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

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Nov 14th, 2006, 09:50 AM
  #41
 
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I have to say, this Beaven guy does NOT strike me as a very good guide - not very helpful, not very experienced (a good guide can reverse down a path even if it's not wide enough to actually turn around) and not very focused on providing a top notch experience to his customers - why waste an hour an a half, as you say, driving you through an area he admits is unlikely to reveal any game!!?
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Nov 14th, 2006, 09:56 AM
  #42
 
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Dennis,
Your report is a real hoot! I've been laughing out loud. Your guide Beavan sounds like a real dud. Does he by chance have a pal whose name sounds like "Butthead?" (For those of you who might not be familiar with tacky American Tv shows, there was a cartoon several years ago called Beavis and Butthead.)
I'm looking forward to the rest of your report.
Lily
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Nov 14th, 2006, 10:15 AM
  #43
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Take a Walk On The Not So Wild Side
This morning after breakfast we went on a walking safari. Surely we’d see some game when we got off the road. We saw some hippos, red lechwe and some kudu and thousands of milipedes which smelled when you stepped on them, which was hard not to do. It was hot (89F) but it was good to be out walking. After an hour, we went back to the truck and back to camp. What??? It’s only 9:30 and the afternoon game drive isn’t until 4:00, what a waste of a day this was. We had brunch-eggplant benedict and a huge chef’s salad, very refreshing. Tom went to take a nap, I watched some birds for awhile and tried to teach the squirrels how to eat the peanuts I had brought with me to feed the elephants, but since there were no elephants I still had the bag of peanuts. The squirrels in California love peanuts, but these guys didn’t know what to do. Finally one squirrel bit off the end of the shell and sucked the peanut out of the shell. (It’ll be in my pics when I post them) Anyway, thinking it would be better to be bitten by a snake or trampled by a hippo than to sit around the lodge doing nothing, I decided to take the Nature Trail again, this time solo and confront my fears. I made it about half the way on the correct trail before all the noises came around me, every stick was a snake and the plopping in the water must be crocs. I froze for a good while then forced myself back to the lodge, took a dip in the pool, washed some underwear and waited for four o’clock.

..and Through The Woods (Almost)
“Beaven, do you have bushbabies here? I’ve never seen a bushbaby”
“Yes, we have hundreds”
“Did they go to Angola?”
“No, bushbabies do not go to Angola”
“Then can we see some?”
“Yes, they live in the woodlands, and we will go there”
“O.k., but don’t go to Angola”
“No, we can not go to Angola”
So off we went to the woodlands, crossing through the same dead grass which is plentiful in the park. We drove for about an hour and a half, all of a sudden Beaven turns around and says:
“There is nothing here”
“Don’t bushbabies come out at dark?”
“Yes, but they are not here”
“But it’s not dark so how do you know?”
“I just know”
”Did they go to Angola after all?”
“No, bushbabies do not go to Angola”
We stopped at a sundowner spot which overlooked nothing. The finger food was cheese in pastry, very good, and I had a couple of double g & t’s as I was so pissed we wasted another 3 hours seeing nothing. There were some tracks of giraffe and zebra and Beaven pointed them out to us.
“When were they here?”
“Not long ago”
“Can we find them?”
“No, they have gone”
”To Angola?”
“Possibly”
On the way back to camp we did see an African wild-cat, which was just beautiful, looks just like a house cat! Other than that, nothing! Dinner was steak or pork filets and vegetables and chocolate pudding. If I had my own car, I would have left this place then (or two days ago) but thank God, tomorrow we’d be leaving!

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Nov 14th, 2006, 10:34 AM
  #44
 
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Dennis, I've stopped laughing and started crying for you. I have had a couple of guides just about that bad but at least not in areas that were so devoid of game so I still got to see a fair amount. His lack of willingness to even try to pursue anything is unacceptable, I hope you are able to receive some kind of compensation. I know Islands of Africa does market some other camps that would be great for you in the future but is each camp individually owned? I'm guessing you won't want to return to either of these even if they gave you free nights.

Perhaps you can sell your testimony to the Angola tourism board, apparently they have lots of animals in the Caprivi region.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 12:03 PM
  #45
 
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Welcome back, Dennis. Your report is great fun! I've had a rotten day and reading your report put a big smile back on my face.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 01:10 PM
  #46
 
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Dennis, tsessebes are very closely related to topis, so you have to be able to identify them!
“Snakes don't live on islands” Tom's a very reassuring travel companion! He must have heard something about Ireland.
It seems like Angola is the place to be.
Bad guides make funny trip reports, but as I'm a nice Fodorite I'd not say that I'm glad you came across one.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 01:29 PM
  #47
 
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Yes, D - I have to say that this is becoming sort of unfunny. I hope you made some sort of complaint or comment to the management about this!
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Nov 14th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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I mean your situation is unfunny, not you - er, your storytelling! ;-)
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Nov 14th, 2006, 02:03 PM
  #49
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As Julia Roberts exclaimed in Pretty Woman, "I almost peed my pants." Haven't laughed this hard that I thought to run out to the pharmacy for Depends before continuing.

Name the orafice, there's water. Having trouble typing this thru the glaze over my eyes.

Regardless what Beaven has to say I think we should clue Rocco into Angola; he'll sell the heck out of that country. Because that's where all the animals have gone. Grab your AK47 and onward to Angola!

Admittedly thought, please tell me Beaven wasn't the only guide here! Or was he and I missed it somewhere in you tome. Did you mention your disappointment to management? Of course game can't be guaranteed, but not even an attempt or trying to work with you. Something must have been lost in translation. I feel for you, Tom and "that darn croc."

... more, more, more, please!
 
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Nov 14th, 2006, 02:19 PM
  #50
 
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Dennis,
The only thing missing from this unfortunate and well written report is a "trip quote" *(made famous by Lynn) Every trip should have one. Your quote would somehow seem to have "Angola" in it.
I do hope your not telling me to go to Zimb. because misery loves company.I also hope for your sake that your luck takes a better turn for the rest of your trip
Thanks for sharing this priceless memory with us.
Sherry
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Nov 14th, 2006, 02:23 PM
  #51
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I think if you write an article about your trip it should be titled “Angola is to the right.”

I'm greatly enjoying your report, between laughing and almost crying at the absurdities.

CW
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Nov 14th, 2006, 03:10 PM
  #52
 
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Very witty. Keep it comin'

Mahalo,

Kevin
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Nov 14th, 2006, 03:32 PM
  #53
 
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Dennis, you've got me laughing. Weird trip, but if anyone can enjoy himself regardless...

And kudos to Sandi, who said,
"Regardless what Beaven has to say I think we should clue Rocco into Angola; he'll sell the heck out of that country. Because that's where all the animals have gone. Grab your AK47 and onward to Angola!"
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Nov 14th, 2006, 03:53 PM
  #54
 
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Dennis,
Between your report, Beaven, and Sandi's comments about Rocco, we'll all need Depends.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 04:04 PM
  #55
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Dennis:
Very funny (but as cooncat said--not too funny for you). At least we know it has a happy ending since you raved about Hwange--thank goodness you did not do this itinerary in reverse!
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Nov 14th, 2006, 04:15 PM
  #56
 
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I was laughing so much I forget to mention what weird dynamics at this location. Either you have very little activity and a lackluster guide, or you are lost/scared on the nature trail, or you are seeing highly unusual and sadly disturbing sights. Unsettling as it may have been, the python eating the gazelle is quite a find.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 04:58 PM
  #57
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The thing about Beaven and my not reporting him to the company is that he said that he has been working for Susuwe Lodge for (I think) 5 years and the last year without a contract and no pay raise. He wanted to go to work at another lodge and make more money, but in Namibia you need 2 things to switch lodges: a guide license (which he has) and a letter of recommendation from Susuwe (which the partners in South Africa would not give him as they didn't want to lose him) He had resigned until he could not get the letter and had to beg for his job back and it has been hell for him ever since. If he were to be fired because of my complaints, it could mean his family would not eat, his kids could not go to school, his wife just had a baby etc. etc. I know being in a public oriented job, you should do your best no matter what, but I don't want his firing on my shoulders. It was only three miserable nights out of my life, hopefully soon he can move on and be happy or someone else can complain.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 05:12 PM
  #58
 
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Dennis, What a good sport you have been. I agree with the others, you should have a few free nights in Angola, with a new T shirt "I'm here for the parade." After the long days you had with Beavan, a few g & ts would definately be in order (sadly not the feeling one should have for such a lovely tradition as the sundowner...) I admire that you kept up a hopeful spirit, slithering sights and sounds and all.... Will bring the tissues next installment - have had to keep using my elbow to wipe the LOL off the screen! Deb
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Nov 14th, 2006, 05:59 PM
  #59
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Dennis,

Obviously, i dont know Beaven but, it appears to me like his main problem is people/communication skills. To make matters worse, the no-off road rules and the lack of game didnt help his cause.

I just think the Caprivi in general is poor game-wise. I know that in 2005, the resident Lagoon pride of lions crossed over from Botswana into the Caprivi and a significant portion of the pride was shot down by farmers. The once mighty pride is only 6 now....

Hari
 
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Nov 15th, 2006, 05:10 AM
  #60
 
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Dennis - funny stuff. Reminds of the old legend in the state of Maine where if you ask someone for directions you will inevitably get the reply: "You can't get theh (no r's allowed in the state of Maine) from heh...."

My bags are packed and ready for Angola - just hope they close that fence and don't let the animals back across the border.
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