Our group from the USA flew into a, thankfully, sunny Victoria Falls and we spent the night at Ilala Lodge, an excellent hotel right in town within easy walking distance of the Falls and the curio market and other attractions. The Zambezi was in full flow and the spray towered high over the Falls but a breeze blew most of it across to the Zambian side so the waterfall was revealed in all her splendour and we hardly needed our protective rain gear.
Several excursions were made to the Elephant Walk complex – a series of shops where selected skilled craftsmen have exhibition space to sell their works ranging from superb soapstone and wood carvings, wire and bead work, fragrant local soaps and the innovative wildlife made from recycled beer and cold drink cans to (for the more adventurous) fortune telling!
After a huge breakfast buffet our group loaded up into the two ‘Driving you Wild’ minibuses to start the journey to Ivory Lodge on the edge of Hwange National Park. There were many police roadblocks throughout our time in Zimbabwe and although we (in our own vehicle) were waved through each time, our group – being in ‘people carriers’ were stopped at every one which did add quite considerably to the travelling time.
Accommodation at Ivory is in charming elevated timber and thatch chalets overlooking the camp’s private waterhole. The main central complex houses the lounge, dining area and bar where we were looked after extremely well!
The close-up elephant viewing from Ivory’s hide was a major highlight of our stay here, as was the elephant family we came across in the nearby beautiful Dete Vlei. Another particularly special sighting was of a stunning young leopard relaxing in the Cornflower Vernonia flowers on the edge of the teak forest, whilst at the other end of the scale some massive Eggar moth caterpillars were an added bonus.
We had a long, but good full day outing into the National Park where the major sighing of the day were the mating lions at Ngweshla Picnic site – as usual the visual aspect dominated and the cameras worked overtime but when the activity continued over a rise and out of sight everyone was in awe of the dramatic sound accompaniment!
There were several stops along the way – looking at chameleons, dung beetles, fungus and flowers and the start of the very many Lilac-breasted Roller photos!
All too soon we were on our way southwards to Camp Amalinda in the Matobo Hills – to follow in next installment
Excerpt from Kuyimba