I never dreamed I'd be riding in the wildness of the African bush. But here it is, day four, with three more to come in Hwange National Park. www.riding-in-hwange.com These big five safaris started just last year and some ground covered has never been walked upon by a human, let alone a horse! It's a palpable feeling, riding not on a footpath made by humans or a trail etched by horses, but on tracks trodden by elephants through the bush. And today we're actually tracking lions!
My first-hand account of the exhilarating encounter with lions is another story, but I wanted to put the alert here so other adventurers can find this once-in-a-lifetime incredible experience!
Out of range of the lions we come out into an open grassland wide as the horizon, surrounding a watering hole, a pan. The group of us, each horse and rider, spreads out across the vast expanse, in silence knowing that no one else may ever have been in our hoof prints. On top of that we've been riding at times in the company of curious giraffes, unfazed zebras, and startled kudu, sable, eland and more. A puff adder up close, intact body of a leopard two days dead, exotic birds and a billion busy insects ~ the whole landscape is humming with energy.
The owner/ guides, James & Janine Varden say it's been true adventuring finding new routes and campsites using maps, compass and gps. I know that James is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable and personable guides in the country. And Janine's special way with horses and with people, both guests and camp crew is genuine, warm and down to earth.
I found Zimbabwe safe for visitors with an itinerary, uncrowded and welcoming. The few days solo in Victoria Falls were rewarding too ~ staying at the legendary Victoria Falls Hotel was a luxurious respite in my two months of African adventure and gave a real taste of a bygone era, however politically incorrect that may be nowadays. (Special rate on the internet). Back to the Varden's, whose commitment to their country, willingness to talk about the history and politics is truly educational for "us foreigners". James is also a director of www.natureways.com, walking and canoeing safaris in Mana Pools National Park and on the Zambezi River, also in Zimbabwe. The river destination hadn't occurred to me before now, but going anywhere and doing anything with James & Janine is to be wholeheartedly considered!
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