A Travellerspoint blog

Day 13 or the day Beth’s Africa wish came true

Zimbabwe

overcast
View Russ and Beth go on safari on Weimerrv's travel map.

We had an early breakfast overlooking the waterhole. We hoped to see some different animals but they were hiding as our guide would say. Our first stop was a craft market and I think I went a bit overboard - at least that is what Beth said....We bought some Christmas gifts and I got a hand carved chess set. The industriousness and politeness of the Zimbabwe people is striking, especially since there is so much unemployment. After leaving the market, which made the vendors very sad.., we went to a local village to speak with the Chief. The Chief gave a remarkable talk about how the village is organized, how they interact with the animals, how they use the natural resources and how important family and community are. We were allowed to take pictures and ask any questions we wished. They make all the metal tools from recycled tire springs and all males are expected to know how to forge, build a house and tend to the farm or make items to sell to visitors like us. An amazing place and we really enjoyed the talk. Like the visit to the prison that held Nelson Mandela, the information and passion of the speakers really manifested itself. Beth had been wishing and hoping to see elephants and up till today we hadn’t seen any, well she got her wish. We went to the Victoria Falls National Park which also contains an elephant rescue. We got to not only see the elephants, we got to touch them and feed them....all I can say is WOW....you must look at the pictures when we post the album. The day just kept getting more interesting. Our next stop was back at the hotel to watch them feed the vultures....I made a video, vultures and marabou storks everywhere. Please ask me to send it or show it to you when we get home. The guide explained the purpose behind the feeding - many vulture species are endangered and poachers of game animals poison the carcass because vultures give the poachers away! The daily feeding gives them a better chance to survive especially during the drought here. Speaking of the drought, this area hasn’t had any rain in 11 months, not low rain NO rain. Yesterday it rained a little but tonight it is raining hard - a blessing to the Zimbabwean people since most of them are farmers.

After the feeding frenzy, we changed into our swimsuits and laid by the pool and drank a gin and tonic while watching the watering hole and the weaver birds flying back and forth gathering grass to make their nests (to impress potential mates). The water was too cold for Beth but I had a swim. The last event was a River cruise on the mighty Zambezi. We were not expecting too see much but it was the icing on the cake for a day of wish granting. We saw elephants and more elephants, crossing the River, on the banks drinking, a mother caring for a 2 week old and 2 males having a mock fight over who got in the water first. We also saw crocodiles and lots of hippos. Beth got some great shots...my phone was not up to the task. A fabulous day.....I think it brought Beth to tears to see all the elephants today.

PS our friends saw part of the “breakfast brigade”, a ranger toting an air rifle to frighten off the monkeys that try to sneak to raid the breakfast buffet. They don’t shoot the monkeys but the sound scares them off. Life in Africa!

Posted by Weimerrv 11:28 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (1)

Day 12 or Baboon porn day

South Africa and Zimbabwe

sunny 80 °F
View Russ and Beth go on safari on Weimerrv's travel map.

Today after breakfast we took our bus to the airport, said goodby to Lefi, our driver and flew to Zimbabwe. We were very fortunate again when it came to clearing customs and I got my first visa added to my passport. The visa cost $45. Upon exiting the airport we were serenaded by an African drum and dancing group. We had time to go to the hotel (more about the lodge later) before our excursion to Victoria Falls. Our driver and guide, Lucky, gave us some information on Zimbabwe: it has 80% unemployment, most of the people either emigrate or move back to the villages where subsistence farming is it. The ATMs are mostly empty and they take the US dollar. Victoria Falls was our next stop. The falls are one of the 7 wonders of the world, it is the highest set of falls, the second longest set of falls and during the rainy season 550 million liters of water pass over the dam every day. We are in the dry season so not all the dam had water flowing over it but if it were flowing everywhere it can be difficult to see for all the mist created. The mist can reach a height of 500 meters over the dam. The falls, in a word, Amazing. We saw beautiful rainbows from many of the 15 viewing places. You can see Zambia which shares the falls. The Zambezi River provides the engine for the falls. We spent about 2 hours looking at the falls from all the vantage points. We also saw bungee jumping from the bridge linking Zambia and Zimbabwe. While we were looking at the bridge, a troupe of baboons, with many youngsters arrived looking for food. While we were taking pictures of them and we were quite close, the dominant male mounted one of the females - like the lions- it was over in seconds. The troupe soon scampered away. After returning to the hotel for a much needed shower, we gathered at the bar and had a libation and watched the animals at the waterhole, unfortunately, no elephants today. We wound up the day by going to another African bbq and drum show. The food was good and I sampled kudu( a type of antelope), crocodile, biltong (African jerky) and lamb. After the show we were tired so off to bed. Tomorrow feeding vultures and seeing elephants!

We saw the following animals today: mongoose, a warthog mama with babies, bushbok, baboons of course, Maribou storks and vultures.

Posted by Weimerrv 12:15 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (0)

Day 11 or African Lion Porn Day

South Africa

overcast 55 °F
View Russ and Beth go on safari on Weimerrv's travel map.

Day 11 started early again with a 5:15 wake up call. We were in the Jeep by 6 on a cold windy morning. The temperature was good for animal viewing but you needed to be bundled up in the open-air Jeep. Since we had only had a glimpse of the juvenile male lion, our guide, Amos, was determined to find the pride. We drove around quite a bit, he looked for tracks and he called other guides on his radio and finally we found them. The same juvenile male, 3 lionesses and the big male were all taking a rest. We watched for some time and took pictures. Occasionally one would look up and around until the big male got up, licked one of the females and then mounted her. It was all over in about 20 seconds but we got some good pictures of the male standing and looking our direction. After watching the lions we found some zebras and more wildebeest to observe and then we had a break. After the break we went looking for the female lioness and her cubs but were unsuccessful in finding them. After breakfast we left Entabeni for Johannesburg to stay the night. We sat by the pool and had some wine and used the time to post some pictures now that we had reliable Wifi. We had a great meal and a nightcap with some of our fellow travelers and headed to bed. Tomorrow we leave for Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls.

Posted by Weimerrv 11:26 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Day 10 - still having power issues

South Africa


View Russ and Beth go on safari on Weimerrv's travel map.

We woke up this morning when they started the generator and all the lights came on - they went out abruptly last night when the generator stopped. The lodge has not had electricity from the grid since before we got here. They fixed the generator but only run it sporadically. So our wake up was earlier than our early wake up call of 5:30. We were in our Jeep for our first game drive by 6:00. We saw so many animals I took notes just to remember the species. The high lites were the cheetah and giraffes but we saw over 20 species. I will list them below. The cheetah we saw was looking for his brother and was calling and calling to him with a small yelp. Our guide told us the brother had gone off with a female. We saw and heard the searching cheetah several times today. We saw so many giraffes, including a 6month old that it felt like the scene from Jurassic park where all the dinosaurs are running across the plain. After the Safari we had breakfast at 9 and then a nap until lunch at 1. We had lunch and then high tea at 3:30 before our next Safari. I don’t know if they were fattening us up for lions or what...The afternoon drive was not as successful as the morning but we did see a young male lion in a thicket of trees. For dinner we had a braai which is Afrikaans for BBQ. The route to the braai took us past a waterhole where we saw a baby hippo grazing out of the water - awesome. The road to the bbq was up a steep ravine, across a plain and down to the event. It started getting dark so the guide used a spotting flashlight to show us more game. The bbq included many local dishes like bop - kind of like smooth grits, chocka-wocka - a spicy relish, crocodile - which tasted like chewy chicken and lamb chops. The trip back was uneventful but we did hear the cheetah again! I can’t upload pictures due to the poor internet connection so I will load three days worth tomorrow. Here is the list of animals we saw today:

Weaver bird nest and male weaver
Hippo
Crockodile
Cheetah
Blue gnu
Brown snake eagle
Bush pig
Guinea fowl
Blackchested snake eagle
Giraffe
Warthogs
Mongoose
Waterbuck
Kudu
Wide mouth rhino
Ibis
Giant dung beetles
Gray go away bird (it’s call sounds like go away)
Verdant monkeys
Lions
Zebra
Baboons
Cheetah searching and calling for his brother. His brother had joined a female.
Jackals with babies
Bloessbok
Impala
Baby hippo out of the water

Posted by Weimerrv 23:06 Archived in South Africa Comments (3)

Day 9 - No we weren’t eaten by lions, just a power outage!

South Africa

storm 60 °F
View Russ and Beth go on safari on Weimerrv's travel map.

Today was a travel day to our first Safari at the Entabeni Reserve. We flew South African airways and I had asked our tour manager, David, if we would get fed on the flight. He said, if we don’t get fed we don’t fly..life in Africa. Our flight was uneventful and we were picked up by a new driver, Molefi, which means My Provider, or Lefi for short. We had a three hour drive to the game preserve and during the drive we were stopped by the police. When we asked David, what was up? He said the road we were on is the main road for illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg and the immigrants often travel in buses and are then extorted by the police! After arriving at the gate of the preserve, it took another 45 minutes to reach the lodge. During the trip in we saw kudu, baboons and wildebeest. As we reached the lodge the heavens opened up and we had a tremendous thunderstorm with very high wind- over 70kph. We were told they hadn’t had rain like that in 2 years. The wind knocked down a large tree next to the lodge and a lot of smaller branches from the other trees. The power had been out for some time and the generator was not working, so candle power lit the way and delayed the posting of this blog. We checked in and our chalet had a bed with mosquito netting around it...we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Since it was raining so hard our first Safari was cancelled, so up early tomorrow to see the animals. We did see a beautiful sunset and then it started raining again. We went to the main lodge for dinner and they finally got the generator running so the chef could finish our meal. We had a nice dinner with a nice bottle of a SA pinotage. No internet or wifi tonight, so we will post tomorrow.

Posted by Weimerrv 00:15 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

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