We’re always pleased to see WT adventurers connect with a destination and return to explore more of its wonders. One of our travelers shares her recent journey on our Wild Zimbabwe safari, where the group experienced amazing wildlife encounters during game drives and enjoyed one of our unique stays at Camelthorn Lodge.
I love Zimbabwe, especially Hwange National Park, and every few years I need to visit to ensure all is right with the world. This summer, my trip included four days at Camelthorn Lodge on the beautiful Ngamo Plains. This part of the park is teeming with wildlife and is the place where two extraordinary animals, not seen in nearly two decades, are now making their home.
On our first game drive, we see hundreds of antelope, including these two young male waterbuck who pose for the camera.
Next up: a hippo. Far from posing prettily, he bellows his disapproval of our being there.
Nearby, a saddle-billed stork ignores the commotion and continues trolling for fish and frogs.
Over the radio comes the word every safari-goer yearns to hear: lion!
We race across the railroad tracks to find two young sisters. Their mother, once kicked out of her pride, has now been welcomed back. The sisters, however, have not, so they are on their own to hunt. With a herd of wildebeest in their sights, the girls stealthily make their approach. They silently flank their prey from opposite sides, only to have birds screech a warning to the wildebeest, giving away the lions at the last moment.
In the aftermath, one sister loses track of the other. The sister-in-the-know stalks the other then runs and pounces. All in good fun.
Another game drive features a secretary bird pounding its feet across the ground to churn up grasshoppers and other insects. I’ve waited a long time to photograph this bird, named for 19th-century male secretaries in England who wore light gray coats and dark knee-length pants with quill pens carried behind their ears.
Once again, a call comes over the radio: elephant at Stoffie’s Pan. And we’re off!
We just manage to descend into the half-buried blind when scores of thirsty elephants lumber to the watering hole. The freshest water comes up at the boreholes, and many elephants choose to wait their turn for a drink, including this bull.
One of the best parts of staying at Camelthorn is afternoon tea.
The chef creates the most beautiful pastries!
Then, we’re off on another game drive. We happen upon some bachelor giraffe mock fighting.
Swinging their necks wide, they ram them together. Head Imvelo Guide Sibahle “Sibs” Sibanda assures me that “they’re just playing. For practice.” But the sound of neck thunking hard again neck seems pretty serious.
One of my favorite Imvelo activities is a morning spent at the nearby village—Ngunyana—where we visit the school.
The children take a break from writing their exams to sing songs for us in Ndebele.
Two more wonderful experiences still await us during our safari in Zimbabwe. In the afternoon, our Guide Mark Butcher arrives to lead us on a walk in a secluded sanctuary now home to Hwange’s newest residents: two white bull rhinos!
These two are the best of buddies, and it is the thrill of a lifetime to share their space with them for a few hours. These rhinos are the first white rhinos to be reintroduced to this area and are carefully guarded by rigorously-trained and well-armed “Cobras”—men from the nearby village who now have jobs. My heroes!
Sadly, the day for us to leave arrives, but first: one more game drive.
And as promised, Sibs finds cheetahs! We race across the plains to see two young males doing their best to impress. And impressive they are.
Yet another wonderful Wilderness Travel adventure that has generated memories to last a lifetime! Many thanks to Sibs, Aubs, Dabs, Harris, Faithy, and Butch.
—Text and photos by 12-time WT adventurer Jeannee Sacken, Wild Zimbabwe.