Have you ever wondered what it’s like to spend a day on safari? Sandra Jenman opens her diary to our readers on her recent family trip to Zimbabwe and Botswana. The end of the second perfect day at Mashatu!
We arrived yesterday to a beautiful lunch and one of the best game drives we have ever taken – a rare sighting was the stand-off between two male Kudus vying for dominance in their herd. The valley offered the best vantage point to watch the fight – it was spectacular to watch two majestic animals from just across a river. The sound of their horns clashing echoed through the valley; the larger and older of the two finally surrendered to the strength and tenacity of the younger, now-dominant male. Our two safari guides, Bellamy and Lovemore, with a collective experience of 28 years between them had never viewed such a sight in all their years in the African bush! A truly special memory.
Later on, we left the room on our way to dinner only to step right over a python who was casually chilling on the doormat! We quickly called our guides, who carried the beautiful snake to the bar area to show it to all the other guests… again something they had rarely seen. Everyone was amazed. We took turns gently stroking the snake’s cool skin, taking selfies and photos. Wow! Two great wildlife events in one day!
The next day was a calmer day. We were up at 5am for a relaxed game drive and breakfast at Mashatu. Afterwards, we swam and rested (it’s easy to forget how taxing travelling can be so this day of relaxation was much needed). Later in the afternoon, once the heat had subsided, we took another game drive where we spotted the most beautiful lion! We ended the day with another excellent meal and a much-welcomed sleep.
Two nights at Tuli Safari Lodge – what a divine setting! The rolling green lawns, buck and vervet monkeys traipsed through the vast green lawns creating a real sense of tranquillity. The long drive to the Limpopo River was great; we saw lots of game as we drove into denser bush.
We travelled on mud roads into jungle territory, only to emerge to the wide open space and blue skies of the Limpopo River where three countries meet: Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana. The hippos were converging to give us a show from above; the best vantage point to watch them grunt and play. The packed lunch from Tuli was fabulous and our guide Alex was a great host.
The drive from Bulawayo to Hwange took a bit longer than expected but altogether it was a smooth ride. The notorious road blocks Zimbabwe is famous for were easy to get through. The police were mainly looking for drunk drivers leftover from the Easter long weekend and were happy to smile at tourists and wave us on. The heat of the day was interrupted with a sudden rain shower that lasted half of our journey, which accounted for a slow drive.
The rains have come late this year to the Hwange area, but better late than never! The forests and farms we drove past are green and lush – I have never seen Zimbabwe this green (although admittedly, I’ve never been here in March and only during the drier winter months). We arrived at Elephant’s Eye in time for a gorgeous fish supper – fresh-caught Bream from Lake Kariba – which was a real treat.
At dinner, other guests and I spoke about our fear that we would not see much game because of all the greenery. Today, however, proved me wrong. We already spotted zebra, impala and warthog. A quick drive into Hwange this morning offered sightings of elephant, crocodile, giraffe and zebra, and many types of antelope (including waterbuck, steenbok, impala) as well as plenty of birdlife. In my opinion there is really no ‘wrong’ time to visit Hwange as the game viewing has been fabulous in every season so far.
Today is Friday. We left the lodge in Hwange and drove through Robin’s Entrance to Nantwich in Hwange National Park. After this excursion we drove to Victoria Falls for a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. Floating past hippos, birds and distant mists of the Falls, we were given a lovely lunch and drinks. The weather was beautiful and the breeze was perfect.
In the evening we went to the well-known Boma for dinner and a show. There was a terrific assortment of food on offer, and the place offers an authentic African ambience. I noticed guests of various nationalities and accents all queuing together to experience the smells, tastes and cooking styles of African delicacies – I declined to taste the Mopane worms. The drum show was the best entertainment and everyone participated.
Our night finished off at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge – a fabulous accommodation with spectacular views and a wonderful breakfast on our final day. We’re excited for our next safari!