Office Trip Reports

Ian Flores in Zimbabwe

Day 1-2: Amalinda, Matobo Hills

I started my safari adventure at Amalinda in Matobo Hills, in Zimbabwe.  Amalinda is built into the granite kopjes and every room is unique, incorporating the rocks into each space. On the first day, we came across a mother rhino and her 2 calves and sat with them for half an hour before heading up to Rhodes’ grave for sundowners.

The next day was a cultural morning spent visiting a school, Ethandweni Children’s home and a “homestead”. The orphanage is a special place, with very happy children, impeccable grounds and very caring caretakers. Spending time volunteering here will be paid back three fold.

The next day was a cultural morning spent visiting a school, Ethandweni Children’s home and a “homestead”. The orphanage is a special place, with very happy children, impeccable grounds and very caring caretakers. Spending time volunteering here will be paid back three fold.

The homestead was a mini-compound consisting of 4-5 huts and a kitchen area, with women busying themselves with daily tasks. That afternoon we visited some rock art at Inanke Cave that was thousands of years old. I could’ve spent a whole day exploring the area by foot finding different sites!

Day 3-6: Hwange National Park

We drove from Bulawayo to Hwange National Park and stopped in for a short visit at Khulu and Ivory Lodge before heading through to Hwange Main Camp to meet our transfer guide Clever. He drove us through the park all day, stopping for a picnic halfway where we saw lots of birds. Our game sightings along the way included kudu, zebra, mongoose, giraffe and elephant.

Davison’s Camp was great and very comfortable. There is a large waterhole in front of camp where the buffalo and elephant come down for their afternoon drink and the observation deck is perfect for downtime.

Our first day in Hwange consisted of a walk and game drive with Pro Guide Themba. The walk was very interesting and manageable with information on many things you do not normally hear on a game drive. On our game drive we saw a male lion, eland, buffalo, zebra, elephant, wildebeest and kudu.

The next day we visited Little Makalolo and Linkwasha which are in the same concession. Little Makalolo looks great after its recent refurbishment and the deck has been reduced in size to create more natural space. The Linkwasha tents are very spacious and well designed and they have a great bunker for game viewing by the water hole with a mini fridge. We spent 90 minutes in there game watching and relaxing.

On the last day we came across the hiding spot of a leopard which caused much commotion amongst the baboons in the area and then we came across a pride of 11 lion and watched the females and cubs playing before heading back to camp.

Day 7-10: Mana Pools

We then flew from Hwange National park into Mana Pools to stay at Little Vundu, a mobile tented camp and Vundu Camp. The accommodations here are basic but it’s not about the accommodations in a place like this. What incredible sightings we had here!

We were guided by professional guide Nick Murray and his qualified guides. Our canoe trip down the river was very eventful, navigating pods of hungry hippos and enjoying up close a lone elephant in the channel munching grass. That day ended with catching a glimpse of a leopard with her kill up a tree close to camp just before dinner.

The next day we visited the Nyakazanga pack of African painted dogs on foot, on the way to the den bumping into an elephant cow! We made it to the den and after a short while the puppies came out squealing and playing and feeding. All the other dogs were very relaxed and we were very fortunate to share this special moment.

The rest of the day was spent continuing our canoe ride. We witnessed a large croc passing close by us and a pod of 15 hippo running and diving into the water, creating a spectacle of splashing water and dust kicked up.

That night we stayed in the mobile tented camp and dinner was cooked over an open fire and a delicious meal of fish, veggies and some potatoes filled us before we called it a night. We fell asleep to the sounds of the Zambezi River and the now familiar grunts of the hippos and now hyenas in the night.

The next day we moved to our new digs at Vundu Camp which is the nicest of the three accommodations. We headed out in the Cruiser and my dad spotted the dogs running across the road. There was beautiful chaos as a herd of impala came bounding towards us, surrounded and circled by the dogs that were creating a big ruckus. Before we knew it they all disappeared and the moment was over.

Of course, in between all the excitement were excellent meals and Gin and Tonics and hors d’ouevres, as well as great conversations about the conservation efforts going into Mana Pools.

Day 11

We had one last chance before we departed to try and find Tusker, a large well-known elephant bull. On the way we heard a lion roar and got out to track him. It was a beautiful male lion with a big black mane, in his prime. I was absolutely petrifie. It all happened so fast and the next thing I know he quickly retreated into some thicker brush and while we could see him, he was almost entirely camouflaged. We retreated and continued on to find Tusker, who was luckily only 30 yards from the road.

For the next half hour or so we spend time with this beautiful elephant. Watching him eat, listening to him breathe through his trunk, chew through branches, rip them off trees and got as close as you can get to a wild elephant in Africa.

This was an incredible journey. I think Sir David Attenborough said it best when he shared a similar experience with Nick and the elephants and said, “What a privilege”, just like Zimbabwe.

Previous post

Elia in Uganda

Next post

Nershada and Rhoda in Victoria Falls and Okavango Delta