Late October 2014 a visit to Zambia was on the role. The journey started at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with a flight to Johannesburg aka Jozi or Joburg. On the way to the airport I realized I forgot to pack my toiletries, luckily I did pack my malaria medicine separate….at the airport I bought the other important things I would need.
After a quiet flight of about 11 hours I arrived at Johannesburg Airport and was ready to check in at Hotel City Lodge nearby. Looking around I saw the sign of the hotel outside but first I couldn’t find the entrance. But just across arrivals you can take the escalators down and up again, and after that it was just straight on to the reception of the hotel.
Because I had booked one day earlier than necessary I was able to take a city tour through Jozi. Leaving at 9:30 after a nice breakfast I thought it was more than enough time but it turned out to be to short.Using Gautrain to travel to Jozi center was very easy.
Booking the Red Bus Sightseeing tour with an extension to Soweto turn out the be a fully packed day. With excellent commentary in different languages you are informed well about the history of Jozi. As the largest city in South Africa you can expect all aspects of a large metropolis. Jozi started of in 1886 with the discovery of the Witwatersrand gold reef. This triggered a gold rush and the growth of Jozi. As an extension to the Red Bus tour I booked the Soweto tour also. Soweto stands for South Western Townships, impressive to see things you remember….a visit to the apartheids museum made the trip complete.
This is where I realized the sightseeing took longer than expected. The museum closed during my presence. The last part of the Red Bus tour I enjoyed the scenery. Getting on the Guatrain to head back to the airport and arrived after sunset. Enjoyed the diner and was more than ready for the flight from Jozi to Vic-falls.
Next morning after an early breakfast I checked in at the SA-flight flying business class as advised. There I met Marion Volborn a German photographer and what a coincidence we were in the same row of seats. After I short conversation the plane took off and landed one and a half our later at Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe. On entry to Zimbabwe our temperature was measured as a precaution for Ebola. It took about an hour to get a visa but picked up was arranged and transferred us to The Kingdom Hotel where Daniella and Marsel welcomed us. Check-in was quickly arranged and the same afternoon no time was wasted and we walked to the falls ready for the first photos. After another good diner we went to bed. Before that, killing all the mosquitoes in the room. I was lucky there were just a few. Next morning we went out again to take photographs of the falls during sunrise. During noon we changed to the Zambian side of the falls and photographed it during sunset. Next morning we did not leave to early for something different. The visit to Devils Pool was planned. With a booked time slot of two hours there was no rush like the normal visitors to Livingstone Island experience.
After Devils Pool, on the edge of the falls, a flight from Livingstone Airport aka Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport to the Royal Airstrip in Lower Zambezi NP with a private charted plane was planned. Marsel used the time during travel to look into the settings of my camera and explained a lot. And in about 4 hours we landed in the middle of Lower Zambezi NP on a paved airstrip and the first thing that hit us was the immense heat. From a mild mid 30 degrees to almost 40 degrees was some difference everybody have to get used to. After a short ride our luggage was taken on one boat and we embarked the second boat with our camera gear. The boat trip to Chiawa Camp would normally take one and a half hour but depending on what we see and photograph it could take longer. The first encounter with wildlife couldn’t be better, two elephants crossing the mighty Zambezi was a magnificent sighting and more will follow.
Zambia (Lower Zambezi NP)
After about an hour we arrived an Chiawa Camp and were welcomed by the camp managers Anita, Tess, Dave and owner Grant Cummings. I stayed in tent 2 aka warthog. A very nice place to start your journey in Zambia with the luxury of having a bath, shower, etc. but no time to waste a boat safari in the afternoon was scheduled. After just a short ride we found a group of elephants with a small calf playing around. After the first part of the herd crossed over to another island we decided to wait for the mother and calf to cross. And after some serious waiting they decided to cross. The mother protecting the calf from the current was a magnificent sighting. I will probably remember this the rest of my live. After this is was back to Chiawa Camp to enjoy some delicious food. How on earth are they able to serve this in the middle of nowhere, I still can’t comprehend.
The following days were a mixture of game drives on land and on water from early mornings 5.00 till 10.00 am and from 3.00 till 7.00 pm. In between there was some time to rest but certainly not to long. We did one image review at Chiawa Camp and again I learned some interesting things about composition and processing your images. Also we encountered several elephant visiting the camp en doing some roof repairs afterwards was necessary.
After three days Chiawa Camp it was time to move on to Old Mondoro. Not well known but sure it is pretty. Another boat ride took us even further into Lower Zambezi NP. The camp managed by Pam and Rian is gorgeous. This is the real African wilderness experience. With no fences around the camp all wildlife can pass the camp. So when leaving your tent you should check if there is no hippo of elephant around. If they are around, you have either two choices wait or call the staff to send in a vehicle.
With the same schedule of early mornings and late evenings day’s filled with some spectacular sightings of elephant, leopard, hippo, bee-eater, black ibis, egret, heron, hyena, lion, impala, water-buck, kudu, great eagle owl, porcupine, civet, warthog, baboon, vulture and many many more.
Return to Europe
On the last day we did a morning drive and took the flight out from Jeki Airstrip to Lusaka (Zambia) and waited in the Protea Tower hotel for our plane to leave. We had some fine Thai dish before heading back to Europe. A wonderful experience had come to an end. Thanks to Elke, Marco, Carol, Marion en Kanwar for sharing the experience and of course a special thanks to Daniella and Marsel hosting an organizing this tour! It was gorgeous…..