a few nights. Thanks in advance.
  14. If you needed any more reason to visit the magnificent Gonarezhou NP in Zimbabwe, the folks at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge have some wonderful events planned for 2017. 13-17 July - Wine and Wild Dog Weekend. Wine tasting with award winning wine maker Jeremy Bourg from Painted Wolf Wines combined with wild dog conservation presentations by Rosemary Groom from the African Wildlife Conservation Fund. 23 & 24 September - Mahenye Festival. Once a year the local community come together to dance, sing anf entertain with traditional stories. A truly authentic festival run by the community for the community. Guests of Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge are privileged to be invited to attend. If you are interested in making your safari coincide with either of these events just send me a message.
  15. First time poster from California. Planning a first African Safari trip for my mom and I for 2018. We have traveled to Europe a number of times and China once and I always do my own planning, determining the itinerary, booking hotels (used Trip Advisor reviews to help me decide), figuring out where we may need advance reservations, booking flights and trains (although a few times I have used an agency to help with the in country travel or rail pass prior to leaving the USA). We are fairly laid back, love to see natural beauty, experience different cultures, historical sites, architecture, etc. We like to experience different modes of transportation but we don't want to ride any animals. We try our best to learn customs of the country we are going to so we do not unintentionally offend someone. Planning a trip is half the fun for me. We have a list of must-sees based on what we feel is important to us but we also like to have room to "play it by ear" and do things that we learn about once we are in country. We also like to have some down time to just relax and enjoy being where we are. And while on the trip I take lots of photos (Canon SX280 ) and journal almost every day to capture all the sights and emotions of these new places and experiences and make a digital scrapbook when I get home. Budget is always a concern. I don't select the lowest just because it's the lowest but I go for total value of what I am getting for the $$ spent. While we want our lodging to be safe and comfortable, we prefer fun and quirky (especially if it is a part of the cultural experience) over a standard hotel. We grew up camping for our family vacations but are at an age where we prefer to at least have a soft bed and flush toilets en suite (figuring the permanent camps over the mobile camping for us and are okay with a lodge if it's small). I have had to prioritize and compromise knowing that I cannot afford everything I want to do but am blessed with the traveling I have been able to do. As I have been researching for our trip to Africa, I am feeling a little overwhelmed and very concerned about the costs. Here are some things we do know about what we are looking for and questions we could use some guidance on: 1) Budget is important and we need to be wise in how and where we spend it. Ideally we would like to have 15 nights in Africa and spend no more than $4,000 - 5,000 for lodging/full board/guides/tips assuming it will be another $2,000 or so for international flights and in country travel (total costs around or under 6-7K and the lower the better). We are open to review this if the overall experience is going to be a lot better if we can spend some more. Do we go off season for longer nights or locations that would be out of our budget otherwise? Originally, my thought was 4 nights at 2 reserves, 3 nights at another reserve and 2 or 3 nights at/near Victoria Falls (as we would like to see it - natural beauty). So a total of 14-15 nights as I think we need to stay one night in Johannesburg before heading out on safari. Work-wise, it is better for me to travel either in the month of August or anytime from late September through the end of February but would prefer to avoid being gone over the US Thanksgiving holiday (late November) or over the Christmas holiday. 2) For this trip, wildlife viewing is our number 1 priority with our top 5 being lots of elephants, giraffe, lions, monkeys (any type) and zebra. Next would probably be rhinos, hippos, leopard, cheetah, antelope and buffalo. We enjoy birds too but that is not as big a priority. If we go in the wet season, would we still see a lot of wildlife? Is it just a matter of being more strategic in which locations we stay at? What would you recommend? Originally, I was thinking Botswana and Zimbabwe before I was told that Botswana is very expensive. So, I am trying to decide what's the best places for the viewing and experiences we want. 3) We would like to go to reserves that are not full of large groups of tourists and vehicles. We know these are probably going to be more expensive and eat up our budget both for the full board and the transportation to get there but that is where we could use advice on which ones are worth it and the best time to go to get the wildlife viewing for the best value in costs. 4) We would like some opportunities to get out of the vehicles and be on foot or on the water. We want our camps to be more permanent so not looking to be out all day and overnight camping but want the opportunity to explore the reserves and view wildlife from a vehicle, on foot or from a boat/canoe. 5) We want to sleep in a comfortable bed and want our toilet to be en suite. We don't need fancy or luxury but we do want comfortable and if it has a fun personality or decor, an added bonus. And, great, friendly staff is a huge plus but reading many comments on this site it sounds like that is the norm of the people we will encounter. 6) While my mom will eat most anything offered, I have Celiac and cannot eat anything with gluten or dairy. They make me ill. I will have medications with me to help but would prefer accommodations where they will work with me. 7) We have no problem getting up early or needing to walk a lot as long as we are not trekking uphill for miles. We live near the coast of California so we are used to fairly mild temperatures year round. My home does not have air conditioning as the few days it gets hot enough that you wish you had it, it still cools down at night. Dry heat in the 80s should be fine but hotter or if humid, then I might start wilting. 8) Booking everything - Is it better to use one agency to book everything or try to do it on our own? Or a mixture? We don't want to get in country and have issues that take up time to resolve. For my mom, I think she prefers we use an agency that will handle everything but will that add significantly to our costs? If an agency, would you use one from the USA (where we live) or use one from one of the countries we will be traveling to? Remember, this is our first time to southern Africa (we have been to Marrakech, Morocco but from the airport we had a driver the riad we were staying at arrange to get us to the city center and then we just walked, took a taxi or took a bus). 9) What am I missing? Am I off the mark? Are there other things I should be considering? 10) Itinerary options: Where would you spend 3 nights, where should we try and spend 4 nights? Option A) 1 reserve in Botswana (Chobe?), 1 reserve in Zimbabwe (Huange or Mana Pools?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?), private reserve in Krueger, South Africa Option B ) 1 reserve in Botswana (Chobe?), 2 reserves in Zimbabwe (Huange and Mana Pools or ?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?) Option C) 2 reserves in Zimbabwe (Huange and Mana Pools or ?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?), private reserve in Krueger, South Africa Option D) Other suggestions from those of you who have traveled to southern Africa I know this was a lot so I appreciate you reading through and thank you in advance for your advice based on your experiences and understanding what we are looking for.
  16. If not already posted http://robinpopesafaris.net/blog/2017/02/robin-pope-safaris-expands-into-zimbabwe/
  17. For 2018 we have another special week in Mana for members of Safari Talk. Its slightly different from the 2017 trip in that we end at the very relaxed safari destination of Kanga Pan, but we still do Chitake Springs and the Mana Pools Flood Plain. Part of the reason for this safari is to provide a donation to the Zambezi Elephant Fund with the Zambezi Society who do a tremendous amount of work in helping the anti poaching effort to secure our elephant populations. You will get to see some of the work they do and meet the people who actually do the dangerous work on the ground. - and enjoy this amazing safari destination, I look forward to meeting you in Mana. Safari Talk Mana Pools Special Safari – Nov 2018
  18. We have a very exciting special to share with all Safari Talkers! Doug Macdonald Safaris to Africa has been given exclusive rates for a tented mobile safari camp on the famous Mana Pools floodplain. The camp, which has walk in safari tents with ensuite facilities, has been given permission to have an extended time in a site which reduces their overall cost and so they are able to offer these great prices USD$350 per person per night including all meals, non premium drinks, scheduled activities, national parks fees and transfers from Mana Pools Airstrip. No Single Supplement!! For charter flights from Harare to Mana Pools it is $600 per person* return (1st April - 30th November) *(Sadly a single traveller would need to purchase 2 seats should there not be any others on the flight) We recommend a minimum of 4 nights on the floodplain and you should consider linking this with other areas and camps of Mana and Zimbabwe. Contact us direct and we can design and arrange your safari. bookings@dougmacsafaris.com - Chloe Cottrell
  19. Safaritalk Mana Pools Special Safari guided By Doug Macdonald and in Support of the Zambezi Elephant Fund. I’m really pleased, thanks to Matt, to be able to offer Safaritalk members and their families the chance to come and experience Mana Pools with me in November this year on a Safaritalk Special Safari. Also we’ll have the chance to meet and speak with members of the Zambezi Elephant Fund. (ZEF) works to actively protect elephants in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe by putting a stop to poaching and developing and putting in place systems that ensure the long-term safety of these incredible animals and the security and growth of other wildlife in the area, together with the protection of the environment and the improvement and sustainability of these efforts.The Zambezi Elephant Fund recognises the importance of involving and supporting local communities – and projects are in place already that can be further supported by the Zambezi Elephant Fund. It’s an organisation that I personally support and you can find out more about their work by visiting their website: www.zambezielephantfund.org. (Note: a 250 USD donation to the organistion will be made from the total cost of each participant.) The itinerary is as follows: 1 Night Harare 2 Nights Chitake Springs 4 Nights Mana Pools Flood Plain 2 Night Chikwenya Safari Lodge US$3750.00 per person – Minimum 6 guests (confirmed by 1st July) 21 Nov 2016 – You arrive at Harare International Airport, after clearing customs and immigration formalities you will be met by a representative of Doug Macdonald’s Safaris. We then have a short transfer to your lodge for the night in the suburbs of Harare at the very comfortable Guinea Fowl Lodge – here we will all meet and relax with a great home cooked meal and get ready for the safari the next day. 22 Nov – After a good breakfast we shall then head to the airport for the flight to Mana Pools in a light aircraft – we will land at the main Mana Pools airstrip and from here we shall set off in an open safari vehicle to our first destination at Chitake Springs. This amazing place is close to the Zimbabwean side of the Rift Valley and this remote area has an amazing and permanent spring that supplies water to a large number of animals in an otherwise dry area. All through the day and night there is a steady flow of animals coming and going to Chitake Springs and of course with this comes the predators. This often makes a stay here quite action packed and our camp will be set up right on the edge of the water so there is often wildlife very close to or in the camp. The camp itself will have walk in safari dome tents that have two beds and the toilet and shower facilities will be shared, the bucket shower will be shared, and meals will be cooked on an open fire by a well experienced safari chef. As there are very few roads here we spend most of our time walking in this area or just sitting at a vantage point watching the activity around this very active and exciting area. 24 Nov – From here we travel across the Zambezi Valley and down to the Mana Pools Flood Plain where we shall be for the next four nights. On our way there we will stop at the Zambezi Elephant Fund Rangers Post where you can meet the men involved with protecting our elephants and wildlife and see for yourself the facility and how the money we donate is spent. The mobile camp we had at Chitake will now be changed and you will have larger tents with en suite facilities and will be set up for us on the banks of the Zambezi River in the heart of the Mana Pools Flood Plain. From here we shall be able to explore the whole Mana Pools flood plain area – either on foot or by vehicle. You will be amazed by the density of wildlife on the floodplain that are drawn by the water and food provided by the Zambezi River. Highlights here could include tracking on foot a pride of lions or one of the packs of wild dogs that hunt through this area, and at this time of the year it is usual for them to have their puppies moving with the pack. Following on foot behind a big elephant bull as it makes way through the day is also a great way to spend some safari time. We try here to do as much walking as possible as this is the best way to enjoy the Mana Pools experience. Meals will be served al fresco under the canopy of trees that line the river bank and always with the sounds of the bush in the background. 28 Nov – Today we head further downstream and cross the Nyamatusi Wilderness area of Mana Pools before reaching the private concession area of the comfortable Chikwenya Safari Lodge on the boundary of Mana Pools. This is a very remote area of the Zambezi Valley with excellent wildlife and from here we have the flexibility of being able to go out on the Zambezi River by boat and to do night drives as well along with the game drives and walks. It’s a great way to finish off a stay in Mana Pools. 30 Nov – Today you leave Mana Pools by charter aircraft that will fly from Mana back to Harare and the flights will be times to correspond with your International Flights. Price Includes Accommodation and transfers in Harare on a Bed and Breakfast Basis All Accommodation in Mana Pools on a fully inclusive sharing basis as described above which includes drinks and meals. (Note: Drinks not included at Chikwenya) All Game Viewing Activities Transfers between camps in Mana Pools Seat rate air charters between Harare and Mana Pools – Mana Pools and Harare Private vehicle and privately Guided by Doug Macdonald in Mana Pools National Parks Fees Departure Taxes from Harare A US$250.00 donation to the Zambezi Elephant Fund Price Excludes Travel Insurance with remote evacuation cover Tips and Gratuities Items of a personal nature How to book: contact me at Doug Macdonald’s Safaris to Africa via email: doug@dougmacsafaris.com stating SAFARITALK SPECIAL OFFER in the subject line and mentioning your Safaritalk screen name in the enquiry so I know who you are. Feel free to ask any questions via email, or, if you’d prefer to add your questions in the replies below, I’ll be happy to respond. I look forward to personally guiding you in Mana Pools later this year. Doug I'll be uploading photos of the various accommodation in the next couple of days.
  20. By Peter Roberts [This is an extended version of a blogpost originally posted on www.vicfallsbitsnblogs.blogspot.co.uk] Despite designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the unique flora and environment of the Victoria Falls rainforest is once again threatened by further tourism development with a new proposals from Zimbabwe based companies to operate tours to Cataract Island - on the very edge of the Falls themselves. Applications have reportedly been made to the National Park authority by several local Victoria Falls tourism companies bidding to be allowed exclusive access to use the island for tourism purposes. There has been no public advertisement or comment on the proposal by Park officials. Cataract Island is one of only two islands which break the width of the Falls. Livingstone Island, located on the Zambian side of the Falls, has been a popular tourism draw-card in recent years, including the opportunity to bathe in the 'Devil's Pool.' Virtigo-inducing Instagram 'selfies' and a unique perspective on the Falls have made trips to the Livingstone Island a 'must-do' for many tourists [1]. Visitor numbers to the island, however, are strictly limited and controlled to minimise environmental impacts. Cataract Island lies on the Zimbabwean side of the Falls and is the only area within the immediate vicinity of the Falls which is currently inaccessible to tourists. This protection from disturbance has meant that the island has become a valuable refuge for biodiversity, nourished by the ever-falling spray from the Falls. Historical Perspective The idea of tours to Cataract Island is not new. Soon after the arrival of the railway and construction of the Victoria Falls Hotel in 1904, Percy Clark, the self-claimed first settler at what would become the tourist town of Victoria Falls, was already running trips to the island by Canadian canoe. Clark operated from a landing stage known as Giese's Drift [2], halfway along what is now known as Zambezi Drive. In the years that followed the Victoria Falls Hotel took over the management of the tours, and for many decades trips were offered to Cataract Island along with upper river cruises and trips to the north bank. There was, however, no development on the island itself, apart from the tying of a simple bell to an overhanging branch and by which tourists could summon their canoe and return to the south bank. The island tours operated until the early 1960s, when the Hotel boat facilities mysteriously burnt down, destroying the Hotel's boats and bringing to an end operations from the landing stage [3]. New commercial jetty sites were relocated further upstream and Cataract Island left to recover as a protected refuge for wildlife, disturbed only by the grunts of resident hippopotamus and actions of the occasional visiting elephant. Despite the risks of travelling to the island so close to the thundering Devil's Cataract, tours apparently operated without incident for many decades. Tourist numbers to the Falls in those days were, however, a only a fraction of the estimated 200,000 visitors who now who visit the Zimbabwe side of the Falls Park each year. Guest numbers at the Victoria Falls Hotel averaged at less than 5,000 per year during the '20s and '30s (rising to 10,000 a year by the early 1950s and the opening of Livingstone Airport). A Protected Refuge? In 2011 local tourism operator Wild Horizons considered launching tours to the island. Strong local opinion against any development or commercial use of the island resulted in the company agreeing not to operate tours on the understanding that the island would remain a protected refuge. A subsequent application for utilisation of this site by another company was reportedly turned down by Parks citing the ecological sensitivity of the site. The tourism industry and residents in Victoria Falls appear united in condemning the latest proposals to develop tours to the island. Their concerns appear mostly to be focused on the visual impacts of tourism activity on the island, which is the focal point of many viewpoints from within the Falls rainforest, and the resulting impacts on the visitor experience of viewing the Falls. Already many argue that the experience of viewing the Falls is diminished by the numbers of people who can be seen exploring Livingstone Island and the Devil's Pool, or walking along the top of the Falls during the dry season - a popular yet unofficial alternative offered by local fishermen and which officials on the Zambian side have struggled to control (and part of the reason official tours are operated). Yet the strongest possible argument against operating tours to Cataract Island must be the impact that visitors will have on the fragile ecology of the rainforest flora and fauna. Historically the island is also of cultural significance to the local people of the Falls, used to make sacred offerings to the ancestor spirits who inhabited the mists of the Falls in the gorge below. Cataract Island is the last, isolated fragment of the Falls rainforest which is left wholly undisturbed, and must surely remain so. The two islands on the lip of the Falls represent the future of the Victoria Falls Rainforest. As the river slowly erodes into its riverbed over the coming millennia the Falls will recede into a new gorge behind the present one. The islands therefore represent valuable reservoirs of local biodiversity, and staging posts for plant and animal species in the future development and evolution of the Victoria Falls rainforest. The core area of the Victoria Falls was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1989. The listing described the Falls as ‘a superlative natural phenomenon with exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance,’ with the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe pledging to keep the natural environment ‘intact for future generations.’ Friends of Victoria Falls, a group of concerned local residents, have circulated a questionnaire to gather local perspectives on the proposal following a local stakeholders meeting. More recently an online petition against the proposal has been launched by a concerned local resident (click link to view). Further Notes 1. It is perhaps only natural that Zimbabwe's hard pressed tourism operators look with envious eyes across the river, especially as Livingstone Island was, in the early days of the evolution of Northern and Southern Rhodesia, now Zambia and Zimbabwe, identified as belonging to the southern territory, with the borderline identified as lying along the midpoint of the river. Today the line of international borders along rivers is generally accepted to follow the deepest line of the river - which at the Falls would be the Devil's Cataract, with the result that Cataract Island could be argued to belong to Zambia and not Zimbabwe. However the line of the border at the Falls is accepted to run down the middle of the Main Falls, with the result that Cataract Island is one of only a handful of islands located on the Zimbabwean side of the river. 2. The landing stage site had been originally been used by Albert Giese, a German prospector who had set up a small trading store at the Falls in 1902 and operated a small boat crossing service to the north bank. Giese relocated to farm in the Hwange area - where he had made his name, but not his fortune, by identifying the vast Hwange coalfields in 1892 (and changing the pathway of the developing railway, from Bulawayo to Hwange and on to the Victoria Falls, rather than crossing the Zambezi at Kariba as had originally been planned). 3. Luckily, the management committee of the Hotel had already decided not to continue operating boat tours directly, instead contracting local companies to cater for their guests rather than replace the boats, which were nearing the end of their operational lives. - - - Peter Roberts is a freelance researcher and writer on the Victoria Falls and is author of 'Sun, Steel and Spray - a History of the Victoria Falls Bridge' and 'Corridors Through Time - a history of the Victoria Falls Hotel.' He is currently finishing his third book, 'Footsteps Through Time - a history of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls,' due for publication in early 2017. You can also find detailed information on the history of tourism to the Victoria Falls on Peter's website www.tothevictoriafalls.com. Photographs also by Peter Roberts.
  21. This is just too good not to share! Come and see some of the highlights of Zimbabwe. The incredible Victoria Falls, beautiful and diverse Hwange National Park and finally the unique Matopos with its stunning granite Kopjes, ancient rock paintings and a healthy rhino population. What is even more exciting is that being the Green Season (January to April) there is no single supplement. You would fly into Victoria Falls and out of Bulawayo (there is a daily flight out to Johannesburg at lunchtime with South Africa Airways) This is what the package will include: $2, 682 per person - single or sharing All transfers 2 nights at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge in a Club Room - bed and breakfast with complimentary mini bar Sunset River Cruise 3 nights at Khulu Hwange - Fully Inclusive 3 nights at Camp Amalinda Matopos - Fully Inclusive See full information through the link below Zimbabwe Green Season Special 2017 We would love to hear from you if you would like more information or to book. Contact Chloe at bookings@dougmacsafaris.com
  22. I'd first heard stories of an old, abandoned and almost forgotten camp in the Southern section of Hwange National Park whilst on safari in Zimbabwe with @@Safaridude : our guide, Benson Siyawareva shared scant details of a place which was now but a memory, dusty and cobwebbed but that was situated on a migratory pathway for elephants between Botswana and Zimbabwe. I've dreamt since that day of rediscovering this safari relic; as Martin and Osa Johnson had their Lake Paradise in Kenya, so I had a camp in the southern section of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Fast foward a couple of years and I heard through Mark Butcher, director of Imvelo Safari Lodges that he had taken over the lease of a long abandoned safari camp, Jozibanini and was in the process of developing a rustic, adventure style camp in an area of the park long devoid of safari tourists: of course, my attention roused, could this be the fabled place of which Benson had told me? It was imperative I found out more so I set about putting my questions to Mark in the following interview... -------------------------------------- Why is the Southern sector of Hwange underdeveloped in tourism terms? The southern sector of Hwange is underdeveloped full stop. Both by tourism and all park development, and this is a factor of geography and history. Firstly, just getting to Jozibanini which is a jump off point for the far south, is a long days drive from Main Camp, when you consider it is less than 150 km this gives you an idea about the roads ... long sections of very deep sand often low range 4 WD stuff. Also historically some of the older park plans set aside the southern wilderness areas not to be developed at all, so tourism was not encouraged there. Its viability was always going to be marginal. How does this area differ in terms of wildlife densities, flora and topography in comparison to other areas of Hwange, especially the more oft visited and popular areas? Wildlife densities in wet season are very similar to large parts of the rest of Hwange ... "this is where the elephant go in the wet season", dry season prior to us re-establishing pumped water wildlife densities were very low, in the1980's and '90's when it was being pumped I personally remember Jozibanini as 'being one of the waterholes where there were the most elephant in the dry season'. Flora and topography - very unique - two distinct and unique types down there: Jozibanini Fossil Sand Dunes. Firstly the fossil sand dunes are particularly well developed here, deep sand with teak forest on the fossil dunes and then Mopani / Leadwood combretum in the inter dune troughs with ephemeral wet season pans strung along them. Secondly the Dzivanini mud flats / basalt / mopani woodlands - some of the best Mopane woodlands in Hwange What are the seasonal differences in terms of wildlife behaviour, movement? What do you consider the best time to visit Jozibanini and why? Wet season here is a great opportunity to see Hwange's elephant enjoying their paradise... However as the dry season starts so game viewing becomes easier as wildlife concentrates around a smaller number of ephemeral waterholes and the pumped water. Best time to visit Jozi depends on what you're looking for ... if it's the intense large numbers of elephant/other wildlife concentrated experience as per my blog, (following the interview), then from late July onwards perhaps to Aug/ Sept ... if it's the green 'wet season paradise' stuff then I would go for a April /May ... if its the intense life and death drama of animals struggling for survival then it's Oct/ Nov ... they're all different but they're all good. Full moon is awesome because you can gaze out over the Jozi pan thronged with elephant at night, but moonless nights are staggering for their stars and the star beds on the decks of the Jozi tents are a major bonus. What are predator numbers believed to be and has there been any research conducted in this area of the park in recent years? Predator numbers are low because prey numbers are low because the game water supply system collapsed during the 2000's - interestingly Hwange Lion Research did a big spoor transect exercise thru the area a couple years back and discovered lower Lion densities but higher Leopard densities than other parts of the Park - and last year we sighted on a couple of different occasions a pack of over 20 plus Wild dog unknown to Painted Dog Conservation project, ... so interesting stuff. How many pumped pans/waterpoints were originally in the area, and in what state were they when you first conducted site inspections? How important is it to renovate existing waterpoints/establish new ones? The area, (?), depends where you draw the line ... when we got busy here during the '2013 poisonings' we found all the pumps and engines west and south of Mpisi hadn't been pumped for over 10 years - this included Makona, Jozibanini, Basha and Mitswiri as well as several others abandoned when they collapsed in the early 2000's e.g. Little Mitswiri. One of the biggest revelations I had was in 2012 with a film crew working in Hwange asked me to show them what Hwange would be like if we closed off the pumped water. I said I would take them to Jozi where the pumps had not pumped for more than 10 years and they could expect to see no animals and a dry dust bowl. However, when we arrived there in Oct 2012 we did indeed find a dust bowl but much to my surprise, also several herds of elephants... Jozibanini Borehole, not working for about 10 years: the elephants remembered... Those poor old matriarchs were leading their exhausted herds over 30 km from the nearest pumped water to where they remembered water used to be pumped desperately hoping to find the pumps back up and running. Is it important to renovate those old holes? Personally I believe we have a moral obligation to do it, because we built up a huge population of wildlife around those old waterholes and to just turn them off is wrong. The second reason is that leaving them turned off leaves a vacuum in that part of the park filled by poachers and under the threat of an invasion by the cattle herding residents of Tsholothso Tribal area, as is what happened during 2012 and 2013 - by re-establishing water we re-establish wildlife and make tourism possible, which fills that vacuum with a more desirable land use. The other factor that was pronounced during the '2013 poisonings' was that the law enforcement response had no place to obtain drinking water, so their patrols and their presence was limited. By simply re-establishing the water at Makona and Jozibanini in 2014 we have enabled a permanent law enforcement presence in this part of the park. Establishing new ones? A very important question ... today we recognise that the establishment of the artificial water supply system in Hwange was in hindsight perhaps not well thought out, however it is a fact and now we have a massive wildlife population, tourism industry and neighbouring communities all dependant on it continuing, so we can't turn it off - but we probably shouldn't be expanding it, the thinking as elucidated during the recent Park planning process with Ian Games and AWF was that it was okay to continue pumping at existing waterholes as the vegetation around them was pretty much just a sacrifice area anyway, and any 'new holes' would only be allowed at these sites i.e., new holes at previously unpumped water holes is not encouraged/not allowed. What is the history of the Jozibanini site? Why did you choose to develop a camp here? How much infrastructure existed and what were your first impressions upon initial site inspections and how did you envisage the new camp developing? Jozibanini was originally established as a Ranger station around 1972, and that Ranger station was built by then Senior Ranger Charlie Mackie, (at present sadly very sick), as a base from which this huge portion of the park could be managed and looked after. In the late 1990's a lease was set up to establish a tourism camp here that just got going in time for the tourism crash in 2000, the camp was abandoned and the lease was defaulted. A few years later the Ranger station was also abandoned and that whole portion of the Park pretty much left to its own devices. The worst story from that era was the pump attendants at Basha waterhole were literally forgotten and they finally, after being without resupply for several months, were attacked by elephants at night in their tin hut, from which they somehow managed to escape and walked thirsty and half starved to Makona. Pump attendants accomodation, Basha waterhole. In the wake of all this abandonment, poaching into the southern part became intense, mostly through the use of wire snares cut from the EU sponsored veterinary FMD control fence along the boundary, many many tons of wire was turned into wire snares and the wildlife with limited water was decimated. In the drought of 2012 this culminated in the biggest natural die off of Elephant we had ever seen, that resulted in plenty of 'dead' ivory available for pick up by poachers roaming in this part of the park, they then figured out how to sell ivory locally, (back doors of Chinese mines and businesses). In 2013 there was better rainfall and so no 'natural' mortality, so poachers who had now figured out how to sell ivory then figured out how to kill elephant using cyanide pellets stolen from gold mines in Southern Matabeleland. The '2013 poisonings' were not one incident but a number of incidents perpetrated by several gangs over several months, in the southern area of Hwange about 130 elephants were killed, (not the 300 claimed by some, many of those counted were dead from the previous year's drought). Fortunately the law enforcement response was strong and surprisingly usually tight lipped community members shocked by the horror of the poison did divulge information and a number of the individuals responsible were arrested and many were identified but fled the country. In the aftermath we approached the Warden, (now called Area manager), at Main Camp and we suggested to him that to prevent a re-occurrence of the poaching, the ranger station at Jozibanini needed to be re-opened, he said that in the absence of funds it would be impossible so why didn't we try to resuscitate the old tourism camp lease to establish a presence there, we contacted the owner of that lease purchased it and also agreed to assist Parks in the establishment of a new ranger station nearby at Makona. Which has happened Makona Ranger station and staff, May 2016. What was the planning brief for the new camp? The old abandoned and pretty ruined camp built in the late 1990's we decided was not worth fixing up and its style, (thatched rondavel type chalets), was not really in keeping with what we wanted to do, so we decided initially to set up a basic tented adventure type camp, that we will build on as demand grows. One of the biggest tasks initially was to drag a huge drilling rig in there to redrill the old wells, part of that required a massive 6 wheel drive truck so we opted, since we were taking that in, to load it with a 'Look Up Blind', our 20 foot steel shipping containers that we bury to ground level and equip with running water and loo. The Jozi 'Look up' provided us with some very intense 'Elephant TV' during last year's dry season. The Look Up hide, in place, and providing intimate sightings How important is the development of Jozibanini for the southern sector, the wildlife and local communities? How will the latter be involved in the new camp and receive the benefits increased tourism brings? The development and success of Jozi is absolutely critical to the southern part of Hwange, without our presence there, there is nothing ... so the cockroaches come out to play again. All staff are hired from local community and those with poaching on their CV are preferred. One of my hopes for the future is that the original inhabitants of this part of the park were the few families of San that Davison found when he came to work, most of their descendants live now in two villages at Gibi Xegu and Makulela, and are very much disenfranchised and forgotten. As more staff are required as the project grows we're looking to hiring as many of their young people as we can afford, to get them back into their park and give them useful employment. I'm looking forward to having some of those bright eyed keen young San men out front on our walking and biking trails. Work with nearby schools has already started, we've used some of our philanthropy money to build a class room block and 2 teachers houses at Sihazela School and I'm looking forward to taking our Dentists down there, if not this year then next How will you market Jozibanini and how will it compliment the Imvelo portfolio? To which type of guest would the camp be best suited? Jozi right now works well as a 2 or 3 night "Adventure Add on" to an existing Hwange or Imvelo trip. For example, if someone is interested in a 3 nights Camelthorn and 3 nights Nehimba package then they can look at a 2 night adventure add on to Jozi: An all day safari through the park with picnic lunch, ending in the late afternoon for sundowners at Jozi, an activity we call the pump run! then a couple of nights there before either returning to Camelthorn or Bomani or carrying on to Nehimba. I have said that it is probably best suited for experienced safari goers looking for something different, but having said that 2 of our groups last year were first timers and loved it. When they got back to Camelthorn, they were bragging to the other guests around the dinner table how they'd been off roughing it with bucket showers and star beds. How many guests can the camp accomodate and what are the tented facilities comprised of - how is the camp set up? How are game drives scheduled? Will there be the use of private vehicles if required by guests? Right now we have 3 tents each set up for 2 guests so for now maximum of 6, though if we get the bookings very easy to add more tents as time goes on Each tent comprises: a 12 sq m bedroom area, an en suite bath room comprising bucket shower, flush loo and running cold water only hand basin a 12 sq m front deck for star beds So far we have only had one group at a time so each group has a dedicated full pro guide and so activities decided day by day as discussed and planned with guests - game drives, game walks and combination, bike rides, Look Up blind, all day drive etc Another interesting aside is that Mike Ross ex Zimbo and founder of Mike Ross Travel in the UK who passed away tragically last year, we took him to Jozi in 2014 to help kind of figure out what the hell could be done with it and he came up with a number of good ideas and assisted greatly in conceptualising it - we named one of the tents 'Mike's Tent' in his memory - it was actually built on the spot under an Acacia tree where he had slept on a bed roll during his visit. Mark adds his thoughts in the following blog post which he's given me permission to publish... Sunset at Jozi... Images courtesy and copyright Mark Butcher, www.imvelosafarilodges.com. One can also read @@Soukous's interview with Mark, here, and his article about Hwange's elephant dilemma here. The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.
  23. Roger Whittall. With 50 years hands-on experience in wildlife management and big game hunting, Roger Whittall is one of Africa´s most distinguished and respected safari operators/conservationists, and the driving force behind Roger Whittall Safaris. As far back as the 1960s, in an era dominated by cattle ranching, Roger was championing wildlife − translocating herds of plainsgame to his land, (Humani, in Zimbabwe´s south-east lowveld), from areas where they were being shot out, to make way for cropping projects. Roger´s visionary ideas pertaining to wildlife and the pioneering work he carried out in that field was work that would ultimately lead to the formation of the Savé Conservancy, so many years later. During the 70s and 80s, Roger introduced rhino to the Savé Valley − both white and the critically endangered black species − initiating what is arguably the most successful black rhino conservation story ever. During this period, Roger also harboured the only elephant herd remaining in the Savé Valley, in the face of staunch opposition from his neighbours. Whilst the majority of landowners felt that cattle and wildlife could not co-exist, Roger knew they could and better − that wildlife was the more sound option, both environmentally and financially. In the 1970s, Roger teamed up with another highly respected member of the African hunting/conservation community, Barrie Duckworth, and began conducting big game safaris throughout southern Africa, fast gaining a reputation as an outstanding operator and professional hunter, a reputation he maintains to this day. To find out more about Roger Whittall Safaris visit their website at www.rogerwhittallsafaris.com To discover more about the Savé Valley Conservancy visit the website at www.savevalleyconservancy.org ---------------------------------- What is the history of the Whittall family in Zimbabwe and how did they become involved in ranching? Jimmy Whittall came to Zimbabwe in 1929 from Turkey and worked on tobacco farm in Mvurwi for a year. He then came down to the Lowveld and worked on Devuli Ranch for approximately two years. He then found Humani and moved here where he started cattle ranching. In those days there was no one living here so he had to go and look for labour. What is the history of Humani Ranch and its transition from agricultural land use to wildlife? Humani started as a cattle ranch but there was already a lot of game here due to it being uninhabited. Citrus was started along with many other crops which have since fallen by the way side. Citrus is still going and green maize under irrigation and centre pivot are the current agricultural crops. How degraded was the ranch at the transition and how long did it take to recover? What work had to be done in order to restore a wilderness environment? The ranch was not degraded under cattle although there was a bit of bush encroachment but that has improved since wildlife was restocked. The Turgwe River. How does Humani Ranch fit into the greater Savé Valley Conservancy jigsaw? Humani is in the centre of the Save Valley Conservancy. How was the Savé Valley Conservancy affected during Zimbabwe’s tumultuous recent past? In 2000 settlers moved into the Save Valley Conservancy and pulled down boundary fences and settled in some areas of the Conservancy. Most of the settlers are on Humani and they have taken over half of the place. What happened in Zimbabwe to wildlife, (and protected), areas like Savé Conservancy when due to the aforesaid political turmoil, photographic tourism all but dried up? We were able to carry on with the hunting, photographic's a relatively new area that some of the properties have started. If Savé is comprised of private ranches and land areas upon which fences have been removed, (a Private Wildlife Conservancy), what level of protection is extended to it by national Wildlife and Governmental authorities? How does it compare to gazetted National Parks for instance? What has happened to the conservancy through the land claims process? We do all the anti poaching with our own game rangers and somehow manage to keep it under control although at times it is rampant. In the early years it was difficult at there was no support from the Police or the courts but that has just recently changed and we are getting better convictions now. How is Humani involved with local communities? Humani is very involved with local communities. We have repaired irrigation pumps for schemes and brought back approximately 500 ha’s into production which had been standing for a number of years due to the farmers not having any finance. We are also very involved with surrounding and our own school. We do educational trips for schools outside the Save Valley Conservancy and have had teachers come from Nyanga to do educational trips. How many of Humani’s staff are from local communties and what positions do they hold? What opportunities and training do you offer and how are you involved in empowering said communities? Most of our staff come from local communities and a lot of them were born on the farm. Some are workshop managers, citrus managers, clerks etc. There is a trust fund for member of staff that we feel has potential to go and do something with their lives. All school fees for the Humani children are paid by the same trust fund. Savé Valley Conservancy is held up as example of where sustainable trophy hunting can and does benefit conservation aims. In Humani, how does trophy hunting benefit wildlife conservation aims? Why trophy hunting and not photographic tourism? If trophy hunting is conducted properly and strict quotas are adhered to then 2-3% is the off take. All trophies are measured to see if there are any trends of trophies going up or down. This gives you a very healthy wildlife population as sometimes large males can control large herds and may not be able to handle them. Hunting brings in more money than photographic so therefore anti poaching and many other areas to do with conservation can carry on and water can be pumped to pans. How can photographic and hunting tourism co-exist in the same area? What affect does trophy hunting have upon wildlife’s behaviour? Yes photographic and hunting can co-exist in the same area. On Humani we have designated areas for photographic. Trophy hunting if done properly and no hunting from vehicles etc., then the wildlife will remain quiet. What methods are used on Humani to establish wildlife numbers and from this, how are quotas set and by whom? We conduct yearly aerial surveys although not accurate it can give an idea of the trends on the game population. National Parks and Wildlife set the quotas and then the quotas are divided up by a committee in the Save Valley Conservancy. When some other African countries are introducing hunting bans, (or at least restrictions), what do you see as the future of trophy hunting in Zimbabwe? What would happen to Humani should trophy hunting be banned in Zimbabwe? (Would such a ban, as in Botswana, affect private ranches?) What about if there is a ban on certain species, I.e., lion, elephant? Trophy hunting should not be banned. If trophy hunting was banned in Zimbabwe then the poaching would get out of hand and there would be little or no wildlife left in country. If there was ban on lion and elephant hunting it would have a negative effect on the country as no money would be coming in. As a comparison between trophy hunting and photographic safari tourism, how important is each for wildlife conservation in marginal wildlife areas? Both are equally important in any wildlife area as tourists like to see the Big Five and many other animals. How wild is Humani in comparison to other wildlife destinations? And, for those who don’t hunt, what is offered for photographic tourists? What sightings can be expected and what can be experienced that perhaps elsewhere cannot offer? This is a difficult question to answer but Humani compared to other areas in the country and the Save Valley Conservancy is very wild. Photgraphic tourists can do game drives, walks, birding, game counts around waterholes, night drives and black rhino tracking. All the Big Five are here but sometimes it is difficult to see the lions and leopards. We have animals in the Lowveld that are not seen in areas like Mana Pools and the surrounds. How difficult is it for Savé Conservancy to attract international travellers, especially photographic tourism when there are so many other appealing destinations in Zimbabwe? What marketing strategies are the Savé operators adopting to promote the conservancy to an extended audience? It is quite difficult to attract international travelers to the Save Valley Conservancy. We feel we have the product here but little is known about this area. The operators that do photographic tourism are using Facebook and at the moment we are trying to get the word to the international fairs overseas. How do all of Savés tourism, (whether hunting or photographic), and conservation stakeholders work together and with The Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Authority with regard to wildlife conservation aims and environmental protection? We all work well together but it can be frustrating at times to work the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority. Anti poaching team sets out on patrol. What type of poaching occurs in Savé and how much of a problem has it been for you on Humani Ranch - what are you doing to prevent it? And aside from poaching, what are the other conservation concerns for you? All types of poaching occurs on Humani and it is a very big problem because at the moment there is no food so therefore they are snaring in order to feed their families. It is costing a lot of money to try and protect the game. Other concerns are invasive plants and degradation by erosion. How is the Savé Valley Conservancy incorporated into The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park? What does this mean for the conservancy’s aims? The Save Valley Conservancy joins onto the Transfrontier Park which incorporates Gona-re-Zhou and other nearby areas. We are hoping that more tourists will come. What is the future for Humani Ranch and Savé as a whole? This is a difficult one to answer due to the fact that there has been turmoil since 2000 and who knows what the future holds, it is in the hands of the government. All images courtesy and copyright of Humani Ranch/Roger Whittall Safaris. The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.
  24. Please note the below special rates only apply to new bookings. Standard terms & conditions apply. These itineraries can easily be combined with lodges in Mana Pools, Hwange National Park, Motopos and other areas of Zimbabwe. It can also be combined very easily with Zambia and Botswana. TAMARIND CANOE SAFARI Chirundu to Mana Pools (3 Nights) 25-28 July $728 per person 12-15 August $728 per person 23-26 August $699 per person 30 August – 2 September $699 per person 5-8 September $728 per person 20-23 September $728 per person Please click here to see the itinerary on our website FISHEAGLE CANOE SAFARI Kariba to Mana Pools (5 Nights) 26-31 July $799 per person 2-7 August $870 per person 13-18 August $820 per person 11-16 September $820 per person Please click here to see the itinerary on our website MANA SHORELINE CANOE SAFARI Mana Pools (3 Nights) 29 July – 1 August $1,200 per person 9-12 August $1,200 per person 30 August – 2 September $1,200 per person 3-6 September $1,200 per person Please click here to see the itinerary on our website CAMP ZAMBEZI 17-20 August $399 per person per night Please click here to see this on our website
  25. Hi everybody, I just did a short introduction in the newbie part of this forum and there I mentioned that we have been to Namibia in 2014. So this is an "old" trip report. I just translated my Dutch trip report into English. This means that some info might not be interesting at all to some of you because it is not only focussed on the animals but on the total trip. This was our first trip to Southern Africa and we booked this trip through a Dutch agent who worked together with an Namibian agent. Just a little bit of background on how we came to do this trip. We had been in Asia a few times and my husband said that he wanted something different this time, so why don't we go to Africa. Africa for me has always been Namibia because I used to work in travel industry and heard that this was one of the best parts of Africa for wildlife and scenary. So Namibia it was. We found out that my favorite animal, the hippo, only lives in the Caprivi area so that area had to be included. This meant that because we only had 3 weeks, we could not travel more South than the Sossusvlei. We are both not into the culture things, such as visiting tribes so that was kept out as well. With this info we headed to the agent and they came back with the following route: 31/08/14 Amsterdam Johannesburg (overnight in a hotel at the airport) 01/09/14 Johannesburg - Windhoek - Sossusvlei (2 nights Desert Camp) 03/09/14 Sossusvlei - Swakopmund (2 nights Cornerstone Guesthouse) 05/09/14 Swakopmund - Vingerklip (1 night Vingerklip Lodge) 06/09/14 Vingerklip - Etosha (1 night Okaukuejo, 2 nights Halali) 09/09/14 Etosha - Grootfontein (1 night Seidarap guesthouse) 10/09/14 Grootfontein - Mahungo (2 nights Mahangu Safari Lodge) 12/09/14 Mahangu - Kwando (2 nights Camp Kwando) 14/09/14 Kwando - Kasane (3 nights Chobe Bakwena Lodge) 17/09/14 Kasane - Vic Falls (2 nights Ilala Lodge) 19/09/14 Victoria Falls - Livingstone - Johannesburg - Amsterdam Monday 18 August 2014 Final preparations It is starting to itch. 12 More days and then we get on the plane to Johannesburg. Last Friday we bought the international driving licenses. Another thing taken of the list after the malaria tablets, the hiking pants, beautiful hats and telephoto lenses for cameras. The crate with things which we certainly must take with us is getting fuller. Sunday 31 August 2014 The African adventure begins At Schiphol, 45 minutes and then our flight back to Johannesburg will leave. The first part of the trip to Windhoek. Tonight at 21:15 we land and then after a short night in a hotel at the airport, we fly at 06.00 to Windhoek. Monday 1 September 2014 An exciting day Where do I start. The flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg was fine. Upon arrival in Johannesburg we checked where our luggage was because in Amsterdam it already got the label to Windhoek. The lady we asked this told us that we could pick up our suitcases in Windhoek. So we went directly to the hotel (City Lodge) which was fine, and here we had a good sleep for a few hours. At 4:15 the alarm went off already and at 6.00 we were in a cute small aircraft (50 passengers) of SA Express. Croissant and coffee on board is all a person needs. And off course it is nice if your suitcases are on the same plane. On arrival in Windhoek our suitcases did not arrive at the luggage belt. After a lap at the airport we were able to draw up a report and now we hope that the suitcases are quickly found and delivered. At this moment we have not heard anything and it looks as though tomorrow we walk around in the same clothes for the 3rd day in a row. It's now 30 degrees in the afternoon and then a swimsuit is nicer than long trousers. Anyway, we did not let our first day in beautiful Namibia spoil with this hassle. At Europcar we collected our 4WD which will be our car for the next 2 weeks. A very clean white Toyota Hilux Double cab which now is no longer white but a kind of dull gray. Then on the road. First to Windhoek. Some shopping at the Spar. Water, soft drinks and sandwiches for the road. The first part of the route was one of the few paved roads in the country. There was also a fair amount of traffic. Then we went over on gravel and that will remain the next days. Gravel in several variations. Pretty smooth gravel, soft gravel in heaps and gravel with boulders. The first animals we've seen were monkeys. Lots of monkeys. Not wild were the cows, goats, a dog, horses and donkeys. Fortunately, we also saw a kudu, oryx and a few springbok. After a beautiful drive we now sit on the terrace with a drink at our lodge. Tonight we go to bed early and tomorrow morning at sunrise to the red dunes of the Sossusvlei. Tuesday 2 September 2014 What a joy How happy can you be with 2 suitcases? Very happy! This morning, the bags arrived and we could finally change clothes. Our plan today to get out of bed early and visit the red dunes (Sossusvlei) was killed this morning at 5:00. It was pretty cold last night (extra blanket was really needed) and it was nice and warm in bed. So instead of 5.00 am it was 8:00 and we went for breakfast in the Sossusvlei Lodge. Here we had a delicious dinner last night. Kudu, impala, hartebeest and wildebeest from the bbq after starters from an extensive hot and cold buffet. Dessert was also a sumptuous buffet of different types of cake, pudding and pie. The breakfast was quite extensive and the freshly made omelet was more than enough. After breakfast back to the Desert Camp where we were staying and it turned out that our bags were there. Changing into charming safari / hiking clothes and off we went to the Sesriem Canyon. Meanwhile, the temperature had risen to 30 C, but that did not spoil the fun. At the entrance of the National Park we bought a permit for two days so that tomorrow we can directly drive to the Sossusvlei. On to the Canyon and looking for the entrance, which we could not find. After having seen quite a lot from the top we have to be like klimbokkies and climbed down. In the Canyon it was also very hot but also very nice. We had to walk back the part which we had done at the top of the Canyon. And hope that we could get up again somewhere. Tim has seen a snake and there were also some large spiders around so I was really enjoying myself. After some time we suddenly had some oncoming traffic and yes there appeared a kind of staircase just across the parking lot. Which was hard to see from above if you did not know it was there. Now we were in the smallest and perhaps most beautiful part of the canyon. But also the busiest part. After the canyon we eventually did drive towards the red dunes. What an incredibly beautiful landscape. I cannot describe how beautiful. After a brief stop at Dune 45 where arrived in the middle of a sandstorm. We continued the road to the Sossusvlei so that tomorrow we know where to go. On the way back we came in the same sandstorm and in the center of the storm we could not see a hand before our eyes. Luckily our car was faster than the storm, and did we have good visibility again on the last part of the road. For the first time we filled up our car with diesel. Bought some sandwiches for breakfast and back to the Desert Camp. At the bar I started this travel report, but we were approached by a Dutch man who lives in South Africa since the fifties. Though this was not to hear, he still spoke Dutch without an accent. We had a nice conversation with him, his girlfriend was also born Dutch but at the age of two already moved to South Africa and they did not speak Dutch but African. Nice to hear but sometimes difficult to understand. They sought (Desert Camp was fully booked) a place to sleep and we had reservations for a Sundowner Nature drive so after half an hour we had to get back on the road. The Sundowner tour was great fun. Together with two elderly German women we went with our guide Gabriel to see some animals, plants and watch the sunset. And enjoying a drink and some snacks. The ride was around the premises of the lodge and we can add some animals to our list. Ground squirrels, p, an ostrich and a bunch Namibian mice. We were also told a few things about different trees and rock formations. The ride was fun and the food and drinks made it complete. Little mouse waiting for some leftover food during the Sundowner Weavers nest Upon returning we could immediately sit down for dinner and this time it was again delicious. One last drink at the bar and then straight to bed. Tomorrow the alarm goes off really early and after our visit to the Sossusvlei we move on to our next stop, Swakopmund, on the coast. Unfortunately a bit colder as we just saw on the news, only 18 C.

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