Sept 3, 2016
After a short break in Victoria Falls, the next phase of our safari trip in Botswana and Zimbabwe is a canoe camping trip on the Zambezi River in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe.
We had a leisurely last morning at the Ilala Lodge in Victoria Falls as our flight to Mana Pools wasn’t until 12:30. The 12PM hotel pickup with Wild Horizons to transfer us to the airport went smoothly.
The driver handed us over to a handler at the airport who told us that our flight was delayed until 1PM. We had to pay a $15/each airport tax at the new Victoria Falls Airport.
The airlines crammed 5 of us into one tiny plane for the 2 hour plus flight. Don was quite uncomfortable with next to no legroom. Our luggage was supposed to follow in a second plane. Thankfully, at the suggestion of the pilot, we brought all the camera gear and everything essential with us as the second plane didn’t arrive until the following afternoon. In hindsight the pilot must have known something was not quite right but we never did find out the full story.
The pilot was very nice and explained our route following the river and impressive lake, very hazy sky.
Craig and Elijah from Natureways Safaris, our guides for the next 3 days on the river, met us at the airstrip. We were told our bags would follow in a couple of hours. We drove slowly to camp at Vundu, stopping at the office to pay $258 in camp fees, not included in our voucher. We were able to pay with a credit card.
4 elephants were hanging out at the office eating the acacia pods.
On our way to camp we stopped in an area where 6 adult lions were lazing about. A couple of other vehicles were in the area.
Elijah stops the vehicle and we follow Craig on foot for a better look at the lions. First time we’ve been allowed to do that!
We waited for an elephant that was milling in the trees behind where the lions were resting to chase them away, but he disappointed us and went on his way, leaving the lions in peace.
We reached the mobile camp just after sunset and were told we will have our bags first thing in the morning. They flew them to another town and it was too late to fly them here before dark.
Sundowners by the fire with an appetizer of fresh hot tilapia, a local river fish, and sauce. Chatted with Elijah and Craig while waiting for dinner.