ZIMBABWE: 12 Days In Zimbabwe With Shangani Safaris

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This is my first of 2 hunting reports and a travel report:
12 Days in Zimbabwe with Shangani Safaris
Another 12 days with KUBUSI Safaris in South Africa
Flying on Qatar Airways and Airlink Airways.

My first safari in Zimbabwe and I was excited The Plan was for a bush camp and being in the bush surrounded by free roaming animals.

With the assistance of my South Africa outfitter the original plan was to hunt hippo and croc in Zimbabwe but this was changed for whatever reason between the Zimbabwe outfitter and my South Africa outfitter and as a last minute deal my South Africa outfitter was able to put together a hunt with Shangani Safaris for Cape Buffalo and Livingstone Eland with PH Lloyd Yeatman whom my South Africa outfitter had hunted with before and recommended.

James Williamson owns and operates KUBUSI Safaris in the East Cape, South Africa, near Grahamstown. I cant say enough great things about James, the lodging and the PH's I have hunted with and met at KUBUSI Safaris more of this in my next hunting report: Another 12 days with KUBUSI Safaris in South Africa.

Take this report and my experiences with Shangani Safaris for what it's worth. Maybe others who have hunted with Lloyd will chime in sharing their experiences.

This was not the hunt I was expecting.

My trip stated from Dulles airport, Washington DC to Doha, Qatar, to Johannesburg and return with Qatar Airways. Subsequent fights are on Airlink Airways from Johannesburg to Harare and return, then from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth and return. More about my flights in my travel report.

From Harare airport to Chimopo(?) (I hope I got the town's name correct) is a 6 hour drive plus the stop for pizza and a drink as this is the last place to get food before the late arrival and transfer for the final 2 hour drive to "camp", which is actually a lodge type set up.

I don't know, I should have asked, why the plane from Harare airport was changed to a long and very bumpy ground transport from Harare to Chimopo. I just took it as a dreaded Covid inconvenience, not worth the $800.00USD transport fee, but I'm on my way to a bush camp in Zimbabwe for a Cape buffalo and a Livingstone eland.

Darlington my driver from Harare to Chimopo turns me over to 2 of my trackers Emmanuel and Samuel for the next 2 hour drive to camp. We arrive at camp around 9:00p, a lite meal, a bit of socializing with my PH Lloyd Yeatman and his wife Sabine and off to my brick and mortar cabana to prep for my 1st hunting day and some sleep.

I won't bother with numbering the disappointments I had with this hunt. But this is the first of many.

Up next is Hunt Day 1.
 
"I won't bother with numbering the disappointments I had with this hunt. But this is the first of many."
I know that feeling....
 
Hunt Day 1:

Lloydand I meet up for breakfast: eggs, bacon, toast and coffee; I chose a morning coke to get my caffeine and sugar rush started, around 7:30a to discuss the days events.

First up, Lloyd has sent Emmanuel and Samuel to the river to scout out a large croc and an old hippo bull......we are suppose to be or rather my hunts are for Cape Buff and L.Eland...?????

We will have 2 other trackers, not quite as experienced, but good trackers, for the buff hunt. Joining us will be Aconte, the local tribal scout to ensure the hunt meets tribal policy.

First thing this morning is to check my rifle scope at the make shift range.

The flimsy sticks I'll deal with. My shooting is sub par I like touching bullet holes, but as long as I can keep a steady hold and a proper rifle hold I'm good with 2 bullets approximately 1 inch apart: 1 center in bullseye, 1 approximately 1 inch high of and center at 53 yards.

Off we go driving around the area in search of fresh buff sign. Our hunting party consists of: Lloyd PH, Lloyd's wife Sabine, Aconte tribal scout, and the 2 new trackers whom I lost the list of names for their names.

First animals spotted were a couple of monkeys, then a black mamba. Now most folks would probably say or rather do continue on. However, we stopped for a photo op of the black mamba which was the highlight of this trip so far.

Back to the vehicle and on our way. A few stops were made to check tracks in the road and around various "pans" (aka ponds, waterholes) mostly old tracks and "scant" (sh't) left behind by buff, elephant, kudu, a few hyena tracks and a single young female leopard track.

Around 11:30a our hunting party returned to "camp" lodge area for lunch and a rest break. We would meet up again around 2:30p and start out again in search of fresh buff sign.

Note: There were to tents set up under permanent covered shelters. The rest of the buildings were permanent constructed buildings. In My Opinion: Not bad accommodations for a bush lodge meant for about 6-8 people, based on the size of the dining table.

Ah??? Why is there a high electrified fence? These are suppose to be free ranging animals.

Guess it was in the look on my face that gave a response to my above thought.. 'That's to keep the buff from mixing with the domestic cattle and prevent hoof and mouth disease.'

We drove around till dark then headed back to "camp" for supper, a brandy, some socializing and plans for Day 2.
 
Aaaaaaaaaand following!

Im sorry for what I’m assuming was a bummed trip, but the negative threads make for the most entertainment.
 
Still trying to figure out where Chimopo is. No reasonable town of that name, you don't mean Chinhoyi perhaps? What was the hunting concession called?
 
“I won't bother with numbering the disappointments I had with this hunt. But this is the first of many.”
Uh Oh...
 
I am reading this report like I know this PH. Quick search and I guess we will find out if Lloyd Yeatman strikes again:

ZIMBABWE: WARNING: Hunting With Juan Pace & Lloyd Yeatman - Don't​


 
Now before I continue onto Day 2.

Per our previous discussions I informed Llyod that I have a hip replacement and my knees bother me/hurt, but until I complain, he should not worry about me keeping up when we get to walking distances in the bush. I'm old and slow but I will travel as far and as long as need be to shoot a buff and eland.

I didn't realize 1 of their strides would equal 2 of my strides and I thought I walked fast.

I reiterate here as I did to Lloyd, I don't hunt with a tape measure, I am looking for a good hunt, and look for massive body and good/respectable horn mass. In this case a buff when shoulder mounted shows off the reason why Cape Buff are given the name "Black Death".

This is was planned as a 12 day trip: arrival day, 8 hunting days, 2 souvenir shopping/sightseeing days, departure day for 1 cape buff and 1 Livingstone eland. AND POSSIBLY a hippo, croc, or leopard added on as animals of opportunity.

I would classify myself as a fair or better than fair tracker. I also raised beef and know fresh from old cattle sh't, where cattle have laid, and it's pretty easy to tell which way a large animal is moving through knee to waist high grass. Granted some may say different, but to me and smelling cape buff sh't and urine, to me all beef smell the same. Location, weather, air temperature, are the variants to telling how fresh or how old sh't is.

Three things about animal sh't:
1. If it's wet, it's fresh
2. If it has a crust, depending on depth of crust depends on how fresh
3. If the crust is over 50% through and the once soft internal sh't is firm it's old.

I'm not impressed by the tracker or PH opening a pile of buff sh't, I'm seeing a 1/8th to 1/4th inch crust, the inside still wet and telling me its fresh or the crust is 50% deep and the inside is dry and crumbly the sh't is old.

I'm also not impressed when 1 tracker starts back tracking and the other tracker starts wondering around in a different direction and after 2-3 minutes the scout points them in the direction the grass is laying or the PH saying they (the buff) turned around here and indicating they headed back the direction we came; (meaning we, the buff and our hunting party should have walked into each other.

Before I give a spoiler alert, I'll pause here and start Hunting DAY 2 next.
 
I am reading this report like I know this PH. Quick search and I guess we will find out if Lloyd Yeatman strikes again:

ZIMBABWE: WARNING: Hunting With Juan Pace & Lloyd Yeatman - Don't​



I remembered something of this but couldn't find it when I searched for it.

Thanks for adding it to my post.

This should add merit to the rest of my Zimbabwe hunting report.
 
Still trying to figure out where Chimopo is. No reasonable town of that name, you don't mean Chinhoyi perhaps? What was the hunting concession called?
I think the area in question is one of the campfire areas bordering/close to Gonarezhou....
 
So far, I'm reading the story and giving the benefit of the doubt. I'm ignoring the prior post of a scandal associated with the PH so I can judge your story on its merit.

A couple of things so far:

-High barb wire fence around the camp or the region is legitimate, even in Zimbabwe, for the reason specified. Keeping cattle and buffalo from mixing for health reasons. Just because the compound or even 5000 acres is fenced doesn't mean you'll hunt inside the compound.

-Horrible travel scenarios in Zim are to be expected. They are actually preferred in my opinion. Getting you on the ground in Harare during this covid nonsense IS the winnable plan. From there, getting you ground transport 6 hours to near the concession and then transferred to a camp cruiser for another 2 hours is exactly correct. The alternative is flying into Harare and praying that the flights to Vic Falls or Bulawayo are operating, then hoping the small strips are operating, etc. I'm cool with what happened in your situation as it was the best way to get you to camp with your gear at this moment. It's what I've done on three safaris to Zim during the Covid era myself.

-You mentioned primary goal of Buffalo and Eland and "optional or secondary" choices of croc, hippo, or leopard on a whim opportunity. They did the right thing scouting early for croc and hippo, if they didn't start working day 1 on that, there is no add-on plan on day 12. They needed the intel to make it viable. There was and is no plan ever for an add-on "opportunity" on a leopard though. You must set baits, do drags, set cameras, and give it a wholehearted go to have any semblance of a chance. Anything less is taking your money for baits and getting nothing. The law is so strict on how old the leopard must be otherwise fines and penalties that the PH is going to look at that leopard one night, maybe even go back again, maybe even go back again when they can see testicles in daylight. They cannot afford any margin for error killing the wrong age or sex of cat.

-The moisture content of spoor. I hunted a lot up in the north and the spoor was so obviously fresh and runny, no crust, I knew we were close. I hunted closer to where you hunted and I was looking at what seemed to be 10 day old haybales and was getting annoyed we were chasing game that was long since retired and out of the country and sure enough, there they were 300 yards further up. I did not account for the climate differences, moisture content of the food, and ambient humidity. I learned I cannot determine freshness of spoor at all until after the 3rd day on the ground at that camp where I can finally see what fresh looks like THERE at that time versus what is fresh somewhere else in Zim in a different season with animals feeding on a different diet.



So far, these three points in your story may raise an eyebrow but they don't seem all that wacky to me or that this is the foundational evidence for a crap hunt or a scam.

I eagerly await the rest of your story.
 
Following. :A Popcorn:

Sorry to hear the hunt did not live up to expectations.
 
So far, I'm reading the story and giving the benefit of the doubt. I'm ignoring the prior post of a scandal associated with the PH so I can judge your story on its merit.

A couple of things so far:

-High barb wire fence around the camp or the region is legitimate, even in Zimbabwe, for the reason specified. Keeping cattle and buffalo from mixing for health reasons. Just because the compound or even 5000 acres is fenced doesn't mean you'll hunt inside the compound.

-Horrible travel scenarios in Zim are to be expected. They are actually preferred in my opinion. Getting you on the ground in Harare during this covid nonsense IS the winnable plan. From there, getting you ground transport 6 hours to near the concession and then transferred to a camp cruiser for another 2 hours is exactly correct. The alternative is flying into Harare and praying that the flights to Vic Falls or Bulawayo are operating, then hoping the small strips are operating, etc. I'm cool with what happened in your situation as it was the best way to get you to camp with your gear at this moment. It's what I've done on three safaris to Zim during the Covid era myself.

-You mentioned primary goal of Buffalo and Eland and "optional or secondary" choices of croc, hippo, or leopard on a whim opportunity. They did the right thing scouting early for croc and hippo, if they didn't start working day 1 on that, there is no add-on plan on day 12. They needed the intel to make it viable. There was and is no plan ever for an add-on "opportunity" on a leopard though. You must set baits, do drags, set cameras, and give it a wholehearted go to have any semblance of a chance. Anything less is taking your money for baits and getting nothing. The law is so strict on how old the leopard must be otherwise fines and penalties that the PH is going to look at that leopard one night, maybe even go back again, maybe even go back again when they can see testicles in daylight. They cannot afford any margin for error killing the wrong age or sex of cat.

-The moisture content of spoor. I hunted a lot up in the north and the spoor was so obviously fresh and runny, no crust, I knew we were close. I hunted closer to where you hunted and I was looking at what seemed to be 10 day old haybales and was getting annoyed we were chasing game that was long since retired and out of the country and sure enough, there they were 300 yards further up. I did not account for the climate differences, moisture content of the food, and ambient humidity. I learned I cannot determine freshness of spoor at all until after the 3rd day on the ground at that camp where I can finally see what fresh looks like THERE at that time versus what is fresh somewhere else in Zim in a different season with animals feeding on a different diet.



So far, these three points in your story may raise an eyebrow but they don't seem all that wacky to me or that this is the foundational evidence for a crap hunt or a scam.

I eagerly await the rest of your story.
You know Zim well Rook. Glass half full, glass half empty - sometimes one must be grateful to have a glass at all!
 
You know Zim well Rook. Glass half full, glass half empty - sometimes one must be grateful to have a glass at all!

Singlehandedly the most annoying country in the world I've ever visited politically/logistically speaking.

Singlehandedly the finest human beings on the planet as citizens and professional hunters.

You have to take the good with the bad.
 
Hunting Day 2:

Woke up at 4:45a met Lloyd around 5:00a for breakfast. Shortly after shooting light our hunting party was on the road in search of buff by checking for fresh buff sign in the roadway and at various pans.

About an an hour or 2 later the trackers spotted fresh buff sign in the road. We disembarked from the truck and started into the bush on the buff trail. From excitement to bust....the trackers determined the buff were further away.

I'm Thinking this: Geesh... you think!!!.....WTF...do you expect.....we are suppose to be hunting buff, not "rabbit hunting" deer....close means slow and easy not running up to try and stab them....WTH....why are you going through bush the buff went around, when there is a good clean trail to walk on?....all we are doing is pushing these buff further away...BS.

OK Calm down trust your PH and the trackers.

Lloyd: the buff were further away than the trackers thought.
Me: biting my tongue. (BS! But I'll let it go for now.)

Back to the truck and onward.

About 15-20 minutes down the road the trackers spotted 2 (maybe 3) buff in the bush about 100-200 meters. Excitement, disembark the truck and on the hunt. About 5 minutes on the sticks, but no clean shot, the buff run off. It's time for lunch.

Me: I don't know anything about hunting buff in Africa, AHer's advise always listen to your PH. FCK IT! IMO We should have followed them.

Critique: Fck the dmn sticks (at 40+/- yards) , I should have moved or tried anyway, to move to the 5-6 foot wide 7 foot high burm in front of us, placed the rifle on the burm for a solid rest and made or at least tried the shot at less than 20-25.

Note: From this point on is when I start coping an attitude, a very bad attitude about this hunt.

We return to the lodging area for lunch and a rest break till 3:00p for a 2-2 1/2 hour afternoon hunt.

As pissed off as I am at this point I concur that should a buff be only wounded, going after him (it) in the dark is plain stupidity.

After our lunch and rest break, it's now around 3:00p our hunting party loads back into the truck, as not referred to a bakki as in South Africa, we head back out for the afternoon hunt.

In short fresh sign is found, the buff are near, the excitement of shooting a buff is now merely: I have had enough of this BS, GOD please let this be the right bull and it this sh't.

Off we go racing into the bush......WTF!!!...
About 2k into the bush a dumbas of a bull moves and is spotted by one of the trackers. Sticks up, I'm slowly, purposely moving to mount my rifle onto the sticks as we watch the bull move wonderously into the bush out of sight, he didn't even know we were there. Unfortunately the other buff, the rest of the herd, all eyes upon us did. If they had not have moved we would have "walked" (my hind end: ran) right by them.

These 2 trackers have no idea of the meanings of close and close tracking! They not even Lloyd knows or doesn't seem to know what close tracking means: FCK!!! We moved so dmn fast and loud through the bush if that bull hadn't moved we would have completely bypassed the whole dmn herd!!!

This hunt with Lloyd and thes 2 trackers are prime,prime examples why never to listen to your PH and follow your trackers!!

And this is only Day 2, I have 9 more days here. FCK ME!!

Day 2 finished out back at the lodge area as a bust just after dark. To a fine meal prepared by Sharron the "lodge"/"camp" cook.

Sharon is an excellent cook!

OH Yes! I politely shared my feelings about this at various times over the next nine days. About the trackers crashing through the bush, instead of stop, look, listen, while tracking and when within close proximity of an animal in this case buff, but any animal "they" are hunting.

Days 3-8 are total bust other than seeing and photo'ing giraffe, a young elephant bull, other animals and scenery.

I won't bore you all with days 3-8, day 7 that is morning of day 7 involves the "Black Mamba Dance" a Kodak moment lost in mental memory. I'll have to post this as a follow up separate thread, after I teach my buddy's grandson to do it. It's all in good spirits of one of the trackers Samuel who almost stepped on or over a black mamba.

Ok from here I'll skip on to Day 9:

Days 3-9 with that one exception on morning Day 7 is blah, blah, blah, SOS (SAME OL' SH'T).
 
You know Zim well Rook. Glass half full, glass half empty - sometimes one must be grateful to have a glass at all!
Duly noted: that is why I said: Location, Weather, Air temp, these make up a whole new set of rules when tracking, but these conditions can be helpful and applied to tracking animals near or long gone.

Yes, on the hippo or croc as opportunity animals. However, the plan is to have a buff down in 4 days, and an eland down in another 4 days.

When you read the proverbial "rest of the story"..... ah, you will need to read the hunt report....no spoiler alert.

I agree on the high electrical fence. HOWEVER, this is suppose to be a free ranging hunt. In an area where domestic livestock and "bush" animals are at the least possible to come in contact with one another, not eminently to come in contact with one another.

I'll get back to your thread after I finish this part of my hunt reports because of spoiling the rest of the report.
 
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