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2016 Africa Adventure – Safari in Hwange

June 22, 2016

Hwange mapDriving from Bulawayo to the safari lodge took half a day, since the turnoff road to the lodge was quite rutty and two mph was all the car would do. I had time to think about what adventure was next!

Going on safari – Will it be the sweeping grandeur of Out of Africa with Robert Redford escorting me through the veldt to see zebra? Or will it be more like The African Queen, with Humphrey Bogart navigating me down the tempestuous river as we dodge hippos. Or maybe it will be like King Solomon’s Mines, with fearless explorer Stewart Granger (or the 1985 Richard Chamberlain, or the 2004 Patrick Swayze; any of these guys would do!) dragging me through the desert looking for lions?

 Alas, none of these even came close. Except the animals! Going on safari is a cross between extreme excitement (Oh, I see [insert any wild animal!]) and amazement (Wow, here I am in Africa driving around looking for wild animals!).

I stayed at the Khulu Ivory, a small boutique safari lodge just outside Hwange National Park.  It marketed itself accurately as “rustic luxury.” The food was exquisite and my cabin was comfortable and luxurious.

Khulu Ivory H3 Khulu Ivory Lodge

There was a giant watering hole in front of the lodge where elephants congregated. I sat at the bar with a gin and tonic and watched them play. April must be baby elephant month in Africa. Babies were everywhere!

 

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Hwange National Park

 Entrance to Hwange NP sign

Cathy Entrance to Hwange

My guide was Darndley, who has been guiding safaris for 20 years. He knew where to look for the animals, he knew the name of every bird, and he knew how fast to drive on the rut-riven roads in Hwange National Park.

For three days we started at 7 am to drive the 20 miles to Hwange, visited all the places that Darndley knew might have a sighting, came back to the lodge for lunch, took a nap, and did more safari-ing until twilight. Twilight is when we saw the cheetah! It was skulking through the veldt, in no hurry at all despite all the people gathered to watch it.

Cheetah1 Cheetah

This was the only cat I saw in Hwange. But I saw a lot of other gorgeous wildlife!  

I am on safari!!

Hwange Riding

There is nothing like being on safari. Darndley did caution me that often we would see TLA, Things Like Animals, and I got really good at spotting tree stumps, or a wind movement, or anything that could be something! But more often it was the real thing.

Hwange landscape

 

I learned that zebra stripes are like our fingerprints – no two are alike.

 

Hwange Zebra

 

Daddy hippo and the backsides of mother and baby. Hippopotamuses are huge animals.

H18 Hippos at rest

Darndley explains how giraffes walk.
Then we saw a sight that even excited Darndley. He said he had never seen anything like this in his twenty years of guiding safaris.

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Hwange Giraffes

The birds were amazing.  If I had a bird list I would have added 32 new ones!

The grey-crowned crane mates for life; there were always two together.

Grey-crowned crane

This is the lilac-breasted roller, the national bird of Botswana. I took what seems like a hundred pictures of this beauty.

Lily1 HB13 HB10

This leopard tortoise is definitely moving!

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The only ostriches I saw were at the watering holes, not in the veldt.

Hwange ostrich

I saw many impalas; such a regal creature.

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I slept well, ate well, and every day was different and unexpected. I decided that is how I like my safaris!

Next: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Chobe National Park in Botswana, and cliff jumping

6 Comments
  1. Wow, what an amazing adventure! The giraffes are incredible … and the lodge looks wonderful. I think I’ll make a gin and tonic and sit on the porch and watch my cats roam around. Best I can do!

  2. shellgren permalink

    Still do not know why I cannot post to WordPress to comment. Nice!!!!!!!

  3. Shauna permalink

    So excited you enjoyed safari! I think it is addicting – probably in part because of the adrenaline rushes. I spent 15 days on safari, trying to get it out of my system, but only ended up wanting to move to Africa! Here is a video from my last trip: https://animoto.com/play/hcfXeQGKXz0V9jlzcd5Q6Q (Less than 2 months to go before I’m back there again!)

    • Shauna, your video is amazing! The only lion I saw was a napping female, and you saw white rhinos ! Made me realize that safaris are different in different parts of Africa. You spent 15 days? Wow! I do want to go back, but will see China next. I totally loved Africa . Enjoy seeing your posts!

  4. Dave permalink

    Cathy, so happy for you! A once in a life time adventure. I’m sure you will have memories you will never for get.
    Are you staying in shape for your 13.1’s?😃😃

    • I keep doing them, Dave, as long as I keep moving! Africa was indeed an amazing experience. Hope all is well with you.

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