Martin & Frances Yates – Zambia to Cape Town (Feb 2018)

Thank you for your efforts on organising our trip, it was the trip of a lifetime, …and Robin Pope Safaris couldn’t have improved on anything, it was 120% great, they fell over backwards to make sure we had a fab stay with them at the 3 lodges.

The flights went according to plan, no delays. Emirates is a great airline, superb service. The meet and greet was a very valued service. Each of the 3 Safari Camps (Robin Pope Safaris) were fabulous & different. We had a personalised bespoke safari with no other guests at any camps. Saw lots of game in South Luangwa.

Our Safari was suggested to be at the Zambia safari camps in the “wet” or green season and normally the grasses would be high, 3 feet to 4 feet tall which would limit the amount of ground based game seen BUT great for spotting numerous birds.  However, in the area where we were, the long rains hadn’t happened (we had just 1 short shower while we were at the camps for 7 nights) so the grass was just 6 inches tall, which allowed for great game viewing. We then had a 1 day safari whilst travelling on Rovos Rail in Zimbabwe where they had already had plenty of rain and the grass was 4 feet high and very few ground game was seen (apart from Giraffe).

Every day of the 3 weeks holiday had highlights, but these are some of the best! :

  • Stalking on foot, a lone female lion. (we had a park ranger with us on the walking safaris, with his large rifle…just in case)
  • Seeing 100’s of Hippos sitting all day in the river, playing their “trombones” then getting out at sunset for munchies. (there was a resident hippo in one of the safari camp lagoons, next to the “restaurant” called Humphrey, he also had a crocodile companion!
  • Watching (from the river boat, for 2 hours) 100’s of crocodiles 30 feet away, gather round a huge dead hippo (it stank) in the river and 4 Lions cautiously approach it from the river bank into the river (they don’t like water) , then smacking the crocodiles with their paws to keep them at bay while they tried to tear meat off the hippo (have great video showing this)
  • Seeing a large pack of wild dogs, a rare sighting apparently.
  • Saw a female Leopard sitting on the top of a termite mound while a young male leopard tried to grab her attention…. she was having none of that.
  • Being approached by a large but young bull elephant, who decided he was game for picking a fight with our Toyota Landcruiser..luckily our driver decided that reverse gear was quickly required!
  • We saw the Big 5 plus 30 other species and 100’s of different birds.
  • Having Sun-downers, were ever we where – during a walking safari, cruising up the river in the boat, at the end of a mobile (on a truck) safari , at sunset, was great fun – the guides had packed our favourite drinks plus ice and lemon slices in a cool box!
  • Seeing Victoria Falls close-up (we got soaked as recent rains meant huge volume of water falling)….

Waterberry Lodge (Livingstone) was very luxurious, although it was missing the opportunity for discussions with fellow guests that a bar would have created.
We loved visiting the local village (supported by guest income from Waterberry Lodge) to see how very poor Zambians lived (real mud huts, no western luxuries) plus seeing the new school recently built and were invited to join the enthusiastic children in lessons.

The Rovos rail train journey (Victoria Falls to Pretoria) was pure opulence and very enjoyable with 5 meals a day and a free bar….(very similar to Orient Express that I had been on before)………and the skills (or lack of) of a novice train driver under training proved “interesting”…

Another highlight was Frances meeting her brother in Pretoria who she hadn’t seen for over 10 years and had never met his children, now 19 and 14!!

We arrived in Cape Town during “drought” conditions and complied with the water restrictions (shower with a friend, standing in a bucket in the bath.)
We loved taking the rotating cable car up to the top of Table Mountain, which we last did 41 years ago!

Martin & Francis enjoyed superb safari in Zambia, visited Victoria Falls, took the luxury Rovos Rail train through Zimbabwe and ended in Cape Town.