Professional Armed Guides
Zimbabwe rightly prides itself in having possibly the most stringent Guide examination process in Africa, and so it should. Our Guides are people who have on the whole grown up in the African bush amongst the wildlife and have lived the best part of their lives with wild animals as constant companions.
When you do a safari in Zimbabwe you are paying for a professional who has been well trained and more importantly well tested. As a result you will be able to get 100% more enjoyment out of your holiday as your Guide will be able to walk you safely amongst the animals whilst giving numerous bits of information concerning matters from insects to elephants plus all the trees and birds in between.
There is no question that a safari with a Guide is money well spent as your ability to enjoy yourself and get the full African experience, as well as the knowledge that should come with it, can only be achieved by having someone with you who is able to accomplish this.
"One of the greatest advantages of having a Guide present on your Houseboat is your ability to do regular walks into the Matusadona National Park instead of being confined to the Houseboat and tender boats"
"As an alternative to hosting the guide for the entire trip, clients are sometimes able to undertake guided walks and or drives hosted by Gache Gache Safari Lodge. This is a great way to experience a different perspective, without actually staying overnight on land. These activities are subject to availabilty and numbers of guests already staying at the Lodge and must be organised beforehand."
More Detailed Information on your Guide:
Guide's Licences are only issued by the Zimbabwe Department of National Parks and then only after the recipient has passed two written and one practical examination. Potential Guides are required to take part in an apprenticeship with a Registered Safari Operator and work under the guidance of other licenced Professional Guides for a period of at least three years.
They first need to write what is termed the "Learner Professional Guide Licence", which is held once a year. On passing this, they are issued with a Learner's Licence, which allows them to carry a weapon whilst on a guided walk with a fully licenced Professional Guide and they are permitted to take clients on game drives in suitably closed vehicles.
Usually, after a period of two years under the supervision of a full Guide, the Learner Professional Guide will be eligible to undertake their full Guide's written paper. If the candidate is sucessful, he or she needs to be recommended by a Professional guide before they are accepted for the final practical examination, or what is known in the industry as "proficiency"
The practical examination is possibly the most important as this is where the Learner Guide has to demonstrate to the examiners what potential they have. This examination takes the format of candidates taking the examiners "on safari" in one of the local national parks' areas, which is nominated by the department. The examiners are made up of members of the Department of National Parks and representatives of the Zimbabwe Professional hunters & Guides Association.
This exam usually lasts 7 days and the candidates are put through their paces with the examiners asking numerous difficult questions about the bush and animals that they come across during their walks and drives. An important part of this exam process is seeing how the candidates perform under stress and examiners will instigate situations where elephants, buffalos etc charge and will closely observe how the candidate reacts in these situations. Successful candidates are then issued with a full Guides Licence.
MATUSADONA NATIONAL PARK
Matusadona, a true 'Lost Wilderness' is one of the lesser-known wilderness areas in Africa. It boasts a unique combination of pristine and rugged wilderness with the "water frontage" of Lake Kariba and the park is one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the endangered Black Rhino. It is commonly recognized as having the second largest concentration of wild Lions in Africa after the Ngorogoro Crater and the relatively poor accessibility by road and extremely harsh internal network of roads keeps the crowds and traffic out!
Matusadona National Park is one of several protected wildlife areas with shorelines on Lake Kariba. Some 338,000 acres in area, it is bounded on the west by the Ume river and on the east by the Sanyati River. Two-thirds of it lies South of the Zambezi Escarpment formed by the 1968ft high "Matusviadonha" Hills from which it takes its name.The best way to experience Matusadona is on a walking safari in the company of trained experts who will ensure that you get the full enjoyment out of this wilderness area.
Open woodlands on the plateau behind the escarpment are dominated by Julbernardia Globiflora. The mountain acacia, Brachystegia Glaucescens, is also common on the slopes and ridges of the escarpment.From the plateau the park falls abruptly to a flat, low-lying area covered mainly with Mopani scrub and woodland and with dense patches of Jesse bush. The entire Northern boundary of the park is created by the lake shore itself. This shoreline, which is subjected to irregular variations in water level caused by fluctuations in annual rainfall, is still in a state of rapid ecological change and development.
Along much of it are "drowned forests" up to several kilometers wide, containing dead trees standing more than 50 years after the filling of the lake. Many of the animals rescued during "Operation Noah" when the lake was filling were released into Matusadona, which now holds strong populations of most mammals occurring in the Zambezi Valley. Buffalo are especially prominent and herds of up to 1,000-strong often congregate along the shoreline in the dry season.
Lion, leopard, hyena and other predators occur in good numbers throughout the park. It is widely acknowledged that Matusadona has the second highest concentration of wild lions after Ngorogoro Crater. There have also been isolated reports of cheetah over the years - a small population was reintroduced in 1995.
There is a small, but important population of the endangered black rhinoceros, found mainly along the foot of the escarpment. They are mostly concentrated in the west of Matusadona. Eight white rhinoceros were introduced into the Park in 1984, but did not survive, probably because they had lost their natural immunity to sleeping sickness over many years of captive breeding in tsetse-free areas.Hippopotamus and crocodile declined after the lake filled, but are now recovering well. Hippopotamus have benefited from the development of the torpedo grass and the deeply incised shoreline provides hundreds of suitably sheltered habitats. A recent survey of the crocodile population estimated their density at one adult animal of every 656 feet of shoreline.
One of the Matusadona's most compelling features is its luxuriant bird life with over 240 species having been recorded in the Park. The fish eagle is common along the lakeshore where it makes use of the dead trees as nesting sites.Most parts of the lake shore have conspicuous populations of Grey Herons, Goliath Herons, Great White Herons, Saddlebill Storks, Plovers, Waders and Geese are generally abundant and there are notable populations of Osprey, Woolly Necked Storks, Open Billed Storks, White Winged Plovers and Red Winged Pratincols. There are several large colonies of Darters and Reed Cormorants within the tree lines, and at least one colony of White Breasted Cormorants has appeared recently. Bee Eater colonies are often found in the sandstone banks and cliffs of the minor rivers that traverse the valley floor. Most local raptors are present in good numbers.
So sit back and enjoy what nature has to offer us, please ask as many questions as you please whilst you are our guest, we want you to leave here having truly experienced some of natures wonders, which you will often find more startling in the smaller of its creatures.