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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Kruger National Park

Day two of exploring the wildlife of Kruger National Park with some professional local guides in Land Rovers…and guess what? We did not have a single breakdown!

Day two was a little more adventurous and we had to hunt (no pun intended) for some of the wildlife we did not see on day one.  Some of the rare species are hard to find.

The hippos definitely liked hanging out with us by our lodge. They are very casual and slow moving and hard to find above the water in the river.

We also had some fun time capturing some bird (no pun intended).  This was an African-Hawk eagle and it did not attack us for some reason.

The Hornbills were quite prominent and interesting. We did not see them capturing anything, but we could tell they were ready to attack us!

There are tons of antelope in the park, but here was some nice Kudo who we enjoyed an early morning breakfast with.

What was the coolest find!  The rare pangolin which we spotted late at night with the help of a FLIR.

Stay tuned…more coming tomorrow!

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(South) African Sarfari

We flew north on South Africa’s Airlink airline on a very unusual British Aerospace jet. Almost looks like a cartoon jet or an old Soviet based cargo carrier…

But I have to admit, they have better coach and food service than any other US based airline!

We are now in Kruger National Park and doing some adventuring at the Lions Sands game reserve.

These huts are better than most inclusive resorts I have ever seen around the world or Caribbean…and they do NOT have electric fences like you see around every hotel, apartment and home in Cape Town.

The elephants will come by your hut every day and have lunch with you!

But, the monkeys will join you too.  and they LOVE bread and will fight you and bite you to get it if you are not careful.  They are SMART and clever.

Now, in just 1 day, what did we see? Anything?  Let’s start with the giraffe’s who like to eat close to the river as the trees have green leaves during the wintertime where the trees further out have not in order to save water. This one was male.

and of course, we ran into a herd of Zebras.  We actually ran into two herds that were close to each other, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Lots and lots of elephants!  Here is a group that were moving on through first thing in the morning and taking their kids to the park.

This one had a little bit too much testosterone and almost charged us when we came close.  I don’t think the ranger’s heavy duty rifle can protect against these situations…

We ran into some hyenas in the morning and night.  They are very unusual characters without a doubt.

Now I know the warthogs are not everyone’s favorite pet, but they are the lion’s source of pork chops!

I know everyone is asking, did we see any lions?  Here was a trip that were taking an early morning nap after we stopped by to say hi. We will check back with them later tonight.

In closing, we did see a leopard, rhino and hippos…but they were quite a bit of a distance from us.  So, I will use that as an excuse for at least one more safari blog.

 

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