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@@graceland - I have an old version of your camera, so you'll do just fine with the vids :)


Press the red button above the screen and let it do its thing. Keep a constant zoom length and don't zoom in and out like I did. It is very annoying. Also, take a small tripod for those times when you get sit and record (which you'll do lots of in Mana) and you'll be wowing us with your memories.

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your videos are amazingly steady. have you seen my videos?! they shake like i was in a boat in the ocean caught in the perfect storm. i can hear your daughter banning me from ever video-taping anything.


i would have found it hard to watch the killing and eating too, especially if the impala was still alive while they ate. i can understand why the dogs had to eat it alive, but would have to close my eyes as well.


amazing that the eles have recovered from the hunting days. animals are so intelligent and attuned to humans'intentions and emotions!


cant wait to

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I really like the video of the large bull elephant. It is wonderful to hear it - and to hear Ant talking to it calmly.

I imagine a bit of adrenaline flowing at that point.

The section with the elephant walking in front of the cliffs emphasises what a beautiful setting this park has.

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@@Sangeeta My husband is also reading and enjoying your trip report. Just fabulous!

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Thank you all for persevering with me :)


So glad your husband is also reading along, @@marg - that is so encouraging to me.


@@Kitsafari, I don't remember your vids being so shaky, but good thing you were not with Nina on this trip, haha! She can be a tough cookie :D

Yes, I fully agree with you that animals are great at deciphering and understanding human intent.


Thanks, @@TonyQ - glad you enjoyed that ele walk along the cliffs. I loved it too.

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I agree that these videos are not very shaky! I know how critical teenage daughters can be, though, having one of my own! :D Love the big bull with the big tusks and his stomach rumblings - I've heard ABOUT these rumblings many times but don't think I've ever actually heard them. Very interesting as I believe I've heard they are used by elephants to communicate with other elephants - maybe he was communicating with Ant?


Love seeing the dogs and also the environment of the park - it's really beautiful!

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Just catching up after missing a few days' worth... love the dogs, eles, and very dramatic landscapes. The embedded videos also add a lot, thanks for taking the time to include them.

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Wow! Gonarezhou, for whatever reason, has never been on my radar… until now!

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Just brilliant Sangeeta, I'm enjoying every minute of the journey with you.

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Thank you all, for your very kind words.


@@SafariChick - I really think he was communicating with Ant.


@@Marks - so much easier to do these now that I know how :P I was useless at this stuff even a few weeks ago!


@@Safaridude and @@twaffle - if there are any two people who should make it to Gonas, it is you two. With your eye for landscapes, light and images of wildlife in their habitat, this park would yield a real treasure trove of photos for you. I honestly thought of you many times while looking at a particularly beautiful scene.

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Things are looking so busy that I know if I don't get this done now, I will never get it done at all. So I'm going to borrow a page out of Hari's book and keep words to a minimum :P The photos are obviously not remotely of that caliber, but hopefully will at least convey the beauty of the park and the quality of our experience...


Breakfast atop the Chilojo Cliffs



It is apparently a Gonarezhou experience to lie on your back at the top of these cliffs and watch the black eagles as they catch the thermals and soar parallel to the clifftops. We were not so lucky but what a sight that must be!



Fresh oatmeal served piping hot never tasted better...



The little wildebeest specks to give you an idea of height.


The Old Bull and his Askari



We were fortunate enough to see the famed Zim apprenticeship system at work with Ant and Scott, his learner guide. Ant is not old enough in calendar years to fall into the Old Bull category but I hope he takes it as a compliment that I put him in it...


Descending the cliff along an ele trail...











A challenging walk for my knees but an exhilarating experience for the rest of me! How elephants can climb and descend along paths like these is a mystery.




Some of the little things we saw (other than a caracal skeleton!)...



Blue pansy and hookweed







A civetry! And a poisonous berry - one of those little seeds can kill.

Edited by Sangeeta
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How beautiful Sangeeta, thanks for posting these photos.

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Wow, the cliffs are just spectacular! Must have felt wonderful walking through the water barefoot and having THAT for a view. Perfect moment?

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@@Zim Girl, @@twaffle - thank you for staying with me!


@@michael-ibk - it was indeed a perfect moment. One among many such perfect moments on this trip.

I saw your other post too - no, I wish I were going to the Mara but with a recently retired husband, my safari funds have been greatly diminished :D But looking forward to reading all about it when you get back and live it through your eyes!

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Very beautiful area! It seems to me it would be very appealing to my husband and I as he loves dramatic landscapes and wilderness, and I love the animals - though the landscapes and wilderness are also a draw to me. I agree, it IS hard to believe the elephants can climb and go down those paths! Love the video of you walking through the river - taken by your daughter, I presume :)

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East of the Park and Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge


As one heads in a north-easterly direction, the vegetation changes from baobab highlights and Mana-like woodlands to much more tropical Lala palm groves and thickets






The wildlife is prolific - though the shrub mopane in the mid-section makes it hard to see very much until we reach the pans.


Ever-vigilant nyala ladies




Nyala in good numbers...


The Mozambican border is the soft underbelly of this park - miles and miles of fencing whose wires have now finally all gone missing though only after having provided decades of ready-to-use snare material; there are hunting concessions adjacent to the park along the border that bait and lure animals from inside the park into the hunting reserves.


We had lunch today at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, a very comfortable lodge (Clive Stocktil is the owner or major shareholder) with power, ice, wifi and other amenities just outside the north-eastern boundary of the park. Staying at Chilo involves an hour drive back and forth through mopane woodlands and crossing the Save river before accessing the park, but with their very reasonably priced van transfers from Harare, well priced rooms plus mobile camping offer at any of the park campsites, this is a very good alternative for people who want an alternative to Pamushana or GBC. As a big fan of private guiding, I would like Ant for my group even if staying at Chilo, though they have fully licensed Zim guides too. Our guide Japhet at Pamushana came there after a stint at Chilo.





Another memorable sunset...

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@@SafariChick - yeah, vid taken by Nina and guess what, it was shaky too :P Haha - so much for being the Stern One, though I have to admit, her efforts are visibly better than mine!

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OH MY.....where have I been the last two days to have missed this!


Absolutely awesome - I am a landscape fanatic; and I CANNOT believe I will be in Zim and miss this! Oh well, thanks to you I see :D


But very sorry to miss it.


Ok....an "Ant" expedition must be on the horizon!


Forget a boat.

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Forget a boat.


:D :D You bring a smile to my face every time with remarks like these!

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It was late by the time we were done lunching at Chilo and ambling around Tembwahata Pan. As we approached our fly camping site at Machaniwa Pan, Ant asked us to shut our eyes. We could only open them when he said 'Now'.


'Now!' he said finally. And we opened our eyes to this...




For a moment, I thought I was in the Delta - the scene was so familiar! In the space of a few seconds, the light was gone for the night.


It was gusty and the clouds looked semi-ominous, but we still pitched camp, enjoyed a fire, a lovely dinner and went to sleep hoping fervently that we would not be drenched by the morning. We were lucky that the winds chased the clouds away after all.




It is truly a magical sensation to wake up to a chorus of water birds and the pale fingers of dawn as they filter slowly through the mesh top of your tent. It is a moment to experience, to stretch and curl your toes and smell the slightly musky smell of the vegetation you find yourself amidst - and so we took our time to emerge from the tents and greet the day.




Ant and Scott had rigged up this bucket shower the night before but I had been too tired for it. The next morning, this shower looked wonderfully tempting. We rigged up a flysheet, warmed some water from the pan and I had a stunning view from my shower that day!







Lunch... Warming oven :D


















Eles everywhere - many more breeding herds on this side of the park than in front of the Chilojo cliffs, where bulls seem to predominate. Very playful babies and very vigilant mamas.



Not a great image, but I included it to paint a picture of the very prolific birdlife at the pan.

This was also the Day of the Warthog! On our walk around the pan, we saw some warthog approaching from a distance. Ant immediately motioned us to duck down behind some bushes. Then followed a lovely little game of hide and seek. The video clip below does not do justice to how curious the warthog were about us once they heard Ant imitating their grunts. They came closer and closer...






Watching and listening closely




What a charming interlude with an animal whose aerial like tails are usually seen speeding away at top speed from humans... They ran away from us too, of course, but not before they had satisfied their curiosity!

Edited by Sangeeta
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what a beautiful spot! the combination of photos, videos and words really makes it come to life. I love the eles and the warthogs are so adorable!

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Wow, what a beautiful place. Love the landscape pics, the impala video and the Nyala. And Ant does speak very good warthog. :)

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What a fascinating trip report, Sangeeta ........... Love the description, pictures and detail ............. look forward to more!

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