deano

Lower Zambezi - a third encounter of the close kind (June 2017)

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Hello friends.

 

I have been away from this forum for too long and have just found time to start a trip report from our latest excursion to Zambia. Our third trip there in as many years hence the dreadful attempt at a catchy title for the report -  but it popped into my head earlier this week (I needed something with three in it) and it has also given me an idea for a little fun along the way (more on that below)!

 

Our trip this time started off with a slightly different travel route. We wanted to try SAA so we flew Cayman Airways to JFK New York where we overnighted before the long flight the next day to Cape Town via JoBurg. The Cayman flight was pleasant and our bags were off quickly and then we got our first ever taste of New York and the extremely unpleasant driver of a yellow cab who took exception to us using him for a "short" hop to an airport hotel. It was after 10PM and we had been traveling most of the day and we just didn't fancy waiting for the shuttle. We were prepared to pay more than the going rate plus a tip but since we didn't take kindly to being cursed at (who does?) he got his exact fare to the cent and no more unless he places value on the less than polite response he got from us when he started shouting and swearing. Welcome to New York.

 

Anyhow; next day we had a civilized morning flight departure time so plenty of time for a good breakfast and then a nice flight with SAA to JoBurg then the add on to Cape Town where we arrived to bright sunshine around midday. Picked up the rental car and then drove into town to the  apartments that we have stayed in a few times now and then after a quick unpack we headed off for something to eat. Great to be back in Cape Town and a wonderful vista captured by mrs. deano on her iPhone. Take that New York!

 

Cape Town panorama.

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An early night for us but not before a trek to Pick N Pay to purchase a bottle of Jamesons. Could we finish that in our 5 night stay in Cape Town?

 

Now for the bit of fun mentioned earlier; since I have (almost) referenced a film title in the topic heading I think I should see if anyone is able to spot a famous line from a famous film/movie with the clue being in the daily trip report. Starting out easy "...you talkin' to me ?...".

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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oh I'm really looking forward to this as we leave for Lower Zambezi just two weeks from today, and there really aren't many reports here for that park. Not to rush you or anything, but I do hope you get up to it before I leave :)  

 

And I must of course apologize for our NYC "Taxi Driver" (s) but really, they are not all like that!! (nor like Robert DeNiro in the film you reference ;)

 

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Lucky you @janzin. I wish I was going back there soon.

 

I will be working on it each day until complete but my OCD nature will not permit me from jumping ahead a few days so you will have to suffer through 4 more days in Cape Town.

 

Taxi reference was easy but thank you for playing. I'll try to make them harder from now on!

 

More to follow.

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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Itinerary.

 

5 nights Cape Town (Lawhill Apartments).

4 nights Old Mondoro, Lower Zambezi, Zambia.

4 nights Chiawa, Lower Zambezi, Zambia.

 

Day 2 Cape Town:

 

Having visited Cape Town a few times before we made sure to book a few trips to make sure that we didn't fall into the trap of just visiting the same old haunts - as nice as they all are. Our first full day was supposed to be a hike up Table Mountain from Twelve Apostles side but we had the misfortune of being in the region at the same time as a storm front. We were told of the cancelled trip the day before so we planned to get up early and drive out to Paarl and hit up a winery for breakfast and a bit of wine tasting. Imagine my surprise when I woke up and it was 11.15AM! I didn't sleep well on the aircraft but that was a shocker sleeping in that late and half the day wasted. Never mind, we still got to Paarl and instead of breakfast we had a late lunch at Fairview Winery and bought some stuff from their excellent shop. After stopping to watch their goats we drove back to Cape Town. The weather was miserable and the the roads a bit dodgy with the wind and rain but we were still on holiday while, according to local radio, some poor folks were suffering and even a couple of deaths. A cancelled hike was all I had to deal with.

 

On a previous trip to Cape Town I had wanted to visit Table View and get a nice landscape of the bay and Table Mountain. We drove over there today but you literally could not see the mountain so we never even got out of the car. We arrived back to the V&A Waterfront and decided that a snack and hot drink was in order followed by a bit of shopping before we went to the nearby Cape Grace Hotel to sample their Whisk(e)y Bar (decent Whiskey has an "e" in it)! We never made it past the main bar but it had Jamesons so that was good enough for us.

 

After a cold and breezy walk back to our digs it was an early night while listening to the wind and rain battering the building. It was bloody cold as well but that bottle we had definitely took the edge of things.

 

No photos from today although there is a bit of video which I have edited into a compilation of the Cape Town part of the trip and I will add that later.

 

Day 3 Cape Town:

 

We were supposed to be whale watching today. Guess what? Canceled as well. They did re-schedule it for our last day which we had left spare so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best and that the storm would pass. The weather was showing signs of improving so we were determined to get out again today and after a very nice brunch at a waterfront cafe we set off for a drive to Camps Bay just because we had never actually been there. They were busy in clean up mode with sand and seaweed all over the seafront and as we got out of the car I noticed that we had a clear view of Table Mountain and the cable station and the cars were running. Unbelievable and you cannot pass up the chance to get up Table Mountain so we jumped back in the car and followed the roadsigns up the "back" and drove almost to the main entrance. This storm and visiting in Winter had some perks after all. We bought tickets and 5 minutes later we were at the top. I have queued there for 2 hours before so we were very happy. 

 

By now it was late afternoon so first order of business was tea and cake (tea and wine for mrs deano) and then a leisurely stroll along the pathways where we took in the views and the critters and I was at last able to take out my camera.

 

The promise of good weather after the storm

 

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Taking in the view

 

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Must remember to ask mrs deano to leave my nose out of the frame (although with that thing it will be a tough ask!)

 

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Not sure what I was photographing here

 

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A wildlife sighting

 

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All in all that was a nice afternoon and at least we had got to see The Mountain which is without a doubt one of our favourite places anywhere. The light was fading as we left and headed back to town where we agreed to split up - one of us shopping and one of us photographing. I had a new Rokinon 14mm wide angle lens that I wanted to try out and this was just the place. 

 

Table Mountain in the evening light

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Victoria and Alfred Hotel 

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A well known building

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Moody water

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Famous clock tower

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Not many punters on the eye today

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Our favourite eatery

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14mm F2.8 lets in a lot of light!

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A great dinner at Harbour House (a favourite of ours) and then back to the apartment to put a hole in that bottle of Jamesons.

 

Quote for today.  (asks ...so, what are you so happy about?) "...Nothing. You just caught me on a good night. I'm doing what I was made to do  - and I've got a feeling i'm going to do it even better this time...".

 

kind regards,

 

deano.

 

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The first one was easy, but you stumped me with the quote this time.  Had to look it up, so I won't ruin it for everyone else.

 

Loved the nighttime pictures at the harbo(u)r!

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Wow, your experience up that mountain makes me want to go!  Very enticing!

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@cjt3  - it's definitely a harbour in Cape Town! Thanks for playing along. Love the doggy pic...what kind?

 

@amybatt  - I have been up that mountain three times now and in all weathers and it never ever fails to amaze me. Still hoping to hike it one day. Stay tuned...nearly on the way to Lower Zambezi.

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

 

 

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I also had to look up that quote...found it but I won't say either because I cheated. And I never saw that movie!

 

Tick tock...waiting for Lower Zambezi :)

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Day 4 Cape Town:

 

Quite chilly in the apartment last night and we actually sat reading wrapped up in blankets. They warmed us on the outside while the Jamesons warmed from the inside. 

 

We had a mountain bike/wine tour scheduled for today and guess what? It wasn't cancelled! The weather was nicer today if a little chilly and numpty here decided that shorts was the order of the day. Let me tell you that standing around at 7.30AM in shorts is a dumb idea especially when you live in the tropics and are used to warmer temperatures! Thankfully, We were soon picked up by Nils (spelling?) from AWOL tours and we were the only two guests today so we had him all to ourselves. Great guy with a similar sense of humour to ours and we had a good chat as we drove to the start point in Constantia Village.

 

There is a short video at the end of this nstallment and a bit of the tour footage is in there. It was very enjoyable and we took in a variety of terrain and most was off road but on established tracks with only very little on main roads but is was very safe. I ride a lot so found it quite easy but mrs. deano hardly rides and is not as fit as she used to be but said she loved it and didn't struggle that much with the few hills that we tackled. In fact, it was the highlight for her. I definitely recommend it and also AWOL tours.

 

The ride started off on a path at the side of a road but we were soon on a green belt that was just opened up to riders. It was nice...if a little chilly at that time in winter but the scenery was great  and in summer I would imagine it would be even nicer. First stop was Klein Constantia. I don't drink wine but I know that mrs. deano is a huge fan of the stuff and I am happy to take pics and video of the places we stop. We were fortunate that one of the owners was hosting today so we got to hear about the history of the place in addition to the wine stuff but I laughed to myself when he started asking if we wanted to purchase some wine. I mean, how the heck are we going to organize that while we are part way through a 2 week trip and have no cash or ID with us and we have to travel across three continents to get home? Well, mrs. deano was way ahead of me - she whips out the credit card that she had stashed in her bike shorts (that only have one very small pocket), fills out a form, ships the wine from their distributors on the West coast of the US to the East coast NY hotel that we are staying at on the return home and bingo - 8 bottles of red purchased thank you very much. She is an expert and I am a rookie. By the way, the wine made it safely and was indeed waiting for us at the other end. And now we also have the US distributor contact to order more every time we travel to the US. Could I have been any dumber?

 

Our first stop - Klein Constantia

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I bet this looks even nicer in summer

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After the transaction was completed we were off to the next stop along quiet back roads. We stopped often to talk about the mountains, the trees and the birdlife. I only had my iPhone and GoPro so no bird pictures but if you really wanted to and felt safe riding with a camera in a backpack then it would have been perfectly acceptable to take a dslr and decent lens - I wished I had.

 

It was getting towards lunchtime by now and the temperatures quite pleasant if a little overcast but the riding was nice enough now that the chill in the air was gone.

 

Next stop was great but I forgot to write it down. They had chickens though. Does that help?

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Nice place and they had a cafe next door and a great restaurant

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And friendly dogs always get our attention

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Amazing scenery (iPhone panorama)

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We thought about staying for lunch but decided that riding after that might not be much fun for mrs. deano - she was wine tasting after all and was doing so quite a lot! I thought you were supposed to spit it out? So, instead of a big lunch we had a nice coffee and a piece of cake in their cafe and then completed the tour. We were given the option of Nils collecting the car and picking us up but it was only 20 minutes more ride back to Constantia Village so we did the full trip. Nils then dropped us back at the apartment and after freshening up we decide to try for Table View again as this might be the "best" weather we were going to get before we head to Zambia the day after tomorrow.

 

We got across to Table View and it was spectacular although not perfect for photography. I spent about half an hour on the windswept beach taking pics of Table Bay and Table Mountain and then we hopped into News Cafe for another cuppa and to warm up.

 

iphone panorama again...very handy

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A very hazy Table Mountain. You can make out the cable station though.

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And the view up the beach

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Back to Cape Town where my plan had been to drive up Signal Hill to watch the full moon rise but it was very cloudy and while that would not have put me off I could tell that mrs. deano was not up for it  so we lingered over a nice dinner before a short walk and a cosy night in...this time we had figured out how to leave the heating on before we went out! Jamesons was definitely getting hammered tonight.

 

Lawful Apartments under a cloudy full moon sky

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Day 5 Cape Town:

 

Our whale watching trip had been rearranged for today but was, sadly, cancelled again. Our plan was therefore to drive somewhere along the coast for a leisurely stroll but we woke to lousy weather and opted for a drive to another winery/restaurant where I have to say we had a fantastic lunch. The place was called Bread and Wine at Moreson and is another one that we can recommend. After lunch we wanted to try somewhere new (anywhere we fancied on the route home) but when the satnav ran out of power somewhere near Stellenbosch I decided that it would be fun to try and find our way home without the aid of technology. We had nothing better to do but 60 minutes later we were still in Stellenbosch so I eventually resorted to Google Maps and Cellular Data!

 

We finally made it home and since it was still raining the only thing we could sensibly do was walk around the mall and then retreat to the food market for a snack and cup of tea and to buy some breakfast for our incredibly early start tomorrow. We were flying at 6AM or something stupid and normally that would be a no no but since this flight went to JoBurg and another on to Lusaka...well, I could live with it...even it if meant a 3AM alarm call!

 

Cape Town compilation video for anyone interested.

 

 

Film quote for this installment is one of my favourites  "...why you going to the airport? Flying somewhere...?"

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

 

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Posted (edited)

A great report so far @deano. A pity you were in Cape Town during that storm but we needed the rain (and still do)!

 

That 2nd wine estate that you stopped at while on your bicycle ride looks like Buitenverwachting. Lovely wines.

Edited by Davesg

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Posted (edited)

A great start, with beautiful pictures of Cape Town. Amazing views from Table Mountain

 

The wine tasting looks good, and you of course had your Jamesons tasting!

On 18/08/2017 at 0:10 AM, deano said:

we went to the nearby Cape Grace Hotel to sample their Whisk(e)y Bar (decent Whiskey has an "e" in it)!

 

Some from Scotland might say that "decent" whiskey has an "e" in it, but excellent Whisky does not;)

Edited by TonyQ
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Well this report is getting "Dumb and Dumber"  :)  Love the movie quote idea, but no one else is playing! (and you never gave the answer to the previous installation...)

 

That bike ride looks like a fantastic idea! A definite possibility for a future trip.  Too bad the weather didn't cooperate for your whale watching though.

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Thanks for the winery ID @Davesg - that's 127,000 points in scrabble! I don't think there are any bad wineries in the whole of SA and we haven't even tried the Route 62 ones yet. 

 

My dad would take issue with both us @TonyQ as he says the best one he has tasted is made in England in the Lake District. I'll get the name and maybe you can try it and let me know what you think? We're in the UK ourselves next year for the first time in many years so I will order some and have a taste for myself.

 

@janzin - thanks for playing. It was of course The Perfect Storm followed by Dumb and Dumber which I was hoping to include later in the trip if I had seen a mocking bird. How I would have loved to do that whole road trip scene where they sing their own version of the song (I think its actually called hush little baby). Working on day 6 now...a day of travel ended with 2hrs of Lower Zambezi magic......

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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Day 6 Travel to Lower Zambezi:

 

As much as we like Cape Town it was now time to move on to Zambia and the Lower Zambezi. We had our early start planned out with a breakfast of croissants bought fresh last night and then a quiet drive to the airport - well, quiet until some idiot set off the car alarm while loading the bags into the vehicle (apologies to anyone staying in and around Lawhill Apartments for it was I that woke you up at stupid o'clock). Not a car on the road nor was their anyone at the car rental return when we got there in the dark but a friendly chap soon arrived and sorted us out quickly. We had to push the bags on a cart through that weird underpass thing that links car rentals to the departure terminal but it got the blood flowing on a crisp but clear morning and it looked like the bad weather had gone at last.

 

A full breakfast was in order before the flight to JoBurg where we then had a coffee and a piece of cake before the flight to Lusaka. All went well and we were met at Lusaka by a rep form one of the agencies that helps you through passport etc. Not something we asked for or expected but seems to be part of the trip with the agent we use but welcome all the same especially when it looked like our bags had not made it.  But they actually turned up on the very last baggage delivery and so no drama and then an hour or so to wait before our charter to Jeki. We opted for a charter as the scheduled flight leaves a bit late and so the first night at Old Mondoro feels a bit short otherwise. Besides, it was actually not much more for the charter and worth it as we arrived in bright sunshine with about 2 hours before sunset so enough time to see the beauty of the place we love.

 

Leaving Lusaka

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Cockpit iPhone panorama over the Zambezi taken by my clever wife...wish she would pick up a dslr!

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With only us on the charter it was easy to spot our vehicle and driver on arrival at Jeki International Airport. "Oh look", I said, "its Maxwell from last year".  Turns out he is called Marshall and I had called him Maxwell last year and for the first part of the drive this year. Sorry buddy!

 

After marking my territory aka using the green door aka watering the plants aka having a pee, we set off to camp along somewhat familiar tracks with Marhsall telling us which staff were still there, who had moved on and so on. All interesting but when we asked him about sightings he told us about a cheetah that had been seen around Jeki Plains.  We were staggered as we had not expected that at all and more so as we had been to Madikwe last December specifically to find cheetah and been unlucky. Maybe Lower Zambezi would deliver one for us?

 

The area looked a bit greener than out last two visits and that was due to some late rains. Marshall headed down onto the Winter Thorn forest and asked if we wanted to try and find a young female leopard that had killed an impala. She is notoriously skittish and indeed sometimes aggressive so he warned us not to expect anything but we set off in that direction but of course stopped to admire the scenery and animals along the way.

 

My favourite antelope and plenty of them in these parts. Hello mate. Remember us?

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Hope you have on factor 50

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Resting croc

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Can't resist the birds around the water

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Two or is that three with the reflection?

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Fishing for afternoon tea

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We arrived in the area where the leopard was supposed to have her kill stashed in her tree but there was no sign of both. Marshall asked if we wanted to move on or stay a bit and see if she popped out. We went with stay a while and were rewarded when she eventually showed herself and then played hide and seek with us in pretty thick vegetation. Marshall repositioned several times and eventually we got to see her properly. Gorgeous young female.

 

Out first glimpse 

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A bit nervous

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Definitely keeping her eye on us

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Now looking at the vehicle

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After about 15 minutes of this hide and seek she moved out into the afternoon sun and sniffed around the base of a thicket. Soon after she picked up the impala carcass and moved it right across the front of the vehicle. How lucky are we? Only been here 30 minutes and we're watching a leopard with a kill. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?

 

What have you got their Madam?

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Yesterday's impala kill

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Cropped portrait

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Moving off to stash the kill

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Wow. Amazing stuff and we were delighted but this special sighting got better when she took the kill to the base of a tree. Would we get to see here hoist it up there?

 

Dragging impala towards the trees

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Eyeing up a good spot

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Well yes. We were very very lucky and watched this tiny leopard drag her impala kill up a tree.large._DSC5588.jpg.2a74cf1eff405cf51e34b98d29fd3c3b.jpg

 

Into the fork 

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Checking for other predators

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After giving us a great view of her kill she then gave us a great view of her tree climbing skills as she hoisted the carcass up into the higher branches out of sight and out of reach.

 

Should I go that way?

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Or that way?

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Decision made

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Still plenty of meat left on the carcass

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Our last view before she hid herself and her meal for the night

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That was a great first 'high profile' sighting and actually turned out to be one of the best of the trip. I don't care if it came on the first drive and we were very happy as we headed off to Old Mondoro to meet some familiar faces and a couple of new ones. We stopped along the way to admire some more typical Lower Zambezi scenery and wildlife.

 

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Once at OM we were greeted warmly by Juliette who was on loan from Chiawa (our next camp) to cover for the managers who were on leave. Juliette was a lovely genuine and warm person who we liked instantly. We talked a bit over the customary arrival drinks and nibbles and were then shown to our room for the next 4 nights. Tent #3 (which was Tent #4 the first time we came...erosion by the river causes tents to be re-built from time to time) was where we stayed on out fist time here in 2015 and we loved it so were very happy to bag that one. Situated on the lagoon that feeds into the Zambezi river we knew that the food and water was a draw for hippo and buffalo as well as impala and waterbuck and of course elephants!

 

A video of the day attached for anyone with the time to watch GoPro and iPhone clips. 

 

 

And for those playing the movie line game  - "...you've got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky...?" That should be an easy one as well.

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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Just Wow. First day in the bush :)

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Excellent sighting on that first drive. Waiting out the leopard was worth it!

 

Bonus points to mrs. Deano for coming through in the clinch for impromptu wine purchase!  That'll be so nice when you're home enjoying and reminiscing!

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wow, incredible leopard sighting--and on your first drive! How lucky can you get!

 

We have that same JNB-->Lusaka-->Jeki connection, over a three hour wait. Wish I'd known about the possibility of a charter flight! Our agent didn't mention it and it never occurred to me that it was a possibility. But too late now, oh well.

 

Had to look up that quote, but once I saw the source I remembered :) I won't say, since once again I cheated!

 

looking forward to more...can't wait to find out if you saw that cheetah! I've read that it was sighted a few times...

 

 

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Posted (edited)

An itinerary even Robert De Niro, Teri Garr, and Richard Dreyfuss would love!  And probably more, but I am only on the first couple of posts!

 

Glad you got up the mountain at last.It was what you were "made to do."  But I don't know who else said that in what movie.

 

What a welcome by the leopard!  Although it is not a movie quote, Virginia Woolf might be appropriate:  “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

From a leopard's point of view, that kill was downright gourmet!

 

You and Clint are both very lucky.

 

Great GoPro.  The evening sky was perfect on it.  I wondered where you got that music.  Lovely credit at the end.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Thanks to all who take the time to read, like, comment etc.

 

Wow indeed @wilddog  - leopard sightings seem to be high on everyone's list (guides and guests) and we know how lucky we were with that one.

 

@amybatt please don't encourage her. The credit card numbers are already worn out but you are quite right that the wine did add to the enjoyment when flicking back through our pics and videos. The wine is gone already but two more cases on order for us to collect when we visit Tampa next month.

 

Where exactly are you staying at @janzin? Jeki is fairly well East and I believe that is where the cheetah hangs out. Hopefully you are down that way but if not then maybe it will try another open area closer to you. Thanks for playing along. That leopard certainly "made my day!" (not an exact quote I know but close enough). Next installment coming up.

 

@Atravelynn - welcome on board. We bought the Chiawa Camp Choir CD while we were there and even though we had read about them we were taken by surprise when we first heard them "Live at Chiawa". There were not many that didn't shed a tear when they started to sing so I thought it was an obvious choice for all of my videos. One of these has also become my ring tone.....I'll let you guess after you have heard each song! Richard Dreyfuss may or may not feature again...........................................

 

 

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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Wow, what a cool Leopard sighting Lower Zambezi gave you as a welcome. I somehow feel that place really likes you. Very much enjoyed your Cape Town photos, now I am quite sorry we did not go up the mountain. Sorry to hear you were not so weather lucky there.

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Day 7 Old Mondoro, Lower Zambezi:

 

We met our fellow guests before dinner last night as well as the staff and guides. Would you believe that two of the guests had been there at the same time as us last year and it was great to catch up with them. Both just love the bush and are very well travelled so a great source of information and when I tell you that their visits to Old Mondoro and Chiawa are in the low 'teens...well, you know they love the place like we do if not more. Maybe we'll get into double figures. Who knows?

 

We made plans for a game drive with head guide Sebastian for the morning. We had done this on previous trips and always had good luck. We had a great meal in relatively mild temperatures all washed down with my Irish Whiskey of choice before heading off to bed. I set up the GoPro to do a night time lapse just to see what was in the lagoon (for the geeks I used a 5200mAh power supply and with a fully charged GoPro battery + the power source I can easily get 12-14 hours depending on TL settings and air temperature). Early in the morning I was woken up by a strange noise and I wondered if it was a hippo or an elephant in the lagoon. It was neither. Mrs deano was snoring! I could not get back to sleep and since there was no spare room I decided to get up and get dressed (and by dressed I mean clothes + fleece + hat + spare blanket) and sat out on the generous porch. It was a couple of nights past the full moon but still very bright and I was able to easily pick out hippos going about their routine. It was one of the most amazing things I have seen and I was glad for my wife's penchant for snoring! At one point, a hippo plodded out of the water literally feet from where I was sitting. I had the camera but just didn't want to miss the moment and that is yet another sighting that I will lock away as one of my very best. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?

 

Here is the lagoon that I watched for the last couple of hours before sunrise

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Next morning we had the usual camp fire breakfast (porridge, toast, coffee with something in it to keep the chill off) and set off with Sebastian. Just us two in the vehicle - they always manage to cater for all interests at Old Mondoro and everyone gets to do what they want. On our previous two trips we had gone out with Seb on drives the first day and he told us we brought him luck as we had seen a lioness with three cubs on each of them. Today though he asked if we wanted to look for the elusive cheetah up near Jeki as nobody had managed to yet capture anything other then distant images and it seemed that there was a a bit of competition between guides and indeed camps to get the first proper sighting. What do you think? Yes we did!

 

Heading out of camp we soon find a warthog.

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Early morning track heading to Jeki

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Eastern edge of Jeki

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Along the way we chatted with Seb about the possibility of cheetah in Lower Zambezi; how did it get here? is it alone; will it survive? Seb had a long career in guiding and was probably as skilled, if not one of the most skilled, of any guide we had encountered but all of our answers were of course speculation. There had been a reintroduction 20+ years ago but it was doubtful that there was still a cheetah left from that. Anyhow, first up for us was a nice small herd of Zebra...at least I thought they were nice but more on that later.

 

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And an LBR but in black and white because he was on the wrong side of the very bright morning sun

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Seb stopped frequently and scanned the plain with his binoculars and asked us to do the same. We were looking at termite mounds, under bushes and along the very edge for anything that looked likely when all of a sudden Seb directed us to look all the way across the plain at a light colored object. When I say all the way across the plain I do mean all the way. Measured in 1/4 mile increments and not yards! This thing, whatever it was must have been nearly a mile away! 

 

I took a photo on every setting that I had to see if we could enlarge it on the LCD and confirm. Seb did the same on his camera but neither of us could get anything decent and below is my best effort (its a bit dark because of high shutter speed to try and counter the camera shake of a 400mm lens at the very limit of what it might possibly be able to do).

 

Lower Zambezi cheetah on Jeki Plain.

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What do you mean you can't tell that it's a cheetah? Of course it is and this photo proves it! 

 

Actually, through binoculars we could tell it was cheetah but we needed to get closer for a better picture. There were no tracks across that part of the plain so Seb warned us that this would be a bumpy ride across what was a dried out flood plain full of elephant and hippo prints...you know the sort. It took us 30 minutes of bone shaking with only the company of red billed queleas to give us something to look at. Finally, we got closer and then the cheetah got up and moved into some shade just near that tree to his right in the (spectacular) image above. We edged closer but could not see him and then our zebra friends popped into frame on their grazing route. We thought that we might actually get to see a hunt as they had a youngster with them so we settled in. What we actually got to see was the exact opposite when the zebra spotted the cheetah and he knew it and then moved into deeper cover. We got the odd glimpse of bushes moving and tried very hard to locate him but in the end we didn't want to pressure him. We must have been at this for well over an hour and all for nought thanks to our naughty zebra.

 

We headed back toward camp now (all that bumpy driving meant that a green door stop was urgently needed) and Seb asked if we should try for that leopard that we saw yesterday. Of course we should. Along the way we did get to see two really peaceful elephants on their way down from the escarpment to the forest and the river as well as some queleas sitting still for a change.

 

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Black and white 

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Kudu heading for shade already

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Another elephant on his way down to the Zambezi

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We got to the area where we had left the leopard last night but there was no sign of her of her kill. We directed Seb to the tree we left her in and looked all around but still no sign. This leopard was well known for not liking vehicles and often charged them so we just assumed that she was hiding if she was there at all so when Seb repositioned to get us a look in another area were were very surprised to see here literally feet from the side of the vehicle and hidden under a fallen tree in thick bush. She snarled and bared her teeth and then made a small charge before backing off. I got a few pictures but all totally out of focus! She was moving quickly and soon disappeared and this is the only half decent pic that I got. Would have been nice with her eyes open!

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It was a good sighting all the same and we were still pleased to have seen her but we all decided to leave her alone as she clearly didn't like the attention she was getting. After a drink stop we headed back to camp and after stopping to observe some ground hornbills we arrived back to find we had visitors. Elephants and buffalo were often found in camp and today was one of those days.

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Our tent #3 on the left.  That 'middle' tree is just outside the door and favourite scratching post for a cheeky chap known as scratch.

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Always something going on in that lagoon.

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A lazy lunch today and a bit of relaxing around camp before our afternoon fishing activity. I watched this little bird for ages before I was able to get a photo. 

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As with our previous trips Johan was taking us fishing today. As with previous trips I caught absolutely nothing. As with previous trips the scenery was amazing. As with previous trips it was still fantastic. Mrs deano caught nothing either but we do really like being on that stretch of river and would not swap it for anything. I took along my camera and was able to get off some pictures of the usual suspects (no - that is not today's movie quote - far too easy) all while enjoying the fantastic Zambezi River and the conversation and of course a large Jamesons thank you very much.

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Better fisherman than me

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Definitely a better fisherman than me

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Probably the best fisherman of all

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The scenery never gets old

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Mrs deano fishing but not catching

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An obligatory iphone panorama

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We were scheduled to meet a vehicle back at camp for a night drive but we were a little bit early finishing our trip so we had the chance to chat with Juliette for a few minutes while enjoying some refreshments around the camp fire. I managed to set up my camera and without asking the ladies to keep still while this geek does his thing this is the nicest of about 5 images where we all were sort of still for the period that the shutter was open. These types of pictures are among my favourites from the trip as they show the people and the place in a way that isn't often portrayed.

 

Old Mondoro bush TV - front row seats.

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The night drives here are done with a red filter and whilst that does cut down on the amount of light available I was still able to get pictures that are useable for this trip report and this leopard on the prowl is one such picture.

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We left the leopard to its business and returned to camp very happy with our day. We hadn't had the luck of yesterday and the cheetah and the young female leopard had definitely got the better of us today but we were on safari in Africa doing what we love and thats good enough for us. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

 

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GoPro video to complete the day

 

 

And of course today's quote - "but what I do have is a very peculiar set of skills, skills that I have acquired over a long career...".

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

 

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Ah so you did see the mystery cheetah!! Great photo :) I really wonder if its still in the area or will be when we get there in September. We are staying at Amanzi camp, which is just a bit further upriver from Old Mondoro. Jeki is our arrival airstrip.  I know that  @CaroleE stayed there recently and was able to do a full day game drive to the Jeki area--whether or not she saw the cheetah is still a mystery, as she hasn't gotten that far in her trip report yet!

 

I've read that some think the cheetah crossed from Mana Pools, but who knows. Cats will roam!

 

As for this movie quote...no idea...these are tough!

 

 

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Thank you @michael-ibk  - the feeling is mutual with us and Lower Zambezi. Very special to us. We've been lucky with the weather in Cape Town on previous trips so we just got out turn for bad weather.

 

Everyone should go up that mountain any way they can (walk, cable car, full day hike from the back side or whatever) - it is stunning.

 

@janzin I looked up Amanzi and it looks great. It is actually downstream of where we were and we were close by a couple of times on game drives and it is gorgeous scenery...but it all is! I will be heading over to @CaroleE's trip report to check that out as I too would love to know if she got to see the cheetah and to read about the rest of their trip. The Mana Pools theory would appear to be the most sensible but even that would be a stretch looking at the depth of the Zambezi, the width of the river and the perils of a crossing! 

 

The movie was "Taken" with the words spoken by Liam Neesom's character! Will try to make today's a bit easier.

 

Kind regards

 

Deano.

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@deano  Thoroughly enjoying this report and in particular, your obvious love for Africa :)  I too, was Taken by Table Top mountain (ahem- I think I'm right), but seriously, the one time I was in Cape Town (which I really enjoyed), Table Top proved elusive due to weather and managed to get it on our last day there. I was so thankful, because it is not an experience to miss. If I ever go back there, I'd go there in a heartbeat. The one thing I always regretted was not doing a wine tour (just didn't have enough time) and that would absolutely be remedied if I went back. Not so sure about the biking part, but absolutely sure about the wine part :)   Looking forward to more of the report.

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Working on the next bit now @Imonmm. Thank you for reading. We experienced the Table Cloth one year and it is amazing to look at and then another year, like you, just made it up there and as we drove away they closed the cable car. I could honestly not get tired of visiting Cape Town. Biking trip was great and really not hard at all. We've done 3 different bike tours there now and would not hesitate to do another.

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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