Zimbabwe Trip Report July 2010
I have just returned from a 10 day trip to Victoria Falls and Hwange. I was born in Zimbabwe but currently live in London and take every chance possible to return home.
An overnight flight from London to Johannesburg with BA, then a quick connecting flight with South African Airways saw us arriving in Victoria Falls. We were met at the airport and transferred to our great little B & B - Amadeus Garden, which we would call home for 4 nights.
Amadeus Garden is set in a lovely walled complex. The en-suite room we stayed in was very spacious, clean and overlooked the tranquil pool area. Cathy was our point of contact and was on hand to help with any activity bookings, taxi requests or general information we required. After a quick bag drop and shower, we were collected by Wild Horizons for our afternoon Sunset Booze Cruise. A lovely way to end our first day, gently cruising up the Zambezi with a Gin and Tonic in hand and the sun setting the only way it does in Africa. Back to Amadeus for an early dinner and bed.
An early wake up, to a very nice breakfast before we were collected by Wild Horizons at 07.45 for our low white water rafting. After coffee and a safety talk we were off down the gorge; slightly treacherous but not too bad. We started from rapid 11 and it was a really good day, lots of fun, some good rapids and luckily we didn’t flip. Here we go… the walk out, OMG, but when I finally made it to the top, a beer and lunch was waiting for me.
In the afternoon we were collected from Amadeus for a helicopter Flight of the Angels which was amazing. It’s great to get another perspective of the Falls and lovely to see them flowing with such a big spray.
After breakfast the next morning we walked into town and then onto the falls themselves. We were hassled a few times by people trying to sell things, but not once did we feel unsafe. Everyone we met was extremely friendly and eventually took no for an answer. The local council have also started to employ “tourist police” which has helped. As mentioned before, the falls where in spectacular flow and we got very wet. Two people in our party were brave enough to do the Gorge Swing and the Flying Fox – both booked with Wild Horizons. The Gorge Swing is as named, you jump off a platform perched at the top of the gorge and when you finally stop falling, you then swing between the gorge until you are hoisted up. The flying fox – you are attached to a horizontal zip line (slide) and fly across the gorge.
After sundowners overlooking the water hole at the beautiful Vic Falls Safari Lodge, we had dinner at the Boma restaurant, which was good fun and great food. I would highly recommend a visit to both.
A bit of a lay in on our final day then off to the majestic Victoria Falls Hotel for mouth watering afternoon high tea, then cocktail sundowners overlooking one of the most iconic views of the bridge, the gorge and the spray in the distance. What a wonderful way to spend our last evening.
Our next stop : The Hide at Hwange National Park.
We were collected in the morning for our two hour road transfer with Dabula Safaris from Victoria Falls to Hwange National Park main camp where we were met by Shepherd from The Hide. The one hour transfer into camp was the start of our game drive, where we met the usual suspects of baboons, zebra, impala, wildabeast and the very graceful giraffe.
The Hide is situated on the eastern boundary of the national park in it’s own private concession. The camp is made up of ten very comfortable en-suite tents under thatch. We were luckily enough to spend 4 nights in tent no 10, which has an additional outside bath and shower with views stretching over the vlei and the large waterholes in front of the camp. The main A frame thatched complex is where meals are taken around a beautiful teak dining table. After being met by Cher – camp hostess, and given the camp safety talk, we tucked into a very hearty two course lunch, before retiring to our tent for a siesta. The beating of the drums indicated more food, with tea and cake before we set off on our afternoon game drive. July is winter in Zimbabwe and with a very good rainy season just pasted, most of the water holes throughout the park were still full so we had to look for the game, but we saw a large number of elephants, giraffe and impala.
Back to camp for a very welcoming hot shower, then drinks around the camp fire before a lovely three course dinner.
“Knock knock, knock knock” was our 05.30 wake up call with a tray of hot coffee left on our veranda. Our early morning walk with Nicholas the professional guide, was full with information on the flora and fauna, but alas I think the animals were still very sensibly tucked up in bed. After a delicious breakfast, we were on the road again for a mid morning game drive which took us past Kennedy l and Kennedy ll (waterholes) and onto Ngweshla which has open flood plains, where we saw large numbers of Elephants again. On another mid morning game drive we were luckily enough to witness a cheetah chasing a waterhog, we then heard the squealing in the thicket of a successful hunt.
Each day followed a similar routine, but brought different adventures. One night during dinner we saw the resident leopard drinking from the waterhole. On our second last night, after dinner we spent the night in the “Doves Nest” which is a very secure and steady viewing platform in a large tree with a bedroom above. Being out on your own, listening to all the night noises was a very special experience.
The four nights spent at The Hide were amazing, we were very sad to leave. The camp and all it’s friendly knowledgeable staff made us feel like we were joining their family as soon as we arrived. Our final game drive took us back to Hwange Main Camp where we were met by Dabula Safari’s again for our road transfer back to Victoria Falls for our flight to UK via Johannesburg.