zimbabwe - Rob Padowski

about these photos:

I visited Zimbabwe for eleven days in late November/early December of 2015 for the first time. My safari company Absolute Africa offered up loads of optionals and activities, and I took full advantage. Less than an hour after crossing the border from Zambia into Zimbabwe we found ourselves getting ready to board a houseboat set on Lake Kariba for a few spectacular nights. From afternoon cocktails lounging in the hot tub to amazing game cruises to swimming in the cage off the back of the boat (the lake was full of hippos & crocodiles), great times were had by all on board. We had staff on board to cook for us for a change and the ten of us sprawled out on the boat capable of handling twenty eight passengers. Good times!

Fully rested we next set off next for the Chinhoyi Caves for a night before heading to Antelope Park in Gweru. Again, loads was on offer. The activities added up in cost as I did so many but everything was so worth it - no regrets! We watched lionesses successfully hunt antelope at night via spotlights, saw lion feedings, took a horseback safari, and got to interact and feed African elephants.

That being said, hands down the highlight in Gweru was walking with the lions. We broke off into small groups and interacted with two young male lion "cubs" named Armani and Arusha. We posed with them for photos, walked with them and held their tails as we walked them, and all with just a stick and a few "handlers" to protect us! It was an absolute rush and an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life. It was here on our safari that I coined the catchphrase PFAM, meaning potential for animal mauling. Amazing.

Then we headed off to Bulawayo for yet another magical experience while on tour. A walking safari to see rhinos! We spent the day in Matapos National Park tracking rhinos and not only did we find them, we got incredibly close to them. We first spent time with a mother and her calf, then explored loads of the park in an open air safari jeep checking out the dramatic topography and scenery including ancient cave paintings. As our day was nearing an end we were treated with one last sighting so off on foot we went. Again we were fantastically close (PFAM again!) to these beautiful creatures. Have you seen the nice weiss horns? What a way to end the day!

Lastly in Zimbabwe we parked up in Victoria Falls and set up our tents for four nights. We visited Victoria Falls NP, did some shopping, ate mopani worms, border hopped back into Zambia for the day, and said some sad goodbyes to those finishing their tour and welcomed new arrivals with open arms. Zimbabwe delivered on so many levels and I can't wait to return some day and do it all again!

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