The journey begins - Robin & Robert with "Ranulph"
Namibia, Botswana and Zambia
28th September to 11th November 2011
This report follows the journey of two Canadians, Robin and Robert, as we self-drive through the Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park in Botswana, and then Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa and Kasanka National Parks in Zambia.
The report begins with a list of resources that we found helpful at the planning stage.
This is followed by our itinerary accompanied by a map on which our route is highlighted.
Then, there is a brief description of our overall thoughts about the trip.
The itinerary is followed by a list of highlights (there were many!), which are accompanied by some of our favourite photos. Note that the photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.
Following the highlights is a list of lowlights - there weren’t many!
After the lowlights, there is a day to day journal with more photos. The journal is not quite finished. This is a work in progress!
We are most grateful to Becx, Ollie, Sue, Duane, Clare, Carly, Meregan and Charles of Safari Drive for another trip of a lifetime. Thank you all!
Our campsite in the Khwai concession near Chobe National Park, Botswana - a last minute addition to the itinerary
After much reading and online research, we drew up an itinerary and then contacted Safari Drive http://www.safaridrive.com, specialist African operators based in the UK, with whose able assistance we had completed self-drives through Botswana in 2008 and Kenya and Tanzania in 2009. Safari Drive once again shared their expertise, were generous with their advice, provided us with a fully equipped Land Rover, looked after our campsite and lodge bookings, arranged all land transfers and generally made the whole experience so much easier.
At the planning stage, we found the following very helpful:
The Safari Drive website http://www.safaridrive.com
The Bradt Guide to Zambia Fourth Edition 2008 (ISBN-13: 978-1-84162-226-2) by Chris McIntyre
The Bradt Guide to Botswana Third Edition 2010 (ISBN-13: 978-1-84162-308-5 by Chris McIntyre
Fodor’s Africa and the Middle East Forum http://www.fodors.com/community/africa-the-middle-east/
We found our way with a Garmin 60CX GPS, onto which we loaded the Tracks4Africa Botswana and Zambia/Zimbabwe maps. We purchased the maps online: http://www.tracks4africa.co.za. Our vehicle came equipped with a Garmin Nüvi, which was also loaded with the appropriate Tracks4Africa maps. We couldn’t have become lost if we tried.
We also found the following paper/hard copy maps helpful. Safari Drive provided some of the maps, and we purchased the remainder online from http://www.omnimap.com.
Botswana (paper map) Tracks4Africa http://www.tracks4africa.com
The Shell Map of the Moremi Game Reserve 2008 Edition (Veronica Roodt) ISBN: 99912-0-156-4
The Shell Map of Chobe National Park 2008 Edition (Veronica Roodt) ISBN: 99912-0-157-2
Zambia InfoMap 2011 http://www.infomap.co.za
Zambia Map Pack – Zambia road map and Lusaka street map 5th Edition 2009 Directory Publishers of Zambia Ltd.
Namibia (paper map) Track4Africa http://www.tracks4africa.com
Our route is highlighted in red - our journey began in Windhoek, Namibia and ended in Lusaka, Zambia
28 September Fly from Cape Town to Windhoek
28-29 September: Olive Grove Guest House, Windhoek, Namibia http://www.olivegrove-namibia.com
30 September, 1 October: Edo’s Camp, near Ghanzi, Botswana http://www.edoscamp.com
2 October: Royal Tree Lodge, Maun, Botswana http://www.royaltreelodge.com
3-5 October Third Bridge Campsite, (Site #3), Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
6-7 October Khwai Community Campsite, Magotho 1, Khwai Development Trust, Botswana
8-9 October Savuti Campsite, Site #CV3, Chobe National Park, Botswana
10-12 October Ihaha Campsite, Site #CI1, Chobe National Park, Botswana
13-14 October Waterberry Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia http://www.waterberrylodge.com
15 October Sandy’s Lodge, Lusaka, Zambia http://www.sandyscreations.net
16-18 October Mvuu lodge, Elly Campsite, Lower Zambezi NP, Zambia http://www.mvuulodge.com
19-22 October Old Mondoro Bush Camp, Lower Zambezi NP, Zambia, http://www.oldmondoro.com
23 October Sandy’s Lodge, Lusaka, Zambia http://www.sandyscreations.net
24 October Pioneer Camp, Lusaka, Zambia http://www.pioneercampzambia.com
25 October Luangwa Bridge Camp, Zambia http://www.bridgecampzambia.com
26-27 October Track and Trail River Camp, South Luangwa NP http://www.trackandtrailrivercamp.com
28-30 October Kaingo Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia http://www.kaingo.com
31 October Cross Roads Lodge, Chipata, Zambia, http://www.crossroadslodges.com
1 November Pioneer Camp, Lusaka, Zambiawww.pioneercampzambia.com
2 November Fringilla Lodge campsite, near Lusaka, Zambia http://www.fringillalodge.com
3-9 November Kasanka National Park, Pontoon Campsite, Site #3, Zambia http://www.kasanka.com
10 November Pioneer Camp, Lusaka, Zambia http://www.pioneercampzambia.com
11 November Fly from Lusaka to Johannesburg to Cape Town
Cheetah near Third Bridge in the Moremi Game Reserve, Bostwana
OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THE TRIP
This was our second visit to the Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park, our first having been a self-drive in 2008. We love Botswana, and would happily return for a third visit. The game viewing is excellent, the distances traveled are short, the driving/navigating is easy and, with the exception of Ihaha campsite in Moremi (see “lowlights” on page 8 for details), we always feel perfectly safe and welcome. Flying into Windhoek and driving into Botswana from there worked very well. That route offered the cheapest and most direct flights from Cape Town, and gave us an excuse to stay at Edo’s Camp, which was wonderful. If we were to visit again, I would add a couple of nights at the Linyanti campsite in Chobe (for something new), and book us into both North Gate campsite and Khwai Development Trust campsite (providing that high water levels in the Okavango Delta do not require long detours to visit both, as they did this year). This was our first visit to the Khwai campsite, and it was a highlight of the trip. As these additions would result in more than two weeks of consecutive nights of camping, we would probably add a night or two at a tented camp along the way - possibly at Savute.
Lioness stalking buffalo from the Luangwa River, Zambia
OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THE TRIP
Other than a brief stop in Victoria Falls in 2008, this was our first visit to Zambia. The game viewing in Zambia was some of the best that we have experienced. The guiding was exceptional, and Old Mondoro Bush Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park and Kaingo Camp in South Luangwa National Park were outstanding. Unfortunately, driving in Zambia was a nightmare, and we did not feel safe on the highways (see “lowlights” on page 8 for details). If we visit Zambia again, and I hope we are lucky enough to do so, we would likely fly into camps rather than self-driving. In fairness to the Zambian highways, our mistake may have been in putting our visit to Zambia after our drive through Namibia and Botswana, when we had already been on the road for more than two weeks. Had we traveled to Zambia first, when we were fresh, our impression of self-driving in the country may have been more favourable.
The elephant hide at Kaingo Camp, where we spent one of our most memorable nights in Africa ever
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP
Our night in the elephant hide at Kaingo Camp in South Luangwa National park - 20m up in the air on a (very sturdy!) wooden platform that was sandwiched between magnificent ebony and sausage trees, with a queen-size four-poster bed, wash basin, soap and towels, cooler full of drinks and lanterns, all safely cocooned in mosquito netting. Our guide dropped us off after dinner and picked us up the following morning in time for breakfast. Could there be a more romantic or exciting way to spend a night in the African bush? One of our most memorable nights in Africa ever!
Bats in Kasanka National Park at dusk
In Kasanka National Park in Zambia at sunset - the sight of ~ 8 million straw-coloured fruit bats flying overhead as they left their day roosts to feed. The bats filled the sky for as far as we could see in every direction for over twenty minutes. We took lawn chairs and a bottle of wine and sat amongst the phragmites and papyrus and wondered at the spectacle. We have seen the wildebeest migration in the Mara/Serengeti, and the bat migration was equally spectacular. Well worth a visit to Kasanka!
The leopard watching the elephants that had surrounded the bush it was sleeping under
Arguably, our best sighting of the trip was an encounter between a leopard and a herd of elephants. It took place near Savute in Chobe National Park. We encountered the leopard as it was sheltering under a bush from the midday sun. While we sat admiring the leopard, a herd of elephants, with several young, wandered out of the bush to drink at a nearby channel. We watched with delight as the elephants stood in the water, drinking and throwing water over themselves. At first, we thought that the elephants were unaware of the leopard, which was only about 20m from where the elephants were drinking. However, eventually the herd of elephants left the water and headed straight to the bush where the leopard was sheltering. The elephants surrounded the bush and closed in on the leopard. One went so far as to push its way partly into the bush. We watched in amazement as the leopard cowered under the bush, watching the elephants with eyes like saucers. Eventually, the elephants moved off and the leopard settled back down to sleep. Such a memorable encounter!
Honey badger feasting on honeycomb
One of our favourite sightings of the trip occurred while we were camping in the Khwai Community campsite, which lies to the north of the Moremi Game Reserve and west of Chobe National Park in Botswana. Shortly after dawn, we came across a honey badger that had located a beehive in a termite mound. It had ripped a hole in the side of the termite mound and was feasting on the honeycomb. At times, the badger would reach into the termite mound with one of its front paws and pull out a large piece of the honeycomb and, at others, it would crawl head first into the hole and emerge with a large piece in its mouth. Despite enduring several stings to its face, the badger ignored the bees that were swarming frantically around it. We sat and ate breakfast while enjoying the spectacle. A great start to the day!
Leopard near Old Mondoro in Lower Zambezi National Park
On a game drive in Old Mondoro, we came across a large flock of marabou storks fishing in a pond. As we sat admiring the birds, a movement to my right caught my eye. It was a leopard, which passed very close to our vehicle on its way to drink at some nearby water. We followed the cat, which required our guide, Sebastian, to manoeuvre the safari vehicle over a patch of very rough black cotton soil. After a brief drink, the cat wandered to another pool of water, requiring Sebastian to tackle another challenging stretch of black cotton soil. The cat moved back and forth between the two pools several times, and Sebastian followed faithfully at a distance, each time tackling the black cotton soil with much more patience than most. Sebastian wondered if the cat was playing with us.
Lions in the Luangwa River in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
We watched with delight as ten lions waded across the Luangwa River directly past us, using our vehicle as a shield as they stalked two buffalo that were behind us. The lead lioness/hunter crossed the river without hesitation. However, the remaining lions seemed reluctant to get into the water, standing on the shore and staring forlornly across the expanse of water, delaying the inevitable for as long as possible.
Elephant shaking a winterthorn acacia tree
In Lower Zambezi National Park, we watched several elephants shaking seed pods from winterthorn acacia trees by carefully placing their tusks on either side of the tree and then whacking the tree with their foreheads. These were not small trees, and yet the trees would shudder and the seeds come raining down. It was an impressive show of strength, and reinforced how easily an elephant could overturn the Land Rover if provoked.
One hundred and fifty-nine species of birds, forty-six of which were additions to our life list. We especially enjoyed the plum coloured starlings, trumpeter hornbills, Lillian’s lovebirds, white-bellied sunbirds, greater honeyguides, Shelly’s turaco, scarlet-chested sunbirds, paradise flycatchers, African barred owlets, lilac-breasted rollers, palm swifts, collared sunbirds, carmine bee-eaters, bat hawks and southern ground hornbills.
Elephant in the Zambezi River warning us to keep our distance
The two-hour boat ride along the Zambezi River from Mvuu Lodge to Old Mondoro Bush Camp in Zambia - the breeze felt wonderful, as it was midday and very hot. After weeks of driving on rough and dusty roads through Namibia and Botswana, cruising down the mighty Zambezi was paradise.
Ten lions kill two buffalo near Kaingo Camp in South Luangwa National Park
We watched ten lions kill two buffalo, a confrontation that lasted several hours. It was fascinating to watch the respective strategies of the buffalo and lions. The buffalo backed themselves into the river, presumably so that they didn’t have to worry about lions attacking from the rear. They worked as a team, each attacking any lion that pounced on the other. Surprisingly, the early advantage certainly seemed to go to the buffalo. They held the ten lions at bay quite successfully. The lions, frustrated with their efforts, seemed quite content to wait it out until dark, when they would have the advantage. They settled on the riverbank, waiting for the buffalo to make a move. The buffalo kept trying to escape to nearby bushes, but the lions would always force them back into the water. Occasionally, the lead hunter of the pride would become tired of the waiting game and attack one of the buffalo from the rear, but the buffalo were always able to fight off the lion. Eventually, during one skirmish, one of the buffalo became stuck in mud, and the lions took full advantage, descending on the poor beast. The second buffalo made a run for it, but the lions would have none of it. They abandoned the buffalo that was stuck in the mud and chased after the fleeing buffalo. Without the second buffalo to assist it, the fleeing buffalo didn’t stand a chance. It was quickly surrounded by ten lions and taken down. While the one buffalo remained stuck in the mud, the lions killed the buffalo that had tried to flee, a process that went on for a very disturbing forty-five minutes. When we eventually had to leave for dinner, the lions were gorging on one buffalo, while the second remained very much alive but firmly stuck in the mud. We suspected that it would provide breakfast for the lions.
Our tent at Old Mondoro - our favourite tented camp
Old Mondoro Bush Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park - our favourite tented camp of the trip. A stunning location overlooking the Zambezi River, an intimate atmosphere with only four tents/eight guests, luxurious and very comfortable tents, excellent food, delightful hosts in Jason and Michaela who made us feel immediately welcome, expert guiding by Levy, Sebastian and Morat, outstanding game viewing including 7 leopards on three night drives, a lioness and two cubs on a kudu kill, five honey badgers, several porcupines, so many civets and large spotted genets that we lost count, and many lovely birds - a very special camp.
The waterhole at Edo's Camp near Ghanzi, Botswana at sunset - the best waterhole of the trip
The waterhole at Edo's Camp in the northwest Kalahari of Botswana - the best waterhole of the trip. There was a steady stream of wildlife to the pan, including white rhino, kudu, giraffe, springbok, wildebeest, waterbuck, impala and eland. The waterhole, which is lit up at night, is a natural pan that fills each rainy season, and the camp pumps additional water into it during the drier, winter months. We sat next to the campfire under a lovely old leadwood tree and, from this idyllic spot, enjoyed a spectacular view of the waterhole and the wildlife that came to drink. The view from our tent, which was only 20m from the waterhole, was equally good, and we could lie on our beds during our midday siesta and watch the wildlife coming and going. An amazing waterhole!
Cheetah near Third Bridge campsite in the Moremi Game Reserve
One morning, shortly after leaving Third Bridge campsite at dawn, we came across two cheetah brothers that were just leaving a kill. We followed them until they eventually settled under a tree next to a termite mound. We sat in the Land Rover and enjoyed breakfast with the cheetahs. What a wonderful start to a day!
The elephant and the cobra (on the hood of the vehicle) at Third Bridge campsite - one of the best encounters of the trip
One day, on our campsite at Third Bridge, we were cooking our midday meal when we saw an enormous bull elephant approaching. There was nothing unusual about this, as elephants liked to feed on the sausage tree on the site. There was a steady stream of elephants to the site both day and night, and we enjoyed these close encounters. We would simply keep a wary eye on any elephant that approached and, if it came too close, we would retreat to the Land Rover.
On this occasion, the elephant fed quite happily on the far side of the sausage tree as we prepared our lunch some 20m away. Eventually, as the elephant moved around the tree, it started to get a little too close and, after hastily gathering up a few food items, we leapt into the front seat of the vehicle. To our surprise, rather than continuing to feed on the sausage tree, the elephant headed straight for the vehicle. Alarmed, we looked to see what was attracting its attention and, to our dismay, we noticed that we had left the bag of garbage hung on the front bumper of the Land Rover. We sat mesmerized as the massive elephant came up to the hood of the Land Rover, its tusks less than a metre from Robin, who was in the passenger seat. To our astonishment, it paid no heed to the garbage whatever, but instead wrapped its trunk around the rubber cobra that we had left on the hood of the vehicle. Our son, Graham, had given us the very realistic cobra to help frighten off the baboons and monkeys that can be such a nuisance on the campsites in Botswana. Robert and I sat paralyzed as the elephant carefully smelled the cobra, resting its trunk and enormous tusks on the hood of the Land Rover. Thankfully, the elephant eventually moved off, leaving the cobra and vehicle unscathed and the garbage untouched. It was a memorable encounter!
Elly Campsite at Mvuu Lodge
Elly campsite at Mvuu Lodge, just outside of Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. The site was on the banks of the Zambezi, with an unobstructed view of the river, Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe on the opposite bank, pods of hippos, elephants crossing the river, and many species of birds. Soothing music, in the form of hippos grunting and frogs ribbiting, played continually in the background. At night, we heard lions roaring, hyena calling, elephants trumpeting, baboons barking and drumming from across the river in Zimbabwe. We woke one morning to find a vervet monkey sitting on the roof of the Land Rover, next to our tent. Of the four campsites at Mvuu, Elly was furthest from the lodge, and very quiet and private. The campsite’s biggest asset, however, was the fact that elephants like to use Elly to access the river, so they were frequent visitors to the campsite.
Breakfast beside the Zambezi at Old Mondoro at sunrise - such a memorable way to start the day!
Despite the early hour (5:30am), breakfasts at Old Mondoro ensured that our days started out well. The first meal of the day was served around the campfire on the banks of the Zambezi River. We would sit and watch the sun rise over the Zambezi as we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, muesli, cereals, freshly baked muffins, toast expertly cooked over the fire by the guides, and the best porridge I have ever eaten - kept warm over the fire in a potjie. Delicious food in a spectacular setting with great company!
Dominant male of the "Hollywood" pride in South Luangwa National Park
Kaingo Camp in South Luangwa National Park is known for its lion sightings with good reason. In fact, one pride in the area has been filmed and photographed so many times that it is known as the “Hollywood Pride.” On one evening game drive, we came across the dominant male of the pride, a magnificent lion. We sat and enjoyed its company as the sun set behind it.
Lion near Second Bridge in the Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Shortly after arriving in the Moremi Game Reserve, we came across a lion and lioness lying under a tree. The male in particular was lovely, but at the same time laughable, with its hind legs dangling in the air and one of its front paws hanging limp over a branch of the tree. For such fearsome predators, lions often look quite ridiculous.
The Land Rover and the roof-top tent under a full moon at Ihaha campsite in Chobe National Park
The 2011 Land Rover Puma TDCI, which was named “Ranulph” after British adventurer Ranulph Fiennes. The vehicle had only 15,729km on it when we received it. It was our home for six weeks, and was fully equipped with everything we needed. It took us safely through Namibia, Botswana and Zambia, including along a route near Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia that was listed as “not recommended” on Tracks4Africa.
We loved the roof top tent, which was very comfortable and cosy, and protected us from torrential rains, gale force winds, and the many elephants, hippos and predators that wandered through our campsites during the night. It came with sheets, a duvet, four pillows and extra blankets - no roughing it here!
Leopard near Old Mondoro
The night drives at Old Mondoro Bush Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park with guides Levy and Sebastian - simply amazing. We had read that “Old Mondoro offers some of the most prolific leopard sightings to be had in Africa”, and that was certainly our experience. On our first evening, Levy found - (among many other things such as kudu, waterbuck, impala, elephants, storks, fish eagles, egrets, Sharp’s grysbok, hippos and zebra) - a lioness on a kudu kill with two young cubs that were out in the open playing, two leopards, eight large-spotted genets, four civets, two porcupines and a giant eagle owl. On our second night drive, this time with Sebastian, we found a lioness chasing a spotted hyena away from her cubs, a leopard which had an impala in a nearby tree, five honey badgers, two more leopards, one of which posed nicely for us on a termite mound, a four-toed elephant shrew, and several porcupines. On our last night, again with Sebastian, we found a leopard being challenged by a large, male baboon, a second leopard with two cubs, a lioness with two cubs which were lying out in the open next to the road, a white-tailed mongoose, two bushbabies, and so many genets and civets that we lost count. Some of the best game viewing we have ever experienced!
Lunch at Kaingo Camp
Lunch at Kaingo Camp in South Luangwa National Park - brought to the deck of our chalet/tent. From this relaxing vantage point overlooking the Luangwa River, we enjoyed delicious midday meals while watching puku coming down to the river to drink, hippos and crocodiles basking in the sun, kingfishers diving, storks fishing and elephants crossing the river. Such a memorable way to enjoy our midday meal!
Our campsite at Ihaha in Chobe National Park with the two resident fish eagles overhead
The two African fish eagles at Ihaha campsite in Chobe National Park that liked to sit and call from a tree above our tent. The ringing, far-reaching cry of the fish eagle is known as the “sound of Africa” and the classic call from above our tent at dawn and dusk was magical.
Elephant at our tent at Old Mondoro
The cheeky elephant at Old Mondoro Bush Camp, which liked to eat the winterthorn acacia seed pods off the thatch roof that covered our tent. We would sit quietly in the tent and watch as the elephant rested it tusks and trunk on the roof while retrieving the seed pods. The roof would groan and creak precariously, and we wondered if the elephant was going to bring the roof crashing down on our heads. The elephant seemed quite unperturbed by our presence, although it would stop feeding occasionally to peer at us from just a couple of metres away. We looked forward to these encounters with the elephant!
The two rhino that we tracked on foot at Edo's Camp near Ghanzi, Botswana
Tracking white rhinos on foot at Edo’s Camp near Ghanzi, Botswana - an amazing experience. We were accompanied by camp manager Stephen Lewis, a fourth generation Motswana who, needless to say, has an extensive knowledge of the area, guide Ronald and tracker Black. We began shortly after dawn, driving out from camp until we found fresh rhino spoor. At this point, we left the vehicle and followed the tracks through the bush on foot. After 45 minutes, Stephen and Black located a female rhino and her calf, and we crept to within 30m of them. The female was enormous, and Stephen indicated a nearby tree that we should take shelter behind, should the rhino take exception to our being there. There is nothing quite as exhilarating as a morning walk through the African bush!
The view from Ihaha - a fisherman on the Chobe River and Namibia in the background
The view from Ihaha campsite in Chobe National Park - the campsites are strung out along the shore of the Chobe River and overlook Namibia. You can’t beat the view! We were assigned to site #1, which is on one end, nicely isolated from the rest and with plenty of shade at midday.
Elephants in the Zambezi River
On our boat trip down the Zambezi River with Andrew from Old Mondoro, we stopped to watch a group of elephants cross the river. When they reached the riverbank, they had great difficulty climbing out of the water. It was very muddy, and the elephants kept slipping and getting stuck in the mud. Watching the largest elephant scramble out was painful, as it tried to shift its enormous bulk up onto solid ground.
Our tent at Old Mondoro - so memorable!
Our tent - one of only four - at Old Mondoro Bush Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park. Just 15 metres from the Zambezi, it had a wonderful view of the river and the hippos and elephants that liked to cross to the islands. The front of the canvas and reed tent was open during the day, allowing us to appreciate the view, but canvas flaps allowed it to be closed up securely at night. The tent had a very comfortable king-sized, mosquito-draped bed, which was strategically placed so that we would not miss any of the action on the river during our midday siesta. There was a shaded deck with a very comfortable day bed, which also proved an excellent vantage point from which to view the river and the white-fronted bee-eaters that like to perch on a branch over the water. The tent had an en-suite wash basin and flush loo. Adjoining the tent and accessed through a side door, was an outdoor shower and a wonderful, large stone tub - a great place, we soon discovered, to cool off during the heat of the day. The tent had 24-hour hot and cold water and electricity, and thoughtful touches such as a kikoi to dampen and snooze under during the heat of the day, and a clothesline with pegs for drying “smalls”. No creature comforts missing in these tents!
One of the easier stretches of Leopard's Hill Road - a good test of Robert's 4x4 skills
The stretch of road dropping off the escarpment and into the Lower Zambezi valley was a good test of our (well, Robert’s actually!) 4x4 skills and the Land Rover. The road was so poor that we stopped at one point to debate whether we could possibly be on the correct road and where we thought we were. We began to doubt the GPS - both of them! Picture a narrow, dirt track with loose gravel, large rocks and wide, deep trenches from run-off during the wet season. In one particularly challenging section, envision that same track tipped down at an alarming angle, then crossing a narrow riverbed before climbing up immediately at the same steep angle on the opposite bank. It took us several tries to get up the steep hill on the far side of the riverbed. I was beginning to envision us spending the night in the riverbed - it actually would have been quite a pretty camping spot. The most memorable drive of the trip!
Levy bidding us farewell as we leave Old Mondoro - the guides at Old Mondoro are outstanding
The guides at Old Mondoro Bush Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park - Levy, Sebastian and Morat - personable, easy-going, knowledgeable, experienced, and highly skilled - the best we have experienced in all of our visits to Africa. We had read in the Bradt Guide that Zambia boasts some of the best guides in Africa and, after having the pleasure of being guided by these three talented Old Mondoro guides, we are inclined to believe the author. They are such a great team!
Third Bridge in the Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Crossing the bridges in the Moremi Game Reserve always added a little excitement to our day. The word “bridge” is perhaps a wee bit of an overstatement. The bridges are simple structures made of wooden poles strung loosely together in a somewhat haphazard fashion. They have alarming gaps and holes that, at times, threatened to swallow up our vehicle. The bridges rattled and shook alarmingly as we made our way gingerly across. Due to high water levels in the Okavango Delta, large sections of each bridge were underwater, making it impossible to see/avoid the hazardous sections that would occasionally cause the Land Rover to lurch alarmingly. Great fun!
Lioness watching a herd of buffalo near Kaingo Camp
On a game drive with Kennedy, a guide from Kaingo Camp in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, we came across two lionesses that were lying in the shade of a bush. Both lions had grotesquely engorged stomachs and were panting heavily. It was clear that they had just eaten. As we sat admiring them, we noticed a huge herd of 100+ buffalo approaching. The buffalo, a favourite food of lions, were on their way to the river, and the lions lay in their path. The buffalo were very skittish. The cats were in the open, and the buffalo were clearly aware that the lions were there. Some buffalo even stopped and stared intently at the lions before moving on. Despite the danger, the buffalo continued on their way, passing within 15m of the lions. In the time it took for the long line of buffalo to pass, the two lionesses never took their eyes off the herd. We held our breath, wondering if the lions would attack but, although one cat crouched several times, the two lions never made a move.