Has anyone been in Zimbabwe lately?

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Aug 1st, 2005, 06:46 PM
  #41
 
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Roccco, I agree with you and some others on this post. We felt we were doing a good thing by visiting the Zimbabwe parks and wanted to help keep the camps going. I hope for the sake of the parks and the animals that WS can hang on in Zimbabwe.
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Aug 1st, 2005, 06:53 PM
  #42
 
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I'm leaving on Sunday for a trip that includes 3 nights in a camp in Zimbabwe and 2 nights at Vic. Falls. I'm not really concerned. If it weren't safe, I don't think they'd take us there.
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Aug 1st, 2005, 07:32 PM
  #43
 
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We were in Zim in June, visiting Vic Falls Safari Lodge and Matetsi. Many people that we met in Safari Camps over the next two weeks of our trip (in Botswana and South Africa) were shocked that we would choose to stay in Zim. We made a conscious choice to stay in Zimbabwe rather than the Zambian side of the Falls because we had heard how desperate the people and tourism in Zim was. We are so glad that we followed our hearts and met these wonderful people in this ravaged country.

Zimbabwe is beautiful but so, so poor. We loved our stay there and felt quite safe, but of course were cautious and didn't flaunt our possessions. I only got nervous once when walking to the markets with 3 young men moving closely behind us.

We really believe that the money we spent within Zimbabwe was beneficial to the people - it kept people in jobs and helped feed local people. We bought things at the local markets (my understanding is that the markets in Vic Falls are still there and weren't trashed in the latest atrocities, but I cannot be certain). We did all our travel with local guides and companies eg. elephant back safari, jetboat, helicopter. Guides, Camp managers and staff at Matetsi were all locals (unlike in Botswana where all our camp managers were white). Service in Zim was outstanding - the nicest people I have ever met (also locals from Botswana) - would do anything to look after you, keep you happy and safe.
The lodges were very aware of keeping their tourists safe, and either transported you everywhere personally or arranged transfers for you.

Matetsi is the nicest accomodation I have ever stayed in, with the best service and best food imaginable. The game was no where near as prolific as what we saw in Botswana, but there were plenty of elephants, hippos, crocs, impala, birds, giraffe, zebra etc and more Botswana birds than in Botswana!!! It was such a treat to stay at the edge of the Zambezi river-just a spectacular spot. Certainly a great place to start our safari experience.

We had no need for Zim dollars, using US everywhere (despite being Aussie!). Despite having been told that we could only use cash, credit was available at both places that we stayed. However we were glad we went the cash option as we were confident that we could always pay easily that way.

I truly hope that the United Nations help improve the plight of the Zimbabwe people because they are suffering greatly. I really believe that our visit helped the people, not just the government. I felt safe in Vic Falls, but still would have been nervous to travel any further.

Victoria Falls from the Zim side was an incredible experience. Please do not punish the people for the crimes of their government.
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Aug 1st, 2005, 08:31 PM
  #44
Lin
 
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To those interested in the sale of the Makalolo camps: The camp manager/head guide told me that the sale has been agreed upon and that it would become effective in the summer of next year. Now that I think back, I guess he probably meant HIS summer not ours, silly me. No mention was made of selling any other camp and I haven't checked into this further. I am sure that the quality of the Makalolo camps won't be affected as soon as September! Sorry I'm not sure of the exact effective date.

I stayed at Little Makalolo not Makalolo Plains. My guide, Foster, also acted as camp manager. He loosely reports to the manager at Makalolo Plains. He is a very experienced older guide, maybe a bit lax on safety and with a great sense of humor.
Regarding the camp and Hwange NP, I was very impressed and loved my two day stay. There was a huge variety of game especially many types of antelope. We had many sightings of sable and eland, and a very rare glimpse of an oryx. There were lots of elies to watch during game drives. We saw the oryx while walking. Foster took us on a game drive, parked and told us it was time to walk! We walked among zebra, antelope and wildebeest. That was when the safety element came into play because he took us too close to 2 hippos in a mud pool, one of which charged us. Well, there was a lot of controversy about that because the guides said that hippos do not make mock charges and yet it did stop after lunging out of the water and running a few steps towards us. We all gave Foster a piece of our minds but really it became one of our favorite stories! The park is beautiful and in July it was much more colorful than I expected; it looked like autumn at home. And the vegetation is not all ruined by the elephants so that was nice to see. I wished we had stayed longer.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 12:13 PM
  #45
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I heard from another operator that WS has NOT sold the Zimbabwe camps. Wonder what that is all about? (AAT)
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 12:21 PM
  #46
bwanamitch
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Any statement from James?
 
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 04:30 PM
  #47
 
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Just heard from my agent regarding the sale of Makalolo. He emailed WS regarding the question of the sale and this is the response he got from Russel Friedman, director WS: "Absolutely not in fact we are investing money in the camps hoping for the change to come in Zimbabwe". I hope that he is being up front about this. Considering what Lin heard from the camp managers it does make one wonder. It's probably unrealistic to expect WS to continue to run those camps if the situation there doesn't change soon.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 04:55 PM
  #48
 
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You worry about the money going to Mugabe. Yet in the same breath there are people afraid their camps are closing. These camps aren't making money. They need some more traffic and the employees need their jobs badly. Many support extended families. If things returned to normal traffic of the late '90s, it still would not put even a dent in what cash flow Mugabe needs. He is borrowing billions and we are talking at the low end in millions. That will not even help service the debt.
Going to Zim and keeping to the camps, buying locally made curios helps the people and does squat for Mugabe.
When more camps start closing, it will signal the beginning of mass poaching also. We need those camps operating and keeping an eye what is really happening. How long do you think it will take for the parks to recover from poaching. Once it starts, it doesn't stop over night. There are people in the world that would love to get at those tuskers and starving people that would love to get at the meat.

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Aug 2nd, 2005, 08:24 PM
  #49
Lin
 
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To clarify, there was no fear on the part of Foster at Little Makalolo that his camp would close. Wilderness is selling the camps to a local operator, not closing them. Well anyway that is what he told me and who knows after Kathy's email request.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 06:25 AM
  #50
 
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Hi all,

Wilderness are absolutely NOT selling either of the Makalolo camps, nor do they have any plans to sell them. Not sure who it was at the camp that got this idea, but it is rubbish.

They believe that the situation in Zim will improve in the near future and are holding on there - thankfully. They continue to invest in these camps.

James
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 05:44 PM
  #51
 
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Oh by the way, I forgot to mention... if anyone wants to make an offer for Giraffe Springs, WS are happy to take any offers!

James
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 06:50 PM
  #52
bwanamitch
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Sorry, do I get this right? Want they sell Giraffe Springs?
 
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 07:25 PM
  #53
 
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Mitch,

Perhaps we can start a new thread for safari camps up for sale.

Flatdogs Camp, South Luangwa = $1 Million

Giraffe Springs, Hwange = ???

Any others???

Linkwasha in Hwange???

Ruckomechi in Mana Pools???
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:24 PM
  #54
Lin
 
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Hi James, I traveled with your company last year to Botswana. Just to clarify, why would I take it as rubbish if the camp manager at Little Makalolo stated that Wilderness Safaris had sold out? We discussed in camp, at dinner, the ramifications of the sale, and the effective date which was stated to be
'next summer', and certainly the staff in camp were well aware of this supposed transaction. Please do not imply that my communication with Foster, the camp manager, was rubbish. Perhaps he was mistaken but isn't that very strange?
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 10:51 PM
  #55
Lin
 
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Me again, one more thing, I just have to believe there could be no good reason for Foster to just make up such a story, with his staff nodding along. I certainly didn't go to L.M. wondering whether Wilderness was going to sell; the statement was offered by the camp manager. I hope he doesn't get into trouble thanks to me - he never said the transaction was confidential - but I think where there's smoke, there's fire and that something is or was up. Maybe Wilderness is now trying to cover their tracks (pun intended)! It'll be interesting to see how this all develops.
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Aug 4th, 2005, 06:04 AM
  #57
 
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Hi Lin,

I'm not quite sure about the statements made by the staff, only that there must have been either a misunderstanding or perhaps they were given bad info?

Maybe Foster was actually referring to how WS apply for a concession and hold it for so many years before it is put up for tender again? Not sure.
You were there and it doesn't sound like you misunderstood anything so, I can't explain what was going on there...

Foster claims to have no recollection about having a conversation to the effect of Mak or Little Mak being sold. At any rate, such a sale is not happening. You needn't worry about Foster getting into trouble.

Finally, I didn't mean to imply that what you said you were told was "rubbish", it sounds like you heard them correctly, only that there is no truth to what you were told (at least not as of today). I spoke with two of WS directors yesterday and they both gave me the same answer - "rubbish" (thus my use of that word)

Lin, feel free to call me or Nicky if you want more details.

Cheers all,
James
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Aug 4th, 2005, 08:59 AM
  #58
 
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I was supposed to be heading up to Zim from Capetown in December and friends of mine who live in Harare have had to renig on their offer because of the petrol situation and the economy. I imagine if you are heading to Vic Falls you should be alright if you are going in a tour group, but they are saying that if you go to Zim to make sure you have enough gas to get there and back to where you came from.
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Aug 4th, 2005, 12:49 PM
  #59
 
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cvicket
I read someplace that Mugabe was going to make fuel available to visitors -don't understand the how- by selling at $1/litre in hard currency only. Thats a little expensive, but if true, would make visiting a little easier.
Robbie
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Aug 4th, 2005, 01:45 PM
  #60
bwanamitch
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Robbie,

$1/litre a little expensive? HAHAHAHA!

In Germany we pay $2.50/litre.

Mitch

(It's amazing how I finance my yearly safari.)
 
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