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


Safaridude

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Views in and around camp...

 

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Low impact camping. Bucket shower, long drop toilet, scuffing through Africa dust no decking in sight.

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My tent, the 'dude's, camp fire and dining area.

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Two cots a table and some shelves. What more is needed? Simple, rustic camping. (And a sensory overload at night).

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A Mana Pools morning.

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The wonderful subtle pastel russet skies of sunrise.

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Coffee and porridge by the water's front.

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More photos from Camp Hwange   Vusi at the edge of the concession   Main area   Dining area   A kudu bull near Deteema   A roan bull in the concession   A sable herd seen on th

To read the preceding Botswana section of the trip report, go to: http://safaritalk.net/topic/13350-an-adventure-through-botswana-and-zimbabwe-september-2014-by-safaridude-and-game-warden/   Hwange

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 forme

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Safaridude

Thanks all. @@graceland Little Mak looks about the same. When was that photo taken? I don't recall a bird bath.

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Safaridude

More photos from Mana Pools

 

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Some lotion on that please

 

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A view from my tent

 

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Clever craft by the camp staff

 

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First light

 

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Sausage tree in last light

 

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Black-winged stilt

 

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Impala in false rut

 

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Buffalo in first light

 

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Matt and Humphrey

 

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Swear that color has not been doctored...

 

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That's Mana, again...

 

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Breakfast

 

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A ghost in the night

 

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If anyone could look endearing while carrying a rifle, it would be Benson

 

 

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@@Safaridude I love that stretching dog photo and the Mana landscape that follows. The photo of Zevie over breakfast ought to make it into the Tailormade brochure - they were all such lovely guys.

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graceland

@@Safaridude that was @@marg who had been to Little Mac....I had not been to Mana before this past Sept when we went with Craig Van Zyl

 

Your photos show the light so beautifully as well as the myriad of wild life sauntering through the park daily!

 

we too rarely saw others; having arrived the day after game count in Mana we were fortunate everyone had left. We did have one sighting of rather tense moment when a visitor was running with tripod in hand from a too close encounter with lions. We had done the "sneak" on them and were not observed; the others trying to get a bit too close with setting equipment up for better pics, and Whoops...caught! Only other vehicle we ran across was a photog Craig knew.

 

Happily felt Mana belonged to us :)

 

Safaridude and GW, what an introduction for you two. Dogs and Daggas!

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Really enjoying this report. I wish I could take half as good images with the same set of lenses.

 

BTW @@Safaridude, when you say "There is a big party of Homines sapientes" shouldn't the latin be in the genitive? :D

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Game Warden

One can forget hopes of a restful night in Mana Pools if your campsite is upon the banks of the Zambezi. Things go crash in the night, splash in the night, fighting and grunting and snorted conversations, arguments: hippos throw their weight around and keep you awake. Clamber up onto the river bank making all kinds of grunching sounds as they feed. And the moment one finally slips into something approximating sleep, there's a wake up call, time to get up, another day begins in Mana Pools...

 

Coffee, porridge, slice of toast folded round a rasher or two of bacon. Breakfast of champions. The sun slowly comes up over the trees in a milky haze from somewhere a fish eagle calls out. Not too far elephants crash through the undergrowth on their way to drink. You see it all from where you are sat. Suddenly there's a splashing, down there on the water's edge. Something rolling around. It's a crocodile, it's taken a goose of some kind and is necking it - another goose stands folornly watching its partner's demise. As we approach, the croc slides into the water and the large V shaped wake splitting the surface is all that remains.

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Safaridude

@@graceland @marge

 

Oops, my apologies for confusing you two. But like I've said before, I think you guys are the same person, just flipped. Please come out with the truth! :D

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Safaridude

Really enjoying this report. I wish I could take half as good images with the same set of lenses.

 

BTW @@Safaridude, when you say "There is a big party of Homines sapientes" shouldn't the latin be in the genitive? :D

 

@@JohnR

 

You right there prove your superior erudition. :D I had to look that up on Wiki.

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Soukous

I think that it is about time we had a new category of membership on SAFARITALK, - 'seriousy knowledgeable'.

 

immediate honorary members would be @@Safaridude, @@inyathi @@armchair bushman and @johnR :wacko:

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@@Safaridude...it's okay! We were there late August 2010. I looked at the trees (other photos) in front of the tent and they are shaped the same. So, it has to be the same tent. The dining area has changed.

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michael-ibk

Sensational stuff, you two! Good to see the pith "coming home". :)

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Very cool descriptions and photos of these great sightings.
Though @@Safaridude, I think you were a bit harsh at that male lion, he wasn't too bad! Not exactly the King Lear lion in Lions of Darkness. Very cool photos of the big bull too. On a somewhat odd note, those face closeups really highlighted their relation to manatees, from an encounter I had with a curious one in a kayak. The mouth especially is very similar.

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Kitsafari

@@Safaridude and @gamewarden, it's 20mins to 2am here but I can't peel myself to bed as i soak up all your stories, experiences, feelings, pictures, moods, wanting to know what's going to happen next. that dagga show was surely no laughing matter at that time, but you were hilarious recounting it.

 

once again mana pools have proved to be one place never to be missed.

 

got a question though - what's a walk-in? and how is it different from normal walking safaris?

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graceland

@@graceland @@marge

 

Oops, my apologies for confusing you two. But like I've said before, I think you guys are the same person, just flipped. Please come out with the truth! :D

As I think you and GW are one and the same! I've seen NO SHOTS of the "dude in Bots, Hwange or now Mana....

 

hmmmm @@marg, what you think?

 

GW as Safaridude or vice versa; GW traveling with Benson- and his pith is really the 'Dude.

 

It gets more frame time than anyone :D

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Safaridude

@@Safaridude and @gamewarden, it's 20mins to 2am here but I can't peel myself to bed as i soak up all your stories, experiences, feelings, pictures, moods, wanting to know what's going to happen next. that dagga show was surely no laughing matter at that time, but you were hilarious recounting it.

 

once again mana pools have proved to be one place never to be missed.

 

got a question though - what's a walk-in? and how is it different from normal walking safaris?

 

@@Kitsafari

 

I guess it's a term I liberally coined? In Mana, we didn't just set off for a two-hour walk, per se. We would find something from a vehicle, and then walk right into it or them. I say a "walk-in" is more appropriate because the animals are so obliging… they let you in into their lives, so to speak.

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Safaridude

@graceland

 

There is a photo of the Dude with his back turned (just like you!) in one of GW's posts. That's about all you are going to get. Camera shy...

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Game Warden

Mana Pools becomes ST HQ for a few days at least: my "office" looks out across the Zambezi flood plain, over the river to Zambia with its ethereal, ghostly mountain escarpment the horizon. A haze hangs low in the sky - smoke from great bushfires gusting in and across us. A milky mist turns those mountains into a watercolour painting in my vision. The channel in front of me green with fresh shoots and small stagnant pools choked with water hyacynth. An elephant passes by not more than thirty paces from my chair. I move - he stops. A young bull. Looks one side, turns his head, looks at me with his other eye: the breeze is blowing in my direction. He flaps his ears once then carries on up that highway in the direction of the trees. He's had his fill of the Zambezi already. At night, hippos graze whilst we eat, a mechanical crunching sound as they graze on grass metres from us, it's that noise which alerts us. We shine our torches in their direction, their eyes shine bright three here, a couple there - they remind me of grey hulking ships.

 

Lazy lunches in the heat, soaking tee shirts in a handbasin, wring them out, damp, cold against my skin, it makes me shiver but within minutes is dry again and I am hot. Even the breeze burns. Following dessert, @@Safaridude busies himself photographing the many eland and kudu which pass by and through camp: he doesn't have to seek them out, they are drawn to him, antelope meister that he is. Warthogs snuffle about on bent knees at the stagnant pools, impala alert awake nervous and ready to bolt at any provocation. A continuous stream of elephants lumber from the tree line to bankside in order to drink. I treat myself to an early G&T chunks of ice knock together, extra slices of lemon - it feels like this camp is my own.

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Safaridude

Very cool descriptions and photos of these great sightings.

Though @@Safaridude, I think you were a bit harsh at that male lion, he wasn't too bad! Not exactly the King Lear lion in Lions of Darkness. Very cool photos of the big bull too. On a somewhat odd note, those face closeups really highlighted their relation to manatees, from an encounter I had with a curious one in a kayak. The mouth especially is very similar.

 

@Big-Dog

 

You are right. I was probably too harsh on that lion. But when you consider how much cat food there is out there, it seems that a self-respecting lion at Mana shouldn't be showing ribs.

 

It reminds me of the one time I dined at a fine French establishment where they had a very skinny cheese sommelier. It didn't make sense. (Talk about having no credibility…)

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graceland

I think we saw the same lion; Craig said the same..With the abundance of possible" entrees", he felt they were being pretty darn lazy when we saw them. Esp. with impalas on one side, an ele on the other and buff behind.

 

I probably could have brought one down. ;) with the hard rocks I was sitting on.

 

I don't trust those anorexic chefs on tv food shows either. They obviously throw the goods away.

 

Going to have to have a re-check of photos and look at that back --to see if it resembles a pith helmet.

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@@Game Warden I love that description on Mucheni 4, we had the same setup and it too felt like it belonged to us. The steady stream of wildlife day and night was very special indeed.

 

Chikwenya have just posted a message on their facebook page which indicates an elderly male has just died, perhaps the same one?

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@Safaridude@graceland..I guess that he is not into selfies! But, it could still be only one person without proof.

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Kitsafari

 

@@Safaridude and @gamewarden, it's 20mins to 2am here but I can't peel myself to bed as i soak up all your stories, experiences, feelings, pictures, moods, wanting to know what's going to happen next. that dagga show was surely no laughing matter at that time, but you were hilarious recounting it.

 

once again mana pools have proved to be one place never to be missed.

 

got a question though - what's a walk-in? and how is it different from normal walking safaris?

 

@@Kitsafari

 

I guess it's a term I liberally coined? In Mana, we didn't just set off for a two-hour walk, per se. We would find something from a vehicle, and then walk right into it or them. I say a "walk-in" is more appropriate because the animals are so obliging… they let you in into their lives, so to speak.

 

 

 

@@Safaridude, your perspective on walk-in is so lovely, how true it is that they allow us to walk into their circles and be a fragment of their lives.

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@@Safaridude - Cat food can be very hard to catch though! ;) Zebra wary, buffalo dangerous and impala quick!

Hah! Doesn't sound like the most appetising cheese...

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Game Warden

We explored both extremes of the park, to the west, past Vundu, skirting the WS concession and following the Ruckomechi River for while. (The only time I was bitten by a tsetse fly.) We searched for the wild dogs and whenever you passed another vehicle one could expect the question, have you seen the dogs? We hadn't. We hoped to see cheetah but didn't. This western end provided fine ground cover and browsing for black rhino. Alas we didn't see any. Had it been 25 years previous, we might have - Benson had. He told us. Poaching had wiped the majority of Mana Pools rhino population out. What it hadn't had been translocated in the early '90s - to what future? Only to be poached elsewhere. It was a painful subject to discuss, for Benson as it was us. We had breakfast in the dry river bed: elephants crossed over a distance from us. A lone dagga boy watched us as we watched him but didn't approach. A vehicle dropped down in the sand on the bend of the river bed in the distance. I saw the glare of the binos as they glassed us: what an excellent sighting we made, three ageing safari patriarchs. I was wearing the pith. As I flapped the tsetses away the vehicle approached. A gaggle of enthusiastic safari goers pointing me out. It was a group we'd met previously in Hwange. Honest was driving, Benson's son - I'd got to know him briefly on arrival at Mana Pools so it was a pleasure to hook up again. He's a genuine guy, exactly like his father. They'd already seen cheetah this morning, I joked about swapping cars and joining them.

 

On the drive back, close to Vundu, another vehicle passed us and the driver stopped to chat with Benson. Everyone knew Benson. They'd sighted a lioness close by: we parked up and got out. Benson prepping his rifle and off we went. Tracking the spoor upon the rise of the river bank, we caught a flash of her tan back - there was not much distance between us but she was moving quickly and we must have covered half a kilometre through bushes before something caught her attention and she stopped, turned: the 'dudes shutter fired off a few times - he'd captured the perfect shot of her looking over her shoulder at us before skulking away. We later learnt this old lioness had a cub nearby. It had been a great sighting, (but not the greatest - the tracking had been the thrill), I was grateful to the other driver for letting us know: and we'd had this sighting to ourselves - other lion sightings during our time had seen various groups converging on foot from different directions, a number of photographers, cars parked up. Whereas with this lioness all I'd heard was the sound of twigs snapping under foot, my breathing, snatching glimpses of our quarry through the undergrowth. That was what my idea of being in wild Africa meant to me...

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