Just back from an amazing trip to Southern Africa and a trip like no other I have experienced. It was a trip of discovery of the beautiful scenery and nature of Africa, setting out on both water and land safaris to see wild animals in their natural habitat, and experiencing the warm culture of the African people.
A small group of sixteen of us set out for Johannesburg and took a panoramic tour of this capital city, stopping for an authentic lunch in Soweto, home of Nelson Mandela and the fight to end Apartheid. The next day we flew by small plane to Lake Kariba – which is one of the largest manmade lakes in Africa, on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Flying over the lake, we were unprepared for the spectacular size and scope of this Lake (over 140 miles in length and spans 25 miles at it’s widest point). We arrived at our luxury houseboat, a new ship purpose-built by CroisiEurope for this lake. CroisiEurope is the largest French rivercruise company – in business for over 40 years — and we were the first American group to experience this itinerary.
At sunrise, we sailed through the mysterious landscapes of Lake Kariba where drowned trees reach skywards from the depths of lake. We set out on small private boats to discover the Gache Gache River. A birder’s paradise, we saw over a dozen species of African birds never spotted by these American eyes – and a herd of hippos, who finally scattered as we carefully pulled up in our speedboats. Enjoying the best French-accented cuisine and wines from South Africa onboard, we were truly pampered onboard our floating home for three nights.
The next day we set out for a land safari in 4x 4 jeeps at Matusadona National Park – home to buffalos, hippos, crocodiles, impalas, and elephants – where hunting is strictly prohibited. Later, on a sundowner cruise, we spotted our first lion of the trip near the shore of the lake.
Next stop: a flight from Kariba to Kasane in Botswana. We boarded small boats and had a fascinating water safari along the Chobe and Zambezi rivers enroute to our remote luxury lodge in Namibia – on Impalia Island. Only 8 bungalows with private pools and our own resident hippos. Here we enjoyed a series of water safaris and land safari in Chobe National Park – home to ¼ of the total elephant population in Africa, plus giraffes, baboons, and Urdus (large antelope) to name just a few.
We didn’t think it could get any better than this, until we reached Victoria Falls and found that our lodge had it’s own watering hole where we could view animals as we dined in open air. The “smoke that thunders” of Victoria Falls is truly a wonder to behold. One of the seven wonders of the world, it’s the widest waterfall in the world. An incredible ending to an incredible journey.