Goway’s Africa Expert, Melanie Tucker, writes about her time in Africa last fall. With only 9 days to experience four countries, she tells of her favourite highlights, low moments, and everything in between – all making it one memorable trip.
A quadripoint is a point that touches the border of four distinct territories. Also known as the “four corners of Africa,” these four countries meet at the eastern end of the Caprivi Strip – Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
There are more than 150 tripoints in the world but only ONE international quadripoint. So here I was, sitting in the only place in the world where four countries meet.
Why sitting? Because I was on the amazing Zambezi River, in a small ferry dodging its way between other small craft and the crowded ferries moving non-stop between the banks. This small crossing took about six minutes.
Behind me was Botswana, to my right, Zimbabwe, to my left, Namibia, and straight ahead, Zambia. I’d just crossed the border post in Kasane and was heading for Zambia and Livingstone Airport. It was the end of my trip and I was sad, yet elated.
I am from South Africa originally, but nothing could have prepared me for this amazing experience. Touching all four countries in 9 days was the most memorable experience, and I am very privileged to say I did it! However, it was just the tip of the iceberg to the perfect Africa vacation.
We only managed to see a small part of this amazing country. I spent 3 days in Chobe National Park, where we witnessed some incredible animal sightings. We were fortunate to have stayed at Ngoma Safari Lodge in the Chobe Forest Reserve, where viewing animals is done on the river in a small boat or in an open game drive vehicle. Coming up close to a crocodile did have me pretty alert and slightly on edge, but the guides are truly professional and definitely have your back.
In the Chobe riverfront area, you will also find the Chobe Forest Reserve, where herds of up to 1500 elephants can be seen on the floodplains across from the Ngoma Safari Lodge, which is situated on a rise. If you can’t afford to spend a night or two in the National Park, Goway offers a day trip to be able to witness these amazing creatures. The lodge is just seven kilometres from the Ngoma Gate border with Namibia, and only 135 kilometres from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
Botswana has a dry, semi-arid climate with most of the rain falling in summer between December and April. Summer squalls are usually brief and accompanied by thunderstorms.
The best time to visit Botswana’s Chobe area is between April and September during the dry season when flood plains and water channels are flooded by water from the Angolan Highlands, and attract an enormous number of elephant and other wildlife.
Early spring and summer – October to February – is known as the Green Season, when the summer rains transform the bush into a lush paradise, and most of the wildlife will produce their offspring during this time of abundance. It is also the best time to see Botswana’s more than 400 bird species, especially the migratory species. The weather during this period is, however, very hot and humid.
I was not prepared for the awesomeness that Zambia is. This has to be one of my favorite places on Earth!
We spent three glorious nights at the Royal Zambezi Lodge. The Royal Zambezi is an intimate privately-owned lodge, situated on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, just minutes from the Lower Zambezi National Park.
The activities were outstanding, as was the lodge itself. They include river safaris, game drives, bush walks (as you can see we found some dead elephant on ours), and canoe safari. We got up close and real personal with a hippo. It was pretty scary stuff but the guide was quick as a mambo snake to scare the momma hippo off.
Two of my most favourite things to do at the lodge was fishing and “DNA”.
I was totally against fishing in the beginning, but I quickly learned to catch and release. Still, not so much fun for the chessa, nkupe, or bream fish, among others, but super fun for us.
As Royal Zambezi Lodge described it, DNA (do nothing at all) is the best activity. You can spend the time relaxing by the main pool with the bar a few clicks away, or have the best Zambezi massage ever!
The Royal Zambezi was where we witnessed a pride of lions lying on an embankment with hippos watching on. In the background we could hear the Go-Away bird chirping at us to “go away!” The amazing African sunsets, the sounds of the hippos at night, the comfy beds, the great staff, and the lodge’s amazing GM, Natalie Clark, made it all so enriching.
It took us about 4 – 5 hours to get to Lianshulu Lodge from Victoria Falls. It was a long day, but I didn’t want to miss a bit of it, so I sat staring out the window for the whole 5 hours, whilst the rest of my crew enjoyed a few zzz’s. We passed many villages enroute, which looked like amazing places to live. They were super clean and tidy, however, when we neared a “town,” there was a huge amount of litter lying everywhere. It was a huge contrast from the miles of nothingness and the sparse land with the odd village dotted here and there. People still live very simply. No designer gear can be found here, nor any outlet malls! It was a pleasant change.
When we first arrived at Lianshulu, we found out that their 5-star product had burned down a week prior to our arrival. Apparently it’s a huge problem in this area. The bushveld is so dry that it doesn’t take much for a fire to ignite. Let alone, the worry about poachers. Our first game drive was a sad day for me. I was bawling my eyes out after seeing the game park burnt to a crisp. The poachers had been there the night prior to us arriving, trying to flush out the warthog for their tusks. All I could muster out of my mouth to the owner in between sobs was, “what can we do to help?” His reply, “send clients.” This helps with putting money back into the very barren land.
The highlight of this segment was a trip to the local village. They taught us how to make Mielie meal, dance, make clothes, catch prey, fish, and keep chickens. All this happens in a small compound and everyone does their bit.
Wind down at the end of the day with a Windhoek beer – a must when in Namibia!
What a country… and so close to South Africa! We spent a couple of days in Victoria Falls and had the great pleasure of being guided by the most memorable human being out there. Beks is his name, and we learnt so much from this man, from the history of Zimbabwe to how he lived as a young boy herding goats. Beks took us around the 16 vantage points at Victoria Falls to learn all about its various view points. He said his favourite, most magical time to see the Falls is in April. We were there in late September, when it was super dry.
After the walk around Victoria Falls, we took a ride over them in a helicopter, which was pretty spectacular. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. Later in the afternoon, we were taken down the Zambezi River on the Zambezi Explorer, on their signature deck, drinking beers and wine, and eating yet another 3 course meal. The food was epic. In fact, on the entire trip the food was out of this world.
In Victoria Falls we got to stay at the Victoria Falls Safari Club. This is a 5-star property next to Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, where they feed the 150 plus vultures any leftover food from the kitchen at lunch time. Within the same complex is the Boma Restaurant. This dinner that would feed the millions! It’s a super fun night. Upon arrival they paint your face and give you a sarong to put over your clothes to look more “African.” Dinner is a buffet of various types of game meat, and if you are brave enough, a mopane worm is on offer. If you have the guts to eat this poor critter, you are awarded a certificate. I did not need that extra piece of paper to hang on my wall! The evening then continues with each diner being given a drum in order to take part in the music spectacle. What a hoot! I have a fond memory of my new travelling buddy beating his drum with one hand and drinking his beer with the other.
Victoria Falls is known as the activity capital of Southern Africa. If we had more time I would have taken part in many of the various activities on offer – elephant-back safari and wire activities such as the Gorge Swing, Flying Fox, and zip-lining. For the not-so-faint of heart, you can bungee jump or white water raft. For the completely crazy people, try the Devil’s Swim. There is so much more to do in Zimbabwe besides Victoria Falls, but this was my highlight and I wanted to share it with you.
In fact, all these highlights made my trip to the “four corners of Africa” so special!