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 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Chobe National Park

Day two of our safari was a whole day visiting Chobe National Park, culminating in a river trip in the afternoon. 

Chobe National Park is located in Botswana’s north eastern district. The Chobe river forming the park’s northern border with Namibia and Zambia. It is flanked in the south west by the Okavango delta and Moremi game reserve, and the Chobe forest reserves which run parallel to the Zimbabwe border in the east.

In addition to the animals, we saw many exotic birds including the following :-

While the birds shown above are beautiful, the sight of vultures feeding on an elephant carcas was very impressive. 
Vultures feeding on an elephant carcas

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the trip on the river Chobe where we saw hippos crocodiles and dozens of elephants.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Chobe Elephant Camp

We landed at Kasane airport in Botswana on Friday 6th of March and reached our camp about 3.30pm.

Chobe Elephant Camp is located high on the edge of a rocky ridge overlooking the famous Chobe River. This uniquely designed lodge has been built to take advantage of the incredible views overlooking the sweeping floodplains while offering a comfortable refuge from the harsh African conditions. 

The camp has a small swimming pool which provides a view over the plains.
View looking over the pool 

There is a comfortable bar and lounge area for a pre dinner drink or just to simply relax in after a game drive.
The lounge and bar.
The lodge benefits from 10 twin rooms and 1 family suite. All rooms are en suite and have both indoor and outdoor showers. I must say that I really appreciated the outdoor shower after a long game drive! They also have their own veranda overlooking offering spectacular views. 
View of our lodge

The camp only opened last year and from our experience they have got everything right.

The staff are extremely friendly and helpful, especially our guide, Bashin, and the food was very tasty. 

While it is a short drive from the camp to Chobe National Park, we saw elephants, antelopes, and our only leopard of the trip all on the verge of the road just outside the camp on the way to or from the national park.

If you wish to discover more about the camp, you can check out their website here:-

Monday, 16 March 2015

The safari begins

We have now completed the first leg of our holiday and are now in our hotel on the beautiful island of Mauritius.  We plan to relax for a couple of days before exploring the island so I will take the opportunity to upload a few images from last week.

We started our adventure at Chobe Elephant Camp in Botswana which we arrived at mid afternoon on Friday 6th of March and were soon off on our first game drive and it was not long before we came across our first wildlife, namely this impala, crossing our path.
After that we soon a variety of animals including kudu, elephants, zebra and giraffe.
The highlight of the day however came on our way back to camp when our driver spotted a leopard lying in the grass on the verge of the road. Although it was dusk and we were unable to use flash - or set up a tripod I hope that this images does justice to this wonderful big cat.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Safari Update

A week ago I posted news of the safari that I was about to set off on and said that I intended to post regular updates. Unfortunately Wifi access wasn't available at our first lodge and here at Victoria Falls it is very slow making it rather laborious to upload images. 
Here is one taken in Chobe National Park, but I shall upload more on my return to the UK.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Off on Safari

Five years ago last month my wife and I went on a Safari holiday to Kenya, followed by a week on the beach south of Mombassa. This was to be a one time "Trip of a Lifetime". We enjoyed it so much that two years ago we were off on Safari to Tanzania, followed by a week on Zanzibar, and tomorrow we are jetting off again. 

This time we have three nights in Botswana, two at Victoria Falls and a further three in Zimbabwe followed by a week's beach holiday on Mauritius. 

I will be keeping a daily log of the trip which I will be posting here together with photos, whenever I can get Wi Fi access! 

We will be flying from Heathrow airport at about 9.00 tomorrow evening on the way to Botswana via South Africa, due to land at Kasane about 1.30 on Friday afternoon and then on to Chobe Elephant Camp.

After three nights at Chobe we move on to Victoria Falls for two nights

and then another three nights at Hwange National Park

We then fly to Mauritius via Johannesburg for a week's relaxation 

Meanwhile here are some of my favourite photo from my last safari. 
Baby Colobus Monkey 
Guarding the Herd
Leopard in Serengeti
Wildlife Everywhere
Serval Wildcat
Tree Lions in Serengeti 
So if you want to follow my progress just subscribe to the blog.