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Trip Report - Makalolo Plains, Victoria Falls Hotel, Matetsi Water Lodge

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Zimbabwe September 2005

Our entire trip was booked through Wilderness Safaris with Borton Overseas being our local contact. I was highly impressed with Wilderness Safaris, they were there for every connection, transfer, or question we had. Everything went so smoothly and I credit this to them.

Makalolo Plains, Hwange National Park:
We spent our first 4 nights on safari at Makalolo Plains. We could not of picked a better spot to start our first safari experience! After about a 50 minute flight from Vic Falls, it was about a 20 minute drive from the airstrip to the camp. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon, and on this 20 minute drive is where I saw my very firsts elephants, zebra, hyena, and various antelopes. I was already hooked and dreading my departure from this amazing place.
Upon arrival in camp, we were welcomed by over 100 elephant, along with several giraffe and a couple of ostrich – all taking a drink in the large pan in front of camp. The tents are set up on raised wooden walkways, each one having its own small deck in front overlooking the pan. I was amazed at all of the game we could see right from our own tent! It was delightful to sit on the deck after lunch and watch the parade of animals coming through. From camp we saw the following game throughout our stay: Hundred and hundreds of elephants, along with zebra, giraffe, ostrich, baboon, warthog, waterbuck, hyena, jackal, and one day a herd of over 1000 buffalo walk right in front of the lodge! Of course we also had the amazing experience of having the elephants come and drink out of the pool as we were sitting with our legs dangling in the water. The elephant’s heads were only a few feet away from me! They came to drink every afternoon and by evening the pool was empty! Each morning the day started with refilling the swimming pool.
My friend Patti and I were the only individual travelers at Makalolo Plains throughout our stay. The rest of the camp was full with a group from Overseas Adventure Travels (OAT). There had been some rumors that Makalolo Plains might be closing or be up for sale earlier this summer. The staff assured me that this is in no way true. However there are some changes in the camps. Makalolo Plains is going to be reserved for tour groups. They said that OAT has reserved the camp for all of 2006, and might be signing a 5 year contract. Independent travelers will all be at the sister camp Little Makalolo. When we arrived we were asked if we would like to transfer to Little Makalolo because of the tour group. We were OK with the group being there and declined this offer. This worked out great for us actually. Since they don’t mix individual travelers with the tour group, we were treated to private game drives our entire stay!
Our guide was Tendai, and we thought he was excellent! We learned so much from him, and his personality was wonderful. The highlight of our game drives was following a pride of lions as they were hunting one evening. They first went after a buffalo – a failed attempt. Next they tried for a giraffe – another failure. The third time they went after another buffalo – success! It was amazing to watch as they were trying to take it down. It was also a bit gruesome I must say. The buffalo put up quite a fight, and he bellowed out and kicked for a good 40 minutes before dying.

Other animals we saw throughout our games drives were:

Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Cape Buffalo, Kudu, Ostrich, Baboon, Hyena, African Wildcat, Porcupine, Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope, Eland, Aardwolf, Bushbaby, Duiker, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Hippo, Jackal, Mongoose, Vervet Monkey, Springbok, Springhare, Steenbok, Warthog, Spotted Genet, and Impala. We also so lots of different species of birds, I just wasn't very good about remembering what they all were.

Coming soon - Vic Falls Hotel & Matetsi

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