OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 2011
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We promote travel opportunities to the wild areas of the Zambezi Valley and Lake Kariba
WILD ZAMBEZI invites you to a world of nature where the pace is slow, the sun is warm, the sky is huge and the people are friendly. Our travel promotion focus is the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba, including the Mana Pools World Heritage Site and the Matusadona National Park. We provide web-based, up-to-date information on operators, activities, accommodation choices, tours and services in the Kariba and Zambezi valley areas, and a reliable, independent travel advisory service.
Visit our website at www.wildzambezi.com
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KARIBA
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TIGER TOURNAMENT: A FITTING 50TH!
Kariba’s long-awaited 50th anniversary Invitational Tiger Fish Tournament (KITFT) held between 26th and 29th October 2011 was a roaring success – a spectacular festival and a truly memorable occasion enjoyed by more than 2000 enthusiastic anglers and their supporters.

Mana Meadows reports: “Long after the fishing-shirt tans have faded, the tiger have been mounted and the excitement has eventually settled, the lasting memory most of the 1000-plus anglers who attended KITFT will take away is that it has been a happy week…. There were the die-hard KITFT veterans, (including 99-year-old Bill Green, who fished the first tournament in 1962 and was flown in from Harare as the honorary guest to present prizes on the final day). There were the spiffily dressed professionals whose year-long (in some cases life-time) dream had been to win the 50th. There were the novice anglers who’d never fished a tournament before, the ex-Zimbabweans who came home from all corners of the globe just to “Fish the 50th”. There were the international visitors (who chose this tournament as the one to return to this special country and see just how much we have got back on our feet.”

About 500 boats turned out on the water to witness the start of the tournament which attracted 268 team entries, with an impressive 49 foreign teams representing nine countries – one team each from Mozambique, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Swaziland and Norway; nine Zambian teams and an incredible 35 teams from South Africa! This was a huge increase on the 2010 tournament which saw 143 teams entering – with only 16 of those being foreign.

A total of 3613 fish were caught, weighing 7542.22 kgs.

This year’s trophy, and the indescribable pride of winning the 50th, belonged to Remington Gold (pictured top left). With a total score of 171.855 and the heaviest catch and highest score on all three days of the tournament, they were convincing and deserved winners. In second place was Team Nissan with 153.38 points, followed by Charter X (145.07 points).

The biggest tigerfish of the tournament was caught by Reegan Ingram (pictured second left), who caught his 10.8 kg fish at the bream farms on the first morning of the tournament, winning himself a Riverbird boat (with trailer, Mercury 125 Motor and Boat Cover), sponsored by Nashua, Fibercraft and Chase Marine. Ingram, who was fishing with Team Brewster has fished the tournament about six times before and had never caught anything bigger than around 4kgs. The closest anyone came to him was Keith Lyon Jnr (from South Africa) who caught a 8.17 tiger and Leeroy Oliver, with the third heaviest fish weighing in at 8.15kgs.

Shiloh Swart caught the largest number of fish, catching 31 and earning his team 67.945 points. Rodney Mackay won the trophy for the heaviest total weight of fish (76.675 points) (pictured centre being presented with his trophy by veteran, Bill Green) and Brenda Marchussen won the trophy for the ladies heaviest total catch. Karen Kirstein caught the largest fish out of the ladies with her 6.755 kg tiger.

The top ten angling teams will take place in next year’s Test of the Best tournament to be held in Kariba on 24th and 25th February. They are:
Remington Gold; Team Nissan; Charter X; Mega; Team Sakunda; Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit; F.Neil Bull Sharks; ULTC Team Burn; Stryke-Tynserve and Fisheagles.

For more information and pictures of the event, see www.kitft.co.zw
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TALES FROM BUMI HILLS: WEDDINGS AND WILDLIFE WONDERS
The fairytale sunset setting for the wedding of Luke Brown and Suzanne Everaerts, Bumi Hills’ Sales and Marketing duo, on a sand island near the lodge, will provide inspiration for many couples looking for that perfect romantic spot to tie the knot. Bumi’s calendar is rapidly filling up with wedding bookings as the lodge itself provides a magnificent venue for receptions. Up to forty guests can be accommodated in Bumi’s comfortably-appointed hilltop rooms, while arrangements can be made for one of Kariba’s larger houseboats to be berthed in the Bumi Harbour for extra guests to overnight.

Wildlife is never far away at Bumi. Guests and lodge staff recently just missed witnessing the birth of an new elephant calf near the harbour. The calf was still lying on the ground struggling to stand when he was spotted, while his mother was gently trying to assist him to his feet. After half an hour the newest member of the pachyderm population managed to stand up and wobbled around as his mother watched closely, before slowly moving off to feed.

“The pink, hairy infant and his mother have been spotted several times since and have now rejoined their herd” says Nick Milne, General Manager at the Lodge. “Elephants, on rare occasions, will leave the safety of the herd to give birth alone, however cows normally prefer to be within contact of their family members during this process.

After carrying the foetus, which weighs roughly 100kg at birth, in her womb for 22 months our cow seems much more comfortable and relaxed since giving birth and with two other cows in the same herd showing signs of pregnancy the new baby bull, named Toto by the Bumi guides, may have a playmate soon!”

If you want to keep in touch with the happenings at Bumi Hills Safari Lodge, read their blogspot Tales of Bumi.
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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: A FLYING DUTCHMAN VISITS KARIBA

Guus Thomas-Verweij, has written an account of his first trip to Kariba when visiting as a tourism consultant. Wild Zambezi reproduces some of his first impressions here. To read the full story, see this link: Kariba: A first-time experience

“It is 6am and I am about to leave Charles Prince Airport outside Harare …. on the final leg of my itinerary to Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe. The sun is rising behind me into a cloudless sky. We lift up over Harare…drifting westwards over Zimbabwe’s distinctly changing agricultural landscape…. The 90-minute flight allows me time to reflect on my first 24 hours in Zimbabwe…

Then we glide over a range of mountains and suddenly it’s there – Lake Kariba – one of the largest man-made fresh water lakes in the world! Nothing prepares me for this – the sky, horizon and land below seem to merge into one mass of ‘blueness’. This was once a huge valley teeming with wildlife, with the mighty Zambezi River flowing in the bottom of it… Flying over it gives me the chance to take in the sheer size of this extraordinary creation. The lake’s shores now teem with animals (all of the Big Five, including the black rhinoceros) as well spectacular birds, fish, reptiles, trees and plant life. Its recent UNESCO designation as part of the Middle Zambezi Biosphere Reserve, is no surprise and will hopefully provide much needed assistance to this area which contains wildlife treasures like the Matusadona National Park (on the southern shore of the Lake) and Mana Pools World Heritage Site, as well as private reserves and a tourism industry facing many challenges.

Tourism is the focus of my visit to Kariba. I have come to advise on the upgrading of the Cutty Sark Hotel – one of the town’s longest-standing hotels and an icon of Kariba’s hospitality industry….

The flight over the Kariba Dam takes your breath away… with awesome views of the huge curve of concrete holding back such a massive body of water….I am half expecting Kariba Airport to be a dirt strip populated with baboons and antelope vying with each other to force the pilot to abort our landing and give us a closer look at the surrounding bush and baobab trees. There are plenty of such strips around the Lake, but to my surprise, Kariba Airport has a modern looking tower and separate arrival and departure gates, making it an excellent and safe place to touch down….

Still in awe of the views and new experiences, I feel my lungs fill with warm air… as I set foot on Kariba soil to experience the heat, smells, sounds and dust that is Africa. “Is that an elephant”? Of course it is! And before I reach my hotel on the shores of the Lake, I have asked the driver to stop four times to photograph, zebra, elephant, baboon and antelope. Later that evening, on my way to Warthogs Bush Camp for some beers, my heart stops when I realise that a rock on the side of the road is moving and is in fact a huge hippo wondering why I am in such a hurry (above right) …. In the headlights of my car I spot two white, slightly curved, UFO-like things suspended above the road. Then a huge elephant bull appears, stops me in my tracks and slowly meanders towards my now stationary car. Nowhere to go but back, I yank the car into reverse and crash into the nearest verge…. I pray for all I am worth and the elephant passes by as though he owns the place – without even a thank you!

Lying on my bed, I think back to 48 hours ago when my trip started and how quickly I had become immersed in the real Africa I had always imagined! If today is anything to go by, there are a lot of wonders in store for me…

Come and visit Kariba and experience it for yourself! Better still, visit the newly upgraded Cutty Sark Hotel – it’s got one of the best lakeside views in town”.
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HILLTOP LUXURY IN KARIBA
If you are a small party (maximum 10) and would like to stay in a good deal of luxury, privacy and comfort at an all-inclusive rate in Kariba town, consider Hornbill Lodge.

Owner-run and managed by Tommy and Jackie Millar and their daughter Sunera, this delightful intimate, thatched lodge is set on top of one of Kariba’s highest hills, with stunning views over the lake. There are three spacious, double en-suite chalets and a family room for four, each carefully positioned for privacy within lush green tropical gardens. The rooms are exquisitely furnished and decorated in African themes with an open-plan, airy design, fresh white linen, expansive mosquito nets and extremely comfortable beds. Delicious meals are served to you by the owners themselves, either in the central dining room/bar area or al fresco on the verandah next to the splash pool.

Transfers to and from Kariba airport can be arranged as can sightseeing tours around Kariba (e.g. to the dam wall) as well as fishing trips or boating on the lake.
For more information, see this link: Hornbill Lodge
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A CHRISTMAS CRUISE?…….GO ON……TREAT THE FAMILY!
Why not take your family to enjoy a festive Christmas Cruise on Lake Kariba aboard The Zambezi Trader – Zimbabwe’s largest passenger ship?
The cruise leaves from Kariba on 23rd December, lasts for three nights (four days) and returns on 26th December.
All-inclusive daily rates start at US$140 per person sharing an A-deck twin cabin, US$170 per person sharing a Queen Suite and US$190 per person sharing a Presidential Suite.
National Parks Fees and drinks are extra.
It promises to be a festive and fun-filled experience!
For more details and contacts see this link: Zambezi Trader
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MARINELAND MUSINGS…
Derek Adamson from Marineland Harbour in Kariba writes of a VERY hot and dry October at the lake:-

“Kariba literally ‘turned up the heat’ for 50th Anniversary Tiger Tournament, with temperatures in the mid 40’s C and remaining there right through to the end of October. One report was that the open water temperature at noon on the Friday was 31 degrees, I’m surprised the fish weren’t coming out poached !!!! However, there was not a drop of rain in Kariba in October. Maybe we’re going to get that drought that I’ve been wishing for for the last two years, to drop the lake level back to more ‘marina manageable’ levels !!! Even the weather seems to be celebrating the 50th anniversary with the authorities announcing that Zimbabwe experienced the hottest October for 50 years !

News is filtering through about a new luxury safari camp being constructed in the Changa Cheriyere area (in the Matusadona National Park) with connections to a well known Hwange Safari Camp operator. Also activity in and around Fothergill Island indicates that it’s about to be resuscitated after about 10 years of neglect.

In our continuing efforts to control the amount of garbage, Marineland has obtained another supply of ‘can crushers’ that are on sale in our shop. They cost only $50, and we’ll fit them free of charge to houseboats !! We continue to try and increase the range of goods in our shop, but always confined to what we believe are houseboat and speedboat clients requirements, we do not pretend to be a supermarket ! We have recently introduced a supply of basic speed boat bits and pieces such as fuel connectors, cleats, eye bolts, etc.

With our new blast freezer now in operation, for the first time ever over a busy period, (KITFT) we were able to supply all our clients’ ice requirements without buying in ice from outside suppliers.

For more information see this link: Marineland
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GACHE GACHE EXTENDS ITS SPECIAL INTO 2012
Gache Gache Lodge, on the south-eastern side of Lake Kariba has extended its special US$100 per person per night into 2012 and will be running it during February and March next year. This rate includes accommodation, all meals, teas and laundry. Transfers, bar and activities are extra.

Wild Zambezi visited this lodge by road with Zim4x4 in October and was delighted at its beautiful tree-filled setting up the Gache Gache river. The rustic, en-suite chalets were comfortable, each with its own private verandah overlooking the river. The meals were very good and the friendly staff worked hard to accommodate every need.

Traditionally well-known as an prime spot for fishing, Gache Gache is fast becoming an excellent wildlife area thanks to hard work on behalf of the owners, Ray and Pat Townsend, who are determined to curb poaching and increase wildlife numbers. There were lion prints on the access road to the lodge and we saw elephant, eland, bushbuck, impala, and kudu on game drives. The birdlife at this time of the year is awesome, viewed either from the land or from an evening sundowner cruise (highly recommended). We were lucky to see two Pel’s Fishing Owls and a Verreaux’s (Giant) Eagle Owl as well as a river estuary full of waterbirds! It’s worth splashing out on one of the lodge’s exclusive extra activities: a bush dinner by fire-light, under a giant fig tree right next to the river. A truly magnificent setting and a magical evening, thanks to hard work on behalf of the lodge staff!

For more information see this link: Gache Gache Lodge
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RHINO SAFARI CAMP: A LITTLE PIECE OF PARADISE
Jenny Nobes, owner/manager of Rhino Safari Camp on the southern shores of lake Kariba and in the Matusadona National Park sent us these wonderful pictures and writes:
“Our safari season extended well into October and we have been able to share the peace of the Matusadona National Park with more visitors than in the last few years.

The second year of high water levels in the lake has put the wildlife under a great deal of pressure, but at last the legendary heat of October in the valley has started to expose the grass along the shoreline more rapidly.

Crossing over from the mainland in the early mornings, the elephants make their way to the shorelines to enjoy the water rich grass, swim and play, and then apply their sunscreen, turning muddy-red as Matusadona elephants do. The elephants’ favourite bathing areas are easily viewed from the cool of your room during the heat of the day. As the days cool down and the sun sinks slowly to the west, the elephants move off but continue feeding, kicking up the grass shoots and creating a halo of dust against the backdrop of the sunset. Five kudu bulls have also visited regularly, feasting on the succulent new shoots appearing on the Zambezi Cocoa bushes, pausing to drink from the lake in the midst of their nibbling. We are extremely fortunate, too, that one of the Park’s newest black rhino calves, Zuva, and his mother, Mvura, are regular visitors to the camp.

The “jesse” bush has also been alive with a multitude of birds enjoying the first fruits. Sunbirds, Tropical Bou Bous, Pearl Spotted Owls and Glossy Starlings have filled the bush with their songs, attracted mates and built their nests. Our Natal Mahoganies were recently alive with Paradise Fly Catchers, one of whom decided to take over our bird baths and show the ladies just how magnificent he was, posing this way and that and calling loudly. A Kittlitz Plover Chick also clearly illustrated how speed can be an effective form of camouflage, dodging about and proving extremely difficult to photograph.

December and the rains are coming with the annual promise of renewal. The impalas will drop their lambs, the grass and bush will turn brilliant emerald green, and we will experience the thrill of real African rain, intense and replenishing, often accompanied by memorable sound effects.

If you would like to join us at any time of year to relax and unwind and experience a safari in the Matusadona National Park, please contact us via this link: Rhino Safari Camp”
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ZAMBEZI VALLEY
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LOVE IN THE AIR ONTHE ZAMBEZI RIVER AND AT KANGA CAMP….
African Bush Camps guest, Merritt Vincent Broady tells the romantic tale of how he and Tamar Naomi Zalk became engaged during a canoe trip on the on the Zambezi River, while staying at Kanga Camp:-

“After weeks of planning with African Bush Camps, Tamar and I got engaged on August 19, 2011 whilst floating on a canoe safari down the Zambezi River. Fisher, an experienced and charismatic safari guide who works at Kanga Camp, was covertly part of the planning process. He and I had agreed beforehand that I would leave my trench coat on, and when I was ready to propose, I would remove the coat as a signal to him to start filming. When I finally built up the courage to actually follow through with the plan, I called my fiancee’s name out, she turned around, and there I was with the little black box open, the diamond glistening in the sun, and I asked her to marry me. She said yes!

After canoeing down the Zambezi we stayed at Kanga Under The Stars, a romantic and “real-life” experience separate from the main camp and hidden from plain view. We were greeted with sand ditches lighted with candles, refreshments, and a sensational staff who made us feel like we were the only ones at Mana Pools. Tamar and I enjoyed a delightful dinner and went to bed atop a wooden platform hidden amongst the trees where we heard the melodies of lions and other wild game as we slept peacefully through the night.”

Inspired by this story, and in celebration of couples embarking on a new adventure in life together as a married couple, African Bush Camps is offering honeymoon couples a special, private, African Luxury Tented Adventure at Kanga Camp in Mana Pools, and at two of their other camps in Zimbabwe and Botswana, between 1st October 2011 and 31st March 2012.

For contact details, see this link: African Bush Camps (Kanga Camp)
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LIONS HAVE A FIELD-DAY IN MANA POOLS
Sizzling hot temperatures this safari season have dried up water sources in the Zambezi hinterland and have brought thousands of thirsty animals down to the river at Mana Pools. By October, the density of wildlife in the “floodplain” area next to the Zambezi River had resulted in every single blade of grass being eaten to dust level. With no welcome relief in the form of early rains, the grazing animals like buffalo, zebra and waterbuck are tired and hungry and make easy pickings for the predators who hang about behind the herds as they move to the river to drink. The result is a killing field.

Sunpath Safaris report the “Nyamepi” lion pride killing four buffalo and three waterbuck in ONE October night in front of their Mana Pools camp at Mucheni. “The lions could hardly move they had gorged themselves on a so much meat” said one of their guests. “They simply moved from one kill to the next, abandoning the barely-touched carcasses to the vultures, and not even bothering to defend them”.

Although a sad and sorry situation for the animals, this made for incredible early morning wildlife sightings. Unusually, the hyaenas had not plundered the kills during the night and Sunpath guide, Gus Alexander, was able to walk his clients right in to the abandoned buffalo carcasses (left) – not usually possible under normal circumstances – and to provide some incredible photographic opportunities of lions doing what lions do best….. lying around in the shade looking bloated.

“By 8a.m. the October sun was already too hot for comfort. We were able to do a couple of hours of game viewing by vehicle, but by mid-morning we retired to our camp, to a welcome cold drink and a shower followed by brunch. We then lay around in the shade much like the lions for the rest of the day, until it was cool enough to get active again”.

Sunpath Safaris provide experienced, owner-run, all-inclusive, tented camp experiences in Mana Pools as well as canoe safaris down the Zambezi River for small groups interested in a true wilderness experience. They pride themselves on leaving a minimal environmental “footprint” and strongly believe that Zimbabwe’s wild places should remain undeveloped.

For more information and contact details see this link: Sunpath Safaris
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KAVINGA SAFARIS: INTRODUCING KIDS TO THE WILD

During this December holidays Kavinga Safaris will be conducting childrens’ safaris in Mana Pools National Park.

The camps will be for ages from 8 to 12 years and from 13 to 16 years. The children will be accompanied by qualified professional guides throughout the camp and will do various activities such as walking, game drives, fishing and life skill activities. The six days will be filled with fun and learning about the environment they are in.

The camps will hold sixteen children at a time and the cost of the whole week will be $500 per child including the bus trip into Mana Pools.

For more information contact cleabridges@yahoo.com
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TAILPIECE:
The male Paradise flycatcher grows a fine, long tail during the breeding season.
Very attractive to the lady flycatchers…. but, a bit of an encumbrance when you’re trying to fly!
“So”, says Jenny Nobes of Rhino Safari Camp (who took this picture), “he took the easy option, by stationing himself at the bird bath and showing the ladies just how magnificent he was, posing this way and that and calling loudly.”
Fortunately for him, he will lose his long tail feathers when the breeding season is over….
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