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Found 157 results

  1. Having spent two weeks, last month, in the Western Cape, on the way back home, I made a stop-over of eight days in Zimbabwe, at Camp Hwange again. This time, it was very hot (around 42° C) and dry, as we will see on the pictures, but not as it should normally be at this time of the year. Indeed, some trees, mostly teaks, were already covered with leaves. Is it because of the last rainy season, which had been extremely wet, and late rains in June? The two days before my arrival, there had also been a few heavy showers. The large natural pans were not yet completely dry as they should have been, but apart from Salt Pan and Dwarf Goose Pan, they were only good for mud baths. Salt Pan Dwarf Goose Pan But as far as wildlife is concerned, everything was as it should be at this time of the year, namely: A lot of elephants, Large herds of buffaloes, Many lions (I’ve seen about 35 different lions and most of them several times), A few leopards, And many active scavengers. I unfortunately did not see the male cheetah which regularly visits the concession (there are several marking spots). This male covers a large territory and had been seen during several days before the day of my arrival. As for wild dogs, they had been seen at Mandavu. Twice, we went to Little Toms and Big Toms to see the Toms pride, but in fact it was not necessary to go so far to see anything as there was always activity around the waterhole in front of the camp.
  2. While looking for other information on the web I came across this report on the translocation of seven elephants from South Africa to Zinave NP in Mozambique. First Elephant Translocated to Zinave National Park, Mozambique Zinave NP is north-east of Kruger NP and directly east of Gonarezhou NP in Zimbabwe it doesn’t actually adjoin either of these two parks but with them it is along with Banhine NP and Limpopo NP part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. During Mozambique’s civil war it seems that almost all of the large game was wiped out in Zinave so it’s great to see that animals are now being reintroduced. Already zebra, wildebeest and giraffes have been brought in from Kruger in 2012 and 13 and the plan is to move more animals to Zinave in the future from Kruger and also some from Gorongosa NP further north. In Gorongosa some of the animals that survived the war and didn’t need restocking like common waterbuck are now extremely common so the park is a good source for these animals to restock Zinave. All of the animals are initially being released into a fenced sanctuary. Zinave should be able to provide a home for 2000 elephants so I have no doubt that plenty more elephants will be moved to the park in time. With so much depressing news about wildlife being reported it’s great to see so positive news for a change Here’s another interesting article on the park Finding refuge: The untapped potential of Mozambique's Banhine and Zinave Unfortunately it seems that re-establishing a wildlife corridor between Zinave and Gonarezhou may prove difficult but it would be good if some way could be found to allow animals to move around between parks as they did in the past. Remarkably surveys of wildlife in Limpopo and Banhine NPs found WILDLIFE DIVERSITY IN LIMPOPO NATIONAL PARK Click on the map in the article on the Peace Parks Foundation website to see the location of these parks.
  3. Two months before my flight to Zimbabwe! Any words of wisdom or pointers about getting out of the airport in Harare? I'm still nervous about my first walking safari but that's probably because it's my first solo trip. Thanks in advance!
  4. Hello Everyone, I have been a silent member of ST for a long time now. I have not posted any trip report (I started one and never finished it) till now, out of pure lethargy and nothing else, all the time enjoying reading other's! Thanks to some encouragement from Sangeeta, I am posting some of my images taken on a trip to Mana Pools in July 2016. This was a photography trip arranged by Wild-Eye South Africa, hosted by Morkel Erasmus, a great photographer from South Africa. The agenda for this trip was chasing the heavenly mana light, rather than chasing sightings (although we did chase a few sightings, albeit unsuccessfully). As a result you will find images of common subjects, presented in entirely different light (pun intended) :-). Morkel was a superb host and teacher and we had a small (just 3 guests) but lively group. I don't think I have laughed and enjoyed so much on any other safari that I have ever been. We stayed at a camp hosted by Tess Arkwright and Dave (they have a small operation called Mwinilunga Safaris), a great couple. We were guided by Kevin Lou, a Zim pro guide who was absolutely fun to be with and we always felt very safe with him. After that preamble, here are a few images. Can anyone help in putting images from my album (already uploaded on ST) here?
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2017/jun/19/rewilding-mozambique-trophy-hunting-elephants-giraffe-poaching-zimbabwe-sango-save-zinave ~ This June, 2017 article in the U.K. Guardian explains how high fee trophy hunting in Zimbabwe's Sango Wildlife Conservancy is partially funding the transfer of 6,000 animals to Mozambique's Zinave National Park. German entrepreneur Wilfried Pabst is donating the animals from Sango, which is located within the Savé Valley Conservancy in eastern Zimbabwe.
  6. I'm just so disgusted with humanity right now. Nothing else to say, I don't want to get into the whole lion hunting debate all over again, but I hadn't seen this posted yet; I thought folks here would want to know. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/cecil-lion-son-xanda-shot-dead-trophy-big-game-hunters-zimbabwe-hwange-national-park-a7851246.html
  7. We run private group tours that are fully inclusive and personalized for you, your families or friends. Our luxury six (6) bed tented camp is used exclusively by one group, the six (6) seater open sided 4x4 safari vehicle, our staff and an experienced Professional safari guide are dedicated to providing our private guests with a safari experience that will make memories of a lifetime. A private group tour with African Safari Walks runs with a minimum of four (4) or a maximum of six (6) guests staying for a minimum of four (4) nights. African Safari Walks conducts walking safari experiences in Hwange National Park which is located 200 kilometers south of the world renowned Victoria Falls here in Zimbabwe, Africa. Hwange National Park is a natural environment covering about 14 000 square kilometers of savanna woodland and features 100 different species of mammals with over 400 species of birds. The flagship mammals are elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion, leopard, hyena, cheetah, African wild dog just to name a few. Some well known bird species in Hwange National Park include Ostriches, Cranes, Bastards, Korhaans, Secretarybirds, Eagles, Vultures and plenty more.The thrill, magic and enjoyment of African wildlife is contained in walking safari experiences. All our safari walks are tied to a safari vehicle, this means the guide and guests set off from the tented camp on a game drive vehicle driving through the natural environment before repeatedly stopping in different suitable wildlife areas to start walking. The guide and guests return to the vehicle at the end of the safari walks before driving back to the tented camp.
  8. Hi everyone, This is my first post...I hope it's in the right place. We are looking for help in planning a safari for 2018. We really want to see ***wild dogs*** and predators/elephants/rare animals...as well as all other wildlife. We are avid photographers and have narrowed the trip down to two options...for the most part. The question is which is the better option for what we are looking for, I.e. Wild dogs. Both options are in the same price range. We know nothing is guaranteed but are looking for reliable sightings during the times we are going. Option A - Botswana in late June 2018 1 night Vic Falls 2 nights Lebala Camp 2 nights Lagoon Camp 3 nights Little Kwara Option B - Zimbabwe and Zambia in June or August or September 4 nights Nkwali Camp in S. Luangwa 4 nights John's Camp in Mana Pools *****Which is the best month for option B taking into account what we want to see? We welcome all advice/information/opinion. Thanks in advance for the help. Cheers, Eric
  9. Hi ST! I have just seen the following trip from a Spanish TO. http://www.pasaporte3.com/africa/viajes/sudafrica-namibia-botswana/sudafrica-namibia-botswana.php I am very impressed by the prices they offer. This includes short safari in Kalahari, Torra conservancy safari, Etosha, Okavango safaris in canoa and Chobe in 4x4. It is also included flights of the Namib in aircraft, Damaraland rhino safari with Wilderness in Torra Conservancy, Visit of Fish Canyon, A flight over the Okavango Delta, and a helicopter flight over the Victoria falls. The price is around 4000 euros with the international flights. As a photographer I would obviously prefer a 4x4, but the point is that this includes a guide which would not be the case if I travel in self drive, excellent Wilderness lodges in many places. Also I see that the safaris in the parks are shorter than usual, but this seems logical if considered that it is a 28 days trip from Cap Town to Victorial Falls. I don't know if they consider 4x4 in Etosha which would be much better fro photography because these trucks are clearly not appropriate for photographic safaris...
  10. Reports www.news24.com To read the full article click here.
  11. Last month, while I was at Camp Hwange, I had the opportunity to visit Dave Carson’s new bush camp, simply called Hwange Bush Camp. It’s a semi-permanent camp, that opened in May and only for seven months until November, located in the remote northern part of the park, near Deteema, half way between Robin’s Camp and the crossroads with the main road from Sinamatella to Main Camp . The camp is managed by one of the best Zim pro guides and certainly the best for that part of Hwange, the experienced Spike Williamson. Here are some pictures that I made during my visit. For more information, here is the address of a website : http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/hwange-bush-camp.html
  12. Having an interest in Africa’s culture/history as well as it’s wildlife I thought it was time for a thread on a subject that perfectly combines these two interests and that hasn’t come up as far as I can recall very often and that is rock art. I’m not any kind of expert on this subject and haven’t visited a huge numbers of sites but I thought I’d write a brief intro before getting to some photos from the places I have been to. All over Africa there are fine examples of rock art, ancient paintings and engravings or petroglyphs, such art has been found on all continents except Antarctica but there is more of this art in Africa than anywhere else in the world. The Saharan Region is especially rich in both paintings and petroglyphs which provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the ancient peoples of this region and the of wildlife that they lived alongside, much of this artwork dates from a wet period when the Sahara was not a desert but a lush green land of rivers and lakes, lush grasslands and savannahs. Besides depictions of people and their cattle and other livestock there are numerous representations of easily recognisable wild animals like giraffes, elephants and white rhinos in countries like Libya and Algeria far outside their modern historical distribution. Sadly much of this rock art is found in areas of the Sahara that are no longer accessible to tourists due to ongoing political instability, I don’t know enough about all of the countries of this region so there may be some sites that are safe to visit, certainly it should be okay to visit some of the sites in the Ennedi region of Chad, I have not done so. I have only admired the extraordinary engravings of giraffes for example found in Niger in photographs in Nat Geo and online. Here’s a link to the Trust for African Rock Art click on the countries highlighted to see photos of this extraordinary art. While rock art can be found in various places in East Africa the largest collection of paintings (that I know of) is as at Kondoa in Tanzania just south west of Tarangire NP, although I’ve not visited Kondoa the rock art sites are not that hard to get to being only 9kms from the main highway going south from Arusha to Dodoma. While the site is accessible it’s only 3.5 hrs drive south of Arusha it is somewhat off the beaten track as far as Tanzania’s northern safari circuit is concerned and most people going from Arusha down to say Ruaha NP or Selous GR would tend to fly rather than drive. You really need to make a special trip to visit Kondoa as you’re not likely to be passing by, therefore few tourists visit these paintings. The depictions of elongated human figures and local wildlife are thought primarily to have been painted by the Sandawe people, related to the San peoples of Southern Africa and speaking a similar click language the Sandawe were likewise originally hunter gatherers. Here’s a guide to Kondoa Rock Art of Kondoa Irangi Further south, Southern Africa has an abundance of rock art, around the whole region numerous caves and rock shelters have been richly decorated with depictions of the local wildlife and people, for the most part these paintings and pictographs were created by San hunter gatherers and later Khoekhoe herders. The pictures are in many cases not actually depictions of the real world as observed by the San, but are in fact scenes taken from the spirit world visited by their shamans during trances brought on during ceremonial dances. The frequency with which certain animal species were depicted depended on their spiritual significance to the people of the area. In South Africa (& Lesotho) where there could be anywhere up to 30,000 rock art sites and over 1 million images, the eland was the most totemic species in the Drakensberg and Maloti Mts for example there are whole galleries of eland paintings. In Namibia and Zimbabwe depictions of eland are far less frequent and giraffes much more common, other animals like zebras, rhinos, elephants and ostriches are also commonly depicted. I don’t know if this reflects a difference in the past abundance of these animals or simply their significance to the artists who portrayed them. Many of the painting and petroglyphs date back to around 2,000 years or so ago, although it’s recently been confirmed that some of the oldest paintings in South Africa date back to 5,000 years ago. The tradition may go back far longer but paintings on sandstone apparently don’t last for more than a few thousand years due to the porous nature of the rock. There are also much more recent paintings but it’s generally thought that certainly in South Africa the San stopped painting soon after European colonisation, large numbers of San died from smallpox brought in by the settlers or were killed in conflicts with the newly arrived whites and also the expanding black tribes that were encroaching into their territory. Conflict was inevitable as the San saw no distinction between wild game and domestic livestock regarding both simply as meat to be hunted, the severe reduction in their numbers, the disruption to their culture and mixing with other peoples brought an end to their production of rock art. While I’ve not visited rock art sites in the Sahara or East Africa I have been to a couple of sites in Zimbabwe and in Namibia, as with the rest of Southern Africa the San were the original inhabitants of Zimbabwe and would have lived throughout the country, they produced the majority of the rock art found at over 15,000 sites around the Zimbabwe. One of the highest concentrations of rock paintings can be found in the Matobos Hills just south of Bulawayo throughout these beautiful hills caves and rock overhangs were decorated by the San. The most accessible of these caves sites in Matobos National Park is Nswatugi Cave which has some of Zimbabwe’s most impressive paintings and is also conveniently close to Malindidzimu or World’s End the spectacular burial place of Cecil Rhodes. Nswatugi Cave a Guide to the Big Game of the Matobos. Rhodes Matopos NP as it was originally called was created in 1926 after Cecil Rhodes bequeathed the area to the country, much of the original big game that would once have been found in the Matobos had been hunted out. When it was decided in the 1960s to set aside an area of the park as a game preserve that would be restocked with suitable wildlife, they needed to know which species they should reintroduce, caves like Nswatugi provided a perfect guide to the original fauna of the park. At another site that I’ve not visited known as the White Rhino Shelter is the faint outline of what is clearly a white rhino, a species that was entirely extinct in the country when Southern Rhodesia was founded in the 1890s, exactly when they became extinct is not known (as far as I know) but this evidence of their former presence led to their reintroduction. There is now a healthy and seemingly well protected population of southern white rhinos and also black rhinos in the park. Some of the other game hasn’t fared quite as well some species like buffalo were actively exterminated some years ago for reasons of foot and mouth disease control and a lot of game was poached during the recent chaos, but hopefully more restocking will be carried out in future when the opportunity arises. Photographing rock paintings can be a bit of a challenge as you can’t use flash which would damage the paintings, so I wasn't sure how well my photos would come out when I visited Nswatugi a few years ago. These paintings are perhaps 2,000 years old and have survived remarkably well considering that Ndebele rebels hid out in caves like this one during the first Chimurenga or freedom war that lasted from 1894-97. It was from hideouts in the Matobos that they launched their guerilla war against the white settlers that nearly extinguished the fledgling colony of Southern Rhodesia. The large animal in the centre of the scene is an eland The artists would often simply paint on top of the earlier paintings frequently creating a jumble of images which can make it a little difficult to make out some of the individual animals and people, the shapes below the eland appear to be entirely abstract and I don't recall what their significance may have been if known. Probably the finest painting of giraffes in Zimbabwe This would appear to be a female greater kudu Greater kudu bull Giraffes, zebras, antelopes and other animals Plains zebra
  13. http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/more-than-7-500-animals-ready-for-african-animal-ark-operation-20170619 http://clubofmozambique.com/news/from-zimbabwe-to-mozambique-more-than-7-500-animals-ready-for-african-animal-ark-operation/ ~ This June, 2017 news article from South Africa's News 24 explains the preparations made to relocate more than 6,000 animals from Zimbabwe's Savé Valley Conservancy to Mozambique's Zinave National Park. Sponsored by the Peace Parks Foundation, German entrepreneur Wilfried Pabst is donating the 6,000 animals over the next three years. The foundation will fund the relocation costs. The long-term plan is to establish a high density wildlife area within Zinave National Park.
  14. In two months and a couple of days, we will be winging our way to Kenya! I cannot wait and have nothing left to plan!! I am thrilled that a friend from work and her high-school aged daughter decided to join us at the last minute, which should make the experience that much better (unless I drive her bonkers with my many exclamations.) My boss is retiring at the end of the school year and she considered going with us too; the timing wasn't right as we leave two days after school gets out and she has to stay through the end of June. So now I am wondering about a "next safari," when I haven't gone on the first one yet! What say you, collective Safari Gurus? This might be a teacher's trip, so probably shorter than the 2 weeks that I'm going this year. Daughter will be doing an internship next summer so I won't have to work around her schedule, although we will be pretty much restricted to mid-June to early-August again. PS That we I in the title is going to drive me bonkers. Can someone fix it to we?
  15. 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!).
  16. @@Game Warden made a suggestion that a topic could be started here for those of us going to Mana Pools with @@Doug Macdonald in November 2017. As well as myself I think that @@ice and @@Seniortraveller (plus I think her sister and a friend) are signed up. As well as fostering a sense of unearned smug self-satisfaction I thought it might be useful to have a topic in which anyone going or has previously gone on a similar venture could ask questions, give advice or just get to know each other a little better before meeting. I am grateful for the report provided by @@Atravelynn and @@SafariChick and the insights into what we have let ourselves in for
  17. I am planning a trip to Zimbabwe in September, 2018 and just realized that is an election year. Should I be concerned about this? We can't go in 2017 and we don't want to wait until 2019. We will be doing 3 nights in Hwange and 9 nights in Mana Pools with hopefully Doug Macdonald. As we can go at any time, would late August, early or mid September be best. Really hope to see wild dogs. Is 3 nights enough for Hwange?
  18. Hi, Safaritalkers, I just got back from my 2017 vacation (Israel and Jordan) and am back on track to go back to Africa in 2018! I realized that is where my heart is and I dream about going back there all the time. (my son is studying abroad in Jordan so that was great to go see him there as well, but no lions....) I've done two Africa trips--one to Botswana in June 2012 (3 camps in the Delta, Sandibe, Okuto, and Shinde), and Victoria falls. The second trip in 2015 I visited in May and went to Mashatu (Botswana), and Sabi Sands, and Phinda in South Africa. I'm very interested in trying a "green season" trip for the different experience, especially in terms of photographic potential, but I wanted to get some frank advice. First of all the bugs--I don't love bugs, but I understand of course there are more of them in the summer. But how bad is it? Are there mosquitos constantly buzzing in your ears all night long? (LOL) Also, I'd like to be able to see baby animals, and am trying to figure out which month is optimal, January, February, or March. Also, the heat--is it really bad, i.e. like you can't sleep? I'm a Southern California person so I'm not used to humidity, but I also don't plan to be doing walking safaris, which I believe is not usually done at that time of the year anyway. I'm thinking Zimbabwe because I haven't been there and I really would like to economize a bit on this trip. I saw some camps in Zimbabwe in green season where you can get specials for as little as $250-$350 a night, and I would like to stay in that range if possible. I also may be traveling on my own, another reason for Green Season since I understand you can often get single supplements waived or lower at that time. Has anyone here done Hwange in green season? Or should I look at going back to Botswana? I think Botswana even in green season will be out of that price range. If I went back there I would be interested in Chobe and maybe the Nxai pans, but I'm not sure about Chobe in green season. Also I am very interested in hides--I loved the hides at Mashatu, but I"m not sure if hides work well in the summer months. I'd love to hear from anyone who has experience with green safaris about your thoughts. One other thing, having done very luxurious camps like Sandibe and Phinda I am actually looking for a more "camping-like" experience this time (although not participatory camping). I'm thinking I may try to include Mashatu and do their tented camp instead of the lodge, where we were last time. Also, I was wondering if anyone has any experience with &Beyond's mobile camping trips in Botswana? They look very nice but are still pretty expensive. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
  19. Working on planning 1st safari. Looking for some feedback from all of you who have visited southern Africa, especially if you have been there in December. If you were going in the first half of December and you want at least one camp/lodge (they could be at the same place or different places for each of the items listed) where you could do or have: a walking safari get on the water in a boat or canoe to view wildlife go on a night drive get up close and personal with the animals watching from a hide sit on a deck at camp/lodge and watch elephants or giraffe (or other wildlife but those would be our favs) walk through great game drives with experienced, knowledgeable guides feel like you are really experiencing what you envision "wild Africa" to be great African décor or quirky, fun accommodations Which of the following places would be your favorites --- both reserves/parks and feel free to share if you have favorite a camp/lodge that you have stayed at there? Botswana - Chobe National Park Botswana - Mashatu Game Reserve Botswana - Moremi Wildlife Reserve Botswana - Okavango Delta South Africa - Kruger National Park South Africa - private reserve near Kruger (if so, please say which one) Victoria Falls (stay on the Zambia or Zimbabwe side? And stay in town or on a property that also has wildlife?) Zambia - Lower Zambezi Zambia - Mosi Oa Tunya Park Zimbabwe - Hwange Zimbabwe - Matusadona Feel free to add a park/reserve if there is one we should consider but not on the list, especially if you have a camp/lodge you recommend there. I ruled out Mana Pools in Zimbabwe because of the time of year we are going but am open to considering it if others have gone in December with good wildlife experiences. We are looking for different experiences at each location and probably 4 different reserves/parks staying 3-4 nights at each. The focus is wildlife but also would like different accommodation experiences such as one with a tent, a tent on a raised platform, a hut/cabin, and/or a lodge but all with en suite toilets and at least sinks for washing up. Outdoor shower would be fine. We are not interested in mobile camping, really want the place to be more permanent. Hoping as it's the green season we can also find some good deals with cheaper prices or free night special. We do have a budget but I am interested to hear what places you would rank among your top choices, where you think you can get great value and where it may be worth splurging a little for a few nights. Thanks in advance.
  20. If you needed any more reason to visit the magnificent Gonarezhou NP in Zimbabwe, the folks at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge have some wonderful events planned for 2017. 13-17 July - Wine and Wild Dog Weekend. Wine tasting with award winning wine maker Jeremy Bourg from Painted Wolf Wines combined with wild dog conservation presentations by Rosemary Groom from the African Wildlife Conservation Fund. 23 & 24 September - Mahenye Festival. Once a year the local community come together to dance, sing anf entertain with traditional stories. A truly authentic festival run by the community for the community. Guests of Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge are privileged to be invited to attend. If you are interested in making your safari coincide with either of these events just send me a message.
  21. 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.
  22. If not already posted http://robinpopesafaris.net/blog/2017/02/robin-pope-safaris-expands-into-zimbabwe/
  23. We have a very exciting special to share with all Safari Talkers! Doug Macdonald Safaris to Africa has been given exclusive rates for a tented mobile safari camp on the famous Mana Pools floodplain. The camp, which has walk in safari tents with ensuite facilities, has been given permission to have an extended time in a site which reduces their overall cost and so they are able to offer these great prices USD$350 per person per night including all meals, non premium drinks, scheduled activities, national parks fees and transfers from Mana Pools Airstrip. No Single Supplement!! For charter flights from Harare to Mana Pools it is $600 per person* return (1st April - 30th November) *(Sadly a single traveller would need to purchase 2 seats should there not be any others on the flight) We recommend a minimum of 4 nights on the floodplain and you should consider linking this with other areas and camps of Mana and Zimbabwe. Contact us direct and we can design and arrange your safari. bookings@dougmacsafaris.com - Chloe Cottrell
  24. 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.
  25. 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

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