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Found 20 results

  1. Hi, I know everybody loves to read a trip report and though self-drive is not the norm for the average tourist on this forum, I hope you will enjoy what I have to share about our recent trip to Botswana. We spend 19 wonderful days in August 2017 driving from home in Krugersdorp (Johannesburg) through Botswana and back. Because it was during the dry peak season we booked all our camps in March 2016 to assure we get our favorite campsites in each park. We had to pack virtually everything as most of the areas we visited had no shops or restaurants. We had a 1 night stop in Maun where we could fill up on supplies (food, drinks,fire wood and diesel). Fortunately the long distance fuel tank was sufficient between Maun and Kasane, as it was 10 days of driving in deep sand and water tracks before we could fill up with diesel again. Supper was prepared on a fire every night (braai) and firewood was essential. Camping and a campfire also goes hand in hand for us and is food for the soul. Herewith then our first camp in Khama Rhino Sanctuary - 7 hours from home.
  2. HUNGRY CROC Monday again so here is another Safari-memory, this happened in Botswana October 2010. Early morning Chobe River Photo Safari with private guests in small boat focusing mainly on Birding. After 15min up close to a couple of Saddle-Billed Storks so good start, then just behind them we spotted about 10 Wild Dogs finishing off a Kudu on the beach. Great sighting and no other boats or vehicles around, my guests very pleased. Then this big Croc surfaced next to our boat, crawled up on the beach and headed in direction of the kill. The Wild Dogs not happy and tried to scare off the intruder. The Croc very focused succeeded its mission then crawled back toward us with part of the kill. The Croc seemed very content. I got some good pictures and the whole sequence on Video as well and so far its Nr.4 of my Top10 Croc-sightings. That was a nice morning for Birding Have a nice week! /SAFARILEGEND
  3. Hi SafariTalk! Monday again and as promised here is a new Post for this week. A nice memory from Chobe Botswana 2008. All the best! /SAFARILEGEND
  4. I've recently decided to become a more productive contributor to this wonderful forum so I've already introduced myself on the dedicated section of this forum and now I want to start my first ever trip report! I've been reading a lot of them in recent years so I think it's only fair to share my story of a 4-week trip my girlfriend and I made in August/September 2012 to South Africa and Botswana. As I already mentioned in my introduction I've always wanted to come to Africa ever since I was a little boy and in 2010 me and my girlfriend spend 4 amazing weeks in South Africa. To cut a long story short, it was everything we had hoped for and more... We visited Cape Town, Giant's Castle in the Drakensbergen, St. Lucia, Imfolozi, Mhkuze, Swaziland and Kruger National Park and we loved every minute of it. When we were sitting in the plane on our way back to The Netherlands we were already planning our next trip to the continent! At some later stage I will probably post a trip report of that trip also but since than I have developed my photography and Lightroom skills so I think I will revisit my images before I write a trip report about it... After our first trip we wanted to come back to Southern Africa but first we had to decide which countries we would like to visit. We were ready for a more adventurous trip so we thought about combining South Africa with Namibia or Botswana and after much debate we picked Botswana over Namibia because we then thought that Namibia was more about landscapes and Botswana was more about wildlife and we just wanted to see more wildlife. The people who have read my introduction already know we did the Namibia trip last June and we loved it! But also that trip report will have to wait because I want to focus on the South Africa & Botswana trip for now... In my next post, I will explain the exact itinerary, I hope I got you all interested... Cheers, Michel
  5. 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.
  6. I’ve been back from Zimbabwe for a while now, but it was quite busy at home, so it took me a while to find the time to post this trip report. My wife and I went to Zimbabwe with nothing booked except a stay at Hwange at the end of our 2,5 week trip. This ended up to be our trip itinerary: Flight from Amsterdam to Jo’burg, next day flight to Bulawayo, 3 nights including full day trip to Matopos Bulawayo to Victoria Falls by public bus, 2 nights Victoria Falls to Chobe, 2 nights Chobe to Victoria Falls, 5 nights Victoria Falls to Hwange by Intercape/Pathfinder, 3 nights Hwange to Bulawayo, 1 night Flight Bulawayo to Jo’burg, night flight to Amsterdam We decided to fly in to Bulawayo instead of Harare, as Hwange and Matopos were our main goals to visit. Also, it ended up to be much cheaper, as Jo’burg is very affordable from Amsterdam by KLM and we went to Bulawayo with a low budget company. I was really curious about Zim and after visiting I can say it’s in my top 2 African countries with Zambia. The people were very friendly and easy going. The country is very clean, litter seemed non-existent and (almost) everywhere you could drink water from the tap (which we did and no side effects). Bulawayo probably isn’t visited a lot by tourists. But there are some good restaurants, a nice museum and we had a nice stroll around town. If you decide to visit Matopos, I would definitely recommend visiting the town as well.
  7. I started writing my new trip report a couple of weeks ago and forgot to post it here. I have about 25 days to go till I leave for my epic trip 3 month adventure to Southern/Eastern Africa with my parents. Due to my circumstances it is a bitter sweet feeling. The start of my journey means that I will be finally ending my contract with the people I work with. My job is not like most people. I work as a governess/teacher plus pa, travel agent, guide, driver, psychiatrist, psychologist, life coach, fixer, surrogate mum, big sister, aunty, friend and anything else that is needed. This is definitely not the normal 9-5 position and means that I always end up becoming very close to the children I work with. Therefore, leaving for this holiday means leaving the kids that I have worked so closely with for the last 3.5 years. But it also means that for a short space of time I have the freedom to do anything and live without consequences except for the fact that mum and dad are tagging along. I am sure mum will always be happy to throw her 2 cents worth in! J I am extremely proud of the fact that my parents have finally accepted my invitations to travel to Africa with me. My love affair started 2 years ago and I would never have thought that such a passion and love for somewhere could exist within myself. The joy of being in Africa brings tears to my eyes and to share such an experience for the first time with my parents is beyond belief. I know that for many people travelling with one’s parents will conjure images that are unpleasant but I hope that my maturity will keep me calm when such times arise and the fact that they are seasoned travellers means that they can handle anything that I throw at them. Surprisingly, they have volunteered for everything that I am wanting to do including cage shark diving in Cape Town, so kudus to them both! My parents are now 66 years old. Thankfully, they are seasoned travellers and have instilled the art of travel in their daughters. I give them credit, especially my mum who has arranged and organized all of their mega trips prior to this one which is generally 6 months at a time and includes Europe/America. This alone means that she understands the never ending drama that the research for a mega trip involves. I understood that clearly when she told me she would travel with me to Africa but only if I arranged everything, I think tackling somewhere new was just not in her in regards to the preparations needed. Luckily, I am still excited to do such a thing and also do it regularly for my job. Therefore, finding out about new places for us to explore and of course take them to places I have been to, is not a chore but a pleasure. I am now at that stage that the preparations are complete. All hotels, transfers, activities and restaurant bookings are done and thankfully most are paid for. I am now in the process of finalizing the packing of my Africa/camera bag and the luggage for my next deployment. Mum and dad have bought all of their “pack for a purpose” items, gifts for our guides when we are in Kenya/Tanzania, first aid/medicines for a 12 week odyssey and had all the shots necessary plus more. We are on the final countdown which is when it all becomes a reality and the pleasure and suspense is tingling whenever one thinks about it. My last minute thing is to organize our Kazakhstan visa on arrival. Thankfully, the Kazakh government has introduced last year a new visa option that will allow the three of us to enter as a tourist without the prior rigmarole. This will allow us all to enjoy a 5 days in Almaty with the family I worked with and my parents to finally see many of the places I have described to them over the last 3.5 years – the good and the bad. My contact at a local travel agency has assured that all will go well and I am now in the process of organizing the letter of invitation with them. Now I can dream each night of what my first 3 month trip will be like. I can only think that such an epic journey will provide amazing experiences over the length of the trip which, may render one oblivious to incredible individual experiences. I want to try and be “in the moment” but of course capture the trip not only for my memories but also for my family, friends and TA so they can try and “live the moment” with me. Ultimately, I am doing it for myself and the joy I receive when I look back at my own written word, photos and movies of the experiences I have had. Thankfully, my father has bestowed on me the gift of being the family’s memory recorder and the invention of the GoPro and an iPole along with iMovie means that my creations look amazing. It also keeps me busy and the joy of the final product is beyond belief. So tonight I will once again sleep dreaming on the cusp of a new adventure. Thinking of the experiences that will enliven my doorstep soon.
  8. In july 2016 that we will be doing this trip. (If we can get all our We will rent a 4x4 bushcamper/ or roof tents, We are a family of 4 with 2 kids aged 7 and 12 at the time of the travel. First we were thinking about either Zimbabwe or Zambia, but we decided that we would like to see a Botswana once more. We were also in Botswana in 2011, but only at the Chobe Riverfont and 1 night in Moremi, so we really want to see the rest of Chobe. The trip will start in Johannesburg, since it is much cheaper. If we wanted to fly to Kasane/ or Maun it would cost us around 1500US$ more. It goes something like this. 1 Waterberg Wilderness Reserve Luxury Tents - Self catering 2 Serowe - Khama Rhino Sanctuary Campsite - Self-catering 3 CKGR - Sunday Pan Campsite - Self-catering 4 CKGR - Passarge Pan Campsite - Self-catering 5 CKGR - Deception Pan Campsite - Self-catering 6 Makgadikgadi Pans - Khumaga Campsite - Self-catering 7 Maun - Thamalkane River Lodge Family Chalet - B&B Air Shakawe 1 Hour Scenic Flight over the delta 8 Moremi - Third Bridge Campsite - Self-catering 9 Moremi - Third Bridge Campsite - Self-catering 10 Moremi - Third Bridge Campsite - Self-catering 11 Moremi - Third Bridge Campsite - Self-catering 12 Moremi - Khwai Northgate Campsite - Self-catering 13 Chobe National Park - Savuti Camp Campsite - Self-catering 14 Chobe National Park - Savuti Camp Campsite - Self-catering 15 Chobe National Park - Savuti Camp Campsite - Self-catering 16 Chobe National Park - Savuti Camp Campsite - Self-catering 17 Chobe National Park - Ihaha Camp Campsite - Self-catering 18 Chobe National Park - Ihaha Camp Campsite - Self-catering 19 Chobe National Park - Ihaha Camp Campsite - Self-catering 20 Nata - Nata Lodge Campsite - Self-catering My main concern is how bad the roads are gonna be in Moremi and Savuti in july. It will be dry, which I guess means a lot of sand, but how deep? And what about river/water crossing? That is probably my worst fear ( I think I seen to many youtube-videos ) I included 4 nights at Third Bridge,but other campsites seems great too, like Xakanaxa(sorry for the spelling), Kwai Northgate(heard complains about noise fra nearby village) and Dijara Campsite. Are they any better or should we just stay at Third Bridge? Any inputs or thoughts would be highly appriciated
  9. Hi everyone, and welcome to the Lodge, camp and operator news Just to let those of you finding it hard to book self drive holidays in Botswana, that we offer a booking service for self drive here. We know all the operators, the National parks, lodges/camps/guides and current road conditions. For a booking fee of P500 (added to your final invoice so you only do one payment to me) for Self drive Camping Bookings - we can pay/arrange for all campsites/lodges and national park entry fees that you will need. We can then email copies (or courier the originals if you prefer) to you so you have all paperwork that you need for your trip (and don’t have to fuss about trying to get permits when you arrive!). Payments to us can be done once off - by bank transfer or credit card (online and secure). Email us today to start your trip planning! info@botswanafootprints.com or tara@ngami.net www.botswanafootprints.com
  10. Hi All We here a lot of stories about Ihaha, some good /some bad. The last in regards of the status of the camp it self and the security issues (thiefs in the night) The reports don't seem to be recent. We have a reservation in october 2014 so..we wonder...what is the current situation and should we reconcider/take extra caution? thx for replying.
  11. Massive herds of Elephant from the Chobe Deck. One of our staff members recorded this 15 second clip on his iphone from the far deck at Chobe Game Lodge. Generally the Green season is considered to be the time of year when the big herds disperse. Beyond the video further in the distance there were hundreds more and estimates from our lodge environmentalist had numbers in excess of 400+ as far as the eye could see (not to mention giraffe, buffalo, warthog etc.) This is slap bang in the middle of the green season and you would be hard pushed to see greater herds of elephant than this anywhere else in the world - whatever the season. It just goes to show how unpredictable game viewing can be and a note to all safari and tour operators out there. Not to say that all your guests will see this if they travel here at this time of year...but not to write off the green season in Botswana. Kalahari is incredible in the Green Season and feedback from our lodge in Savute seems to keep delivering incredible game viewing throughout the year with its open plains and Marsh area. The Green Season offers good rates, beautiful skies and colours, the best birding and pretty decent game viewing if you plan the trip well enough. The lodges also tend to be quieter and one guest was completely puzzled when they asked me why there were so few guests around wherever they went. They were seasoned safari goers and they said their trip (10 days through various safari lodges including Chobe Game Lodge) was beyond their wildest imagination! The video was shot from the aptly named Chobe Deck of Fame - The Chobe Game Lodge viewing point which overlooks this incredibly productive floodplain inside Chobe National Park. The deck forms part of 250 meters of boardwalks along the Chobe River and is elevated a good 5/6 meters above the ground/river. The deck has couches, umbrellas, a beautiful mahogany tree for shade and most importantly - bar service. So you can watch these epic herds of animals in style.
  12. Need some help planning your next safari? Here are some great ideas to get you started. You can take them as they are, or use them as the starting point to design your own itinerary. Safari Ideas for 2015 Kruger Park, Swaziland and the Isimangaliso Wetland Park - 6 nights / 7 days This unique safari combination brings together Rhino Post Safari Lodge in the world famous Sabi Sand reserve and Kosi Forest Lodge, located at Kosi Bay, part of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park. 6 nights on safari from just £940 per person. South Luangwa Experience – 10 nights / 11 days Kafunta Safari Lodge (4 nts), Island Bush Camp (3 nts) and Lion Camp (3 nts) 10 nights on safari from just £3,010 per person including return flights between Lusaka and Mfuwe You'll also find suggestions for Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe
  13. I'm finally home again after a looong safari in Botswana and Zimbabwe. The Botswana section only consisted of a couple of days in Chobe but I'll still put that part of the TR in the Botswana section and the rest in Zimbabwe. Lots of photos to process and words to write so it could take weeks to complete but here is a photo to get the thread started. I'll fill you in on the where and when once I've got myself organised.
  14. I'd appreciate a confirmation on the ID of this eagle please. It was sighted in Chobe, I wrote down that our guide said it was an African Hawk Eagle but to me it looks much more like a Tawny Eagle.
  15. I decided to put my trip report into a book which includes around 70% of our photographs. We had a brilliant safari although we did find it very challenging, hard work and we discovered that we are not very good at finding the big cats on our own! The safari's for the past two years have been mainly guide led and we did not realise how lucky we were to have those great guides finding the wildlife for us. Maybe the more experience we get the better we will become. We were very sucessful in finding Elephants, although most times they found us! By arranging the safari ourselves we managed to bring it in for a fraction of the cost of our previous trips. Next year we have Kruger and Kgalagadi NP to hone our skills. I have some videos of the trip which I will post after the book is on. (The book is free to view, not trying to sell it or anything) Pen http://blur.by/LRfV0G
  16. I am back from my 3 week trip and I am already missing Africa. It was not a pure safari tour. I did: 4 nights at Drakensberg 3 nights at Kirkman's camp 3 nights at Ngala Tented camp 2 nights at Ilala lodge (Victoria Falls) 3 nights at Chobe under canvas 3 nights at Nxabega I am not sure if I should show only safari part or all pictures here.
  17. A back to basics safari using 3m x 3m Dome tents and you will travel with your camp between the sites and parks. The safari starts and finishes in Maun, Botswana. The safari begins in the Xakanaxa area of Moremi where you will be able to explore the Okavango Delta by boat and also the surrounding mopane forest and open savannah by vehicle. This is a famous area and for good reason and you shall be here for three nights. The safari then moves to the Khwai Community Concession area for the next three nights where you will be able to explore by Makoro, do game walks and night drives all giving a very different perspective to the safari experience. The next destination in Chobe National Park is the Savuti marsh area, reached by driving down the Khwai river. Another excellent and famous area of Northern Botswana that has extensive grasslands and teems with wildlife of all descriptions and a great way to conclude the safari. We finish with a light aircraft flight back to Maun. This safari needs a minimum of 4 guests and a maximum of 6 and the camp has only shared facilities not en-suite. The safari can be guided either by a top Botswana guide or Doug Macdonald - Please contact me for details doug@dougmacsafaris.com
  18. Botswana’s uniqueness in the abundance of wildlife and diversity it holds offer a safari experience of a lifetime. The true African nature of the country from the dry Kalahari shrub to the wet Okavango delta and the salt pans inbetween guarantee you’ll leave with amazing memories and beautiful photographs. We’re based on the ground in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango delta and we’ve personally visited each lodge and camp we book and are in constant contact with them during your safari to make sure you’re safe and enjoying your time with us. We know the seasons, the state of the annual Okavango Delta flood, the lodge staff themselves and the ever-changing regulations for travelling the protected wildlife areas of Botswana. The logistics of planning a safari are something we can do for you. Tell us where you’d like to travel and when and we’ll do all the rest, leaving you to relax and enjoy your time with us in Africa. Safaris, quad biking, elephant riding, boating, mokoro riding, fishing, birding, hunting, walking, photography, horse riding and scenic flights - we can book them all for you. From a luxurious safari retreat in the wilderness sipping cocktails under a dreamy sunset, to a self drive camping trip with the bush surrounding you while you listen to the calls of the wild, we’re here to make sure you experience a trip of a lifetime. The warmth, smell of rhythm of Africa will touch you forever... www.botswanafootprints.com
  19. Hi all, One last detail to book... We have the choice between spending two nights at Kanga Camp after a canoe trip that ends in Mana Pools, (Vundu Camp was beyond the budget...) Or, Two nights at Ichobezi Lodge after we've seen the Falls and before we meet up with Letaka in Maun, Botswana. (The houseboat was full for the dates we needed.) I've heard mixed reviews on Kanga, and great reviews for the Ichobezi Houseboat, but little re: the Lodge. Help?
  20. The Patient Travelers in Zimbabwe and South Africa – October 2-22, 2012 Something most travelers have in common is a desire to learn and be engaged in something, or some place, different from home. We were first drawn to Africa in 2004. Our safari experience in Botswana, flying between three different camps over a weeks’ time, charmed us from the first moment. It seemed everyone else we met was on their fourth, or tenth, or even eighteenth safari. We were blown away by the intelligent and enthusiastic guides, trackers, and camp staff we met and felt we “knew” after sharing but two days and nights. The bush and the delta landscapes were mesmerizing. The wildlife – the primary “drawing card” – did not fail to amaze us. We knew that while we may not become as experienced as most of our fellow guests, we would be back again. Having just returned from our second set of adventures in Africa, I’m struck by how much wider my eyes were opened on this trip, how much more I’ve learned about the countries and people we visited, and how important it was to remain patient and let everything unfold at its own pace. More than being a “slow traveler” in Europe or elsewhere, Africa demands time and patience, and patience is always (eventually?) rewarded. Wow. Impressed myself with the prosaic introduction. Now I’m going to have to pump up the journal entries I made on the little note-pad app to match that level, so here goes: There are more flight options from the US to Africa now, and this time we flew Delta’s non-stop from Atlanta to Johannesburg, after a shorter flight from Raleigh-Durham. Delta now offers an affordable upgrade to “Economy Comfort” for those of us who don’t have the points or budget for Business or First Class. I had taken advantage of this offer for the flight over and we were pleased that I had done so. Every seat on the flight was filled, and extra legroom plus a deeper seat recline is invaluable on a 16-hour flight. So too, was the ability to arrive at our destination with fully charged electrical devices. The safari portion of this trip was booked through Zambezi Travel’s Victoria Falls Office. Chris Worden and his staffers, Liz and Helen, took care of every detail and provided us with excellent information about what to expect from each stop, transfer, and activity we booked. When we arrived in Johannesburg, a driver was there to greet us and help me find the Voda-Com desk, where I could purchase sim cards for my phone and iPad (I knew these wouldn’t work in Zimbabwe, but I wanted to be ready for the Cape Town/Garden route portion of our trip when we returned from safari, ten days later.) Our driver took us to Outlook Lodge, just far enough from the airport to provide peace and quiet, and an EXCELLENT bed and bathroom with a huge tub and wonderful walk-in shower. http://www.outlook-lodge.com/ And yet, it was still hard to sleep. We awoke around 4:30AM, made ourselves stay in bed until 6:30, then took advantage of the fantastic shower once again. I REALLY needed sunshine, and fortunately that morning was gorgeous. We walked the pretty grounds, played with the two dogs, and then had a wonderful breakfast before we were again picked up and taken to the airport to catch an 11:25AM BA flight to Victoria Falls. Oops. First snag: the BA flight was delayed from 11:25 til 2:00. Meaning we lost the day to travel. But at least they gave us vouchers for a meal, and we met a charming young American couple on their first Africa trip. They were headed to one of the Botswana camps we’d visited back in ’04, so we gave them our glowing reviews and kept their spirits up. Once we arrived at Victoria Falls and gathered our two checked duffel bags, a driver from Wild Horizons was there to whisk us to Ilala Lodge. http://www.ilalalodge.com/ While we had planned to see the Falls that afternoon, it was 5:00PM by the time we checked in, and although we knew the Falls were a short walk, the helpful lady at the front desk told us the park closed at 6PM and we might prefer spending more time there the next day. Probably good advice, we decided. Our brains still felt like mashed potatoes. The Ilala hotel is nice. We had a good room with a great bed. We enjoyed a couple of Windhoek beers at the inviting and comfortable outdoor bar. Chatted with an Aussie couple and their 20-something son, who was planning to do EVERY adventurous offering possible. Oh to be that young and athletic again! The menu looked interesting and seemed well-priced, so we decided to eat dinner there. I’d read some mixed reviews about the hotel’s food, but we very much enjoyed a kudu steak, grilled loin of warthog, and a glass of a good South African Cabernet. Plus the waiters were charming, easy to chat with, and the night had cooled. The next morning we’d scheduled to meet Charles Brightman, of the Victoria Falls Anti-poaching Unit at 6:15AM. Steve wakes me with a start...It's 6 AM! Woke me from sound sleep, only to discover it was merely 12:30. We finally get up at 5:30, shower and dress to be in the lobby at 6:15 for pickup. About 6:45, we have the desk clerk call, and discover they had us down for the next morning. To be honest, we really didn’t mind postponing to the next morning. This was, in all truth, the first actual day of our vacation. We have the luxury of all that time ahead of us. Besides, the breakfast buffet they were laying out in the dining room looked scrumptious…and we very much enjoyed it. About 9AM, we take the walk to the Falls, and nearly have it to ourselves. Amazing. Yes, the water levels are “low” but this still is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Mist, rainbows, DOUBLE rainbows, flowers, beautiful birds, some cute banded mongoose (mongeese?) We make our way down to the bridge overlook, and watch to see if there are any bungee jumpers. No takers, maybe it is too early? Too hot? On the way back, we have a great view of folks climbing into the Devils’ Pool on the Zambia side. The temperature has climbed to the mid 30s C. We sweat all the way home and, possibly because of the heat, are only approached by one or two fellows selling carvings, who are easily dissuaded when a couple of uniformed guys appear on bikes. While not as exotic as the Devils’ Pool, we decide to take dip in the hotel pool. WONDERFUL. We are joined at the pool by two couples from Florida. They had broken away from a tour that had been at several safari camps, and the heat had been too much for them. They decided to go to Victoria Falls to stay in air-conditioned comfort for a couple of days ahead of their group, who would be finishing up with a night across the street at The Kingdom. They had spent one night there, and decided it was too much like Las Vegas, so they were happy to get rooms at Ilala instead. It seemed they made the right decision for them. In the meantime, the hotel’s lunch menu was quite inviting. I LOVED my grilled crocodile and potato salad. Told my husband it tastes kinda like…. alligator. We headed back to our room to nap before walking into town to check out the market and shops. We had AC off, the fan on and the windows open. The birds were singing…there was just something about that breeze…the sunshine we’d enjoyed…that nice cold Zambezi beer with lunch…I actually fell asleep, and I’m not a napper. It’s hard to think about buying souvenirs at the beginning of a long trip, but having seen what the JNB airport shops carried, I figured we might do a bit to contribute to the Vic Falls economy. First we walked into "town". I thought I would at least see a pharmacy, maybe a grocer...but mostly it was just tourist goods in shops. On the street, the touts try to sell you 10 billion+ Zimbabwe bills...for $1. It is sad when you think that one time – and only a few years ago -- someone worked hard for that currency, saved it, etc. Now it is virtually worthless. There are some wonderful bargains to be found. We particularly liked the “Elephant Walk Market”, simply as it was located in a grove of shade trees, and caught what breezes there were, plus manufactured them with strategically placed fans. Inviting shops, and a small cultural exhibit detailing Zimbabwean crafts. There are beautiful giant sculptures exemplary of Shona stone carving. You would need to be wealthy enough not only to buy them, but to ship them home. I limited myself to three woven flat bowls with geometric designs. I negotiated a price of $6 per piece. I know similar pieces were selling in the airport gift shops for two to three times that price. Showered and dressed for dinner we headed to the bar for drinks. I’ve decided I like Zambezi beer, but that night, I enjoyed the Ilala 's special Pimms cocktail: ginger ale with muddled mint, garnished with Granny Smith apple sticks. Steve’s rather a devotee of IPAs, and is pretty much out of luck, so he must stick with lager. We chatted with a couple from England. She had been awakened early in the morning, and looked out their window to see a leopard! We had only seen warthogs, baboons, vervet monkeys and an elephant or two. We are a bit surprised a leopard would show up in such a populated area. We had an excellent dinner with a bottle of Molderbosch rose wine. I had a baked brie appetizer, Steve had Kingclip fish cakes, then I had the warthog and Steve a rib-eye steak. This hotel has a very good chef. The waiters are proud of their knowledge of the menu - where the vegetables come from, etc. Finally, both of us had a good night sleep. We woke around 5:30, dressed and were picked up by Charles Brightman at 6:15 to tag along with the Vic Falls Anti-poaching unit. Charles is an enthusiastic and dedicated professional. He gives an informative presentation of how they are working to stop poaching, not only of animals, but also of indigenous hardwoods. At one time, poachers were mostly people trying to provide for their families, but now there is a professional element that is more dangerous, and for whom the financial rewards are great. Yet the VFAPU has seen continued success over the past several years, and they need to keep their focus and continue their programs of policing, education, and community involvement. We then piled into Charles’ vehicle and drove to a park entrance, where after coffee and a brilliant tomato-and-cheese sandwich prepared by Mrs. Brightman, we picked up a young scout and walked a trail looking for evidence of poachers’ snags. For us it was mostly a wonderful walking safari. We saw tracks of a busy previous night: giraffe, water buffalo, elephants, leopards, hyenas, various species of antelope, etc. I thought I got some good pictures of a couple of amazing maribou storks and a flock of parrots. (Later, something happened while downloading my photos, and I seemed to have lost them, along with some we’d taken at the Falls the day before). We learned so much about fauna and flora, and discussed many environmental issues that relate to the economically challenged Zimbabwe of today. We asked if the lady’s sighting of a leopard right outside her hotel window was possible, and he confirmed that it was. Leopards are very adaptable, and he had recently lost some house cats to a leopard. We saw some impala, and a large herd of buffalo. We picked up a couple plastic bags, and plucked a large white poachers' bag from the river’s mud. It was a wonderful experience and much more worthwhile to us than any of the touristy activities on offer in Vic Falls. He offered to comp the tour, as he was truly embarrassed to have had us down for the wrong date, but we refused. The money was “spent” and we would rather have the money go as a donation to VFAPU. Besides, our trip was unfolding at its own pace, and we were becoming adapted to a smaller world that has challenges and frustrations that are much more basic than those of a couple of retirees on vacation from North Carolina. Back at the hotel, as we readied for the road transfer to Imbabala, the TV news has reports of power and water shortages in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo. Obviously, it wouldn’t impact our trip. And of course, the results from a recent Cricket Test-match: Tourism and Sports are bright points in Zimbabwe daily life. People with jobs in tourism and wildlife management know they are fortunate, and are contributing to their country in a positive way. Nearly everyone we met seemed to be confident and professional, and eager to share their knowledge, carefully phrased opinions, realism, and humor. Next: On to the Safari Camps

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