What Zimbabwe is all about...

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Zimbabwe! If Tanzania is “the man” when it comes to big game hunting…then Zimbabwe is his brother. I’m not sure what Selous saw when first arriving in southern Rhodesia, but after reading A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa, I believe I can make the century plus leap to the same isolated ranges of hills in the Matetsi range (where God must have dumped all of his left-over rocks), to the flat Mopane wooded areas along the eastern most extent of the Kalahari sands. Evolution is a foregone conclusion here as you experience the vast diversity of flora and fauna, but pay close attention to your heart. Zimbabwe will steal you away…

We prefer this northwestern part of the country near Victoria Falls. Cool nights and warm dry days is the norm from June through August. It is cool enough at night to enjoy the comfort of a campfire and, warm enough during the day to relish that Castle Lager or a Zambesi. No bugs, no dust, fewer leaves, plenty of potable bore-hole water for drinking, bathing and of course, ice. You are always in radio or cell phone range w/ helicopter medivacs out of Bulawayo or Vic Falls, if the rare need arises. And, some of the best hunting actually borders the airport at Victoria Falls in the Matetsi,… so 12 hour rides to camp are not necessary.

Camp? Generally thatch-over-stone electrified chalets… most with facilities in each room, in some camps they’re just a couple of steps away. Camps are often situated in some of the best game viewing areas. And by the way, Zimbabwean PH’s undergo years of apprenticeship and a grueling field qualification practical before being awarded a “professional” hunters license…toughest in Africa.

NOTE: Because of the current political-economic conditions in Zimbabwe, preparing for a safari can be challenging for the safari operator. However, it can be done, it is safe and as hunting in Zim is always and excellent experience, it's well worth an inquiry, especially if you want an early season hunt, May through June. Barb and I have hunted in the Gwaai and Matetsi areas for the last three years enjoying every safari to the fullest.

August Journal

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Wow… is the only way I can describe this month. I know that whenever I will think back on August 2006 there is no way I can stop the smile from forming on my lips. I know I can never even try and capture the atmosphere of this safari with a newsletter but I will try my best anyway.

Our clients this month were the Tempest Family. Richard was on a 21-day hunt with his 3 Sons, David, Michael and Robert doing 3 consecutive 7 day hunts. His other son Matt and daughter Lynne came as observers as well as Steve, Lynne’s Husband, and Liz, Bob’s wife. Richard, David and Lynne were the first to arrive on the 2nd with everyone else arriving on the 10th.

2nd August - The 9.55pm KLM flight has landed and I am waiting outside Dar es Salaam airport for my three clients to arrive, Richard Tempest and his son and daughter, David and Lynne. Through the glass windows I can see them but they don’t seem too happy. I later find out that KLM has sent Richard’s gun case to Germany. So after a lot of arguing with the airport staff (who have managed to “misplace” their tag with the only number we can trace the case with) and a whole lot of “NO Problem” from my guy in the inside, we’re off to the Kilimanjaro Kempinski Hotel. The hotel really is great, rooms are awesome, food is awesome (especially the restaurant Oriental), everything is awesome BUT… heard later that they took Richard’s credit card number and went on a spending spree so if anyone is staying there in the future please do watch out for this or pay in cash.

The next day we catch the charter into camp. Richard was hunting with Con van Wyk, with whom he had hunted previously in Zimbabwe in 1997 with his 2 sons. KLM was really amazing about sorting out the problems with the guns, they found out where the gun case was and chartered a plane into camp the next day.

Richard managed to bag the first trophy, and what a trophy it was. I can’t wait to see where it will score in SCI. After a few days of watching a hippo pod he selected the hippo he wanted and it was a great choice, with a PERFECT shot between the eyes it was all over, except we now had the problem of getting the hippo out the water. It was quite nerve racking as none of the other hippo’s would leave their herd bull so Con and Simba (a tracker) went in after it, screaming and hitting the water whilst Richard shot off to the side to try and scare them off. They took off out the water only to come back about 30 seconds later. Giving up on chasing them away, Con and the rest of the trackers took to the water to tie the cable around the hippo to try and haul it back to the bank. Lynne was great, taking her shoes off and getting in there and helping out. Rich was the look out for crocs. After about 3 hours and a lot of hard work (especially for the cruiser) they managed to start skinning it.

Rich also shot a huge hyena and 2 great buffalo. The first Buffalo was out in the open; Liz was still trying to have a good look at them with her bino's when Rich shot his dugga boy. The second was quite another story with the wounded the buffalo charging in the long grass. I could try and recount the story of the charge that we later heard around the campfire but, I would fail in capturing the moment. Just to see their expressions whilst telling the story, you felt like you were right there with them. I can say that Con was very impressed with everyone involved, especially, Rich who stood shoulder to shoulder with him and waited for the buffalo to emerge to take the shot. Con said it sounded like one shot when they both shot at exactly the same time to bring the buffalo down. Matt and Lynne were along for the hunt and were great cause even when the game scout (one of the guys with a gun) ran as fast as he could out of there, they were still there holding their ground. Matt was the other guy with a gun but had the unfortunate decision of whether to take the shot or not as the buffalo was between him and everyone else. So there was a huge chance of hitting someone, but luckily Rich and Con dropped the buffalo.