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Pennyanne
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Zimbabwe and Zambia - Outstanding!

 

We had an outstanding trip from beginning to end. Wonderful sightings of lions, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, buffalo, nyala, eland, hyenas, giraffes, and so much more. Great walks and some beautiful canoe and boat trips. Not sure where our favorite place was but we have been caught by the very addictive lure of Mana Pools. My husband is now talking about returning there to do some more walking and possibly a mobile camping trip

 

Zim/Zam Itinerary Sept/Oct 2013

 

 

Fly Vancouver, Canada to Victoria Falls via Heathrow and Johannesburg

 

2 nights Ilala Lodge, Victoria Falls

 

Drive to Hwange

 

4 nights The Hide, Hwange

 

Drive and fly to Mana Pools

 

4 nights Goliath Tented Camp, Mana Pools

 

4 nights Vundu Camp, Mana Pools

 

Drive to Chirundu border crossing then transfer by boat to LZNP

 

3 nights Chongwe River Camp, Lower Zambezi

 

4 nights Old Mondoro, Lower Zambezi

 

Fly to North Luangwa via Lusaka and Mfuwe

 

4 nights Mwaleshi Camp, North Luangwa

 

Fly to Tafika Camp

 

4 nights Tafika Camp, South Luangwa

 

2 nights each Chikoko and Crocodile Walking Camps, South Luangwa

 

4 nights Mwamba Camp, South Luangwa

 

Fly to Lusaka

 

1 night Pioneer Camp, Lusaka

 

Fly Lusaka to Vancouver via Heathrow, overnighting in London

 

 

Some general observations:

 

All camps were very comfortable. Some were more rustic than others with no electricity and bucket showers, while others had electricity, hot and cold running water and even a swimming pool. All bathrooms were ensuite and most were quite open with partial walls. We ate at tables with other guests at all camps except the Hide. All camps had excellent well qualified guides who especially the guides in Zimbabwe who were quite exceptional. The camps were fully inclusive providing all food, drinks, and activities. The only additional costs were tips and the micro light flight at Tafika.

All camps had open vehicles and most seated just two guests per row. The exception was Goliath which seated three per row but as we tended to just drive somewhere then get out and walk, this was not a big issue as walking was the main activity. All camps offered walking and most also did drives and some had water activities as well. Tafika also had bike rides although we did not do this.

The most crowded sighting was at Mana Pools when the wild dogs were on the road. There were about 7 vehicles then. The most we had at other sightings was two occasionally three vehicles but that was not common. Usually we were the only vehicle at a sighting. This is one of the joys of these parks.

 

Getting there

 

We flew Vancouver, Heathrow, Johannesburg, Victoria Falls on British Air. A brutally long haul (@ 36 hours) but all went smoothly and we actually slept on the 2 overnight flights so arrived in pretty good shape.

We landed in Vic Falls early afternoon but unfortunately it took hours to get through immigration as they have an extremely slow manual process, then we discovered our checked bag had not arrived so a further delay reporting it. We didn’t get to the hotel until late afternoon which was a disappointment as we had hoped to explore the area and do some shopping or sightseeing that day.

 

Ilala Lodge, Victoria Falls 2 nights

 

We stayed at Ilala Lodge, a delightful small hotel only a ten minute walk from the falls and also near the craft shops and market. Comfortable, quiet room. We slept very well and woke up to look out and see large warthogs on their knees mowing the lawn and later having a head pushing contest.

 

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The restaurant is excellent with a good full breakfast included in the room rate. Baboons patrol the grounds so the dining area is protected by a man armed with a slingshot. He told us if he is there the baboons stay away but if he leaves they will be in immediately. Dinner was great and you are seated in a lovely outdoor garden area. It was my husband’s birthday so we splurged on a very good bottle of South African wine. Reservations are advised for the restaurant – ask for an outside table. We had a good day in Victoria Falls, we slept in, had a leisurely morning shopping for small gifts, a light lunch at Lola's Tapas Restaurant and spent the afternoon at the Falls which are spectacular. Excellent dinner again at the hotel with a herd of buffalo coming into the grounds below the dining area.

 

 

Edited by Pennyanne
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Edited by Pennyanne
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Looks like a very interesting trip - think this is going to be good!

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I love your choice of itinerary. I've stayed twice at Ilala Lodge, twice at Vundu Camp, once at Tafika, once at Mwamba, and once at Goliath. I've also visited Hwange National Park, and stayed there for 4 days. I'm planning to return to South Luangwa National Park next year for the third time and stay for 3 days at Tafika, 3 at Mwamba, and 3 each at Chikoko, and Crocodile Walking Camps. I'm also planning to visit Botswana. I can't wait to hear more about your trip.

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Topic fixed. What a massive trip, can't wait for the stories and pictures.

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Topic fixed. What a massive trip, can't wait for the stories and pictures.

@@twaffle

 

Thank you!

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@@Pennyanne

 

I've been looking forward to your report for some time now, great you started. With a trip this lengthy you must have wonderful stories to tell, and I will certainly enjoy reading all about it. :-)

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@@Pennyanne really looking forward to this. I can't imagine going on (let alone paying for) such a long trip! I have been to some of the lodges (Ilala, Chongwe, Vundu) and most of the parks you visited and enjoyed them all.

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Thanks to all for your encouragement! This will be a fairly lengthy trip report as it was a fairly lengthy trip. So here's the next instalment. Apologies for the photos. I just have a point and shoot so not the greatest quality.

 

 

Off to Hwange

 

Next day we were off to Hwange but first a small diversion. Although we had carryon luggage for ourselves we had checked a large bag of donated items (paper, pens, pencils and soccer balls and jerseys) for a local school near Hwange. The bag was left behind in Johannesburg but arrived on a later flight. Customs would not release it to British Air and we had to go in person to collect it. Locals commented that there would likely be a “cost” to doing this and they were right. This turned out to be quite negotiable and we ended up paying $20 to get the bag released. Not happy about paying anything but they had possession of the bag and we needed to drive to Hwange so felt $20 was worth the ransom. First time we’ve been subjected to a classic shakedown and while annoyed we also saw the funny side afterwards. All part of the travel experience! Then we were on our way for a pleasant 2 hour drive to Hwange Main Camp where we transferred to a vehicle from the Hide for a one hour drive to the camp. We stopped along the way and had an enjoyable picnic lunch watching elephants at a waterhole.

 

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The Hide, Hwange 4 nights The buffalo hunt, dead elephant, and waterhole

 

The Hide is a great camp located beside a very productive water hole which seemed to have a constant stream of animals throughout the day and night.

 

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The camp is very comfortable with spacious thatched tents situated to view the waterhole and animals approaching.

 

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Drives and walks were offered and started around 6:30 am. Our guide, Nicholas, was excellent and had a super sense of humour also. Guests are seated separately rather than at a communal table. This was a disappointment for us and many other guests who liked the friendly communal dining atmosphere. However the food here was excellent – some of the best of the trip with lots of fruit and salads. A nice touch is a wake up cup of coffee delivered to your tent at 5:15. We enjoyed The Hide very much and had some good experiences here which will be described in the next episode.

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Edited by Pennyanne
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Something went wrong here. I was in the middle of editing as some of my photos were in the wrong order, The edit time must have expired, A message said I didn't have permission to edit and it kicked me out. Now all the photos are at the bottom. Sorry about that but I can't get in to fix. Not sure if a moderator can help?

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Really enjoying you TR, I love your itinerary!

 

The photos tell the story of the lion and buffalo interaction, thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

Edited by Treepol
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Memorable moments while at The Hide Hwange:

 

The buffalo hunt

 

We had a superb viewing of a successful buffalo hunt from start to finish. Our guide suggested driving to a large open area surrounded by palm trees as he thought there may be lions in the area and anyway it would be a scenic spot for sundowners. After driving quite a distance we arrived and immediately spotted a group of lions. Five females and a cub about 5 months old were moving around and seemed quite excited.

 

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Two males were under a tree. post-18678-0-12870200-1392579147_thumb.jpg

 

We drove closer and saw the females splitting up and slinking towards 3 male buffalo. One passed by our vehicle. She was on a mission.

 

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The cub seemed to know his part to play and moved closer and closer to the buffalo in a very obvious manner. The buffalo turned their attention to the cub while the females crept into position – one in front, two on the side and two in the rear behind the cub. At this point the two males got up and went to sit on a termite mound like spectators talking front row seats.

 

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We drove over and joined them. We think the lionesses were hoping the buffalo would charge the cub but when that did not happen, suddenly they all moved in unison towards the buffalo who ran. The lionesses leapt on the back of the last buffalo.

 

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They were trying to get into the throat and kill it but had trouble keeping it down so the males ran over and leapt on it.

 

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At this point the buffalo went down and they worked on killing it.

 

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The cub tried to join in

 

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but this was dangerous as the buffalo was still fighting so the male gave the cub a mighty roar and the cub rapidly retreated to a safe distance and sat and watched the adults.

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Finally, after a struggle the buffalo was killed (I hope) and the group settled in to enjoy their dinner.

 

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There was remarkably no fighting over eating and they all shared nicely.

 

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At this point it was getting dark so we drove home for our own dinner, all thoughts of sundowners completely forgotten.

 

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I missed photographing some of the vital action – it was all happening so quickly! However we felt very fortunate and privileged to have witnessed the strategy and execution of the hunt. We were the only vehicle there so just 3 guests and our guide had this remarkable sighting all to ourselves. Our safari was off to a very good start!

 

 

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Something went wrong here. I was in the middle of editing as some of my photos were in the wrong order, The edit time must have expired, A message said I didn't have permission to edit and it kicked me out. Now all the photos are at the bottom. Sorry about that but I can't get in to fix. Not sure if a moderator can help?

 

@@kittykat23uk Thanks very much for fixing my technical difficulties. I have now reposted with photos inserted correctly. :)

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What a great start to a safari, how do you top that, I'll be watching this one closely and hope you do some how.

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WOW!

 

What a day...

I can't wait for more, but the first day got my adrenalin going.

What an opportunity to start the safari.

 

Thanks for perking up this drab day.

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Fantastic start to your trip................... You experienced something that many of us may never see. :)

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@@Pennyanne

Would love to have seen more photos, but I fully understand watching and immersing yourself in the live drama rather than worrying about recording it.

What a great afternoon encounter!

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@@Pennyanne you are so lucky and on your first day in the park! How can the rest of your epic trip live up to it??

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@@Pennyanne

What an epic itinerary - and what a great start to your trip

Very enjoyable - and I am looking forwards to more!

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@@Pennyanne What a sighting! Were both of the male lions collared?

@egiliio Yes they were both collared. And it was a great sighting!

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Lovely back-lit lion to start with… then awesome action.

 

That kudu is special too. Thank you.

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