We did quite a bit of research on the Safari lodges for this trip. We wanted an international brand with excellent visitor reviews. After we found the lodge on our own, we found that it was listed in our guide book -- could have saved us a lot of work if we started with the book...live and learn eh?
We were met at the airport by our driver who would take us to the lodge. He was very nice and carried our luggage. We got to the van - we were the only guests that arrived that day - and our guide gave us a run down of the activities we signed up for and told us about the area. We rode in the van for about 30 minutes on a perfectly paved, yet little traveled, tree lined road. We probably passed less than a dozen cars on the entire trip. We then turned off to a dirt road and continued for about 15 minutes until we turned the corner and came across the safari vehicles waiting for us. I was taking a video of the rural drive and was quite surprised by the safari vehicles -- honestly through the camera viewfinder I thought these were army vehicles -- I thought we were in for a run in with Mugabe's folks.
We met our resort host and were guided through the check in process and again were given the run down of the activities we signed up for. We wanted to do the game drives each day, go to Victoria Falls (we opted to stay longer than normally allowed for at the Falls), take a sunset river cruise and finally have a lunch time massage on our final full day. By this time it was approximately 15h30. Our host took us to our lodge to show us the amenities and the safety equipment (air horn to summon an armed guard/guide to our room).
We didn't have much time to settle in before our first game drive, which required us to meet up at 16h00. Each day consisted of the same basic schedule:
05h30: Wake Up Call
05h45: Morning Tea
06h15 Board Safari Vehicle and Begin Drive
08h15 Morning Coffee/Cocktails on Drive
09h00 Return to Lodge for Breakfast
10h15 Leave for Victoria Falls (Optional)
13h00 Lunch (Optional, if not at Victoria Falls)
15h00 Return from Victoria Falls (Optional)
16h00 Afternoon Tea
16h30 Evening Game Drive
18h00 Game Drive Sun Downers
19h30 Return to Lodge
22h30 Escort Back to Lodge
The Teas were tasty, while I'm not a tea fan...I find that I do like sugar and and milk with only a half a cup of tea. For breakfasts were really great -- and I'm really not a breakfast guy. Each morning we had a tray of melon and fruit, yogurt, breads and jams. We then had an option for eggs cooked any way, grilled tomatoes and bacon or sausage. I opted for a double portion of bacon and double grilled tomatoes. They were absolutely amazing.
Lunch was by far the worst meal - we had sandwiches, salad, fruit and wine. It wasn't bad, but it was just fine.
Each dinner we had a choice of two entrees -- MS and I always got different options so we could try everything available. The dinners were really nice. The options ranged from line fish, to steak, to lamb to pork. Each meal was really nicely prepared.
Breakfasts and Dinners were served at individual (couple) tables near the Zambezi River. Lunches were served in your own lodge. This made it quiet and somewhat romantic. The final night we were there, following a rough rain storm we all ate at a large communal table at the common area of our camp. This was really my favorite meal experience - it was so great to chat with our fellow guests (several of which were new to the camp that night). We had a gay couple from NJ who lived in France, a single Cathay Pacific pilot from Hong Kong, the couple (Mervin and Renee from Durban South Africa) and me and MS. We have all traveled quite extensively, so we spent hours telling travel horror stories and drinking port or whiskey. It was a really great evening! I do wish we had communal dinners each and every night.
The rooms themselves were quite comfortable. The beds were surrounded by mosquito netting, which did a great job of keeping the flying bugs away from us. I must admit, there were a lot of creatures in the lodges -- we had a big freaking spider that spent time next to my sink in the bathroom, several lizards hanging out on the ceiling and lots of little crawly things on the floor. I'm not a bug/lizard guy at all, but I was expecting this because it is Africa and we were on a Safari for god sakes. I must also admit that I didn't like the idea of going to the washroom in the middle of the night. I was nervous about stepping on...well anything. I made sure I turned on the lights, waited long enough for the scatter (which really didn't happen, it wasn't at all as bad as I'm making it out here), I put on my shoes (but definitely making sure nothing was living in my shoes), then I quickly went to the washroom. The scariest (yet unfounded) bathroom break of my life.