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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Trip to Zimbabwe and Botswana, Part 1!

["East Cape Tours"]
My Trip to Zimbabwe and Botswana: Part 1
I recently spent two amazing weeks in Zimbabwe and Botswana visiting many new lodges and enjoying some great wildlife viewing
 Back to Zimbabwe
Regular readers will know that East Cape Tours came about as a result of an unforgettable trip to Zimbabwe in 1998. Sitting around a campfire at breakfast, 200 buffalo strolled past us to get to Lake Kariba for a drink. We had already seen so many animals during the trip that by that time, we almost ignored the huge herd. That was my light-bulb moment. It was then that I realised just how fantastic Africa was, and I should be doing anything I can to encourage others to visit this magical continent. Fast forward 18 years and we have since shared the wonders of Africa with plenty of clients. Many have become friends and keep returning, having also been bitten by the Africa bug.
During these past years, I have visited a great number of lodges in the various parks and reserves in Zimbabwe. Each lodge that I have stayed at or inspected has a unique feel about it – whether it's the standard of accommodation, personal and friendly service, spectacular wildlife viewings, top class facilities or out-of-this-World food. I'm happy to say that Zimbabwe really does offer some of the best safaris in Africa.
Private accommodation aboard one of Dunhu Ramambo's houseboats
A glorious sunset in Hwange National Park
On one of my previous trips to Zimbabwe I took the ferry from Binga in the South toKariba in the North – a journey of 36 hours. This year I was able to explore Lake Kariba by boat once again, but this time I could do it in style! I was invited to join a luxury cruise by Dunhu Ramambo in one of their three houseboats, which for the first time allows independent travellers to cruise the lake in comfort. Besides the delicious food and fantastic accommodation, the highlight of our stay had to be the side trips along the tributaries. In small speed boats, we had an amazing time mooring up several streams surrounded by herds of hippos and huge crocodiles. You can see more about these amazing houseboats on our Cruise Safaris website.
After an exciting few days aboard the houseboat, we visited the much talked-aboutHwange National Park. The park has been kept operational and the animals remain in good health all thanks to the efforts of the private lodges. In the dry months water has to be pumped into the waterholes to keep the animals hydrated. The private lodges within the National Park have divided the waterholes between them, and take it upon themselves to maintain these holes.
The 'Bomani Boys' in Bomani Tented Camp's private concession
A large herd of wildbesst at Bomani Tented Camp
Two of the many lodges we stayed at in Hwange are Camelthorn Lodge and Bomani Tented Camp. Both lodges are situated close to each other, deep in the African bushveld. We were lucky enough to experience the Elephant Express, the tram that takes guests to and from the two camps. I was excited to learn that Camelthorn is built on communal land, meaning the protected surrounding areas are not affected by the drastic poaching issues in Hwange. This has made the lodge a huge success, as is evident from the many amazing animal sightings we experienced in the lodge's concession.
After exploring Hwange National Park, we spent a few nights in the city of Harare. If truth be told, my wife was a little concerned prior to our visit about safety and the difficulties of staying in the city, as Harare is often spoken about negatively. Well, we could not have been more pleasantly surprised. Harare is simply a million miles away from the image in anyone's mind. We stayed at Jacana Gardens Guest House, a lovely place situated on a quiet and secure one-acre property. We were also spoilt for choice with options for our evening meal and ended up chosing a great Thai restaurant located in a garden centre.
Beautiful gardens at Amadeus Guest House
The magnificent Victoria Falls
The final part of our trip took us to Victoria Falls, where we stayed at two incredible guest houses, namely Amadeus Garden Guest House and Bayete Guest Lodge. Both were just super, with comfortable accommodation and delicious meals. I can now also answer the question as to when is the best time to see the Falls: On my last trip at the end of May there was plenty of water, but then it was difficult to see the Falls owing to the vast amount of spray. This time around, there was far less water, but this also meant that the Falls were a lot easier to see! In summary, I think it's better to actually see Victoria Falls – even if the water levels aren't as high. From Victoria Falls, we went on to Botswana which is an easy hour's drive away. There will more to follow on this, as I don't want to bore you all with too much detail!
A great deal has changed in the country over the past 18 years. Zimbabwe has been dealing with some very difficult times, but there is now huge optimism for the future, and the resolve and resilience of the Zimbabwe people is simply awe-inspiring.

Why not see for yourself and let us organise a fantastic trip for you! You can visit ourZimbabwe website for more information about itineraries, accommodation and the various areas.
Please also visit our Facebook page to see more photos from my trip!
Please contact us if you have any further questions or would like to start booking your next trip to Southern Africa today.
You can also visit our Specials Page here, for plenty of not-to-miss deals.
We hope to hear from you soon,

Colin and the East Cape Tours Team


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