Overseas Adventure Travel
Ultimate Africa Tour Review
July 19 through Aug 9, 2022


Due to the length of the review, it is in six parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of each page. 

Page 1:  Fly to Johannesburg; Karongwe Game Reserve, South Africa; Hwange NP, Zimbabwe
Page 2:  Hwange NP, Zimbabwe; Kafue NP, Zambia
Page 3:  Kafue NP, Zambia; Chobe NP, Botswana
Page 4:  Chobe NP, Botswana; Okavango Delta, Botswana
Page 5: 
Okavango Delta, Botswana; Bwabwata NP, Namibia; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Page 6:  Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; Return home


Day 8 - Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

As would be the case in most of the camps, we had a 6:00 AM wakeup call (wakey-wakey yelled outside the tent), 6:30 AM coffee and light food items and 7:00 AM game drive.  We would have brunch when we returned from the morning game drive.  Some camps just had breakfast followed by a game drive with a mid-day lunch.  Then around 3:00 PM they would have a high tea type activity before the 3:30 PM game drive.  Because they didn’t have a dessert for lunch, it would normally be at the high tea.

Since it was a cold morning, most of us chose to sit around the fire to eat and keep warm.  We liked how they made their toast over a fire.


The camp manager was Tawanda or Big T as he called himself.  His right hand person was Shumie who went by Shu-Shu. I thought I took a photo of Big T, but somehow I must not have.

We headed out on the game drive with Patrick.  As we were driving around, he must have gotten a message that there was a lion nearby.  We came to an area where a couple other trucks were looking toward a tree.  As we got closer, we could see that there was a large male lion laying on the ground.  He was pretty far away and in the shade.  We kept waiting for him to move.  He finally did but didn’t turn around before laying down again.  As Patrick told us the lions sleep during the day and hunt at night, so the song the Lion Sleeps at Night is wrong.  This guy was definitely most interested in sleeping.  We gave up on seeing more of him and continued our quest for more sightings.


We saw a jackal pretty far away.  I never did see one much closer, so I am putting in this not so good pic of him.

Patrick pointed out a Tawny Eagle at the top of a tree.  He kept looking around, which we appreciated, but he was far away on top of the tree.

Not far away, we came to some lilac breasted rollers.  They flew to some different trees to get away from us.  Patrick moved the truck forward to those branches and they hung around for us to get lots of pics.  I am a strong believer in taking as many photos as I can of the wildlife.  Mr. V also told everyone to not stop taking photos just because you already have one of a particular animal/bird, since you might get another that is better.  He was right.

The terrain at Hwange was quite different than at Karongwe.  There were large areas of savannah.  This felt more like the Africa that I was expecting. 


As we were driving through the savannah, we spotted something we hadn’t expected to see, an ostrich.  He wouldn’t let us get too close before he ran away. 

About 15 minutes later we saw another ostrich.  It could have been the same one since it was also a male.  The males have black feathers and the females brown.  We were very surprised to be seeing lots of palm trees.  This is the only place where we traveled in Africa where we saw them.  Patrick told us that they were planted by the Portuguese to mark a trail they used frequently hundreds of years ago.  They have since spread out to a very large area.


At about 9:30 AM, we took a break for what the guides called “raising the water table”.  The men could pretty much go anywhere.  They stopped at areas that had a bushy area where the women could use the outdoor facilities.  We also had coffee and cookies.  It was nice to get out and stretch our legs after riding around most of the morning.

We drove around the savannah for a while looking for more lions, since it is an area they like to hang around.  It was a pretty long drive back to the camp.   We did see a pretty zebra with with her foal.


After our brunch, we went back to the cabin.  We took a wonderful hot shower followed by a welcome hour and a half nap.  After waking up we were able to sit out on our patio and just enjoy the scenery.  Most enjoyable!  It could get warm in the tent.  The sun was quite warm.  The elevation at this park was 3,400 feet.  This meant that even though it could be hot at times during the day, it always cooled down at night.  In winter it cooled way down, but it also didn’t get too hot in the day during our trip.

We went down for our high tea at 3:00 PM at the lodge tents.  We had to walk a pretty good way on the dirt path, since the cabins were spreadout.  The afternoon breaks were always enjoyable since we could spend quality time with our new friends.  This normally included a lot of laughing.  We had a great group.


We boarded the trucks and headed out for our afternoon game drive.  We saw some white pelicans swimming on a pond.  I have previously only seen the brown pelicans we have in the south.

Of the over 80,000 elephants in Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park has an estimated 45,000 of them.  On this drive we saw so many.  They were such a pleasure to watch, especially the young ones.  




Patrick explained to us that the elephants needed to get minerals from the ground.  We got to see them doing that.  They get on their front knees and loosen the dirt with their tusks. 


They are fascinating to watch as they all line up at the water’s edge together to drink their fill.


At one point a large one came close to our other truck but turned away.  They are very peaceful animals, unless you get between a mother and child, or you find one with an attitude for some reason.  They don’t like to be harassed either.  During one of our drives, someone took a photo of an elephant that was close to us at night.  We had stopped to watch him.  They had not turned off their flash.  He was not happy with that and came toward us aggressively as we swiftly headed down the road.


After leaving the elephants, we saw some Kori Bustard birds.  These are the largest flying birds that are native to Africa.

We came upon a group of elands.  One of them was standing on a termite mound watching for any type of danger.  Termite mounds are useful to many animals, not only for security.  Some animals take that higher ground to watch for animals they can take down and eat.  By the time I could take a photo, two of them were in the security detail. 


The male elands have nice curved horns similar to the kudu.

Patrick headed back to the area where we had previously seen the male lion.  Sure enough, he was still relaxing but his head was up.  The sun was going down, so I assume he was getting ready to do some hunting.  About 10 minutes after we got there, he decided to get up and walk over to an area where we couldn’t see him anymore.  He did show us his face before heading out into the savannah.


Close by, we caught up with another jackal.  He was still pretty far away, but he was photo worthy.


As the sun was going down, we did see some elephants in the African landscape.  So wonderful to be able to experience this, but couldn't take a photo. We did have a nice sunset though.

When we got back to our cabin, we were pleased to find the laundry we had set out in the morning back on the bed for us.  It was nicely folded and wrapped with twine.  A benefit of all the camps was that we were able to have our laundry done every day we were there for free.  Quite a nice benefit, especially since we had been limited with how much we could bring on the trip.

As we would do each night after dinner, we would go to bed early so we could wake up early.  There really wasn’t much else to do, plus we were always ready to crash each night.


Day 9 - Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

This would be a very full day.  We would be having almost a full day game viewing.  For the game drives in Hwange and some of the others, we would have a relatively long drive to where we would be viewing wildlife, an hour plus.  With it being cold in the morning, 44 this morning, and us riding in an open vehicle, the wind chill could be a challenge.  Cathy and I both had hooded jackets along with provided blankets for the ride, which helped, but the wind could still get to your ears, hands and face.  Cathy used a covid face mask to protect her face, which was a great idea.  The early morning rides could be challenging for some, since they were cold and bumpy; but the rewards of seeing so many animals was well worth it.  We had Douglas for our guide this morning.

We came to a group of the white pelicans that appeared to be in a synchronized swimming competition.  They stayed together nicely in a line while moving around.

We then saw a lone hyena walking through the grass.  I sure wouldn’t want to meet him face to face.


Further along, I was able to get a nice photo of another yellow hornbill.   They really do look like a flying banana.

We then came to an area where there was a pride of lions.  There were a couple of females and three cubs.  It was such a treat to be able to see them moving around doing what lions do in their natural environment.  The cubs were so cute.  They were walking around like they were the kings of the jungle.  At least as long as mom was there to protect them from bigger animals.


We hung around watching the lions for about 20 minutes before continuing our drive.  We came to another group of elephants.  They were pretty close, but also in the high grass, so I coldn't get a good photo of the cute baby. 

After leaving the elephants we saw a Martial Eagle high up on a tree.  Birds of prey did like the high ground to search for their next meal.

As we were driving around with no animals around, Douglas suddenly stopped.  He was excited because he had seen a greater blue eared starling in a tree.  Once he told us which tree, we could see the bright blue bird hidden amongst the leaves.  He was moving around and there was no way to get a photo of the beautiful bird.  It kept moving around and then flew out to an area where we could get a full view of him.  I’m so glad that Douglas had found this bird, since we would never get another opportunity to see one.


We stopped at a herd of zebras.  They are such beautiful animals.  I loved looking at the different stripe patterns.  I don’t remember being so enamored by zebras when seeing them in a zoo.  Being in their natural environment made a big difference that I hadn’t expected.


We came upon a large group of baboons.  One was sitting on a termite mound with her kids. 

We then drove to the Wexau Anti-Poaching Camp.  We were there for a restroom break and to hear from a group that works to protect the animals against poachers.  Two members of their staff talked to us about the poaching problems in Hwange.  They were the same problems they have all over the areas we visited.  We had heard about the two varieties of poachers, commercial and subsistence previously.  The commercial ones are more looking for the animals that they can get big dollars from buyers in primarily Asia and the Middle East.  The subsistence ones are locals who are trying to get food for their families or to sell to other local families to get money to survive.  It is a very difficult and sad situation.  We feel for the families that are struggling to survive, but also want to protect the animals that bring tourists to Africa which provides so many jobs in the tourist related businesses. 


We were shown the types of devices that poachers use to capture animals.  They had large stacks of snares that they had found.  They showed us how they worked to capture an animal and how the animal could be tied up for a long time suffering before a poacher came to get them.  A poacher might be wanting to catch an impala for meat but can also catch an endangered or protected species.  They showed us a huge snare that could catch an elephant. 

They also showed us how the bear trap type devices we were familiar with worked.  They had an elephant skull next to it.  These devices also can kill humans that are in the bush, like the security forces who are protecting the animals.

It was a very sobering and sad tale they told us about.  Even when they catch a poacher, they can get out of a jail sentence by paying a small fine.  Multiple offenders only get a short jail sentence if they can prove that they were poaching.  They told us that poachers know what they need to say to keep from getting convicted.  It seems like a no-win fight for these protectors of the animals; but their efforts hopefully slow the poaching down enough to maintain a thriving animal population. 

After thanking our hosts for what they do and the informative talk, we continued our drive.  We came to another group of elephants.  One of the elephants enjoyed drinking the fresh water that was being pumped up to the man-made drinking fountain.


We next saw a group of zebras.  Some of them were on their backs rolling around in the sand.  That was a funny sight with the sand flying all around.

Close by we were thrilled to see a small herd of wildebeests.  They are also called gnus.  We had only seen a solo one at the previous camp. 


Both trucks pulled into a shaded clearing nearby.  We were stopping for a bush lunch under an acacia tree.

It was quite the setting with giraffes and wildebeests to watch while we chomped down our lunch.  This was a special kind of lunch!  It was so enjoyable to be able to eat amongst these animals who were also enjoying their lunch.


After lunch, we had a controversial topic discussion led by Douglas.  Zimbabwe is a major producer of coal, as well as gold and other precious natural resources.  Coal mining was a major employer in the country.  Both Douglas and Patrick lost their fathers in a coal mine disaster.  The coal company and the politicians promised the families that they would take care of them.  After many years of promises, nothing was ever done for the families.  As with many African countries, Zimbabwe has a lot of political corruption.  Deals were made with China over the years to sell the rights for mining coal, gold and other precious metals.  For these rights, the Chinese made many promises.  One of them was to fix up the highways.  They did at first, but never did any maintenance, so the roads were as bad in a few years as they were before they fixed them. 

They built large coal processing plants without any pollution control.  The coal dust was thick around the plants and has caused destruction of property and many health issues.  To add to the people's frustration, instead of hiring local labor, they brought in Chinese laborers to work in the mines and plants.  It seems that the only promises that were kept were to pay off the politicians.

Zimbabwe has an unemployment rate of over 90% and the politicians rather than helping the people that need so much are helping themselves instead.  Most countries, other than China, won’t do business in Zimbabwe due to the severe corruption issues and difficulty to do business there.  Additionally, Zimbabwe had a 5 billion percent inflation rate at one time.  It was interesting that one of the souvenirs street vendors were selling was multi-billion dollar Zimbabwe bills.  They had large wads of them to sell.  I never asked how much they wanted for them.  They have no value other than as a strange souvenir.  The country did come out with new currency, but they still have a high inflation rate and most people do business with American dollars.  Employers are required to use the new Zimbabwe dollars and they have to put it in the employee’s bank account.  Paying in cash is not allowed.  When money is put into an account, the government takes out a 10% fee.  There is no interest to be earned on deposits.  A fee is also charged when money is withdrawn from the bank.  With the high inflation, by the time you take the money out, it isn’t worth as much as when it was put in.  To add to this problem, it might take weeks to get your money out of the bank, since they run out of bills all the time. 

The Zimbabwe economy is in shambles.  We asked if the people try to vote the politicians out of office.  They said that there hasn’t been a fair election in decades.  It is such a sad situation.  The people we dealt with at the camps are very lucky, since they can earn tips in American dollars.  We had to admire Douglas and Patrick who grew up in these conditions after losing their fathers.  They were able to go to school and learn a profession as a guide while their families struggled to survive day to day.  We admired so many of the wonderful people we met during our trip that have had to struggle much of their lives also.

After the talk, Douglas and Patrick showed us a game that they played as children, giraffe dung spitting.    Giraffe dung comes out in small pellets.  They would put a pellet in their mouth and spit it out to see whose would go the furthest.  Not a game I wanted to get proficient in.

The acacia tree provided great shade for us during lunch and the talk, but the tree also had its issues.  Acacia’s have thorns, so under the tree we were walking on thorns at times.  We didn’t realize it until we got into the trucks to continue our drive.  As someone else got on the truck we would tell them to check the bottoms of their shoes.  I think everyone had to pull some out of their soles.  I was sure glad I had thick enough soled walking shoes.  Flip flops wouldn’t have worked.

After we got back on the trail, we came to a group of vultures picking on some bones of a giraffe.  It looked like slim pickings on those bones.


Not far away we came to a small group of hippos that were napping on the beach. 

We headed back to camp after a full day’s game drive.  It had been another good one.  We had another gorgeous sunset to enjoy before our farewell dinner.

Sho-sho was grilling up the main course for another enjoyable evening meal.  We had enjoyed our visit at the Makalolo Plains Camp and were looking forward to our visit to Zambia the next day.


Day 10 - Transfer to Kafue National Park, Zambia

This would be another long travel day with activities along the way.  We had a 4:45 AM wake up call.  The earliest of the trip.  We needed to be on the road early to do everything that was planned.  Our Day in the Life activity, which would normally have been done on a different day, had to be done when we were heading back to Victoria Falls, since it was a 3-hour trip from our camp.  This was actually better for us, since camps closer to the Hwange entrance had over two hour drives each way to go to the activity, which used up a good part of a day.  We were able to do them on our way to the next camp.

We left camp at 6:00 AM.  It was 50 degrees and a long drive, so we had also been provided with some ponchos to help with the wind chill.  Cathy and I used them more as additional blankets.  They worked very well since they kept out the wind better than the blankets.  Some did put them on as ponchos and were quite pleased also.  A term that was used frequently was “African Massage”.  It was very descriptive of what we experienced while riding on the bumpy curvy bush roads.  We did get used to them pretty quickly, but some areas were worse than others, especially when we were driving faster to get somewhere. 

Every drive was a game drive.  We saw a small pride of lions a half hour away from the camp.

Not long after we came upon a couple hyenas playing with what looked like the skin from a kudu.  It gave us an opportunity to take some closer shots of hyenas.


When we arrived at the Hwange entrance, we switched over to the bus we had arrived in three days earlier.  We were glad to have more comfortable seating for a while.  It was interesting driving down the main roads seeing all the people walking.  Kids going to school can walk for several miles each way.  It was a lot of fun waving at the people, especially kids who were excited to see us.  As Mr. V.  had pointed out, they hadn’t seen tourists in over two years. 

Along the drive we saw one of the coal processing plants spewing out smoke.  So disturbing that there is nothing that can be done to stop the pollution.  Not far away was a beautiful baobab tree on a hill.  It had so far managed to survive the coal dust that was covering the ground and plant life around the plant.  Not to mention the health of the people of the area.


When we arrived in Livingstone, we drove to a small group of shops where we all got out of the bus to complete an assignment.  Mr. V broke us up into four groups with each group receiving a shopping list written out in the local dialect.  There were five items that we didn’t have the slightest idea what they were.  We would go into a shop, show the list to the proprietor, and ask if they had any of them.  Each person had contributed $10 to buy the food items.  Mr. V had told us to get 4-5 of each item.  We ended up having to get a lot more, since prices are very reasonable in Africa.  Everyone took their purchases back to the bus to be used at our next destination.

Mr. V was taking us to a homestead in a village so that we could experience what life is like there.  On our way to Victoria Falls, he had pointed out the type of buildings used in the homesteads.  Most building were round with conical thatched roofs.  When we arrived at the homestead, we were thrilled to be able to see them close up.


We assembled in a meeting room where a member of the household told us about life there.  It was fascinating to see how productive and self-sufficient they were.  They built everything for themselves.  The construction looked very well done.

We went into different dwelling types.  Some were for living in and others were for specific purposes like cooking.  With there being no outside electricity coming in, they used candles and fire for lighting and cooking.  By having separate buildings, it helped prevent a total disaster if a building caught on fire.


 They also raised animals and grew crops.


To make money they made various objects to sell or barter with.  They were very nice and of a high quality.

While walking around, I met Mr. Buffalo, who was the patriarch of the family living in the homestead.  He was feeding some chickens.  He was very glad that we had come to visit his homestead.


We walked over to an area where some women were making baskets.  There was a display of their products on the ground.


They also had some gorgeous wood carvings.  I couldn’t resist buying one of the teak giraffes.  After seeing so many of them on our drives, I thought it would the perfect souvenir.  I was worried about getting it home in one piece, but we were able to pack it in Cathy’s carryon with no issues.


Nearby two women were making flour by beating on it with wooden poles.


A diferent woman was making mud bricks for another building.  In addition to using the bricks themselves, they would also sell some to others to make money.    Some of the finished bricks were close by drying.  We could also see how they were used in the building, with some exposed on the side of a hut before being covered with mud.


After the tour we went to the bus to get out the food supplies we had purchased for them.   They were thrilled to see that we had brought so much.  I was never able to take a photo of everything we had purchased, since they were picking some items up and singing a thank you song to us.  It was so heartwarming to see how much they appreciated everything we brought for them. 


It had been a wonderful and educational visit to a lovely family.  We learned so much about life in an African village.  I am so glad that OAT does these Day in the Life activities.  Learning about the culture of the countries we visit is so important and rewarding. 

Our next stop was at the Jabulani Private School that is sponsored by OAT.  We were told that Zimbabwe’s public school system is not very good, so those that can afford to, send their kids to private schools.  Because OAT supports the school, many of the kids, including those from Mr. Buffalo’s family, can attend school for free.

They have been able to build several classrooms though OAT funding that have made a big difference for the school.  They had previously had classes under the trees, which weren’t the best place to learn during rainy season.


We met the director of the school along with several students outside.  We were visiting just before the end of the school year and students were taking exams, so we couldn’t go in the classrooms.  It was still enjoyable to see the good that OAT had brought to this community.


We were all very excited about the next part of our journey.  We were going into the town of Victoria Falls and actually taking a restroom break at the hotel we would be staying at when we returned at the end of the trip.  This also meant that we would have internet access!  It had been way too long since I had checked email. 

When we arrived at the Shearwater Explorer’s Village hotel, we couldn’t believe how nice it was.  Quite a step up from our tented camps.  I took a couple of photos of the lobby area.  I knew I would take a lot more when we returned.



When it was time to go, it was hard to leave.  We were enjoying a little bit of civilization for a while.  But we also had a lot to look forward to before our return.  For starters we were going to cross over the Victoria Falls Bridge to enter Zambia on the other side of the Zambezi River.  I had no idea we would be doing this.  It would be a great preview of coming attractions on our return. 

When we got to the bridge, we would need to go through Zimbabwe immigration to exit the country on one side of the bridge.  We then had the option of either taking a 15-minute walk over the bridge to the Zambia immigration office or riding the bus.  Everyone wanted to walk over.  It was a no-brainer.  Everyone wanted to be able to enjoy the view from the bridge.  It’s a narrow bridge with a narrow sidewalk.  It was built in 1905 and was not designed for the current traffic levels.  There is only one lane for vehicles, a train track and a walking path on the side opposite where we were walking next to the traffic lane.  I was so busy taking photos of the falls and gorge, that I never took a photo along the road, just a couple looking to the other side of the bridge.  Oh well, it isn’t much to look at, especially compared to the falls.


As we walked along, everyone was stopping every few steps to take photos of the new view of the falls we were seeing.


I couldn’t wait to be able to actually be at the falls, it looked amazing.



When we got to the middle of the bridge, we entered Zambia.

We went through Zambia immigration, paid $50 for a visa and boarded a Zambian bus for our drive to the Livingstone, Zambia airport.  This was a very nice modern small airport.

We would be flying to Kafue National Park in two private 12 seat Beechcraft Caravel planes.  They were small but quite comfortable after getting in the seat.  Us taller people had to bend way over to get to our seats.


We had about an hour and fifteen-minute flight.  A benefit of the smaller plane was that it flew at about 8,000 feet allowing us to look at the terrain.  It gets pretty barren in places.


But once you get near a river, life returns.

We landed on a bush runway where our two safari trucks were waiting for us.  The two guides for our visit in Kafue were Neddy and Golden or Golden Boy.


Once again, we had a long drive over the bush roads, one hour and fifty minutes.  Most of the time we were in the dark. 

We didn’t arrive until just before 8:00 PM.  We were so happy to finally get there after such a long and busy travel day.  We were greeted by the staff when we arrived.  A nice touch!

We were staying at the Musanza Tented Camp.  It was an upgrade from Makalolo.  Our camp manager was Nomsa.  She was a real pleasure. 

The below photos are from the next day in the daytime.  Even though we couldn’t see it when we arrived, the facility was on a beautiful river.

The public areas were nicely decorated and spacious.


The charging station had a lot of use anytime we were at the lodge.  They had plenty of plugs for everyone.

We would enjoy the lounging area close to the river where there was a bar and fire pit.


During dinner, we heard hippo sounds as well as a lion’s huffing sound.  Very cool!  We were escorted to our cabin after dinner.  As we were coming up the side of the cabin to the entrance, we had to walk around a wet area.  We asked if we had a problem and were told that everything had been fixed.  We sure hoped so.   One thing we were very pleased about was that the solar powered lighting system in the room was very good.  The lights were much brighter than the Makalolo cabin.  The beds were firmer than we normally like, but we slept great in them.



The cabin itself was a bit smaller than the previous one and there were no chairs to sit in.  It wasn’t a problem at all.  What was a problem was that the water coming out of the sink, shower and in the commode was brown.  We were told that it was safe but not to drink.  We had no intentions of drinking that stuff.  I was more concerned about showering in it.  We had no choice and had to use the shower; but at least when you used the shower, the water looked clear.  Once again, we had a huge bathroom.  As at the Makalolo camp, the shower was open to the room.  This meant that the water splashed on the floor.  Not the best design; but that seemed to be the standard for tented cabins.


It was almost 10:00 PM when we got to our cabin, so we were ready to crash after a day that started at 4:30 AM, 15 minutes before wake-wakey.



© 2022 ThePreismans.com • All Rights Reserved