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Found 32 results

  1. A returm to Zambia. The Luangwa and Zambezi rivers Victoria Falls as, hopefully, the climax to my visit. Meaning a first, all be it quick, visit to Zimbabwe I later realised that 2017 was also the 10th anniversary of my first ever safari. All in all not a bad way to celebrate it! My schedule was as follows: 1 night Pioneer Camp Lusaka 4 nights Tafika Camp, South Luangwa National Park 4 nights Amanzi Camp, Lower Zambezi National Park 1 night Pioneer Camp Lusaka 2 nights Ilala Lodge Victoria Falls The trip was again booked through Africa Travel Resource and my contact there Anneli. Once again everything was arranged perfectly. I think the most difficult bit was trying to get the various bits of the trip to fit together particularly in the right order. Lots of puzzing of heads and trying to find 4 nights in each camp. Eventually I had to put a night in Pioneer camp in the middle of my trip. Not ideal but it meant I didn't have to change my itinerary around and start at the Falls or have private charters for flights. Ths trip was already blowing my budget, private charters were just not possible (unless I robbed a bank, and I didn't really want to do that) I added a night at Pioneer at the beginning just in case my international flights were delayed. I didn't want a re-run of last year's trip to Meru and the delayed Nairobi flight. I wanted to return to South Luangwa as I had really enjoyed my trip there a couple of years ago and also I wanted to see it in another season. Last visit was at the beginning of November, this time my visit would be at the end of June, There would be a difference, not only in temperature! Advice from ATR was to combine it with the Lower Zambezi, to give a contrast in lansdscape, flora etc. I readily agreed as I hadn't been to that park before. There would also be a contrast in camps: Tafika, rustic, a long running camp, far far out in the Northern sector of South Luangwa, very much an old style camp for the safari purist; Amanzi a new camp, not too short on extras, it even had a pool, no roughing it here! At the end of the trip I defined the contrasting camps as hardcore safari and safari light. Only the camps themselves.......the parks and the wildlife where just as good at both locations. So that was the planning and the hopes and ideas for the trip. Now you are asking what happened when I got there? Short answer...... a stupendous trip! It really was special. Fantastic wildlife. There is still something I love about the Luangwa river which I cannot explain, which is going to keep drawing me back. Lower Zambezi was a great park; completely agree with ATR that it gave a good contrast to South Luangwa. And finally the falls which basically blew my mind! Wildlife wise there were 2 BIG highlights. Still undecided if I should give you all a clue, maybe add a photo here or make you all wait till I get there in this report. I will have a think about it, but I am still erring on making you all wait But as mentioned in the title there was lots of water involved in this trip therefore end of post 1 will be a few photos of the rivers and falls. Luangwa River The Zambezi Victoria Falls
  2. Part 1 Zambia. In times of despair British Airways should be a stabilising influence. So when you arrive tired and confused at Heathrow Airport from a days travel on the wonderful British railway system, you should transverse their 'bag drop' easily, simply, even magically. In truth It's a Nightmare! It's a do-it-yourself idea to save more money by cutting staff and all it does is destabilise their loyal customer. Panic mode sets in rapidly and all fears of loosing our precious bags somewhere in the heartland of deepest Africa between the plane change of Johannesburg and Livingstone rise and that is not the way a holiday should start. Peter and I are heading off on an amazing adventure to visit 4 countries in 5 weeks and everyone who's experienced a holiday in Africa tells us it will be magical. After nearly 10 hours flying over many familiar and some unfamiliar lands towards South Africa and our first destination, albeit for a couple of hours before our first stay in Zambia, we look out at 6am as we fly over Botswana. In my life I have never seen an orange and blue sunrise quite so stunning. I'm sure it will be one of many, I do hope so, but that was totally mind blowing and will stay will me forever. Just like a canvas with two perfect single brush strokes. Nothing more was needed just one bright vivid Navy and one acid Orange, fabulous. The moment my camera had been stowed into the overhead locker it happened, so my memory will hold on to that perfect sight. Thursday 1st June 2017 Not many mornings can you say you've landed and enjoyed a coffee in one country then 2 hours later landed in another but before lunch we were pulling into the Avani hotel Livingstone, on the banks of the Zambezi complete with all our bags! Within two hours we have our first tour booked, so it's a quick change and unpack then head off to board the African princess. Her sister Ship The African Queen was moored along side complete with Humfrey Bogart lookalike! For 2 hours we cruise majestically along the Zambezi with a couple of dozen other tourists enjoying alcoholic beverages and a finger buffet whilst our Capitano relays the creatures we might see depending on how many glasses we drink. We laugh and think his tales of crocs and rhinos, hippos and Ellies will appear in our vision when imagining a Disney film. But as Peter puts his new binoculars to his eyes he shouts hippos!!! Hippos??? Five! Six! No there are at least eight enormous ones, puffing and spouting water around just 75 metres ahead. Then further on a mother with a baby just a few month old wander out onto the river bank. This is brilliant, what a show! Our first view of the Falls albeit from the road en route to our hotel. The bar at the Avani Hotel Our first view of a Hippo Friday 2nd June We slept for ever, well at least 12 hours to make up for all the travelling and now after a good breakfast we arrive at the Victoria Falls for our guided walking tour to hear the history of the Scot David Livingstone (I presume!) and we are provided with waterproof ponchos as well as raincoats. Hopeless! At the end of our 90 minute walk along the falls, down steps over bridges we are drenched, totally and utterly. The name of the falls over here translates as the Smoke that thunders. Nothing can be more true. The millions of gallons that rush over the edge of the river cascade into a very small area compared to my last vision of a major waterfall at Niagara. So between Zambia and Zimbabwe at this time of the year, after the rains that flow from as far as Angola, Namibia, Botswana, the water falls, hits hundreds of rocks on the way down and creates an awesome spray that can be seen from some miles away. Most days there are fabulous rainbows as the spray forms and this water makes the most amazing spectacle. We go back to our hotel to chill by the pool for the rest of the day, until it is time to put on our glad rags. The cocktail bar at the Royal Livingstone Hotel with a perfect view Five O clock is Sundowner time. This is the time of day at this present time that the stunning African sunset is forming quite beautifully and so folks gather at vantage points to imbibe alcoholic beverages and watch the sun go down. Well, it would be rude not to join in with the local customs wouldn't it? The sister Hotel to our Avani, just a five minute shuttle ride away is the famous Royal Livingstone Hotel. Named after the renowned explorer and quite magnificent in its Colonial splendour, is really is a lovely hotel set on the banks of the Zambezi, with rolling lawns from the hotel to the perfect decking and bar area on the river. A Vanilla Monkey (Vanilla Vodka, Grenadine and Pineapple) for me and a Vodka Martini for Peter, followed by dinner ends a wonderful day. Saturday 3rd June Today is a free day until our train ride at 4pm so we walk to the Falls to meander the 'dry' paths. I warned Peter that I wasn't getting soaked walking again, so we enjoy taking endless pictures of the numerous bridges and views including a memorable encounter with a family of Baboons. We spend a lovely restful time at our hotel before our evening trip out and at the allotted hour get whisked to the Bushtracks station. Tonight we will spend 4 hours on a famous steam train fully restored and quite spectacular. It travels from Livingstone to the bridge that goes over the Zambezi river, by the Victoria falls, right on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border. We disembark precisely in the middle of the bridge, walk into Zimbabwe just! Take numerous photos whilst every sales pitch you can imagine is thrown at us from the traders that ply their wares. Then as the sun sets we are served a delicious 5 course dinner, before being transported back eventually to our respective hotels. The road/rail bridge by the falls which separates Zambia and Zimbabwe. Bungee jumping is also done here!!! Our train trip Mummy Baboon and her baby. Wildlife pictures from around the Avani and Royal Livingstone Hotels Tonight we must pack up and prepare for tomorrow it's Botswana and the next part of our adventure. (Next trip report will appear in the Botswana section asap - a nine day trip - hope some of you enjoy my writings/pictures, there will be 9 reports in all, also including 5 days in Cape Town and finishing with our 17 days self drive in Namibia)
  3. 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!).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. Having read through the vast array of Mana Pool’s trip reports I feel that I have little to add that’s new, so my first visit to Zimbabwe will consist of reflections, anecdotes and quotes from A A Milne and his animals who reside in the hundred acre wood. Animals who are far wiser than I will ever be. Why Winnie the Pooh? Prior to leaving home for this new destination, the thought came to mind that in reality I was heading to a wilderness dominated by forests and elephants. The dead mopane trees of Matusadona, raising their old limbs above the waters of Lake Kariba and the living forests of Mana Pools, resplendent with mahogany, albida, baobabs, mopane amongst others would provide cover for much of the wildlife we hoped to see. The wildlife dominated overwhelmingly in these two parks by elephants. Of course, both Matusadona and Mana Pools have forests that cover a great deal more acreage than Christopher Robin’s legendary woods and Winnie the Pooh, nor any bear, would be found during our stay. Both though, are known for the mythical nature of the adventures to be found within their boundaries. Many years of procrastination and failed attempts later and I finally would be exploring this place, with its light, scenery and dancing elephants. Beloved of so many Safaritalkers, I wondered if it could possibly live up to the hype. It probably wouldn’t matter in the end. We all look for our own truths in the destinations we choose and no doubt mine would be different to others. I just hoped that I wouldn’t need to climb leadwood trees or termite mounds, especially as I’d stupidly twisted my knee a few days before leaving. Our trip consisted of 2 nights at Ilala Lodge, Victoria Falls; 4 nights at Rhino Camp, Matusadona; 3 nights at Chitake 3, Mana Pools and 6 nights at Mucheni 4, Mana Pools. Apart from the first 2 nights we were guided by Doug Macdonald and the mobile camps outfitted by Tailormade Safaris. The mobile camps were managed by George with an excellent support staff. Sangeeta and her company Chalo Africa helped me sort out logistics and handled all the bookings. “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.“ A A Milne, Winnie the Pooh Zimbabwe was a lesson in being patient, having no expectations and not worrying about what we might see or what we might miss out on. “The long wait in Jo’burg airport drags on. Our first sunrise back in Africa is a good omen of times to come, at least we hope so. Piles of zebra and gazelle hides are as good an indicator as anything that illustrates the difference between wildlife utilisation between South Africa and Kenya. Handbags made of wildlife skins abound and I wonder what my friends will say if I turn up carrying one. They might not understand the realities that is conservation in this modern world. I’m sitting here with all of our gear, between a rather mundane shop ‘Taste of Africa’ and a Haagen-Daz ice cream shop that’s depressingly closed. There’s a desultory stream of weary passengers passing by me. An equally desultory stream of workers plod past, either at the end or the beginning of a shift, they all look bored. I guess there’s no reason to rush, one day rolls into another inside an airline terminal.” VICTORIA FALLS: I’m pretty impressed by Victoria Fall’s airport, not realising just how new it is. There is a handsome waterfall inside the customs and immigration hall that looks very refreshing. In arrivals, as we wait for the other people transferring to Ilala, we have time to look around. A small group of local men are giving a welcome dance outside and inside I’m amused by the ATM that looks like it has already been speedily accessed! A common theme across our travels in Zim is the lack of USD available in ATMs or banks, fortunately Sangeeta had let us know that this was the case and we were well prepared. It’s pointless thinking about all the thousands of visitors to the Falls every year and every possible type of photograph they’d be taking, let alone trying to take something new and different. I think the best thing is to approach an iconic landscape such as this with an open mind. Focus on the magnificence of the natural world and tune out the helicopters and mass tourism, knowing that it’s needed to support these wonders. I really do feel like the last person to visit the famous falls and there’s not much I can tell anyone about them that they don’t already know. Despite reading lots of reports and seeing many photos over the years, I still didn’t have much idea about what to expect and it turned out to be so much more than I imagined. The afternoon we arrived we walked to the café that overlooks the railway bridge and watched intrepid tourists swing from ropes, slide along ropes, look terrified hanging from ropes. All pretty entertaining. The gorge itself looked like a spider web of metal. The next day we spent at the falls themselves. Sunrise view of the Falls from our bedroom verandah. Walking from the gate towards the falls was like walking through a forest wonderland. The trees had lost most of their leaves that lay in a carpet of russet and gold across the ground with a host of butterflies flying across them. Nearing the falls themselves the vegetation suddenly changed to an almost mystical, enchanted rain forest where imaginations could run wild with possibilities. Staying focussed on the natural wonder in front of me gave me the chance to zone out the constant sounds of helicopters and chatter from the stream of tourists. Thank goodness I’d been meditating a lot! Moving on the left path along the falls we paid our respects to David Livingstone as he permanently looked down and across the falls that so entranced him all those years ago. Walking further on we came along side the Zambezi river as it moved towards the precipice. Water birds waded through the shallows and hippos briefly surfaced for air. In the distance a lone fisherman cast his net on a long stick, occasionally catching a fish. Moving back past the old Dr. we went down the steps to the 2nd lookout. In fact, we did these lookouts several times over the course of the day and the photos aren’t in time order. The mist falling at the first few lookouts was delicate and fell like snow. On our morning walk to No 2, it was very quiet and you could almost imagine yourself in another time and place. Amazingly, as we continued our morning walk there was a movement on the edge of the gorge and nibbling at a small shrub was a very relaxed bushbuck. Perhaps because of the spectacle of the falls behind the animal, people just walked past it. I suppose we see what we expect to see. We spent about 8 hours in total at the falls, just ambling. It was so relaxing stretching our legs and not concerning ourselves with anything else, just being. “Mid morning and we’ve taken a break at the Rainforest Café. A freshly squeezed carrot, ginger and apple juice and a cool breeze is very welcome. A young man dressed in traditional tribal dress (for the tourists benefit no doubt) walks past us as if on springs. Tourists walk towards the souvenir shop with a look of purpose in their eyes. I answer some work emails and then find that I can’t send emails for some reason. The young man with his imitation zebra skin dress has returned and is filling water bottles.”
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Hello all. We are a group of 6-8 people planning a safari for September of 2017. We have made inquiries with Tauck and a company called Yellow Zebra. This is the itinerary we like from Yellow Zebra: Day 1 Arrive into Victoria Falls. Overnight at Royal Livingstone (Deluxe Room) Day 2 Overnight at Royal Livingstone Day 3 Fly to the Khwai. Overnight at Machaba Camp Day 4 Overnight at Machaba Camp Day 5 Fly to the Okavango Delta. Overnight at Shinde Camp Day 6 Overnight at Shinde Camp Day 7 Overnight at Shinde Camp Day 8 Fly to the Kalahari. Overnight at Kalahari Plains Camp Day 9 Overnight at Kalahari Plains Camp Day 10 Fly to Cape Town. Overnight at Four Rosemead Day 11 Overnight at Four Rosemead Day 12 Overnight at Four Rosemead Day 13 Fly out from Cape Town $9,461 per person Being our first time, is this a reasonable cost??? Or can other outfitters get us the same trip for less? Also, has anyone dealt, or heard of Yellow Zebra? I've heard of Tauck, and they have a good reputation, but their prices for the same thing are even higher. This price does include all in-country flights and transfers. Thanks for any help or suggestions you can provide.
  11. Travel from Windhoek to visit two of the world’s natural wonders, the Okavango Delta in Botswana and the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. This trip stands alone, but it is also designed to be completed in combination with most of our other scheduled itineraries. You will spend one night with the San Bushmen and then on for two nights beside a pristine lagoon in the Delta and then travel back into Namibia to traverse, over two nights the little visited Caprivi Region. Back into Botswana to Kasane for a boat cruise into the Chobe National Park and then on to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and “The Smoke That Thunders”, the awesome Victoria Falls. Day 1 Windhoek – Ghanzi, Kalahari, Botswana (500 km) (LD) (camping) You will be collected between 07:30 & 08:00. We drive to our wilderness bush camp, which is based on a local farm in the Kalahari, near Buitepos Border, via the eastern village of Witvlei. On arrival we set up camp, enjoy a relaxing afternoon, wait for the sun to set and enjoy a fire cooked dinner and the tranquility of an evening in a remote wilderness environment. Included activity: Bushman dancing. Dqae Qare Swimming Pool Bushmen Dancing Travel from Windhoek to visit two of the world’s natural wonders, the Okavango Delta in Botswana and the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. This trip stands alone, but it is also designed to be completed in combination with most of our other scheduled itineraries. You will spend one night with the San Bushmen and then on for two nights beside a pristine lagoon in the Delta and then travel back into Namibia to traverse, over two nights the little visited Caprivi Region. Back into Botswana to Kasane for a boat cruise into the Chobe National Park and then on to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and “The Smoke That Thunders”, the awesome Victoria Falls. Day 1 Windhoek – Ghanzi, Kalahari, Botswana (500 km) (LD) (camping) You will be collected between 07:30 & 08:00. We drive to our wilderness bush camp, which is based on a local farm in the Kalahari, near Buitepos Border, via the eastern village of Witvlei. On arrival we set up camp, enjoy a relaxing afternoon, wait for the sun to set and enjoy a fire cooked dinner and the tranquility of an evening in a remote wilderness environment. Included activity: Bushman dancing. Dqae Qare Swimming Pool Bushmen Dancing Day 2 Ghanzi – Guma/Okavango Delta (450 km) (BLD) (camping) An early start and a quick stop in Ghanzi to collect any last minute supplies before continuing east and north, traversing the linear dunes of the Kalahari and passing through small towns along the way. A change in vegetation heralds our arrival on the very western edge of one of the natural wonders of the world, the Okavango Delta. Here we turn north for some way before again pointing our wheels west as we enter the Delta proper. We see our first glimpse of the crystal waters through the lush vegetation and we make our camp on the banks of a pristine African lagoon. Elephant Guma Lagoon Guma Lagoon Main Building Day 3 Okavango Delta (BLD) (camping) Included activity: : We are in the territory of the River People, so this morning we leave our vehicle behind and travel in a more appropriate fashion, first by motor-boat and then by traditional Mokoro (dugout canoe), deep into the Delta. Mokoro’s will be our main form of transport. These amazing traditional craft are perfectly designed for the narrow waterways of the Okavango and allow us to travel further into the Delta than if we were using more modern forms of transport. Mokoro’s carry three people, two seated passengers and one driver. The driver stands in the rear of the canoe, (a real feat of balance), and uses a long wooden pole to propel and steer the Mokoro through the twisting channels. It really is the only way to travel in this area. Back to camp in the late afternoon for another night by the Okavango waters. Mokoro on Okavango Mokoro Excursion Day 4 Okavango Delta – Caprivi, Namibia (345 km) Back on the road today, destination Namibia. Passport formalities completed you go directly into the Mahango Game Reserve, a small but excellent park right on the edge of the Okavango River. Game drive your way through Mahango and have the chance to spot rarely seen Namibian species such as roan antelope the majestic sable antelope. Continue your drive along the Caprivi Strip, Namibia. This strip of land is a long narrow stretch of territory running along Botswana’s northern border. It is a landscape of broadleaf forest with many small communities dotted along our route. Overnight along the banks of the Kwando River. Bee-eater Okavango Day 5 Kwando – Chobe National Park, Kasane, Botswana (230 km) (420 km) (BLD) (camping) Lizauli Traditional Village is a community tourism product that gives visitors a glimpse of life in a traditional village. Amongst the things they show visitors are how to stamp a millet, how grain used to be stored, the chicken house (stantwe), and transportation that were used. You can also see how blacksmiths forge metal tools and knives while an assistant operates the hand-made bellows. Visitors also have the opportunity to interact with a traditional healer. We transit to Namibia’s easternmost town, Katima Mulilo. A short break here before crossing back across the border into Botswana. The road takes you directly into the world famous Chobe National Park. Chobe has the world’s largest population of African Elephants and the chances of seeing some big game are very good as you transit through the park to the small town of Kasane for overnight on the banks for the Chobe River. Chobe Safari Lodge Day 6 Chobe National Park, Kasane, Botswana (BLD) (camping) An early hot drink before we head off on a leisurely game drive , exploring the wonders of the Chobe National Park by road. Game drives within the park offer the opportunity to view abundant elephant and other big game species up close, and there is also the possibility of an encounter with one of the large predators. Time to relax over lunch at our camp before joining a river boat cruise , back into the park. From the boat we will have the chance to see a huge amount of wild game, both on the river banks and in the waters swirling around us. Crocodiles and hippos abound in the forbidding Chobe River and on the land side there is often a kaleidoscope of different antelope and species such as elephant, buffalo and even the Big Cats come to the river banks for their sundowner drink. The ChobeRiver provides a very broad habitat for bird life and it is possible to see many beautiful species of our feathered friends. Chobe Gamedrive Chobe Elephants Day 7 Kasane – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (80 km) (BL) (camping) Our journey today takes us to the Kazangula border, this is the near meeting point of four countries (Namibia, Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe). Upon completion of border formalities we make the short drive to the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. In more modern terms Victoria Falls is known as the greatest curtain of falling water in the world. Our campsite is situated right in the middle of Victoria Falls town making it a perfect place to be based with all amenities within walking distance. The Rest Camp is only 2km’s from the falls making it the closest campsite to the Victoria Falls. This afternoon your guide will help you organise the many optional activities available in Victoria Falls. These include white water rafting, bungi jumping, other excursions on the river and scenic flights to mention but a few. Dinner will be in a local restaurant at your own expense. NB: All extra activities are subject to availability and are done at the clients own risk and expense. Chobe Elephant Victoria Falls Day 2 Ghanzi – Guma/Okavango Delta (450 km) (BLD) (camping) An early start and a quick stop in Ghanzi to collect any last minute supplies before continuing east and north, traversing the linear dunes of the Kalahari and passing through small towns along the way. A change in vegetation heralds our arrival on the very western edge of one of the natural wonders of the world, the Okavango Delta. Here we turn north for some way before again pointing our wheels west as we enter the Delta proper. We see our first glimpse of the crystal waters through the lush vegetation and we make our camp on the banks of a pristine African lagoon. Elephant Guma Lagoon Guma Lagoon Main Building Day 3 Okavango Delta (BLD) (camping) Included activity: : We are in the territory of the River People, so this morning we leave our vehicle behind and travel in a more appropriate fashion, first by motor-boat and then by traditional Mokoro (dugout canoe), deep into the Delta. Mokoro’s will be our main form of transport. These amazing traditional craft are perfectly designed for the narrow waterways of the Okavango and allow us to travel further into the Delta than if we were using more modern forms of transport. Mokoro’s carry three people, two seated passengers and one driver. The driver stands in the rear of the canoe, (a real feat of balance), and uses a long wooden pole to propel and steer the Mokoro through the twisting channels. It really is the only way to travel in this area. Back to camp in the late afternoon for another night by the Okavango waters. Mokoro on Okavango Mokoro Excursion Day 4 Okavango Delta – Caprivi, Namibia (345 km) Back on the road today, destination Namibia. Passport formalities completed you go directly into the Mahango Game Reserve, a small but excellent park right on the edge of the Okavango River. Game drive your way through Mahango and have the chance to spot rarely seen Namibian species such as roan antelope the majestic sable antelope. Continue your drive along the Caprivi Strip, Namibia. This strip of land is a long narrow stretch of territory running along Botswana’s northern border. It is a landscape of broadleaf forest with many small communities dotted along our route. Overnight along the banks of the Kwando River. Bee-eater Okavango Day 5 Kwando – Chobe National Park, Kasane, Botswana (230 km) (420 km) (BLD) (camping) Lizauli Traditional Village is a community tourism product that gives visitors a glimpse of life in a traditional village. Amongst the things they show visitors are how to stamp a millet, how grain used to be stored, the chicken house (stantwe), and transportation that were used. You can also see how blacksmiths forge metal tools and knives while an assistant operates the hand-made bellows. Visitors also have the opportunity to interact with a traditional healer. We transit to Namibia’s easternmost town, Katima Mulilo. A short break here before crossing back across the border into Botswana. The road takes you directly into the world famous Chobe National Park. Chobe has the world’s largest population of African Elephants and the chances of seeing some big game are very good as you transit through the park to the small town of Kasane for overnight on the banks for the Chobe River. Chobe Safari Lodge Day 6 Chobe National Park, Kasane, Botswana (BLD) (camping) An early hot drink before we head off on a leisurely game drive , exploring the wonders of the Chobe National Park by road. Game drives within the park offer the opportunity to view abundant elephant and other big game species up close, and there is also the possibility of an encounter with one of the large predators. Time to relax over lunch at our camp before joining a river boat cruise , back into the park. From the boat we will have the chance to see a huge amount of wild game, both on the river banks and in the waters swirling around us. Crocodiles and hippos abound in the forbidding Chobe River and on the land side there is often a kaleidoscope of different antelope and species such as elephant, buffalo and even the Big Cats come to the river banks for their sundowner drink. The ChobeRiver provides a very broad habitat for bird life and it is possible to see many beautiful species of our feathered friends. Chobe Gamedrive Chobe Elephants Day 7 Kasane – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (80 km) (BL) (camping) Our journey today takes us to the Kazangula border, this is the near meeting point of four countries (Namibia, Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe). Upon completion of border formalities we make the short drive to the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. In more modern terms Victoria Falls is known as the greatest curtain of falling water in the world. Our campsite is situated right in the middle of Victoria Falls town making it a perfect place to be based with all amenities within walking distance. The Rest Camp is only 2km’s from the falls making it the closest campsite to the Victoria Falls. This afternoon your guide will help you organise the many optional activities available in Victoria Falls. These include white water rafting, bungi jumping, other excursions on the river and scenic flights to mention but a few. Dinner will be in a local restaurant at your own expense. NB: All extra activities are subject to availability and are done at the clients own risk and expense. Chobe Elephant Victoria Falls Day 8 Victoria Falls ( This is a free day for you to explore the area or to take part in optional activities. It’s a wonderful opportunity to relax a bit after your trip. For some of you, this will be your final night and what a fantastic place to enjoy your last evening with your group. Lunch and dinner today, are not included in the price of the trip. Victoria Falls Bridge Day 9 Victoria Falls – Rundu, Namibia (700 km) (BLD) (camping) We say farewell to all the travelers flying out today. For those people returning to Windhoek, Namibia it is an early start and a long drive. We are in transit only and will not be stopping to take in the sights along the way. We will traverse the Caprivi Strip and will spend the night near the small town of Rundu in northern Namibia. We camp in the grounds of a lodge on the banks for the Okavango River, looking into Angola on the far river bank. Dinner tonight will be in the restaurant at the lodge and is included in the price of your transfer. Okavango River Day 10 Rundu – Windhoek (800 km) (BL) Another early start and another long drive. We head south through KavangoProvince, down through the towns of Grootfontein, Otjiwarongo and Okahandja before reaching our final destination, Windhoek. There will be stops at some of the local woodcarving stalls as well as the market at Okahandja before arriving in the city. You will be dropped off at your accommodation. Additional Information It is strongly recommended that you purchase comprehensive personal travel insurance before you embark on your safari. Travel insurance is for your own protection and we consider it to be an essential part of modern international travel. There are a few nationalities that will require to pre-arrange their entry visa to Namibia and Botswana. Please note that if this visa is required, it will need to be a multiple entry visa and not a single entry visa. Please check on booking this safari if you need a pre-arranged visa. The KAZA UNIVISA is a common tourist visa for the SADC region which shall be piloted by Zambia and Zimbabwe for six (6) months. The UNIVISA will be issued at a standard fee of US Dollar 50, cash will be required. Validity – the KAZA UNIVISA will be valid for 30 days as long as you remain in Zimbabwe and Zambia and clients can cross into Zimbabwe/Zambia as frequently as they like within the 30 day period. It also covers those who visit Botswana for day trips through the Kazangula Borders – it will not be valid if staying in Botswana overnight, in this case you would need to purchase a new Visa. The UNIVISA cannot be extended however you can buy a new UNIVISA (up to 3 per year). Citizens from the countries listed below shall be eligible for the KAZA UNIVISA obtainable at the eight ports of entry as stated. Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain (UK), Brunei, Burundi, Canada, Cook Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy. Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Rwanda, Slovakia Republic, Slovenia Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, Uruguay, USA. Price: ZAR 17, 880.00/ US$ 1,170.00/EU 1,038.00 includes return transfer to Windhoek.
  12. Hello! My husband and I are going to Africa for the first time around November 17 to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Totally overwhelmed, excited noobs. We are flying direct from NYC to Johannesburg. We have about 15 nights, and are working with a local agent who has been great, but I would appreciate your feedback on the itineraries that were suggested. So far she has come up with two different itineraries, both within our budget (one a little higher end), but both mostly focusing on Botswana. I'm wondering if I need to cut a camp out and check out either Kruger or somewhere non-safari related (cape town?). Any feedback you could give would be greatly appreciated!! Option 1: 2 nights Victoria Falls (Ilala lodge), 2 nights Chobe Princess Houseboat, 2 nights Savute Under Canvas, 3 nights Selinda Explorers Camp, 3 nights Kanana Camp, 3 nights Shinde Camp Option 2: 2 nights Victoria Falls (Ilala lodge), 2 nights Chobe Princess Houseboat, 3 nights Selinda Explorers Camp, 2 nights Duma Tau Camp, 3 nights Chitabe Camp, 3 nights Little Vumbura Camp. Additional questions: 1) Is this too much moving around? Should I remove 1 camp and add days on to another? 2) Are we missing something by almost exclusively doing safaris? 3) Would Kruger be very different? Should we try to go there, too? Thank you so much for your help!
  13. 1) Name of property and country: Tongabezi Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia (located on the Zambezi River) 2) Website address if known: www.tongabezi.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Green Season/Shoulder Season, end of May, 2013 4) Length of stay: 4 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I saw the property on a tv program and was amazed when I saw the Tree House Room. I really wanted to stay in the room to experience the openness of being on the Zambezi River. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I used Go2Africa and also spoke to the property directly after confirmation of the booking to organize tours/activities. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was my first (3 week trip including South Africa (Sabi Sands), Botswana (Okavango Delta) and Livingstone. 8) To which countries? I have now been to Uganda, Kenya (5 times), Tanzania (3 times), Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia (2 times) 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None, it is truly unique 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 themed houses and 5 river cottages. 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? 2 nights in a River Cottage, 2 nights in the Tree House. Excellent views over the Zambezi River and extremely private. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Excellent and comfortable furniture inside and out. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes, different options offered each day, freshly cooked (no buffet), vegetarian options available. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Multiple choice options available for all meals. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Generally it is single tables and sometimes the guides/managers join for meals. The guides also offer to arrange meals for solo travellers with other guests. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? We didn’t stay out on game drives. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. We used a Rav 4 for travelling around the area and a boat for river trips. 19) How many guests per row? It was just me. I did share the boat with two other guests when on the river. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? The river trips were about 90 minutes long. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? N/A Standard times for sunrise and sunset cruises. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? We were on the river 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? N/A 24) Are you able to off-road? N/A 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. N/A 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Hippos, crocs, birds, monkeys along the river. 27) How was the standard of guiding? I was happy. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Michael was happy, enthusiastic, funny and talkative. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes, very attentive and proactive with their assistance. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, they have their own private school that the workers are able to enroll their children in and it is supported by the guests from the lodge. Additional scholarships offered to other children from the surrounding area. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: I had the privilege of staying at Tongabezi in May, 2013 in both a river cottage and the Tree House. The Tree House is a magical place that is unbelievable. I enjoyed candlelit baths whilst watching the sunset and the monkeys playing in the trees, I fell asleep whilst listening to hippos in the river, I enjoyed aperitivo whilst watching the sunset and taking amazing photos and I woke to mist on the Zambezi that was as thick as soup but lifted as the sun rose. I felt like a princess whilst at Tongabezi and kept busy over the four days enjoying many of the activities the lodge and Livingstone has to offer. I loved it all – an elephant ride, a lion walk, the lunar rainbow, rafting the Zambezi, helicopter flight (make sure you do not just the falls but also the gorge), of course the amazing Victoria Falls (go at least two times for optimum viewing and photo opportunities), sunset cruise, Tongazbezi School visit and visiting the local village - Simonga Village. I found visiting the Tongabezi School and walking over to Simonga Village to be very humbling experiences that are necessary to give all tourists a reality check. Tongabezi Lodge offers employment to many of the local villagers and also an education to the employees children which is a wonderful opportunity for these children. The school is also happy to accept donations of school items as well as monetary donations to continue their great work. You can check out the website www.packwithapurpose.com to find out what the school needs if you are travelling to Tongabezi. I didn't stop during my stay and I had a brilliant guide to take me everywhere. At all times I felt safe and secure whilst learning about life in Zambia. The staff make every effort to engage with guests and to assist them with anything they need. Your own personal butler will always be there to assist you with anything you need and to keep your room and launder your clothes. Tongabezi has a dedicated activities coordinator who can also make any arrangements you require as well as arranging transfers to these activities. Be aware that some activities are included in the price of the room which they will be happy to discuss with you. It does take approximately 30 minutes to get to Victoria Falls. I would suggest that you visit the falls at least two times to get an appreciation of the grandeur of such an amazing spectacle. I found that it wasn’t necessary to use a rain poncho during the day but be prepared the water is “fresh”. With the heat of the midday sun you will dry off quickly. Just remember to have a towel with you when you get back into the car. If you are lucky to be there during the lunar rainbow period then definitely take advantage of seeing a rainbow at nighttime. Victoria Falls is one of the few places in the world to see this and is absolutely beautiful. Photography enthusiasts will need to have a tripod as well as a camera with a slow shutter speed to get optimum results. Tongabezi has great food, drinks and service that guests can enjoy whilst watching the Zambezi flow past. The lodge caters to all tastes so if you have any dietary requirements then let them know. The normal routine was 3 options offered for entrée/main with one being a vegetarian option. House wines, spirits, beers and soft drinks/water was provided with all meals and included in the price of the stay. The food was tasty and I never once felt hungry. Dining was done either on the main dining deck, undercover in their dining area, in the observation area, out on a floating pontoon, on the jetty or on the deck of your own room. Plenty of magical places to enjoy the Zambezi views under the stars. I was travelling solo and everyone was always happy to greet me by name and with a smile and a chat. I can't wait to go back to Tongabezi to show my parents what heaven on earth really is. I would thoroughly recommend it above any of the mainstream hotels in Livingstone. Room Tip: If you can reserve the Tree House then I would thoroughly recommend it. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. https://vimeo.com/152137031
  14. After reading and reading trip reports on here, I figured it was about time to get something on paper about ours. I will warn you in advance that it is not nearly as exciting as so many of the trips I have seen on here! And we are the point and shoot kind of amateurs so really basic pictures. But I would love to have a little report myself to be able to go back to in the future to relive our trip and I figured it wouldn't hurt for a few first timers to get some info. This was our very first trip to Africa and first safari. Our itinerary was the following; 3 nights Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (Zambezi Sands) 2 nights Hazyview (no safari but panorama route so I will skip this for the most part) 3 nights Garonga safari camp (Makalali game reserve) 3 nights Lion Sands River Lodge From there we moved on to Cape Town and the Winelands but I won't go into that, this is a safari forum after all. Zimbabwe: We knew before we left, and it's important to know this, that we weren't visiting this camp for the amazing wildlife sightings. We wanted to see the Vic Falls and we liked the idea of a few river safari activities to diversify (canoeing). If you go here with the expectation of great wildlife you will be disappointed. And that would be a shame because the people at Sambezi Sands are so great and they try to make your stay incredible. Day 1 On the day we arrived we did a short afternoon game drive through the conservancy. It was exciting to be out and about but there wasn't all that much to see. We did see our first Kudu It was already rather late when we left for the drive due to all of our arrival times, so we stopped fairly quickly for our first sundowners with a view to a few hippo's (far far away). As you can see on the pictures I went a bit overboard with the purchase of earthy toned and khaki colored clothes ;-) But they were great and somehow we did feel like we fit in! We had been asked on arrival how we would prefer to have our dinners. Nadine - manager and wife of John - wanted to ensure that we enjoyed our honeymoon so she asked if we were fine with the usual setup where you have a romantic table just you the first night, then a group night and then a car + guide night. Or if we would prefer to have private dinners all the time. We thought this was very thoughtful of her and of course we loved the traditional safari set up where you mingle with all the interesting people around you! While having drinks before our meal this evening, one of the other guides, Clint came up to all of us in the bar asking if we wanted to see a honey badger. Euhm, do we want to? Hell yeah! I had read enough trip reports to know how rare they were. We didn't see just one, we saw two! Unfortunately I came unprepared (no camera - never happened again!) and so I have no pictures, but it was nice to see! Since the animals were known in camp for stealing food from the kitchen they decided to handle the situation smartly for their guests: they would just put out a plate for them. When they came to eat, you could serve them up for the viewing of the guests. Though saying "they" came to eat was not very accurate. There was one eating and the other one had to wait because the first one was not having any of it (sharing? I don't think so). Even though it was not in the most natural of settings, I did consider it a cool sighting for the first night on the trip! Day 2 We started this day with a walking safari. It was very hot and even though it was rain season there was not a cloud in the sky! So we started of early as always to avoid most of the heat. It was exhilarating to be walking around in Africa Our guide was also the lodge manager - John, husband of Nadine - and he was a wealth of information. I am sorry that i can't remember any of the names of the trees (except for sausage tree) but there was just too much to see and learn. As we started walking we did see a big heard of buffalo (far away) and a group of baboons (they were everywhere), but the walking was more about nature, skulls, tracks and information sharing than it was about seeing any animals up close. Which I suppose is normal for a walking safari. It was great fun and we loved it! We were also very lucky with our "car". As I said we got the senior guide and we were paired up with a wonderful couple from England (Heidi and Steve). They were just such incredibly enthusiastic, optimistic and generally happy people, it was a pleasure to be around them and we were sad when we had to say goodbye ! (the others in camp were 4 germans in a rather strange setup: mother, daughter, fiancee and friend of fiancee. They were not at all willing to mingle and unfortunately generally just very German. I'm allowed to say that since my husband is German :-) ) They really made an effort in camp to keep us entertained and busy, so they asked if we wanted to join them to go snare hunting. They had seen a few people on the "islands'" in front of the camp a day before and there was a strong suspicion that these were poachers. It was around 11:30 so the real heat of the day, but we said why not! This was maybe not the best idea It was a tough trek with lots of cutting bush and through water (soggy feet is just nasty), but in the end we were very happy we did it. It was an experience. And luckily there were no snares to be found so everyone was rather happy! The afternoon was spent canoeing on the Zambezi river. It was wonderful to be on the water after the heat of the day! I had been a bit scared about this since we could see a few rapids in front of the hotel that were outside of my comfort zone, but John promised a route without them and when he said he had done this trip with a 6 month old baby I felt more at ease. I did insist on sharing the canoe with him though, just to be on the safe side. Heidi and Steve had experience rowing so they were perfectly fine in their canoe together. And my husband, Tom, got paired with another guide: Rob. Now Rob was quite a character. He was 74 years old and had the enthusiasm of a 12 year old! He was really very endearing. He couldn't sit still for even 2min. He didn't really follow the group, rather took his own course and dragged the canoe with my husband to a crocodile he saw near the shore. It was "only a little one" though according to him (only 4m…). And he seemed to have fun communicating with the hippos around us. Now I know these are some of the most dangerous animals in Africa to man, but luckily at this point i didn't know just how dangerous yet. Our guide in Lion Sands would tell us a story that if I had heard it before would have kept me from ever stepping foot in that canoe! The canoeing was great fun and we stopped on a cluster of rocks in the middle of the river for sun downers. There was also a little natural pool there (just a area where the current wasn't as strong) where the guys went for a swim while Rob was busy scouring for rocks. And he sweetly presented me with one in the shape of a small heart. You couldn't help but love the guy. Of course Tom was one of the ones who wanted to do the swimming and he didn't account well for the strength of the current, so while walking over the rocks he lost his flip flops. Within an instant Rob set out with the canoe, retrieved the shoes and rowed back against the current! The man has quite some force! It was a day well spent! Day 3 This was our Vic Falls day. We got to sleep in and then spent the morning at the Vic Falls. Even though they were rather dry (or so we were told), it was an amazing spectacle to see! Gorgeous! I can only imagine how impressive they must be when in full force, but this was already pretty darn great. In the afternoon we went to the Victoria Falls hotel to have High Tea. It was a rather colonial experience I must say. Not sure if this is entirely for me. There the "whites" eating/imbibing and the "blacks" respectfully serving was just a bit too much for me. It also didn't help that we had this snotty entitled volunteer with us from camp. He was rather young (20) and made it rather clear he came from a rich family in England, but what bugged me most is that he was just not very respectful to any of the locals and generally quite condescending when he talked. Anyway, no animals to see, except for all the baboons and vervet monkeys on the Vic Falls hotel property (including also some resident wart hogs) so I'll keep this rather short! In the evening we had drinks with John before dinner and he shared some very interesting insights in to Zimbabwe politics. I was rather blissfully ignorant before we left on our trip and I found what we learned from him very enriching. Day 4 We had one last morning game drive and they had saved the best for last! This day we had a wonderful interaction with a heard of elephants. We saw some of them crossing the road we were on, but the majority of the herd was still on the other side. So John took the car off road and we drove over some bush and into a clearing. From the we could see the rest of the herd and that alone got us very excited! But since this was our first safari, John knew something we didn't: they would all join up with the rest of their herd. And in order for that, they would have to pass right by us. It was exhilarating! A mom and her young came very very close, many of the other youngsters walked right by and we hadn't noticed the matriarch of the group was standing right behind our vehicle keeping an eye on us and ensuring that we didn't bother anyone. It was our first real wildlife interaction and we left feeling very happy indeed! One of the people that I feel is worth mentioning is our room attendant Mabonga. Before leaving on our trip, our TA had been very adamant about stealing and thefts. He really made the point very clear that even in the very upscale lodges you must be careful, put everything in the safe or take it with you. In all our excitement of course we didn't. Nothing ever got touched. But more importantly there was an event that I think deserves the highest of praise. We had divided our cash over different wallets, as we always do. Tom however had left one of his wallets in his pants which he then put in the laundry. Little did we know until John presented us with the wallet. Mabonga had recovered it from the pants and dutifully returned it to the manager. For this man there must have been a small fortune in that wallet so you can only imagine how very grateful and impressed we were with his honesty and kindness. Of course we left him a little thank you note and a finders fee, but i was really impressed! The time had come to pack up and continue to SA! We were very sad to leave the place though. If you ever go to the Vic Falls and need a place to stay, do yourself a favor and go to Zambezi Sands, the place is amazing!
  15. Hello everyone. You all did a great job helping me plan my 1st ever trip to Africa( Kenya) a few years ago. I did my trip report and have since then been dreaming of going back. It seems like it's finally happening. Big thanks to my husband who will be taking care of the family while I have my 2.5 weeks of fun! So my flights are all booked for the middle of June 2016 - from Los Angeles to JNB. I've been working with a few agents trying to put together something that will work for the dreams I've been having and the unpleasant reality of budget planning! This is the one I like the best so far and would really appreciate your input. - JNB - Timbavati (Motswari lodge) - Federal Air - 3 nights at Motswari - Kruger airport to Livingston flight - stay at Zambezi Sun for 1 night - Proflight to Mfuwe via Lusaka - stay at Flatdogs camp in S.Luangwa for 2 nights - S.Luangwa - Zungulila Bushcamp - 3 nights - S.Luangwa - Tafika - 3 nights - Proflight from Mfuwe to Lower Zambezi - 2 nights at Old Mondoro - Lower Zambezi - 2 nights at Chiawa Fly back to JNB for return flight home I would really appreciate your thoughts on this itinerary. The focus is on wildlife viewing and also getting a fair bit of walking in. I have the option of staying just in 1 camp (Chiawa) for all 4 nights in LZ. Is that better or splitting it up between the 2 camps. I've heard so many good things about Old Mondoro but it's not available for all 4 nights. What do you all think...? Thanks in advance. Anita
  16. On the final day of my visit to Zimbabwe, I met with Benson, (whose Safaritalk interviews you can read here and in Issue 2 of the Magazine here) who was taking me to the pre school and community project which he has built on his his own in a village close to Victoria Falls. Situated halfway between the town and the airport, the small community is in an arid area in which there is little water and children walk with their parents up to 8km there and back every day so they can attend school. All the materials used for the construction of the school building were locally sourced by Benson, using scrap and discarded materials - in his own time and on his own initiative he then built the classrooms, the shop, the toilets, the slides, swings and even bought an old VW Beetle in which the children pretend to drive round Zimbabwe. One of the students was keen to model the pith helmet. I was introduced to the class, everyone knows Benson, and there is obviously much love and respect for everything he has done. The children sang a number of songs which I joined in, (and don't mind admitting brought a tear to my eyes), recited the alphabet and numbers 1-10 and we had a question and answer session where I asked the children their names, some tried on the pith helmet - I was immediately called Mr Mdevu, (Mr Beard), which made everyone laugh. Some of the children are HIV positive and are growing up in extremely tough conditions, but here at school, with their red and blue uniforms, Benson is providing them with a chance. Some of you will remember the Happy Readers initiative: Benson has been provided with a series of books, (thanks to a donation from a US client), for the children through the organisation - and it was through us here at ST that Ngoko learned of the initiative.. At present the school is for children of pre school ages, but it is Benson's hope to upgrade so year one can be taught. If not, some of these children will never go to a proper school. However the beaurocracy in trying to establish a first grade school may be insurmountable... The hard working and enthusiastic teacher. Not only is the classroom built from recycled materials, so are the slides and swings - everything has been salvaged by Benson, put on his truck and brought to the site. The kids love it... People think Benson is crazy when he takes old car tyres from the side of the road. "Where are you taking that rubbish?" they ask him. Well, they are to be made into swings. Benson still has some more frames to weld up: he saw that the children were climbing the trees, swinging on the branches and breaking them down, so the "new" swings provide much more fun and also save the trees from being damaged. His plan is to put many more activities up for the children to play on and in, and recently bought this old VW Beetle in which they pretend to drive round in. It's all about stimulating their imagination - later that day when Benson dropped me at the airport we met with the airport manager to arrange a day trip for them so they could see the aeroplanes close up, taking off and landing. Some of the mums take turns to cook lunch everyday: for some of the children it's their only proper meal. The school charges 8 US$ per month per child, which is spent on ingredients and to help pay the teacher's wage. Even that is sometimes hard to find for some families. Alongside the school Benson built a small shop which sells basic supplies, otherwise it's maybe a 10 km walk into town. Again, using salvaged materials and some old concrete sleepers which he bought from the railway company. Alongside, a toilet block with urinal and toilet, hand basin: Benson highlighted the importance of hygeine and handwashing for the children. The school is giving these children a chance. Benson is giving them a chance. But it's not just the school. He is setting up areas for chickens, a small pig farm, employing young local people to look after them, as the soil is unproductive for crops. The jobs provide the young people with an income, and Benson pays for some of them to get their driving licenses. To be honest, I don't know how he does it. Away often guiding safaris, then back briefly with his wife, then helping out at the school and the village. Then, helping young student guides with their studies, taking them out on birdwatching trips, advising them, encouraging them, all without pay in his spare time. Everyone you met knew Benson: it wasn't as this great safari guide, but it was as someone who is an inspiration, someone who puts back into the community, works hard to empower people and make their lives better. Sure, he is a well respected guide, as some recent "Top Guides lists" acknowledge, but off duty, at home, he doesn't relax, he walks round in shorts, tee and flip flops trying to make people's lives better. Selflessly - he doesn't seek reward or accolades - most people don't know what he does for a living, they think he's just some crazy guy, but, he's just some crazy guy making more of a difference than I ever can, and they love him for it. I left Benson at the airport giving him 100 US$ to buy whatever he thinks is essential for the school and I know that he will choose wisely. My last view of him was whilst he was in conversation with the airport manager and I knew his school children would have an exciting day out watching the aeroplanes very soon. Matt.
  17. Rather than use the template for a lodge review I'll do my review in report format. I had just 1 night in Victoria Falls before heading off to Hwange NP, and rather than staying in the town itself I stayed at Gorges Lodge, spectacularly located on the edge of Batoka Gorge and about 40 minutes drive from Vic Falls town. I've been to Vic Falls before and so I did not feel the need to stay in the town. Guests staying at Gorges Lodge receive complimentary transfers from Victoria Falls airport, complimentary transfers into town – so you can visit the actual falls and enjoy afternoon tea on the terrace of the Victoria Falls Hotel – and back as well as a sunset cruise on the Zambezi. September is not the best month for visiting the falls as low water levels combine with hazy grey skies ( caused by a combination of dust and smoke from burning fields) to give less than spectacular photographs. Batoka Gorge is a haven for raptors and within a 10km stretch there are 10 different nests – 3 Peregrine Falcons, 3 Augur Buzzards, 2 Lanner Falcons, 1 Taita Falcon and 1 Black (or Verreaux’s) Eagle. Gorges Lodge has 10 stone built chalets, each with a view out over the gorge to the Zambezi 200 metres below. In addition to the chalets, Imvelo (Imvelo Safari Lodges) are in the process of constructing Little Gorges, a separate camp consisting of 5 spacious tents with their own dining area. Hosts Debs and Chris make sure that all their guests are made to feel welcome and the food is amazing. Imvelo are big on community involvement with most staff being drawn from local villages. Guests staying for more than 1 night will almost always get to see a display of traditional dancing performed by young men from the community. Personally i hate getting dragged up to join in but after a couple of drinks everyone else seems fine with it. There was even one guy who just wouldn't stay seated and kept getting up to dance. As they say on the Fast Show; "he was very very drunk." Of the various raptors that frequent the gorge the only ones I saw on this visit were the Black Eagles, but the male put on a reasonable show which gave the opportunity for some photos. After a great night’s sleep, I made sure that I was awake and outside for the sunrise over the gorge. September is not the best month for spectacular sunrises, due to the haze caused by a combination of dust and smoke, but I could easily imagine what this would look like on a clearer day. Next time…. I really liked Gorges Lodge and so did all the people travelling with me. The setting is both spectacular and very peaceful. It is also on the right side of town for heading out to Hwange NP, which is what I was going to do. Gorges Lodge website
  18. For those of you who are already thinking about where visit in 2016 ... If you haven't been to Zimbabwe then this is a great introduction at a terrific price Victoria Falls, Hwange NP and the mighty Zambezi Fabulous lodges, amazing wildlife, incredible value Combining the awe inspiring Victoria Falls with Zimbabwe’s largest game park, Hwange NP, and ending with 2 nights on the banks of the Zambezi river, this diverse 10 (or 12) day itinerary travels at a leisurely pace and allows you plenty of time to enjoy Hwange’s fabulous wildlife. Outline itinerary: 9 nights / 10 days Day 1 Arrive Victoria Falls, transfer to Gorges Lodge. Day 2 Morning to visit the falls before transferring to Bomani Tented Lodge in Hwange NP. Day 3 Bomani Tented Lodge. Day 4 Bomani Tented Lodge. Day 5 Game drive through the park to Nehimba Lodge, located in the centre of the park. Day 6 Nehimba Lodge. Day 7 Nehimba Lodge. Day 8 Leave Hwange NP and transfer to Zambezi Sands Lodge on the banks of the Zambezi river where you can enjoy canoeing on the river, games drives or game walks. Day 9 Zambezi Sands. Day 10 A leisurely start before transferring to Victoria Falls airport for your onward connection. US$£3,320 GB£2,215
  19. After a short safari experience in South Africa we were eager for more. I started to research safari trips, but it is very overwhelming for a newbie. Deciding on country alone seemed to take forever, all of them looked amazing. We read about walks in the national parks of Zambia, and as we only had experience with game drives, that sounded very interesting – being able to leave the vehicle and walk around surrounded by wildlife. The idea to be able to do different sort of activities was very appealing, besides walks there were also possibilities to go canoeing in the Lower Zambezi national park and a microlight flight in Livingstone and South Luangwa NP. We were sold. Preparation: much more than for the first trip! - Vaccinations (like DTP, hepatitis A, yellow fever). Yellow fever because of the changing and confusing rules for entry to South Africa at that time. - Malarone, in the Netherlands you need a prescription. I had read that some people got side effects from Malarone, so I asked for a trial package. I’d rather be sick at home than in Africa, but no side effects for me. - Bought one pair (!) of binoculars - Neutral coloured clothing (more than necessary) - Plenty of sunscreen and DEET too - I thought of bringing a notebook as well, which turned out to be very helpful for this trip report. Itinerary 6 – 22 May 2012: Day 1 - Flight Amsterdam – Johannesburg (KLM) - overnight stay at City Lodge Day 2 – Flight Johannesburg – Livingstone (Comair - BA) Day 2-5 – Livingstone –Sindabezi lodge Day 5 – Flight Livingstone - Lusaka – Royal airstrip (Proflight / Sky trails) Day 5-9 – Lower Zambezi NP – Chiawa Camp Day 9 – Flight Royal airstrip – Lusaka – Mfuwe (Proflight) Day 9 -17 – South Luangwa NP – Puku Ridge (3 nights), Tafika (5 nights) Day 17 – Flight Mfuwe, Lilongwe, Nairobi and finally Amsterdam. Was not looking forward to that. Luckily KLM added a route to Lusaka, so we could change our flights to Lusaka from Mfuwe and from Lusaka a direct flight to Amsterdam. (Proflight / KLM) As the new route to Lusaka was scheduled three times a week, we either needed to extend or shorten our stay at Tafika. We were originally booked for three nights, but decided to extend our stay with 2 nights and are very pleased we did. The reason to include Livingstone was the Victoria Falls, I couldn’t visit Zambia without seeing the Victoria Falls – I felt we would miss out by not going. We stayed for three nights, which was long enough to do some activities and relax a bit before starting our safari!
  20. Ngoko Safaris is thrilled to announce the launch of a small group tour in Zimbabwe next year. This special itinerary will be guided by Benson Siyawareva and will run with a minimum of 3 guests and a maximum of 6 guests, ensuring an extremely exclusive experience. The outline of this 11 night itinerary is: 3 nights Linkwasha Camp, Hwange National Park 3 nights Changa Safari Camp, Matusadona National Park 3 nights Ruckomechi Camp, Mana Pools National Park 2 nights Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls The price of this unique safari is US$9,480 per person sharing, with a US$1,320 single supplement. With just four guest rooms available (maximum 2 singles) please contact us for further details if you are interested in joining Benson on this very special trip. Please email fiona@ngoko.com for a detailed itinerary and to register your interest.
  21. We Offer a Wide Range of Outdoors and Wildlife Adentures in Southern Africa, Zambia on a Budget. Our Tours Depart with a Minimum of 2 people to the World Famous South Luangwa National Park, Lower Zambezi National Park, Kafue National Park as well as several other Less Traveled Parks throughout Zambia not Forgeting the might Victoria Falls. Also on offer are Private Road Transfers and Airport shared Shuttle Below are our 2015 rates and Packages 2 nights / 3 days (SouthLuangwa) - $405pps green season/$420pps peak season 3 nights / 4 days (South Luangwa) - $450 green season / $495 peak season 4 nights / 5 days (South Luangwa) - $555pps Green Season / $605 peak season 8 nights / 9 days (South Luangwa/Lower Zambezi comb) - $1,945pps peak season only 11 nights / 12 days (Vic Falls, Lower Zambezi, Kafue National Park & South Luangwa comb) - $1,800 pps 2 nights / 3 days (Lower Zambezi Canoeing Safaris) - $585pps 3 nights / 4 days (Lower Zambezi Canoeing Safaris) - $745pps South Luangwa Tours Depart from Lilongwe (Malawi) or Lusaka (Zambia) Canoening Safari Depart from Lusaka For more information visit our website www.denssafaris.com or contact us on info@denssafaris.com
  22. This trip report follows on directly from my Chobe trip report which you will find in the Botswana section. Just so that the Zimbabwe section does not start in mid air, I've copied over the short section on our arrival in Zimbabwe from Kasane. >> When we reached the Kazungula border crossing we found the Zimbabwe immigration office deserted. After hanging around for about 15 minutes officers started drifting in. “Sorry to keep you waiting” one of them said “ We were enjoying our lunch” As we were at the front of what was now a substantial queue we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and didn't ask why they all had to have lunch at the same time. It is Africa after all. Once the Zimbabwe officials had resumed work things moved pretty quickly and we were soon on our way to Victoria Falls. After stopping by the Wild Horizons office to pay for our helicopter flights we drove out to our accommodation where I had a little surprise up my sleeve. I'd told everyone that we'd be staying at Ursula Camp, just a few kilometres outside the town. After our tented camp in Chobe they all assumed that Ursula would meana few more nights under canvas. Little did they know. Ursula Camp is a small satellite camp in the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve, next to the very (very) swish Stanley and Livingstone safari Lodge. It's 10 minutes outside the town of Victoria Falls on the Hwange road. Of course Ursula Camp is not tents at all, but 4 small chalets set in picturesque surroundings. There is even a small swimming pool. By the time we arrived it was mid afternoon and everyone was more than happy just to chill out for the rest of the day. Ursula's only has 4 chalets, and so can accommodate a maximum of 8 people. It is ideal for small groups and one of my favourite places to stay. We had the place to ourselves so it was a bit like having our own private villa in the bush. Immediately in front of us were some huge Acacia Albida trees and the constantly falling seed pods were irresistible to the reserve's greater kudu. Whilst enjoying gin & tonics by the pool we had a visit from the chef who took our orders for dinner. Civilised or what?! And dinner was fab! We only had one gripe about Ursula Camp and that was the price of the drinks. They were pretty steep. This caught us a bit by surprise on the first night but noticing that we were likely to run up a bar bill we wouldn't be able to afford, Olivia told us it would be no problem if we bought our own supplies in town and brought them back. Problem solved. Over dinner we met Olivia's husband, Mike, who was also the head ranger guide at Stanley & Livingstone. He wanted to know which game activity we wanted for the following morning. Part of the deal at Ursula Camp is that in addition to full board accommodation one game activity is included in the private reserve; either a drive or a walk. (and it still costs less than the Vic Falls Hotel on B&B!) The majority vote was for a game drive. <<
  23. Reports www.newsday.co.zw To read the full article click here. Have you flown with flyafrica? If so what are your experiences?
  24. If you have been following my most recent TR and are itching to visit Zimbabwe we have a neat little package that offers some pretty special experiences at a very reasonable cost. Victoria Falls, Hwange and Mana Pools – 11 nights / 12 days Our itinerary brings together two of Africa's finest National Parks – Hwange and Mana Pools - with one of the world's natural wonders – Victoria Falls. It runs at a gentle pace that allows you time to settle in and really get to know these great wildlife areas; giving you maximum time and opportunity for photography. Outline itinerary Day 1 Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls Hotel. B&B Day 2 Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls Hotel. B&B Day 3 Victoria Falls – Hwange National Park. Somalisa Camp. Fully Inclusive Day 4 Hwange National Park – Somalisa Camp. Fully Inclusive Day 5 Hwange National Park – transfer from Somalisa to Bomani Tented Lodge. Fully Inclusive Day 6 Hwange National Park – Bomani Tented Lodge. Fully Inclusive. Day 7 Flight to Mana Pools National Park. Zambezi Lifestyles. Fully Inclusive Day 8 Mana Pools National Park – Zambezi Lifestyles. Fully Inclusive Day 9 Mana Pools National Park – Zambezi Lifestyles. Fully Inclusive Day 10 Mana Pools National Park - Kanga Camp. Fully Inclusive Day 11 Mana Pools National Park - Kanga Camp. Fully Inclusive Day 12 Mana Pools National Park – Harare. Click here for a more detailed itinerary. Price per person sharing 2015 Apr – Jun $6,065/£3,760 Jul – Oct $6,300/£3,895 Nov $5,630/£3,490 (These represent a saving of between 10%-13% off rack rate) Price includes: Transfer on arrival from airport to Victoria Falls Hotel Road transfers from Victoria Falls Hotel to Somalisa Camp Road Transfers from Somalisa Camp to Bomani Tented Camp Flight from Bomani Tented Camp to Mana Pools Flight from Mana Pools to Harare Accommodation as follows: 2 nights - Victoria Falls Hotel – double or twin share basis – Bed & Breakfast 2 nights - Somalisa Camp – double or twin share basis – Fully Inclusive 2 nights – Bomani Tented Lodge – double or twin share basis – Fully Inclusive 3 nights – Zambezi Lifestyles – double or twin share basis – Fully Inclusive 2 nights – Kanga Camp – double or twin share basis – Fully Inclusive Game activities in Hwange NP and Mana Pools NP Price excludes: International flights visa costs Travel insurance tips Meals other than those specified above vaccinations, medicines and other items of a personal nature optional activities in Victoria Falls
  25. The last night of my stay in Vic Falls was at Ilala Lodge, perfectly situated for the Falls, (indeed one can see the mists and hear the roar from the hotel room) - it's just a short five minute walk from the Park entrance and so donning my trusty pith, with its modern twist, the Rayban sunglasses, I set out from reception to explore one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Literally you cross the road in front of the hotel, walk a hundred metres down the road, turn right down a track, (which wasn't signposted), cross the old railway line and there you are, in front of the main entrance. There are a number of curio shops in the car park, if buying anything, do so on the way out so you don't have to lug it round with you... Once into the park, having forked over 30 US$ to do so, everything is signposted and s easy to follow. A quick look at the large map with its numbered checkpoints and off you go. You don't need a guide, but it involves some walking: therefore take a bottle of water with you, it gets hot and muggy en route. Checkpoint one is the Livingstone Monument...

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