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Just returned from the breathtaking beauty of Zimbabwe. Many folks we met were happily surprised to see Americans in their paradise as it appears our countrymen do not visit; perhaps Hwange as a stop after Vic Falls, but not many venture further into the park and I was given the job to please spread the word...I keep my word and will return as well!

 

Jud and I were so thrilled every day. How did we not plan this earlier! The amount of wildlife, the ability to walk and get so close and spend hours observing the behavior of lions and ellies was for us the treat of a lifetime. Elephants greeted us as we drove into our first camp, Trichillia which we found to be absolutely lovely and the ellies lived with us for three nights. Boswell, Curly, Big Vic waiting on the road for us...Did Craig call ahead and plan this greeting? A drive to the next camp was a treat... and the camp itself felt so wild and gave us many opportunities for walking, canoeing and fishing! Ellies and Kudo hung out in camp, as well as baboons. I've never seen so many baboons as in Mana, and hippos as well! Don't get me started on the lions we hung with.

 

Flying between camps was perfect; gave us aerial views of where we had been and where we were going. What a way to travel. Matsuadona and Rhino Camp were amazing. Stories to come. Hwange and Somalisa Acacia were a pleasant surprise; we were having such great sightings there I did not want to leave. However, Camp Hwange was blockbuster chock full of large herds of buffalo, lions, roan (16 at once), so many elephants I lost count; and a sable greeting us on the drive in - which was a bit longer than I perceived, but all bumps and bruises forgotten once we arrived. Who has a gorgeous sable greeting them into camp?

 

I have bruises on my knees from all the crawling on the ground to get as close as we can to the wildlife. Best souvenir to bring home!

 

Since we are moving tomorrow, I just wanted to get something down to thank everyone on Safaritalk who had posted scores of exciting trip reports on Zim; and those in particular who gave me much needed advice. Youall know who you are and I thank you sincerely. @ZimGirl; @@Sangeeta, @@Whyone?, @@wilddog, @@Pennyanne, @@Maki...oh I know there are more.....

 

A special delight on our first night was when Craig produced a bottle of wine left behind for us from .... and his family. We toasted them, and gossiped (not really) about ST. Craig is the BEST guide we've ever had the pleasure to travel with. His knowledge. tracking abilities; and what I called, his mental telepathy; his love of the bush were so evident throughout. Craig is definitely happiest when seeing and living amongst his beloved wildlife. He told us we were "lucky" with our sightings; I say we were "lucky" to have booked with him.

 

Because of the move, I do not have a proper trip report ready, nor pictures....However Craig made a short vid showing a few highlights and some opportunities we stumbled upon that I did not capture on flim, but he did. A little tease for a big experience.

 

Zimbabwe has now replaced all others as my most favorite destination. The beauty, the wildlife, the people...how can one not love it all.

 

Oh dear....as usual a problem. I get a notice that the Craig's film is too large... Anyway around that? I have no control over cutting it as it was produced by Craig.

 

Will try to get my self together after the move and get my own pics and raves together.

 

I want to go back tomorrow and start over again. That was my daily "mantra" to Craig. I'm sure HE was ready for US to go on home :rolleyes:

 

UNBELIEVABLE -Zimbabwe. Won my heart for sure.

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@@graceland - I am so pleased to hear you enjoyed your visit to Zimbabwe and you didn't return feeling it had been over-hyped by the rest of us.

 

Now you have a problem - once you have experienced the freedom of being able to walk / hop out of the vehicle whenever you fancy...where do you go next?!

 

Hope your move runs smoothly and without event (some things are best without excitement and adventure!)look forward to hearing much more once you are settled.

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Welcome back here as well, @@graceland . As always your enthusiasm brings a smile on my face. Great to hear you had such a good time, and looking forward to your report. In the meantime, good luck with your move! :)

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Well here is the REAL deal :rolleyes:

 

The truck was stuck in sand;

 

post-5364-0-46876700-1411752390_thumb.jpg

 

 

Therefore:

 

post-5364-0-11803200-1411752294_thumb.jpg

 

 

Craig read me a story about Mana in a local "Safari Magazine

 

with me --

 

in a very nice nook of a Baobab tree

 

post-5364-0-12977300-1411752238_thumb.jpg

 

 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it ;)

 

Hope ya'll enjoyed my report with accompanying pictures to complete the incredible journey.

 

:D

Edited by graceland
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So you spent, what, two weeks reading the Safaritalk magazine under that tree? Truly, a unique safari experience, you´ve really proven your commitment to this site. And well worth going to Zim. :)

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So you spent, what, two weeks reading the Safaritalk magazine under that tree? Truly, a unique safari experience, you´ve really proven your commitment to this site. And well worth going to Zim. :)

It was worth every penny to be able to sit under that tree for a spell.

 

Seriously, does anyone know how I upload a video? Do I put it on You Tube on something like that? Thanks

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@@graceland - I am so pleased to hear you enjoyed your visit to Zimbabwe and you didn't return feeling it had been over-hyped by the rest of us.

 

Now you have a problem - once you have experienced the freedom of being able to walk / hop out of the vehicle whenever you fancy...where do you go next?!

 

Hope your move runs smoothly and without event (some things are best without excitement and adventure!)look forward to hearing much more once you are settled.

@@Whyone?, There were way too many excellent reports and pics for me not to be excited; but I admit on the plane I did have a moment when I thought, OMG, I hope...I hope...I hope.. lord of the wildlife please shine down on us.

 

The BEST part was as we were driving in on Monday, everyone from the game count was driving out! We were thrilled to hardly see a soul in our spots. And when we did it was usually someone Craig knew.

 

 

Well, just say we were a bit blown away, really having never been to an area where real walking takes place. Moli is beginning his operation of course in Ruaha but he hasn't the implosion of wildlife that all share the same space.It is more hit or miss and could take a while.

We had never been exposed to such a garden of eden in ONE spot..usually one is driving from one area to another looking for one species. In Mana they just congregate.. It was AMAZING. The same in Hwange at the waterholes; like an office party! And when one was drunk they became rowdy. Great fun!

 

Next? Well we had a few talks with Craig, and we shall see ;) Coming home to a large move is quite overwhelming.

 

Thanks for asking!

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A vid Craig put together.....at about "2:00" we walked upon these guys and they never saw us.....terrific time sitting and watching

something I've never thought I'd ever see....

 

The two women you see walking with us towards the end were Mgrs from The Hide visiting Jenny at Rhino Camp. We all went out for a sunset boat ride, and George and Craig decided we needed to go find lions. Happily, they succeeded

:)

 

 

http://youtu.be/dIk6VHOt3f8

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@@graceland

 

That video is set on "private", you need to change the settings to public so that we can view it. And we really want to. :)

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@@graceland

 

That video is set on "private", you need to change the settings to public so that we can view it. And we really want to. :)

And here I was so proud of myself for finding you tube and uploading it....do I go back to you tube? Lordy....life gets too technical. I remember slides....does anyone else? :D

 

Good thing I haven't started drinking yet, I think I found the spot on YTube to change to public. See if its a go....thanks

 

And thanks for letting me know!!

 

On my way out so I hope it works! Its really the 2:00 spot that I wanted to show as I have NO photos of that..the sun was in my eyes!

Edited by graceland
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Enticing start! The bottle of wine is such a nice touch. Almost a GTG.

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Hey Mods,can someone delete my duplicates.....No. 6 AND 7 ;Have no idea how that happened; although from PAST experiences, my TR' are NEVER ever problem free.....One reason I am waiting to see what happens with what I do post now.

 

 

THANKS whomever is in charge of this while GW is playing with Safaridude in Zim.

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On 9/26/2014 at 11:08 PM, Atravelynn said:

Enticing start! The  bottle of wine is such a nice touch. Almost a GTG.

Yes, we were trying to connect in Hwange but the L-O-N-G drive to the airstrip interrupted my more than hopeful meeting (and they were doing a game drive in, and so not to be....) Bad luck.

 

oh well,everyone at Camp Hwange was looking forward to their visit....Hope they had "our luck" with the Roan and Sable! Plus......

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The video is super - jealous of the leopards and dogs and - well all of it really!!

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Ah, here´s the leaping lion! Great video, love the roan herd at the end.

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..... while GW is playing with Safaridude in Zim.

:blink:

 

Bad..... :P

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The Sable is beautiful, one of my very favourite antelope and sadly not one you encounter at Mana....I really need to get out more. :(

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Beautiful film, good report (considering your moving and all) . We loved Zim. Next time we want to get up to Mana. I keep thinking my daughter will be getting married soon and a safari would make a good honeymoon/wedding present -- but then I guess it wouldn't be right to ask if we could go along with them, would it?

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Great start, @@graceland. Loved the video. Also the picture of you under the Baobab tree :rolleyes: Please provide lots of details on the trip, lodging, logistics etc. Zim is on my list :ph34r:

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The Sable is beautiful, one of my very favourite antelope and sadly not one you encounter at Mana....I really need to get out more. :(

We were very lucky to see Two!! I could not believe it.

 

And it was on our "game drive" transfers from an airport to Hwange --and the driver (who shall remain nameless-- but not Craig) kept going....I screamed...wait, wait..wailt. I have to see the Sable! (And I am not a screamer.) I try to be very polite to my drivers/guides BUT this was special!

 

An aside, here....I am at the new place, on the river, there are dolphins leaping, geese flying and a most lovely young spiked buck just walked in our yard. I am in Wildlife haven and best of all, need not buy a plane ticket.

 

All Str's are welcome. Just bring wine. :D

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On 9/27/2014 at 11:54 PM, AKR1 said:

Great start, @@graceland. Loved the video. Also the picture of you under the Baobab tree :rolleyes: Please provide lots of details on the trip, lodging, logistics etc. Zim is on my list :ph34r:

Will do @@AKR1, thanks for watching the vid. We saw way more than on film, but I feel Craig was trying to highlight the 12 nights.

 

Zim was absolutely amazing. It was wildlife overload. We had a private trip with Craig Van Zyl, and since only the two of us...we split our time between his "mobile tented camp" which worked well in Mana Pools - LOVED it; but when we left Mana we stayed in permanent tented camps as it is not economically feasible to transport the mobile camp to Hwange , etc for only Two.. We loved his choices.....RHINO camp in Matusadona - owner run and managed; Jenny was great...I think there were five huts, not sure....Only us; and then two mgr. from The Hide came for 2s night so we all had a great time together. We met two ambassadors the first day who were leaving and invited us to their embassy. We took a pass; but I did get their email addresses!!

 

Off to Somalissa Acacia, which is the "side" to be on.....an amazing plunge pool (I'd never use) turned into Ellie haven. Every night we had them in camp with us as we dined under the stars. Only three or four tents so incredible attention and views. I walked to the other side and not very impressed as there was no view from those tents. I have to have a view if I travel so far...(YES, I am picky). And of course this is where the Wild Dogs came to drink!! And a special sighting which will be in my TR!

 

I loved this camp as it was very private and the Mgr on site was very accommodating; nothing set in stone. Of course it helps to have your own guide with you to get away with all that!! Was nice to have real showers and take as many as you want to cool off! They told me it was only 3 yrs old and you could tell it had many updates the other camp did not. Again, nice to have it all to yourself with your guide! Details will be in my TR.....but I also think camps are impt and I wanted to get that info to you.

 

On to Camp Hwange, a most beautiful camp in another area of Hwange, where there are more cars self driving, but water pans everywhere drawing the wildlife in....I loved the golden grass and the plains....very "Out of Africa" to me; although some think it too close to Vic Falls and lots of folks. We DID not see that. Again, your guide would keep you away from public campsites. As opposed to .... we had amazing sightings here...just amazing is all I can say . Luck of the draw as it was hot and everyone came to water. IF not for water, it would probably be difficult. So time of year imp't - Herds of buffalo that I had never seen except in the Mara; Herds of Roan, very unusual, and of course the lions and ellies fighting for water rights! It was the loveliest (and newest) - the resident guides were terrific; but the food was - all I can say - less than stellar. How can people put so much money into the location,the tent amenities within; the ambience, the guides.....and serve the worst food I've ever had in Africa. Truly. And I am not picky, but for some reason they could not get it together. Bland and boring. or Tough and Gristly meat...the wors

 

I stirred my food around on the plate each night. I was warned of this beforehand; but it was still a bit of a surprise. Funny, the hors'dourves before dinner were good!! Oh well...that happens; but I'd be embarrassed if I owned the camp.

 

And, one of the owners was there with a group from France. You'd think he would have tried to impress his OWN! They did bake a good french bread for the group...so I have to give them credit for that :D No cheese though! What!!! A baguette with no cheese; horrors. I kept telling Craig I wish he had brought Kishmo with us (his most talented bush chef ever!)

 

Food aside , the game sightings were excellent.Even though Hwange is not a "walking destination" Craig took us out to a great area with many kopjes' and we were happily joined by many different species. You just have to get out of the vehicle and discover them on foot!

 

Logistics: VERY easy from the states. We flew SAA --IAD to JNB; 2 hr layover - onto Harare; arrived at our lovely guesthouse around 10pm so we did not see much of it; but the bottle of wine and a bath were superb! We had booked the same on our last day - late afternoon which gave us plenty of time to chill before the long flight home next day. SAA is not my preferred mode of transport in biz - but it is direct (for us an hr stop to gas up) and we never worry about missing a connection.

 

Once in Harare, the most beautiful; friendly and accommodating place with a lovely garden and pool (again did not use) of small (five rooms) with a chef that I'd invest in (Patrick) if he ever opened a restaurant! We were the only guests (they cater to a biz clientle during the week) and I felt like I had my own home with a chef and lovely assistant and did not want to leave; it was so beautiful and peaceful after a crazy 13 days....Craig came over with his kids, and it was delightful. Patrick prepared us an amazing 5* meal - just the two of us, and treated us as if we were royalty. He is a gem... Ridgeway House. Craig recommended it to us.

 

Zimbabwe was in our opinion the most beautiful and friendliest country of all we had visited. It is very different from Kenya (Mara area) and Bots- wilder, less populated and you feel you have the whole place to yourself. You must go! Everywhere we went we were thanked for coming; as they said Americans do not come. We are a crazy group; we should go more often! Of course the first question arriving home....."Was it safe?"

Maybe not for the wildlife, but yes for humans.

 

So there is my TR on camps. Whew, one less thing to worry about :D

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An aside, here....I am at the new place, on the river, there are dolphins leaping, geese flying and a most lovely young spiked buck just walked in our yard. I am in Wildlife haven and best of all, need not buy a plane ticket.

 

All Str's are welcome. Just bring wine. :D

 

Wow, that sounds wonderful @@graceland, sounds like the move will be more than worth the effort.

 

Iw as sitting in our garden this morning, cup of tea in hand, watching the autumn mist gently clear, revealing a small group of grazing fallow deer and thinking ' this isn't so bad', but I do still hanker for my daily walks along the beach on Marco with just dolphins, manatee and birds for company.

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Beautiful film, good report (considering your moving and all) . We loved Zim. Next time we want to get up to Mana. I keep thinking my daughter will be getting married soon and a safari would make a good honeymoon/wedding present -- but then I guess it wouldn't be right to ask if we could go along with them, would it?

Safari is indeed a great honeymoon; esp, Zim as I had the feeling we were the ONLY ones there. (in Hwange of course there were many other vehicles from self drivers as well as our camp; plus some other camps...but we stayed away; except for an exceptional lion episode that Craig found-- and felt he should share with his buddies at Hwange. Everyone gave the lions and the other vehicles plenty of space except for one not so great guide from a camp I was not familiar with who just drove right in the middle of things! Very rude and interruptive to the animals.

 

I have to say I did see a few Wilderness vehicles crammed full =3 to a row, 3 rows; and that would not be my idea of a special safari, so she'd need to research where she was going thoroughly.

 

I mentioned to Jud..."How is it we see these people in camp vehicles and they are not smiling." I am on smile mode the entire time! Just "being". He said, "Craig"

 

After the first, second, third, and on..saving up for a PV or guide is now our first choice. May not always happen, but we will try for it.

 

There are many opinions on where to go; I would have her read through Tr's and pics to see what appeals.

 

When we returned home a neighbor asked me for suggestions for herself/husband and four adult kids. First time and they wanted varied landscape. luxury, pools, and no tents on the ground, ie. walkways - as she is a bit afraid. So...I suggested SA or Botswana. And to come here on ST and read. She probably won't-- and just go with an A&K or some other glossy brochured company....but at least she will come!

 

Happy wedding to your daughter!

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