Our last post focussed on the so-so falls at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, but this post will show you another activity in Victoria Falls town that is understated, yet a far superior experience than the actual Falls: Siduli Hide.
Even though it is not widely advertised, the Siduli Hide is an authentic wildlife experience.
The experience is not for the faint of heart. There is the possibility of close interactions with wildlife but if you are looking for an amazing non-commercialized experience, this would be it. You will be going out of town about 20 minutes, and then driving through the bush, then walking in the rest of the way.
Charles, Our Siduli Hide & Naturalist
A Rough Ride Through the Bush Road into Siduli Hide
Sometimes there wasn’t even a road.
You must be able to walk in through light bush and a bit of mud, and sit quietly for long periods of time in a small enclosure built to look like the giant termite mounds seen in Africa.
Walking in to Siduli Hide
We were a bit shocked when Charles pulled out a rifle for the walk in to the hide. He was very alert to our surroundings as we walked in, if you get my meaning. We were in the wilds of Africa, after all.
It was about a 15 minute walk in, but finally we came to Siduli Hide (a home-crafted giant termite mound). Because the animals are accustomed to seeing these huge termite mounds in nature, they are not disturbed or frightened by this home-crafted termite mound alllowing us to observe them without the animals being aware of our presence.
Wildlife View Inside Siduli Hide
We saw a great deal of activity, from families of baboons and wild boar, to great bustards and impala, but of course there are no guarantees of wildlife sightings.
It was really wonderful to see many different animals amicably sharing the same space in their natural environment. In the videos, watch for baboon mothers with babies hanging from their bellies, or riding on their backs.
Sitting Quietly in Siduli Hide
We were sitting quietly in the Siduli Hide for four hours.
You must be very patient to see the odd fight or a mother and father baboon playing with their two babies, but well worth the wait.
Crocolile in the Water Hole
In this video later in the day, Charles explained that their was a crocodile in the water so the animals were not taking a drink, and staying well back of the water hole.
It was hard to leave this glimpse of wildlife in a totally natural environment, the animals just going about their daily activities.
The Walk Out of Siduli Hide
We saw a big pile of elephant poop on the walk out, and the tracks of many different animals.
The Ride Out of Siduli Hide
The bumpy ride out was the same as the ride in, having to keep our arms well inside the jeep to avoid getting whipped by branches.
On the highway driving back, Charles pointed out a family of kudu, and we waited until they crossed the highway. It reminded us of our deer crossing the highways at home, and sometimes getting struck by vehicles. The kudu are much prettier though with their black stripes and big ears.
It seems that people are very careful in Africa when driving on the highways because so many animals are likely to be in the bushes, ditches or crossing the highway. No one wants to hit an animal, especially an elephant!
Siduli Hide Contact Information
Your guide to Siduli Falls, Charles Brightman, has won many naturalist awards. You can contact him at Charles Brightman, Discover Safaris, + 263 13 45821 or Cell: + 263 772 177 324, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Train Safari
Our original plan was to take the train from Victoria Falls back to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania crossing through several wild animal parks in Zambia and Tanzania. First-hand reviews on Seat61 reported that it was a sensational way to enjoy an African Safari sitting comfortably on the train watching wild animals out the window. Of course as a bonus you are seeing the landscape of two large African countries.
Preparing for an African Train Trip
There were also warnings of backed-up toilets, poor food, delays and break-downs, but it is all part of the “African Train Experience”. If one prepared properly, we thought, bringing our own food, a port-a-potty, lots of water, we would be fine. Booking a double private compartment, we would have privacy and safety as well. T loves train trips, so we were definitely looking forward to a grand adventure. It was not to be.
The connections were not conducive to planning this route. Maybe if you’re a back-packer with no particular schedule, and willing to stay overnights in simple lodging, it wouldn’t bother you. Maybe no electricity or indoor toilets and the possibility of not making a connection in a day or two to continue your train trip, wouldn’t bother you. You might be willing to make the sacrifices necessary. Not us.
We even had the professional and very helpful guest services staff at the upscale Royal Victoria Hotel working on trying to make all the train changes and connections. They worked on it for two days, but in the end, we just gave up. There were too many “ifs” and “buts” of making the connection. Ending up in some village in poor accommodation with no way of moving on was not something we were up to do doing. Nor we were taking an all-day all-night old bus to a bigger centre to find transportation back to Dar es Salaam. We’re adventurous, but not self-destructive. Check the reviews on Seat61 before making your own decision about a train trip in Africa.
Instead, we booked a flight from Livingston, the town across the river from Victoria Falls, to Tanzania. That left us with several extra days in Victoria Falls and Zanzibar.
That’s the thing about travel. One experience turns out better than expected or is a pleasant surprise, and the next experience must be completely changed, or deleted altogether. This is especially true in Africa.