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Zimbabwe June 2009


Guest sniktawk

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Guest sniktawk

Here is a brief report on the remainder of the remainder of our Zimbabwe trip.

 

Great Zimbabwe

 

For the cultural part of our trip we visited the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and stayed at the Lodge at the Ancient City possibly the most structurally amazing lodge we have ever seen.

The following morning we had a guided tour around the ruins, be prepared for a hard uphill walk. Fairly interesting but I am glad we do not have to do it again.

 

Save Conservancy

This is a game conservancy (which translated means hunting area) we visited here to see a camp that a friend of ours has invested in, we also intended to visit the Wild Dog researchers. The area consists of several concessions that were formerly farms.

 

The camp we stayed at was beautifully rustic in a very nice setting by a small river. Game was generally very skittish (hardly surprising) and was not easily viewed through the dense bush. We did visit a Wild Dog den with researcher and saw around 8 dogs, no pups at this time. The Save Conservancy has the largest density of Wild Dog outside of Selous, here is a link, send them some money.

 

http://zimbabwewilddogs.wildlifedirect.org/

 

Hunting of Wild Dog is illegal in Zimbabwe.

 

Gonarezhou

This was once one of the greatest game parks in Africa famed for its population of Elephants. Sadly from what we saw there is not much game left. We stayed for three nights at Chilo Lodge; this must be in one of the nicest settings imaginable overlooking the Save River as it glides towards Mozambique. This must have once been an absolutely marvelous place to stay; it is now what could best be described as tired. Nevertheless the staff were wonderful and did everything possible for us, even down to getting wine when we had run the cellar dry. We were the first guests for over a month

 

The lodge is outside of the park and requires a crossing of the Save river to get to the park entrance. Game drives are conducted by the Lodge; the area nearest to the lodge is largely woodland although there is a lot of Mopane. Not much game but there is a large waterhole (really a big lake) that must be amazing during the dry season. Whilst we were here we had our first weather surprise rain in June. This needless to say did not improve the game drives. After 3 nights we moved on to Camp at the foot of the Chilojo Cliffs a further two days in the camp, with a few good sightings, not many.

 

Unless you are interested in real wilderness then I would suggest that this is not a good place to go, but if you do you should really camp and perhaps have one night at Chilo Lodge. It would undoubtedly have been better without the rain and would probably be better later in the year, do not expect bountiful game.

 

Next we moved up via Matusadona via Antelope Park

 

What a disgusting place this is based on a totally false premise it is nothing short of a petting zoo; quite how these people get away with it is beyond our comprehension!

 

Worst still it has no drinks license so you must bring your own! I would implore everybody to boycott this and it’s “Walking with Lions” subsidiary.

 

Conservation my arse!

 

Rhino Safari Camp

I have already posted a short report of this.

Just to repeat our greatest discovery since Mapula and an absolute must for a visit.

 

Hwange

Hwange was like most places in that it had suffered from excessive rainfall. This was most noticeable along the main road between Main Camp and Sinamatela water was everywhere.

Needless to say this made game viewing extremely poor by Hwange standards, but the birding was good.

 

We had planned to camp at two or more picnic sites in the park, but this did not come to fruition.

 

All in all not very exciting largely due to the weather and some poor planning.

 

We will definitely return but undoubtedly later in the year next time.

 

 

A return to Hwange, Matusadona and Mana Pools is in the planning stages.

 

 

GO TO ZIMBABWE THEY NEED THE TOURIST INCOME TO PREVENT THE PARKS FROM BEING TAKEN OVER

 

The country is beautiful,the scenery is probably better or at least equal to the Western Cape!

 

The people are great and very friendly!

 

You can buy food and fuel!

 

There is no clear evidence of starvation or degradation!

 

The roads are in a better condition than those in Botswana!

 

There are lots of nice places to stay at around 1/3rd of Botswana prices!

 

It is safer than most places!

 

Images from our trip can be found here

 

http://sniktawkwild.zenfolio.com/p407825015

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, Ken.

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Game Warden

There needs to be more positive reportage like yours Snik so as to encourage visitors back to Zim. Operators need to advise clients well, instead of offering other areas, and also work needs to be done by those in Zim to promote themselves more, whether it be on forums such as here, or blogging, and having a better internet presence. Alas, in general this MTV generation relies on mass media which uses bad news to sell more advertising.

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twaffle

Thanks Sniktawk, as I said earlier, I would go tomorrow if I only could.

Glad to see that things like fuel are available after hearing so many reports that it wasn't.

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matnikstym

I'm another one who would go back tomorrow! Nice report Ken, too bad the weather didn't help. Thanks for the tip about Antelope Park.

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Atravelynn

Another flying ground hornbill. I liked the two in the tree. Great kudu getting a drink. Lovely elephant shots. Save translated means "hunting." What an irony, but how impressive it is #2 in wild dogs.

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madaboutcheetah

There is an article on Zimbabwe in the July issue of Africa Geographic. A good read - and in brief, tells you the same thing ........ GO TO Zimbabwe NOW ...... because the people and parks need you!!!

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  • 1 month later...
Mark Homann

Thank you for this, Sad that you had a quiet experience in Gona Re Zhou, I worked there in the early 90s and while it was always a quiet game viewing park, i had some of my very best experiences there in 18 years as a guide. You are quite right that it is better in the dry season but it has to be one of the finest walking parks in Africa.

 

Lets hope that your words will get people back to Zim, I am guide a group to Hwange and Chizaria in October, will let you know how it goes.

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I would love to hear about Chizaria
The view from Mucheni View Campsite is breath-taking! Also from Mucheni Gorge Campsite. This alone is worth a visit. But I'm not sure if the park would fully meet your expectations - it's more walking territory than game drive land.
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madaboutcheetah

Ken,

 

How does one get to Mana Pools from Vic Falls or Livingstone?

 

Thanks

Hari

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David Youldon
I hope it works as well, lots of work by Frankfurt Zooo will be undertaken in Gonarezhou, lets hope it helps it regain its former glory.

 

I have heard that Norman Monks has been moved to Gonarezhou which if true is great news for the Park but obviously could be worrying for Mana Pools. Can anyone confirm?

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Mark Homann

Chiz is very much like Gonas in that it is harder to find game, (but in my experience Chiz has better game than Gonas if you know where to look for it). The park has a huge number of springs and is the ideal place for people who like to walk and to experience Africa on foot rather than in a vehicle. The park has great diversity from the escarpment in the North and the fascinating Bussi area in the South, but not a good park for people who are looking to see the big five everyday. It has been sometime since i was there but will let you know how it is when i return.

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