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Trip report - Zimbabwe - Oct 2011


GovernorPhil
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Itinerary:

· Fly Sydney to Johannesburg (Qantas Premium Economy)

· 1 night at Airport Grand Hotel

· Fly to Livingstone (British Airways) then short drive to Victoria Falls

· 1 night at Elephant Camp (Wild Horizons)

· Fly to Mana Pools N.P. (Wilderness Air)

· 4 nights at Ruckomechi Camp (Wilderness Safaris)

· Fly to Lake Kariba (Wilderness Air)

· 3 nights at Bumi Hills Safari Lodge

· Fly to Hwange N.P. (Wilderness Air)

· 3 nights at Little Makalolo (Wilderness Safaris)

· Drive to Victoria Falls

· 1 night at Victoria Falls Hotel

· Fly to Johannesburg

· Fly Jo’burg to Sydney (Qantas Premium Economy)

 

Agent: Experience Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Contact: Belinda Whitaker

Comments: First class organization. All transfers timely (we chose all lodges, camps, hotel)

 

Highlights – Ruckomechi

· 2 male baboons fighting over a female. Went on for about 20 minutes

· Recent buffalo kill by lions; vultures kept at bay by lion

· Close encounter with buffalo – “stare out”

· Continual elephant incursions into camp. No. 10 damaged whilst occupants still in bed

· Sundowners on mini island with 2 other guests; Kevin (top guide) giving photography masterclass

· Surprise champagne rendezvous by Three Sisters (palm trees) to celebrate our wedding anniversary

· Two-hour bush walk led by Kevin hunting leopard; unsuccessful but still exciting spotting elephants in the near distance

· Leaving camp on our way to airstrip our guide Champion led us to a nine-strong pack of wild dogs

· Elephants swimming backwards in the river on a couple of separate occasions

· Lots of waterbuck in the area

· Night time leopard spot – but poor photos

· 10 minutes sitting next to 4 sleeping lions, one of the females snoring loudly!

· Yellow billed stork attempting to steal fish from crocodile’s jaws

· Bull elephant waking us two nights in a row, appearing at front and at back of our tent

· Spotting Greater painted snipe within 20 minutes of our first game drive

· During river cruise, getting very close to river bank to see Carmine and White breasted bee-eaters

· Excellent genet sightings on three successive night game drives

Highlights – Bumi Hills

· View from our room – bush/waterhole/beach/lake/elephants

· 2 week old lion cub suckling mother

· Excellent birding on shores of the lake, especially kingfishers and fish eagles

· Recently dead elephant near lodge; cause of death not obvious

· Speedboat trip to Starvation Island, catching bream as bait for tigerfish

· Ruth caught two tigerfish, both 2 to 2.5 kilos. I caught nothing and became increasingly cross with myself – sought consolation in two large gin and tonics

· Finding nest and egg of Kittlitz’s plover on the airstrip. Watched as mum and dad camouflaged the egg and tried to distract us away from the spot

· Seeing young baboons swimming and playing in the waterhole below our room

 

 

Highlights – Little Makalolo

· Massive herds of elephants, with very many youngsters

· Lion encounter, where female with 4 cubs returning to the rest of the pride; lots of greetings and vocalisations

· Several sightings of beautiful sable antelope

· Lots also of roan antelope

· Ostrich family of male, female and 5 chicks

· Night drives always included a dozen or more spring hares

· Francolin in camp, waking us at 3:30 am and continuously calling for about 2 hours – definitely a lowlight

· Large pride of lions feeding on 2 baby elephants

· 2 juvenile zebras fighting

· Sundowners by waterhole, surrounded by scores of elephants

· Buffalo taking a mudbath

· Night drive saw leopard at small waterhole – again, poor photos

· Great herd of 50+ eland walking across Makalolo Plains

· Reggie, the Belgian guest, wanted to wander closer to the waterhole to shoot pics of hyena; smartly called to task by the guides

· Excellent close quarters view of yellow billed kite

· Surprise dinner for two by the swimming pool. Sound of buffalo nearby, closely followed by guides telling us to return to main dining area as there were 5 lions in the camp. We eventually had to be escorted by 2 armed guides back to our tent and enter by the side door as the lions were prowling around the front

 

 

Bird Sightings – Zimbabwe

 

 

 

Mana Pools

 

Greater painted snipe

Swansons francolin

Hammerkop

Blacksmith plover

Marsh sandpiper

Egyptian goose

Natal francolin

African spoonbill

Glossy ibis

Sacred ibis

Ruff

Common sandpiper

Lilac breasted roller

Spur winged goose

Open billed stork

Black winged stilt

Squacco heron

Rufous bellied heron

Giant kingfisher

Goliath heron

Little bee-eater

Ground hornbill

Blue waxwing

Red billed hornbill

Fork tailed drongo

Red billed quelea

Grey lourie

Meyers parrot

Red billed helmet shrike

 

 

Bumi Hills

 

Green wood hoopoe

African grey hornbill

Cardinal woodpecker

Grey headed bush shrike

Kittlitz plover

Grassveldt pipit

Brown crowned tchagra

Fantailed cisticola

Golden breasted bunting

Osprey

 

 

Hwange

 

Yellow billed kite

Magpie shrike

Broad billed roller

Tawny eagle

Martial eagle

Kori bustard

Secretary bird

Red billed teal

Coqui francolin

Red crested korhan

Giant eagle owl

Black headed oriole

Violet backed starling

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You got right to work!

 

Wild dogs for you too at Mana Pools!

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OK, I've posted some bird pics and a few animals from my Zimbabwe trip. See my Gallery.

I must say I find the site a little confusing at times. The first 16 pics uploaded fine, the next 4 failed as they were not the right type of file. As far as I can see, there is NO difference in the file type of any of the pics!!

HELP!!!!

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Great report ~~and enjoyed the lion and ellie pics; also the lions with the cubs!

 

Unfortunately I am off no help with pic uploading; I spent most of my own TR "stressing" over the pics (In public- on line of all things) and asking for help just about every day! And I thought I was the only one.....so ~

 

I'm sure GW will pitch in and help you as he did with me - it was encouragement to keep going!

 

Patience is a virtue in Africa and on ST.

 

But please persevere; it is so worth it for all of us...and

 

It does get easier with practice....

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