Thursday, 9 April 2015

Hwange National Park

While we stayed at Ivory Safari Lodge for three nights from 11th March, not only did we go on game drives in their own 6,000 acre concession, we visited Hwange National Park, which is the largest national park in Zimbabwe, covering nearly 16,000 sq kilometers.

The park is particularly known for its elephant population, which is one of the largest in the world, and needless to say we saw plenty of elephants! One of the main attractions there is the Nyamandhlovu Platform which provides a prime game viewing area at a pumped water hole. We visited this on a couple of occasions, seeing large herds of elephants, cape buffalo, giraffes, zebra, impala a lone ostrich and many varieties of birds, including a fish eagle, herons and cranes. 

Views from the Nyamandhlovu Platform:-
Grey Crowned Crane
Fish Eagle.

A few of the other animals and birds we saw:-

Leopard Tortoise


Lilac Breasted Roller


One evening, on our way back to the lodge, we encountered a male lion walking along the side of the road.
Male Lion 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Windsor Guildhall

I am delighted to say that my image of Windsor Guildhall has been chosen by Windsor luxury candlemakers, Heir & Grace, as one of the main images on the front page of their website.
Windsor Guildhall
It is a night shot of the Guildhall, also known as the Town Hall, showing the light trails of a passing bus. Close to Windsor Castle, the Guildhall was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and finished in 1689. The Guildhall was the venue for the civil wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles on 9th April 2005.

Heir & Grace is the first luxury scented candle brand based in Royal Windsor, Berkshire. All of their candles are made with the finest available ingredients and hand poured in their town centre location.

To see my image on their site, and to learn more about their products, visit Heir & Grace.

Ivory Safari Lodge

We spent three nights at Ivory Safari Lodge which is located in Zimbabwe, on the edge of the Hwange National Park, on a private concession of 6,000 square acres.  
Waterhole at the Lodge
The lodge consists of seven elevated thatched tree house style rooms, as well as two grand tented presidential suites, all commanding great views of a private and extremely active waterhole.  Guests have the opportunity to view some of Hwange’s most prolific wildlife species from the comfort of their room or the main dining area. In the three days we were there, we saw many elephants, plus giraffes, impala, baboons and a crocodile.
Lodge Interior
The open communal areas of bar/lounge and dining room are comfortable, clean and well stocked. We had a suite with a veranda with a fantastic view of the watering hole in front of the camp. 
Lodge Exterior
The hide down near the water is a triumph - the animals come so close to you that it is magical - eye contact with the elephants is seriously awe-inspiring! 
Inside the Hide
Elephants outside the Hide
(the hide is the thatched building on the left of the picture)
The camp is managed by Jamie and Joel who are lovely people, so warm and welcoming with nothing too much trouble. The food was excellent - wholesome and delicious with a few fine dining touches here and there! Our guide for the three days we were there was knowledgeable and friendly helping make our game drives extremely interesting.

One of the highlights of our stay here was definitely having the word sundowner defined for us - "Standing in the middle of the African bush, gin and tonic in hand, watching the changing colours of the sky as the sun goes down" = Sundowner! (see previous post)

We were also able to get wifi connection in the communal areas. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

On to Hwange

We left Victoria Falls on the 11th March for the two hour drive to the final destination of our safari, Ivory Safari Lodge at Hwange National Park.

Once we had settled into our room and enjoyed lunch, we set off on our first game drive in Zimbabwe. As sometimes happens on game drives, that afternoon we saw very little game other than some attractive birds. 
Eastern Yellow Billed Hornbill
Our guide did his best to find some lions for us and we did find a couple but they wouldn't show themselves for us. I'm sure you will agree that their camouflage is very effective. There are two lions in the bush, honest!
Hidden Lions
After the lions, we stopped for a well deserved sundowner, most of us enjoying a gin and tonic whilst watching the sun go down - very Colonial!
Sundowners in the Bush
Hwange Sunset

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Victoria Falls

On the morning of 10th March, we left our hotel at about 8.00am to take the 10 minutes walk to the entrance to the Falls in Victoria Falls National Park  At this time of day, there are not too many visitors and with the sun still low in the sky, there were several beautiful rainbows to be seen.

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivaled only by Argentina and Brazil's Iguazu Falls.

For adrenaline junkies, the Falls are famous for bungee jumping, and while that is something that I would never be brave  (or stupid ) enough to do, we did watch one daring chap do it!

After leaving the Falls, we took a walk along the road to the bridge across the Zambezi River which forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. It proved surprisingly easy to get the paperwork at the border crossing and so we crossed over the river and into Zambia!

One thing to be aware of if you do visit the falls towards the end of the wet season, is that there is a large amount of spray which not only accounts for the rain forest vegetation, but also makes you think that you are walking in the middle of a tropical storm! Some visitors hire plastic rain coats or umbrellas, but we walked round in our safari shirts and trousers and although we were soaked, by the time we had enjoyed a cup of coffee at the cafe by the exit, our clothes were dry.

Monday, 23 March 2015

From Chobe to Victoria Falls

After the thrill of seeing the lions on the morning of the 8th, we had a final afternoon drive before leaving Botswana the following morning to make our way to Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls.

In the afternoon we saw plenty of zebra and impala along with a few giraffe. I particularly like the image of the baby zebra feeding.
Baby Zebra Feeding 
A final view from the camp at sunset.
Sunset at Chobe Elephant Camp

On the morning of the 9th we set off for the drive to Victoria Falls. Going through border control to enter Zimbabwe proved reasonably quick, only having to wait about half an hour for our entry visas. 

We arrived at our hotel, the Ilala Lodge, mid-afternoon and after we had checked in, we took a walk to the Victoria Falls hotel, from where we had a great view of the Victoria Falls Bridge.

Victoria Falls Bridge 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Lions at Chobe National Park

On the morning of day three, March 8th, we went back into the National Park, determined to find some lions.

As we drove along we saw many more birds, plenty of zebra and impala, several more elephants but sadly no lions. We finally stopped for our hot coffee and delicious muffins baked by the chef at the camp, prior to making the drive back for lunch. As we we finishing off our drinks, another vehicle pulled into the clearing and out jumped some Australian tourists.

"Have you seen anything interesting " we asked, to make polite conversation. 

"Yes, " one of them replied.  "We have just seen a pride of lions eating an elephant carcas. There were ten of them altogether".

We turned to our guide and within seconds we were back in our vehicle, heading back the way we had been, knowing that it must have been the same carcas that we had seen the vultures on the previous day. 

After 20 minutes of fast driving, well as fast as you can drive along those dirt tracks, we were at the elephant carcas. By that time there were only three females left on the carcas. One of them finished and walked off. Our guide said that if we followed her she would lead us to the remainder of the pride, and sure enough, after 100 yards or so we saw the rest of them in the shade of a large tree. 

We waited there until the remaining two lions joined them, all looking well fed and contented!
At the kill
Leading us to the pride 
The male with his pride 
Another one returns well fed 
An after dinner drink