Lifetime of memories
In January of this year, we had begun our planning for a major family trip to somewhere in Africa for summer of 2011. Like pretty much everyone, I thought I would start with the Serengeti migration. Unfortunately, we learned that premium spots for watching this well known spectacle had already been taken by early in the winter. Given our family’s desired (my wife and I, and two late teenage children), Trish suggested that we look at southern Africa and Zimbabwe in particular. We took the hint and we couldn’t have been happier.
We left for Africa on July 29 and were lucky to schedule an all-day layover in Paris where we got to see a handful of this great city’s most memorable sites. We also got adjusted to European time where amazingly we would remain for the next three weeks. We then flew onto JBerg, South Africa where we spent a day while further adjusting to the time zone.
On the morning of August 1 we flew business class to Victoria Falls Airport where we experience the one major negative of the trip–Zimbabwe Immigration. It was ugly and took us two hours to get through. We then flew by small plane to Bumi Hills on the shore of Lake Kariba for a quick two day stay at Musango Safari Camp. Our time there was short, but we got a great taste of how much fun we would have on this trip. Watching elephants, hippos, and buffalo from a boat was amazing and we loved the small camp feel.
Two days later we took the same small plane from Lake Kariba to the small private airport at Ruckomechi Camp which is just upstream from the Mana Pools National Park. All four of us thought that this was the most beautiful place that we stayed. The tents were beautiful and overlooked the Zambezi River and the Zambian Mountans on the far side. The density of wildlife there was also amazing. As we left the camp on our game drives, we would see zebras, kudos, impala, baboons, elephants, buffalo, eland… within the first five minutes. We saw two lions who had just eaten an impala and we even saw wild dogs. Our pictures are spectacular as well.
We then flew to Hwange National Park where we would spend the next four days. While the scenery wasn’t quite as pretty, the lodge was wonderful and game viewing was very good. We added giraffe, cheetah (very close), wildebeest, ostrich, sable, and roan to our tick boxes. The bird life was also prolific and we will always remember the lilac breasted roller birds which are the prettiest song bird that I have ever seen. We had lions keep us up at night although they alluded us throughout our stay. Their prints were just a few yards from our tents.
We finished our stay in Zimbabwe with a two night stay at the Victorian Falls hotel. Our teens got to jump off the bridge and over the gorge while their parents snapped photos from a safe distance. We also did the lion encounter activity which exceeded all of our expectations. It more than made up for the lions that we never saw at Hwange.
Finally, we move our show to the Coral Lodge which was in the upper northeastern corner of Mozambique. The resort is just a short boat ride from the World Heritage Site of Isla de Mozambique which made for a great tour of an historical site. We have had the fortune of staying at some very beautiful places in Hawaii and the Carribean and the villas at Coral Lodge where every bit as good as the best we had seen anywhere. The food was equally good and lobster lunches and lovely dinners were the norm. Our family enjoyed every minute of this small slice of paradise. We also dove and had a great time watching humpback whales from very close range. While great for our family, the Coral Lodge would also make a great destination for a honeymoon or a romantic time away.
So three weeks later, we began our 36 hour trip back to MInneapolis knowing that we had created a box of memories that would stay with us for the rest of our life. My special thanks to Trish who made all of the planning to make our connections work without a misstep. If she could just fix the immigration line in Vic Falls, she would have made a perfect trip. I wouldn’t put it past her to get this fixed next time.
M Emerson, Minneapolis, USA
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