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Namibia, Botswana & Zimbabwe, first time but not the last time!


Ladouce

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Ladouce

Tuesday 16 September 2014: The big five!

This afternoon during the final game drive this trip we finally saw the last animal of the big five. After the elephant, buffalo, rhino and lion we can add the leopard. And how! I'm quite a bit proud of myself because I saw the animal under a tree. What a beautiful elegant and tough animal.

 

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We also clearly saw the difference with the cheetah we saw earlier in Etosha. A cheetah has round spots and a leopard has rosettes. Our catch was directly shared with all the other guides and soon there were a couple of cars next to us. But we were first and were satisfied with the sighting so there was big smile on our faces when we got back to the lodge. Especially since we already saw a lioness. Our guide, Moses, asked us when he picked us up this afternoon what our wishes were for today. As if they can just open a can of animals. Anyway, we indicated that we wanted to see the cats and had preference for the leopard. As it turned out, in the morning there was a large group of lions who feasted on a baby elephant. For your information, this elephant was probably born too weak and died a natural death. This we knew because our fellow passenger yesterday has seen the baby elephant while it was being supported by adult elephants. It was probably already much weakened. So like a bunch of idiots we raged through the park to this place which was pretty far in the park. On arrival there was (thankfully) not much left of the elephant, and there were only vultures on the carcass. Too bad for us. But it could be that the lions were still around and sure enough, we found a lioness was too tired and satisfied with her belly full with the good meal. Under a tree with her were her kids but they were almost invisible.

 

 

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Because we were pretty far into the park we had to drive back again at high speed and yet I saw the leopard, lying under a tree, hidden by the bushes. Oh and one German fool who was not hard to spot. This fool thought he could ride across the sandy paths of the Chobe park car with rear wheel drive car. Not so. He had quite buried its rear wheels and could not get out. A park ranger wanted to liberate him but probably was got stuck herself so we might as well help. Unfortunately for them it did not work and we were also stuck at first but were soon released. There were more cars in the neighborhood who could try it and on our way back we met a car from a ranger who was on the way to help. Now we are still here after enjoying the food. This is our last night in Botswana. Tomorrow morning we go to Zimbabwe for our last vacation days.

 

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Edited by Ladouce
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Ladouce

Wednesday 17 September: Zimbabwe

After another great and tasty dinner last night we packed our suitcases. It took some time to get everything in the suitcases because the last 2,5 week we have been travelling with a car. During that time our car was also a large storage space. Since we have already turned in the rental car the transfer from the Bakwena Lodge in Botswana to Ilala Lodge in Zimbabwe will be with a chauffeured car or taxi, just what you call it. Our car was right on time and we say goodbye to the ladies of the lodge. Those were beautiful days and we may go back again. Within 5 minutes we are at the border post of Botswana where we get an exit stamp. Then to the Zimbabwean immigration office for a visa. The row is pretty long and we are therefore waiting for quite a while before we can hand over our 30 USD per person for a sticker and a stamp in our passports.

 

If we had paid extra (they ask openly for "extra income") it had gone faster but we did not want to do this. And fortunately for us because after we got our stamps it seems that we have to wait for 4 other passengers from South Africa and Australia. After less than an hour we arrive at Victoria Falls where we check in into Ilala Lodge and we can directly go to our room. We also directly arrange a helicopter flight above the falls for tomorrow. And as the temperature is already rising again we also book an afternoon boat ride. After we have arranged everything we venture out to walk around Vic Falls. Very special because we are not accustomed to this since we left Swakopmund. Between there and here we have only eaten in the hotels and we travelled by car. Whether self-drive or driven by. It is therefore very though although that is probably more the temperature because it has now risen to 36 C or more. Victoria Falls is not very interesting. There are many souvenir shops and that's about it. We find a nice hideaway to get some food and we do another round of souvenir shops before we go back to the hotel to get ready for the boat ride. The boat ride this time is on the Zambezi River, with a nice little boat, the Ra Ikane.

 

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It can seat up to 16 passengers and we are this time with 11. On board, everything is taken care of. Nice cold white wine, good food and cozy German tablemates. Mother and daughter. Daughter works here in Zimbabwe since May and mother is visiting her daughter. The boat trip is wonderfully refreshing and again we have seen a new animal; a turtle.

 

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And some old acquaintances, elephants and hippos. Always good. Because we've had so much food lately we decide to take it easy tonight. The snacks on board was also quite a lot so we first take a relax a little bit in our room and then go to the bar for a drink and maybe have something small to go with it.

Tomorrow is our last day here in VicFalls but certainly not the least. We first take a helicopter flight over the falls and then visit the falls on the ground.

 

Addition: we just heard a noise on our terrace and there was a hippo eating from the grass. Unfortunately a little too dark to take a decent picture.

 

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Very jealous of your helicopter flight it must have been a blast! I really enjoyed the microlight but it was a tough choice between the two.

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Atravelynn

"On the way back we came in the same sandstorm and in the center of the storm we could not see a hand before our eyes. Luckily our car was faster than the storm, and did we have good visibility again on the last part of the road."

 

That is a powerful force, isn't it? Those nice dune shots must have been taken before the big storm.

 

Your ele perspectives are especially fine.

 

This is a pretty funny description of birders who have only a one-track mind: "people who cannot seem to get enough of each bird that flies around but otherwise have no eye for other beautiful things to see."

 

Pat yourself on the back for being the one to complete the Big 5!

Edited by Atravelynn
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elefromoz

@@Ladouce, just curious what's going on in #27, 2 people with the 2 Elephants, feeding them?

 

I wouldn't have liked seeing the baby Elephant losing the fight for life, seems so tough after such a long gestation for the mother. A win for the Lions I guess.

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Ladouce

@@dlo

Helicopter ride was great. For me it was an easy choice because although I liked reading your report about the microlight, it is not for me. I was very nervous about the helicopter ride as well but as soon as we were up in the air it was magnicifent. The view is spectacular but that is probably the same as from the microlight.

 

@@Atravelynn

Yes, the pictures are all made before the storm hit is. It was on side a little scary but to see mother nature change from lovely into such a powerfull force is also great to see and luckily we were in the car.

I hope I have not offended some birders here on Safaritalk but I felt it was such a shame to miss all the greatness you see and only focus on everything that has wings.

 

 

@@elefromoz

Correct, I think those elephants were walking in a private garden of some kind of resort. So these were the guys from that resort feeding the animals. It was weird to see.

We were lucky not to see the actual elephant, I was very relieved about that. I know it is nature but sometimes nature can also be cruel in our eyes.

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Ladouce

Thursday 18 September: The Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders)

Our last vacation day was marked by the Victoria Falls. This morning we first have a helicopter flight over the falls and then we visit the park to view the falls from the ground. This time again a photo report.

 

 

View on the falls from the helicopter:

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Landing of the helicopter, Tim was sitting next to the pilot:

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Entrance of the park:

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There is some wildlife in the park:

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Local schoolkids on excursion to the falls:

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Besides the hippo we saw at the first night, there were also wart hogs in the garden of the hotel. I believe that they sometimes also have elephants walking around. And for sure there are monkeys (baboons?) because you are warned to close the terrace door of your room.

 

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Tomorrow our long journey home starts. At 10 o'clock we are picked up to be taken to Livingstone airport in Zambia. Our flight to Johannesburg departs at 13:30. This flight takes 1:45 and then begins the long wait at the Johannesburg airport for our return flight which leaves at 23:15 you. That will be much reading and shopping. If all goes well we are back on Dutch soil Saturday morning at 10:20.

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Ladouce

 

Thank you for the aerial images of “the smoke that thunders”.

I hadn't heard that name before. It's an aptly descriptive phrase.

I hadn't realized that helicopter views of Victoria Falls were offered.

Warthogs in the hotel garden? Nice!

I've greatly enjoyed your trip report.

Tom K.

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Marks

Great images of the falls; I especially enjoyed the one that was taken at an angle.

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Neeners815

Loved the falls pics. Thanks so much for sharing them and for your trip in general. I've really enjoyed it!

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Atravelynn

Beautiful day to view the falls. I was getting woozy looking at that angled photo.

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie

@@Marks

@@Neeners815

@@Atravelynn

 

Thanks for the compliments. But I have one last part of my trip. It is a kind of over view and my personal thoughts about this trip.

 

~ @@Ladouce

 

That's even better!

What you brought away from your safari in your heart matters most of all.

Photos and incidents are wonderful, but most precious are the glowing feelings after a safari.

We're fortunate that you'll share such personal thoughts with us.

Thank you.

Tom K.

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Ladouce

Friday 19 September: The 24-hour trip home

Before I describe our last travel day I want to say something about this trip. We started in Namibia which was our main destination. In the 2 weeks that we were here we have only visited a small part of the country but with many high lights. The start was a bit rough with the suitcases not arriving but after this all went smoothly. The 4wd Toyota Hilux was our great friend and has not let us down once during the more than 3,500 kilometers, not even a flat tire. Some travel agents say that you can do this trip with a 2wd and yes, you can. But we were quite happy with a 4wd because not only do you have better visibility because of the height, it is also much more comfortable on the gravel roads of Namibia. Occasionally we had the idea that our fillings and crowns would come out and fortunately we have no screws somewhere in our body. Because if so, these would have to be tightened upon returning home.

 

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Namibia is a land of diversity, dry, humid, green, dust, hot, cold, desert and more. You are very much on your own. You meet other people but only in the evening at the lodges. And even then you sometimes have little contact. During activities we booked there was more contact. For example, we met a great American Chinese couple during our cruise in Swakopmund. After Namibia, we stayed in Botswana for 3.5 days and in Zimbabwe for 2.5 days. Too short to give an opinion on the two countries. We have the idea that this is less rudimentary than in Namibia but this can be a totally wrong impression. Chobe in Botswana is a beautiful park where we definitely want to go back to. Victoria Falls was a nice ending to our trip but cannot compare with anything else what we've done and seen. It's super touristy, lots of street vendors and even for Dutch standards it is quite expensive. The two nights here were the most expensive of the whole trip.

 

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But, it was a wonderful trip. We have seen so much. Went from high light to high light. Every time we thought, it cannot be more beautiful and then the next day again we saw something beautiful. I cannot say what I liked most because we have seen so many beautiful things. The red dunes in the south. The dolphins and seals on the coast. The animals in Etosha. The hippos (and other animals) in the Caprivi Strip. The number 5, leopard, in Chobe. The Victoria Falls. I really do not know. What I do know is that we will definitely go back to the south of Africa. Which country I do not know. We will have a look at this next year.

 

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To give our passports even more color our flight is not from Victoria Falls but from Livingstone in Zambia. This town is located a few kilometers from VicFalls and is also an easy drive. We only had to buy a visa. Luckily this time it was easy and quick and we were pretty fast across the border. Only our driver forgot to take 2 people from Zimbabwe, so we had to go back again. An extra ride between two border posts. Quite quickly afterwards we were at the airport and there it again all went fast. We were at the departure lounge at 11.00 while our flight was only at 13.30. Fortunately, in Zambia they also have free wifi and which made the wait a little easier. The flight to Johannesburg took less than 1.30 h and to our great surprise, we even got a sandwich. With KLM you only get peanuts or a waffle on these short flights. Since we had not seen any of the shops when we departed for Windhoek (they were not open that early) we now took our time to look at some shops. But only after we had a delicious espresso with a large muffin. The shops are beautiful and have a wide choice. Certainly the wine department, which is like a candy store to me. Through our travel agency we had made a reservation for one of the lounges at the airport because we had quite a long wait (8 hours). This is very nice because you have a nice waiting area with comfortable chairs and you can make free use of the facilities. This includes drinks and snacks. At this moment we are still here. Our flight leaves at 23:15 and hopefully we can get some sleep. Tomorrow we are back home.

 

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xelas

@@Ladouce

With 8 hours and free wifi you could plan your next visit!!

A wonderful trip report, and knowing it was done "on the run" only enhance my appreciation. The writing ant the photography both were superb. The last two panorama shots are to be printed and hang on the wall!

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Ladouce

 

 

That's even better!

What you brought away from your safari in your heart matters most of all.

Photos and incidents are wonderful, but most precious are the glowing feelings after a safari.

We're fortunate that you'll share such personal thoughts with us.

Thank you.

Tom K.

 

 

 

@@Tom Kellie

I like the way you say this. For me that's what really counts. But photo's add to the memories or bring back memories. Also writing a diary during the trip which this trip report actually was, gives me my memories. And to be honest, I have great memories of this trip. As many of you had before, Africa gets under your skin. So we are going back, next year! Unfortunately we cannot afford it to go back every year but at least we have something to look forward to.

Edited by Ladouce
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Ladouce

@@xelas

You have a good sense of humor. I would love to go to Africa every year but sometimes things go different. For instance, this year my husband runs the NY Marathon and a trip to NY is not cheap. And a trip to Africa is not cheap at all. Especially if, like you, we like to drive around in a 4WD.

 

But as I said, we go back next year, love to go to KTP, enjoyed your trip report and looking forward to this area. At least we have another year to practise our photography skills!

 

The 2 pictures are printed plus some others. Luckily this is something my husband can do for free through some of his contacts. So we have these pictures really large on our walls.

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michael-ibk

Really enjoyed your report, especially the landscape and waterhole photos. Thank you for sharing!

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  • 6 months later...
Dave Williams

An interesting and informative report. Thanks for sharing.

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