Dear Eddy, back in Sweden editing more than 6000 pictures from Botswana I want to thank you for cooperation. There has been incidents and things both good and bad but overall we are very happy with your arrangements. We want to thank you and your company for a professional organization of the trip. Best accommodation were in Motswiri, best game-drives in Sango. Newman Chuma is a top three guide after 20 years of safari trips in Africa. Best regards, P-O and Monica
We are just back from 3 months non-stop safaris and being asked “what was the nicest thing you saw” made us think a bit as there was a lot to choose from.
We were on a 3 week safari throughout Zimbabwe and the game viewing became better and better towards the end of the safari. The last afternoon drive close to Main Camp in Hwange NP we were not expecting to see more then what we already had the 2 days before: several times 12 wild dogs chasing impala, hundreds of elephant playing total hooligan in the mud, 2 male lion walking in front of the car for several kilometre without anybody else around, lion mammy’s and kids, the works.
So we went to an area where we hadn’t been before and there were few animals around until I spotted a leopard hanging the typical leopard way in a fork of a tree. The animal was far away and difficult to photograph as there were branches in the way so after some minutes we left it in peace and drove on. On our way back we checked if it was still there and yes, there it was again. This time she ( it was a young lady ) came down the tree and started walking in our direction. I told the clients not to talk and not to make sudden moves as she might come closer. Well, she did, this leopard walked to about a meter from the car and sat down very dog-like actually and looked us all over: the tyres, the roof, the clients ( who were suddenly hanging backwards as this was to close for comfort ), the logo on the car,… When satisfied, she walked to the front of the vehicle and gave this a good check and proceeded to the other side of the car until she got a sudden fright from a camera moving to quick. She then decided she had seen enough and walked lazily to a nearby tree and climbed up to start checking if any food was walking in the neighbourhood.
It was time to get back if we didn’t want to be late at the gate so we drove back quickly but the explosions of ooohggg’s and aahhh’s and yesyesyes from the client section showed that they had had their apotheosis from the trip, now they could go ! We had an extra bottle of wine that evening celebrating the leopard who came to see the tourists instead of the tourists looking for the leopard.
Rik en Jeanine zijn hier net buiten, ze zijn supercontent, maar werkelijk zeer, zeer tevreden. Het zijn ervaren reizigers, ze hebben al heel veel gezien en meegemaakt, dus neem het van mij aan, het was top!!!!
De route, van hoogtepunt naar hoogtepunt.
De maaltijden: ik kreeg honger als ik hoorde wat Manou allemaal voor hen heeft gemaakt, jawadde! Respect.
Je materiaal, je jeep.
De mokorotochtjes, de safari…
Enfin, we hebben een probleem: ik wil er 3 dagen uit om goedkoper te kunnen aanbieden, maar als ik vraag aan Rik en Jeanine wat er uit mag: niets, ze vonden alles de moeite, zeer gevarieerd. Ze beseffen dat ze veel gehad hebben voor weinig geld in feite, maar alles is relatief hé.
Ze zijn uiteraard ook zeer in de wolken met jouw begeleiding. Je heb de leiding en je weet wat je wil en je bent de baas (en zo hoort het!). Je geeft de mensen een veilig gevoel en ze voelen dat ze onder jouw begeleiding een veilige en intense ervaring gaan meemaken. Ik groeide hier een meter toen ik ze hoorde stoeffen over jou (en je team en je organisatie).
Wij zijn blij dat we met jou in zee zijn gegaan en willen natuurlijk niets liever dan verder werken samen.
Ik ga even laten bezinken en de rest ook zijn mening vragen en dan kijken we tegen begin september wat we kunnen aanpassen voor 2013, met één doel: meer realiseren met jou, want ik besef maar al te goed dat je met dgl. onderbezetting het zout in de pap niet hebt verdiend, dat kan één keer, maar voor de toekomst mag dat niet meer. Jij levert kwaliteit en wij moeten je meer klanten bezorgen, zo simpel is dat.
Tot fleus, nog van harte dank, ook aan je lieve vrouw Manou (schijnt een schat van een vrouw, maar dat zulde gij wel weten want jullie zijn al 10 fijne jaren samen).
Enfin, drie dikke beesen van mij voor jullie beiden,
Kalahari Skies is introducing its all new Zimbabwe 2015 itinerary
Rates on request
Day 1: Landing in Victoria Falls around noon and transfer to camp in Sinamatella in Hwange National Park. Sundowner drive. Camping ( 150 km )
Day 2: Full day game drive from Sinamatella to Main Camp. Camping ( 120 km )
Day 3: Morning and afternoon game drives around Main Camp. Camping ( 100 km )
Day 4: Morning game drive and transfer to Matopos National Park with brief visit to Bulawayo. Camping ( 350 km )
Day 5: Morning visit to White Rhino Cave, Rhodes grave and World View, walk in area. Afternoon game drive in Matopos Wildrness Area. Camping ( 80 km )
Day 6: Transfer to Masvingo and visit Great Zimbabwe Monument in afternoon. Lodge ( 370 km )
Day 7: Transfer to Lake Chilvero with visit to Harare in afternoon. Sundowner drive in park. Chalets ( 340 km )
Day 8: Drive to Mana Pools and sundown at the river. Camping ( 400 km )
Day 9: Morning and afternoon game drives in Mana Pools ( 80 km )
Day 10: Morning game drive and transfer to Kariba, visit Kariba Dam. Camping ( 210 km )
Day 11: Boarding ferry for Mlilizi, full day on Lake Kariba. Rooms on ferry.
Day 12: Arrival at Mlilizi and transfer to Victoria Falls. Lodge ( 250 km )
Day 13: Morning free for activities and afternoon visit to the falls with high tea in Victoria Falls Hotel. Lodge
Day 14: Free morning with visit of curio market and transfer to airport for return flight ( 40 km )
Come join us on this exciting adventure!
As I had heard that several people had been happily travelling in Zimbabwe again after years of fuel- and food shortages and general lack of services, I decided to go on a reconnaissance trip myself to check things out.
In seventeen days we travelled from Plumtree via Bulawayo to Harare. From Harare to Mana Pools and back to Lake Chilvero. Then to Masvingo and the Great Zimbabwe Monument and back to Matopos National Park and the Khami Ruins. We finished by travelling North to Victoria Falls via Main Camp and Sinamatella in Hwange National Park.
The first thing we noticed was that the border crossing is still a bit of madness but all payments ( for road tax, 3rd party, carbon tax and what not ) are now combined: one payment, one receipt for all = no more running and queuing at different tellers.
The second thing we noticed was the first police roadblock about 5 km from the border. We didn’t know that in total we were going to see some 60 of those roadblocks ( say 1 every 35 km on main roads and 1 every 80 km on secondary roads ). All were friendly: or they waived us through, or they stopped us as they were curious about our extended game-viewer, or they were just wanting a chat and ask about Botswana. There were only 3 exceptions to this rule: one was the “famous” roadblock just North of Gweru where there is a well-known policeman with a huge chip on his shoulder fining everybody “white”, after a long search he came up with a 10 U$ fine for a crack in the window. I told him this was caused between Bulawayo and Gweru and that Gweru didn’t have a place where they sold windows but was cut off with: “why don’t you just shut up and pay the 10 bucks”, something I wisely did. At the other 2 roadblocks they just saw from far that we were from Botswana and pulled us over to check it all out: trailer lights, T-stickers on front and back of trailer, reflector tape front and back on vehicle, temporary import permit, the works. As long as you stay friendly, all you loose is time. This brings me to our average speed: due to these roadblocks, toll gates ( on every main road there is a 1 U$ toll to pay ) and the many lorries travelling up and down to Zambia, you can count on a 80 km per hour average speed on main roads and 100 km per hour on the secondary tarred roads ( no big lorries and less roadblocks on those ).
The roads are good in general but have been repaired so often that you “tremble” all the way over thousands of filled-in potholes, only now and then is there a real nasty pothole.
Harare and Bulawayo have developed their own new traffic rules: whenever traffic lights don’t work ( roughly every second one ) it is priority of the biggest, fastest or most daring, just take your chance, I was lucky to drive a big vehicle.
Most indication signs have lost a lot of paint and many place name indicators are missing, we had to ask on several occasions if we were on the good road ( still old fashioned: I still don’t use a navigation system ).
Fuel is everywhere available ( diesel will be 1.38 U$ a litre on average ) , only unleaded petrol is sometimes out of stock.
In the supermarkets we were amazed that there was more on offer than in Botswana, although at a price, the moment you buy something more luxury than mielies – sugar – cooking oil – rice etc, dig into your wallet ! I estimate that we paid roughly 50% more for food in Zimbabwe than we would have paid for the same in Botswana.
Hotel accommodation: count on about 150 U$ for a room on average, except in the bigger centres where this is more like 200. Restaurants are expensive, the top was Churchill Hotel in Bulawayo where it was 18 U$ for a starter, 25 U$ main course and 15 to 20 U$ for a dessert. Also, you don’t really want to drink wine with your meal: the quality and availability is poor but not the price ( in most big supermarkets you can buy good wine at not too expensive prices ).
Most amazing was that we expected to find a country in shambles but no: most things work, all is clean, in the national parks you can eat of the floor in the ablutions, they provide you with toilet paper, firewood, heat up the donkey-boiler and are most helpful and friendly. A huge difference with Botswana where only one ablution block will be open so the staff only has to clean one, where there is no toilet paper, where the toilet seats are missing, mirrors broken, rubbish bins full and were very often the sewage is spilling over.
After 17 days of enjoying service we crossed the border back into Botswana and : naked electric wires hanging in the toilet, no toilet seat nor paper, urinal out of order and the officials not afraid of begging : “nice tool, can I have your Leatherman” – “I need a six-pack of beer” – “don’t you have 10 Pula for me I’m hungry” – etc, in Zimbabwe where the people really are poor, no-one asked for something !!!
Zimbabwe is still not a cheap destination but the more tourists visit again, the better it will get, the parks for instance are much cheaper than in Botswana where you pay 10 times more for camping fees and often more for park fees ( especially as park fees in Botswana are to go up in the very near future ): we paid 20 U$ camping fee per night for 4 people in Mana Pools, one of the top destinations, in Botswana this would have cost us 200 U$ per night for the same.
The wildlife has suffered a lot in Zimbabwe which is evident wherever you go in the parks: plenty of baboons, crocodiles and hippos but impalas – kudus – gnoes – buffalo are scarce, even elephants you have to look for. We saw some lions and heard several at night but with their normal food being poached for 12 years I’m sure they struggle. Most of the rhinos are still around and poachers seem to stay away.
Positive is that few tourists are around so you have most of the sightings for yourself and campsites are full of space, we had the Great Zimbabwe and the Khami Ruins all for ourselves, nobody else around, amazing.
Result is that I think the time has come to start offering trips into Zimbabwe again as the country is stunningly beautiful and has a lot of variation: wildlife, monuments, museums, mountains, lakes, rivers, history,… and this is the time to go before it will be “rediscovered” by the tourism industry.
If you look on our website you’ll find a trip proposal for Zimbabwe for next year: we offer 6 departure dates but if you are 4 or more people willing to go we can organise trips on other dates or with other itineraries, just let us know.
Yours in travelling !
I have always loved nature and after 17 years as a tour guide in Europe and nearly as many in Africa, I want to share my passion of wild places with you!
A News Letter Written by Guides for Guides
Un bulletin rédigé par des Guides pour les Guides
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