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An Adventure through Botswana and Zimbabwe, September 2014 - by Safaridude and Game Warden - Part 2, Zimbabwe


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A beyond superlative trip report. Fantastic, evocative photography by the Dude. ???

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Views from in and around camp...


The lounge and bar.


Relaxing in the mid afternoon heat and looking to the waterhole.


I didn't see anyone use the plunge pool: perhaps it would've been safe to don the mankini?


No matter where you sit, elephants are always in view.


Recently installed wooden decking. In front, the bar and dining area.


The fire pit with monkeys checking out the bearded tourist...


Benson with a Little Mak guide, Robert.


Dining with a view.


Hopefully not on the menu... ;)


From the edge of the dining area.

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The Log Pile Hide...


People consider the original Yankee Stadium, (prior to its 1973-6 renovations), as The House that Ruth Built... and one, when staying at Little Makalolo can quite rightly consider it as The House that Benson Built... (at least to some extent and for the purposes of this narrative anyway.) There remains the spirit of our guide twenty years prior encapsulated into this camp and sitting with him by the fire, listening to his stories - his passion for Little Mak is still as intense as ever. @@Safaridude, in a previous post mentioned that I'd taken an afternoon off: it's true - I did decline a game drive but for good reason. I wanted to spend time in The Log Pile Hide.


Situated only a couple of hundred yards from camp, the hide, constructed from logs, (from which it derives its name) nudges up to the water's edge of the Little Mak water hole, a pumped pan. Many years before, Benson had noticed how elephants never climbed over fallen trees and thus the idea for the hide was born. The first of its kind, since it has spawned a whole new generation of wannabes - but this is the original, the instigator. Robert, my guide for the afternoon briefed me about our approach before leaving the dining area. We'd swing out to the left until we reached a large tree. From there, he'd assess the situation: it was either go or not. It took us in a triangle formation, away from the water and then back on ourselves. In fact, as we left the tree and made for the hide, those elephants present were spooked and ran from us - it was Robert's belief that this herd did not come here regularly so nervous were they of us.


One clambers across the logs and slides into a spacious and shaded hide, there's place for rifles, binos, cameras, pith helmets and G&Ts. It can be a favourite place of leopards, snakes and all other manner of wildlife other than elephants so we don't enter till it's been visually cleared. And once in, sat with Robert, we wait. It does not take long...


You are surrounded on 3 sides by tree lines, the 4th is the camp. Elephants converge upon the pan from all sides bar the camp so one has to be alert and we are both looking round to see what is coming. Lines and lines of elephants come and there is the amusing spectacle which I had not witnessed where the younger ones, the closer to water they get, the faster they run. So it becomes a speeded up ciné film as their anticipation grows, like the first cold beer on a hot day, it's as if they sigh with relief and delight at their first huge intake of water. I knew how they felt. One almost feels the ground shake as they approach en masse. It's a visual treat for sure, being amongst so many elephants, perhaps fifty or more, some leave, more come, bustle in. Make way for the old bulls. A bit of jostling, shoving, but every elephant gets a turn. All get a turn at the outflow pipe, where the fresh water enters the pan, that's where every elephant really wants to drink from... But it's not just visual, this spectacle challenges all your senses, the noise of the footfalls, trumpeting, slurping, ear flapping. The strong earthy dung smell of the churned up water, mud flung into the hide from trunks barely meters away - one elephant sniffs along the tree shelf in front: so close I could have stroked his trunk. It is truly an amazing experience - Hwange is the place of elephants and Little Mak's Log Pile Hide is the place to get in right amongst them, to be a part of the herd.


















We'd been at the hide all afternoon - the light was beginning to fade, it had gone from golden to burnished bronze and was darker still: we still had to walk back. Robert picked up his rifle, said Let's go and thus we got up carefully and made back for camp. All I could do was thank him, other words had left me. I just didn't know what to say...


One could spend much longer, if they so desired, at the hide, watching the promenade of wildlife, (and not just elephants, Zebra, buffalo, monkeys - it was certainly fun to watch the juvenile bulls chasing other wildlife away from the water...), arrange a picnic lunch. It gets hot, but what finer a way to swelter away the day than in the Log Pile Hide with the elephants in Hwange National Park?

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Gentlemen, enjoying your report!!! (I still have atleast 3-4 trip reports to catch up with :) ).


Quick question - @@Safaridude - what lens do you carry around on a walking safari with you?

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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You'll notice with my narrative a distinct lack of wildlife images. 2 reasons, (at least on this trip) - firstly I didn't take my 40d, not that I've got a good lens for it anyway and second, with @@Safaridude shooting from a similar viewpoint there would have been a lot of repetition. On this trip I took just a basic and cheap zoom compact for accomodation photographs - until I arrived at Little Mak's hide. Because one is so close to the elephant action, there's no need for an expensive set up, (unless having a specific goal in mind, such as the 'dude's low light flash photography), long reach lenses etc - there's so much going on barely a metre from your sitting position you can just point and shoot and be assured of getting reasonable results. In the above post I was not looking for perfection, or artistry simply something to record the amazing sensation of being in the midst of these giants...

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If i was on safari with the Dude i din't think I'd take a camera either. :unsure:

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Lions kept me awake on the first night and the last - it seemed they were close and the scattered bones of the waterhole kill zone was proof enough that this was a favoured spot of the big predators. Despite having seen such a plethora of felines at Camp Hwange, we were keen to see the big pride and thus, early one morning, chilly enough to see me wrapped in a fleece, we set out to find them. It was probably The Back Pans pride, so named after the Back Pans area near Davison's Camp. It wasn't difficult to pick up their trail, a fresh collection of paw prints jumbled together but from this morning heading north and thus, weaving the Land Rover on the sandy track, looking down every now and then to check their direction we followed theit progress. It was obviously a big pride, we were the first vehicle after them, there were no other tyre marks. And we continued following, expectation was growing and north we continued: but we came to the Bulawayo to Vic Falls railway line: north is the Sikumbi Forest Reserve, no longer part of Hwange, the railway demarcates their boundaries. One side of the tracks, the national park, the other - well, there they could be legally hunted. They were now on the wrong side of the tracks. Benson and I stood atop the track, on a raised embankment offering clear views either side - there was spoor leading off into the forest. Why? A short while later we found evidence of one of the big buffalo herds having also crossed: the lions were on their tail but we would never know the outcome. Minutes later a long coal train rattled by: we were back in the Land Rover and driving off.


We weren't to see the big pride: and so settled for breakfast at a waterhole close by. Hippos snorting and wallowing, splashing around a short distance from us we snacked on a platter of bacon sarnies, strong coffee woke us - wind whipped around rippling the water's surface. Great eddies of breeze whipping at the palms: it was one reason, so Benson said why the grazers were not leaving the tree line - their olfactory senses would be confused, they'd not be sure from where any predators would be coming. We waited for the winds to drop and eventually they calmed but still the wildlife was shy with a few zebras in the distance - it was time to cover more ground.


The circling of vultures in a concentrated area of sky indicated something was afoot ahead: they led us into a small wooded grove in which a small lion pride was guarding guarding its kill - a young buffalo perhaps a straggling member of the herd which had crossed the railway during the early hours. They'd already had their fill of it but weren't giving it up: it would sustain them for another day or two at least. @@Safaridude captured their sullen behaviour in this post, photos #7 and 8. They weren't the only lions on a kill we'd see that day...


We had word that close to Ngweshla there was another kill site. The picnic site and its pans were pretty much devoid of vehicles and wildlife, it was somewhat frustrating and one could sense that Benson also was feeling awkward. We discussed the possibility of the swirling winds which were prevalent each morning; the amount of ground water and thus the ample supply of greenery - animals just did not need to break cover to drink. At this time of the season, we were expecting more - although amongst the barren times there were highlights such as the sable, roan and click knee'd eland coming together to drink at Linkwasha, close by two ostriches guarded their brood of chicks from a pesky jackal which darted in and out, desperate to eat but was seen off every time by the flapping anger of the mother ostrich which ran him off a good distance.


The lions were just off the road hidden under a bush. Although we were the only vehicle on scene, you could see others had been here watching but the kill had occured much earlier in the day and like the lions of earlier, these were sullen, sleepy and content to be full and shaded. Only a swarm of flies, buzzing over the exposed flesh could get close, apart from us. The dude's shutter fired a couple of times, but there had been, and still would be, better photographic opportunities and thus we left them to slumber. Not more than a hundred metres away a herd of Kudu browsed the bushes growing from a termite mound: vultures flapped in the trees always looking towards the kill site.

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Gentlemen, enjoying your report!!! (I still have atleast 3-4 trip reports to catch up with :) ).


Quick question - @@Safaridude - what lens do you carry around on a walking safari with you?




It really depends on the situation. I basically have three lenses: 300mm/2.8 with a 2x extender; 70-300mm/4.5-5.6; 17-40mm/4.0


If it's a short walk or a short "walk-in", I will lug the big one on a monopod. If not, I tend to ditch the big one in favor of the 70-300mm/4.5-5.6. It depends on the terrain too. Once I lugged around the big lens at Lewa walking up and down hills. That was tough and I vowed never to do that again. At Mana Pools where the walks tend to be short (more like "walk-ins"), I carried both lenses.


Not that I wish to be awarded a cookie… but I generally refuse to have a guide carry my extra equipment. My philosophy is… the day I can't lug all my equipment around is the day I stop photographing.


As an aside, I just LOVE the 70-300mm/4.5-5.6. I sold my old zoom lens (70-200mm/2.8). A lot of the professional photographers wouldn't be caught dead with a variable aperture lens… just because… but the 70-300mm is my favorite. It is so compact, and the results are sharp.

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Lions roaring woke me on the last morning of our stay at Little Mak. Was it the big pride which had ventured north and crossed the tracks? Returning and if so, still all together? They were close for sure but it was still dark enough to hide them from me in the gloom as I left my tent and followed the torch and rifle of Robert to the dining area. I stood, sipping on a hot coffee, scanning the waterhole vista as it become light from the edge of the fire pit decking, only a few shrubs obscured my vision. Two large male lions, fully maned strode from right to left towards the water where they crouched to drink: the light was too poor for photography and they were too distant but it still made a fine start to my final day. Another group on their first safari and being led by Dave Carson ran to their vehicle - you could sense their excitement, enthusiasm - when male lions are close and calling, everyone is enthused.


And so on my own, sat at the table, with lions heading off into the tree line, coffee in front of me and porridge in a pot warming by the camp fire I reflected upon my time in Hwange, at Little Makalolo. The atmosphere had been very welcoming - this came from the younger guides who were full of energy and one saw how they interacted with Benson, the reverence in which they held him: he knew each personally and had helped them to become what they were today. Everyone loved Benson. Little Mak was a place of laughter and great conversations and the hospitality of Bea: I always felt to be at home. Conversations were something I really enjoyed at the dining table, round the camp fire - some of the guests were on their first safari, some not but all were brought together by the kinship of the wild: there was no one who didn't want to interact, talk conservation, relate their sightings of the day, talk of their own life experiences. Lunches and dinners at Little Mak were of high quality, as were the prepared snacks for sundowners and breakfast platters. We could have chosen to set up tables and do things formally but on the go we just plonked everything on the bonnet and helped ourselves. Drank tea and coffee without the restrictions of a certain etiquette, walked around with bacon sandwiches, became part of the Hwange scene.


I hoped to see more: game drives were tough going at times - the thought of Little Makalolo had filled me with great expectations, which weren't fully met on a wildlife level. But, then, that's safari - being in the right place at the right time. The sightings we'd had were of quality but it was just the quantity at times which lacked and it was all down to this year's weather cycle. But what Little Mak had delivered in spades were elephants: my gosh the elephants. I can't say what is the best camp in which country to see elephants: I don't have that experience and knowledge but I can say if wanting to see elephants then Hwange must be a top consideration. For here had I seen many...

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My experience earlier this year in Kenya had me concerned: @@Safaridude imposed a rule that should I even mention vomitting, he'd fine me 20 bucks. I think I was up to a hundred before we climbed aboard the Cesna...



Leaving Hwange behind.

We squeezed onboard and after a quick flight briefing were roaring down the runway: I waved to Robert who was leant against the Land Rover but I don't know if he saw.


Minutes into the flight I was asleep - my head leaning against the window and I was gone. I missed great swathes of Zimbabwe spread out below us but awoke upon the approach to Kariba Airport, the great lake in the distance. Whilst the aircraft was refuelled we scuffed about in the small departures lounge. A drinks fridge was secured by a hefty padlocked chain. No one was drinking Coke today. Kariba's airport terminal and gardens were neatly maintained and very cute, well, as cute as an airfield in Africa can be. Again, it wasn't the first time on this trip that I felt to have been stepping back into the past.



A short and at times bumpy flight from Kariba to Mana West - as we took off I looked down to see a large herd of elephants walking towards the lake: as we flew in low over the winding Zambezi pods of hippos punctuated the river. My excitement was building and we touched down with a smooth landing, Safaritalk had arrived in Mana Pools.

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You are both such natural storytellers...I have lingered over every word (and photo). @@Game Warden I never realized there was a ponytail behind that beard and pith...

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Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe


I can’t quite make out both shores of Lake Kariba. Maybe it’s the haze. Maybe we aren’t flying high enough. The point is Kariba is immense. Strewn amongst the sea of water are islands. With the droning of the engine, my mind wanders: how many land animals must have gotten trapped on these islands during the building of the Kariba Dam and died a lingering death, I wonder. (There was a massive undertaking at that time called “Operation Noah”, in which thousands of stranded animals were rescued.)



Lake Kariba from the air


Back to happier thoughts… Just beyond the haze lies the promise of Mana Pools. So talked about and romanticized, Mana is the destination de rigueur amongst safari connoisseurs. If the Luangwa Valley’s identity is walking safaris proper, Mana Pools’ is “walk-ins” on dangerous game. That I, a seasoned safari fanatic, haven’t yet been to experience Mana is peculiar.


At the airstrip, a pleasant surprise awaits. Benson’s son, Honest, who is a guide at Wilderness Safaris’ Rukomechi Camp, happens to be waiting to pick up his guests, and we spend a few minutes exchanging niceties. Even during this brief encounter, it becomes clear that this apple did not fall far from the tree. Benson once told me about the Shona tradition of naming newborns according to the prevailing conditions, thoughts or traits, no matter how pejorative, and some in Benson’s village were so named Poverty, Difficult, etc. Benson made sure to bestow upon his children names embodying virtues: Honest, thus. Honest, may you grow up to be the most sincere safari guide – like your father.



Benson and Honest


The Mucheni 4 campsite couldn’t be more strategically appointed. Located right on the banks of the Zambezi, Mucheni 4 is on an open pathway of sorts the animals use to travel to the river for a drink. During the day, impalas, baboons, kudus and elands are constantly in view, and at night, hippos and elephants take over the campsite. Tailormade Safaris has Mucheni 4 booked for some period, and we share the campsite with another party. Humphrey Gumpo, an upcoming premier Zimbabwean guide who always seems to be in an upbeat mood, is the proprietor of Tailormade, and he happens to be guiding the other party staying at Mucheni 4. Tailormade is a precise operation. From the spacious walk-in tents to ever ready bucket showers and incredible food concocted in the primitive kitchen, Humphrey’s mobile camp set-up is perfection in the bush.


Well, what can I say about my first impressions of Mana? The place is dripping with game. On the several hundred riverfront acres, one cannot count to 50 without seeing something with four legs. The concentration of impalas and baboons in particular is astounding. If you look beyond them in the Natal mahogany tree line, kudus and elands are invariably camouflaged in the shade, with a herd of elephants parading behind them. I have never seen anything like it.



A pair of kudu bulls






Grey heron


Mana Pools means “four” pools, but the place is really a tale of two trees that give life during the harsh times of the dry season: sausage and ana (or winterthorn, or albida). Fallen sausage tree flowers, full of juicy nectar, are jealously fought for every morning by the browsers, and the tree’s sausage-shaped fruit sustains Mana’s hippos, which are short of adequate grazing during the dry months. Ana trees drop protein-packed pods (elephants, in particular, are unable to resist them) relished by all the browsers and even buffalos. These two trees also give life to Mana’s photographers by their canopies’ filtering the sunlight. Only the soft rays seem to penetrate through the leaves and branches and down to the valley floor, where dust colludes with the rays to fashion a peach-hued glow. If warm, dusty air with a bit of humidity in it had a color, that peach would be it.



​Mana Pools in a nutshell



Eland and impala in peach-hued glow


So crazed are the elephants here for the ana tree pods, you can get within touching distance of the elephants (in a vehicle, of course) when they are reaching for their favorite snack; I acquire what can be described as “dentition photos”. Boswell, the gerenuk elephant of Mana, is famously capable of standing on his hind legs to reach for yet-to-be-fallen pods, but he proves scarce on this trip. Boswell is seen once with his entourage of younger bulls on a reed-fringed sandbank in the middle of the Zambezi River, perhaps contemplating a holiday to Zambia.



Elephant close-ups
































Nowhere else in Africa is the urge to “walk into” lions or wild dogs more acute than here in Mana. There are plenty of them to walk into for a start, and, habituated to humans on foot, they promise tantalizingly close encounters; many thus consider Mana the Holy Grail of on-foot, close-up photography of these animals. Add to the mix, however, the insane local rule allowing walking without licensed, armed guides and the large number of tourists doing just that, and you have somewhat of a toxic brew. During our first lion “walk-in”, we walk into three groups of people totaling about 20 coming and going rather casually by a small pride resting in the shade. Our second lion walk-in finds about 10 people on an open plain randomly spread out about 60 meters from a sleeping male lion and behind them another couple of groups having a raucous sundowner outside their vehicles. I am happy/unhappy to report that we Homines sapientes (that’s plural for Homo sapiens, which plural term is deployed here to demonstrate my erudition – obtained seconds ago from Wiki), ever so clever and adaptable, are evolving at Mana to circumvent these annoyances in order to secure private sightings. Some deviously park their vehicles away from their predator sightings – knowing that others often simply look for empty parked vehicles and then follow the human footprints to the sightings – and engineer a deceptive loop-around approach. Some are even more devious: “oh, the dogs, yeah, I heard they are in back country this morning, waaaay deep in the jesse. You had better pack a picnic lunch and go.” Some of the old doyens of Mana understandably yearn for the bygone days when this valley belonged just to them. The over-exploitation of Mana must be killing them inside. It’s not a stretch, however, to suggest that some of them have become overly irascible and antisocial over the years. Blame it on the relentless heat of the valley? That would be a stretch.


Mind you, it’s not all that bad all the time. Unlike the truly crowded places like Ngorongoro or Amboseli, here you can still find wilderness and solitude. We explore some fantastic bush to the west of the main riverfront, encountering leopard tracks and Honest Siyawareva again. The wilderness area to the east produces a nyala bull amongst a herd of impalas and a huge buffalo herd whose daytime job it seems is to make dust. We walk up to massive eland bulls that are tame and so characteristic of Mana. And we do manage to nab two predator walk-ins just to ourselves: one lion, one wild dog, both unforgettable.



Bachelor party



A tame eland we walked up to



Not quite Boswell



Ground hornbill kill #1



Ground hornbill kill #2



An old-ish cub



​Asleep out in the open



Day job - making dust



Nyala bull



Kudu near camp



An eland bull enjoying sausage tree fruit



Mucheni 4












Sunset on the Zambezi



A view from my tent



An early morning croc kill



Marabou stork at dusk



Egyptian goose at dusk



Humphrey Gumpo



Heading home

Edited by Safaridude
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@@Safaridude What a great end to my crappy day. Thanks for bringing Mucheni 4 ans Mana Pools back to me in all its glory

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Lion - In the midday, late-September heat of the Zambezi Valley, even the vultures are sluggish. They are somewhere between just riding the thermals and circling with intent. Benson thinks the former but we decide to check it out anyway. Indeed, it is an impala carcass in the middle of the floodplain, but strangely, the intact carcass has no signs of bite, claw or drag marks. “Natural death, most likely”, speculates Benson. We know that sooner or later, some hyenas at least will come and mop up, but it’s Africa hot and we decide to head back to camp. Just as we begin trudging back toward the vehicle, we spot a male lion sniffing the air and drifting toward the carcass. The stage is set perfectly. We are between him and the impala and surrounded by piles of dead logs – a natural woodpile hide, if you will – with no other Homines sapientes around. The lion closes in, betraying his pathetic condition: face gaunt, ribs protruding, coat shabby. With all the prey available, this must be a lion past his prime or ill. You can sense the desperation and hunger – the bug-eyed long face and the frothing drool. Imagine above his head a cartoon thought-bubble encircling a huge rump roast. He sure could use this freebie meal, now about 100 meters away. Just then, a second male lion, most likely the first lion’s pride mate and exhibiting better health, appears out of thin air to pounce on the impala carcass first and drag it away by its neck. The chase is on – not only lion chasing lion, but also three human spectators trying to keep up with them. The shabby one catches up to the preemptor at a slight rise on the floodplain (what a stroke of luck to be presented with an upward view camera angle!). The two then seize up in a stalemate for several minutes, panting and growling, each hunkering down on a part of the impala with all his weight in order to claim as much of it as possible. Their bodies are tensed, all vein and sinewy muscle. Sharing be damned, it’s more important that the other one doesn’t get any of the impala than that one eats at all. As the minutes pass, the preemptor, his jaws still clenched on the impala’s neck, lays claim to more and more of the impala by greedily sliding his body over, trying to shut out his pride mate, but the shabby one – the “losing one” – begins to feed. The preemptor? Too busy amassing wealth to eat. It’s like an Aesop’s fable. Perhaps finally tired of the stalemate, they both rise and engage in a tug-of-war, dismembering the carcass and each running away with his loot.





































Wild dog – Humphrey has found the dogs while guiding the other party from Mucheni 4, so says the camp staff. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon, and it’s 1:30-in-the-afternoon hot. But we go, of course. There is a big party of Homines sapientes observing a pack of some 15 wild dogs, but we know we can outlast these other bipeds in this heat. Predictably, they leave after taking a few snaps. We are alone now, I, Matt and Benson, with the dogs now resting and napping peacefully. “Let sleeping dogs lie”, is the operative motto when approaching wild dogs. Many make the mistake of moving in too quickly, only to have the lead dog brace itself and utter high-pitched, rapid-fire, guttural barks, instigating a retreat of the whole pack. The secret is gaining their trust through patient, tortoise-esque, infinitesimal advances. So, here I sit, my bum warmed by the skin of Mana Pools, every few seconds inching forward dragging my haunches (I suppose looking sort of like a domestic dog cleaning his bum on the carpet after “going”.). Within half an hour, I am close enough. Any closer would be a violation of the pack’s deflector shield. Benson stands behind me “covering” us, rifled and scanning the bush for dangerous animals. Matt is to my far right, on his belly and taking photographs with Benson’s camera. Annoyingly, he grunts every few seconds: “click, click, ugh, click, click, ugh!” Just as I am about to gently and kindly whisper, WTH STFU!, I realize Matt is continually being stung by bees (haha!). Back to the dogs… what a privilege it is to spend these intimate moments with them. They are sound asleep, not concerned with us at all. It is as if they have welcomed us into their pack (wonder if Matt would regurgitate some meat for them). Suddenly, “pssst”, whispers Benson. He motions with his hands, drawing U-shapes in the air outward from his temples. It can only mean one thing: buffalo. Dagga boy. Pretty close. “It’s okay”, whispers Benson after further assessment. I turn back and with some unease continue to photograph the wild dogs. A minute later, “pssst, come this way”, Benson summons us. The dagga boy is really close now, and he is much worse than I imagined. He has smelled us, and now he is swaying his head side to side, a sure sign of buffalo rage. As if that wasn’t intimidating enough, as a result of eating dry ana tree pods he is sporting a row of dangling spittle icicles on his muzzle. But Benson is a seasoned veteran. He knows exactly how to calm the nerves of his clients in these situations. He hollers in panic, “guys, we gotta get the hell out of here!!!” Okay, okay, he didn’t really say that. Benson calmly instructs us to put down all our gear and climb a third of the way up a 12-foot termite mound. “If he comes, just climb up a few more steps and watch out for snakes. We’ll be okay.” Was that a mischievous smile, Benson, or a nervous one? The dagga boy treads closer, swaying his head again, exposing the bloodshot whites of his eyes now. He smells something he does not like, but his eyesight is so poor he can’t quite make out what we are. This makes him angrier. He is pissed! The dogs aren’t helping matters either, as they detect the dagga boy and do their high-pitched barking routine, further enraging him. Ordinarily, I am an exceedingly calm person, but at this exact point of the safari, I feel myself edging closer to looking like a domestic dog simply “going”. A third of the way up the termite mound and shielded from the buffalo, I focus my eyes on Benson to my right. He clutches the rifle but does not draw it. It’s bloody hot, and I am sweating. But Benson is not. Moments later, Benson eases his grip on the rifle. It’s over. “Okay, he’s gone”. Damn, the dogs are far away now. We must start all over again. Back on my haunches, I creep, creep, creep. Three hours have passed? What privilege…







































Edited by Game Warden
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We didn't share many sightings between 24th August and 2nd Sept this year. A couple of shared dog sighting by the roadside, but no more than 3 vehicles, maybe 7 people. Always alone when on foot thoug; we had one sort of shared Lion sighting with two self drivers watching from the roadside as we walked in. I did't find the numbers of people in Mana too many. I'd take it over crackling radios and vehicles racing to sightings anyday.

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Safaridude your description of your interaction with the dogs and the buffalo had me roaring with laughter. Terry is looking at me in astonishment.

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The angle of the termite mound photo makes it look small @@Safaridude when in reality it was at least twice my height... :)

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Cracking pictures and an engaging account of the dogs and the Dagga boy encounter!


I got quite lucky with Boswell sightings - 8 days out of 13. You'd be surprised how many similar shots I've taken of Big V; I was particularly after his eyes and a frontal of the tusks and he obliged by getting about 9 ft from where I and my guide were sitting under the Albida tree. I'm sure you've enjoyed his head-shrugging in effort to lift his heavy trunk up.....sitting this close on ground with him, I could practically feel his breath while he broke the branches above our head :blink: Absolute privilege!


As it was my first trip to Mana, can't really compare the volume of crowds but agree with .... that even for my 13 day stay, it was only 4 times that we bumped into others (actually twice was with Tailormade guests guided by Fisher). Maybe "Whyone" can shed some light too!?


Thanks for sharing!!

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@@Safaridude - those last two installments are bordering ridiculous!!! Absolutely fantastic ........

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@@Safaridude - those last two installments are bordering ridiculous!!! Absolutely fantastic ........


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Little Makalolo What do you think...the tent has not changed other than the boardwalks. Was the bird bath still there?


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super stuff @@Safaridude @@Game Warden some wonderful encounters beautifully related and illustrated


and even better, due to the time difference there is a new chapter waiting for me each morning when I start my computer. A great way to start the day. Or is it? It just makes me want to go back there right now.

Edited by Soukous
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Fabulous descriptions portraying very well the tension of being on foot when something unexpected comes along, in your case, the dagga boy.

Your pictures are just out of this world, I particularly like the close up elephant ones.


You are making me very eager to get back to Mana, next year can't come soon enough.


During the 3 years we have been going there we have only ever met a 'crowd' of people when there has been a sighting close to the road. We hardly ever meet anyone when out walking.

The Nyamatusi wilderness area is very good for getting away from it all. We never see anyone when we stay there.

Edited by Zim Girl
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We drove from the Wilderness concession, (Ruckomechi), in which their airstrip is located to camp: a long and exciting game drive offering a first glimpse of the Mana Pools ecosystem as far as Mucheni 4. On the banks of the Zambezi we were staying with Humphrey Gumpo's Tailormade Safaris mobile camp - he had pitched our tents in the shade below towering mahogony trees, a dining table spread out below its canopy and the ground dropping down into a wide gulley - a dry rivulet stream bed with muddy pools which was soon to prove to be a wildlife highway to and from the river. Just above which was the camp fire, and on the opposite side a most incredible sundowner spot upon a promontory sticking out into the Zambezi below which hippos were grunting, snorting, splashing.


Following a quite delicious lunch, arguably the best of the trip thus far, I laid down for a moment in my cot, closed my eyes - and was woken much later by @@Safaridude calling my name repeatedly: they could not rouse me. An elephant was lumbering past the front of my tent on that wildlife highway... It was time to set off on our first game drive proper - it was time to know Mana Pools.


A circuitous route down towards Mana Mouth, the park's HQ, Goliath Camp then back inland via Long Pool, Zebra Plain: we drove through various and contrasting biomes and what became clear was the closer to the Zambezi one got, so the game increased. The 'dude, with his numerous safaris and extensive experience of Africa had not yet been here: we were both Mana Pools virgins and I think as excited as each other at the prospect of exploring this much talked of destination. Elephants, baboons, impala, waterbuck, eland, kudu, crocodiles, so many birds which I'll never be able to name, a fish eagle pair up in the tree overlooking one of the pools, calling to each other. I'm always thinking that round the next corner so we'll encounter Boswell, Big Vic, the Vundu pack of dogs - I hoped we'd meet other guides such as Stretch, Doug etc, all names common to me through the various Safaritalk reports I've read in the past. And it felt strange, that, despite it being my first time here everything felt familiar in a way, like almost, I was home - and that is thanks to you, the many Safaritalkers who have gone before me and brought back your memories to share...

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