Our April journey through Zimbabwe served two purposes - firstly to meet with specialists in various topics and collect photo material for several projects we are currently busy with, and secondly to meet up with a safari group arriving from the USA and joining us on an amazing Zimbabwe adventure.

For the second time in 6 months we drove through the Beit Bridge border, and again thanks to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority staff members based at there, our time was short, smooth and uneventful. For holiday-makers driving from South Africa to Zimbabwe we strongly recommend contacting the ZTA team in advance and getting them to guide you through the procedure. It makes this once very stressful experience a pleasure - unfortunately the same cannot be said for the South African side of the formalities but we're working on this!

Our first destination was Bulawayo where we stayed at Banff Lodge in Hillside, an old favourite from days gone by and fantastic to see it is still flourishing and the hand of new management is strongly in evidence with a major refurbishment well underway. Meetings with mushroom specialist Dr Cathy Sharp (who has just produced a great mushroom pocket guide) and spider expert and museum director Dr Moira FitzPatrick kick-started our fact-finding mission.

Banff Lodge

Museum mushrooms
Bulawayo Museum
Mushroom Guide

Then off to Somalisa Camp deep in Hwange National Park. It felt good to be back here after so long (and Main Camp looks just the same!) and the park has had exceptional rains and is looking good. The subsequent tall grasses meant we had to work a little harder on the game viewing side but we did have great Elephant sightings, Lion, Sable, Zebra, the first of many Secretary Birds and Bradfield's Hornbill. At the same time the flowers, butterflies and other small creatures were spectacular.

Somalisa is a superb small authentic tented camp, a perfect blend of old African charm and elegance offering a great atmosphere, friendly staff and excellent cuisine. Two nights there were simply not enough to do it justice but sadly we had a very tight schedule.

main camp
Sable Elephant
lion hornbill
Secretary Bird Zebra
tent bathroom
flower lady bird flower
Wild Hibiscus
Hwange Devil-thorn

Then north to Victoria Falls and onto Kazangula on the border between Zimbabwe and Botswana to stay at Imbabala Zambezi River Lodge - another old favourite. This is a phenomenal birding destination but the weather was really against us - quite unusual for that time of year; nevertheless we did manage to photograph several birds - including a young brood of White-faced Ducks, a Pied Kingfisher struggling to consume its rather large fish and a Three-banded Courser. Our stay was brief but we thoroughly enjoyed our return to this special spot on the river.

ducks pied kigfisher courser
pool room
camp boat cruise

Our final destination before our group arrived was the new Safari Club at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. What a stunning facility - fabulous accommodation, super service, and exceptionally friendly staff really helped to make our short stay one to remember.

The vulture feeding in front of the main lodge at midday each day is a unique experience as is dinner at The Boma Restaurant in the evening. The waterhole in front of the lodge has constant thirsty visitors and there is a photographic hide well placed for up close and personal images!

Safari Club
elephants Vultures
safari club club room
boma boma fire DS

Our first week in Zimbabwe was over far too soon; happily the sun came out as our group landed in Victoria Falls and the journey continued in Part 2 to follow...