By: Moses Chimedza
With a few days to go until we close the chapter 2022 I am happily reflecting on the beautiful travel opportunities I have had. My most recent trip was to Zimbabwe which is a safari dream. I have fallen in love with Zimbabwe after visiting and getting a deeper understanding of the country and I am still raving about my trip. My first visit to Zimbabwe was to Victoria Falls pre Covid in June 2019. I travelled with my family but this time I explored Zimbabwe more extensively visiting Lake Kariba and Hwange National Park as well as returning to Victoria Falls.
My trip started with a road transfer to Siavonga. Mike Phiri from Tours Africa picked me up early in order to beat the traffic getting out of Lusaka. Mike is a great driver and a knowledgeable tour guide and I learnt a lot of about the history of our country along the way. The drive was approximately 3.5 hours but it felt much shorter in the comfortable Tours Africa vehicle which was stocked with snacks, water and internet for the road. When we arrived at the Siavonga/Kariba border Mike assisted me with the immigration process and escorted me to the other side where we met Able from Hersov Tours. We then drove the short distance to the Zimbabwean Side for immigration formalities and after that I was transferred to Marineland Harbour where I met Tendai, a lovely lady with a warm big smile. I had a quick look around the various houseboats in harbor before departing on my scheduled boat transfer to Changa Safari Camp. As the captain started the boat I was filled with excitement. It was beautiful to see such incredible scenery - Lake Kariba is the heart and soul of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and lakeshore communities (like Siavonga) and Lake Kariba town are vibrant, bustling destinations supported by fishing and tourism. Lake Kariba is the largest man-made lake in the world and generates electricity for both countries. The Lake is also home to the finest sunsets that I have ever seen.
After a 45 minute boat transfer to Changa jetty I was welcomed by Kenneth a guide from Changa Safari Camp. The camp is set within a private concession with a beautiful view of the Matusadona Mountains and overlooks the vast Lake Kariba. There are six luxury tents, as well as two sets of interconnecting tents for families. The tents are decorated in a special African style and furnishing, including an open-netted front with views from the bed and bathroom, a private deck with a seating area and a hammock. They have connected small sprinklers that can be turned on to bring birdlife to drink while you are outside on your deck reading a book or relaxing. After tea I went on an afternoon game drive with our guide Gardreck who told us a lot about the area – we also saw an incredible amount of elephant. Although they are in the middle of the African bush, the team at Changa Safari Camp cooked up some amazing fresh meals served in several scenic locations around the camp. The following morning, we went on a game drive with Kenneth and spotted a shy leopard. We also saw lots of leopard tortoises. On return to camp, I had breakfast then headed to Fothergill.
From the moment I arrived at FothergillI I felt at home because of the very warm way I was received and welcomed. I was shown to my room and had a quick siesta before the other agents arrived in time for lunch. After lunch we did a site inspection of the property. Fothergill are very proud to show their property in its entirety - including their back of house. The camp is 95% solar powered meaning hot water and lights all day long. Their water is sourced from their borehole and perfectly safe to drink. The rooms are spacious with very comfortable beds, private decks with plunge pools, fans, and outside and inside showers, with great water pressure. The main area is a beautiful spot with fantastic views of the Lake Kariba, comfortable couches, a fire pit, a gorgeous swimming pool and a bar with a variety of beverages. The lodge is fenced which makes it safe for families and ideal for those who want to go a relaxing vacation, with the freedom to roam by yourself. You can take walks or go for a jog on the grounds. There is also a gym. Fothergill has three types of accommodation namely the Lake, Bush and Island Suites, and comprises of two separate but linked camps with a total of 10 spacious and luxurious tented suites that are all uniquely designed. The hosts and guides at Fothergill Island are warm, welcoming and attentive. You can be sure you will always be greeted with smiles and helped with any request.
After enjoying the lodge for a few hours, we went on a boat cruise with Jasper and we had the opportunity to fish. It was my first-time fishing and he helped me discover a new hobby. Jasper is a very patient guide and his tuition was successful as I caught a big bream fish! The next morning, we had our coffee on the go and set off on a short game drive to the dry river bed where we then embarked on a walking Safari. We learnt a lot about tracking animals and had a chance to taste some of the wild fruit. During our walk we encountered a bull elephant and also had an amazing sighting of close to 200 head of buffalo. The guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the bush and conservation. During our time at Fothergill we had some incredible insights into the bush and I felt at one with nature. Leaving Fothergill and saying our good byes to everyone was very sad, we truly enjoyed our stay. The airstrip is just a few minutes from the main area and so in no time at all we were flying to Robin’s Airstrip in Hwange.
On touchdown at Robins Airstrips, we were met by the Deteema guides waving in their open-top safari vehicle to transfer us to the lodge. We were treated to some great sightings en route as we saw lots of buffalo as well as a pride of six lions lazing around. Deteema has eight tents on raised decks linked by winding walkways, some close to the seeps and others facing Deteema Dam. The main lodge sits in the middle and it is beautiful. It has a swimming pool and a large open plan bar, lounge, dining area and a nice fire place for the evening catch ups. While at Deteema Springs we visited their natural springs. During our stay we saw a variety of wildlife such as giraffes, zebras and one bull elephant who came to say good bye as we were heading back to the airstrip for our Mackair flight to Victoria Falls.
During our stay in Victoria Falls we were hosted at Nkosi Guest Lodge, part of the Bayete Collection. That first afternoon we had a site inspection of Bayete and a lovely lunch at Phezulu. We then visited Ilala Lodge and Palm River Hotel and finished up the day on a sunset Cruise on the Ra-Ikane boat. Our guide shared the history about David Livingstone and his Guide Ra-Ikane during our cuirse whilst we enjoyed some delicious snacks. We saw a lot of birdlife, hippos and crocodiles and of course we witnessed another amazing African sunset. That evening dinner was hosted at Nkosi by the owners of the Bayete Collection, Mike and Alex along with their daughter. The following morning, we went for an elephant encounter with Wild Horizons and I was very happy to see Surprise again – an elephant I met in June 2019 when I did my first encounter. She was only a few weeks old then and now she is a little older but still learning how to use her trunk properly to feed. Later that day we went to the MJ Air heli pad in the Victoria Falls National Park for a helicopter ride with MJ Air. We did a 15 minute ride over the Falls, the Zambezi National Park and also over the 2 towns - Livingstone and Victoria Falls. Flying over the park we spotted elephants, buffalos, giraffe, zebras and impalas. Later that day we continued with our site inspections and finished up with dinner at the Boma Place of Eating. This place offers mouth-watering local cuisine and great entertainment.
The following morning, I said goodbye to the other agents and did site inspections of Elephant Camp, The Wallow, Stanley and Livingstone, The Victoria Falls Hotel and Victoria Falls River Lodge as well as Island Suites. I was then taken to Old Drift for my final night in Zimbabwe. When I first heard the name Old Drift, I has a mental picture of an old building but it’s nothing like that. Old Drift is a luxury lodge located on the banks of the Zambezi River, in the Zambezi National Park. It has 10 double suites and four family suites. The tents are well designed to suit the environment. Each suite features a unique contemporary decor style. The room features include an indoor and outdoor shower, a private plunge pool and a viewing deck overlooking the Zambezi River. I went on an afternoon game drive and saw lions with the cubs and lots of impalas. We had a sundowner on the bank of the Zambezi River before heading back to freshen up for dinner. The next morning, I woke up early and Steven one of the guides at Old Drift handed me a packed breakfast. We stopped in to the lookout café for a few minutes before crossing the border back to Zambia. I spent the day doing site inspections in Zambia before finishing up with a night at the stunning new Mukwa River Lodge. Mukwa River Lodge has six suites – two Island Suites facing the dam and four river facing on the edge of the Zambezi River. Each suite has its own private garden, sundeck with the sun beds and plunge pool formed by a galvanized iron tank. They have an organic garden where the food they prepare comes from and the eggs for breakfast come from their own chickens. The level of care at Mukwa River Lodge is incomparable and they pay huge attention to small details.
All in all an amazing adventure and I look forward to helping you plan a visit to these incredible areas in 2023.
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