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Zambezi Canoeing, Mana Pools and Chitake Springs Sept 2011


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I take it you hadn't payed for an exclusive guide and it just worked out that way?



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Where the guides surprised about the elephant that was killed or had they noticed a young injured or abandonned ele? Your shots show the brutality of that lion kill.

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On 1/6/2012 at 1:41 AM, yeahyeah said:

If you had some good night vision gear, I'd seriously recommend sleeping during the day and watching the spring at night. There is a lot going on at this place!


That is such a good idea! Has anyone used night vision scopes on safari before? If so, how was your experience?


I wonder if it was the same lioness that charged .... If I recall correctly, he also mentioned a mom with 2 sub-adult cubs. Perhaps their manes will be mostly in by the time we get there. I'm at a stage when I'm simply pretending it was me that was on this safari, not you :lol: The videos help with the fantasy!

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Amazing trip!


I would gladly donate an arm for a pic like that ellie on it's hind feet.

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On 1/6/2012 at 1:45 PM, Atravelynn said:

Where the guides surprised about the elephant that was killed or had they noticed a young injured or abandonned ele? Your shots show the brutality of that lion kill.


Nobody really seemed surprised. There was a very young ele that was pointed out. It was, for whatever reason, allowed to wander a little further away from the herd than usual. Nothing happened to that one though... at least while I was there. I heard that the lions took down a lot of ele during October and also that there were really good wild dog, cheetah, and leopard sightings.



They were still shooting when I was there.


You know the Walking with Lions documentary that was filmed at Chitake? (I've searched all over the internet and haven't been able to find a copy.) Apparently they filmed for a year or two and the editor(s) told them that they didn't have enough footage which is why they ended up kind of making it a documentary about making a documentary.

Edited by twaffle
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Glad you had such a good trip with Kavinga, I went to Mana with them in 2009, didn't make it to chitake that time but have been there twice before. On the subject of the lions taking young elie's, when I was there in October 2005 they seemed to specialise , pretty much taking one every day and sometimes twice a day. I would have thought from watching documentaries etc that it would be a suicide mission to try and get a baby elie away from the mum, but the chitake lions obviously have worked out how to do it. I always wondered how much it has to do with stress the elie's are under, october is pretty much the height of the dry season its a hard time for them finding enough to eat.


On the staying up with night vision, I have tried it at chitake minus the night vision, when the moon's out your vision is pretty good anyway. The only thing I would say is it's not for the faint hearted, its not so much night vision you need but eye's in the back of your head. Elie's are pretty much constantly coming to the spring, and for a big animal they really do move about silently.


If you google national geographic walking with lions you should be able to find a copy. As you say the Richardson's did not quite get enough footage. I think the sequence of the lions taking down a buff is stock footage not filmed at chitake. I guess thats nature documentaries, even the mighty bbc film in zoo's apparently, and are quite happy to re-hash old footage into new documentaries.

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Sept 22 - Chitake Springs


Our morning walk was to the Badlands area of Chitake. There used to be a village in this area and plant life has not regenerated resulting in barren land with lots of erosion. Of course on the way we checked out the progress of the dead elephant. The lions must have gotten tired of sitting in the sun and guarding it from the vultures. Speaking of which, I at one point counted something like 40 vultures in the surrounding trees.




We didn't find much in the name of wildlife but we did see some petrified logs. I never would have guessed that they weren't wood had I not touched them. During the walks Andy was always pointing out information about the flora, etc.


We eventually ended up on the other side of the gorge near the lion kill. The lions were lounging around in the shade.




We continued the walk seeing some impala and a couple of dagga boys, and then went to have a look at the carcass. It was pretty rancid.








After second breakfast Clyde radioed and let us know that another herd of buffalo were on their way to the spring to drink. They were headed towards the same area we had seen them last time, which is not far from the only road, so we drove up to see them. This time the herd numbered 100-200.


In the afternoon we took a short drive to the end of the access road, kudu and impala seen along the way. The road ends on a small hill with a group of boabab trees and a good view of the Zimbabwean escarpment. This area used to be an ancient burial ground for local chiefs.








We then drove to the opposite end of the road until we reached a place where an old settlement had been. This is a large open area where the Chitake dog pack likes to hunt and we were hoping for a sighting. No such luck so we relaxed and had some sundowners.




This was the first time on my trip that I had a "proper" sundowner as described by others. Generally there was too much going on for us to stop and have a drink and that ain't a bad thing!


An interesting conversation that came up over drinks was the process for obtaining your Zimbabwean guiding license (note: I'm going off memory here so take this with a grain of salt. The exact details may be slightly different). First you have to be Zimbabwean (can't remember if you have to be a natural born or just a citizen). The process takes about four years. During the first year or two you are required to know all of the plants and animals that occur in the country including their latin names as well as all of the constellations. Andy says a lot of this is just a weeding out process so that only the people that really want to guide can do so. After the book studying, two or three years is spent as an apprentice out in the field which is where most of the real learning happens. Near the end of training, each person must run a camp for a week and get evaluated on such things as placement of the loo (downwind is the right place). Each potential guide is also required to shoot certain dangerous game (don't remember the exact requirements). It's one thing to know how to do something, it's another to actually be in the situation and be able to perform under pressure. They want to make sure that you have what it takes before entrusting others' lives to you. The thing that differentiates Zim guides is the extensive training for walking in areas with dangerous game. This is a big reason why they are so highly regarded.


During dinner we had a great siting of a spotted hyena as it walked down the riverbed right past camp.

Edited by yeahyeah
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oops, didn't mean to post

Edited by yeahyeah
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Hey yeahyeah


Trivial question: what do you do about recharging batteries when on a tour of this kind? Is there a generator or do you use disposable batteries (if you can with DSLRs)?

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On the canoe safari there was no way to charge batteries. I had pretty good battery life on the trip since I wasn't really reviewing my photos on the LCD screen (although I should have). I recharged once at Mucheni and once at Chitake. Kavinga has a nice little contraption for recharging batteries that hooks up to a car battery.

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You are most likely thinking of the Richardson's 'Living with Lions'. Their bush camp (assigned by Zim Parks) was further downstream from the spring. So they often missed the best wildlife action. When the operators and tourists occupied campsites, they were restricted from moving up the riverbed towards the spring. Not an ideal situation for filming.


I was there over 10 years ago, when I took a walk down the riverbed past their camp. They tried to tell me I couldn't do that- walk in their area. It might have worked with other tourists, but it didn't get far with me. I believe Rod had a similar experience.

Edited by luangwablondes
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You are most likely thinking of the Richardson's 'Living with Lions'. Their bush camp (assigned by Zim Parks) was further downstream from the spring. So they often missed the best wildlife action. When the operators and tourists occupied campsites, they were restricted from moving up the riverbed towards the spring. Not an ideal situation for filming.


I was there over 10 years ago, when I took a walk down the riverbed past their camp. They tried to tell me I couldn't do that- walk in their area. It might have worked with other tourists, but it didn't get far with me. I believe Rod had a similar experience.


Ok, I guess they made Walking with Lions and then Living with Lions which followed them while they filmed Walking with Lions? That's what I'm getting from this link http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/01/0103_030103_lions.html


I did actually find Walking with Lions on google video (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7592341395951782790&hl=en). I haven't watched it yet, but by skimming through it, it appears like a good amount of time is spent filming the filmmakers.


Anyway, I'm not even sure why I brought the other documentary up lol.

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Sept 23 - Chitake Springs


I had heard the lions close to camp all night so as soon as it was light enough to see I got up. There were some lionesses and 4 cubs at the kill. By the time it was light enough to see a little better they had dispersed.


The two adolescent male lions were lying not far from camp so we went to go have a look.




After a little while Clyde heard lions mating so we took off looking for them. It didn't take long to find them but we didn't get a very good view. Anytime we would try to approach, the female would retreat. The male probably wanted to charge but he wanted to be with his female friend even more so he just followed her. We decided there was no point following them since we would just keep pushing them off deeper and deeper into the bush. The only shot I got of the male is this one of it hidden behind some bushes. See him?




On the way back to camp we came across the skull and vertebrae of an old dagga boy. You could tell how old it was by the smoothness of its horns, worn down over time through rubbing against trees.




We drove as far as we could to the boabab trees and got out and started walking. As we continued farther upriver the banks get steeper and steeper. We eventually traversed down the steep cliff. We were headed to see the dinosaur fossils. We continued up the riverbed until we reached the fossilized bones and then turned around and followed the riverbed back to camp. Not a lot of game but we did see some other cool things like a dried out millipede and a dead dried out monitor. Plenty of leopard spoor around.




Having a look at the fossils





All along the Zambezi and Chitake Rivers there are trees like this where the earth has eroded away and roots stick out over the riverbed.





Unfortunately it was just about time to leave. As the last of camp was packed up I took some pictures of birds and geckos around camp. I went down to the spring and I seriously almost cried. I really didn't want to leave as I didn't know if I'd ever be back to Africa for a safari.


The previous night, Rod had offered to let me stay at Kavinga's new fishing camp tonight, free of charge, and I actually turned it down. If I would have done that I probably would have missed the Devils Pool experience at Vic Falls which I had already booked. In hindsight, if I considered the price of the Devils Pool thing as the price for staying at the camp it would have been SO worth it and I could have done Devils Pool some other day. I was kicking myself for making that decision the rest of the trip. Oh well.


That being said, everything came together perfectly and the planets seemed to align for me whilst on safari. I had 4 days with a private guide even though I didn't pay for one, and the rest of the time there was never more than 3 other guests. We were the only group camped at Chitake. I got to run away to avoid being trapped by buffalo, I got to pursue wild dogs as they pursued impala, I got to climb a tree as a herd of buffalo surrounded me, I got to walk with lions (real lions in the wild), I saw wild dogs almost every day in Mana, and I saw an elephant stand up on its hind legs.


I have nothing to compare it to, but I simply cannot say enough about Kavinga Safaris. They really went out of their way to make this trip happen for me and catered to my unusual transfer requests. With the rate I was charged and the number of people that were in camp, I don't even think they made money during my stay but they did it anyway. I was not expecting the level of service they provided and they were great hosts. Everything was about the guest. Before leaving for my trip I was asked about any drink preferences so they would know what to have on hand. I was also asked about any activity preferences (into birds? walking? photography? fishing? etc). I was always asked what I wanted to do for the day (I always just did whatever the guide thought we should do as I figured he would know best). The food was great, I have no idea how they prepared all of it over an open fire. They also have a superb staff. Rod was an excellent camp manager, always concerned about the guests. Andy was an excellent guide, knowledgeable and personable. Clyde has an infectious personality and he seems like one of those people that everybody likes. Leah handled all of the pre-trip arrangements and was also very sweet in person. Kenneth, Jim, Kayo, and Patrick did a great job taking care of camp and cooking.


Other photos from Chitake













My plan was to go from Chirundu to Lusaka, stay the night and then take a bus to Livingstone in the morning. At the Chirundu border post I remembered that Zambia had held an election a few days earlier, the results of which had come out the previous night. Some lady told me that I couldn't go to Lusaka because there was rioting, "They'll shoot you". At that point I was concerned and wasn't sure what to do. When I talked to one of the governmental employees inside though, he said it was ok. He said the riots were over and there was only celebration. I decided to take his word for it.


On the way to Lusaka, passing cars and minibuses all gave the universal power to the people sign of the raised fist. Once we got to the city, excitement filled the air. There was a new president in town, Michael Sata. There were a lot of people out in the streets. More raised fists. I saw a large flatbed truck go by full of people in the back shouting and celebrating. Eventually I made it to the hostel I would be staying at, Kuomboka (or Flintstone's) Backpackers. It was much better than the other two hostels in Lusaka that I'd been to and I'd recommend it for anyone needing budget accommodation.




Like all hostels I visited in Zambia and Zimbabwe, locals frequented the bar. I asked a married couple to give me the scoop on the elections. They had not voted for Sata, they had voted for the incumbent. I'm sure there's more to it, but their view was: If the people of Zambia were more educated and literate, they would not have voted for Sata. He ran an election based on promises he won't be able to keep. This election was more about parties than candidates and the people wanted the current party out of office. A Kenyan sitting nearby chimed in that there is so much expectation for Sata that it doesn't matter whether he ends up being a good or bad president, he will be unpopular at the end of his term because no one could live up to these kinds of expectations for change.


Bartender in her Sata gear


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So here's a question on behalf of the women. Kavinga, if you see this, please get back to us. We have asked it before on other mobile safari/ camping threads as well. How would it work at night for the loo in a place like Chitake for women? With all the wildlife activity around, surely people don't step out of their tents at night?


We rejected many dome tent options for this one reason.

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Yes I can't wait! I hope we have as good a time as you!! :lol: I have my lucky mascot that picked up in Kruger and I hope he will call the dogs in for us. :)

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I'm going to include a lot of non-wildlife stuff in this as I think they are easy add-ons for many people going on safari near Vic Falls.


I took the Mazhandu Family bus ,which is recommended by the travel guides as the most reliable, to Livingstone. They also have scheduled departure times which isn't true of all the bus services. Their buses definitely look like they're in the best shape.


Victoria Falls was impressive. I'd recommend visiting both sides. About two thirds of the falls can be seen from the Zim side and the rest from the Zambia side. For non-residents it costs $10 to get in on the Zambia side and $30 (rip off) to get in on the Zim side. You can get a day visa to go to Zim for $20. From Livingstone, the falls are a 10-15 minute drive. I'm sure most of the nicer hotels have private shuttles, but otherwise a cab is $10. Personally I opted to take a minibus for $1. If you want to take the minibus just go to the minibus station on Senanga Road and ask for the bus going to the falls.





















On the Zambia side you can walk down to the boiling pot. There's a lot of steps and coming back up is strenuous, but if your health allows I'd recommend it. When you get to the bottom, you almost feel like you're on a tropical island. Palm trees and sand everywhere. It's different than the other areas of the park.







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During the dry season the falls aren't quite as impressive but the lower water levels allow you to go to Devils Pool. The other upside is that the whitewater rafting trips run all the rapids. During the rainy season some sections are just too dangerous. Rafting was so much fun, hiking out of the gorge afterwards was not. This is one of the best places in the world to go rafting so if you're willing to do it don't skip out. Mostly Class IV and V rapids with a few Class III sprinkled in. You have the option to buy a video or photos but I decided not to.


Devils Pool was really cool. The actual area you jump into looks a lot smaller when you're there than in pictures. The guides are nuts and do a back flip into the pool. There was actually a German film crew the day I went and I ended up on the show Galileo if you know of it.











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After a couple of days in VF I started to get the itch to see some more wildlife. I had wanted to go on a night drive to see what it was like. I called up Charles Brightman who was recommended somewhere else on the internet and Andy had also told me that if I went on a game drive in VF he would be a good person to go with. Charles is the coordinator of Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit and from what I've read works in close association with the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. He didn't have any drives scheduled for the next few days so I had to go with one of the other operators affiliated with one of the tourist agencies down there. This would turn out to be one of the best and one of the worst decisions of the trip. [if you would like Charles's contact information PM me]


I had an idea of what to expect, and knew that it wouldn't compare to what I had already experienced. The drive took place at the Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve. On the drive I saw giraffe and a pair of bushbuck which I hadn't seen yet. We also saw a troop of babboons, elephant, zebra, some impala and waterbuck before the sun went down. Once it got dark we saw a croc by the water, a spotted genet, and a bushbaby.


So what was bad about the drive? The actual driving around in the dark part of the drive wasn't that great. We didn't see much and didn't spend much time in the dark. The truck was a little cramped and there was a Zimbabwean couple sitting next to me. The couple was an older white man, upwards of 70, and a middle aged black woman. I only include their age and race because this seemed like an unusual couple, but I also don't know much about Zim culture. Anyway, every time we stopped to check out something the woman reached over me to take pictures on her crappy, crappy little camera phone. It was a really low resolution, probably 1 or 2 megapixel camera and here she is trying to take pictures of animals. At one point she actually reached around me, one arm on each side of me like she was hugging me, her hands coming together to hold the phone while she took a picture. All to get a shot that wasn't even worth taking on her camera phone. She was really loud as well and the people in front of me shushed her a couple of times. She also tried talking to me about all sorts of things during the drive and was a major mood killer. Now I know why someone recommended that I not do an overland trip when I was trying to decide on where to go for safari.


The other thing that I didn't like about it was the domesticated aspect of it. Don't get me wrong they were wild animals, but when we first got there we stopped at a place with some impala and waterbuck. Why were they there? Because there were salt licks. We also got to see black rhino (almost forgot) which was really cool, but we only saw them because the reserve had put food in stone feeders and knew they would be coming. I guess my feeling is that if I want to see animals under those circumstances I'll just go to the zoo.















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On Sunday I visited a local church. If you're a Christian, or even if you're not, it might be worth checking out.


I wasn't going to bungee jump, instead I was going to do the gorge swing. I figured there are more places in the world with bungee jumps than gorge swings. Plus I had walked across that bridge, and the thought of jumping off it was terrifying. I was scared to do the swing too but knew I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I didn't do it. There's different options for how to jump off, I went the handstand route. Tons of fun.


After conquering the swing I started thinking about how awesome bungee jumping would be. I knew it was now or never and if I went home without doing it I would regret it.


If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?

Note to potential jumpers



High tea at Victoria Falls Hotel



I had dinner one night at The Boma restaurant. Touristy and fun atmosphere. Good food. Main reason I went was to sample the different kinds of game. There are traditional dancers throughout the night as well. Based on pictures and what I had read I thought that the place would consist of larger tables and different parties would all be sat together. Unfortunately this is not the case and I was sat at my own table. This would be a fun night out with others, but it's not really the kind of thing you'd enjoy alone so I basically ate and left.




If there's one turn off about Victoria Falls, it's all the hawkers trying to sell things. They come up to you, say hi and make some small talk. Then they try to sell you something. When you say no they say "I give you good deal" and they go on and on and on. You learn pretty quick who the hawkers are so I just said "Not interested" and then ignored them. This seemed to work best. I saw the same people each day and they just don't give up. I only saw one person buy something from one of the hawkers and it was clear that she was only buying it because she felt bad for the guy. This isn't selling goods, it's begging. I understand that they are just trying to get by but it's extremely annoying and bad for tourism. Even if you go into a shop or to the curio market, sellers are constantly in your face with "How about this one", "I offer you good deal", "Look, this is a very nice giraffe." If I'm interested in something I'll ask you about it ok? Again, I ignored them as this seemed like the least troublesome way to deal with them. I had decided in my mind that if one of the sellers at the market didn't bother me and just left me alone I would buy something from him. Unfortunately this did not happen.


There was a local lawyer who was a regular at the hostel bar in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. My last night there I went out with him, a rafting guide and his brother, and one other guy to some other bars after the bar at the hostel closed at 12. Our first stop was one of the nicer hotels in VF, but apparently at night it turns into a night club for locals. I was the only white person there. Beers were $1 which was cheaper than the hostel at $2! I found the whole thing strange, amusing, and awesome all at the same time. Later we went to a "real" local bar. The place was packed and again I was the only white person. The lawyer leaned over and said to me, "You're in the ghetto now!" Not ghetto in the sense of gun wielding gangstas, ghetto as in the everyday poorer class. I saw two of the hawkers at the bars. The look on their faces was priceless, they definitely did not expect to see me there. I didn't get back that night until 3 in the morning. It was after this night that I felt like I had broken through the tourist barrier.


While in Zambia I visited Simonga Village which wasn't touristy at all (there's also Mukuni Village which does seem touristy). They do benefit from some visitors (one German lady financed a kindergarten building and playground) but it doesn't appear that having visitors has changed the way they go about their daily lives. I got there by minibus and asked about a tour when I got there. I don't know how many people visit this village or how often. They do host people overnight here which I wanted to do but the chalet where they host people was getting a make over while I was there. It was interesting and I learned a lot but it was not the experience I was hoping for. I really wanted to talk and interact with the people but I mostly just talked with the tour guide (of course I could have taken more of an initiative). Here are some things that I learned about the village:


- Some people work at lodges, some in Livingstone, some farm, a lot don't have jobs. I asked how those without jobs survive and was told that they get hired to do things by the people that do have jobs, e.g. someone wants a hole dug so he hires someone to do it for him


- Working at a lodge is probably the best job. The pay is better and their kids can go to the lodge's private school which is better than Simonga's. Tongabezi and Zambezi Sun are nearby and some of the villagers work there.


- Simonga's school is small so half the kids go during the morning and the other half in the afternoon


- The houses are made with a wooden (sticks or logs) frame and mud made from a termite mound with a grass thatched roof. There was a pretty big hole where they had been excavating the termite mound. After the rains, the roof and outside of the house may need to be repaired as water dripping off of the roof splatters against the house. There are a few concrete houses.

Frame being built



In the background you can see a house being built. Frame filled with clumps of mud



Finished house



- The houses also have outdoor kitchens built in the same way as the houses. They are small and round and have an opening near the roof to let smoke out. If there is plasic or something covering up the opening, this means that someone is also sleeping there.


- The houses are basically one room. Children live in the house until age 7 at which point their own little hut is built beside their parents'. With a one room house you can see the reason for doing this.


- When a child gets married he/she gets their own plot of land. The land is divided up among the villagers by the headlady.


- There's a bar at the entrance to the village. It opens at 8 AM. Many people drink all day, typically the traditional beer made from cornmeal.


- There's 3000 people in the village and 7 Christian churches.


- In 1998 a bore hold was built. Prior to that villagers got water from the Zambezi about 2 km away. The guide said the bore hole was built by the government. Engravings showed that it was financed by the Japan government.


- Bathrooms are small squares built with grass with a hole in the ground. When it starts to get full the hole is filled up with dirt and another one is dug.


- The village does not farm enough to feed everyone. There is one lady that buys food in Livingstone and then resells it in the village.


This is the one house in the village with a satellite dish. You can see the TV and stereo is powered by a car battery. Everyone comes over here to watch the soccer games. Being that Zambia is a former British colony, I can't figure out why it's called soccer and not football.













My last day at Jollyboys Backpackers in Livingstone I saw this chameleon.



I booked activities ahead of time because I was worried about them filling up. Depending on how long of a stay you have, I wouldn't recommend this (at least in the dry season). I didn't need to pre-book and it just made my schedule a lot less flexible. The one thing I might pre-book is the Devils Pool.

Edited by yeahyeah
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booked my flight to Johannesburg a day early so that I could check out Soweto. Soweto is the largest township in South Africa (technically it consists of many townships). Much has been said of this famous and historically significant township, I'm only going to share my experience. I was picked up from the Jo'burg airport by one of the staff from Lebo's Soweto Backpackers. It was nearly dark when we arrived at the hostel. It's decorated Rastafarian and they play reggae music all day, at least when I was there (Fri night - Sat).


http://safaritalk.net/gallery/image/13515-vf-082/ http://safaritalk.net/gallery/image/13516-vf-083/ http://safaritalk.net/gallery/image/13517-vf-084/ http://safaritalk.net/gallery/image/13518-vf-085/ http://safaritalk.net/gallery/image/13545-img-7612/ http://safaritalk.net/gallery/image/13546-img-7613/


Drinks are kept in a fridge and it works on the honor system. Whenever you take a drink you mark it down on the paper and you settle your bill at checkout. Dinner was a home cooked meal served buffet style. In the morning I took a 4 hour bicycle tour. They offer an all day tour but it would have been cutting it close with my flight. The tour makes a stop at the Hector Pieterson Memorial, a local shebeen, goes by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu's former houses and makes various other stops while the tour guide tells you all about Soweto. Little kids often yell out "Shot! Shot!" which doesn't mean duck for cover. It means take their picture and then show them. Kids all over Africa love having their pictures taken. I had packed a small portable photo printer only to have it stolen from my checked baggage at the Johannesburg airport. Needless to say I was upset about this. I really wanted it for Simonga and Soweto as I'm sure that most of the kids and adults alike do not own pictures of themselves. I think the kids especially would have gone crazy if I could have provided them with one. The printer's battery is only good enough for 10 photos before a recharge, and the quality wouldn't have been the best, but still it would have been great to have.


After the bike tour I had 3 or 4 hours to kill before leaving for the airport. I decided to go for a walk after asking the hostel staff if it was safe and if there were any areas I should avoid. They said it was and there weren't. They were probably right, although it may not have been the best idea for me to be walking around with a DSLR but I did it anyway. This is something I wish I did during the rest of my travels. I have lots of pictures of the activities I did, but almost none of the everyday Africa stuff. I think in Zambia and Zimbabwe I was a little too paranoid about my camera. On the walk I came across 10 or so guys drinking Heineken, blasting music, getting ready for a braii. It was Saturday and Saturday is like an all day party to some in Soweto. They called me over. I was hesistant at first and didn't know if it was a good idea but I went over to talk to them. They gave me free beer and I hung out with them for an hour or two. When it was time for me to leave they even gave me a ride back to the hostel. I know a lot of people would say this wasn't smart but after spending a little bit of time with people you get a read on them and you have to take some risks in life right? The hospitality and friendliness of these people was out of this world. "In Soweto, everyone is our guest." "Soweto has a bad reputation. We want to show people that there are good people here."





Hector Pieterson Memorial




"...On that day, in this vicinity, about 15,000 school children gathered to protest against the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. As the students marched peacefully to present a memorandum at the Orlando Police Station armed police confronted them with gunfire.


The symbol for the courage, anguish and sacrifice of the school children is epitomised in Mbuyisa Makhubu, who on this site on 16 June 1976 carried to safety the wounded Hector Pieterson, shot at the corner of Vilakazi and Moema streets. He was one of the youngest children to die on that fateful day in the wave of student resistance that followed throughout South Africa. At least 600 students died and thousands were wounded. Thousands more were detained, tortured, charged and imprisoned. Up to 12,000 fled the country.


In the aftermath, the liberation movements were strengthened, both at home and in exile. The spirit and determination of the school children resonated around the world, marking a turning point in the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa.


At this site of national significance, the nation pays homage to the students of 1976, who sacrificed their lives so that the doors of learning and culture would be opened, and South Africa could be free. Today, their vision is enshrined in our constitution."


Inside a local shebeen



Trying the traditional beer



Place to eat that we stopped at to try some cow cheek. Stuff was good.



Outside of where we had the cow cheek






















Soweto was an interesting place and I'd love to spend more time there. One day was not enough. It's very diverse. Eleven languages are spoken there although Zulu is the predominant one and most people speak English as well. It has tin huts, nicer suburban homes and everything in between. There are back alley stores and things of that sort that you would never know about unless you live there.


Both in Soweto and Simonga, there's a strong sense of community. The tour guide in Simonga asked me "Is it true that some Americans don't know their neighbors?" Yes and when you think about it, how strange is it that we don't know some of our neighbors?


Most common question I was asked in Africa, "Is New York City really as rough as it's portrayed in movies?"


It was a great trip and I met lots of people from different countries, backgrounds, and walks of life.


Everything that I had read about Zimbabwe and Soweto from people that hadn't been there said not to go and that it was dangerous. Everything that I read from people that had been there said go, it's safe, and the people are friendly. My experience was the latter.

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Enjoyed the non-wildlife sections of your report. You do a much better job than I at photographing the things around you. I've been to both Livingstone and Soweto and have hardly any pictures of either.

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On the staying up with night vision, I have tried it at chitake minus the night vision, when the moon's out your vision is pretty good anyway. The only thing I would say is it's not for the faint hearted, its not so much night vision you need but eye's in the back of your head. Elie's are pretty much constantly coming to the spring, and for a big animal they really do move about silently.


You know I probably shouldn't have given anyone any bad ideas. Anyone who tries this does so at their own risk.

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So here's a question on behalf of the women. Kavinga, if you see this, please get back to us. We have asked it before on other mobile safari/ camping threads as well. How would it work at night for the loo in a place like Chitake for women? With all the wildlife activity around, surely people don't step out of their tents at night?


We rejected many dome tent options for this one reason.


Hi Sangeeta

I have worked closely with the Kavinga team and can say that your concern is one that many people have, due to the nature of the close proximity to the spring there is not alot of space to equip each tent with an ensuite ablution , however there are instances where their clients have requested this and i know that they have added an ensuite toilet.Hope this helps

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