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The Southern Africa Explorer: Long Trip Report

Alex The Lion

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Alex The Lion

April/May 2007 – Zimbabwe and Botswana Safari 19 days


- My first return since her majesty decided that service was for me

- Choosing the green season was easy, mostly for photogenic reasons, also because my other experiences had been during the dry season or the start of the green season, December

- Slight photographic nut as you will soon discover

- Agent used : The Booking Company in Maun

- Airline: Used BA miles to fly Heathrow-LVI, and the Jo’burg- Heathrow (via Air Botswana

- Itinerary:


Makalolo Camp – 9 nights Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Kwando Lebala – 2 nights Kwando/Linyanti, Botswana

Kwando Lagoon – 2 nights Kwando/Linyanti, Botswana

Kwando Kwara – 4 nights Okavango, Botswana


Camera Equipment:


Canon 5D Bodies x2

Canon 500 F4 L IS

Canon 70-200 F2.8 IS

Canon 17-40 F4

Canon 580ex flash

Bean Bag

Manfrotto Superclamps plus tripod heads

Manfrotto Tripod


I know that I posted this at the beginning of my other trip report, though helps if you have not read it. This trip was entirely different to the one that I took in April. Following an operation, I was released from my current employer. The package included a gardening leave package, which paid me for 4 months. So, I booked a flight for Livingstone via Jo'burg, playing this on a wing and a pray. I needed the warmth to help me recuperate!! :P


I had tried to organize something through an agent, though the cost I was being quoted for August/September was high by my opinion. It would mean spending a couple of weeks, rather than months, and spending all my money.

I made a direct booking with Mfuwe Lodge, which was reasonable by comparison, and had 16 nights there from the 30th. I had booked one night at Jollyboys backpackers, then set about trying to organize my safari experience. As I landed on the 3rd August, this gave me 27 days to find something to do.

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Alex The Lion

Days 1-3


I was on the BA flight to Livingstone, so landed around lunchtime. I jumped straight into a taxi and headed for Jolly Boys, the backpackers in town. Only booking one night was a mistake, I quickly learnt that they would be full due to lots of students being on their summer break. Fear not, something always turns up. The first thing I did was to visit the Wilderness Safari offices in town. After a short taxi ride, a quick chat and few phone calls later, all was provisionally booked. All would be confirmed the following day, so I returned to chill out at the hostel. The next morning, I had the initial problem of sorting out somewhere to stay. After ringing round a couple of lodges, I managed to pick up two nights at Thorntree Lodge, the right amount of time before I headed off to Zim.


After I settled in, I got a lift into town to do some shopping and pay for the trip. I settled on a Zimbabwean itinerary: (Booked for the start of August)


Mana Canoe Trail x 3nights

Ruckomechi x 1 night

Makalolo x 4 nights


With this planned for the Monday, I simply relaxed at Thorntree for the rest of the weekend. The only provision I did make was to book one night at Fawlty Towers backpackers on my way back. I enjoyed a boat cruise and just relaxed after some anxieties over organising the Zim trip. Thorntree was not the greatest of lodges and will certainly not include on any return trip.

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Alex The Lion

Mana Canoe Trail


Day 1:


The flight to Ruckomechi was delayed, so I missed the first afternoon of canoeing. If I were to do it again, staying at Ruckomechi camp the night before would have the been the best option. Still, I enjoyed a slow game drive to the first location at Vundu campsite. Set next to the river, the mobile camp had a real wild feel to it. Dinner was cooked on an open fire, the toilet a dug long drop and showers were of the bucket variety. I was assigned my ‘en suite’ tent, which would be setup in the same order at every camp site were stayed at.


Dinner was al fresco on the banks of the Zambezi. There were five of us on the trail, so it was an intimate affair. In terms of other staff, there was the walking guide, the river guide, the hostess and a team of four to help setting up camp. With all activities finishing b sunset, by 8, I was ready to retire to my dome tent and enjoy my book.


Day 2:


I was awake before dawn, with the flaps of my dome tent up, the pre-dawn lit up the Zambezi escarpment. My bucket shower and canvas wash basin stand were filled. After a quick shower and shave, I was dress and round the camp fire ready for breakfast. It was your usual affair that you have at any camp.


Around 6.45am we left Vundu campsite, where the river was wide. After around twenty minutes paddling, we slipped into a side channel. There were a few waterbucks along the waters edge, spectacular birdlife, crocs slipping into the water from their basking positions and hippos demonstrating their presence. It is common for the guides to bang their paddle on the canoe as you travel along. It sends a warning to the hippos of you impending arrival in the area. The submerged ones soon pop their heads up to have a look around. After a few grunts, they normally move off into the deeper water of the middle channel.

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Alex The Lion

Zambia, Take 2




The border crossing proved no problem and I soon found myself at Fawlty Towers backpackers. The bonus here is that you do not have to pay for internet usage. I did face was the problem of my Jobo Vu evolution breaking down; luckily I bought my older down loaders with me for this exact reason. The main difference was that they did not have a viewing screen.


Apart from the stresses of possibly losing photos, I now had to again make a plan for what I was to do. I made the decision to go up the Luangwa, so that gave me a couple of weeks before I was due at Mfuwe Lodge. Contrary to popular belief, I felt that I could organize a trip to compliment the Mfuwe portion. It did require having some knowledge of the various camps, but it proved quite easy to sort out.


I booked my flight with Zambian Airways, which would give 3 days to get everything organized. Using the booking office at the backpackers, I then also booked 3 nights at Wildlife Camp. This would give me the opportunity to finalize and contact any lodges if need be. I had decided that I wanted to stay at Tafika, Lion Camp or Kaingo. Tafika had an online reservation system, which I used to check availability. I then sent a quick email looking to stay for around a week. Apart from catching up on some sleep, I again had the problem that my room in the back packers was taken or the next two nights. A few calls got me two nights at Tongabezi at around $150 per night. Though I did have to pay extra for my transfers.

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Alex The Lion



Game Warden, another work in progress so all the report is together

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So we'll get a perspective of someone trained as a guide and a mokoro poler. I am already impressed with the mokoro poling part!

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