Ultimate Africa: To Walk with Lions – a photographic safari in Botswana and Zimbabwe // Day 6: Mombo Lodge

Friday 01 August 2008

 

We had quite an adventure today! We were up early and all packed ready to leave after breakfast. We arrived at the border in Botswana to have our passports stamped and the woman behind the desk was being very ‘sharp’ with the man in front of us in the queue. Thankfully she was fine with all of us as we handed over our immigration papers and had our passports stamped. We continued on to the Zimbabwe border only to find a ferry and the river – we’d arrived at the crossing to Zambia by mistake! So we returned to the Botswana border and asked if we could enter Botswana again – and we weren’t even asked to have our passports stamped. Eventually we arrived at the right border and were told that we just needed to hand in all the papers. So we all filled in the papers again and Chris took them inside to the office, but now the same woman wanted to see everyone and their passports so we all got out of the bus again. Some of us got an extra exit stamp in the passport and some of us she just checked the exit stamp that was already there. We then made it to the Zimbabwe border for another passport and visa check. Henry, being Canadian, had to buy another visa because Canadians aren’t allowed double entry visas. On the way out our vehicle was stopped for a check and a guy got on the bus and looked under all the seats and in our trailer. And then we were on the road again.

A little while later we had to stop the bus because Ernie was feeling very unwell; he was violently sick because of dehydration. Whilst we were stopped we found that one of the tyres on the trailer had come off completely and we’d been driving along with just the wheel rim. We had a spare tyre but unfortunately we discovered it was flat. We tried flagging down passing vehicles to see if anyone had a pump but no luck. In the end we emptied all the suitcases into the back of the bus and took it easy on the way to the next lodge. When we finally got a mobile phone signal Chris phoned ahead to let Greg know what was happening. TIA! – and Greg , Marvin and Marlene came in Greg’s car to meet us and take Jean and Ernie to Hunters Lodge in the car which was much more comfortable for Ernie. We eventually arrived too. We were initially supposed to just pick up Marvin from Hunters Lodge but we ended up staying there for lunch whilst a replacement trailer was organised and this allowed Ernie to get some much-needed rest too.

After lunch, we then set of to Mombo Lodge, close to Hwange National Park. We arrived a little later than anticipated so we were quickly out of the bus and straight onto the jeeps and on our way into the park. Chris stayed at the lodge with Jean and Ernie, so Heiko and I had a vehicle to ourselves with Marvin. On the way to the park we saw giraffe, greater Kudu and impala. Our driver quickly arranged our entry into the park and we had an hour or so before sunset. We saw a male and female ostrich, zebra, grey-crowned cranes (they are another bird that mates for life), warthogs, and a submerged hippo in a waterhole. All the waterholes in this park are manmade, and therefore, strategically placed, not only for the animals but for viewing areas too. We also saw a steenbuck and a bateleur eagle whose bright red plumage was clearly visible.

The park closed at 6pm so we had to rush back to the gate at sunset, the sky was so red, it was lovely. Just outside the gate, on the way out of the park, we saw more zebra and some jackals. We continued on back to the lodge but as soon as the sun was gone it got very cold quickly.

When we arrived back at the lodge we all checked in – Heiko and I are staying in a tree house overlooking a waterhole. We only had a few minutes there and then we went back to the dining area for dinner. After dinner we had some African entertainment – some songs and impressions of animals, the baboons and giraffe impressions were great, very funny, and they sang out “go-away” too (immitating the Go-Away Bird – yes that’s really it’s name!) After that one of them came in dressed as an old man and was wobbling about on a walking stick. He was hilarious and we all couldn’t stop laughing at him. He said hello to each person individually and asked their name and where they were from. He hmm’d and ahh’d in funny places. Henry told him he ‘didn’t know where he came from’ so the old man told him he must be ‘lost’. He gave out copies of their CD and asked us to choose four songs from the CD that they would sing for us. I cant believe how high one of them was singing! Their last song was one where they invited everyone up to dance with them. Peter was dragged up and had a go. Some other guests joined in too and then Nick joined in very energetically.

Once the dancing had finished we warmed ourselves by the fire before heading back to our treehut. We decided to put the blankets on the bed because it was cold and we put down the mosquito net too. I had just got under the covers when Heiko asked “What is that on the bed??” I caught sight of a bug and out I jumped. It looked sort of like a cockroach but I’m not sure what it was. Heiko took it outside and then we checked the sheets thoroughly to see if there were any more. During the night we woke up to a strange sound – it was the train passing nearby but it took us both a while to work out what it was, we’d got too used to the sound of hyena, buffalo, elephants… trains – they were an alien sound now! All night we seemed to be waking up to strange sounds…

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