Suzanne Tory & Stuart Smith - Bermuda
A few words of thanks for a magical trip to Gonarezhou!
What a serendipitous meeting last year in Hwange where you briefly mentioned to our guide that you ran a bush camp in the south. Eager to go walking again this year, we contacted you, and from that first moment, we knew the trip would be good. So many businesses don’t appreciate the importance of first impressions, but your immediate, in-depth response to our initial inquiry gave us great confidence, and that never wavered in all subsequent correspondence.
While making the arrangements is a very important part, delivering the goods is key – and you did so in spades! From the moment we saw the site of the camp, with our tents nestled under trees along the banks of the Runde River, we knew we had made an excellent choice. The effort you and Rawana have taken in stylishly furnishing the camp, providing every comfort while not losing the bush camp feel did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. The food was especially enjoyed! Every meal was carefully planned and all delicious. It still remains a complete mystery to me how you can serve such superb meals from a camp fire and a tin box oven, and salads, fresh fruit and yogurts when we were miles from anywhere. We have stayed in many tented camps, and yours stands out.
At the end of the day, however, whether you have a good trip or an outstanding trip depends on the park and the guide. Gonarezhou is a hidden gem. The scenery is spectacular, from the Chilojo cliffs, to the banks of the rivers, and provides wonderfully varied landscapes for walking over six days. We found the game to be plentiful and far less skittish than what we experienced on foot in Hwange. The opportunities in Gonarezhou abound, and our night at the fly-camp on the sandbank under the stars will be a special memory always. But Ant, it was your extensive knowledge and unbridled enthusiasm which truly made the trip for us. From the trees to the birds, to the bugs to the plants, you were always able to make it interesting and informative. It was a spectacular trip – easily one of the very best we have taken in many years of travelling through Africa.
You were good enough to make suggestions and all the arrangements for the various stops on our self-drive trip through Zimbabwe which could not gone better. After so many years of limited tourists, everyone we met, from the staff in the lodges, to gas station attendants to police at road blocks could not have been friendlier or more welcoming. I am sure the growth of tourism in Zimbabwe will bring many, many new guests to Gonarezhou Bush Camps where they will be assured a magnificent trip under your care. Please make sure, however, that you save a place for us, because we will most definitely be back!
All the very best
What Guests have to say - 2012/13
Susie Cazenove - England
Ant, I could not have found a more perfect ‘new young guide’ to include in the update of my book Licensed to Guide. You tick all the boxes for creating the perfect safari; knowledge, charm, passion, energy, a sense of humour and great companionship. I was delighted to visit Gonarezhou and Malilangwe for the first time, and to discover what wonderful wild areas they are. I long to come back one day with some friends and spend more time on safari with you. Thank you very much for looking after me so well. I look forward to meeting Rawana one day and wish you luck with all your plans for the future.
Anita Mishra - Hong Kong
Picking up this email address from the internet so hope it reaches you. Just wanted to thank you so much for my safari in Gonarezhou. Of all my 6 safaris, nothing felt wilder and more remote. I know you thought the game didnt show itself as much as it should have, but I was very impressed and moved by what I saw- especially the elephants, the landscape, the river. Every aspect of my 5 nights there was so different and thank you for letting me see a little bit of everything of a place you obviously love and care about so much.
I know I barely scratched the surface, but am going to be back soon. Have started backing up the photos and will be doing a proper Trip Report on Safaritalk - was discussing my trip with Paolo and we both agree that both Gonarezhou and the work you are doing there, deserves being told to the safari enthusiasts ( to the best of my limited ability as I am no writer). I am not sure if we will ever move forward on the Zakouma plans for March-April 2015, but I really want to get back to Gonarezhou for 10-14 nights in July 2015. Trying to recruit 1-2 like minded people but have discussed initially with Tricia.Please do thank Rawana as well for all the nice small and big touches. Hope to meet her the next time. Your guiding and hospitality was top notch and I am humbled by your passion and love for this place (will just stop short of saying your Gonarezhou :-D ) - Thank you sooooo much for this excellent part of my safari!
For a more detailed and brilliantly written account (with some wonderful imagery) of Anita's experience in Gonarezhou, follow this link.
Bert Reitter - Austria
As you know the last two Safaris, 2011 and 2013 were my 10th and 11th such adventures in Africa. Having found you as our guide, teacher, protector and friend was a stroke of luck which cannot ever be trumped. The animal sightings, in particular the family of elephants playing in the pond, the pride of Lions which we followed through the bush and so many more, too numerous to list here made for an adventure almost impossible to describe in words. John and I will always fondly remember you and your lovely family... Bert
Charles Alexander - UK
I have spoken to Mr Alexander yesterday and he had the most amazing time ever and absolutely loved his safari with Ant! He said it was refreshing to safari with Ant as he is sooo knowledgeable, enthusiastic and well educated and just perfect and also great to have a younger guide (compared to the Robin Popes for example) who is as good as some of the older ones he has been with, so really thought it was amazing. He also commented that Ant took more risks with regards to getting closer to the game, but also said risk is not the right word as he can read the game so well and he felt 100% save and comfortable on foot with Ant. He loved it so much he actually wants to come back next year!
Stefanie Ruff, www.baileyrobinson.com
Barbara Groh-Wahlstrom - Sweden
Dear Ant and Rawana,
Here I go...my love letter to you for your part in creating the aura around a trip that, for me, was as symbolic as it was real. Even today, my senses, memories, understanding and appreciation for what I experienced have a profound part in my daily thoughts. I did not know what to expect, and I did not expect this...to be so effected, after the trip, by the absolute specialness of spending time with you Ant, in Zimbabwe, in the bush. I hear myself describe to my friends what was so special and what stands out first and foremost: Gonarezhou. I even think I can say it properly now!
How lucky we were to have you show us what you thought is the essence of Africa, Zimbabwe, the wildlife and the nature. I loved the fact that the animals are "wild" in Gonarezhou, the influence of human traffic so minimal, the landscape so gorgeous, and the evidence of life and death so pure. Where else could we have had this experience, shared with such personal attachment to this outstanding place? You guided us into the earth, under the stones, you showed us the smallest of details, we learned to listen, smell, touch, track, observe, respect, and show reverence for a delicate and threatened way of life. This is what I brought back with me. This is what I cannot forget. In my art studio, the safari, African influence is not yet as visual as I thought it might be. It is though, the simplicity of nature, the "rightness" of life, the sun rise, the sun set, warmth, cold, the act of birth and of death.
I feel new calmness, awareness and appreciation. And what about the 5-star service!? All our camps were beyond my expectations--the smiles, care, comfort, style, FOOD--all presented and shared outside.For us northern hemisphere city critters, life in the bush, these bushes, was hard to leave! I guess we wished we were safari guides too. I speak for my family also--Dain is noticing the smallest creatures in her path, Seuss said on the trip "I love my life", Josh has has not landed in reality, Weiling is setting up and managing our photo albums, and Paul continues to be grateful during a stressful year.
The trip has given us a common bond made of smiles, love, and magic! Well, there. I guess you get my point. I know our paths will cross again. I also want to spend more time in Gonarezhou and be witness to a time and place so very rare. Thank you both for your energy, style, generosity and abilities.
Until later, Love and Namaste - Barbara (the Barbs)
John & Maureen Nolan - Canada
...I want to tell you how much I enjoyed my time with you in Gonarezhou. What a fantastic place Ant. It certainly lived up to its billing. In fact it exceeded my expectations in every way. The scenery was as I expected, spectacular. The abundance of game surprised me and to see so much game moving and so active in such a wonderful setting was really special. As I said to you after our last safari in the Kalahari, I consider it a real privilege to spend time with you in the African bush, particularily in Gonarezhou which you kow and love so well. Your knowledge of and your obvious love for the landscape and flora and fauna of the African bush is not only amazing ,but truly inspirational... Ant, I want to tell you how thrilled Maureen and I were with the arrangements you put together for us. They were perfect. The trip exceeded my expectations and Maureen's in every respect. We are both still on the ceiling over our trip... My friends, I will keep in touch and write further to you about my thoughts and impressions from our trip to Zim once I have had time to reflect some more on what was a truly wonderful experience for both Maureen and me.
Kirsten Huesch & Martin Windle - Wales
We are slowly settling back in at home - it feels very strange not being in the bush and it was quite a shock being surrounded by so many people, buildings etc. Luckily, we have lots of photos and great memories to keep us going until the next time... We wanted to say a massive thank-you for the amazing time we had with you! We loved every minute of it (yes, even the getting rained on bit :-)) and really appreciate that you shared with us what is surely one of the most special places on the planet! Hopefully, we will be able to return at some point for more adventures! And in the meantime we will spread the word about beautiful Zimbabwe! Please say hi and also a big thank you to all the guys at camp! Take care & hope to see you again!
Emily Crookes - Harare
I have had the great pleasure now of enjoying two safaris in Gonarezhou with Gonarezhou Bushcamps based out of static camps. The latter afforded us a high degree of comfort in terms of facilities and the beauty of our surroundings. Static camping impacted little on our ability to get out and about around the Park. They lend themselves to a considerable amount of flexibility in terms of the activities that can be chosen, depending on the mood of the group on any single day. Some of our activities were lengthy and saw us spending considerable time away from the camp, whilst others had us returning to the camp to recharge our batteries over the heat of the day. Each day, whatever the activity, was always gloriously concluded with sundowner contemplation of one of Gonarezhou’s gorgeous scenic treasures. For those less keen on the rugged, it was great to know that good ablution facilities were there to greet us at the end of the day. Furthermore, the static camp locations in themselves are in beautiful spots which simply beg hours of wonderful contemplation and relaxation. The standards of the safaris have both been excellent in so many ways – Ant’s knowledge and experience meant that we all learnt so much in our different areas of interest; the accommodation was of a high standard, as was the food and care afforded us by the safari staff; and our security was looked out for. There now seems to me to be no other way to experience Gonarezhou.
Sue McNally - Harare
Take it from me - you must add a walking safari with Ant in Gonarezhou to your bucket list. It’s a wonderful experience to walk through the incredible park, enjoying everything from majestic elephant to the intricacies of the hissing ants; from the gnarled beauty of the baobabs to the waxy perfection of the sabi star; from the tranquil splendor of the Chilojo Cliffs to the ever-changing scenes on the banks of the Runde. Ant’s enthusiasm for nature is matched only by his knowledge; we saw so much on our walks that, without his expert eye, we would otherwise have missed. And what a pleasure, after a long hot walk, to relax in the camp, with an ice-cold drink and delicious snacks! The meals were excellent – varied and tasty. We were pampered by the staff, so that even the dreaded call of “Time to get up!” at 5:00 was made more than bearable by the thought of the delicious breakfast, ready and waiting, to speed us on our way to another adventure. Anyone who’s looking for excitement, enjoyment, and an opportunity to experience one of the lesser-known glories of Zimbabwe, will find all this and more on a walking safari with Ant!
Christine & Markus Bieri - Switzerland
Zusammen mit Ant und seiner Crew haben wir im Gonarezhou eine phantastische Zeit und die seit langem erholsamsten Tage verbracht. Bereits im Vorfeld wurde unseren Wünschen Rechnung getragen und uns das Gefühl ver-mittelt, echt willkommen zu sein. Unser Aufenthalt wurde sehr umsichtig vorbereitet und durchgeführt. Das Camp selbst stand an schönster Stelle am Runde River, war mit viel Liebe und Geschmack eingerichtet und liess an Annehmlichkeit und Komfort nichts zu wünschen übrig. Das Essen war fabelhaft (unglaublich, was weit ab von Zivilisation und mit einfachsten Mitteln möglich ist) und die Belegschaft äusserst zuvorkommend. Ant selbst besticht durch sein unglaubliches Wissen sowohl auf botanischem wie auch zoo-logischem Gebiet. Er legt eine grosse Liebe zur Natur an den Tag und versteht es, sogar bei Teenagern die Freude am Wandern und das Interesse an der Natur zu wecken, ohne je zu schulmeistern. Spiel und Spass gehören wie selbstverständlich zu den Ausflügen. Ant hat ein feines Gespür für das Geschehen im näheren und weiteren Umfeld. Mit Hilfe aller Sinne führt er seine Gäste an die Naturschönheiten heran und nimmt dabei Rücksicht auf Tier- und Pflanzenwelt aber auch auf wissbegierige Touristen. Höhepunkte waren die Begegnungen mit den Tieren, die wunderbare Wildnis aber natürlich auch das nachmittägliche Fischen unweit von Krokodilen und Hippos. Das abendliche Apéro am Lagerfeuer unter dem weiten Sternenhimmel war stets ein krönender Abschluss des Ta-ges. Ant ist sehr flexibel und ein äusserst vielseitig informierter und interessierter Ge-sprächspartner. Wir haben den Umgang mit Ant sehr geschätzt und fühlen uns ihm und seiner Familie wei-terhin verbunden. Wir hoffen sehr, sie alle wieder einmal irgendwo zu treffen. Die Tage im Gonarezhou werden uns unvergesslich bleiben.
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