Saturday, 9 July 2016

African Adventure Part 3

African Adventure - Part 3


We made it through the 1hr 30min flight on the small plane with no problems although a few passengers felt a little airsick. I had a travelcalm and a couple of bottles of Ginger Beer which I think really helped.

Kasane is the airport nearest to Chobe National Park and this is where we land and transfer to the hotel in a mini bus. It is only about 20mins away. Our hotel tonight is the Chobe Bush Lodge. A large modern hotel located just outside the park.

Across the road is the Chobe Safari Lodge a sister property located right on the Chobe River. From here we board a small flat bottomed boat for a leisurely sunset cruise. This river is the meeting point of four countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia.

There is activity right from the very start, birds in the local vicinity preening themselves in the afternoon sun, an elephant having a bath on the river’s edge putting on a real show of splashing and spraying water towards us.

A little further down this river we come across an elephant carcass. The lions had killed the elephant the day before, had their fill of the meat and moved on. The vultures were in today picking the bones clean.

There were some crocodiles on the bank were also enjoying the afternoon sun, while giraffes amble along behind on their long legs. Hippos on the island in the middle of the river grazing on the hip high grass were a sight to see. Being in the small boat we could get nice and close to these animals grazing on the edge. Truly a photographer and animal lovers delight.

We headed back to the dock and were very lucky to witness an amazing sunset, the colours were a wonderful range of reds, orange and yellows.

Dinner in the hotel tonight was al a carte, extremely tasty and modern, not what I was expecting. Of to bed for a good night’s sleep as we have an early start tomorrow.

It is still dark at 5.15am when we are woken by the alarm, but if we want to be in the park when it first opens at six am, we need to get moving. We are rewarded with viewings of lions, baboons, impala, buffalo, zebras, hippos and more elephants. We were soon joined by a few other vehicles, at one stage there were eight vehicles traveling in convoy. Once word came through of a leopard sighting up the mountain everyone took off, trying to get the best spot for a photo. Things became a little chaotic and nerve wrecking when we are stuck in sand on the side of a mountain, but our trusty driver soon had us back on the track. This is a stark contrast to the private concessions we have visited in the last couple of days, really did feel like we were just another group rather than the VIP treatment at Gunn’s and Pompom camps.

Back to the hotel for a quick breakfast before boarding our mini bus and heading to the border of Botswana and Zimbabwe.

I am sure our guides were helping to speed up the process which we were grateful for, a few forms to fill in for our visa, and a short wait in line for them to be processed and we are on our way again. The drive was only about 2 hours of easy travelling on good sealed roads.  We stopped and inspected a couple of hotels along the route, great for future reference. Mid-morning we arrive at the town of Victoria Falls. There are shops, markets, street sellers along with other interesting road side stalls especially if you are after stone carvings or unique African souvenirs.

Our accommodation tonight is at the A’Zambezi River Lodge. A hotel with rooms spread over two stories and lots of lush grass areas and gardens throughout the grounds, giving it a relaxed feel. In the near distance you could hear the Zambezi River flowing past. A light lunch in the open cafĂ© and a quiet afternoon siesta was in order before we set off for a sunset cruise, with drinks and canapes adding to the ambient experience.

After so much activity during the day, dinner is looked forward to tonight. We were not disappointed, a delicious buffet of salads, barbequed meats and a vast array of deserts. I tried most of the meats that are unique to this area, including warthog and crocodile. I was a little hesitant at first but they were really tasty and cooked to perfection.

After a good night’s sleep a couple of our group choose to go on an early morning walk with lions. I have to admit I was a little torn as to whether to go or not as there were reports in the media those lion cubs were being raised at this park and then released in other areas of Africa. I was concerned that they maybe for game hunting. I decided to go and see for myself. I am so glad I did. We were transferred from our hotel to the park, had a basic continental breakfast while the other half of the group went for their walk. Then it was our turn. We set off along this long dusty track, with sticks in hand for personal protection. Then we saw two lions lying beside the road resting. We had the opportunity to have photos taken with both the male and female 2 year olds. Then they slowly rose and started ambling off towards the main camp. We walked alongside, patting them, taking photos and just soaking in their gentleness. A photographer was there taking a video of the experience and I bought it to remember the amazing feeling. We had the opportunity to speak with some of the guides and volunteers, a whole different story was told and I felt more at ease with my decision to embrace the visit. 

Quick trip back to the hotel and we are off for more hotel inspections. We had the chance to visit The Victoria Falls Hotel a lovely 5* property located within earshot of the mighty Victoria Falls. Then it was off to The Kingdom Resort and its sister property The Stanley and Livingstone at Victoria Falls, located also within walking distance of the entrance to the falls but with more family friendly facilities and nightly rates. 

We drive for about 20mins out of town and arrive at The Elephant Camp Lodge. I thought this was just the name of the lodge but we are in for a very special surprise. We head down to a small clearing and ambling along the pathway coming towards us is a small herd of elephants. A baby, just a couple of months old, his brother and sister, mother, aunts and uncle and his grandmother make up this family unit. We have the opportunity to feed them, give them a rub and of course have our photos taken. My heart is beating out of my chest and the young ones slobber mud on my arms and face, I am so excited. We are there for ages listening to the staff explain how these beautiful animals were rescued from a nearby village. They are now free to wander the area and interact with the local wild elephants if they choose, but they come home at night and are watched by three spotters while they roam for their protection. Wild Horizons run this particular camp and do a wonderful job of not only education and interaction but also conservation.

I really start to wonder how anything can top the experiences of the last six days. 

We reboard the bus full of laughter and excited chatter heading towards the mighty Victoria Falls. After grabbing our ponchos we take a leisurely stroll along some well-marked even pathways and then almost out of nowhere we catch our first glimpse of the massive amount of water cascading over the cliffs. The roar can be heard almost from the car park. There are lots of vantage points along the 3.5km walk, each just that little bit different. 

Dinner on our last night was at a Boma. A traditional Zimbabwean restaurant, with great food, dancing and local entertainment.

It is off to the local airport the next morning for our short flight to Johannesburg. Here we had time to buy some local souvenirs from the large variety of stores. Everything you can imagine from the continent is sold here, making it easy to take home not only memories but gifts as well.

A bitter sweet moment as I board the Qantas plane to head home. A wonderful experience and one I won't forget, I know I will definitely return in the not too distant future. 


To view the photos from this segment of the trip head to 



My educational was hosted by Africa Wildlife Safari Co. All costs were borne personally by me. 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

African Adventure  Part 2, February 2016

……and not 10mins later we were landing at another short dirt airstrip after seeing lots of elephants, zebras and giraffes from the air.

A quick transfer to the lodge in a jeep especially designed for game drives, tour of the facilities and our rooms and it is time for brunch. Similar set up to the last one, but each camp has its own personality and unique touches; we are all excited to see what awaits us.

Now its siesta time and already I have adapted to the local way of life, but our room is so hot I opt for a swim and nap by the pool. Now that we are refreshed and relaxed it is time for afternoon tea before heading out on our next adventure. Our driver guide is Max and Sunday is to be his spotter and tracker, two locals from a small village not far up the road.

We leave the camp very excited, and head towards a large waterhole only about five minutes away.  What a great start five elephants ambling along beside the water gave us a great photo opportunity with their profiles reflecting in the water.

First sighting ticked off the list we head off again, towards the bush in the distance this time as it is time for the animals to source their evening meal. Just a short distance away we come across two juvenile giraffes craning their long necks up to reach the new growth on the lower branches. Mum was keeping a close eye on them from just a short distance away.

As we are now on a private game concession we can venture off road, and this is what we do in search of our next animal encounter. A sole elephant was soon spotted not far away. Huge in our eyes as he was so close: but only a teenager apparently. Showing traits of human teenagers and trying to show off, he was kicking the dirt with his feet, throwing dirt in the air with his trunk, showing displeasure at being watched he started towards the rear of our vehicle. Then he quickly ran straight for us, Max just as quickly threw the jeep into reverse and showed his domination, the elephant then took off in another direction. You can just imagine six Australian women, scared by a male elephant, saved by an African male, thrilled to be in the wilds of Botswana. It was many many minutes before our heart rates returned to anywhere within an acceptable range, we were laughing and joking, but the more we talked about it the closer and faster the elephant charged, bit like a  fishing story really.

What else can top that? News that cheetahs were sighted the day before, in the near vicinity. Being in a jeep means we can cover so much more ground, we are following a dirt road when Sunday spots some fresh lion tracks. Quite large and indicating he was walking along at pace,we are hopeful of spotting him. We weren’t to be disappointed; a large male was lying in the middle of the road resting, breathing heavily. Another pair of lions had been sighted nearby (which is who our first lion was looking for). We head off and soon see another male and female pair. It is Valentine’s Day and they were definitely on date night. After getting some very close up photos we leave them to their privacy and start heading back to the lodge. We had come a lot further away from the camp than expected, so we stop for Sundowners overlooking a waterhole, before continuing on the dark. Sunday was amazing with his spotlight, finding a Serval which being nocturnal is very rarely seen.

Another wonderful meal awaits us on our return. Just before we return to our tents we are treated to a lightening show from the main deck, but once again the rain doesn’t fall. We are escorted back to our tents as the danger of wild animals is real. A quick shower in our outdoor bathroom and then it is time for bed. I am exhausted, so I fall into the very comfortable bed anticipating a wonderful sleep. About 4am this was interrupted by loud noises outside our tent. It truly felt like they would be coming in the front door next but the noises started to fade in the distance. I doze off again and the next sounds we hear is our coffee being delivered by the staff. On our way to the dining room we see the evidence of our visitors last night, hippos had sprayed across the pathway marking their area.

A quick breakfast and once again we set off, a little further south this time as this is where Max thought the cheetahs may have been headed. It was also in the direction of the river where we would ride the mokoros upstream. Some hippos lazing in the water were nearby, and then we saw some hyenas. We were following these through the scrub when then changed direction and picked up the speed. They were being chased by a Warthog family, Mum, and Dad and their young ones. Quite a sight, I feel like we are on the set of The Lion King.

We had only just alighted from the jeep and set off in the mokoros when we were asked by our polers if it was alright to return to our starting point. A little confused we agree, Max is waiting for us very excited as he has found the cheetahs. We set off as fast as the rough roads will allow and this time we are rewarded with a mother and her two cubs about a year old. They are seeking shade to rest from the heat of the day after a morning feed. So amazing to watch and again we got so close to them without invading their personal space

Back to the mokoros for a ride up river, morning tea on a small island before heading back. Very peaceful; but informative at the same time. Did you know some fish build nests in which to lay their eggs? It true, we saw many of them. The birdlife here was also amazing.

A short ride back to camp in the jeep and it was time for brunch and siesta. A swim and relax by the pool before an afternoon nap, I could really get used to this. A quick afternoon tea and we head off in the opposite direction towards a large wide stream.

A large crocodile is basking on the bank and ever so slowly slinks into the water as we approach.  Then we come across a large pod of hippos. Little did we suspect at this stage that this drive should have come with an X- rating as we were captivated by the male hippo and his harem. The females exhibit all the signs they are ready, the males then take their pick. Again we dissolve into fits of giggles with all the commentary from the front seat. Recovering from that, we continue on and come across a large family of baboons. The males of this species obviously had the same idea as the hippos but instead of trying to drown the females, they would chase them up the tree. When the girls were at the end of the branch, the boys would bounce up and down trying to shake them off. When the females dropped to the ground the chase would be on again. So glad we don’t have that ritual.

Sundowners tonight were beside another waterhole where we saw an otter. The drive back to camp in the dark was once again well rewarded by Sundays tracking and sense of direction (aided by a radio call from another group) we came across two wild dogs that had just killed an impala. Apparently wild dogs are one of the rarest sightings on safari in the Delta so we were very lucky.

A three course meal with lamb roast as the main was well received by all as we had burned so much energy laughing.  

We opted for one more early morning drive, sadly no new animals were sighted but we did stop for coffee right beside a waterhole that was home to about 15 crocodiles of varying sizes.

Sadly this is where we say goodbye to Max and Sunday who have been wonderful guide’s with great knowledge to share and great sense of humour. Our next flight is for 1hr 30mins, a little nervous about this ride in such a small plane but I am armed with Travelcalm and ginger beer……… 
This is the link to the photos taken on this part of the trip