Morning Safari at Rhino Safari Camp, Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe
I wish I could bottle this feeling...
Wow, what a morning! Gary and I were the only lucky takers for the 6:30am game drive today. Everyone had headed home, and it was just the two of us, until further fortunate guests arrived by boat later from Kariba, just as we had done the previous day.
Sunrise in our lodge at Rhino Safari Camp
It’s so difficult to explain in one word how it feels being here (so I’m going to say several), as it is peaceful, exhilarating, thought-provoking, heavenly, back to nature, an escapement, idyllic and enchanting.
If you love African wildlife, I can’t imagine there are too many better places to wake up to each day than here, you just smile every morning.
Morning glow at the camp edge
A free African massage
So, we jump in the open truck, breath the morning African air and embark on the adventure. We leave our lodge across the bouncy tracks and head in the direction of Matusadona National Park, weaving our way through the bush, spotting impala, and colourful birds along the way.
Ready for action!
The lumpy and bumpy terrain is all part of it, I’m glad I didn’t splash out on a massage before we left Blighty.
Preparing for your safari?
Did you see our post 'Preparing for your African Safari'? It'll have some handy hints 'n' tips for your next safari.
Our first impala of the day
The truck takes command
We head across the dry causeway, which in previous years has had water over it. Unfortunately, not this year, as the water levels across Lake Kariba have dropped.
Heading out on the truck
We proceed through the break in the bush and have rocky terrain facing us, great fun. We drop to low ratio and the truck marches ahead as if we are climbing up steps.
Just near the top of the rocks, we stop in our tacks, there’s an elephant, this is magical.
A lone elephant
We sit and watch the elephant for a while, all the time our guide Mark, in a whisper, is sharing his incredible knowledge about these magnificent creatures. We move on a bit more stopping and starting when we see more animals, tracks and birds, big and small.
The elephant - close-up.
Don’t take it for granted
Some days you’ll see a rare sight and some days maybe not, but hey that’s the fun of a game drive you never know what you’re going to come across.
Acceptable in Africa
Often you are just so unaware what is going on around you, and beneath you, there are some amazing termite hills here.
Who knew how these little mites created their own colony, with workers, soldiers and protectors of the queen? And if their worker or soldier numbers dwindled in any way, they would only produce that particular type of mite.
Fancy heading to Lake Kariba for an unforgettable experience?
Lake Kariba is around 356km (221 miles) from Harare, at present there are no scheduled commercial flights, so your best option is to drive. Allow 5 to 6 hours for your journey, the roads are tarmac, however, can be slightly hectic at times. But don't let this put you off Lake Kariba is a magical experience.
There are also two tolls en-route which are two Zimbabwe Bond each.
Once in a lifetime
Off on our way again we really can’t believe how special this place feels, we’d visited other safari camps, but Rhino Island felt unique.
We continue down the track, and Mark spots a cheetah jump up ahead of us, firstly, with initial trepidation it walks across the track about 25 metres in front of us. Gary incredibly manages to get a photo. Mark is just as excited as we are, as cheetahs are very rare, the owner of the lodge has only seen them on three occasions in 17 years.
We spotted a cheetah
Mark proceeds a bit quicker down the track to see where it headed off to, as it has picked up a bit of a stride now. As the cheetah got deeper into the bush, it stopped by a tree and turned around and just stared at us for about 5 seconds, and as quick as it appeared, it was gone.
Being checked out by a cheetah
Etched in our minds forever, as this is a rare occurrence around here, how special a moment was that.
A helpful guide
If you're considering a road trip through Namibia, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.
Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.
Millions of years ago
This safari drive is becoming such an education, in this region of Zimbabwe, there are some incredible fossils, from fallen trees. They initially appear to still look like wood but are actually as hard as a stone. Mark explains that from research there was a catastrophe many, many years ago as it seems that it was a sudden impact on the landscape and the trees collapsed and preserved where they landed. It’s estimated this happened between 200 & 300 million years ago.
Seeing is believing
Continuing on we smile at each other in disbelief; we head further along, and a plain opens out before us. I know it sounds corny, but it is like a scene from Jurassic Park. With dead trees protruding from the earth, lush green pastures and animals grazing in the distance all around, it’s beautiful.
Although, we are constantly well aware that there could be lions lurking under trees by the bushland edge. Who knows whether they have had breakfast or not?
What a landscape
Not that I want to dilute the importance of impala’s but, Zimbabwe certainly doesn’t appear to be short of this species.
Impala, in flight
However, you can’t tire of looking at them, they are perfectly manicured and not a hair out of place (unlike me, where’s my Frizz-ease?)
The female groups of impalas are usually quite sizeable and seem to be breeding and surviving pretty well, so I imagine the herds are only going to get larger.
Good to know!
This may sound stupid, but, make sure you put sun cream on your knees. You’ll be out for a few hours, and the sun is going to track you down.
Stretch our legs
Mark drives us to a higher point on the plain, and we jump out of the truck, to enjoy the view and the surroundings and take on some refreshments. The morning sun is gradually starting to become more intense, and a hat is a must.
All too often we are looking out for the larger wildlife; however, the birdlife here is equally fascinating. Although Gary and I can spot birds, the names are far from our minds. Mark points out African Fish Eagles, Goliath Herons, Secretarybirds and Hornbills, to name a few. Saying that we have become familiar with the Guinea Fowl, there’s no mistaking their distinctive look.
Guinea fowl in the bush
The Demise of the Rhino
We chatted to Mark about our previous trip to Lake Kariba and how we visited a couple of large protected Rhino pens. Also, a rhino out in the bush with its own 24-hour armed guard. Mark explained to us that Rhino Safari Camp had had something similar, so he took us to the now derelict pens that they used to use to adapt the rhinos to their surroundings, prior to releasing them.
Unfortunately, their rhinos had long gone, as they had been poached for their horns. Now due to greedy folk in this world, there are no longer rhinos around this area.
Rhino Island and Matusadona NP are not playgrounds, this is pure nature and believe me, we are just visitors to wilderness world.
Every day is different
Two mornings later we headed out for another AM safari drive, this time with the guide Tatendah. We were hoping to see the herd of buffalo we had come across on our bush walk the previous day. Not too lucky on seeing the buffalo, but we came across a beautiful herd of elephant, complete with their own little “eleies”.
Wait for me!
Elephants in all sizes
What a magical sight, we sat and watched them for about 10 minutes, although I could have sat and watched them all day. I felt really safe in the truck, they knew we were there, and if they chose to come closer, it was them being inquisitive about us rather than us approaching them.
An elephant making a display
I know I am repeating myself slightly, but these kinds of moments do not come along every day.
On Rhino Safari Island, it is quite a common occurrence to see hippo sauntering by the water’s edge, but for a girl from Kent, it truly isn’t. And as hippos are one of my favourite African mammals, I couldn’t have been happier than seeing them wallowing in pods by the lakeside.
Hippo pool party
And giving us the evil eye from a distance.
Hippo in disguise
Did you know?
Lake Kariba is the largest man-made lake in the world. After the Zambezi River was dammed and Kariba Dam was built, the lake was filled in the late 1950s. Lake Kariba is now over 223kms (139 miles) in length and up to 40kms (25 miles) in width.
We’d been informed how the wildlife within the lake had changed over the years, and there are a lot more crocodiles lurking within the shores. Although this was the case, they are pretty shy, so as soon as we spotted one and slowed down, they shot off into the water.
They were not up for posing for the camera.
Beware the croc'
Gary and I were also able to see a magnificent Baobab tree that is so often synonymous with Africa, the older examples are incredibly imposing.
A Baobab Tree
Would you like a little more?
We have created a little YouTube video of Our Morning Safari(s)
Why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?
Another great reason to visit Zimbabwe
Start creating your own adventure and visit the enchanting landscape for yourself.
We chose British Airways, and it was all done with a few clicks, a brief stopover in Johannesburg, and our luggage was there waiting for us on arrival at our end destination in Harare.
Inspired to visit Rhino Safari Camp on Lake Kariba?
I assure you, you won’t regret visiting Rhino Safari Camp, it’s a once in a lifetime experience, you’ll be longing to repeat.
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Incredible! And your photo’s are beautiful. I would love to go to Zimbabwe #farawayflies
Ahh, thanks very much Alex. It is a wonderful country and such warm people, lately it just unfortunately seems to get bad press.
What a cool experience! Hippos are my favorite animals. I would’ve loved to see some up close. #FarawayFiles
It was a wonderful experience, as I mentioned hippos are my favourite too, there’s just something special about them. Keep a look out for our post on a sunset lake cruise, there are even more.
Wow what an amazing safari you had! I’ve always dreamed of doing one and this looks identical to one I saw in The Crown! You got such amazing animal photos too! I always have the worst luck and never see wildlife! #FarawayFiles
Thanks Lorelei, the credit for the photo’s most definitely goes to Gary. It’s hard to believe we actually did it at times, it was so incredible.I’ll have to keep a look out on The Crown.
I love safari, it’s one of my favourite types of getaway experiences. Looks like you had a fantastic safari, I can’t believe you got such a good cheetah sighting, that’s amazing.
Yes, we were so lucky with the cheetah, our guide was as excited as we were.Going on safari is one of those incredible experiences that when you’ve done it once you, you just have to go again. It’s such a wonderful feeling.
I LOVE being on safaris!! I could do it for days. And if you’re ever able to bottle the feeling, I’ll buy it 😀 #farawayfiles
We could do it for days too, you just can’t take it for granted and each trip is different.
You made it! How exciting to be doing it again. I have never been on safari, can you believe it? Everything about it sounds incredible..the cheetah, the hippos, the open land, all of it. Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles
Yes we certainly did, I think going on a safari is an incredible experience and once you’ve done it your hooked. We’ve been lucky enough to tour through Namibia as well, but I still feel it isn’t enough.
Great post, Janis, envy you and Gary for this experience. Also love the photos. Those Impalas are such graceful creatures and everyone loves elephants. Do they have plans to bring rhinos back to the area? Ms B & I watched a documentary recently and we were surprised how common it seems to be to move wild animals from one national park to another, despite all the risks involved.
Thank you, Gary gets the credit for the photos. It was an incredible trip, I really hope they can turn the country around again, as it has so much to offer and the locals were so welcoming.I don’t think the lodge or the National Park have plans to bring more Rhino back, as the poaching for the horn is so lucrative, and they’re becoming a lost species. They are probably mostly under protection now.I know Zimbabwe did have an over population of elephant at one time and some were moved to South Africa, it’s amazing what can be done.