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New: Little Gorges at the Victoria Falls

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Imvelo Safari lodges are excited to announce the opening of their new luxury tented addition at Gorges Lodge in February 2016

Perched on the edge of the Batoka Gorge, with awesome views of the Zambezi River 250 metres below, and across into Zambia, Little Gorges is the latest addition to Imvelo Safari Lodges’ portfolio of spectacular, remote and exclusive destinations.

Little Gorges overlooks the dramatic junction of the Dibu Dibu River and the Zambezi, where black eagles and lanner falcons nest in the sheer cliff faces.

Little Gorges has five tented bedrooms and a stone-under-thatch central dining and entertainment area where guests can relax with a cold drink from the bar.  Guests can also make use of the swimming pool and WiFi at the main Gorges Lodge.

The bedrooms are under canvas on platforms made from steel with a wooden deck.  Bedrooms are spacious with 60 square metres of living and veranda space.  Bathrooms are cut back into the terrain, constructed from brick under canvas.

Four rooms have twin double beds and the fifth a king bed, under mosquito nets, with mini bar fridge, fans, hairdryers and all the other amenities currently offered at Gorges Lodge.
The bathrooms have a spacious shower, twin basins and separate toilet.  Furnishings maximise use of local materials, including the splendid deep red wood of the indigenous Zambezi teak.

Little Gorges is a 30 minute transfer by road from Victoria Falls town, with all its attractions of shopping, restaurants and activities, as well as the Falls themselves – a walk through the rain forest is an essential experience for every visitor!

Little Gorges will be line priced with main Gorges Lodge in 2016 and guests will be able to partake in all the same activities too, ensuring all our guests leave having enjoyed the same excellent standards and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Gorges is famous for its spectacular views, described by some as the best in Southern Africa, and we look forward to continuing to share this with our guests from our fabulous new tented extension this year.

Imvelo + Dentists Safari

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2015 DENTISTS SAFARI

The final stage of our 2015 Dentists’ Safari involved clinics at Lukosi and Lupote for the communities to the north of Hwange Park. We were based at Nehimba lodge, first time for the dentists, so a great deal of anticipation to enjoy the unique elephant experience there.

The first clinic at Lukosi was set up at St Marys Primary school, where our team treated 381 patients on a day that recorded temperatures in the shade well over 40 degrees C. But it was the next day at Lupote that our magnificent team of volunteers had their finest hour. On a day blessed with a cloudy sky the clinic was thronged with people desperate for the first class dental care they have come to expect from our team. Our buses shuttling in patients from the villages arrived full every time, and many more streamed in on foot.

To handle the numbers an extra marquee was set up for diagnosis, so our ‘waiting room’ was cleared and used only for administration of anaesthesia. And through what became a very long afternoon our doctors and their back up team dug deep – every single patient was treated, fed and then bused home too. A record 621 patients in a day.

546 received free dental care with literally thousands of treatments, 75 had their eyes tested and received spectacles and over 700 meals were served. But the highlight for many of us was as we drove out. A crowd of patients waiting for their bus ride home, stood clapping and waving as we departed.

Then of course Nehimba did not disappoint, providing a most extraordinary few days. The elephants and all the other wildlife including lion and wild dog congregated at the end of what has been a long dry season, providing us with a spectacle of wildlife unprecedented on any previous dentist safari. The cherry on the cake was the rains that finally started on the last day and provided huge relief to the parched earth and our thirsty herds.

To the whole team a very big and heartfelt thank you and of course… “See you next year!”

Rescued lions successfully released into their new African home

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BORN FREE FOUNDATION

Jora and Black safely rehomed to South African sanctuary

Today saw the successful release of the two magnificent ex-circus lions that the Born Free Foundation rescued from Bulgaria.

Jora and Black’s epic journey took them more than 10,500 miles, via the UK, and concluded on Sunday with their arrival at their overnight camp before final release this morning into their large, naturalistic accommodation at the award-winning Shamwari Game Reserve.

The two eight-year-old lions started their journey ‘home’ from a halfway house in central Bulgaria to Bourgas Airport on the Black Sea coast, late on Friday, 25th September. From there they were flown by Thomson Airways to London’s Gatwick Airport where legendary actress and Born Free co-founder, Virginia McKenna OBE, was waiting to give them a warm welcome.

Virginia said: “Born Free has successfully moved many captive animals but each occasion is unique in its own way. I am really happy to have seen these two lions at Gatwick before they head to their African homeland. I hope their story will inspire people to treat wild animals with respect and understanding, and never subject them to totally inappropriate existences in captivity. Jora and Black are flagship animals for the ending of all wild animals in circuses. Let all countries follow Bulgaria’s example.”

Jora and Black then travelled by road, in approved quarantine vehicles operated by JCS Livestock, to London’s Heathrow Airport where they were carefully prepared for the longest leg of their journey – a flight to Johannesburg International Airport. Much-loved Coronation Street actress Helen Worth, who launched the successful appeal for Jora and Black’s rescue in July and has been closely following their progress, took the opportunity to wish the brothers a fond farewell as they left the UK.

Helen said: “It is so exciting to see Jora and Black on the move to their wonderful new home. They are absolutely stunning animals and I feel really privileged to have had a chance to see them close up and on their way. I love Shamwari Game Reserve and I know they will have a lovely home there.”

After landing in Johannesburg, Jora and Black were transported by road. A convoy of Land Rover Discovery vehicles and trailers completed the journey to Shamwari Game Reserve, near Port Elizabeth. Born Free staff, friends and local media watched with delight as Jora and Black were released into their new enclosure, setting paws on Africa soil for the first time.

Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Experiential Marketing Director, said: “Our vehicles are designed with the power and ability to safely transport heavy and precious cargo. We were delighted to be able to support Born Free with the relocation and to ensure that Jora and Black had the most comfortable ride possible to their new home in Africa.”

Shamwari Group Head of Wildlife and Veterinarian, Dr Johan Joubert, and Born Free’s Big Cat Specialist, Tony Wiles, travelled with Jora and Black throughout their journey, making regular health checks.

Dr Joubert said: “I am delighted we have been able to take these animals and offer them a permanent home in the African bush. It is a stark contrast from the trucks in which they were first found. These animals have travelled well and show every sign of settling in and reestablishing some of their natural behaviour.”

Jora and Black’s new lives in their spacious, safe and enriching accommodation will be a world away from the circumstances in which they were rescued by Born Free, assisted by FOUR PAWS, earlier this year. Taken in as small cubs, the brothers were originally part of a circus act touring Eastern Europe and Turkey. Following the Bulgarian government’s much-welcomed ban on the use of wild mammals in circuses, the lions were left to languish in a stifling beast wagon since the summer of 2014, until the owners agreed to re-home them with Born Free.

They will now be given lifetime care by Born Free at Shamwari. To donate £3 to help Jora and Black, text LIONS to 70007. £10 will buy a health-enhancing vitamin boost for both lions. £20 will buy one day’s good food for both lions. £75 will buy one week’s loving care for one lion. £3,900 would provide one year’s expert care for one lion, good food and any medical treatment needed.

To find out more about Jora and Black’s new life, meet some of Born Free’s other rescued animals, or make a donation to enable the Foundation to continue its work with some of the world’s most vulnerable animals, visit www.bornfree.org.uk.

About Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari, meaning “my friend” in Shona, is the pinnacle of private game reserves and home to the coveted Big Five. Stretching 25,000 hectares over a malaria free landscape, it offers an award-winning nature experience and is one of the largest private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa. Shamwari Group presents guests with the very best that Africa has to offer whilst conserving a vanishing way of life. For more information about Shamwari, please visit: www.shamwari.com

Mobile Safari with Letaka

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NORTHERN HIGHLIGHTS BOTSWANA

9 nights, 10 days Letaka Tented Camp

Chobe National Park, Khwai Concession, Moremi Game Reserve

Routing:
Kasane to Maun.

Accommodation:
Fully serviced en-suite Tented Camping.

Highlights:

– Chobe National Park (Central Chobe & Chobe River Front)
– Boat cruise on the Chobe River
– The freedom of the Khwai Concession Area
– The Moremi Game Reserve
– Exploring the fringes of the Okavango Delta by mokoro

Itinerary Outline:

3 Nights Letaka Tented Camp – Chobe National Park
Activity guide: Game drives (Central Chobe and/or Zwe Zwe)

3 Nights Letaka Tented Camp – Khwai Community Area
Activity guide: Game drives, night drives, guided walks and mokoro excursion

3 Nights Letaka Tented Camp – Moremi Game Reserve
Activity guide: Game drives

A Typical Day on Safari

The day starts with the rising of the sun. Your wake-up call will be between 5am and 6am – a gentle “koko” (knock knock in Setswana) at the entrance of your tent. The canp staff will be on hand to fill your wash-hand basin with steaming hot water and freshly made tea and coffee will be served around the campfire. A light breakfast will be served before the early morning game drive. The best time of day to enjoy game viewing is in the early morning and late afternoon as most animals retreat to the shadows to rest during the heat of the day.

Having spent the morning exploring the surrounding wilderness in search of Botswana’s hidden treasures, you will return to camp for a sumptuous lunch under the shade of a Marula Tree (subject to availability). Just as the animals retreat to escape the heat of mid-day, so will you. This is your time to enjoy reading, chatting, relaxing or taking a nap.

Later in the afternoon you will head out into the wilderness once more as the animals awake from their days slumber and gather at the watering holes to quench their thirst. As the sun sets on the horizon, one can only marvel at the sheer splendor of an African sunset and with refreshments in hand, toast to the wonder of nature.

On your return to camp, you can gather around the warmth of the campfire with your fellow companions to relive the day’s events and excitement. Enjoy a three-course dinner fit for a King served with South African wines against the magical backdrop of the Africa night sky. Retreating to the comfort of your tent after enjoying a nightcap around the campfire, you can fall asleep to the calls of the African wild. Goodnight.

On moving days we will depart camp following an early breakfast, the safari teams will then pack down the camp, traveling ahead in the supply vehicle to prepare the camp for your arrival at the next location. We will first stop for tea, coffee and cookies and then later for a relaxing lunch under a shady grove of trees. Invariably lunch finds us a short distance from our camp.

Please see the rates and dates for full details of the 2016 out of season departures and availability or on the online Tour Calendar at www.letakasafaris.com

JOZIBANINI CAMP OPENS!

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Imvelo are excited to announce the opening of Jozibanini Camp! Situated in one of the most southern and untouched areas of Hwange National Park, ‘Jozi’ is a small exclusive camp in a truly wild place, providing a unique, untamed wilderness experience.

In the dry season, guests will reach the camp via a ‘pump run,’ resupplying waterholes en route, providing an opportunity for guests to get involved in the incredible game water supply program that is unique to Imvelo Safari Lodges. In the wet season, guests will go on an all-day game drive through the southern area of the park, ending up at Jozibanini in the late afternoon.

A ‘Look up Blind’ has been sunk just a few metres away from the camp waterhole and game viewing by moonlight from inside the blind will be an awesome experience. Guests will also be able to experience our unique new activity – game viewing on mountain bikes!

For travellers looking for an adventure off the beaten track, Jozi will be an exciting 2 day add on option to any of Imvelo Safari Lodges’ packages.

T’s and C’s: minimum 2 night stay, minimum 4 pax.

Do you belong to the people with a desire to learn about and experience the wilderness?

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Environmental Training Courses in the Okavango Delta

The Botswana Guides/ Nature Ecology Course is a theory based course with a strong emphasis not only on the practical skills of guiding but also the full syllabus used by southern African guides to qualify for the theory exam.

The focus of the course is taking the classroom to the wilderness. While there are informative lectures the majority of the training happens out in nature on boat, mokoro (dug-out canoe), on foot or in a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
The course is modular so you may join the course for 2 or 4 weeks. Many choose to do the full 28 days over a period of 2-4 years due to leave constraints.

Activities:
· game walks
· approaching big game on foot
· game drives
· mokoro (dugout canoe) excursions
· motor boating
· muscle memory for rifle handling
· theory lectures
· navigation
· stargazing and astronomy

Obtaining a qualification is not necessary – this course is ideal for purely enrichment
purposes and no prior experience is required. However, there are two qualifications available and students may choose to do the FGASA qualification in addition to the BQA (Botswana Qualification Authority) qualification which is mandatory for obtaining a Botswana Guides License. Exams are weekly.

What sets Okavango Guiding School apart?

Kwapa Training Camp is situated in a wilderness area that is unfenced for hundreds of thousands of square kilometres. Doing your training in the Okavango Delta is a unique experience.

A MUST SEE CLIP…

Kudu Package

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7 Night Safari – 3 Nights dinner, bed and breakfast at Gorges Lodge then 4 nights All Inclusive at Bomani Tented Lodge with road transfers between the lodges.

 

DAY 1:
Arrive at Victoria Falls Airport where you will be met by our shuttle bus for your road transfer to Halfway House (2.5 hours).
You will be collected from Halfway House by one of our Bomani 4 x 4 game drive vehicles for your transfer into Bomani Tented Lodge (1.5 hours).
Settle into your tent and then have sundowners and canapés by the Pan.
Later enjoy a 3 course supper out under the stars.

DAY 2:
Early morning game drive and walk in Hwange National Park’s acacia forests surrounding Ngamo Plains.
Return to Bomani for brunch and either a siesta or an hour or two in the blind over the waterhole.
Afternoon game drive followed by sundowners and snacks at Major Pan.
Night drive back to the lodge for showers then cocktails and snacks around the campfire with a 3 course dinner to follow in the main lodge area.

DAY 3:
Early morning all day trip into the park on our one of a kind ‘pump run’, with a picnic and siesta under the trees at Mfagazaan Pan.
Imvelo’s trademark pump runs combine game viewing in remote areas of the park with practical hands-on conservation. Guests can assist their guide with day-to-day maintenance at the borehole pumps which are the heartbeat of Hwange National Park and its wildlife.
Leisurely afternoon game drive back to the lodge going from pan to pan, weaving our way between the throngs of jostling elephant that come pouring in for the fresh water. It makes for a fun, memorable and extremely rewarding day.
Freshen up and then refreshments around the campfire and supper in the main lodge area.

DAY 4:
Morning village visit and school tour at Ngamo Village and a tour of the Imvelo Community projects.
Return to the lodge for breakfast and then catch your road transfer to Halfway House (1.5 hours).
Continue on by road to Gorges Lodge (2.5 hrs) with a packed lunch for the journey.
Settle into Gorges and then enjoy the evening overlooking the gorge with a delicious supper in the main lodge dining room.

DAY 5:
After breakfast catch the lodge shuttle and spend the morning in Victoria Falls town. Have lunch in town (at guest’s own expense) and then take the late afternoon shuttle back to Gorges Lodge to enjoy the evening with sundowners overlooking the gorge and listening to the pounding Zambezi bellow.
Later enjoy a 3 course dinner in the garden under the stars.

DAY 6:
After your morning tea or coffee on your private veranda enjoy a late breakfast and a leisurely morning in the lodge grounds. The shuttle will take you to the airport for your departing flight.

Bushbuck Package

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5 Night Safari – 3 Nights all Inclusive at Bomani Tented Lodge then 2 nights dinner, bed and breakfast at Gorges Lodge with road transfers between the lodges.

DAY 1:
Arrive at Victoria Falls Airport where you will be met by Gorges Lodge staff for your transfer to Gorges Lodge.
Take some time to settle in and explore the grounds then later in the evening have a sundowner on the bar deck before enjoying a delicious 3 course dinner in the garden under the stars.

DAY 2:
After breakfast catch the lodge shuttle and spend the morning in Victoria Falls town. Have lunch in town (at guest’s own expense) and then take the late afternoon shuttle back to Gorges Lodge to enjoy the evening with sundowners overlooking the gorge and listening to the pounding Zambezi bellow.
Later enjoy a 3 course dinner in the lodge dining room.

DAY 3:
After breakfast enjoy a leisurely day at Gorges Lodge by the pool or exploring the grounds OR take a shuttle to Victoria Falls town to spend the day exploring and doing activities of your choice. Have lunch in town (at guest’s own expense) and take the late afternoon shuttle back to Gorges Lodge to enjoy your 3 course dinner with sundowners on the deck.

DAY 4:
After breakfast embark on your shuttle and transfer to Halfway House (2.5 hours).
You will be met at Halfway House by a Bomani Lodge 4 x 4 vehicle for your transfer to Bomani Tented Lodge (1.5 hours).
Settle into your tent and then enjoy a late lunch followed by a short game drive with sundowners and snacks by the Pan. Freshen up and enjoy a delicious 3 course supper out under the stars.

DAY 5:
Early morning game drive and walk in Hwange National Park’s acacia forests surrounding Ngamo Plains, escorted by a fully licensed and experienced guide.
Return to Bomani for brunch and either a siesta or an hour or two in the blind over the waterhole.
Afternoon game drive photography in the evening light and sundowners and canapés at Major Pan.
Night drive back to the lodge to freshen up and then refreshments around the campfire and later a 3 course dinner in the main lodge area.

DAY 6:
Early morning full day trip into the park for our one of a kind ‘pump run’ with a picnic and siesta under the trees at Mfagazaan Pan.
Imvelo’s trademark pump runs combine game viewing in remote areas of the park with practical hands-on conservation. Guests can assist their guide with day-to-day maintenance at the borehole pumps which are the heartbeat of Hwange National Park and its wildlife.
Leisurely afternoon game drive back to the lodge going from pan to pan, weaving our way between the throngs of jostling elephant that come pouring in for the fresh water. It makes for a fun, memorable and extremely rewarding day.
Showers and then campfire refreshments and supper in the main lodge area.

DAY 7:
Morning village visit and school tour at Ngamo Village followed by a tour of Imvelo’s Community projects.
Return to Bomani for a late brunch with the option of either a siesta or spending an hour or two in the waterhole blind.
Afternoon walk or game drive going from pan to pan across the Ngamo plain.
Night drive back to the lodge for showers then campfire cocktails and snacks followed by supper in main lodge dining room.

DAY 8:
Morning tea or coffee followed by breakfast and then embark on your road transfer to Halfway House and then catch your shuttle to Victoria Falls Airport to catch your departing flight.

Elephant Express

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For nearly 20 years a rail transfer option for safari guests to the south east of Hwange National Park has been dreamt of, but in 2014 the Imvelo Safari Lodges team turned that vision into reality and re-invented their safari transfers into a unique activity, using the railway line that runs in an almost completely straight line along Hwange’s northern boundary . During 2014 and early 2015 it has been thoroughly tested and systems have been fine tuned. The ‘Elephant Express’ rail car is now operational and geared to ensure a fabulous experience for our guests visiting our lodges in southern Hwange. 8 km from Hwange Main Camp, at Impofu Siding, set in the shade of ancient Zambezi teak trees, our guests either boarding or alighting the Elephant Express will feel they have been transported back in time to an era when safari by rail was part of the adventure. At this exclusive siding in the forest, our guests can sip cold drinks and enjoy snacks following or prior to their 70 km, two hour trip into or out of Bomani or Camelthorn Lodges near Ngamo Siding. The Elephant Express seats 22 passengers and the finishes are comfortable and elegant. They include individual coach seating, a chemical toilet, teak tables, plenty of space for luggage and a large aisle that allows guests to walk around comfortably and provide unrestricted game viewing. Our railcar has every safety feature too.

The Elephant Express has been deliberately designed to travel either forwards or backwards, with an independent engine and gearbox at either end of the vehicle. There are also sidings every 10 km on the straight route to allow traffic to pass, and our drivers are experienced railways’ engineers each with over 30 years experience on this line. They are in constant communication with other trains and traffic control and have 25 km of visibility in both directions. Imvelo guides are also on board at all times to ensure guest comfort and help them enjoy the wildlife, scenery and vegetation en route. The Elephant Express also provides shorter game viewing trips across the Ngamo Plains to Ingwe Siding or can even be used as an all day activity for guests who want to make the trip to and from Impofu for fun – what a magnificent start or end to a safari in Hwange National Park, gently rattling along in style with a cool drink and enjoying the wildlife and vast wilderness around you.

The rail car transfer option will be free of charge between Impofu and Ngamo Sidings for 2015. Drop off and collection from Impofu will be either by transfer buses or game viewing vehicles depending on guests’ next or previous stop. At Ngamo Siding game viewing vehicles will drive guests for the 10 to 15 minute hop to either Bomani or Camelthorn Lodge. The Elephant Express will make daily return trips as necessary between Ngamo and Impofu. To Impofu in the morning and back to Ngamo in the afternoon. Please note that the Elephant Express runs according to daily scheduling specified by the National Railways of Zimbabwe and as such may be subject to delays and cancellations, which are beyond our control. Times are set daily and communicated to the incoming and outgoing road transfers. Sjaan on reservations@imvelosafarilodges.com is our central controller between lodge and transfer companies to ensure smooth running. We need to exercise great caution when using the Elephant Express to link with regional and international air travel and these guests must arrive or depart by road transfers. However, we will endeavor to ensure that all our guests have the option to
experience the Elephant Express during their stay through either the transfer activity, a day trip or a short game viewing activity. This of course cannot be guaranteed for guests on short stays. Imvelo Safari Lodges are proud and excited to have started this unique experience for our guests to enjoy when visiting our lodges in the south eastern corner of Hwange. For further queries please contact reservations@imvelosafarilodges.com or marketing@imvelosafarilodges.com.

Imvelo Safari Lodges acquires Nehimba Lodge

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We are thrilled to announce that Imvelo Safari Lodges has acquired Nehimba Lodge.

Situated in a private concession in the Northern part of Hwangwe National Park, Nehimba has seven spacious chalets and a charming guest area where you can relax by the pool and enjoy a unique wildlife experience in a remote and previously unexplored sanctuary, An easy scenic four-hour drive from Victoria Falls will bring you into the heart of this this unspoilt wildlife paradise. No two days are the same at Nehimba and game viewing experiences are tailor-made to our guests’ preferences, including game drives, walking safaris and night game drives.