Monthly Archives: May 2015

Fish Eagle Safaris Update #38 – Spring 2015

In this Issue (click article titles to expand):

Trip Report Highlights Best Green Season Options

Ready to start thinking about your first – or next – Africa trip?  Be sure to take a look at Fish Eagle Safaris’ latest mammoth 15-part trip report, just published on our website at – this link.

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Here you will find some insightful comments and hints from Fish Eagle Safaris’ founder Bert Duplessis, reporting on an epic Southern Africa trip which stretched from Cape Town all the way to the Zambezi River.  It’s all there:  Cape Town, the Cape winelands, Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Moremi and the Linyanti Concession.  Plus a couple of Chobe lodges, two Victoria Falls properties and three excellent Hwange (Zimbabwe) Camps.

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Want to know about two reliable year-round Okavango Delta camps where the game-viewing is always better than average?  Then by all means read the trip reports about Tubu Tree Camp and Seba.  Or learn more about one of Africa’s most exciting elephant interaction experiences at the near-legendary Abu Camp, also in the Okavango Delta.

Find out what is going on at the Savute Marsh in Northern Botswana right now and why it would not be a good idea to leave Savute Safari Lodge off your next trip to the area.

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If you’re thinking about including Victoria Falls in your Southern Africa trip, then be sure to consider staying at either Gorges Lodge or Zambezi Sands.  These two properties close to Vic Falls are quite different with Gorges high up on the edge of the Batoka Gorge downstream from the Falls and Zambezi Sands right on the Zambezi upstream, yet they offer all-inclusive rates with meals, drinks and activities included – a definite advantage in Vic Falls where extras can quickly add up to a sizable sum.

'First night free' offer for early-bird bookings

Now is the time to start planning and booking your Green Season trip for later this year (starting from Nov 10 2015)  through the end of March 2016.  Up to 50% lower rates than the high season,

Book soon and qualify for our special ‘first night free’ offer:  on any 2015-2016 Green Season trip booked and confirmed before the end of July 2015, we will include a free Johannesburg hotel night (or equivalent discount elsewhere).  Minimum stay of 7 nights on safari required.  Please e-mail bert@fisheaglesafaris.com or call 800 513-5222.

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Why it is OK to travel to Kenya

Every few years, a country falls victim to ‘travel pariah’ syndrome.  Which means that for a variety of reasons, people don’t want to go there.  The causes are many, ranging from dread disease (SARS, Ebola, bird flu etc.) through political instability & insurrection to crime, extreme drought and terrorist or insurgent activity.  Right now Kenya is squarely in that box because of a perfect storm of events, bad timing and negative publicity.

The tragedy of this situation is that this perception of danger associated with traveling to Kenya is totally out of line with the reality of the situation.  Kenya is every bit as safe a destination as several other African safari destinations.

Large male lion

Large male lion

Here is a typical comment from someone who just got back from Kenya a couple of weeks ago:  “Bert, just a quick note to say the trip far exceeded my expectations. It was a dream of a life time and you made it so very special. Lydia, William, Joel and Edwin [of Origins Safaris] were all wonderful and took great care of us. I always felt very safe and did not have to worry about anything due to your wonderful people.

‘And the camps were great.  My favorites were Tortilis and Lewa Downs. All the safaris were great and different. Thanks for making it memorable.”

Baby elephant being fed for visitors - David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Baby elephant being fed for visitors – David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Those of us who have been in Kenya recently know all this and so of course do our partners on the ground there.

Despite the recent attack at Garissa (which has been off the tourist track for decades) there has been no change on the travel advisory for Kenya which is to avoid the area adjacent to Somalia and the northern coastal area.There are no issues at all in the safari regions of Kenya – in fact visitors are likely just as safe there as in their country of origin.   The hard truth of it is that there is nowhere truly ‘safe’ in the world; attacks and random shootings can and do occur anywhere, also in the USA.  Going on safari is one of the safest things one can do, because of the near total absence of other people, vehicles and ‘civilization’ as we know it.  Yes you may have to spend a day or two in Nairobi but it would have to be a co-incidence of monumental proportions for any specific visitor to be involved in an incident or attack at the time of their stay.

So while isolated attacks, bombings etc. are deplorable and disastrous for those involved and their families they do not change the safety situation elsewhere in the country.  Just like the Boston Marathon bombing of a couple of years ago did not automatically make other parts of Boston or Massachusetts – or the rest of the USA – less safe than previously.

If our Kenya partners Origins Safaris thought that it was not safe for anybody to travel to Kenya, they would be the first ones to let us know.  None of us ever put our clients in any kind of danger – that would be foolish and we just don’t it.  We have in the past recommended to clients that they postpone travel around the time of the Kenya elections, for example.

Currently there is no cause for alarm and visitors can and are traveling to Kenya without taking any undue risk.  Better to be ‘safe than sorry?’  If someone really wants to try to avoid all risk the best place is probably in bed – alone.  But we don’t want to live like that, do we?

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For more background on this, please take a look at this blog post on our website:

Travel warnings do more harm than good

BOOK SOON FOR FREE DUFFEL BAG

Pic of FES duffel bag

Yours FREE for a new reservation confirmed by 31 July 2015 for travel anytime in 2015.  Minimum 7 nights on safari.

This compact light-weight yet durable High Sierra Wheel N Go duffel bag is ‘safari-ready’ and ideal for travel in light air charter flights between camps anywhere in Africa.  Load it up with your khakis, boots and binos are you’re ready to roll! Book your trip by 31 July and you roll free of charge!

Six Countries Summer Special

Our partners Wilderness Safaris’ Six Countries Special offers unbeatable prices at 26 luxury camps and a diverse range of experiences to mix and match.  From as little as $250.00 pp per night (mostly inclusive with all meals, local drinks and activities) it is possible to plan a superb safari experience at less than half the cost of a comparable high season trip.  It is a great time to be on safari with near-perfect photographic conditions, lots of baby animals around, active predators, birds in breeding plumage and gorgeous sunsets.  Plus fewer other people than other times of the year, and significantly lower international flight costs.  You may have to deal with an occasional thunderstorm so our advice is to add an extra day in each location just in case.  You will have a better time for it, enjoy plenty of opportunities to find elusive species and be able to relax and connect with the environment and the people, rather than rushing around from one place to the next.

Wilderness Safaris have outdone themselves this year with the range of properties and there are several of them which should be ‘must visits’ on anybody’s Southern Africa list:

Jao:  simply the most gorgeous, fantastical safari lodge you’ve ever dreamed of visiting.  Smack in the middle of the Okavango Delta, this is where being pampered goes into over-drive.  Glide through the idyllic Delta scenery in a mokoro, take an adventurous boat trip along papyrus-choked lagoons or marvel at big game on Hunda Island.  Built in the style of a Balinese long house on stilts, Jao is a deluxe retreat like no other.

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Abu:  every elephant-lover in the world should spend a few days here.  Little orphan Naledi – she’s now almost 16 month old – still rules the place and is as cute as ever.  She and the other five elephants of the Abu herd will wow you and entertain you endlessly.  Have breakfast with them or spend a night in the elephant boma overlooking their sleeping quarters if you’re really keen.  But be sure to do the elephant-back ride and walk – it is a revelation to even the most skeptical of visitors.

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Dumatau & Kings Pool:  the ‘new’ Dumatau on Osprey Lagoon is about as good as it gets in the way of safari camps – you will be forgiven if you mistake the new lounge & dining room area as a photo shoot in progress.  It is stylish and chic – all the better to show off some of that new safari gear you paid so dearly for!  Ditto for Kings Pool where the rooms are even bigger and come with your own private plunge pool for those hot summer afternoons.  Be sure to make some time for a pontoon outing on the Linyanti River:  great fun and always a chance to see a herd of elephant crossing through deep water – always a memorable African safari experience!

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Tubu & Little Tubu:  These two small and smaller tented camps in one of the prettiest parts of the Okavango Delta never fail to impress, right from one of the warmest welcomes you might ever get through to superb game-viewing.  The rooms at Tubu are just right.  Not too luxurious or ostentatious but comfortable and nice – plus they have some of the best outdoor showers in the Delta.  Take a seat on your outdoor verandah in front of the tent and look down upon a scene which likely hasn’t changed much in 10,000 years – a picture-pretty seasonal floodplain dotted with animals and birds, and edged with lush, bright green vegetation.

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Seba:  We fell in love with this beautiful, friendly place and its people on a recent visit and urge everyone we see to include it in their next Botswana trip.  Very close to Jao in the western part of the Okavango Delta, Seba is a reliable summer camp for game-viewing and there’s access to water for mokoro outings and boating + fishing even when the water in the Delta is at its lowest point.  The rooms are exceptionally good and we enjoyed the guiding and the overall experience at Seba as much as any camp we’ve ever visited in Botswana.

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Little Kulala:  Sossusvlei is popular for a good reason – the dunes themselves are a staggering sight to behold and of course you’d want to climb one as well!  The early morning sun creates a slow symphony of shadow and light which make the colors pop so get ready for some serious photography.  Definitely make the walk to Dead Vlei where the apricot dunes,  white gravel plain and azure sky form the most perfect natural palette for the petrified trees which dominate the scene.

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Desert Rhino Camp:  About as much fun as you can have on safari while doing some good in the process.  Home to some of Africa’s rarest and most heavily protected creatures – the black rhino – Desert Rhino Camp and the Save the Rhino Trust have done ground-breaking work here and elsewhere to keep track of and safeguard these vulnerable relics from prehistoric times. See them on foot – from a safe distance – and come back with one of the best conservation stories ever.

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Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp:  Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is an other-worldly place where a mix of endless sand dunes, game-rich oases and ephemeral river-beds, weird desert creatures, desolate beaches and beautiful sunsets topped only by perfect dawns, combine into one unforgettable journey.  No place better to experience this than Hoanib Skeleton Coast.  It’s getting a lot of publicity so act soon to reserve a three-night stay!

Five Rivers Green Season Promotion

Kwando Safaris’ tried and tested 5 Rivers summer safari program is back again for 2015-2016 and will no doubt deliver the same solid value for money, exciting game-viewing and diverse activities and experiences as ever.  Valid from 15 Nov through the end of March 2016 (with a supplement for the high holidays from Dec 15 to Jan 4) the program is easy to book and offers fantastic value for money at a rate of $460.00 per person per night, sharing.  This includes everything (accommodation, meals, scheduled activitiies, local branded drinks, laundry and park fees) except for flights between camps at special reduced tariffs, flights to Maun, and tips.

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Call us at 800 513-5222 and we will be happy to help you make a selection from the eight properties on offer, namely Nxai Pan & Tau Pan (Kalahari); Kwara and Pom Pom (Okavango Delta), Lebala and Lagoon (Kwando-Linyanti), and Stanley’s Safari Lodge (Vic Falls Zambia) as well as The Elephant Camp (Vic Falls Zimbabwe).  No single supplement for first two singles per group, no single flying supplement, just 3 nights required at one camp or 4 nights at two camps – it couldn’t be simpler than that.

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For this time of the year (Dec through March) we would recommend several days in the Kalahari to start as this area is at its best during the 5 rivers season.  That plus a few days in the Delta and finishing up either at Kwango Lagoon Camp or Lebala (or both, with a free road transfer in-between) will be a perfect Botswana trip.  Lebala and Lagoon Camp are both known for being reliable properties to find and see the rare African Painted Dogs.  But of course all the usual suspects are around, namely elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard with a bit of luck, even cheetah from time to time.  Plus the general plains game including zebra, giraffe, impala, tsessebe and plentiful lechwe in the Delta.  Or if you wish, start or end the trip in Vic Falls and enjoy activities such as a guided tour of the Falls (really a must do), a sun-downer cruise on the Zambezi (#2 on that list), a village tour, and many others.


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Every few years, a country falls victim to ‘travel pariah’ syndrome.  Which means that for a variety of reasons, people don’t want to go there.  The causes are many, ranging from dread disease (SARS, Ebola, bird flu etc.) through political instability & insurrection to crime, extreme drought and terrorist or insurgent activity.  Right nowKenya is squarely in that box because of a perfect storm of events, bad timing and negative publicity.

The tragedy of this situation is that this perception of danger associated with traveling to Kenya is totally out of line with the reality of the situation.  Kenya is every bit as safe a destination as several other African safari destinations.

Here is a typical comment from someone who just got back from Kenya a couple of weeks ago:  “Bert, just a quick note to say the trip far exceeded my expectations. It was a dream of a life time and you made it so very special. Lydia, William, Joel and Edwin [of Origins Safaris] were all wonderful and took great care of us. I always felt very safe and did not have to worry about anything due to your wonderful people.

‘And the camps were great.  My favorites were Tortilis and Lewa Downs. All the safaris were great and different. Thanks for making it memorable.”

Those of us who have been in Kenya recently know all this and so of course do our partners on the ground there.

Despite the recent attack at Garissa (which has been off the tourist track for decades) there has been no change on the travel advisory for Kenya which is to avoid the area adjacent to Somalia and the northern coastal area.

There are no issues at all in the safari regions of Kenya – in fact visitors are likely just as safe there as in their country of origin.   The hard truth of it is that there is nowhere truly ‘safe’ in the world; attacks and random shootings can and do occur anywhere, also in the USA.  Going on safari is one of the safest things one can do, because of the near total absence of other people, vehicles and ‘civilization’ as we know it.  Yes you may have to spend a day or two in Nairobi but it would have to be a co-incidence of monumental proportions for any specific visitor to be involved in an incident or attack at the time of their stay.

So while isolated attacks, bombings etc. are deplorable and disastrous for those involved and their families they do not change the safety situation elsewhere in the country.  Just like the Boston Marathon bombing of a couple of years ago did not automatically make other parts of Boston or Massachusetts – or the rest of the USA – less safe than previously.

If our Kenya partners Origins Safaris thought that it was not safe for anybody to travel to Kenya, they would be the first ones to let us know.  None of us ever put our clients in any kind of danger – that would be foolish and we just don’t it.  We have in the past recommended to clients that they postpone travel around the time of the Kenyaelections, for example.

Currently there is no cause for alarm and visitors can and are traveling to Kenya without taking any undue risk.  Better to be ‘safe than sorry?’  If someone really wants to try to avoid all risk the best place is probably in bed – alone.  But we don’t want to live like that, do we?

For more background on this, please take a look at this blog post:

Travel warnings do more harm than good


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Skip to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15

On the morning of December 18 – in keeping with my advice to prospective visitors – I opted for a road transfer from the Kasane area to Victoria Falls, instead of a flight.  From most of the Chobe lodges and from Kasane Airport it is only about 90 minutes or so to Victoria Falls by road.
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In my experience, it is the least stressful and most hassle-free way to get from the Kasane area or Chobe to Vic Falls.  A competent driver, an air-conditioned minivan and a very well maintained asphalt road with minimal delay and perfunctory border formalities exiting Zimbabwe and entering Botswana.  The flight is somewhat quicker but comes with a heavy load of airport formalities and potential delays.  It is also more expensive and much more stressful.

My destination in Victoria Falls was Gorges Lodge, a property in the Imvelo Safaris portfolio.  We primarily use – and personally prefer – to stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel in Vic Falls because of its location and old world charm.

Even so, it is not everybody’s cup of tea, so to speak, and for visitors who prefer a more quiet environment away from Vic Falls town with its attendant hustle and bustle, occasional helicopter noise and hawkers, Gorges Lodge is an attractive option.  It is about 30 minutes or so by road from the Falls, with a simply spectacular location right on the edge of the Batoka Gorge below the Falls, right around rapid #18.
Gorges 6 Gorges 58

On arrival at Gorges Lodge, the first impression is of walking into a rainforest as the property is built right inside an immaculately maintained and very lush garden, full of gorgeous indigenous trees, shrubs and plants with birds all over the place.
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First-time arrivals are taken through to the bar verandah where they get their predictably startling first look at the view down and across the Batoka Gorge.  It is something!  I know I must have visibly flinched as the railing overhangs the edge of the gorge and taking one’s first steps towards it feels like you are about to plunge down into the void.
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Just for the view alone, Gorges Lodge is worth considering as an overnight choice for a couple of nights in the Vic Falls area.  There is more though.  Managers Debbie and husband Chris are super-keen to make all visitors feel welcome and will take very good care of you.  It is very easy to feel like you are at home at Gorges.

The interior of my room #10 was rather uninspiring with a utilitarian mix of furnishings and decoration.  It feels a bit dated and could benefit from some styling and a cohesive interior decorating theme.

The bathroom by contrast, had recently been updated and the ample space, separate toilet with sliding door and large twin-headed ‘his and hers’ shower would satisfy all but the most demanding travelers.  Water pressure was good and there was plenty of hot water available.

My overall impression of the food at Gorges is mixed:  the afternoon snacks which were served with drinks during the eagle-viewing/gorge walk activity were excellent.  A mix of mini meatballs, chicken wings and other hors d’oeuvres – all very tempting and delicious.  Lunch and dinner were less successful, with way too much mayonnaise in one of the salads, and in the case of a poussin – totally overcooking the delicate bird.  Portions were ample – maybe even too much for small appetites, the meals being pre-plated and brought to the table.
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But Gorges Lodge is not so much about the food or the rooms.  It is about the wonderful people who run it, the amazing views and the chance to see birds like Black Eagle and Peregrine Falcons practically at eye-level as they swoop past the edges of the cliffs.
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With very limited time at my disposal – just one night – I managed a couple of decent pics of a Black Eagle and will have to come back to get a bit more depth of field in the shot the next time around.

What really sets Gorges apart from any of the Victoria Falls hotels is the fact that all meals, local drinks and two activities per day are included in the price.  If you spend 2 nights and opt for the Tour of the Falls plus a sundowner cruise, you will be getting excellent value for money.  We also enjoyed a splendid singing and dancing performance by a colorful and expressive troupe of local dancers & drummers.
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I had the opportunity to check out the site of Imvelo’s next Vic Falls property, to be built and hopefully open by the fall of 2015.  The location is even more stunning than Gorges, with a stupendous view down the Batoka Gorge accentuating the gargantuan depth and width of this simply awe-inspiring chasm.  Batoka Lodge will be tented but will otherwise offer the same mix of activities as Gorges.

A bonus at both locations is the soothing sound of the Zambezi River drifting upwards from the bottom of the Gorge, where it rushes through a series of rapids, continuing a geological process which started some 100 million years ago.

The bottom line on Gorges Lodge:  comfortable, warm and very casual.  Nothing fancy, not suitable for families with toddlers or very young children, but otherwise family-friendly with ample family accommodation options.

Dec 19 2015

After a 5-mile run (another benefit of staying at Gorges = you can run), we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading off to Zambezi Sands, Imvelo’s (then) newest addition, about an hour’s drive from Vic Falls, and about the same distance from Kasane on the Chobe road.

Zambezi Sands is a 4.5-star tented camp, located right on the banks of the Zambezi upwards of the San Simba Islands and just slightly upstream from a significant set of rapids.
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Just like at Gorges Lodge – but a lot more so – this pipes in a wonderful natural sound track which makes for the perfect ‘white noise’ to lull even the most chronic insomniac to sleep.

The tents at Zambezi Sands are huge with separate lounge, bedroom and bathroom/toilet sections, plus a really nice outdoor shower (Kathy would approve) and pretty views over the Zambezi.
Gorges 70  Gorges 65

Zambezi Sands is located inside the Zambezi National Park and even though the property is not being primarily promoted as a game-viewing destination, a short game drive one afternoon delivered some good views of a herd of elephant, some giraffes, lots of kudu and impala and several other small mammals and lots of birds.
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I was being guided by the redoubtable Mark Butcher – ‘Butch’ to his friends.  Butch is an erstwhile Zimbabwe game ranger and Parks Board executive.  Already somewhat of a legend in his time, what Butch doesn’t know about the Zimbabwe veld, natural environment and wildlife, is literally not worth knowing.

Mark is confident in his abilities as a guide and business leader and it is clear that he commands respect from his peers and employees.  I certainly benefited greatly from being in his company for several days.  An activity which Mark favors and which many of us enjoy as an alternative to the relentless game drives so often associated with photographic safaris, is walking.  It is definitely an Imvelo specialty, and is high on the list at Zambezi Sands which offers ideal foot safari environment.

Of course the Zambezi and everything associated with it dominates one’s stay at this river-side lodge.  Boating, kayaking and fishing – the choice is yours.  On my last morning at Zambezi Sands I tried my luck with some fishing in the river with guide Clint, but unlike the earlier successful outing on the Linyanti River in Botswana, the fish weren’t cooperative.  We had a couple of early strikes and Clint did have a really good sized Nembwe on the line.  Plus we had some great views of a pod of hippo in fantastic early morning light.
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By late morning on 20 Dec 2014, Butch and I hit the road towards Hwange National Park where I would spend the last three days of the trip.

Zambezi Sands is running a ‘stay 3, pay for 2′ special offer through the end of 2015 so it is certainly an option to keep in mind for the Vic Falls area, particularly for slightly longer stays.


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Skip to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15

Over the last three days of my Dec 2014 educational trip in Southern Africa, I checked out a trio of lodges in Hwange National Park, which we last visited in Nov 2012 – (Little Makalolo).  On my most recent visit, I spent one night each at Camelthorn, The Hide and Somalisa and did a site inspection at Bomani Tented Camp.
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All of these camps are already in the Fish Eagle Safaris rotation, and based on what I saw and experienced on this trip, we will be sending more of our clients to this spectacular park.

Game-viewing in Hwange is at its best in the dry season from about May through October and early November when sometimes huge concentrations of elephants can be seen at the water holes which are artificially maintained with a mix of diesel and solar powered pumps.

What I saw last December in the way of game-viewing under very wet conditions on this trip, confirmed some earlier impressions which can be summarized as follows:

*  Game-viewing in the green season can be slow or quiet at times, but if visitors spend three or four nights in a specific area or camp, they will see an abundance of species.
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*  What is more, they will get to experience Hwange at a time when everything is literally bursting with new life.  The elephants are not as densely concentrated as in the dry season, but they are practically giddy with the delight they take in the abundance of fresh water, emerging tufts of grass and fresh leaves.

*  Without exception the mammals are in good condition, there are lots of baby impalas, wildebeest and zebra around and this stimulates predator activity.
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*  As open areas like the Ngamo flats and the ‘vlei line’ from The Hide up to Mgweshla Pan green up with emerging vegetation from mid-December through March & April, the open areas become magnets for impala, kudu, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe as well as roan and sable antelope.  We even saw a few eland out and about.  And always elephant, just not in great big numbers as later in the year.

*  Hwange is an exceptionally good area for predator sightings and if you spend 5 or so nights in total in the area, split between a couple of camps such as one in the far southern area and another one further north, you’d stand an excellent chance for lion and cheetah with leopard and African painted dogs being seen every few days as well.

Each of the camps I visited had something special to offer and any one of them can be included in a Hwange itinerary, to good effect.
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My guide at Somalisa was Michael who turned out to be the best of any of the guides on the entire trip – quite a character.  I had not seen any cheetah on my Southern Africa trip and had pretty much given up hope of doing so, only to find them on my very last game drive out of Somalisa, on Dec. 22, and again the next morning on the way to the airport at Hwange Main Camp.  So the trip definitely ended on a very high note!
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Gorges 176  Gorges 183

Somalisa is a no-frills, low-key tented camp located on the edge of a private concession and within easy driving distance of Mgweshla Pan, one of the very productive open areas in this part of Hwange.  My tent in Somalisa Bush Camp was comfortable and well equipped, the food was tasty and well-prepared and the small dining room/lounge tent looks out over a water hole which likely sees a lot of activity in the dry season.
Gorges 122 Gorges 147

My brief stay at The Hide – from where game drives often also head along the vlei line past the Kennedy water hole to Mgweshla – was likewise very pleasant.  The family style dinner – with everyone seated around a long oblong table – was particularly convivial, the food was good and even though my tented room was nothing special it had enough space, a nice view over the pan, and it was just a short walk to the main lounge & dining room area.  The only game drive I had time for at The Hide delivered preciously little in the way of wildlife but that is sometimes how it goes in the green season – another couple of days there would have made a big difference.  Of course in the dry season there is a lot of activity at the waterhole right in front of camp and the underground hide is the place to be.
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My Hwange experience started with a drive from Vic Falls, which was a first as we had previously only flown into the reserve.  Of course it takes much longer – depending on the camp you are headed to as much as 4 hours or so, but not an unpleasant experience particularly if you want to see and experience a bit of the countryside.  The road from Vic Falls winds through well-wooded, undulating terrain.  Once you are past the  the hills around Hwange town itself – where the unsightly effects of surface mining for coal are all too evident – it is not too far to Halfway House where we entered the reserve proper and made our way along an isolated track to Camelthorn Lodge.

Camelthorn and the property adjacent to it – Bomani – are both excellent choices for accommodation and safaris in the far southern portion of Hwange.  They have access to a private concession where night drives can be done, there are ample opportunities for walking and the ‘piece d’resistance’ is a superb sunken hide, much frequented by elephants and other wildlife in the dry season.  I could see that the experience there would be akin to being in the stable with the horses – no need for a telephoto lense!  From both Bomani and Camelthorn guests can also undertake an authentic village visit.  The range of activities include game drives, pump runs (to check and service the pumps at the water holes and enjoy game-viewing along the way), foot safaris and just sitting and observing the wildlife from vantage points at the various water holes.

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The hospitality, food and accommodation at Camelthorn Lodge were of a high standard.  The brick and mortar rooms are quite large with very high ceilings, designed to be cool during the hot summer months and warm and cozy in winter. My room had a large en-suite bathroom with a bath and window overlooking the woodland, a large shower, separate toilet, fireplace, an outside deck, as well as an upstairs area with hammock and day bed.

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The very impressive main lodge is dominated by a huge ancient Camelthorn tree that covers a massive outdoor dining area- perfect for al fresco meals.

It is quite noticeable that the lodge is inside one of Hwange’s last remaining patches of acacia woodlands, on the edge of the south-eastern corner of Hwange National Park.  The many elephants which frequent the area do not have direct access to the lodge grounds due to the nearby buffalo fence and other impediments, so the grounds and surrounding forest have largely avoided their bark-stripping, tree-killing activities.

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Camelthorn and Bomani are close to the Ngamo Plains where abundant wildlife is present year-round.
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In conclusion:  We have been sending our clients to Hwange for 20+ years without interruption and will continue to do so – it offers a fantastic safari experience with excellent game-viewing, top of the line guiding, the friendliest people imaginable and all in a very relaxed, peaceful environment.


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