Zambia Running Club

Country #61 on my list of visited countries.

And, of course, I had to go running in Zimbabwe and over to Zambia with the local running club!

Who are the primary members of the running club you ask?  Baboons of course!  They love hanging out with other primates 😉

I got a visa to run over the bridge and Victoria Falls as that is necessary to leave the country and return on this very popular 5K running route.

It is always fun to have an early morning running route that crosses countries and borders.

And get a friendly hello from the border security who is impressed you are running and not actually on the bridge just to bungee jump.

back to the hotel in the distance for some early morning breakfast and some GREAT coffee here in Zimbabwe!

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Day Safari in Zimbabwe

Yes, you can go on a safari in Zimbabwe.  Much smaller, much simpler, more focused on day trips and not resorts, but you can have a safari experience in Zimbabwe and also Zambia.  We checked out on with Wild Horizons.

They are mostly focused on rescuing animals from poachers, injuries and protecting wildlife.  As a result, they are VERY friendly to humans and much more reliant on their interaction with humans for care, protection and companionship.

Saying hi to everyone

The elephants are very friendly and love attention.

But do you know who loves even more attention and likes to be interviewed? Sylvester.  He is a cheetah and was rescued about 8 years ago.  He needs human care to feed him as he was never taught to hunt by his mother, so know he is the foundation’s mascot.

All the elephants are free to roam and come and go and only come to visit periodically when they are encouraged by some of the rescue staff.  As you can see in the video, some of the elephants love the attention more than others.

but I suspect the REAL reason they like visiting with famous celebrities is the fact they get fed some gourmet African treats and they cannot resist hanging out and partying to get these sumptuous morsels to compliment their grass, bark and leaves diet.  Can you blame them?

There were also a dozen (wild) warthogs and they are not safe to humans, but…when there are leftover snacks/treats from the elephants, they become very friendly for some reason!

Looks like someone carved my initials in the tree 10 meters up!

On the way back, we checked out one of the oldest trees in Africa – it might be 1,500 years old.  It is called The Big Tree and is a very popular spot for many people to visit.

Stay tuned, there has NOT been any running stories yet!

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Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe

Since we are in Zimbabwe, did we need to go do and see???

An escape room of course! How could you avoid the opportunity to escape the zhombies and get across Victoria Falls?

Well…we did go hike the trails to explore the falls area.

It is about a nice 1.5 mile hike round trip with some amazing views.  This is called the Devil’s Pool and is in some famous movies I heard.

It is best to go very early as the lines can get long, the sun can be hot and the spray can basically obscure and cloud out many of the pictures.

The roar of the falls is quite impressive and exciting to hear.

At the end, you see the famous bridge that was built in the 1920s I think and is the crossing from Zimbabwe to Zambia.

Many people like to go climbing, rappelling and bungee jumping here.  This video will give you a good view of the experience with all the water mist generating rain in the viewing spot known as the danger zone because it is so rocky and slippery.

I think some people would like a statue of this guy erected due to his global adventures to replace…

Dr. Livingston I presume?

Dr. Livingstone who discovered and made this park/location famous to the world.

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Arrived in Zimbabwe

OK – we headed north from Johannesburg to check out true Africa.  Where is the best place to go? Zimbabwe of course!

Now getting into Zimbabwe and customs is no joke. All planes arrive at the same time and it can take 2+ hours to get through customs and immigration as they must hand write all forms twice…no automation.  Be prepare and patient!

We are staying at the famous Victoria Falls hotel…stay tuned, there will be more on this topic tomorrow.

But there was a very pleasant greeting, refreshing drink, etc. in the front entrance and also an equally welcoming and refreshing offering as soon as you enter your room! 😉

It is very safe here and no risks that many face in South Africa.  But you do have to wonder why the hotel groundskeepers are carrying rifles around at 7AM in the morning.  Is it due to all the celebrities staying at the hotel???

We got into the area in the late afternoon, so we decided to take a nice river cruise to check out the Zambezi river and learn about how Dr. Livingston actually found Victorian Falls many years ago.  Lots of history here!  And lots of crocodiles to hang out with as well!

and also some local Zambezi beer which was quite tasty on a hot African afternoon!

We also ran into 5-6 hippos that were swimming in the room since they were on vacation.  Here is one making a jump for some reason…

I am still working on finding a good photo of them, but in the interim, I do have a short video of them snorting since they were very loud due to all their beer drinking.  You can hear them if you listen closely.

OK – that is it for today, stay tuned for more tomorrow!

 

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Johannesburg – South Africa

Without a doubt, this is a huge city and it has 7.5 million people in it.  Is there a lot to see…not sure, but there are definitely a lot of very expensive mansions and a lot of very poor shanties all in this same city.

Yep, that is a middle class house 

Like Cape Town, most houses have fences and electric wires protecting the homes from intruders, but in Johannesburg, the walls are 12+ feet high and many have armed guards.

We stopped by Nelson Mandela’s former house when he was still living and was Prime Minister of South Africa.  He did not have electric fences since he had laser detection and 24×7 security.

As a contrast, take a drive through Soweto and you will see 10×10 homes made of corrugated steel for an entire family…and yet, the homes all have satellite dishes! Why? Because that is how the government can provide education to the kids even though they are poor.

In the Soweto province is the Nelson Mandela museum and Apartheid museum. Very moving and very educational.  Unfortunately, you cannot take any pictures in either.  Only the outside.

On the positive side, we got to meet and talk with Antoinette Sithole who was the sister of Hector Pieterson who was the child killed by police in this famous photograph that occurred in a student protest.

We also got to make a quick stop and visit Hector’s memorial which was not far from Nelson Mandela’s and Archbishop Tutu’s original homes.  The one bad thing from these memorials is they are swarmed by vendors and locals trying to make a few rand from the tourists.

We also made a 30 minute stop at the former prison where Nelson Mandela was held which has now been converted to the South Africa supreme court which has been the foundation for the country and its new constitution since apartheid was eliminated.

Last, but not least we stopped at a local craft brewery in Johannesburg which was amazing.  It had the combination of craft brewery atmosphere and flavors like the united states combined with small dishes for gourmet South African delicacies. It was the Mad Giant brewery and the food was crafted by Urbanology.  Highly recommended!

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Wildlife at Dusk and Dawn – South Africa

It is our last day exploring Kruger National Park and we wanted to share some of the wildlife delights we encountered when the sun was setting and rising above the South Africa bush.

Did I go running in the South Africa bush?  of course!  A little limited due to the risky areas and wildlife that seems to like to view humans as good prey…

We wanted to stop and have a sunset cocktail out in the bush, but we were surrounded by buffalo who were tracking…I guess we better find a better spot!

Fortunately, our tracker was armed and ready to take any snakes that tried to jump up into our Land Cruiser and take over the controls.

Fortunately, a female hyena led us to a great location based on her experience.  Did you know that all hyena have both male and female organs?

After dinner time, the young elephants like to play leap frog and jump over each other…sometimes the parents need to keep them aligned when they get out of control.

Nearby, we found the opposing wildlife cricket team getting ready for their next day’s game with the elephants.  The rhino cricket team can be quite a competitor we were told from the ranger.

OK – headed back to the lodge for a late night dinner.  Read on for the morning discoveries!

This was all last night, now lets describe the following morning. We woke up a leopard having a morning snooze after they had a big breakfast.

He was so nice and offered to share some of his leftover warthog he left in the tree for us in case we were hungry. What hospitality!

Now, remember the rhino cricket team?  We found them resting up for their game later today.  I took a video when they get a little cranky about their sleeping spot…

And the opposing elephant team for the legendary cricket match were having their pre-game meal.  I captured a short video showing up an adult elephant strips bark from branches as their favorite delicacy before a big game.

They also had some minor league player interns with them.  They were clearly not ready for a competitive match as you can see in this video the youngsters are still learning how to eat various snacks with their untrained trunk. 😉

In closing, the Kruger National Park and surrounding game reserves are true delight and experience that is hard to understand and appreciate until you arrive.  You can find magical gems in the bush every turn and you never know what you will see next!

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Rhinos, leopards and tigers oh my!

OK – the past day has been VERY interesting!

We left Kruger National Park and headed out on a 1 hour drive to another private game reserve.  These roads are SLOW going and very bumpy even in a Land Cruiser.

I will try to tell a story of some of the things we did the past 24 hours in Sabi Sabi game reserve.

When you arrive, you fall in love with the place as there is a watering spot right in front of the lodge and restaurant.

I know the African (water) buffalo is not that interesting or rare, but check out this very rare female with horns that are wrapping around her head!

Now, last night was quite exciting…we chased down and found a leopard in the middle of the night and actually got a good photo before they snuck away.  We had to do some serious high speed 4×4 to catch this one!

If you think that was exciting, we started our morning today with running into an actual attempt by 3 lions to take down some older African buffaloes.  They were not successful, but we were right in the middle and able to catch the action.

The 3 lions were a little tired after that attempt so we stopped and offered them some tea to help recover and take a nap.

So, we moved on and decided to visit a group of white rhinos playing by the river.

They offered to even play a little so I took a short video to help make them famous.

We got the word that there was some more lions nearby, so we drove off for a little bit and see what they might be up to. They were 4 young male lions cruising through the area.

We followed them for a little while and then went and shared a cool drink with them at a nearby watering hole. An early morning water mimosa for everyone!

Here is the bartender when we arrived at this African safari bar, he was not amused with the rough crowd that walked in though!

And to close this one out since all the wildlife is playing today on video, I thought I would include some of the young local male elephants that were wrestling in the early morning sun to get ready for their WWF tryouts next week!

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