It is with absolute pleasure that I come back to you with a brief report of my recent Site Inspection Tour of some of our partners’ facilities and services in this wilderness corner of the region of Southern Africa. The tour started off with me attending the World Travel Market – Africa in Cape Town before I proceeded to Botswana and Zimbabwe were I carried out an assessment of different facilities within the region in April of 2019.
In Botswana I was hosted by the lovely staff at the beautiful Muchenje Safari Lodge situated high on an escarpment on the quieter western side of Botswana’s Chobe National Park for a good 2 days that just went by without any notice. With stunning views of the Chobe River and the seasonal flood plains, its position means that it is far away from the bustle of Kasane (a town in the north-eastern side of Botswana, a gateway to Chobe National Park) yet just two hours from the magnificent Victoria Falls.
Muchenje Safari Lodge is within the Chobe Forest Reserve, just a short drive from Chobe National Park. There are no fences between the Western Chobe Park Boundary and the Lodge and animals roam free. Chobe is renowned for its prolific wildlife and huge concentrations of game. Muchenje prides itself in the variety and quality of safari experiences, allowing you to explore the Chobe National Park and all its wonders. All topped up with fine dining at this magnificent location.
On arrival I was welcomed by the wonderful Kiddy and her husband Toff the couple that manage this establishment. Their team of experienced staff and guides will look after you every step of the way. I should give special mention to KB our guide who despite the hot day temperatures had all the patience to make sure we took the best shots of any sighting that we came across during our river cruise and game drive without necessarily invading the personal space of the wild animal involved. As a result of his knowledge and patience we managed to see Africa’s 4 of the Big 5 missing out on the endangered rhino that was moved from the park by Botswana authorities to the Khama Sanctuary as a result of increased poaching-poor animals. Why someone would want to kill such beautiful creatures for a few dollars is beyond me. It is important for us as humans to realise how deeply connected we are to each other and the earth and appreciate the fact that it belongs to all of us.
From Botswana we drove across the border into Zimbabwe via Kazungula boarder post where we were picked up by our transfer vehicle for a 45mile trip into Victoria Falls and I was heading to the awesome Victoria Falls River Lodge & Island Treehouse Suites for another two nights. Set on the banks of the Zambezi River, within the Zambezi National Park (Zimbabwe), Victoria Falls River Lodge is the ideal place from which to explore Victoria Falls. The combination luxurious accommodation options (incl. 13 x spacious Luxury Tented Suites – nestled on the riverbanks and 5 x secluded Island Treehouse Suites – amidst the treetops of the private Kandahar Island), personalized service, fine dining, and an exceptional African Safari experience with one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – the spray of which can be seen in the distance – ensures an unforgettable experience that will leave guests wanting to return again, and again. Every Island Treehouse Suite is perfectly positioned to maximise spectacular views of the legendary Zambezi and its surrounds. Both the River Lodge and the Island Treehouse Suites are amazing, the staff delightful and the food top notch. Our guide, Blessing, was brilliant and very knowledgeable. The ONLY thing I would’ve changed was the amount of time I was there… it wasn’t long enough.
While still in Zimbabwe I moved to Hwange where I stayed at Ivory Lodge located on the edge of Hwange National Park on the Sikumbi Forest Reserve. Ivory Lodge, Khulu Bush Camp, Tuskers Campsite all located on the same piece of land as Ivory Lodge and Amalinda Safari Lodge in Matopos – an area with a range of balancing rock formations created by erosion of the granite plateau which is located on the south part Zimbabwe’s second largest city of Bulawayo . Ivory Lodge comprises of a main thatched dining and lounge area overlooking a guest swimming pool and overlooking a watering hole which is frequented by elephants, predators and a number of plains game species. The rooms themselves are elegantly built on stilted wooden platforms offering elevated views of the open floodplain and watering hole in front of camp. At Ivory lodge I had the opportunity to meet up with a group of Americans who visit Ivory once every year to support and develop the local community within this remote area of Matebeleland North. In partnership with Amalinda Safari Lodges under their banner MOTHER AFRICA TRUST they are involved in some amazing community development projects which I had an opportunity to witness – bless them!
Cedric Wilde popularly known as Khulu (Ndebele name for grandfather) by his staff is the man behind the structures you will see within the Amalinda Safari Collection and he will gladly share with you his fascinating stories of how the Amalinda Safari Collection came to be. Behind every successful man there’s a woman. Khulu is always in the company of his gorgeous wife Gaye also popularly known as Shushu (Swahili name for grandmother). The couple and their manager Joe Kasunungure are always ready to give you that personal service and make sure that guests are as comfortable as possible. To those who enjoy spicy food I would recommend you try Khulu’s popular “Ganja” chillies a concoction of all sorts.
As part of my company’s values we will continue to carry out these important Site Inspection Tours for the benefit of our guests. Our policy as an organisation is never to take you where we have never been ourselves while making sure standards are being maintained in line with our values as a bespoke safari tour operating company.