A Season of Surprise….
In true Africa fashion, travelling in the world’s most exciting continent is unpredictably enjoyable. Sudden dramatic storms, the smell of fresh rains, fighting Tiger fish, Lion a plenty, and an excess of rare and numerous raptors patrolling the skies….. Out there on safari there’s always something to enjoy and be surprised by……
Beck & family just enjoyed a road trip in December holidays, staying at Jabulani in Shangani, Hwange for 4 nights and the Victoria Falls area for the last 3 nights.
From 35C heat to a magnificent storm in Shangani, our world changed on arrival at Jabulani, perfectly located for a stopover en route to Hwange. Ably managed by Luke and Elsa, Jabulani refreshes the soul in its simplicity – a perfect family retreat deserving of several days to enjoy all its offers. Our kids refreshed their equine skills on a morning horse ride, while Sian and I took a nature stroll straight out the lodge, accompanied by Elsa’s cat – all part of the ranch deal!
Next stop Hwange National Park, and first stop on our game drive were the kids and our guide Pete rescuing a large tortoise stranded in the mud of Bomani Pan. The Ngamo Plains that Bomani Tented Camp offers for its game drives, are superb in the green season, big wide open sandveldt, dotted with leadwood trees & freshly- filled pans, wobbly-kneed newborn wildebeest herds, Crowned Cranes, Ground Hornbills and out of this world birdlife. Wherever we turned, new and exciting migrant birds amassed the skies – Amur & Red-Footed Falcons, Booted & Tawny Eagles and many more converging in Hwange for the flying ant feasts in this season. Majestic Lions lounged around at close quarters, while small pockets of Elephants ambled in search of fodder.
Our surprise highlight – a walking interaction with Thusa and Kusasa, the first White Rhino reintroduced back into Hwange in a number of years. Carefully guarded and secured on communal land adjacent to Hwange’s southern border, it was another heart-warming revelation to discover how much the community benefits from tourist revenues to see the rhino.
Our final stop in Hwange was at Verney’s Camp, a classy luxury tented camp surrounding one of the largest waterholes in Zim’s largest national Park. One minute its blisteringly hot, the next we relished every part of a 30mm storm that transforms our moods and the dry arid earth around Verney’s. Just being out there in a true African storm is like gold – the sensuous smell of fresh rain on parched earth, the temperature change, the dark broody skies.
Just when you think there’s nothing at your sundowner waterhole at dusk, a lone Lioness roars and only then you see her, before she silently disappears into the savannah. In Hwange one minute you’re just day dreaming on your game drive, the next a herd of rare Roan Antelope trot over the road; an even rarer Wild cat glances your way for a moment and then magically disappears into thicker bush. A Park that prides itself with 100 mammal species and 400+ species of birds. The smaller stuff can be as exciting as The Big Five – we spent 20 minutes engrossed watching 4 Black-backed Jackal pups playfully ambush each other by Dopi Pan, then loved harassing a sizeable Water Monitor Lizard that came their way. Hwange is alive & thriving, and worthy of a visit any time of the year!
Our stay in Victoria Falls left us with such good memories – a great-value 2 hours on the Bamba Tram that stops on the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge straddling Zim and Zambia; where you disembark briefly to enjoy a short guided tour of the Bridge Museum & history of the bridge, and great family photo opportunities.
Surprisingly, our 11-year old son’s near-highlight was a ride with Dad in the Vic Falls suburbs on a “Bamba e-bike”! Our own tour of the Falls Rainforest was delightful – not expecting spray this time of year, we laughed hard while getting thoroughly drenched. Lunch at the Lookout Café is a must with those to-die-for views of the Batoka Gorge, and hear and be entertained by the tandem Gorge Swingers across our gorge view.
Pioneers Victoria Falls was our home for 2 days and offered us lovely aircon rooms, two large pools for the kids to enjoy, and bountiful breakfast.
Matetsi Victoria Falls was our grand finale of our trip – delectable cuisine with intriguing menus, grand riverside vistas over the mighty Zambezi River, spacious private aircon villa with our own plunge pool and sala. What a way to conclude a holiday! But the best was yet to astonish us – an afternoon game drive through heavenly & expansive green vlei-lines and pans, enjoying over 100 Elephants in the afternoon, and massive Ele bulls sweeping past just metres from our vehicle. Our guide stopped to let us enjoy less than 10 metres away two immense Black-Maned Lion lazing in the grass. And the animals every family want to see round every other corner – Journeys of Giraffe and Dazzles of Zebra.
Our morning boat cruise was sublime on our quietly trolling luxury craft, spectacular birdlife and skies to showcase a new day. And spotting the elusive African Finfoot!
We left in wonder of Matetsi’s superb 55,000 ha of private reserve & experiences that delivers time and time again.