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THE INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL
The Intercontinental Hotel at Johannesburg airport has to be one of the most conveniently located airport hotels in the world, its only about 100ft from the international arrivals hall. The Swensons generally arrive late at night for their safaris, so the hotel is perfect. We had organised a VIP meet and greet to help them get whisked through customs and I was waiting for them in the arrivals hall and had already checked them into their rooms, so they were in their hotel room moments after getting off the plane. A good night sleep after a full day of travelling from the states is always a good way to start your safari.
This was the second time the Swensons had been up to Pafuri with Callum and myself and this time they chose to stay at Pafuri Main Camp instead of Hutwini Trails. The camp offers slightly more comfort than the trails camp and gives us access to different areas to walk. We had quite a few elephant encounters, with an incredible evening in the Fever Tree Forest surrounded my elephant bulls. But the highlight for all of us was the 16km walk through the sandveld region towards Lanner Gorge and then the walk back to the car, barefoot in the crystal clear river.
You can view some of the walks we did by clicking on the following links:
We had a lot of fun exploring Hoedspruit. The first evening the resident pack of Wild Dogs ran straight passed my house, where the Swensons were staying. On day 2 we went for a morning horse trail through the estate, the highlight was seeing a group of Giraffes sitting down, who didn’t mind having the horses very close to them. The second days highlight and possibly a top highlight of the trip, was helping the Endangered Wildlife Fund replace the satellite collar on the Alpha male of the Zandspruit pack of Wild Dogs.
Wow wow wow, Singita Pamushana is firmly in my top few camps in Africa. You don’t even have to go out to enjoy it, the views from the rooms are spectacular. We had some incredible sightings including a clan of about 40 Hyenas chasing 6 Lions off a Buffalo carcass, only to decide that attacking two of the lionesses was more important than feeding.
The highlight for me would have to be our sunset barge trip on the dam, we had some great birding and had stopped to have sundowners with a pod of hippos when we spotted 4 black rhino coming down to drink just ahead of us, we slowly headed in that direction and cut the engine about 50m from the rhinos, the wind carried us closer and closer till we were only about 10m from them, they had no idea we were there which made the sighting even more magical.
We saw 2 leopards which was very lucky for the area, a pack of Painted Dogs, several lion prides, lots of Ellies and most incredibly many rhinos, which with the current poaching epidemic is quite exceptional.
Pamushana also has many bushmen art sites and we visited a few on a walk one morning.
I love visiting Vic Falls, its a quirky fun town with this incredible charm. Having the incredible Victoria Falls right there is just a bonus!
We visited friends, toured the falls and took a helicopter flight high up above the falls. It really is the best way to view them and get a better idea of the sheer scale of them!
Mana Pools has to be one of my favourite places to visit, especially in the dry season when immense amounts of game congregate along the Zambezi floodplain to feed on the green grass growing where the water has receded and the Albida pods.
Chikwenya is an old concession on the eastern side of Mana Pools National Park, it has recently been completely rebuilt and is now run by Wilderness Safaris. We had some exceptional general game viewing, had a great walk where we found the black tip of a lion (a first for me on a walk!) and we spent 2 of our 3 afternoons fishing on the Zambezi for Tiger Fish.
“Just over a week into my safari and I wonder how I’ve changed, if at all. Certainly the experiences I’ve had and things I’ve seen have shaped me in someway. But then, as if by some ancient, unspeakable memory, I remember… it’s in my blood.”