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

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

Nov 16th, 2006, 08:56 AM
  #81  
 
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Hwange definitely is looking up. Lions at the waterhole and a very early start on what will probably be a productive game drive.

Thanks, Hari, for the lion pride info. There is a bright side there.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 11:27 AM
  #82  
 
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The lions kept up the roaring all night long, making it hard to get a good nights sleep,

Boohoo for you.
sundowner is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 11:35 AM
  #83  
 
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You can sleep on the plane home...
Matt_from_England is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 03:22 PM
  #84  
 
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Really great report! I'll have to add Angola to my list of must sees!
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Nov 16th, 2006, 05:04 PM
  #85  
santharamhari
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Dennis,

Being woken up at 4 30 to see game in camp and possibly head out on the morning ride is my kind of experience....

Somalisa for that very reason would be very very high on my list....thanks.

Hari
 
Nov 16th, 2006, 07:01 PM
  #86  
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Hari~that was one of the nice things about Somalisa. The game drives were for our enjoyment and convenience, not the lodges. If we were out having fun, meals could wait-no having to rush back because the soup was getting cold! The morning drives started at 6 and averaged 6 hours, then the evening drive started at 4 and averaged 5 hours. One day we were out 14 hours looking for rhino.
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 07:51 PM
  #87  
santharamhari
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Thanks Dennis....sounds fantastic.

Hari
 
Nov 17th, 2006, 08:19 AM
  #88  
 
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Yes Dennis, a 4:30 wakeup is a luxury. I can sleep at home.
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Nov 17th, 2006, 04:59 PM
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Foster
Foster was our guide while at Somalisa. He has twenty six years guiding experience and is the first senior guide in all of Zimbabwe. I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever met a nicer person in all my life. After twenty six years of guiding, he still has an enthusiasm that comes through his pores. His passion for all of the game is incredible. At each sighting it was “Oh My God, a roan” Oh My God, a giraffe” “Oh My God, look at the elephants”, like someone on their first safari, still full of excitement at all that he saw and showed us. He has a laugh that will not be forgotten and a spirit that can not be beat. I’ve never had a more enjoyable time in my life. He’s a friend and one that I will remember always and hope to see him again soon. Foster made sure that every minute of our time there was for us- what we wanted to see, what we wanted to do and not worrying about what time we have to get back for dinner-if we were having fun, no need to run off, dinner could wait, what we were doing couldn’t. If you could bottle his joy, experience, and love of life, the world would truly be a better place.
Foster and his family have a sesame seed farm in the Jerera region of Zimbabwe and is opening a cultural village where guests can stay in a small lodge, then go to the village during the day and live the life of a Zimbabwean villager. I will definitely be doing this once he gets it up and running sometime in December. With Foster and his family running this, it should be a first class, not to be missed experience. We met his brother and he’s just as fun, funny and passionate about life as Foster. His brother is also a guide but does private safaris and I think time spent with him as a guide would be most enjoyable.

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest park, covering 14,600 square kilometers. At the entrance to the park there is a campground with small chalets for camping for those doing a self drive. All you have to do is sit by one of the waterholes and the animals will come to you. At sundowners one night there were seven different animal species all around one waterhole. There are 64 boreholes in the park, 6 on the main roads and the rest scattered about. They are paid for by grants and donations to the Hwange Trust, no government involvement. Each borehole has three men/women manning them and their salary, lodging and food is paid for by the Trust. They are experimenting with solar panels to supply the power to run the pumps, but so far all the panels have been stolen. The park is very diverse in it’s landscape. Teak forests, mopani forests, dry plains, grasslands and granite outcrops and we didn’t go five minutes without seeing some type of animal. It is the most beautiful park I’ve been to, the only thing missing is the hippos, but there’s no river for them to live. During the time we were there we only saw a few vehicles from The Hide, another lodge in the area, and three self-drivers. It was so nice having the park to ourselves, a shame though, that more people don’t go there and support the game there
There is supposed to be one hundred and five different species including cheetah and leopard, but we didn’t see any of these.
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 17th, 2006, 05:01 PM
  #90  
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Off We Go
After being woken up at four thirty, watching the lions in front of the camp and a quick change we were off! Drove about a minute to the top of the ridge near camp and saw three lionesses laying in the grass. The lions here were in great condition, not torn up and scratched like the lions in South Luangwa . Beautiful creatures! As we were in “Willy”, low to the ground and no doors, Foster didn’t want to get too close, but we were about twenty feet away and watched them for about an hour. Drove around the park and saw many elephants, zebra, giraffe, sable, kudu, a lot of black sided jackal and a bat-eared fox hole with two babies peeking out of the hole. Got back to camp and had cereal, fresh fruit and eggs benedict for brunch, then our first bucket shower, a short nap and we were off again. Went back on the hill and two of the lionesses were still there, so watched them for awhile the to one of the waterholes where there were seven different species all around the hole. It was incredible! Thirteen giraffe, scores of elephants coming from all directions, baboons, zebra, impala, kudu and Foster noticed something on the small hill which had attracted the giraffes attention, so we drove up to the hill and there was a lioness watching all the action. Foster said they had killed a giraffe a day or two before so weren’t too hungry. Had meatballs in a sweet mustard sauce, very good and a few g & t’s.

Add This To My “Top Ten Life Moment” List
When we returned to camp around nine, Melina said we would be eating out on the pool deck and were having some special guests joining us. I thought, “Cool” more people to talk to. We had a cocktail then to the candlelit table near the pool, sat down and within minutes an elephant came up to the swimming pool and started to drink not six feet from us. WOW! This was so cool, it doesn’t get any better than that. I was told we had butternut squash soup, beef strip and noodles and a date cake for dessert, but I was so transfixed on watching and listening to this elephant it could have been anything! Soon another elephant joined the first and we now had two elephants drinking out of the pool!
(If anyone has never heard an elephant drink, you can’t hear any sound while he is sucking up the water with his trunk but when he pours it down his throat, it sounds like one of those powerful toilets flushing that they have at Heathrow Airport.) After dessert the elephants walked off and it took days for the smile to come off my face. Truly a spectacular time and my favorite memory. Melina told us the next morning that we didn’t even blink, just stared at this magnificent creature so close to us. AWESOME!
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 17th, 2006, 06:12 PM
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An amazing elephant encounter!
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 17th, 2006, 06:48 PM
  #92  
santharamhari
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Dennis,

Quick question about Hwange....what about off-roading? You said you only saw vehicles from one other lodge, so can you stay out all day if you wished?

You had plenty of lion action in the area and hence i'm assuming the cheetahs werent in the immediate area. Next time, Dennis....

Hari
 
Nov 17th, 2006, 06:57 PM
  #93  
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Hari-Off-roading is not allowed, but if there was something interesting to see, I'm sure we'd have been off-road. The nice thing about Hwange is that you really don't have to go off-road, it's so open you can see far off and the animals all seemed to migrate to the water-holes anyway...except for the cheetah and leopard! Yes you can stay out all day, we did that one day from 7 am-9 pm (would have left at 6:00 but I needed some food in my stomach) and Foster would agree to anything to keep us happy! There will be a next time Hari!
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 17th, 2006, 07:04 PM
  #94  
santharamhari
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Fantastic, Dennis....

The Hide in Hwange has always been on my list....but i guess from what you say, Somalisa sounds fantastic also...maybe in 2008 or 2009. Dennis, from what you say, it seems like i can combine it with one of my Botswana trips. Just the other side of the Caprivi strip from where you were....

Maybe, later in your trip report you can mention about what your guides/camp management had to say about the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe and their thoughts etc etc., also your thoughts.....

Thanks
Hari
 
Nov 17th, 2006, 08:28 PM
  #95  
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I'll add a chapter on that Hari.
Though we never went to the Hide, the obvious disadvantage over Somalisa or Makolo is it is near the railway tracks and it seemed the trains run all day and night. The Rovos train stops there for a day trip in Hwange and there were 6-8 people in their vehicles, though I don't know if regular guests at the Hide have to "mingle" with the Rovos crowd. I'd be happy to stay in the campground, just to be back in Hwange! You can easily combine it with a trip to Bots. We could have flown from Kasane to Vic Falls and on to Hwange, but wanted to see the countryside and it was only about an hour drive from Kasane and a 38 minute flight to Hwange.
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 17th, 2006, 10:43 PM
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"Hari-Off-roading is not allowed, but if there was something interesting to see, I'm sure we'd have been off-road."-matnikstym

That certainly applies (legally) in the areas set aside for walking. I guess the Hwange walking areas still exist. We piled out of our vehicle in 1998 when we spotted a black rhino and successfully tracked it in quite thick bush. We also followed off-road tracks left by researchers, to find a wild dog den...got a brief glimpse of a few dogs before they spotted humans on foot and disappeared into the bush. A few of the animals we tried to track foiled us by going into areas where walking was not allowed, and our guide sensibly was not prepared to break the rules...his licence would have depended on it.

John
afrigalah is offline  
Nov 18th, 2006, 12:45 AM
  #97  
santharamhari
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Thanks, Dennis. That's a good tip on the railtracks and Rovos's stops...

Hari
 
Nov 18th, 2006, 04:37 AM
  #98  
 
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Ok Dennis,

I'm convinced! Hwange is definitely on my "to do" list! And Foster is my type of guide! I can eat and sleep at home...when in Africa I want to take advantage of evey moment in the bush! The cultural encounter sounds wonderful too. Let us know when it's up and running.
My travelling companion was horrified at the thought of Zimbabwe the 1st time I mentioned it several months ago. But she recently spoke in person with someone who manages the Penzo Pottery Company in Zimbabwe who told her how wonderful and safe it is. And she sounds almost convinced! I'm gonna keep working it! Besides, I get a kick out of going someplace other people think I shouldn't go!
Lily
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Nov 18th, 2006, 07:06 AM
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Dennis,
When you get the details on Foster's sesame farm visits, please post them. That would be a fascinating addition to a Zimbabwe trip. Thanks.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 18th, 2006, 07:19 PM
  #100  
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Another Great Day in Hwange!
Got up at five and started our game drive at five thirty. Went to different areas of the park and more water holes and saw more game: eland, roan and slender mongoose, each time Foster saying, “Oh My God, there’s some eland” Oh My God there’s some roan” Every sighting was exciting and fun with Foster! I think even Susuwe would have been better if we had someone like Foster as a guide. Stopped at the waterhole on the way back to camp, and this time there were six different species: zebra, elephant, giraffe, wildebeeste, baboon and roan. Each game drive was better than the last! Foster took us into the bush to try to see more animals up close, one time too close (another chapter coming up) and it was exciting to be on foot! Saw a herd of fifty plus wildebeests on the way back, and stopped and watched the bat-eared foxes for awhile. Lunch was salad, sandwiches and a spinach casserole which was delicious. I stayed by the pool for siesta, hoping an elephant would come up, but no luck, just hundreds of dragonflies. Just soaked up the sun and sounds of Africa. Drove around checking on our favorite bat-eared foxes and herd of wildebeests and back to a waterhole to watch the animals come to drink. Had some g & t’s (they were free at this camp, as was beer, wine and rum and cokes) and a cheese and cracker platter for finger food. Three types of cheeses (brie, cheddar and feta) It started to rain so we cut the time at the waterhole short and went back to camp. Beks and Sophia, who own Somalisa, Linyati Camp and do private safaris stopped by for the night. Very interesting couple living a life I would love to lead! Had stuffed chicken breast, green salad and bananas foster for dinner, then I went to the pool as another elephant stopped by to drink. Had a couple of Amarulas by the fire, talked story and watched the elephant. Soon another elephant came to drink, but the first one wouldn’t let him in and they started “wrestling” and the sound of the tusks hitting together, the ears flapping wildly were such sweet music! Finally they ambled off and I did the same.

The Show-Off
This was one of the funniest elephant encounters I have ever seen. There was a young bull elephant along side of the road and we pulled up to watch him. He kicked dirt at us with his right foot, then kicked dirt at us with his left foot. When we didn’t move, he grabbed a tree about 10 feet tall and 3 inches in diameter and tried to pull it out of the ground. When that didn’t work, he leaned his whole body against the tree, the whole time staring at us, then the tree snapped and he picked it up with his trunk and threw it at us. We still didn’t move, just laughed and the elephant was so frustrated he kicked more dirt at us, trumpeted, flapped his ears and then backed off into the bush. Foster said “Did you get that on video?” “No, so can you tell him to do it again and I’ll video it this time.” Foster gave a big belly laugh and said “No encore performances from this bull.”

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