Jump to content
wilddog

Gorongosa, Matusadona and Mana Pools 2011

Recommended Posts

wilddog

Gorongosa, Mozambique.

After driving from Harare we arrived in Gorongosa at about 4pm. Once we had entered through the park gate. We travelled towards Chitengo camp where I was to stay for the next 5 nights.

 

The bush was very thick and it appeared that there were no game trails for the larger animals in this area, although we did find some old elephant dung on the road. We came across red necked spur fowl, guinea fowl and finally out first mammal with in the park - warthog.

gallery_6103_464_126928.jpg

 

At Chitengo camp the rondevals were well appointed and comfortable with hot water and electricity NB European adapter required for the electricity supply. The camp is fenced and the camp gates are opened at 6in the morning and closed at 6 at night.

 

gallery_6103_464_154041.jpg

 

gallery_6103_464_646.jpg

 

Over the next 2 days we spent the whole day out exploring the park, taking a light lunch with us and of course, supplies for the sundowners.

 

Using a map provided by the camp office we explored the south east region of the park but at this time, end of June, the most southerly route was not accessible (although we tried!) and we were not able to get to Lake Urema. I imagine that this will be possible later in the season when the tracks have dried out and received the required attention.

 

The environment varied as we travelled with areas of fever trees, palms, marshes and open flood plain.

gallery_6103_464_20516.jpg

 

 

 

gallery_6103_464_120622.jpg

 

gallery_6103_464_75796.jpg

 

 

 

 

gallery_6103_464_31008.jpg

There are large numbers of bushbuck, oribi and impala in evidence

 

 

 

gallery_6103_464_23560.jpg

gallery_6103_464_2729.jpg

 

gallery_6103_464_62480.jpg

 

and on the plains, waterbuck and reed buck. The oribi and bushbuck, in particular, seemed less troubled by us than in many other parks.

 

gallery_6103_464_200544.jpg

 

 

gallery_6103_464_16282.jpg

 

All these animals looked very healthy and the waterbuck in particular looked heavier than others I have seen. Perhaps it is the time of the year, but there is really good vegetation around and limited numbers of predators. There are lion but not in huge numbers, and there are reportedly no hyena in the park! According to a local story this is because hyena were hunted for Muti.

 

 

 

In addition we came across Nyala on several occasions

 

 

 

gallery_6103_464_1634.jpg

and a cow herd of elephants. The cow herd was quite nervous so we sat and waited for them to cross the track without being hassled and my one elephant shot shows the back end of the rapidly disappearing matriarch.

 

gallery_6103_464_84082.jpg

 

 

 

Later we realised that the map we had been given did not include all the routes. So we took a photograph of the map on the wall in the camp office which showed additional routes to the North West.

gallery_6103_464_62031.jpg

 

On Day 3 Doug Macdonald, my guide, and my travelling companion, JJ had made plans to climb Mount Gorongosa. This required them to leave the park and contribute to a local village ceremony in order to get permission to climb the mountain. As I do not 'do' Mountains (visiting to the Gorillas in Uganda some years ago proved this to me), I planned to remain on the park with Greg, Doug's colleague. I hope that JJ or Doug will provide full details of the climb to the top of the mountain to add to this report but I understand that, despite not being high it was a challenging climb, as they needed to clamber up and down and a steep, rocky and slippery slope once through the rain forest. And as an added note they did see the Green Headed Oriole.

 

 

As for me, Greg and I explored the north-western tracks which had not been on our earlier map and led us down the side of the Mussicadzi River towards the flood plain and the Lion House.

 

On route we came across a group of oribi grazing by the track. They were so unfazed by our presence that one female came right up to the vehicle and looked up at me. I get the sense that this will change in time as the numbers and types of predators increase.

 

gallery_6103_464_123363.jpg

 

We also found a beautiful sable bull grazing happily in the dense vegetation and although aware of our presence seemed untroubled.

 

gallery_6103_464_122263.jpg

 

The scenery was again different by the river with several large crocodiles in residence

 

gallery_6103_464_218331.jpg

gallery_6103_464_141190.jpg

gallery_6103_464_205196.jpg

We visited the remains of the lion house and tried to find the route across the drying river to reach the north western sector of the park. However at this time the ground was still boggy so we were not able to get there. This area is most likely where the buffalo, eland and wildebeest are as we did not see them at all on this trip.

gallery_6103_464_118301.jpg

To add to our finds we saw serval, bush pig, large spotted genet and civet amongst others. Despite all our efforts we did not locate the lions.

 

gallery_6103_464_31629.jpg

 

Gorongosa is a beautiful place with several types of grazers and browsers whose numbers are steadily increasing and area is rich in bird life. The potential of this park is enormous and I have no doubt I will want to return in a few years to see how the conservation project continues to improve the numbers and varieties of game.

gallery_6103_464_162645.jpg

gallery_6103_464_22578.jpg

Edited by wilddog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

Explore camp is just around there and I met Andy the Safari Guide (another Zim Guide and they all know each other) and yes they use the crossing and come into the park. It was he who had seen the lioness and 2 cubs a few days before we arrived.

 

I did not do any walking In Gorongosa but I know Explore do walks but maybe this is in their own patch rather than the park. I made up for the lack of walking in Matusadona and Mana which we will becovered in next Chapters.

Edited by wilddog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Atravelynn

That first warthog looks down right stately. Bush pigs, bush pigs, way to go! Great start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jochen

 

gallery_6103_464_646.jpg

 

 

For a second there, I thought you tricked us into some reflectoporn. :lol:

 

Great report so far!

 

J.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

gallery_6103_464_646.jpg

 

 

For a second there, I thought you tricked us into some reflectoporn. :lol:

 

Great report so far!

 

J.

 

OMG :o had not noticed that, .........I am wearing shorts - promise! :rolleyes: I was just conscious of my clothes all over the place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

This is so interesting, thank you. The landscape looks beautiful and I would love to be there whilst the antelope are so confident. Such isolation, wonderful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pault

Gorongosa! Just an exciting-sounding name really before this report. Great to hear about it. Thanks! What month was this? (Sorry if it is mentioned and I missed it.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bugs

Refreshing to see so many oribi.

Keep the photos coming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

Gorongosa! Just an exciting-sounding name really before this report. Great to hear about it. Thanks! What month was this? (Sorry if it is mentioned and I missed it.)

 

This was last week in June.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

will be ready tomorrow , watch this space.! Glad it is proving interesting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

That first warthog looks down right stately. Bush pigs, bush pigs, way to go! Great start.

 

 

Not a good picture but.............

 

gallery_6103_464_26920.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

Matusadona – Zimbabwe

gallery_6103_464_70803.jpg

 

Matusadona, which lies on the south side of Lake Kariba for me has a very special 'feel' to it. I visited Matusadona initially in 2006 and was looking forward to a return visit. The atmosphere is ethereal with the drowned trees poking their heads out of the water and the wonderful birdlife; and on shore great walking opportunities, wildlife and very few people. Walking in the bush is for me one of great pleasures of a safari. Fortunately in Matusadona and Mana Pools it is possible to walk extensively. In terms of report writing it does however limit the opportunities for really great, iconic photography.

After an overnight stop in Harare we headed up to Kariba and the marina where we met Jenny the owner of Rhino camp. She would not be at the camp during our stay as she had to return to Harare for a few days, but all the camp staff would be there. She did advise us to be very careful as the elephants visited regularly and that it would be best to be escorted to and from our chalets. We then boarded the motor launch to make the 1.25 hour transfer across Lake Kariba to our accommodation at Rhino Camp on Elephant point. The next adventure had begun.

gallery_6103_464_23646.jpg

On arrival we stepped out of the boat into the shallows of the lake and walked up the beach to the camp.

gallery_6103_464_92769.jpg

 

gallery_6103_464_7913.jpg

After a refreshing cool drink we walked along to our accommodation. On arrival at chalet 1, my home for the next few days, we came across an elephant standing at the entrance to chalet 2 where JJ was going to stay.

gallery_6103_464_61404.jpg

The elephant was happily eating the wall of JJ's Bathroom! This bull is a regular visitor to camp and accustomed to the presence of humans but this can make them troublesome. He needed to be moved so that JJ could get to his room and repairs could be made. After a bit of encouragement he moved in to the bush a little distance away and we all got settled in.

 

The two-storey, main building is open sided, with dining area on the ground floor and lounge/library on the first. The chalets are on stilts, open sided and very comfortable with mosquito nets around the beds and wonderful view.

gallery_6103_464_8854.jpg

gallery_6103_464_100503.jpg

In addition there is a fully functional bathroom. This can be clearly seen as a result of a very helpful elephant!

gallery_6103_464_100503.jpg

gallery_6103_464_150752.jpg

The wall was duly replaced while we were out but he was back next day for second helpings. JJ could see his trunk coming over the wall, fortunately JJ was not actually using the bathroom at the time. It transpires that the walls had recently been refurbished with fresh long grasses which were the attraction. So eventually the wall was replaced by a less palatable reed. Nevertheless he visited daily in the hope of fresh rations.

 

Lunch was ready shortly after our arrival when we met our fellow guests a family from Harare. At lunch were were visited by some bees who were very keen to join in, particularly with the carrots in orange juice salad. Some of you who have read my previous report may remember another bee experience in Limpopo NP. Any way I managed to control my fear and enjoy my meal. The bees were completely uninterested in me.

After lunch and a little time to unpack, we headed out for our first walk. As the camp was still separated from the main park by water we took the motor boat and disembarked at some rocks. We heard sounds of buffalo so keeping downwind we tried to find them. After about 20 minutes their location was identified by the cattle egrets always in attendance and we could see that they were heading for the water's edge. Remaining downwind we headed back to the shoreline and using a termite mound to crouch behind we sat and watched for some time, meanwhile keeping an eye out for lion that might well be following the herd.

 

We finally set off back to camp in the motor boat stopping to enjoy the sunset with a gin and tonic.

gallery_6103_464_24658.jpg

That evening we feasted on roast beef and roast potatoes; how the staff create these incredible meals in a small and limited kitchen is beyond me.The following morning we were up for an early breakfast before seating off in the motor boat to access another area. The sunrise wsa almost as spectacular as the sunset.

gallery_6103_464_21503.jpg

 

We spent the morning walking through the bush tracking Rhino. We found recent tracks of an adult and a calf and followed them for some distance bit finally lost the trail on the hard rocky ground. This female rhino is one of those brought to the park some years. After about 3 hours we headed back to the boat. While travelling back to camp we found 3 bull elephants at the lake shore and eased the motor boat into the shoreline to take a closer look. We did a bit of elephant watching and the elephants did some people watching and then they headed down to the water on the other side of the rocks next to the boat and across to a small island. Paddling the boat, we followed and placed ourselves on the far side of the island ready to see them cross to the mainland.

gallery_6103_464_126641.jpg

gallery_6103_464_162827.jpg

 

 

gallery_6103_464_10059.jpg

gallery_6103_464_98537.jpg

 

After browsing for about ten minutes, they swam over to the mainland and we followed. I always feel it is such a privilege to spend time with these magnificent animals that have such gentleness but also such huge power.

gallery_6103_464_183679.jpg

gallery_6103_464_45475.jpg

In the afternoon we used the motorboat to head towards the mouth of a river where we disembarked and walked up the river along the banks and, later, in the river bed itself.

gallery_6103_464_183943.jpg

gallery_6103_464_37347.jpg

We came across several elephants on the walk and treated them with suitable respect. Walking in the river beds we saw masses of recent tracks of lion, hyena, leopard kudu, buffalo and water buck .That evening we had our evening meal down by the shore line. The elephants were never far away.

Day 2 followed a similar pattern, wlaking through the river beds and the hills. The rhino still eluded us but of course there were always the elephants with whom we had some close encounters on several occasions. There were again lots of tracks including those of a large male rhino and several lion. We visited an area where, a few years ago, the relocated black rhinos (which I understand were from Imire Rhino ranch) had been held in guarded bomas, until they we were ready for release. It is one of these rhinos which we were tracking with her second calf.

gallery_6103_464_1424.jpg

gallery_6103_464_30707.jpg

During our walks on both days we came across the usual suspects; impala, waterbuck, kudu, side striped jackal, hippo, baboons and dwarf mongoose to name but a few.. In addition we saw spoor of many other species and a large variety of birds.We ended our second day in the usual way watching yet another glorious sunset with a G and T followed by an excellent meal.

gallery_6103_464_36724.jpg

gallery_6103_464_62791.jpg

 

The next morning we had to try to make an early start across the lake as the wind and waves were likely to pick up as the morning progressed. Despite our departure being slightly delayed the swell was not too extreme, although it certainly made for an invigorating ride.Our final port of call was to take a look at Kariba dam before heading off for Mana pools where we would spend the next 6 nights.

gallery_6103_464_10257.jpg

 

 

Edited by wilddog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

 

They closed the last 2 gates in the dam wall the day before we got there and the water levels were dropping while we were there, so you should be fine.

Edited by wilddog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Atravelynn

The view of the fully functional bathroom is amazing. The trunk over the side is even moreso. Very exciting report.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Game Warden

Just imagine how quick your morning ablutions would be if you were sitting there and suddenly an elephant took out half the bathroom...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

Quite a thought ,GW. :o:lol:

 

I wonder who would be the most surprised?

Edited by wilddog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bugs

Enjoying so far..

 

Cant wait to hear about Mana.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sangeeta

Really wonderful photos, wilddog.

 

Waiting eagerly for the next installment along with everyone else.

 

Some of us here have a Mana trip planned for next year with Doug, so this is very exciting reading indeed. Your report makes me wish we'd included Matusadona as well, but am putting it high on my bucket list.

 

Dikdik - have you posted any Mana reports in the past? I tried looking, but though I found your recent Zim report, it wasn't a Mana TR.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

 

 

Waiting eagerly for the next installment along with everyone else.

 

 

Typing it now........................ so by Friday morning I guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

Mana Pools – Part 1- Zambezi-Side

 

We spent a total of 6 nights in Mana, 3 at Mucheni 4 camp site by the Zambezi and 3 at Chitake Springs. Due to the slight delay in leaving Matusadona we were a little late arriving at camp so we had a late lunch and then had a bit of time to settle into our accommodation. This comprised 6 canvas bell tents, set back a little from the river's edge. They were fully equipped with all the essentials; bed, bedding and towels, table and a solar charged, light bulb design, torch which could be suspended from the roof of the tent. Outside were washstands to which warm water was added every morning for a wash.There was a dining area on the edge of the Zambezi and the bucket shower and long drop were located behind the row of 6 tents.

gallery_6103_464_102217.jpg

gallery_6103_464_45171.jpg

We had limited time on the first evening but we did manage a walk for a couple of hours up stream. elephants, water buck and impala everywhere.

 

The following morning we awoke to the sounds of lions roaring both on the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides of the river, After a quick coffee (a must for me in the mornings) we headed off downstream to follow and, hopefully find, the lions, using the 4x 4 initially.

gallery_6103_464_163139.jpg

gallery_6103_464_122110.jpg

gallery_6103_464_31429.jpg

 

Later we parked the 4x4 under the shade of a tree close to the river and set off walking. The lions continued to call, intermittently, for 2 or 3 hours after sunrise and we were definitely not that far behind. Eventually we reached an area known as 'the wilderness', well downstream of camp, where the bush becomes quite dense. We travelled as far as we could and continued to hear the lion. We came into an area with tall thick grass and suddenly heard a rustling sound deep in the grass. We climbed a termite mound to see if it was a lion but to no avail we could not see anything or hear any further movement. Doug thought it could have been a leopard that we had disturbed, slinking away. As we had been walking for about 1.5 hours we decided to start heading back to camp.

gallery_6103_464_113185.jpg

In the afternoon we had a drive out taking in the wildlife on the way.

gallery_6103_464_206892.jpg

 

gallery_6103_464_47228.jpg

gallery_6103_464_61954.jpg

While we were driving, we discussed our plans for the next morning.As I have travelled with Doug Macdonald as my guide on several occasions over the last few years, he knows of my passion for Wild/Painted Dogs. In addition, JJ had not yet seen wilddogs on his previous trips so we decided to make these our next priority.At this time of the year they are denning so on a bit of a whim, and working on Doug's knowledge of the area, we headed up to an old den site. Once we reached a certain point we had to park the vehicle and walk, as there is no access to the area for vehicles and, unsurprisingly the den site is tucked away in a not easily accessible area. We walked quietly, and with great care, through the bush, which was quite thick, across a dry river bed and then up the bankon thwe other side. Suddenly – a bark! I had the broadest of smiles. We had found the den and it wsa in use! It seemed that one female had remained at the den, guarding the pups and the rest of the pack were out. On this occasion we did not stay long as we did not want to upset the lone female; in addition sunset was not that far off and we had to walk through some quite thick bush to get to the car. A very satisfying day which ended with 2 sundowners to celebrate!

 

The next morning we hurried back up to the den site. This time, when we reached the den there was no Nanny on patrol and just for a moment we worried that they might have moved. We had kept our distance the day before, but it is always an anxiety. We settled ourselves in the shade of a large tree, with some bush behind us, and a view of a large clearing just outside the den and waited.Some 30 munities later we heard some rustling behind us and there was a dog returning to the den. He barked at us, but as we were not too close he trotted past to the den. His face was bloodied so he had been at a kill.

gallery_6103_464_87508.jpg

Gradually the pack of nine dogs each returned to the den, each barking when they spotted us but heading on into the den and then later settling down in the clearing. We could hear the pups inside.We spent a long time just sitting and watching and the dogs became more and more relaxed with our presence. They all appeared to have very full stomachs but one had a bad gash on his side obviously a very recent injury, perhaps sustained by a horn while taking down the prey. We were joined at one point by some researchers but otherwise nobody else came.

gallery_6103_464_23691.jpg

gallery_6103_464_145925.jpg

gallery_6103_464_24941.jpg

At lunch we swapped stories with the other group in camp, telling them of our find and as luck would have it they had found the lion pride. So plans for the afternoon were set. Again we set off in the 4x4 to the general area in which the lions had been seen that morning and then parked the vehicle and walked

The lions had been sighted adjacent to a large pan, which buffalo frequented so we walked around the pan with great care trying to find the exact location. And we found them. We ducked down and headed for a convenient termite mound (wonderful things termite mounds) not too far from the pride and got into position. There are about 8 of them, lying around in typical fashion. We could see the back ends of the adult females but the cubs were in the clearing in front of us. They know were there but we kept quiet and just watched them.

gallery_6103_464_93184.jpg

gallery_6103_464_221598.jpg

gallery_6103_464_179040.jpg

One of the definitely gave is a second look as you will see from the images, but there was no problem.What a day, wilddog and lion on foot!

 

During our evening meal we had a visit from an elephant that was probably only 15 feet away from the dining table. He wanted to pass along the bank but after dithering for at least 10 minutes (not a good decision maker) he retreated and then passed by us between the dining table and the tents. He gained only about 5 to 10 foot advantage but at least there was a clear run if he got into trouble.

 

In the morning as we woke we found the buffalo herd grazing behind the shower. We were due to head up to Chitake but were not planning to leave until late morning so we headed back to the den site. As we crossed the river bed we came across these two Honey Badgers out foraging.

gallery_6103_464_196647.jpg

We got ourselves settled down by a bush, a little closer than the previous night, and waited. Suddenly they were back. The first group of 7 looked as though they had nothing in their stomachs and we could hear sounds of begging, not only from the pups in the den, but also from some adults. After another 15 minutes or so the final 2 dogs arrived – with full stomachs. The begging increased and of course they went straight into the pups and we could hear both the begging and the regurgitation.After a little while we caught sight of 3 pups playing in an inner clearing. Reluctantly we decided to head off back to camp and leave them as they would be settling down for the day and we needed to get to Chitake.

gallery_6103_464_153272.jpg

 

Edited by wilddog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

OK first attemp at video insert.

 

In advance apologies for image quality and fatuous comments on camera - but at least it is real!

 

Edited by wilddog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LynneB

Thanks for a great trip report and the report on the dogs! How fantastic to find them at the den. Looking forward to hearing more...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sangeeta
:o Wow, wow and triple wow, wilddog! MP looks every bit as fantastic as it's reputed to be. Great shots, great pics and lucky you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Game Warden

gallery_6103_464_113185.jpg

Wilddog, could you not have worn your more colourful outfit in this picture :)

 

Thanks for the continuing updates. A safari full of great sightings. I'd love to have seen those 2 honey badgers...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

Outstanding! Thanks for sharing.

 

Did you see any eland at Mucheni? Large eland herds are known to frequent the area, but maybe they come later in the season.

 

Only one or two. Certainly no big herds at that time

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is quite old. Unless updating a photographic thread with new images, please consider starting a new discussion. Thank you.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy