Accomodation : Gorges lodge, Victoria Falls
Transfer : Elephant Express and Wild horizon transfer
Another 5am start for our last safari in Hwange National Park. Last night there had been massive thunder and lightening but only a little rain and whilst the day started out overcast it cleared quickly leaving us with another beautiful morning.
The morning safari was ‘very quiet’ as described by Harris and agreed to by everyone on the jeep. We didn’t see a great deal despite Harris trying his very best to find us one of the big cats with the park.
We arrived back at Bomani for a quick brunch stop, a time to say goodbye to people we had met including the hosts, Warren and a girl who Philip fondly referred to as Bindi (as she reminded him of Bindi Irwin). Warren then drove us the short distance to a railway crossing in the middle of the park. Here we waited for the Elephant Express to arrive.
The Elephant Express is an old fashioned metal carriage driven by a land cruiser engine so that it can go back and forward on a single carriage track. It provides a novel way to get from Bomani to Dete (taking around two hours) and is all part of the adventure spirit. The alternative to the ‘train’ was the safari aspect of the transfer that we undertook on our way into the park. Was it worth the money?; probably not but it was an interesting way to get around and a once in a lifetime experience.
From Dete we were taken to a drop off spot in the middle of Victoria Falls township and met by Blacksie from Gorges Lodge.
Gorges lodge is situated 30 minutes drive from Vic Falls town. Driving to the lodge, it was cause for reflection as to whether this was too far away from town for the four nights that we were staying. Arriving however, we were taken from red sandy roads and little thatched villages consisting of a few huts and some goats and cows, to a tropical oasis more reminiscent of Bali or Costa Rica than Zimbabwe. Arriving at the open air communal space, you look out over the gorge that separates Zimbabwe from Zambia and down into the Zambezi River some 100+ metres below. It is a truly breathtaking sight and a place with a truly tranquil feel.
Our hut, Number 1 (of 10) was at the end of a stone path that meandered its way through tropical plants and gardens. It was a thatched structure, complete with beautiful bathroom, outside sitting area looking out onto the vista and a fully stocked fridge. Fans and mosquito netting around the bed complimented the traditional construction of the villa. We also had our own little lookout point, where ‘Pepsi Cola’ (yep that’s what she says her name is; she says no one forgets it and she’s probably right!) informed us that the bungy was free but she didn’t advise it.
Given that it was now late in the afternoon, we made ourselves at home, enjoying the view and the drinks from the bar. Sundowners on the deck was where we met Chris and Debbie. Debbie is a boisterous white Zimbabwean who seems to have her fingers in a great many pies. She’s friendly and affable – a larger than life character (who my guess is someone you wouldn’t want to mess with). Chris has a deep accent and looks a little like the South African far right leader Eugene Terre-Blanche. Although similar in appearance, he is more measured in his viewpoints and both, Chris and Debbie were enjoyable to talk to (politics again were the main topic of conversation)
Dinner was a buffet; soup first then a selection of meats, vegetables and salads. it was followed by a very delicious crepe filled with ice cream. Not a bad way to spend our first day in another part of Zimbabwe.