Thursday, January 24, 2019


After a good sleep in a cozy bed in our tent in The Hide Safari Camp, we had a 5:30 AM wake-up call, complete with a tray bearing hot chocolate for Bob and herbal tea for me, along with some "biscuits," which were not very sweet cookies:

We dressed quickly and made our way to breakfast--muesli for me and eggs and sausage for Bob--which we ate sitting as close to the fire as possible in our roofed but wall-less dining area. It was barely 3° C, which is about 37° F, an unusually frigid morning in June for the area.

By 6:30 AM we were out on our six-hour game drive, for the first time accompanied by four others, a couple from Northern California and two men from Switzerland. The latter had massive cameras. One told another passenger that his lens cost €5,000, or about $7,000 U.S.

It was so cold, especially once the vehicle got moving. The camp supplied us with flannel-lined hooded ponchos. Under that I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, my lightweight down coat, and my white rain jacket. The other woman, who was sitting in front because she had injured her foot and couldn't climb the ladder to the elevated viewing seats, had a slight advantage provided by the wimpy car heater. She was wearing gloves and very kindly gave me her right glove to keep my note-taking and camera button-pushing hand warm.

I kept a list of everything I took a picture of. Here is what we saw:

Grey louries in a thorn tree, AKA "the go-away bird" because they alert animals about approaching predators:

Brown hooded vulture (the smallest of the five vulture species in Hwange National Park):

A tree full of baboons:

Monday, January 21, 2019


Our final destination in Africa was a private safari camp in Hwange National Park called The Hide. A driver took us to the entrance of the park, two hours from the city of Victoria Falls.

The scenery along the way was really interesting. Our driver pointed out residential/farm compounds made up of grass huts:

Although the compounds looked primitive, they all seemed to have power lines:

We saw women walking along the road carrying packages in typical African style:

Having a painted dog cross the street in front of us would have been Bob's dream come true:

Friday, January 4, 2019


While seeing Victoria Falls from the air is a great way to understand its size and geology, seeing it from the ground is definitely the best way to experience its staggering power.

But before starting the walking tour of the falls, it is helpful to stop at the stalls that rent raincoats and flip flops. Visitors to Victoria Falls should plan to get very wet. I was wearing water-friendly shoes, but Bob was wearing gym shoes, and they were the only shoes he had brought on the trip. He was able to rent a pair of flip flops for about $3. Both of us rented the heavy raincoats that our guide suggested, even though it was a warm, sunny day. We think they were about $5 each, and they turned out to be more than worth it.

I started the walk by being taught some native African dance moves:

And then we had a private concert and were convinced that we did, indeed, love Africa:

Information posted at the entrance to the Victoria Falls Park informs visitors: "In terms of height, at 107m, the Victoria Falls does not feature in the top 800 waterfalls around the world, but it is 10th largest by width and 13th largest by volume. If you combine these factors there are three large waterfalls in the world: Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls and Victoria Falls. Niagara Falls is significantly smaller than the other two and although on paper Iguazu is larger, it is a multi-tiered waterfall that is broken into 270 separate falls. It is a subjective opinion, but if you are looking for the highest, widest sheet of continually falling water, then the Main Fall of the Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world."

A map of the Zambezi River shows where the Falls are located -- just about in the center of the length of the river.

Okay, we are ready. Let's do this.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Our second full day in Victoria Falls was dedicated to viewing the Falls, first from a helicopter and then from the ground. 

We were picked up at our hotel at 7:30 AM and taken to Zambezi Helicopters for what was supposed to be an 8:00 AM flight. However, they didn't even wheel the helicopter onto the pad until 8:20, and it was 8:30 before we were airborne. While we waited, they encouraged us to spend money in the gift shop, and it did feel a little pre-planned.

Morning in Victoria Falls with the mist from the cataract rising in the distance

  We had plenty of time to look over the information about our 27-minute-long flight:

The spray from the Falls in this photo makes the Falls look much closer (and smaller) than they actually are:

This was my first time in a helicopter, but it didn't make me feel nervous, even though I think I should have been: