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Trip of a Lifetime: Ultimate Africa: Day 16 Part 3


Wednesday November 18, 2015 cont …

The Victoria Falls Hotel is situated in the Victoria Falls National Park along the southeast corner of town across from the falls.  Built in the early 1900’s, its grand Edwardian architecture capture the spirit of old aristocratic England.

Victoria Falls Hotel

Front entrance of The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe

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Trip of a Lifetime: Ultimate Africa: Day 11

November 13, 2015 – 6:14A

Awake and showered.  Feeling great!  I woke up at 5:30A and laid there for about ten minutes in the cool air with the comforter over me before getting up and putting on my glasses so I could sit outside on our front porch and enjoy the peaceful view of the Kafue River here in Zambia.   I had to wrap myself up in my giant white comforter because it was a bit chilly.  Doesn’t look like we got any rain though.   On the opposite side of the river the trees are beautifully reflected in the water.  I watched a lazy crocodile silently float downstream and listened to the birds.  It was such a relaxing way to start my new day.

I thought more about the people we have encountered here.  They all seem so relaxed and always smiling.  When you return from a game drive, for instance, and they ask you “how was it?” they seem genuinely interested in what you have to say.

I hear some hippos grunting – I think they’re coming from across the river.

Heading to breakfast now.  Our first activity of the day is fishing!  Very excited for this!


What a fun day so far!  I wonder what’s around the next corner (maybe another elephant – haha!)

This morning after a nice breakfast of fresh fruit, porridge and pancakes those of us who opted to go fishing got on a small boat and sailed down the Kafue River.  As our guide “Golden” moved up the river looking for a good spot to fish, we saw many animals including various antelopes, birds and, of course, hippos.


Hartebeests along the Kafue River in Zambia

“Golden” was very patient with us as some of the people in the group had never fished before while the rest of us were, by no means, experts.  Therefore, “Golden” had to repeat his instructions on how to cast a fishing pole several times.  Haha!  We fished from 7:00a till around 10:00a.  “Golden” jokingly said if we don’t catch any fish we don’t eat dinner tonight!  All six of us caught, at least, one fish.  I lucked out and caught eight!  They were all tilapia and catfish.  I was so proud of myself for having caught the most.

Kafue Fishing

My first catch of the day on the Kafue River in Zambia


One of the Tilapia that I caught while fishing in Zambia

The fish we caught were to be cleaned, cooked and served up with tonight’s “traditional dinner.”   It was funny to be fishing and, all of a sudden, you’d see a pair of hippo eyes curiously popping up out of the water.  Some of them even swam closer to our boat.  Very curious creatures.

On the ride back we saw a huge crocodile crawl from the river bank into the water.  What an experience to have gone fishing in Zambia!  How cool is that!

During our fishing expedition the other half of our group was on a game cruise up the Lafupa River.  When we returned to camp they were already there eager to inquire about our luck with fishing.  We all gathered in the main lodge and relaxed on the sofas swapping stories and photos.  It was so much fun.  The lodge also had a nice little gift shop with some very cool stuff.  I was saving my money for the open air market I knew we were going to hit up in Victoria Falls.

While everyone was relaxing, Aryn’s sister Kathryn and I got word that there was an elephant out front so we jumped up, grabbed our cameras and hurried to go see.  This thing was huge.  It was walking along the road into camp eating whatever trees were to its left and right.  It walked from where the jeeps drop us off down to the “boma” just across from the bar.  I captured a great video of the whole experience on my iPhone.  This elephant wasn’t but a few meters from us and we were quickly advised to back up.

Elephant in Camp

Elephant walking by the “boma” at Lafupa Tented Camp in Zambia

Elephant and me

Me with the elephant in our camp in Zambia.

Elephant at bar

What did the bartender say when the elephant walked up to the bar?

The best part was when the elephant tried to walk between two of the buildings, he got stuck and had to back up to get out.  Haha!  So cool to watch.

Elephant booty

Elephant got stuck!

After we ate lunch, Vitalis briefed us on the optional excursions in Victoria Falls and passed around a sign up sheet.  I am opting to do the elephant back safari ride & rhino game drive combo and the helicopter flight over Victoria Falls.  So excited for this!

Afterwards, we were released for our mid-afternoon siesta.  I decided it was time to finally hit the pool and boy what a good decision.  One of the ladies from our group, Rene from Wisconsin, was already there.  The water was absolutely perfect.  It was so nice and cool and exactly what I needed to escape the afternoon heat.  Rene and I talked about previous travel experiences, our life and careers back home and future travel goals when, all of a sudden, here comes this massive elephant (probably the same elephant from before).  The elephant walked right up to a palm tree beside the pool and started eating the branches and leaves.  Right away, a staff member appeared to monitor the elephant.  We all watched, afraid to move or make a sound, and, at one point, the elephant turned and looked directly at Rene and I.  The staff member was standing by a nearby building and came forward and threw two rocks directly at the animal.  It turned its head and walked away from us.  Wow!  That was exciting.  We have all been warned that the elephants in Zambia are more aggressive towards humans due to the country’s history with poaching.  We learned that elephants have incredible memories and are actually able to genetically pass these memories on to their offspring.  So bad memories from the area’s past issues with poaching have been passed along to the current generation of elephants.  Fascinating.

I stayed in the pool for almost an hour.  A giant breeze came through which felt great against my wet skin.  I didn’t even need a towel to dry off.

Now I’m relaxing on the deck of the main lodge looking out at the two rivers.  This place feels like a resort!  The sky is filled with beautiful white billowy clouds.  Perhaps some rain is headed our way?  I feel incredibly relaxed.  Today is Friday the 13th.


We are being held up at the main lodge by an elephant loitering around outside the reception area.  I got some great pics and vids of him with his two left feet standing inside the boma.  I guess I’ll have to wait for a while before I can go back to my room to change out of these gym shorts (that I swam in).  This guy seems in no hurry to leave the camp.  Going to get some more pics.


I’m sitting on the front porch of our “tent” looking out over the river.  Darker clouds are beginning to roll in and winds are really picking up to the point of creating small, gradual waves upon the river.  The staff is predicting some rain.  The view here is so nice that I don’t want to leave but I’d like to take a quick shower before “high tea.”


Before heading out on our evening boat ride on the Lafupa River, one of the staff leaders, Phineas, gave us a brief history lesson on Zambia.  The economically depressed situation of this country makes me so sad.  Sixty percent of Zambia’s population is currently unemployed.  It was also interesting to learn that the average life expectancy is only 47.   This is mostly due to the spread of HIV from infidelity in some marriages.  We also discussed the controversial issue of poaching since it is still a major threat here.  Elephants are killed for their ivory tusks and rhinos for their horns.  So very sad.  All we can do is spread the support of more game viewing vs game shooting for purposes other than food.

On our boat ride up the Lafupa River we saw many hippos and a small crocodile but the majority of the time our cameras are feasting upon the awesome sunset during our “sundowner” cocktails.  I was seated at the bow of the boat with my feet propped up on the railing, taking in the peaceful scenery while drinking a Mosi lager.

Lafupa Game Cruise

Relaxing during our game cruise along the Lafupa River in Zambia

Dinner around the “boma” was fun.  The table tree stumps were from leadwood trees.  Vitalis had me lift one of them to experience just how heavy they are.  Boy was he right!   It was cool eating the tilapia and catfish that we had caught.  Also served, was oxtail soup in a delicious brown gravy, polenta and vegetables.  The tribal entertainment (singing and drums) was awesome.  The staff manager, Natasha, was so nice and wanted a goodnight hug from each of us.  What a fun evening and exciting day overall.  Feeling very tired.  Tomorrow’s wake-up call is at 6:00a.  I’m setting my alarm for 5:30a so I have time to sit on the front porch and enjoy our view of the river.  Night night!

P.S.  I forgot to mention I was bit by a tse tse fly during the evening boat ride.  Damn!   It hurt like hell.  Also, there is apparently a friendly warthog, named “Lulu,” that roams the premises here in camp.  She will actually come right up to you if you offer her food and eat right out of your hand.  I have yet to meet her but Kathryn said she met “Lulu” and she was approachable.  I want to meet Lulu!  I want to take her home.  Her and Louie (my pug) can run around the house snorting together.  LOL  🙂


Trip of a Lifetime: Ultimate Africa: Day 10


November 12, 2015 – 5:48A

Slept great!  Woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the Kafue River as I sat out on our front porch wrapped up in the big white comforter from my bed.  It’s amazing how when you go to bed at night, you hardly need a sheet and when you wake up your pulling the comforter up to your chin.  Very cozy mornings.  As I was watching the sunrise and elephant appeared to my left.  It was walking right through  camp eating whatever tree branches it desired.  LOL.  Too funny.

I love hearing all the various sounds of nature in the early morning.  The shower water was hot and felt great.  Heading to breakfast with Aryn soon.  I enjoy sitting down with everyone around the long community dining table at each lodge. We chat with a hot cup of coffee and whatever breakfast is being served that morning.  OAT has truly done a great job designing this trip.


Breakfast was a made to order omelette, oatmeal with yogurt, fruit and muffins.  My favorite fruit with the oatmeal is the papaya or “pawpaw.”  Brunch was a tasty beef and noodle stir fry.  I make sure I stake my spot at the table so I’m facing the view of the rivers.  It’s just so beautiful and so serene.

The Zambian terrain is different: more trees and they are taller.  There are some different tree species as well, one of which is called the Candelabra Tree.  It’s has a tall trunk that blooms out on top in the form of tall cactus leaves.  Very interesting.

Candelabra Tree

Candelabra Tree in Zambia’s Kafue National Park

As we continued on our morning game drive we spotted two female lions (sisters) walking amongst a grove of trees.  Both our jeeps headed towards the lions.  On our way, we caught a quick glimpse of a massive crocodile moving from the grass into the water.  Our guides pulled both jeeps right up to the female lions, turned off the engines and there we sat for the next half hour, watching these magnificent lionesses relaxing in the shade.  I noticed when we pulled up to the lions it was 8:30A and I thought to myself – if I were back home in Akron right now, I would have been at work for a half hour and my team would just be arriving.  But instead, there I sat – watching two wild lions from just a few feet away on a beautiful clear and warm morning in Zambia, Africa.  Wow!

Female Lioness

Female Lioness


Lioness heading for he shade.

Two Female Lions

Lioness joining her sister in the shade.

Resting Lioness

Look at the size of those paws. Notice the blood stain on the bottom of her front left paw. She had just made a kill.

Just before lunch we all gathered at the entrance of the main lodge to watch a giant elephant headed our way. He had just entered the camp to snack on some grass followed by leaves from a tall palm tree.  It’s amazing how graceful these animals are considering their mammoth size.  I took a brief video but Natasha was quick to step out of her lodge to warn us to step back and some of the men from the staff appeared and shoo’d the elephant away.

Now I’m sitting at the desk in our “tent” looking out at the Kafue River.  It’s a hot day in the sun but cool in the shade.


Resting in our tent to escape the afternoon sun.  I converted my tan Eddie Bauer pants into shorts.  These were a pre-trip purchase btw.  $50 online and shipped in about 8 days.

A puku is walking between trees in the near distance.

The water on the river is shimmering like diamonds.  I may walk to the main lodge soon to enjoy the breeze coming from the water.  I’m also considering taking advantage of the pool (I didn’t think to pack swimming trunks but I can wear my UMASS gym shorts).

I just looked up to see two monkeys staring down at me from one of the trees outside.

“High tea” is at 4:30P today.


During “high tea” Vitalis delivered a very interesting lecture on the history of Zimbabwe.  It was cool to learn that Zimbabwe shares a commonality with the United States as being the only two countries to ever break away from British rule.  The US in 1776 and Zimbabwe in 1980,  Their current president is 91 years old and has been in power since the 1960’s.

I hope I’m not jinxing myself by saying this, but I have yet to see a single mosquito.  I have, however, seen what’s called a tse tse fly.  Although I have yet to get bit by one, I hear they are quite painful.  Fastened to the front of our jeep, by aluminum wire, is an empty paint can.  On this evening’s game drive, our group opted for the local insect repellent: a log of elephant dung placed in the empty paint can and lit on fire.  This gives off a smokey incense that, apparently, repels the tse tse flies and other insects.  I was not only surprised how well it worked but that it emitted a pleasant aroma: similar to citronella.

Elephant Dung Can

Elephant Dung smoking in bucket to ward of the tse tse flies

Our evening game drive went into the night.  It’s called “spot-lighting.”  Our guide tonight was “Boyd.”  We experienced two highlights during this game drive.  One was a parade of elephants that walked right across the road in front of us.  Following along right at their feet were these white birds called cattle egrets.  They never left the parade and walked along with the elephants like they were part of the group.  Very interesting.

Elephants and Egrets

Parade of elephants and the cattle egrets following their footsteps.

Our second highlight was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life with fan palm trees in the foreground.  We joined the other jeep and parked to watch the sunset as we enjoyed our “sundowner” drinks.  The guides always have a wonderful selection of ice cold local beer, wine, soft drinks and water.  I had a local Zambian beer called a Mosi lager.

Palm Tree Sunset

At this point the sun has nearly set

Big Zambian Sun

Another view of the sunset

I really enjoyed our conversations tonight over a steak with potatoes and vegetable dinner.  Tomorrow’s wake-up call is at 6A.  That’s “good good” news that we are able to sleep in a bit longer.

P.S.  Laundry service at these camps has been terrific. We receive our washed & pressed laundry neatly folded and tied up in a bow by a long piece of dried grass.  It is sitting out on our beds waiting for us when we return from dinner.  Everything is smelling fresh and well-pressed – including our socks.  I have never in my life had my socks ironed.  How nice!  Thank you to all the wonderful staff (at all three camps) and all their amazing behind-the-scenes work.

Good night!