Playing with little lions – ahhhh, a relief after the previous night…

Thursday February 5th ~ Antelope Park to Masvingo

Playing with the lion cubs

Playing with the lion cubs

After only 2.5 short hours the alarm was going off on Tim’s iPhone.

I struggled to get my bearings. That is often one of the challenges of frequent traveling – trying to figure out where you are each morning when you wake up. When sleep deprived it makes finding your way to the bathroom even more interesting…

But the day had dawned and we had a couple of items to check off our list before leaving Antelope Park. At breakfast we soon found out that our missing lion adventure of the previous night was THE topic of conversation. Gerald, our Antelope Park guide, who accompanied us while searching the savannah had already been filling in other members of our group.  Continue reading

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MISSING – Two big lions

Wednesday February 4th (PM) ~ In the back of a pick-up, Antelope Park, Zimbabwe

Sunset at Antelope Park

Sunset at Antelope Park

“If we can’t find them soon, perhaps we can try playing animal in distress sounds”, the lone female voice cracked through the night on the radio.

“Let’s meet at (squawk) and coordinate our efforts”, came an authoritative male voice.

And off we went, full throttle, to rendezvous at some previously mentioned but muffled spot.

Tim and I are sitting in the back of a small pick-up truck, hanging on for dear life. On the floor of the truck bed, just behind where we are sitting is a half eaten and gutted young wildebeest. The floor is getting slick from oozing blood.

It is somewhere in the vicinity of 1:00 in the morning and we are trying to help find two missing adult lions.  Continue reading

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Walking with the lions

Wednesday February 4th ~ Antelope Park, Zimbabwe

Tim and Joanne with two 19 month old lions

Tim and Joanne with two 19 month old lions – you might think they are posing, but the truth is they are eyeing two giraffe off in the distance. Their hunting instincts are kicking in.

Oh how I had been looking forward to this day. I mean, come on, an opportunity to walk with the lions! How does one possibly top this?

I honestly can’t remember if the bus ride was long or short to get there, I was just so excited to arrive at Antelope Park.

“Antelope Park is home to the world-famous African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) lion rehabilitation programme which is a multi-phase lion conservation initiative as featured in hit UK TV documentary “LION COUNTRY”. It is Africa’s first genuine programme working to ethically re-introduce the offspring of captive-bred African lions back into the wild.” ~ Antelopepark.co.zw

Along the drive toward Antelope Park - open grasslands, sparse trees, typical landscape in this area

Along the drive toward Antelope Park – open grasslands, sparse trees, typical landscape in this area

Billed as the premier private game park in Zimbabwe, it offered up such interesting optional activities including:  Continue reading

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Where do you chose to be buried if you are one of the richest men in the world?

Tuesday February 3rd ~ Rhodes Matopos National Park and World’s View

World's View

World’s View

Rhodes Matopos National Park (also called Matobo NP)

Located just 34 km (21 miles) south of Bulawayo, one finds yet another amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site. The grassy plains are broken up with massive granite domes, solid rock spires and huge boulder formations, many in acrobatic balancing positions; the result of millions of years of weathering and erosion.

Driving through Matobo National Park

Driving through Matopos National Park

Also known for its population of both white and the smaller, more rare, black rhino, our first hour is spent with our two guides hiking us up and down a couple of steep knolls to search the horizon in an effort to spot some game.  Continue reading

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Long bus ride, no TP or AC, and a leaking roof – but still having fun!

Monday February 2nd ~ Driving to Bulawayo and Natural History Museum

Looking out the front window on our bus as we go down the highway in Zimbabwe

Looking out the front window on our bus as we go down the highway in Zimbabwe

Today was one of those days that are necessary, but not particularly enjoyable. We spent a large part of the day on our small tour bus driving from our hotel near Victoria Falls to Bulawayo.

This is where our tour guide’s (Brian) mother lives and he is excited to see her.

With little or poor air-conditioning, and rather cramped quarters, we welcomed any stops along the way to be able to get out and stretch our legs, use the toilet, and get a quick beverage or snack.

When traveling abroad, one quickly learns to keep extra toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse as often restrooms are far from “western” standards. In fact we would celebrate if the toilet stalls had doors (locks were a bonus), toilet paper, flushed, and/or there was soap to wash our hands with. Towels to dry your hands on were almost nonexistent.  Continue reading

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Botswana ~ Chobe National Park

Sunday February 1st ~ Chobe National Park, Botswana

Birds on the giraffes neck will help by eating the ticks and other bugs.

Birds on the giraffes neck will help by eating the tics and other bugs.

Up early and on the road by 7:30 for an hours’ drive to the border crossing from Zimbabwe into Botswana.

Botswana

Landlocked, the country is bordered by South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia. Botswana is the world’s 48th-largest country, similar in size to Madagascar or France, but is one of the most sparsely populated in the world with just over 2 million people. The fact that 70% of the country is covered by the Kalahari desert may be a contributing factor in the low population numbers.

In the late 1960’s Botswana was considered one of the poorest countries with a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about US$70 per year. Today they have made an amazing turnaround with one of the fastest growing economies. The biggest contributor to the GDP is tourism and diamonds. They can now boast a GDP per capita of about $16,400 per year as of 2013.

Young male Impala

Young male Impala

Continue reading

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The Boma Restaurant at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Saturday evening, January 31st ~ The Boma Restaurant

Jessica and Dani getting a warm welcome at The Boma

Jessica and Dani getting a warm welcome at The Boma

The Boma Restaurant is one of those places that every tourist that comes to Victoria Falls gets invited to experience. And to top things off, we are celebrating Ben’s birthday.

A combination of dance hall, local flare, warm welcomes, huge buffet dinner with offerings that can only be found in Africa, enthusiastic drumming where diners participate, a witch doctor, special drink of the evening, and the chance to eat fried Mopani worms – who would want to miss out on all of this????  Continue reading

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