Our owner-and-managing-directer recently spent two weeks with his wife in Zimbabwe and Botswana doing site inspections and going on game drives. This is what he had to say about his time in the Southern African bush:
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 guests. Many have become friends and keep returning, having also been bitten by the Africa bug.
During these past years, I have visited a number of lodges across Zimbabwe. Each place I have stayed at or inspected has had a unique feel about it – whether it’s the standard of accommodation, friendly service, spectacular wildlife viewings or out-of-this-World food. I’m happy to say that Zimbabwe really does offer some of the best safaris in Africa.
On one of my previous trips to Zimbabwe I took the ferry from Binga in the South to Kariba 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. 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 streams surrounded by herds of hippos and 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-about Hwange 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.
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 bushveld. We were lucky enough to experience the Elephant Express, the tram that takes guests to and from the camps. 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 animal sightings we experienced.
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. Well, we could not have been more 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 secure one-acre property.
The final part of our trip took us to Victoria Falls, where we stayed at Amadeus Garden Guest House and Bayete Guest Lodge. 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! You can visit our Zimbabwe website for more information about itineraries, accommodation and the various areas. You can also visit our Facebook page to see more photos of my awesome trip.