Taaibos River Lodge: seclusion, tranquillity and Big 5

26 February 2018

Taaibos River Lodge: seclusion, tranquillity and Big 5

2BWild Safaris was privileged to spend two nights in this magnificent and exclusive lodge overlooking the Taaibos River in the Big 5 Welgevonden Game Reserve, a mere 2 ½ hours from Johannesburg.

Taaibos management James and Angela on the left with Viv from 2BWild Safaris on the right

Our hosts and lodge managers, Angela and James shared their friendship and enthusiasm of the African bush with us, and attended to our every need.

Click here for special rates and bookings

Angela, an accomplished gourmet chef of note, whipped up the most delicious 6-star meals, whilst chatting away about the history and origins of Taaibos.

Her partner, James, must be the the most knowledgeable and enthusiast range guide we have met in all our travels. His understanding and deep knowledge of the flora and fauna, and of the Welgevonden Reserve, is unsurpassed.

One of the most striking aspects of Taaibos is the breathtaking architecture, coupled with the bush ambience of the interior design and beautiful artefacts throughout the spacious lodge.

With five suites, two swimming pools (one heated), cosy braai area, a stunning kitchen and fully-stocked bar, state-of-the-art yet intimate conference facility, library, snooker table, a huge deck with comfy couches and a view of the cliffs and adjacent plains – Taaibos is a must for a family group; a family gathering; or a business think-tank.

The seclusion and tranquillity is indescribable, the pulse of Africa tangible, and the company enthralling.

Just 2 ½ hours from Johannesburg – or a 30 minute helicopter flight

Taaibos River Lodge is BA friendly. 2BWild Safaris has negotiated preferential rates for BA crew:

Click here for special rates and bookings

 

 

 

Prof rounds off his conference with a wild safari

Prof rounds off his conference with a wild safari

Welgevonden – Big Five reserve, South Africa

To plan and book your stay click here

 

By Prof Jonker, The Netherlands

My trip was wonderful and I really enjoyed South Africa. The Wild Ivory Eco Lodge was excellent. Good accommodation with very good service. Herbert, the manager and ranger took me on brilliant game drives. He did his utmost best to show the animals in the park and except for the Leopard I did actually see most of the Big Five. The Lioness wandering around our cars late in the evening after she missed a catch, was one of the most impressive moments.

Everything you arranged worked very well. The transfer was nicely on time and gave me a nice drive towards the lodge. All arrangements were good and worked smoothly and I really appreciated your service. I appreciated that the park was not so crowded.

Having only seen so little of your country I will have to come back once to see more of it.

Thanks, Viv, for all the good work.

To plan and book your stay click here

 

Don and Debbie’s luxurious Africa expedition


Don and Debbie from Colorado share their 2BWild Safari adventure with us

Safari description: Fly-in, luxury to wild Big Five reserves.

All travel arrangements, route and itinerary planning, bookings, flights, transfers and accommodation by 2BWild Safaris.

Itinerary: Okavango Delta and Linyanti area – Botswana; Hwange National Park, Stanley & Livingstone Hotel in Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe.

Click here to get cracking on your luxury African adventure

 

Hi Viv,

We had a fantastic trip and game viewing was exceptional. Plenty of great food and wonderful accommodation. Also lots of miles (not the really good part – but we saw a lot of country).

On the Botswana / Zimbabwe portion:
First, we were beyond impressed on the smoothness of the hand-over from one location to another. Someone was always there waiting for us and took good care of us whether getting us to an airplane, across the border or to a park.

Accommodation at all four locations was very good. Rooms were very clean, very comfortable, well furnished, and very attractive and appealing. Calling them tents may be technically correct but certainly misleading. Staff were fantastic.

The Delta was WET!! – but plenty of animals and a great guide and we would certainly return. The food service here was the best of any game camp we were at either in the Botswana/Zimbabwe area or South Africa. The staff here were also the most accommodating. We enjoyed the hippo ‘party’ outside our room the first night and were mildly disappointed that the party did not continue the other nights (of course the absence of a party made sleeping easier).

The Linyanti area was dry of course – and again a great room. The food here was wonderful but not as great as it was in the Delta. Again good staff. Not as many animals as at the Delta but we did witness a leopard stalking and ultimately succeeding with a kill within a few feet of our vehicle. Very impressive.

Hwange also had great rooms – and a view – as did the rooms at the Delta and Linyanti. The cook here went to a lot of trouble making special meals for us and they were very well received. I was quite surprised at the lack of game but I guess the weather had a major impact. We did see the pride of lions (Cecil’s pride minus Cecil of course) and we upset a sleeping old bull elephant who was lying down. For a few moments it was exciting because the elephant wasn’t happy and couldn’t decide whether to charge or leave. The driver stayed in reverse with the engine running and said he was very concerned because the elephant was not behaving normally.

The charter flights were enjoyable and comfortable. The flight from Victoria Falls International airport to the bush airport (ie a dirt airstrip) was in a 4-seater Cessna 206 – with the returning flight on a much larger Cessna Caravan which was very comfortable.

The Stanley & Livingstone hotel was first class and highly recommended. A good trip to the Falls – and of course we were soon wet through from the mist. Certainly a magnificent sight.

And then back to Joburg and a relaxing night repacking in the Intercontinental. We decided that the Intercontinental at the airport is the place to stay waiting for a flight. Service there is first class. The staff checked on us to make sure our room service was satisfactory, when we didn’t talk to anyone after our wake up call someone knocked on our door to make sure we were up (can’t have the residents missing their plane).

Thanks for everything Viv! Finally, what do you have on walking with the Gorillas? Debbie wants to include that area (activity) on our next trip probably next year.

All photos: Debbie

Click here to get cracking on your luxury African adventure

Dr Kate examines Gonarezhou

GONAREZHOU – Place of the Elephants

By Dr Kate

An unforgettable excursion to a little-known wild and remote corner of Africa

The Gonarezhou National Park, meaning “Place of the elephants”, is one of 11 national parks in Zimbabwe and is situated in the south-eastern Lowveld of Zimbabwe. It covers an area of approximately 5 000 km2 and was proclaimed a national park in 1975, although some sections were already designated as a game reserve in 1934. The reserve forms part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

HOW DO I GET THERE? 2BWild Safaris will work closely with you to plan your personalised itinerary, providing you with routing, and undertaking all your reservations, including guided self-drive adventure trails in the area.

 

Our party of six adults, three children and three 4WD vehicles were advised to stay in Punda Maria, northern Kruger National Park, by 2BWild Safaris, for our first night in order to exit through the Pafuri border post the next morning – destination Mabalauta Camp, Gonarezhou, Zimbabwe!

This route took us along the north-western edge of Mozambique, across two major rivers – the Limpopo and the Nuanetsi – making two border crossings en route, to Chicualacuala. It took us MUCH longer than we’d anticipated and we were quite anxious as the border post closed at 6pm – but we made it! (Moral of the story: allow plenty of travel time leeway in your escapades). The Mozambique side was super easy and the Zimbabwe side very friendly, albeit somewhat longer to process.

It was getting dark as we headed into Zim. The park staff were so friendly and radioed ahead to Mabalauta to let them know we were on our way. We were shown to our campsite and they had kindly lit the “donkey-fire” for us so that we could have a warm shower. Our campsite was right on the banks of the Nuanetsi river under a huge canopy of trees. We heard very odd noises only to discover they were made by a massive fruit bat. Nyala were grazing just down the bank and we heard hyena which sounded very close.

The next morning we headed for the exclusive Hlaro Camp (exclusive camps cannot be used by any other visitors, nor may anyone enter the campsite). Again, darkness was falling as we drove into camp. We were getting quite adept at putting up camp in the dark. We could hear hippo nearby with one lying on the river bank about 200 metres from camp. The next morning we were greeted with the sound of lions roaring and the amazing sight of the sun rising over the Chilojo Cliffs. A little later we saw two young male lions on the riverbank downstream.

We headed down to Bhenji Weir, passing the one and only car we saw the ENTIRE time we were in the park! We saw two baby jackal frolicking in their den as well as a number of elephant. Bhenji Weir was a great viewing site comprising a double-decker viewing platform enabling visitors to see all the way down to the weir and up the valley. We were privileged to see a large herd of sable coming down the valley to drink. After a tasty brunch we set up our hammocks and had a snooze in the shade before heading back, crossing the Runde river at Bopomela then driving up to the Chilojo Cliffs viewpoints which provide a magnificent view of the entire Runde valley. The highlight here was our sighting of a pair of Verreaux’s eagles.

The next day we started a slow trek towards another exclusive camp, Chitove. We enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast at the west viewing point of Chilojo Cliffs and from our vantage point we saw plenty of game including buffalo, kudu and elephant. We carried on to the east viewpoint and saw about six different herds of elephants amongst the Mopane forests and on the plains. The Chitove campsite was breathtaking, right on the river, which was patrolled by resident crocs and hippo. Fishing is allowed in Gonarezhou and the guys decided to try their hand in one of the pools upstream, managing to land a fair sized Tiger fish.

The following day, we headed off towards Machaniwa Pan and saw a plethora of game – eland, warthog, zebra, baboons and a large elephant bull. The pan was stunning with plenty of birdlife – African jacana, white-faced ducks, herons and many more. Here we cooked up a delicious meal on the skottel before making our way across the Runde river towards Gayiseni campsite and the confluence of the Runde and Save rivers. The road to Gayiseni turned out to be little more than an elephant path, completely overgrown with palms, and without Tracks4Africa telling us we were there I’m not sure we would have known! From here we headed back via Tembwahata Pan and again saw loads of game with many rafts of hippo! The weather was quite cool, so many of the hippo were in the shallows which made for some great pics. The baobabs around here were stunning. We crossed back over at the Chitove water crossing after seeing more game.

The following morning we struck camp and headed back along the river, the highlight of the drive being a sighting of three young lions! Lunch at Chilojo Cliffs picnic site with a sighting of large elephant bull and also a large herd of ellies with very small calves coming down to drink. As we neared the Chipinda Pools camp the amount of game increased and we saw herds of elephant, zebra, impala and kudu. The sun was again setting as we headed down the final hill to Chipinda, giving us a stunning view of the Runde valley with the broken bridge way off in the distance. The campsite at Chipinda Pools was very well appointed with newly-refurbished ablutions, hot water and a thatched lapa dining area. We were welcomed by a small Mozambique spitting cobra but he soon moved off. Great excitement – two of our party nearly walked smack bang into the resident leopard as they were leaving the bathroom!

Next day we were really sad to leave. Heading south across the Runde crossing to extend our adventure and following Tracks4Africa to try and keep off the main road as much as possible, we stopped for an obligatory “G&T” under a baobab along the way! We were welcomed at the Elephant and Lion Motel, although it felt very strange not to be putting up the tents!

This safari was a truly fantastic experience – a trip of lifetime. And the staff in the Park went out of their way to make our stay as enjoyable as possible.

Our huge thanks to Viv at 2BWild Safaris for all the bookings and advice – you really made our trip unforgettable and hassle free!

CHECKBOX

HOW DO I GET THERE? 2BWild Safaris will work closely with you to plan your personalised itinerary, providing you with routing, and undertaking all your reservations, including guided self-drive adventure trails in the area.

 

BEST TIME OF YEAR
The ideal time is June to August when the Limpopo is at its lowest and temperatures are mild to warm.

SELF-DRIVE
You will need to be completely self-sufficient. 2BWild will book a self-drive 4×4 for you if required, as well as provide you with a comprehensive Trail List with everything you will need, depending on where you choose to stay, and the time of year.

FLY-IN
For overseas or local visitors wishing to fly in to Chilo Gorge 2BWild will book your flights and accommodation and arrange transfers.

Mana Pools – A Remote and Enchanting Wilderness

Mana Pools

A Remote and Enchanting Wilderness

Mana Pools in northern Zimbabwe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site -a pristine, unspoilt paradise with abundant game, spectacular scenery, and an incredible variety of birds. Here 2BWild’s Viv Thomé recounts the indelible experience of visiting this unique part of Africa.

Sitting in our camp chairs on the edge of a dry riverbed after setting up camp deep in the far northern Zimbabwean bush, the four of us had been chatting after enjoying a quiet lunch. A hush fell over us all and my mouth opened in amazement as I pointed through the trees, speechless. We stared in awe through the foliage, too stunned to even move, let alone whisper, as a column of huge grey shadows approached slowly, steadily and silently down the dry riverbed towards us.

We could barely contain ourselves at the privilege of seeing this majestic herd of some 20 elephant, a breeding herd comprising young and old – matriarch, cows, adolescents, and tiny calves – right in front of us, seemingly an arm’s length away.

EXCLUSIVE CAMPSITE

Our camp was an ‘exclusive’ campsite (meaning no other visitors were permitted), situated beneath the generous and shady canopy of a massive Jackalberry tree in a clearing overlooking the riverbed which led from a spring. There are no facilities whatsoever, only our friendly trees. However, we travel fully-equipped and are completely self-sufficient. We had researched the area well in advance as this was a ‘recce’ trip to experience the route personally for recommendation to future guests.

The awesome pachyderms settled right in front of our campsite and, between gentle deep rumblings and slow shuffling among themselves, they began excavating small, but deep, holes in the beach-like sand for their regular evening drink. The process was slow and laborious, but they were in no hurry.

As the newly-dug holes filled slowly with freshly-filtered water, they slowly slurped up a little into the lower portion of their trunks, waiting a moment to let any sand settle before deftly flicking that away. They then raised their heads and drank deeply, repeating the process over and over for some four hours as we sat riveted to our camp chairs.

We silently soaked up this most incredible scene before us.

And then they gradually disappeared, as silently as they had come, into the dusk that had fallen upon us. This had been a very special experience and one never to be forgotten.

Another day in Africa!

Camping in an exclusive campsite in one of Africa’s last true wilderness areas was an unparalleled privilege

FULLY SELF-SUFFICIENT

We had set off from Sandton in Gauteng two days earlier with our travel companions, Rob and Di, in our trusty Land Cruisers which have, over the years, been kitted out specifically for such journeys, making us fully self-sufficient for a week or more at a time including carrying all the water and food necessary as well as a bush shower and loo.

We had arrived at Mana Pools that morning, having made our booking a year in advance. Visiting Mana Pools had been on our bucket list for a long time and, for many, it is indeed a lifetime experience. One of my main missions was to find the Red-Throated Twinspot, a 20-year-long dream of mine as an avid birder.

We wanted to visit and understand not only the Mana Pools environment, but also the best route options and accommodation along the way, including a few nights spent on a houseboat on Lake Kariba.

A herd of some 100 buffalo just 200 meters from camp

The concept of camping in an exclusive and remote campsite in one of Africa’s last true wilderness areas was an unparalleled privilege. At our first camp, the intention was to relax without any game-driving. We had discovered that the game was attracted to the nearby spring, which delivers water all year round.

The elephant herds visited us daily at roughly the same time – a photographer’s dream. We also had lions roaring within metres of our camp on the first night, not to mention hyena giggling away a bit further off in the African night. A large herd of buffalo quietly appeared at the spring on our second morning, as well as the ever-graceful impala.

Birdlife in the area is unsurpassed and birders can look forward to adding a few ‘lifers’ to their lists.

After three nights in this paradise, it was time to strike camp and head 40km north to the banks of the mighty Zambezi. This section of Mana Pools is truly magnificent, with wildlife grazing along the riverbank and spread throughout the surrounding pristine bush. Again, these camps are exclusive with minimal facilities – just the way we true explorers prefer it. A guided walk is also highly recommended. Our guide, Tendai, was extremely knowledgeable.

These camps have no facilities – just the way we true explorers prefer it

Just one thing: my little Red-Throated Twinspot eluded me, not to mention the famous elephant named Boswell, who stands on his hindlegs, lifting his five-ton body to get to the sweetest leaves of the massive Winterthorn trees! I will be back!

For those on a tight schedule, fly-in options to the luxury lodges in the area are available. There is also a large campsite with a number of ablution blocks for those with youngsters, or who prefer a hot shower.

HOW DO I GET THERE?

2BWild Safaris will work closely with you to plan your personalised itinerary, providing you with routing and undertaking all your reservations.

Options are fly-in or self-drive in your own vehicle, or a fully equipped 4×4 vehicle can be hired for you.

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Dry season – June to October

SELF-DRIVE

You will need to be completely self-sufficient, as there are no shops or petrol stations in the reserve. 2BWild provides a comprehensive Trail List with everything you will need, depending on where you choose to stay and the time of year.

FLY-IN

We will book your flights, accommodation and arrange transfers as well as any activities you may be interested partaking in, eg canoeing.

ZAMBEZI CANOE TRIP

For the fitter travellers, a canoe trip down the Zambezi is highly recommended.

HOUSE BOAT

For something completely different after your wild safari, relax on a houseboat for a few days on Lake Kariba, taking a tender-boat along the shore in search of wildlife, casting a line for a Bream for dinner, or simply just relaxing and being pampered.

2BWild Safaris will arrange your transfers and a boat to suit.

Mirages, rainbows, thunderstorms and dust: Kgalagadi, January 2017

Kgalgadi 01-2017 (Photo: 2BWild)
Kgalagadi 01-2017
(Photo: 2BWild)

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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) trip report – 2016/2017

This recce trip undertaken by 2BWild Safaris to the Kgalagadi Desert in South Africa in December 2016/January 2017 was a wonderful experience and great success.

Our route
Johannesburg > Vryburg > McCarthy’s Rust (Botswana border post) > KTP: Twee Rivieren > Nossob > Gharagab > Bitterpan > Kalahari Tented Camp > Urikaruus > Kielie Krankie > Augrabies Falls > Kuruman > Johannesburg

This is indeed a very special and unique African wilderness area where one can experience the nuances of the vast Kalahari Desert and the specialised flora and fauna which thrive there.

Access using 4×4 vehicles is essential and accommodation in the wilderness camps is an experience of a lifetime.

To book this tour and 4×4 vehicle click here.

 

Gharagab

Gharagab - captures the magic of the African Kalahari
Gharagab – captures the magic of the African Kalahari

 

Johannesburg > Vryburg > McCarthy’s Rust (Botswana border post) > KTP: Twee Rivieren > Nossob > Gharagab > Bitterpan > Kalahari Tented Camp > Urikaruus > Kielie Krankie > Augrabies Falls > Kuruman > Johannesburg
From Nossob rest camp, situated roughly in the middle of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP), it’s a relatively long 155km 5 hour interesting and enjoyable drive to the Gharagab wilderness camp. The “main” gravel road is in good condition, albeit with minor corrugations, with interesting waterholes and pans along the way.

Right up near the top of the Park near Unions End, one leaves the “main” gravel road on a one way route around and back down to Gharagab. It’s one-way for good reason – the “tweespoor” (twin track) is a sandy bumpy twisty road with a few mild dune rises to negotiate. A good 4 wheel drive vehicle is essential.

After the exciting dune driving we see the camp from a distance, considerably raising our anticipation. The camp attendant Andries was there to meet us, well presented, smartly dressed in his uniform, friendly and courteous as they all are. We were shown to our log cabin, one of four, and what a cosy “home-from-home”.

Overlooking a floodlit waterhole down in the arid valley below, this beautiful private cabin was well appointed with all the basic requirements for a comfortable stay. Ours was Unit #1 – worth noting as it’s the only one with a 220V electricity plug behind the fridge – I won’t tell if you don’t! Perfect for charging car batteries, laptops and cell phones – whilst you download all those terrific photos and videos from your cameras).

Twin beds, spacious bathroom (again with good water pressure and piping hot water), a complete kitchenette with full range of cutlery, crockery and dish-wash basin. Not to mention the magnificent balcony with a fixed braai (barbecue) and most incredible view of the expansive bush, dunes, and waterhole below. Pure bliss.

During our stay we saw an unprecedented 14 jackal during the afternoon and evening, visiting to drink before moving briskly on. Gemsbok, springbok, common duiker and more. Unfortunately no lion during our stay, although Gharagab is renowned for its strong and vociferous lion population.

One of the best features of Gharagab is the lookout point on the rise behind the camp. This well constructed wooden deck, above the water tanks and solar arrays, offers a magnificent view across the African Kalahari dunes. A perfect spot for sundowners. Just beware of wild animals when walking there and back – and be sure to leave before nightfall.

Gharagab can be extremely hot in summer – over 44C – and extremely cold in winter. So choose your visiting time with care. The hottest period is October/November. Our trip took place in December – and was quite bearable, being a dry heat (as opposed to a humid coastal heat).

Urikaruus

Urikaruus wilderness camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Urikaruus wilderness camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Johannesburg > Vryburg > McCarthy’s Rust (Botswana border post) > KTP: Twee Rivieren > Nossob > Gharagab > Bitterpan > Kalahari Tented Camp > Urikaruus > Kielie Krankie > Augrabies Falls > Kuruman > Johannesburg

These beautifully designed riverside cabins stole our hearts from the minute we arrived.

Set high up on stilts overlooking the Auob “river” (usually dry), these five units are all interconnected with a wooden boardwalk, making them suitable for large family groups, or private individual bookings.

The elevated structure not only offers an excellent view of the river bed and floodlit waterhole – but it also enables the free movement of wildlife – including lion – below the cabins.

During our one night stay we experienced the most magnificent thunderstorm which introduced a brief but important flow in the river. We were also treated to a dusk view of the resident lioness escorting her three tiny cubs to the waterhole.

The bedroom and kitchen/dining room are on separate levels, each with own balcony.

Exceptionally clean, well kept, with all cutlery and crockery, efficient fridge, and piping hot water with good pressure in the shower.

Of all the KTP wilderness camps I would rate Urikaruus as the best – and not to be missed – with a minimum of two night’s stay.

Our camp attendant Erick was most helpful and efficient.

 

KTP gallery

All photos: 2BWild Safaris

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From Pennsylvania to Southern Africa – a trip of a lifetime!

USA and Pennsylvania State Flag - old postage stamp

From Pennsylvania to Southern Africa – a trip of a lifetime!

Deena and her family from Pennsylvania, USA made a dream come true in August last year – thoroughly enjoying a luxury fly-in safari to some of the wilder parts of Southern Africa, as well as some of our beautiful cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Click here to start your African adventure

A family member had referred her to Viv at 2BWild Safaris for assistance in all aspects of the planning and booking of the entire trip, including all internal flights, accommodation, hotel and airport transfers. A specific request was that there was to be no driving during the trip, only air travel between destinations.

A high level of communication between Deena and Viv throughout this process resulted in the ultimate safari – which ran like clockwork to the delight of the family.

Deena and family, on safari from Pennsylvania - June 2016. That's Viv at the back.
Deena and family, on safari from Pennsylvania – August 2016.
That’s Viv at the back.

img_1284-deena“I can’t thank you enough for all of your hard work, help and guidance in planning and organizing this trip,” said Deena in her email. “It was truly a trip of a lifetime!”

Their 14-day itinerary took them to a 5-star hotel at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, where they took in the beautiful sights the Mother City has to offer, as well as undertaking a cultural tour of a nearby township and doing the wine route. Their next port of call was Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe – one of the seven wonders of the world. After flying back to Johannesburg for a brief family visit, they flew out again to a luxury private game lodge adjacent to the famous Kruger National Park to spend four unforgettable days and nights in wild Africa, amongst the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo) and other wild game with their own ranger and tracker.

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North meets South – Andrés comes to Africa – Olé!

Andrés from Spain had this to say about his recent 2BWild Safari:  (June 2016)

Route: BOTSWANA: Okavango Delta; ZIMBABWE and ZAMBIA: Vic falls; BOTSWANA: Senyati and Kubu Island.

Me so excited in the Vic falls!
Me so excited in the Vic falls!

Hi Viv!

The trip was greeeeeeeat, absolutely amazing. We really enjoyed all different places where we stayed. I am sending you here some pics. Are the ones from my iphone but still I really love them! I have plenty but i am sending you a small selection of some of my favourites!

We did the flight over the Okavango Delta. You can even see the elephant from there in the pic!
We did the flight over the Okavango Delta. You can even see the elephant from there in the pic!
Our Mokoro boat that we did while staying in Ngepi, Caprivi.
Our Mokoro boat that we did while staying in Ngepi, Caprivi.
A breathtaking sunset at Senyati, Botswana.
A breathtaking sunset at Senyati, Botswana.

Regarding the car everything was PERFECT as well! We had NO problem with it so I really really appreciate your kind assistance with that!

Thanks Viv,

Andrés

This is one of my favourite places of the trip... Kubu Island. It is very very special...
This is one of my favourite places of the trip… Kubu Island. It is very very special…
Devil's pool in Zambia's side. We had a bath up there, the first day they were opened, was incredible!
Devil’s pool in Zambia’s side. We had a bath up there, the first day they were opened, was incredible!

 

The Dirty Dozen visits Gonarezhou! – 06-2016

The Dirty Dozen visits Gonarezhou!

Crossing the Limpopo
Crossing the Limpopo

Thank you, Terry, for your wonderful review of this very special part of Zimbabwe!! :

“Thanks for putting this trip together for us, Viv and John – we had a fantastic time! Just perfect for a large bunch of guys undertaking our annual foray into the wild! We loved Gonarezhou, its remoteness, great campsites – and Hlaro camp was especially good.” Just be wary of “Arnie”, the huge resident baboon who can break into a locked trommel, which is what happened to Terry and party! “Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge was an excellent interlude for a touch of luxury and a good clean-up before heading back!”

4-Chilojo Cliffs 3-Sunset silhouette 2-Jackal and vultures 6-GRZ Waterhole 10-View from Hlaro 9-River from Chilo Safari Lodge 8-River crossing 2 7-Kudu ewe 5-Central road GRZ

Jambo Zanzibar – 06-2016 – Part 4 : Stone Town

Stone Town: An 8th century city of mystical allure

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Click here to book your dream holiday to this exquisite tropical island.

17 June 2016

Leaving the buzz of the touristy North behind us, our Toyota taxi headed us south-west down the island towards our much anticipated stay in Stone Town – about which we’d heard so very much.

En route a visit to the Mangana Spice Farm was most enlightening, although the availability and stock of spices on hand was quite disappointing as most are easily obtainable back home (in South Africa) in similar packaging.

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Fresh Nutmeg
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Our (male!) guide applies fresh Annato spice as a lipstick!
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Annato – a brilliant red colouring

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting nonetheless to see how each of the spices actually grows, to learn about the plants, and how the spices are harvested. Not to mention the many applications of some – including food-colouring!

IMG_3952 IMG_3954 IMG_3958Soon we were wending our way through the bustling outskirts of the city of Zanzibar, as we approached Stone Town within. Here we were met by our efficient transfer and tour operator, Masoud Othman and his brother Abdullah, who had enabled all of our transfers around the island with clockwork precision.

As the Stone Town streets are too narrow for vehicles, Masoud and Abdullah guided us and carried our luggage on our short walk to the eminent and elegant Emerson Spice Hotel where we exchanged greetings and news with them before they bade us a pleasant stay and went off about their business.

Russell Bridgewood, Manager of Emerson Spice Hotel, give Viv and I a warm welcome to this most exquisite and historic hotel
Russell Bridgewood, Manager of Emerson Spice Hotel, gives Viv and I a warm welcome to this most exquisite and historic hotel

Russell Bridgewood, Manager of the Emerson Spice, welcomed us and showed us to our first floor room – the Violetta (named after the courtesan in the opera La Traviata). This hotel, which consists of three adjoining World Heritage site buildings, is steeped in history and is known to be amongst the best in Africa, as is it’s sister hotel nearby, the Emerson on Hurumzi.

 

The main building of the Emerson Spice is a lovingly restored merchant’s house. IMG_3830 IMG_3854 IMG_3855Each of the eleven rooms (Aida, Camille, Belle, IMG_3794 IMG_3799Desdemona, Kate, Semile, Lamour, Mimi, Violetta, Siti and Turandot) have their own unique character and are appointed in the most exquisite Zanzibari furniture and antiques, which, combined with service efficiency and the friendliness of the staff makes one’s stay here a truly unsurpassed and unforgettable experience second to none in the world. IMG_3922 IMG_3927Dinner at the Tea House situated on the rooftop is highly acclaimed – and justifiably so – as the menu changes daily depending on what the chefs find in the markets. Enjoying this five-course meal in the balmy evening overlooking Stone Town and the nearby Indian Ocean is a divine experience-of-a-lifetime and certainly not to be missed.

IMG_3828 IMG_3860 IMG_3907 IMG_3908 IMG_4004 IMG_4023The hotel too is a photographer’s dream, where the colonial architecture and hand-carved Zanzibari lattice-work, creative nooks and crannies, secret gardens and cloistered breakfast areas, hand-crafted staircases and enchanting frescos combine to provide an infinite canvas for the lens.IMG_3815 IMG_3814 IMG_3812 IMG_3811 IMG_3810 IMG_3807 IMG_3806

Next day our small entourage of selves and porters, accompanied by Russell, ambled through alleys to the Emerson on Hurumzi – a mere few blocks away.

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Lisenka (R) and the wonderful staff of the Emerson on Hurumzi, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Here Russell introduced us to the Manager, Lisenka Beetstra, who welcomed us with true Zanzibari friendship and showed us to our home for the evening – the East Room – situated on the third floor [no lifts in these lovely old buildings!]. IMG_4032 IMG_3967 IMG_3988 IMG_3824 IMG_3966 Our room was probably the most incredible of our entire trip, appointed in vibrant green and orange colours and entirely “open-air,” enclosed only by hand-carved lattice – simply breath-taking and a totally new experience for us.

After our traditional Zanzibari breakfast IMG_3848of fruit a day of shopping and bartering in the Stone Town street markets followed. Here in the frenzied but orderly chaos, zooming scooters hoot continuously warning pedestrians of their imminent arrival around the myriad blind corners, as bicycles and traders’ rickshaws ply their way through the maze.

In our explorations we discovered the Maru Maru hotel which advertised a “low price, happy hour.” Here we enjoyed another beautiful sunset and balmy rooftop dinner consisting of Chicken Tikka salad for TZS 8000 x 2 and wine at $2 per glass until 7pm. Night-caps followed an hour or so later on our balcony and we retired happily amidst the rolling sound of a massive city Ramadan Saturday-night party! My-my-my! What an audial expression of this truly vibrant city!IMG_4048

In the early hours we were awakened by a surprising torrential downpour which lasted an hour or so, as the gentle wailing “from a thousand mosques” began all over the city at various volumes, combining with the chiming of the bells of the nearby Catholic Cathedral and the drum-bells of the Hindu temple right next door to us. Yet another amazing audial experience as we dozed off back to sleep again!

Piping hot coffee arrived at 7h00 as arranged. Soon after we enjoyed a traditional Zanzabari breakfast on our balcony over-looking the city. This island delight consisted of various fruits: zaitoon, avo, pawpaw, grapefruit, passion fruit, banana, mango – followed by French toast served with a tangy avo-passion-fruit juice. Before we knew it we and our small entourage of porters were making the short walk to the nearby Ferry Port Terminal – sadly marking the beginning of our journey home.

IMG_2982The high speed ferry trip was a little like being in a trance, neither of us believing our dream trip had come to a close. Soon we were at the Dar es Salaam airport, and boarding for the flight home.

 

 

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An epic trip by all standards indeed, thank you Zanzibar – we’ll never forget you – and we’ll be back!

Kwaheri – tuanane tena – asante sana!!

Au revoir – and see you again soon – thank you so much!!

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