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Wednesday, 01 September 2021

Elephant Lodge: Gwango Safari Camp

Written by Richard Taylor
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No elephants for me apparently.

For various reasons, a dearth of transit in Namibia; sloppy planning in Zambia, my anticipated visits to the Etosha and Kafue parks had been skotched, so it was with trepidation that I registered at the Gwango Safari Lodge, which offered game drives to Hwange, one of Zimbabwe’s great national reserves, covering an area larger than Belgium.  The lodge itself was placed a few kilometers back of the railway line that served as the park’s unofficial border, and didn’t feature the manicured lawns, swimming pools and electric fencing of the Livingstone or Victoria Falls hotels.  It was an out of the way type of place, a forest clearing of white sands and thorn bush and giant ants.  A couple of workmen were repairing the short fences that braced the sandy paths and a larger cohort had completed the cement frame of a new two-story building. 

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A tall charming woman named Dorothy showed me the grounds.

“You arrange game drives?” I asked.


“Are they a regular thing?  Could I book one for tomorrow?”

“Oh, I’m sorry Sir.  We must have a minimum number.  At least three people.”


“We’re expecting a large party tonight.”


Dorothy put me in the Number Eight ‘Chalet’, a descriptor that certainly pushed the boundaries, but the bed was comfortable and the bathroom clean and there was a chair and writing desk.  Still, I had a feeling this was another bust.  The lodge seemed a going concern – the new building for instance.  But I was the only guest.  Large party tonight?  Believe it when I see it.  Even the name raised a red flag.  Gwango Safari Camp.  Formerly the Gwango Elephant Lodge.  Why the name change?  Had they run out of elephants?

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The large party arrived that afternoon, almost immediately setting off again for the three-hour ‘sunset drive’ and night safari.  I declined an invite, holding out for the full day booking.  According to Dorothy, there was a game drive laid on for Saturday.  Two days off.  That evening, as I sat down to a dinner of beef stew and plain rice, I considered what kind of diversion could be found between now and then among the white sand and thorn bush and giant ants.

It was not promising.

Dorothy dropped by my table to say hello.

“How’s your dinner, Sir?”

“It’s quite nice actually.”

“Did you hear Sir?  About the night safari?  They saw lions eating an elephant.”

Quite a coup for the lions, I thought, wondering how they managed to pull it off.

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Last modified on Thursday, 02 September 2021

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