Canoeing down the Zambezi

After spending time on the river boat seeing the many hippos and crocs, we were ready to canoe down the Zambezi. The lead up is nerve-wracking as the intensive safety briefing goes over the things that can go very wrong. Hippo flipping a canoe, crocs getting you, hitting a hidden tree stump…Anyways lots of things to get your adrenaline up.

Once we got in the canoes though I felt fairly relieved as our guide leading the trip had canoed the river over 2500 times over the past 20 years. We would not encounter any hippos but we knew they were around. After 6km of paddling, we would stop to watch the stunning sunset while sipping on a cold gin and tonic with a hippo family nearby. A very enjoyable experience.

Heading to Sapi Springs

Today we headed inland where we had the opportunity to experience a different area. Located away from the river looking on a spring, the camp is small and intimate with only 3 rooms. The beds are on the roof, only covered by a net, making for a very unique stay and a very neat experience as you look up at the stars while falling asleep, listening to the hyenas calling.

Meals at the camp were cooked over the bush fire, including margarita pizza which was fantastic! The eggs benedict was a treat as well.

Walking the Sapi River we stopped to play sausage throw, which you win by getting the sausage from the sausage tree closest to the target. Several rounds later, it came down to Alex and I in the championship playoffs.

Chikwenya

After a quick 15min flight I would land in a place called Chikwenya…a legendary safari area that has been revitalized after a 15-year hiatus. The area is known for its exceptional wildlife thanks to a natural floodplain and its location on the river. On a private concession, the area is exclusive to the camp giving you your own private safari.

After some time at Chikwenya, I would meet 5 other agents from around the world to experience the newly opened Great Plains camps Sapi Explores and Sapi Springs Camps. Our guide for the trip was Humphrey Gumbo… a legend in the Zimbabwe guiding industry as he is one of the youngest to get his guiding licence and is known as one of the top guides in Zimbabwe.

The journey would start with a history lesson on the area including some of the Baobab trees (my favorite) which are estimated to be over 1500 years old. Some say the gods planted the tree upside down as the branches look like a bunch of roots. One of the trees we saw had pots said to hold the remains of Chief Chikweyna (who was a lady). After passing by the baobabs, we headed for the river where we enjoyed a cold gin and tonic taking in the classic African sunset. We drove back to camp using a spotlight to try and spot animals. The light gives a reflection (similar to red eye in photos) of the animal’s eyes. We would see a small serval cat and an unidentified snake slither across the road. On arrival to camp, it was magical with oil lamps lighting up the paths and the staff singing a welcome song. The sky was stunning with millions of stars and the only thing lighting up the camp was lanterns. For dinner, the chef was preparing a beautiful meal using only traditional cooking methods – fire! We would have full chickens cooked in the ground. A fine meal paired with fine South African wines followed by a delicious desert.

Arriving in Zimbabwe

After 36 hours, 21 hours which were flying (4 different flights) I would land in Mana Pools. I spent 1 night at the beautiful Ruckomechi Camp located on the Zambezi River. Almost immediately, on our way from the airstrip to camp, I was rewarded with my first lion sighting of the trip. A female lion was resting, as lions do, with a full belly. The guides figured she’d just feasted on an impala. Even with my little to no sleep I was excited to be back in the bush! Once at camp, I would enjoy an ice-cold beer taking in the sunset.

From the Outback to the Tropics

Today I was efficient with my time. After flying from Kununurra back to Perth, I jumped straight on a red eye and flew to Cairns arriving at 6 in the morning!   Not just a ‘hop skip and a jump’ to cross Australia.  I literally flew across the country leaving bright red rugged outback and entering lush green beautiful rainforest! I had arrived in the Tropics! First point of call……..a meat pie!

 

Kimberley Spirit Tours

Waking up early to the sound of birds chirping and smells of being in the wilderness is something I miss dearly about Australia. What a great way to start the day…and also a lot cooler to get motivated! Today we were spoiled with another scenic flight back to Kununurra over the Bungle Bungles, if you were lucky….sitting on the other side of the plane for a new perspective!

Today we met ‘Scotty’ the owner of Kimberley Spirit Tours and author of ‘100 things to see in The Kimberley!” He is a local guide with knowledge, passion and excitement for the place he calls home. We discovered the country, wildlife and culture in a very comfortable 4WD Isuzu truck ensuring we had a more personalized experience. We crossed the famous ‘Ord River’ that floods in the summer, visited the ‘mini bungle bungles’ – Hidden Valley National Park, had a taste of a local whisky and hit up one of the biggest Boab trees I have ever seen before departing to the airport. Another great day in WA!

Bungle Bungles

Today was THE BEST!  My favourite day exploring the breathtaking Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park!  Yet another scenic flight in a little 10-seater and our first magical glance at one of the most fascinating geological landmarks across Australia. The bright orange and black stripes across the beehive-shaped towers are clearly visible as you approach from the air. We also flew over Kununurra, magnificent Ord River, Lake Argyle, Lissadell station, Texas Downs station and the rugged Osmond Range.

And what better way to get amongst the beehive domes than taking a guided walk through the mesmerizing Cathedral Gorge. Here in the shade of the gorge we could enjoy a picnic lunch.

This wasn’t enough for me…..I opted to take yet another flight in a door-less helicopter to sweep further into the range, where a hidden world of gorges and pools are revealed, with fan palms clinging precariously to walls and crevices in the rock. After this adrenaline rush it was time to head to the ‘Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge’ for another afternoon ‘dip’ to cool off in the pool.  What a special day this was…

Lake Argyle and Surrounds

Today was a full-day cultural experience! We went on the ‘jaliwang journey’ while taking a scenic flight to the aboriginal town of Warmun, took a tour around Argyle pink diamond mine, had lunch in the bush, cruised the waters of Lake Argyle and ended the day with a ‘dip’ in the water to cool off while watching the sunset on the bright red rock cliffs of the Kimberly region. Lake Argyle is Australia’s largest freshwater lake and is set among some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. A picture hardly does it justice.

Today was a jam packed day and my first real ‘taste’ of the Kimberly region. It certainly did not disappoint with its beautiful landscapes, colours, wildlife and history.

Kununurra: the Heart of the Kimberly

After a day of travel with 2 flights via Broome we flew over the beautiful Cable Beach to join our flight to Kununurra with Airnorth, the major aviation operator in Northern Australia.
This flight was our first taste of the vast distances the Kimberly region has to offer. While flying from the west to the East of the Kimberly region you see just how rugged this land really is. After arriving at Kununurra country club resort, it was time to go straight to dinner. The night falls quickly in this part of Australia. We headed to the ‘pumphouse’ restaurant, built in 1963 and originally used as a pump station, it is located right by the picturesque Lake Kununurra.

Kununurra and the East Kimberly region is filled with some of western Australia’s most prized natural attractions, which I am super excited to share with you 😊

 

Australian Tourism Exchange 2019

Tourism Australia really knows how to put on a successful event!

The Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) is Australia’s largest annual travel and tourism business-to-business event and brings together Australian tourism businesses, and tourism wholesalers and retailers from around the world through a combination of scheduled business appointments and networking events.

Around 1,500 Australian seller delegates from approximately 550 companies, 650 key buyer delegates from over 30 countries, and 70 international and Australian media outlet representatives attended this global event April 8-12. Organised by Tourism Australia in partnership with Tourism Western Australia, ATE19 took place at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and Karen was in attendance.

After a week of meeting over 100 people, the week ended off with a party downtown watching the sunset over the city.