Early Morning Game Drive from Ivory Lodge Hwange, Zimbabwe.

Peter, our guide, was passionate about wildlife, and was a mine of information 
about the plants and animals in this part of Africa

We were up before sunrise for our early morning game drive with our guide Peter. We piled into the vehicle, snug under warm blankets against the chilly dawn, and set off for Hwange National Park. Our drive had barely begun before we came across some kudu. Peter explained that they are found in woodlands and bushlands, as they like to hide among the thickets. They are hunted for their meat, hide and horns, which are used in Africa for musical instruments, and symbolic ritual objects.

Kudu, hiding in the bushes

Just ahead of the kudu, we saw some impala. In contrast to the kudu, herds of impala are found in savanna, and open woodland. They can run very fast to try to outrun their predators. Their distinctive markings on the rear enable them to follow one another when they are on the move.

A group of impala

The long road to the National Park, running through thick bush on either side

We still hadn't even reached the park when we came across sable. They are majestic-looking beasts with long curved horns. They are known to use these horns to fight off predators.

Sable sheltering among the trees

We finally arrived at the park, having dilly dallied to take lots of photos. We arrived at just the right time, however, as Peter spotted a cheetah across the savanna. We stopped to watch, as other vehicles joined us to see what we were looking at.

The cheetah kept walking towards us…

…and crossed the road right in front of our vehicle

 …then went to sit in the shade under a tree only metres away.

We sat mesmerised by the cheetah, taking numerous photos, before it suddenly got up and wandered off. Wow! That was amazing!

From there we went to a platform, overlooking a waterhole. Peter had packed drinks and food, so we breakfasted at the hide, as we watched the animals come down to drink.

Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is waiting for the rains, and the waterhole was only half full. We felt sorry for the poor hippos, who were trying to submerge themselves under the water, before coming out to eat some grass.

Hippos coming out of the waterhole.
After good rains, the water should rise past the zebra in the background

We also saw this enormous crocodile, lying there among bleached bones…

 …and a herd of zebra

The day was wearing on, and it was time to return to Ivory Lodge for lunch. The sun was becoming brighter and hotter, and we had discarded our cosy blankets long before.

We drove back through the bush…

..but had to stop on the way to photograph these African Hornbill

This was only our first game drive, and we had already seen a wonderful selection of game, the cheetah being our first prize. After a wonderful lunch at Ivory Lodge, we all went for a siesta to prepare ourselves for our evening game drive. What would we see next?

Elizabeth Coughlan


Ivory Lodge, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

My view of the gorge from the Lookout Café

Day three of our trip was a busy morning for some of us, and a relaxing time for others. Most of our group decided to go white water rafting. I declined, mainly for two reasons – one being that I have heard the ride described as, “like spending the day in the dishwasher”, and the other is because once the ride is over, there is a 250 metre vertical climb out of the gorge. So I spent a calm morning drinking coffee, and admiring the view from the Lookout Café.

Once the bedraggled, but exhilarated, rafters had returned and eaten lunch, we returned to our hotel to collect our baggage, and drive to Ivory Lodge, on the edge of Hwange National Park.

The dining and lounge area of Ivory Lodge

Ivory Lodge is one of Zimbabwe’s prime safari lodges. I loved their mission statement:

“We welcome you to our little piece of paradise
and look forward to sharing our passion for wildlife with you.”

We certainly felt welcomed from the moment we arrived. Here, guests are accommodated in a series of lodges on stilts, all with a spectacular view of the lodge’s private waterhole. Everything during our stay was perfect; the wonderfully friendly staff, led by Joel, the manager; the gourmet food, the comfortable rooms; and above all, the stunning view.

Our lodge on stilts at Ivory Lodge

Our room, with the mosquito nets over our bed

My towels.

Barbs and Becca by the camp fire

Sundowners were by the campfire, overlooking the waterhole, 
where we could see game coming down to drink.

After sundowners, and a magnificent dinner, we went down to the hide, and sat quietly watching as elephant gradually came down to drink.

The elephant were so close, we could almost touch them

 We loved seeing the mothers with their babies

Wow! …and this was only our first evening at Ivory Lodge. The next morning we had booked an early morning game drive, so we all went early to bed, ready for the next day. We were fired up with anticipation, especially as Hwange is renowned for its high concentration and diversity of wildlife and birdlife species.

Elizabeth Coughlan


Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Day 2

Me at the Victoria Falls

“Scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by Angels in their flight”, so said David Livingstone in 1855, when he first set eyes on the awesome spectacle he named the Victoria Falls. To the indigenous Tonga people it is Mosi-oa-Tunya—"The Smoke That Thunders".

Barbs and Mart by the Livingstone Memorial

On this, our second day, we visited the falls themselves. Twice as high as the Niagara Falls, and more than twice the width of the Horseshoe Falls, its only rival is Iguazu Falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil.

The Devil’s Cataract

Our visit came at the end of the dry season, and just before the rainy season, so the flow was not at its maximum, but it was still impressive. At least we stayed dry, and weren't showered on by the spray that increases with the flow of the Zambezi.

David and Barbs admiring the Rainbow Falls

After the rains, this cliff is covered with water. On this day it was a mere trickle.

The Devil’s Pool; I don’t think I’d like this photographer’s job!

When the river level is low, a rock pool forms on Livingstone Island on the Zambian side. Here, adventurous tourists like to sit in the pool close to the edge of the precipice. It is not as safe as they like to think, as a number of people have lost their footing and tumbled over the edge.

Our next activity was the Gorge Swing by the Lookout Café, managed by Wild Horizons. For this you stand on a platform on the edge of a sheer 120m cliff, and jump off to freefall, for about 70m, straight towards the rocks and river below. Then the rope becomes taut, and you swing backwards and forwards across the gorge, before being winched up to the platform again.

Our group getting harnessed up, ready for the Gorge Swing

Amy and Richard, ready to swing in tandem across the gorge

Professional videographer, Victor Jackson, waiting to take footage of the swing

Off they go! …and they can take home a copy of Victor’s video as proof

I actually did the gorge swing in tandem with Mart. But I am determined to go solo next time. It may seem foolhardy, but it is an exhilarating experience.

After our adrenalin rush at the swing, we needed to rest for a while, so we headed over to the Victoria Falls Hotel for a leisurely lunch on the Stanley Terrace.

The Victoria Hotel; one of the oldest hotels in Africa

Wonderful lunch in beautiful surroundings

Sundowners at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

This was our busiest day. Our next engagement was sundowners at the Vic Falls Safari Lodge, watching the game come down to drink, as the sun set, followed by dinner at the Jungle Junction part of the Victoria Falls Hotel complex.

African dancers at the Jungle Junction

Evening dinner at the Jungle Junction is an unforgettable experience. Apart from the delicious all-you-can-eat buffet, you are entertained throughout dinner, by dancers epitomising the spirit of Africa.

Finally, we staggered back to our lodgings, ready to fall into a peaceful sleep, and gear ourselves up for the next day of our adventure.

Elizabeth Coughlan



Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Day 1

Barbs and David chilling in Bayete Guest Lodge

The road from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls seemed interminable, stretching far into the distance, with dense bush either side, and only the occasional African village to break up the monotony. Every bridge we crossed showed a dry river bed, where the locals were digging holes to look for water to fill their containers.

Finally we arrived at the falls where we were to stay at the Bayete Guest Lodge.

Bayete Guest Lodge, a great place to relax after a day of activities

We managed to pack so much into our short stay there, and we had so much fun. That first day we had lunch at the Lookout Cafe, with its amazing view of the second and third gorges, and the bridge that crosses from Zimbabwe to Zambia.

The Lookout Café, Victoria Falls

The stunning view from the Lookout Café
(The wires are for the Gorge Swing and Zip Line)

The Lookout Café is 120 metres above the Zambezi River, overhanging the giant Batoka Gorge, just down from the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge.

That evening we went on a sunset cruise along the Zambezi River. What a wonderful way to spend an evening!

As we approached the boat, we came across these Warthogs.
They have such short necks; they need to kneel to eat.

A typical booze cruise boat, although ours was 3 decks high.

We began with cocktails and canapes, as we gently cruised along, 
watching the sun set slowly over the beautiful landscape.

A glorious light beamed across the land, as the sun began to set…

…until everything was bathed in a warm glow

We stayed on the boat for dinner. The food was excellent, and so was the service. For anyone visiting the Victoria Falls, a sunset cruise is a must, and a great way to get up close to game coming down to the river to drink. I would happily do this again and again.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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I couldn't resist this one!