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Dennis's Trip Report: Caprivi Strip, Vic Falls and Hwange Park, Zimbabwe

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Nov 13th, 2006, 12:48 PM
  #21
 
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Like your report very much, Dennis...wish I'd known about the "T-shirt for Handsome" trick! I just took sports caps for my walking safari crew to keep them on-side.

John
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Nov 13th, 2006, 12:59 PM
  #22
 
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Dennis, I'm looking forward to reading about your tsessebe sightings.
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Nov 13th, 2006, 01:08 PM
  #23
 
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Thanks for the next installment. Glad the ele action was so good.
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Nov 13th, 2006, 02:54 PM
  #24
 
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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 "just another great trip (for the most part)" is in reference to - hope it's only the biltong that your talking about.
Sherry
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Nov 13th, 2006, 06:13 PM
  #25
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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 "star" in his...such joy for something so cheap
nyamera-I saw so many new "hoofed/hooved?" 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!
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Nov 13th, 2006, 06:15 PM
  #26
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On The Road Again
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.

Susuwe Island Lodge
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.

Lights Out!
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 & 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.

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Nov 13th, 2006, 06:18 PM
  #27
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There’s a Crocodile In The Pool!
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!

How Do You Hide 2,493 Elephants, 24 Lions, 2 Packs of Dogs and Everything Else?
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...

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Nov 13th, 2006, 07:11 PM
  #28
santharamhari
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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 "must see tv" i recommend you audition to write the episodes....or a different show or book based on everyday stuff...

Hari
 
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Nov 13th, 2006, 09:12 PM
  #29
 
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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
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Nov 14th, 2006, 01:52 AM
  #30
santharamhari
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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

 
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Nov 14th, 2006, 04:14 AM
  #31
 
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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!
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Nov 14th, 2006, 05:43 AM
  #32
 
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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.

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Nov 14th, 2006, 06:44 AM
  #33
 
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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!
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Nov 14th, 2006, 06:48 AM
  #34
 
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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
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Nov 14th, 2006, 07:04 AM
  #35
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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!
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Nov 14th, 2006, 07:05 AM
  #36
 
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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.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 07:12 AM
  #37
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Yikes, the Nature Trail
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.

Night of the Dead
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.


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Nov 14th, 2006, 07:21 AM
  #38
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Oops, I Think We Went 11 Kilometers Per Hour
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”
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Nov 14th, 2006, 07:24 AM
  #39
 
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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 "office face."

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.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 07:27 AM
  #40
 
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<<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”>>

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