My third safari trip was to Zimbabwe and, a year after our hairy Tanzanian adventure, it was one that I had reservations with, which were more or less evaporated on starting out at Lake Kariba with our own private game guide. Harry Burton isn't entirely based on that engaging young man, his backstory is an amalgam of several safari guides we met, as are his experiences, but the ethos for 'high end' quality safaris is right up there with only the decade being totally different. Our Zimbabwe holidays took place at the start of the 1990s ten years after the civil war ended and while there was still a reasonable amount of interracial amity about, before the program of white evictions began. To this day the safari trade still goes on regardless so 'my' Zimbabwe is still there, although some of the National Parks, like Gonarezhou remain mostly off the main tourist track (in the late 1980's and 90's it was still heavily mined and definitely a no-go area).
Zimbabwe and it's wildlife is truly beautiful though, and Harry's Africa really needs no further embellishment from me in here. Lake Kariba remains high on the list of places I love most in this world and, if you're prepared to live with the political exigencies and are careful who you travel with, I'd definitely recommend the country as one of those places to see before you die. From a wildlife perspective it's still 'last chance to see' territory, as it's one of the few countries to have black and white rhino in any significant numbers and, like other parts of southern Africa, it is enjoying some notable success with sustainable eco-tourism involving the indigenous people, and in running limited licensed hunting franchises to support conservation areas. Long may that continue...
Excerpt from Trophies
The old bull was puffing and blowing again. This one wasn’t going to let things lie and not because by rights it should be lying dead several yards off. All they’d done so far was get it so pumped up with adrenalin it was literally running on spite now. It had moved off a little at last, but was still glaring up at them in the tree. Harry raised his rifle and used the telescopic sight to assess the damage he’d inflicted so far. Despite himself he was impressed - there was blood everywhere down the forequarters, so he’d got it in the chest at least once and judging from the way it was spurting blood he’d hit a major vein, if not the heart. That was buffs for you - mean as hell and long on retribution. This old boy wasn’t too far past his prime either. He’d hate to meet up with the new guy who kicked him out - must’ve been bloody monstrous.
‘First rule in the Pro Hunter’s manual - follow up the client’s shot PDQ and be prepared to say yours was the one that missed, if you want your tip.’