Thanks and Some Comments
by Ian Evans
Dear Stacey (and Tony), were now back in Johannesburg after 5 wonderful days in Zimbabwe. Thanks again for your help with advice and bookings, all of which worked out really well.
Since your guide is so useful and comprehensive, I thought you might be interested in some of our impressions.
I rented a car from Budget/Avis at the airport and had booked the cheapest they had. That was a slight mistake. The Hyundai was fine but really a 4X4 is needed, and as Tony advised me, it would be necessary for Robins Camp
As it happens, a 4X4 is also really needed for self-driving to Iganyana
as well--the access road from the road to the park is very sandy--we made it, but only just. On the way out we got stuck but had widely asked the camp people to provide an escort and the driver got us out just fine.
Your instructions for finding the Iganyana turn off were explicit and accurate, but you could mention that the only sign is the elephant skull sitting on the corner! There are no other signs.
My mistake was that I didn't realize that the Iganyana Tented Camp wasn't actually in the park, so we misread your instructions and went all the way into the Main Camp! But they put us straight and we re-traced our steps, which was fine.
Iganyana is truly excellent! I'd give it 5 stars for everything except the food. The staff are amazing and the drivers and guides incredibly well-informed and obliging. We were lucky we weren't on a tour (the other visitors were a tour group of 20) and so we were able to go everywhere as just the 2 of us in the one safari vehicle. This meant we could stop where we wanted and the guides were happy to talk about the wildlife and the birds, even tress and traditional uses thereof.
The tents are beautiful, spacious and well equipped, and it was great listening to the sounds of the bush at night. We thought needing an armed escort at night was a bit over the top, but I suppose they need to keep their visitors safe!
Food-wise the continental breakfast was excellent with homemade muffins and choices of cereal and porridge etc. The full breakfast later was also adequate. But the evening meal was really quite basic for the price of the camp and we had chicken for all three meals. I realize the difficulties of supplies etc. in that location, but the actual cooking could be more imaginative. The desserts were good, and they happily brought us wine whenever requested!
Not being in the park
meant that the short morning and evening drives were within their own "concession". I thought at first this might mean we were limited to elephant
sightings, but we had wonderful views of giraffe
and a massive herd of buffalo
as well as lots of birds. Then on the last morning we had a terrific leopard
The full day drive inside the park was very good--saw lion
and everything else--we were out for 11 hours with a pleasant stop for lunch. It was a great day, so being outside the park itself didn't matter, but people might need to be told that this is not a camp inside, like, say, in the Kruger.
On the way back to Vic Falls from Inganyana, we stopped at the Painted Dog Conservation Center. This is a fantastic facility, and it would be worth encouraging your clients to stop there. There is a very clever display documenting the life of one painted dog and we had a nice clear commentary from the guide. Then we went out to the rehabilitation enclosure where they had two panted dogs they had rescued but were so badly injured they could not be released back to the wild. No admission fee, so we made a respectable donation. But it is really something to encourage visitors to visit, especially as their chances of seeing a pack of painted dogs in the wild are rather remote and it is good to learn about their efforts to sustain this endangered species..
The other activity you booked for us was the helicopter ride
--spectacular and a very slick operation!
We had booked the Nguni Lodge
ourselves months ago once we were unable to get a reservation on ROVOS rail
for the only dates possible for us. I picked it out as a low end of the price range but with favorable reviews. It is a great spot and I'd highly recommend it--comfortable room with a huge bathroom, nice, relaxed garden setting and charming helpful staff. A little bar was well stocked and all round we really liked it. Food was pretty simple, but one night we had a fish dish that was very tasty and well-prepared. Again, breakfasts were the best of the meals! We had dinner at the lodge because driving around town at night was a challenge, even with GPS--which wasn't always on! But we took your advice to try the other restaurants and we had very good lunches at The Three Monkeys and the Lookout Point Cafe
Before I discovered you guys, I had asked the Nguni Lodge to book a sunset cruise
. This they did for us with Wild Horizons, and it was $110 for the two of us. Delightful boat with a good captain, but we didn't know that they would ply us with plate after plate of snacks that were diecious and as much wine as we wanted. If we had known about the food and drink, we would have made it dinner
! So that would be something to tell clients about that Nguni didn't mention to us.
Well, tis may be more than you wanted to know but I did want to say what a superb time we had, and we felt very independent doing so much of it on our own!