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-   -   Dennis's Trip Report: Caprivi Strip, Vic Falls and Hwange Park, Zimbabwe (https://www.fodors.com/community/africa-and-the-middle-east/dennis-s-trip-report-caprivi-strip-vic-falls-and-hwange-park-zimbabwe-658342/)

matnikstym Nov 12th, 2006 10:09 AM

Dennis's Trip Report: Caprivi Strip, Vic Falls and Hwange Park, Zimbabwe
 
<b>“Travel without an element of danger, is mere sightseeing” </b>(source forgotten)
No stapler, no hemmoraging, no spa-girls, no side trip to Burundi, no Arielle, no baboon attack (well almost), no lost luggage, just another great trip (for the most part) to AFRICA!

<b>Itinerary:</b>
Air: Hilo-Oakland-San Francisco-Heathrow-Johannesburg-Livingstone
3 Charter Flights: Susuwe to Kasane, Vic Falls-Hwange Main and return
Road transfers: Livingstone-Vic Falls Vic Falls- Kasane Kasane-Susuwe Vic Falls-Livingstone
Hotels/Camps/Lodges: 1 night Ilala Lodge, Victoria Falls 2 nights Ntwala Lodge on the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, 3 nights at Susuwe Lodge also on the Caprivi Strip, 4 nights at Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, 1 night Victoria Falls Hotel.

<b>Game Seen:</b>
This trip we saw 19 new species of animals that we had not seen before. Roan, sable, chacma baboon, lesser bushbaby, African wildcat, duiker, eland, bat eared fox, gemsbok (oryx), black backed jackal, red lechwe, dwarf mongoose, slender mongoose, springbok, springhare, steenbok, tree squirrels, tsessebe, wildebeest. We also saw hundreds of elephants, probably 50 giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, buffalo, bushbuck, waterbuck, a genet, some hippos, 3 hyena, 10 lions, (not including those on the Lion Encounter), 8 wild-dogs, warthogs, and some vervet monkeys. Birds too many to mention or remember, incredible birding at all 3 places. Also an Egyptian Cobra and a python with a kill (more on this later). Didn’t see any leopards, cheetah or rhino, but I’m more of an elephant than a cat person, so I was extremely happy with what we saw.

<b>Here we go again!</b>
Shortly after returning from my last trip to Zambia in March, I was looking on Luxury Link and there was a 5 night package from Islands in Africa that was dirt cheap, so I bid, I won, I’m going back. With Julian and Rocco’s help in deciding on an extension to the Islands In Africa package, I chose 4 nights at Somalisa Camp in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, with a night in Victoria Falls before and after the safari. So glad I chose Somalisa, as it is now my favorite tented camp and Hwange, my most productive game viewing to date. (Luangwa River Lodge remains my favorite place on Earth, but Somalisa is right up there).

<b>58 Hours Later, We’re Back in Africa</b>
My friend Tom and I left Pahoa, Hawaii at 6:00 a.m. on October 25, flew from Hilo to Oakland where my step-mom picked us up and took us over to a hotel near San Francisco Airport. Had a nice dinner at Hungry Hunter, went to sleep and the next afternoon we were on our way! Flew VirginAtlantic to London where we had a nice lunch with Mandy (who would be leaving for Zambia in 2 days) and Julian. Good food, good conversation and back to Heathrow for our flight to Johannesburg. No problems with immigration or security at Heathrow, Tom did have to throw out his tube of Ultrathon, I buried mine in my backpack. As opposed to the U.S. security, they were not letting ANY liquids on board no matter what size container. I took an Ambien on this leg and slept most of the way, staying awake only for the dinner and breakfast, missing the ice cream and snack, the only meals I missed on the whole trip! With all the hype of Virgin being so much better than the rest, other than the video on demand, it wasn’t any different from the BritishAirways flights we took in March. (we flew economy so maybe the Upper Class might be better), but there has to be a better way of getting there from Hawaii!


matnikstym Nov 12th, 2006 10:33 AM

<b>Ah, The Smells of Africa</b>
We landed in Johannesburg, got our bags, went through immigration and went out for a breath of fresh air, African exhaust smells so much better than ours! And the accents of the people asking if we needed a taxi or a luggage cart was music to my ears!
Went back in had a croissant and soda at one of the shops and checked into Nationwide for our flight to Livingstone. Nationwide is a great airline, on an hour and twenty minute flight they give you juice, a sandwich and soda or cocktail. My first of too many g &amp; t’s! Arrived in Livingstone and headed for the transit desk at immigration. I think we were the only ones who knew about the $100.00 visa fee. Everyone else was screaming at the poor immigration officer who did her best to remain cool, which comes easy for the Zambian people. We smiled, handed over our $100.00 each, thanked her and now had a three year visa for Zambia, what could be better than that? We were met by our driver who took us over the border into Zimbabwe, soaking up the smells, sounds, colors and vitality of Africa. On the way we saw 5 impala by the Zambezi Sun Hotel and a few warthogs. We paid our $45.00 double entry visa fee to immigration and were over the border in minutes.

<b>Disabled Animals Home</b>
We were dropped of at Ilala Lodge in Victoria Falls for our overnight stay. It’s a beautiful hotel complete with television and air conditioning and a door onto a grassy area where you can see the mist from the falls off in the distance. Our first animal encounter was a one legged hornbill hopping on the patio, I gave him some shortbread cookies from the plane which attracted more interest from the giant ants than the bird. Shortly after that there was a warthog limping across the grass followed by a baboon with a stump of a leg. I guess they feel safe here so they all hang around. Also saw a warthog mom with her 3 babies living in a drainage pipe on the edge of the grass. Took a shower and went exploring around Victoria Falls town, went to the gas station (which had no gas) and had a coke light and talked to some Zimbabweans in the little cafe there. Came out to mass of people trying to sell me some wooden carved animals. I explained I was going on safari and couldn’t carry anything, but I’d be back in 9 days to shop. It was 97F at 3:00 p.m.

<b>JACKPOT!</b>
Went into the Kingdom Casino, very beautiful hotel, but only 5-6 people playing slots so I thought “What the hell, I’ll try my luck here” First pull of the handle and I got a $600 jackpot! WOOHOO! Oh wait, that’s in Zim dollars so I won $2.50 U.S., Oh well, took about an hour to lose $10.00. Came back to the hotel and went to the Palms restaurant for dinner. Had a bowl of butternut squash soup and a filet steak, a couple of drinks and off to bed. Took an Ambien and slept good all night. Woke up refreshed and went up to their breakfast buffet, complete with omelet station and was feeling pretty satisfied.


matnikstym Nov 12th, 2006 10:39 AM

<b>Handsome And The T-Shirt</b>
Our transfer to Namibia would pick us up at 11:00 so I had three and a half hours to kill so decided to go see the falls in case I didn’t make it back from the safari, I had to see Victoria Falls before I died. As I was walking to the path to the falls, a nice looking kid named Handsome came over trying to sell me a wooden elephant. I told him no but if he walked me to the falls and kept all the other hawkers away from me, I’d give him a t-shirt from Hawaii and $5.00 (I read about doing this on a trip report) so he was happy with the shirt and did keep everyone away. The falls were spectacular! Words can not describe it! The temperature was 85F, the sun was bright and each of the falls had rainbows over them. Spent about an hour walking almost to the end, but as I got closer to the Zambia side, I could see not much water was flowing. Left the falls and Handsome saw me and took me to his friend Oy-Oy’s shop for a soda then back up to the hotel. While I was at the falls he changed into his Hawaii t-shirt and about 10 boys came over saying they would give me their carved animal if I would just give them a shirt like Handsome’s. I could have gotten a suitcase full of souvenirs for free if I had brought more t-shirts with me. Said goodbye to Handsome, told him I’d be back in 9 days and would buy a carved elephant from him then. Went back to the hotel, checked out and waited for our ride to Namibia. The hotel has a policy where if you charge things to your room and pay in U.S. dollars on checkout, you get 40% off the bill, so our dinners, drinks and sodas throughout the day came to $71.00 U.S.

<b>Three Countries in Two Hours</b>
Our driver from Wild Horizons picked us up on time and we were on our way. Checked out of Zimbabwe, into Botswana, out of Botswana, into Namibia. The drive was nice, very scenic though didn’t see much game other than cattle and an occasional impala and warthog. We got to Kasane, a very nice town in Botswana, and met Alfred, our guide for the next two nights from Ntwala Lodge. Took a motorboat trip across the river to Impalila Island to go through immigration. Then it was off to Ntwala.


LyndaS Nov 12th, 2006 11:13 AM

more, more, more!!! (ps caught that about the stapler :-)) )

bat Nov 12th, 2006 11:20 AM

Dennis:
funny intro. looking forward to your next installment(s)

VeeR Nov 12th, 2006 11:35 AM

Dennis - I will be checking back here hourly (if not more often) for your next installment. So glad you liked Ilala Lodge - guess I did forget to mention da kine breakfast buffet they have there.

cooncat3 Nov 12th, 2006 12:53 PM

So far, so good!!!!! Sooo.... where to next year, Dennis?

:-D

((@))

matnikstym Nov 12th, 2006 01:44 PM

Lynda- from someone who took almost 3 months to finish your report, you have <b>SOME NERVE</b> asking for more so soon :)
Vee- it might take awhile, I'm still burned out and want to work on the pics.
Cooncat-definitely back to Zim and more parts of that country and hopefully squeeze in LRL!

Lillipets Nov 12th, 2006 01:47 PM

Dennis,
Welcome back! So glad you didn't have a hemorrage or any other un intended excitment. Looking forward to more!
Lily

napamatt Nov 12th, 2006 01:55 PM

Dennis

Virgin upper class is the bomb. But generally any carrier is better than United in any class.

atravelynn Nov 12th, 2006 03:44 PM

Paragraph 1 is a hilarious trip down Fodors memory lane. :D

I have whiplash from your three countries in two hours.

Glad you enjoyed Ilala. I don't recall it attracting so many animals with problems.

Your list of sights foreshadows an excellent trip and report. Can't wait for more.

I've been thinking about the Caprivi Strip. How nice of you to go check it out for me and report back.

Still laughing at those dangers you avoided this time out.

matnikstym Nov 12th, 2006 06:27 PM

<b>Over the Top At Ntwala!</b>
After leaving immigration, it was about an hours motorboat ride to Ntwala. Along the way we saw lots of cattle, fisherman and fishing villages lining the shores of the Chobe and Zambezi rivers. Once the rains start, the villagers move to areas not in the flood plain and the next year rebuild their villages from scratch. It was a beautiful ride and saw many birds but no game, other than the resident pod of hippos that stay by the entrance to the lodge. We arrived at Ntwala and were greeted by the hosts Natasha and Dietrich, with a cold hand towel and fruit drink, very refreshing after the ride. The lodge is reached by walking on a raised wooden pathway opening into a beautiful entrance with dining room, library, wine cellar, and a deck over the river. We were shown to our chalet, more the size of a small house. There was a huge sitting area, large beds surrounded by mosquito nets, a closet and shelves for unpacking, a writing area with desk, fully stocked wet bar with ice, wine glasses, cocktail glasses, snacks, huge bathroom with a gigantic tub, two sinks, an indoor shower, outdoor shower, recessed lighting, our own private plunge pool with deck chairs, a deck over the river with hanging chairs, very, very nice, the only thing missing was a feeling of Africa. Other than the mosquito netting and a large print of an elephant, it could have been on any river in the world. Each chalet (four) has their own guide for the duration of your stay. Lunch was chicken legs in a sweet bell pepper sauce, very good.

<b>Over the River and Over the River</b>
After lunch we went back out on the river for sundowners and cruising around the island. Still no game and with the motor on the boat running, you couldn’t hear the sounds of Africa! There were a lot of beautiful birds to see. Sundowner finger food was biltong and peanuts....what????? A fancy place like this and they serve beef jerky and nuts? Truly disappointing! Alfred our guide was a nice enough guide, a bit wet behind the ears, but with no real game to point out it was hard to tell, and very formal. Dinner was cold avocado soup, steak in a balsamic reduction sauce, vegetables and chocolate souffl&eacute; for dessert. Took a dip in the pool after dinner and went to bed. The power goes off at eleven and the room got quite stuffy with no air flow. The next day we had breakfast and took off for Chobe Park in Botswana in the motorboat. We saw quite a bit of game, impala, warthogs and hundreds and hundreds of elephants drinking out of the river and more coming over the hills to drink. It was truly an incredible sight to see so many elephants at one time, I was in heaven! Spent a few hours there, then back to the lodge for lunch, which was a pork filet with yogurt dill sauce. After a siesta and swim in the pool, Alfred and I went to visit a fishing village. It was quite interesting, though most of the villagers were either out fishing or hiding as I only met 3 people there. Sundowners on the river and the finger food was biltong and peanuts.....what????? Twice in a row! I don’t like biltong anyway, so Albert ate the whole bowl. Back to the lodge for dinner, lamb chops in eggplant and onion, and a chocolate flan for dessert. Back to the room, took a dip in the pool and went to bed, heading to Susuwe Lodge in the morning.

matnikstym Nov 12th, 2006 06:30 PM

<b>Thoughts on Ntwala</b>
Ntwala is a very beautiful lodge, though needs more African touches. Food was excellent other than the finger food at sundowners. The hosts were friendly enough, though when dinner was served they disappeared. There were 2 other people there and in order for us to talk and compare notes on our days, we had to shout across the patio where we dined. I enjoy eating with and talking to the hosts and other guests, hearing their tales and life in a safari lodge. The guide needs to loosen up and have fun so the guests can have fun also. The only activities there are by motorboat, no canoeing, no mekoroing, just motorboating on the same stretch of the river time after time. I think if you are on a honeymoon or romantic getaway and don’t care to see game, want to stay in your room the whole time, it would make for a nice stay, but for me, I didn’t care for Ntwala and would not return.

santharamhari Nov 13th, 2006 04:54 AM

Dennis,

Glad you had a fantastic time....your sightings seem fantastic....appears like Hwange was the stand-out portion of your trip and can't wait to read all about it, when you get a chance to write....

Hari

bat Nov 13th, 2006 05:07 AM

thanks for the next installment.

thit_cho Nov 13th, 2006 06:14 AM

Dennis, great report (I'm really looking forward to your impression of Hwange).

Also, any comments on your travel companion's reactions (if it was his first trip). I am thinking of traveling with a friend, and she has never been on safari, and I wonder if you have any observations of a repeat, compared to first-time, visitor to Africa.

Thanks, Michael

Leely Nov 13th, 2006 11:06 AM

Dennis, welcome back! Glad the trip was a success. I'm going to read in earnest after work (or during lunch). I always enjoy your reports. Something humorous inevitably happens.

cynstalker Nov 13th, 2006 11:23 AM

Welcome back Dennis - glad your trip was disaster-free! Can't wait to hear more. You surprised me with the last item on your list of new sitings - I guess I thought they are everwhere in Africa. :-) We got to see the Roan antelope at Ruma NP - I think they're beautiful!

<font color="green">Cyn</font>

Gardyloo Nov 13th, 2006 11:23 AM

Really enjoying this report and looking forward to the next episodes.

BTW have you ever gone from Hawaii to JNB via Sydney? Around 1500 fewer flying miles than via LHR.

Patty Nov 13th, 2006 12:14 PM

What a great report! Can't wait for the next installment, Dennis.

afrigalah Nov 13th, 2006 12:48 PM

Like your report very much, Dennis...wish I'd known about the &quot;T-shirt for Handsome&quot; trick! I just took sports caps for my walking safari crew to keep them on-side.

John

Nyamera Nov 13th, 2006 12:59 PM

Dennis, I'm looking forward to reading about your tsessebe sightings.

atravelynn Nov 13th, 2006 01:08 PM

Thanks for the next installment. Glad the ele action was so good.

cybor Nov 13th, 2006 02:54 PM

Really enjoying so far. Looking forward to the real stay in Zimbabwe.

Take your time and give us something to look forward to. Glad you enjoyed but am wondering what the &quot;just another great trip (for the most part)&quot; is in reference to - hope it's only the biltong that your talking about.
Sherry

matnikstym Nov 13th, 2006 06:13 PM

Michael- Tom also went to Zambia with me, so he's not a safari virgin. He was anxious about going to Zim but loved it as much as I did.
Gardyloo-I checked into flying the other way, through Oz or Asia, but with the layovers, it took twice as long and the price was double at least.
Cynstalker- I don't think they have wildebeests in Zambia, at least not in South Luangwa as I never saw them before this.
afrigalah- I wish I had brought more t-shirts, Handsome was a &quot;star&quot; in his...such joy for something so cheap
nyamera-I saw so many new &quot;hoofed/hooved?&quot; animals I can't tell them apart in my pictures...hopefully I'll identify them before I post them
thanks to everyone else who's enjoying this report!

matnikstym Nov 13th, 2006 06:15 PM

<b>On The Road Again</b>
Got up and had breakfast, said our goodbyes and back to the motorboat on our way to Susuwe Camp. Today it would be out of Namibia, into Botswana, out of Botswana, into Namibia. I ended up with 28 new stamps in my passport this trip. The cruise to Impalila Island was a bit more productive...we saw a crocodile! Then across the river to Kasane and were met by Patrick and Amanda who would drive us to Susuwe, a three and a half hour drive. They are a nice couple who will soon be opening “Joe’s Beer Shack” in Livingstone. Had great conversation along the way. Drove through Chobe Park and saw elephants crossing the road...cool! The drive along the Caprivi Strip was nice, many villages along the side of the road. stopped in Katima Molilo for a rest break and soda and met Beaven our guide at the entrance to the National Park. It was about an hour drive through the park to the lodge, then a short 2 minute boat ride to Susuwe Island Lodge. We saw some kudus, impala and baboons on the way in.

<b>Susuwe Island Lodge</b>
The lodge is very beautiful with a three story observation deck to observe the birds which were plentiful around the lodge. There’s a big open area for seating around the fire, a bar, gift shop and a view of the river. The room was nice, nothing too fancy, beds, large shower, double sinks, private plunge pool and lounge chairs and windows all around to catch the breezes-it was hot here. The lodge is overlooking the Kwando River. Sean, the manager, is a young guy who had run the place for six years. The staff was very friendly and it was a comfortable place with lots of African touches.

<b>Lights Out!</b>
After a nice lunch of warm vegetable salad and cool fruit salad and a short siesta and dip in the pool we went for our first night drive. Beaven was a nice enough guy, knew his stuff but it was hard to get anything out of him other than “led rechwe” “kudu” “impala”. He did open up a bit at sundowners though. We saw a few wildebeests, red lechwe and some impala. Stopped at a hippo pool for sundowners and there was an albino hippo in the pool. This poor thing had to be the ugliest animal in all of Africa and how she got a boyfriend I’ll never know, but she was butt-ugly! Finally got some good sundowner finger food, chicken wings with chutney sauce...I was happy! The sunset was beautiful and we set out on our night drive. Ooops, the spotlight doesn’t work! What??? So it was straight back to the lodge seeing nothing. I was pissed but kept my mouth shut. Dinner was on the deck of our room and the table and deck was decorated with all these carved animals (which I didn’t notice at the time due to a few g &amp; t’s and half a bottle of wine. Dinner was an excellent chicken breast stuffed with feta cheese and spinach, fried camembert cheese and sweet chili sauce and an apple custard for desert. I staggered to bed and slept well.


matnikstym Nov 13th, 2006 06:18 PM

<b>There’s a Crocodile In The Pool!</b>
Got up early and went out on the deck to see if I could see any game across the river. The table and all the decorations were still on the deck and as I was about to put my feet in the pool I noticed a crocodile! I yelled for Tom, “there’s a croc in the pool” He came running out and said “it’s made of wood you ass” Oh, well no more wine for me and was glad I didn’t blow the whistle to alert the staff of the impending danger!

<b>How Do You Hide 2,493 Elephants, 24 Lions, 2 Packs of Dogs and Everything Else?</b>
After breakfast we took off on a game drive and saw 3 buffalo (more on these later), one had his face to us, the other two were turned the other way. The one with his face to us, lifted his head, looked at us for a minute then head went back down to graze. Also saw 12 red lechwe and a few impala. I asked Beaven where all the animals were, and this was the conversation:
“Beaven, where are all the animals?’
“They went to Angola”
“Why did they go to Angola”
“Because of the rains”
“When did it rain?”
“It rained last night”
“Can we go to Angola to see the animals?”
“No, we can not go to Angola”
“If it rained last night, they must have left this morning and could probaly catch up with them”
“We can not go to Angola”
“No, but if we catch the parade of elephants followed by the lions, followed by the dogs, followed by the giraffe, followed by the zebra, we should be able to see the slow ones”
“We can not go to Angola”
“I don’t want to go to Angola, but if we head towards Angola, we can see the line of animals....which way is Angola?”
“Angola is to the right”
“Then why are you turning left”
“We can not go to Angola”
“Next year I will go to Angola and wait for the parade”
“O.K., but we can not go to Angola today”
So that is how it went...


santharamhari Nov 13th, 2006 07:11 PM

Dennis,

Loved the last segment of your report. Both the Croc in the pool and the Angola bits......if Seinfeld makes a come-back on &quot;must see tv&quot; i recommend you audition to write the episodes....or a different show or book based on everyday stuff...

Hari

suzic Nov 13th, 2006 09:12 PM

OMG I just about wet my pants reading your last installment- between the croc in the pool, and Angola, you just got me laughing so hard that I couldn't stop!!! Please don't quit now!!!! I am loving your report, ad can't wait to hear about Somalisa!!!! You are a nut for sure (my favorite kind of people!!) Even without the wine!!
Suzi

santharamhari Nov 14th, 2006 01:52 AM

Dennis,

Whilst in the Caprivi strip, did you notice a lot of farming areas and communities? Perhaps, not in their immediate game drive zones...but, around there i would guess....

Hari


Kavey Nov 14th, 2006 04:14 AM

Loving your report, Dennis...
The finger food obsession made me giggle (you could just express a preference on arrival or after one disappointing experience though) and the Croc in the pool and your Angola conversation made me laugh out loud!
Please keep it coming!

cooncat3 Nov 14th, 2006 05:43 AM

Just about had rice all over my keyboard on that one. Will have to remember not to eat when I read the rest of your report! :-)

The whole thing just cracks me up, you are soo good at doing that, as you well know! ;-)

Looking forward to the rest. Love the way you are organizing this. Can't wait to hear more about the wildlife in Hwange, but also any conversations you had with the Zimbabwean people.

((@))

PredatorBiologist Nov 14th, 2006 06:44 AM

It's so annoying that I posted on this thread last night and of course it is not here now. Seems to happen a fair amount on this board -- must be going right into their books or something.

Dennis: I too actually laughed out loud about your croc in the pool and Tom's response. Great report format that is keeping me entertained. I'm sure you can relate to this: my daughter has a 3 foot plastic alligator that she left out on our front lawn. I had a pizza delivered and about 10 minutes later I get a call from the frantic delivery guy who was startled and hustled back to his car and wanted me to know that he thought we had an alligator in our yard and might need to call animal control. Of course I now keep our gatorgoyle by the front door.

I could also relate to your shirt for guiding services deal. I had a lot of fun in a small airport in Mozambique when a craft selling entreprenuer took an interest in a swimsuit that I had tied to my backpack. We had a lengthy negotiation over what crafts were a good trade for my apparel.

Looking forward to your next installment and can't wait to read about Hwange!

cybor Nov 14th, 2006 06:48 AM

PB - don't you live out west somewhere? Didn't think you had flatdogs out there :)

Dennis - I'm trying to not be too obnoxious but I, as well, would like to hear about Zimb. - not to make you hussle but my trip planning is in limbo
:-o

matnikstym Nov 14th, 2006 07:04 AM

glad you are all laughing! other than the croc in the pool, it wasn't funny at the time!
cybor- all I can say is book Zim now, and GO!

PredatorBiologist Nov 14th, 2006 07:05 AM

Sherry: yes, I'm in Colorado but a few years back there was a Caiman loose in a Denver pond for a couple of months before it was finally captured. With irresponsible pet owners you never know what animals can be found where anymore.

matnikstym Nov 14th, 2006 07:12 AM

<b>Yikes, the Nature Trail</b>
On Susuwe Island there is a nature trail. After a lunch of a pizza type thing and being assured by Sean that the nature trail was perfectly safe, Tom and I took off on the hike. Snakes are my biggest fear, so I was looking everywhere for a snake. Tom said it’s an island and snakes don’t live on islands. I saw lizards, so if they are there, snakes must be there too but we didn’t see any snakes. Now since I barely know left from right, let alone North, South, East or West, we got lost. We were walking along what looked like the path, Tom said, we’re going the wrong way, I said no, this is the trail. Well, it was a hippo trail with fresh hippo tracks. We were in the middle of nowhere, hearing all sorts of noises and knowing there is a hippo behind the tree just up ahead, we froze. Now what? We stayed there for a bit then decided the noise behind the tree must be a lizard and made our way back to the lodge, walking in a stream as we never did find the path again. Took a dip in the pool and then off on another night drive.

<b>Night of the Dead</b>
We took off on the night drive and Beaven assured us that the spotlight was working tonight. We passed the same three buffalo doing the same thing as they did the night before. We saw an elephant! I asked Beaven to turn around so we can see the elephant but he said there was no place to turn around. We were in a fricking LandCruiser which can turn around anywhere, but it turned out, that would be considered “off roading” which wasn’t allowed in the park. I asked Beaven if he saw a pack of wild dogs, could he go off road, “No” how about a pride of lions? “No” a martian in a spacecraft? “No”
That is a big negative if you can’t even go off road to see an exciting sighting. Oh well, the only elephant in the whole park, and he was behind us. We drove for awhile, seeing nothing else except an Egyptian Cobra crossing the road. It was about 6 feet long and the way it slithered really creeped me out....nightmares for sure tonight! We came around a corner and saw a troop of baboons who are always fun to watch, so we stopped for awhile then continued on. Around the next bend there was a baby impala being strangled by a python snake. The poor thing was already dead and his mom was nearby giving that god-awful scream that impalas make. It was so sad. The snake let go of the impala and slithered away...now I know I’d be having nightmares and wouldn’t ever set foot out of the vehicle again. We decided to come back later and see if the hyenas (who hadn’t been informed of the mass exodus to Angola) would be eating the dead baby impala. Now, if that wasn’t sad enough, we got to the lagoon and saw a “hump” in the water. We got out of the vehicle and went to the water’s edge and it was a baby elephant who had drowned. So sad, you could see his ears flapping in the current of the river. Too sad to watch for long and I didn’t even take a picture. Farther up the road we came across a dead buffalo, which wasn’t nearly as sad as the dead impala or the elephant, but it was still dead.



matnikstym Nov 14th, 2006 07:21 AM

<b>Oops, I Think We Went 11 Kilometers Per Hour</b>
We putt-putted along at no more than I swear, 10 kph through this dead, yellow grass for a half hour. Even I know, that this grass has no nutrients and animals do not eat it.
“Beaven, do animals like this grass?”
“No, nothing eats this grass”
“Then why have we been driving through this grass for thirty minutes?”
“We are looking for game”
“All the game went to Angola, and what is left do not eat this grass”
“I will turn around soon”
So after another fifteen minutes when we found a turn around spot, we putt-putted back on the same road for 45 minutes. What a waste of an hour and a half. We had sundowners on a bluff, though the sunset was nothing to write home about. The finger food was little potatoes wrapped with bacon, quite good! We got back to the dead impala and now the python had consumed the poor thing’s upper body. The mom impala was still bleating and the baboons were in the trees making quite a racket. It was amazing to see how much this snake could fit into it’s mouth. As you can tell, I like my food but there is a limit to how much I can eat at one time. Turned on the spotlight (it worked!) and only saw springhares (they weren’t invited to Angola) and came across six elephants.
“Beaven, Stop! There’s elephants”
“I can’t stop, we have a puncture”
So out of 2,500 “alleged” elephants in the park, we couldn’t stop and see them because of a puncture and no turn around place. Back to the lodge and had butternut squash soup (my favorite), pork filet and creme brulee for dessert. The lodge sets out a plate of food for a genet every night, and he came to eat. Very beautiful animal (also not invited to Angola) and at this point , him, the springhares, the red lechwe , the three buffalo and the hundreds of tree squirrels that live at the lodge were considered “The Big Five of the Caprivi Strip”

atravelynn Nov 14th, 2006 07:24 AM

Dennis,

Had I been at home, I would have been howling at the croc story. It was hard to maintain my composure and keep an &quot;office face.&quot;

Your Angola dialogue was an absolute hoot as well. At least your sundowner snacks have improved.

With your substantial list of sightings, you must have eventually found the parade to Angola or the animals marched back into Namibia. Or maybe the luck was later. Whatever it was, I can't wait to read more.

thit_cho Nov 14th, 2006 07:27 AM

&lt;&lt;at this point , [the genet], the springhares, the red lechwe , the three buffalo and the hundreds of tree squirrels that live at the lodge were considered “The Big Five of the Caprivi Strip”&gt;&gt;

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