Monthly Archives: October 2008

How the ‘other half’ lives….

One of the pleasures of African travel is being treated quite like royalty throughout your safari. Upon arrival at your destination you are met by a representative of the lodge, safari camp, or safari outfitter, and are ferried to where you will be staying for that part of your trip. You are often offered liquid libations which are very welcome in the heat of the African day. Your every need is met and things you would not have dreamed of asking for, are also provided – such as the special birthday dinner for my husband Michael at Spurwing Island Camp. But therein lies another tale, to be illustrated with photos that I hope to get from BFF Marlene. 🙂

So how DOES the other half live?

When we arrived in Victoria Falls from our rather basic and ‘roughing it’ canoe safari, we went to check in at the Ilala Lodge, we were told that there was a mix up in the reservations and Michael and I would have to move to another hotel for the second night of our stay. Now we were there for only 3 nights, so this meant unpacking and repacking 3 days in a row, a bit of an inconvenience. The management saw we were not happy, so to appease us, they offered to put us into one of their suites for the fist night and then booked us into the world famous Victoria Falls Hotel for night 2 of our stay, and then back to Ilala Lodge for night 3. Of course, we accepted! I took many photos of our suite at Ilala, but these are among those missing with the lost luggage.  You can, however, get a taste of what it looked like by clicking on the Ilala Lodge link, then go to Gallery and see the photo of Suite #2, which is where we stayed – …four poster, king sized bed, equipped with mosquito netting, more for effect than anything else. Total luxury.

The next day we were driven to Victoria Falls Hotel – one of the Leading Hotels of the World – by the manager of Ilala Lodge. We checked in to this grand dame of hotels dating back to Colonial Africa, but fully refurbished in the ’90’s without taking away from the elegance and history of the place. As luck would have it, these photos were recovered from my flash cards, so I can show you the grandeur. We were originally in a standard room, but for some reason the room key refused to work in the lock and the management decided to upgrade us to a suite because of the inconvenience! Such ‘inconvenience’!

So now I will show you how the ‘other half’ lives…


Courtyard looking back towards the front gate and reception…

The back lawn…

The pool area…

… and the ‘Baines Suite’! The sitting room…

Hallmarked Sterling Champagne cooler and Tea Set on  the sideboard!

The bedroom…

Appropriately, one of Thomas Baines’ prints adorns the wall in the entrance hall…

Breakfast is at the huge Jungle Junction dining room not far from the pool…

The chandeliers are made, ingeniously, of hollowed out ostrich eggs!

… and breakfast!

Now after the grandeur of the Victoria Falls Hotel, you would think that Ilala Lodge would be a come down. You couldn’t be more mistaken!

The lobby is full of comfortable leather chairs and couches.



The bar is next to the pool where we spent many happy hours…

I usually capture Marlene with a drink in her hand… but for once, she was without!

Son-in-law David, and daughter Helen…

Our suite was the second from the left on the upper level..

The open air terrace where you have your meals…

Ilala Lodge was a great place to end the visit to Zimbabwe before heading off to Hermanus in South Africa.

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‘Booze Cruise’ – Part 2

Dunno what happened, but when I tried to add more images, the program would not let me add them individually, so I stopped and now I am adding the second part…

Here’s the hippo mom being watched over by our boat and another…

Various birds can be seen along the way… like this Squacco Heron…

… a White Breasted Cormorant

… an African Jacana or Lily-trotter

We also saw a Water Monitor Lizard

A pair of Darters were drying their wings on an old tree stump…

And everywhere, more hippos – this one almost too close for comfort!

The shoreline was beautifully mirrored in the still water…

At the end of this point, we came across a large bachelor herd of elephants who had come down for a drink and then were heading off across the river to Zambia.  We were witnesses to the whole spectacle!

There was a lot of pushing and shoving going on, all in fun, of course…


This young bull casually mounted another male in the river… and people say animals aren’t gay!

And then they slowly started to move off towards the Zambian shore…

To cap off the day, Africa put on a spectacular show in her skies… Only in Africa!

Can you now understand why I am so emotional about Africa? It’s a place like no other on earth, and it has me in its spell…

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‘Booze Cruise’ on the Upper Zambezi

One of the activities offered to visitors to Victoria Falls is a late afternoon cruise on the Zambezi River above the falls.  It is formally labelled as a ‘Sunset Cruise’ but is much better described as what it really is – a ‘Booze Cruise’. The vessel is a flat-bottomed pontoon boat, fully equipped with tables, chairs and an onboard loo, not to mention hot and cold hors d’oevres and all the libations you could ever want, from ice cold Castle beer to various cocktail concoctions made with local cane, the African relation to white rum. Mixed with Guava or Mango juice it goes down reeeeeeeeeeeeeeal smooth!

So other than eating and drinking, what does one do on one of these launches? Well, you drift down the mighty Zambezi, watching hippos,  and birds, not to mention elephants! Of course, one is not alone – everyone appears to be on the river at once – and the poor hippo families are constantly surrounded by smelly boats.The boat’s pilot steers close to the bank so we can see birds more easily, and basically it’s like a game drive, only on water.

Here are some images…

Upon arrival at the jetty, you are greeted by a marimba band.

The drinking begins as soon as you step on board!

YUM!!!!

Husband Michael, Cathy and Marlene at far right…

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One week since bag was lost…

I has now been one week since we reported my lost luggage at Heathrow Airport.  Since then, I have turned the world upside down in an attempt to locate the bag, or rather the one thing in the bag that is of no value to anyone else but means the world to me – all my digital images from the African trip. I have contacted Swissport, an organization dealing with lost luggage at JNB, and the report is that the bag was definitely loaded onto our plane bound for Doha.  What is not known is whether it was opportunistically REMOVED from said cargo hold and stolen!  It is a common occurrence, apparently at Jo’burg airport, and not only pilfering takes place, but complete pieces of luggage have also be known to have gone missing.  Millions of dollars have been spent by the airlines in compensation to their passengers for the losses, but it seems the powers that be cannot control the thievery.  It is too bad, since Johannesburg is the central hub of travel to all the southern parts of Africa including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, etc. and this is bad for tourism.

My friend, Des Snyman, phoned his mother in South Africa, and asked her to go to the airport for me to see if she could look through abandoned baggage in an attempt to locate my carry-on.  She was there yesterday morning, but since I haven’t heard from her, I am assuming she was unsuccessful.  I was also in contact with the Canadian offices of Qatar Airways, our carrier between JNB and LHR, and sent her a photo of the missing bag. If none of these attempt manages to locate my carry-on, then I must assume the worst – the bag is stolen and I will never see my photos again.  The longer it takes to locate it the smaller the chance of it being found. If I could only reach inside this photograph and remove the hyperdrive from my blue case, then all would be well…

Moral of this story: NEVER let out of your sight, the drive containing your photographs.  A lesson learned the hard way.

Now I’ll go and slit my wrists….

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Africa – Part 5 – Impressions continued…

African Idyll… Matusadona N.P. Zimbabwe

Elephants abound around the shores of Lake Kariba at Matusadona. This young bull is silhouetted against the setting sun amongst the pertified trees that remain after the valley was flooded subsequent to the completion of Kariba Dam.

So round, so firm, so fully packed…

Gull in flight

Rock Hyrax or ‘Dassie’, the closest relative to the Elephant, sitting on the rocks at Old Harbour, Hermanus

Looking for a handout?

Hermanus building…

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Africa – Part 4 – ‘Impressions’

Day Six of the lost baggage/photos saga.  It is 4:30 AM, and I can’t sleep. Will my images ever turn up?!? I am thinking it is highly unlikely after all this time and I feel physical pain knowing that my recorded memories may be in in a thief’s dustbin. I was so hoping to share all my experiences with everyone on this blog, but now that may only be a dream. Words without images from such a jam packed trip can barely scratch the surface of the magic that a visit to Africa has to offer. Perhaps after I have recovered from the shock of my loss, I can re-create some of the good times.

For now, I will share with you some favourite images from the areas from where I managed to recover image files.

Vervet Monkey along the path to Victoria Falls

The Falls looking east from Devil’s Gorge – in the style of Thomas Baines.

Marlene and friend – our guide – at Devil’s Gorge.

Ferns grow in the humid, wet environment of the rain forest along the bank of the Falls. The spray from the falls, even during the dry season, keeps everything lush and green.

Hibiscus…

Evening on the Upper Zambezi

‘Kapow’ skies

In the style of Thomas Baines 2.

Mother hippo showing threat display… Check out the size of those teeth!

Baby hippo imitating mother…”Let me at ’em… I can take them!” (Look! No teeth in this baby. :-D)

“I scared them, didn’t I?”

Light and shadows…

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Africa – Part 3 – The People

When God hands you a lemon, you make lemonade.

Instead of multiple images of African fauna, I am posting some impressions of the local African people.  The faces of Zimbabwe bear witness to the economic hardships imposed on them by the corrupt dictatorship of Robert Mugabe. Those with smiles are from more settled areas of the continent. At all times during our visit we met with the most interesting, resilient, hopeful and warm hearted people, who, in spite of having basically very little by way of material wealth, still manage to maintain a positive outlook on the future.  Would that we could also be so upbeat during such trying times!

At the car park near Victoria Falls, desperate young men offered their curios to tourists, even though they were not allowed near the mini buses.

People are only allowed to withdraw $20,000 Zimbabwean dollars per day from their bank accounts – barely enough to buy a loaf of bread! With inflation running at a staggering 213 million percent, many are desperate to earn the few foreign dollars with which they might purchase some basic goods from Livingstone, Zambia across the bridge over the Zambezi River from Victoria Falls.

Tourists are not to be accosted by vendors in the town, and the sign below shows how seriously this is taken.

The Shona people are world famous stone sculptors and their work is for sale everywhere in Victoria Falls – the flea market as well as at more upscale shops.

They use a wide range of stone. In the west, it is wrongly thought that soapstone, a soft, easy to carve stone, is only used. But many carvers use the much harder stones such as, opal stone, black iron serpentine, spring stone, cobalt and the semi-precious stone, verdite.

After carving the rough shape of their creation, the sculptor then uses a file to work the shape smoother until it’s time to finish the surface with wet and dry sand paper. Once that process is completed, the carving is then placed in front of a fire to heat it, then, bees wax is applied to the hot surface. The heat allows the wax to penetrate the stone to bring out the features and colour. Once the sculpture has cooled, it is buffed to a high gloss by hand rubbing with a cloth.

I fell in love with this smiling hippo, but due to it’s weight had to forego its purchase. I will regret it forever!

Here are some more examples of Shona art.

This piece, weighing 17 kgs, was for sale for $900 USD at the Victoria Falls Hotel.

More faces of Africa…

Marimba player at Victoria Falls

South Africans, George and Bright, on vacation in Victoria Falls…

Waitress in Hermanus, Eastern Cape, South Africa…

A shopper of ‘traditional build’ in Hermanus…

Soon, I will post some more of my favourite images from the salvaged files from this trip.  Stay tuned!

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