Just returned to the U.S. from Zimbabwe
I just returned home after my first safari. I hunted Zimbabwe, in the Makuti area in the northwest part of the country (north and east of Lake Kariba and north and east of the town of Kariba - basically between the towns Kariba and Makuti). This safari was set up by Frank Ross at Cabela's Outdoor Adventures. I hunted with The African Safari Company and PH Dirk du Plooy.
I don't know where to start other than to say this was the most incredible adventure of my life. Despite the issues of Zim's economy, etc., my experience was fantastic. We had no problems with travel at all. We flew South African Air (my new favorite airlines) from the U.S. to Joburg, then onto Harare, Zimbabwe. Our luggage was checked all the way through to Harare. Our PH met us in Harare and we drove the four hours to camp. We got to see a lot of the country on this drive but we had no problem at tollway stops or roadblocks. Also there were no issues at all upon arrival - I paid for my tourist visa, handed in my firearm paperwork and we were off and rolling. No problems at all.
The camp was awesome, and despite this area of Zimbabwe being a primarily dangerous game area (known for buffalo, elephants and cats) we managed to see good numbers (not herds, mostly individual animals) of plains game species and in addition to a true dugga boy, I took a zebra, eland, warthog and sable. The warthog and eland were excellent animals, and the warthog sported a 14.25" long tusk on one side (13.25" on the other). My buffalo was old, probably 13. He has worn horn tips and his boss is worn down and was actually starting to separate from sagging. He's a gray-faced old dugga boy. I passed better scoring bulls, but none older. It's exactly what I wanted for my first cape buffalo.
I can't imagine a better place to hunt buffalo. This is all spot and stalk hunting and reminded me of hunting the western U.S. for mule deer or elk. We did not hunt any buffalo herds but chose to hunt only lone or groups of dugga boys and we were in buffalo all day, every day. It was awesome. Elephants are everywhere and the country is amazing. Lots of small antelope species as well but we didn't take any as we were trying to capture all the hunts on video.
I can't sing the praises of Dirk du Plooy enough. A native of Zim, he knows how to run a camp and he knows how to deal with any and every situation. His trackers are incredible and the tracking of my eland was the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed. Several hours and more than three miles of tracking in the long grass where it hadn't burned. There was nothing to track - no tracks, paths, etc. I have no idea what the trackers were seeing. Even my PH said it was probably the best tracking job he'd ever witnessed. I kept thinking we'd give up and move on when the trackers would whistle us to move again. I've hunted since I can remember and consider myself a good tracker and hunter, but I've never seen anything like this and they led me to within spitting distance of a grand old eland bull.
I understand now why people say you should never go to Africa and hunt, because once will never be enough. It's only been a few days since I got home, and I can't stop thinking about going back. I'll try to attach some photos if I can figure out how to do that.:cloud9: