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Mana Adventure No 4. The Dogs came out to play.


Zim Girl
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We have just recently returned from our 4th visit to Zimbabwe.

For something new, we spent 3nts in Matopos and then back to see old friends for 10nts in Mana Pools.

As usual the trip was booked through Expert Africa.

 

We chose Matopos for several reasons. We wanted to track rhino on foot and we also wanted to see the rock art, the Cecil Rhodes grave and to do plenty of walking amongst the great boulder scenery of the National Park.

 

To do all of this we booked Paul Hubbard as our private guide.

He totally lived up to his billing of being one of Africa’s great guides and I would absolutely recommend anyone going to Matopos to book him. He is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. Equally at home tracking the rhino with us, to talking in great detail about rock art, to climbing huge boulders. Archaeology, history, geology, wildlife - his list of specialist subjects is endless.

 

We stayed at Camp Amalinda and loved it. The rooms are built in amongst the rocks (literally) and we were given a wonderful big room – No 10 at the top of the site. I must give a special mention to Colin, our young host who was looking after camp while the managers were having a break and Zeph, the barman and waiter who has been with Amalinda for over 20 years. Both of them looked after us extremely well and were a pleasure to spend time with.

 

I don’t think there is much on ST about the Matopos, so I will post quite a few pictures of the Camp and the different places we visited.

 

We left on 10th September and flew BA overnight to Jo’burg and then onto Bulawayo with South African Airways in the morning. The Jo’burg-Bulawayo flight took 1 hr 30 mins and arrived at 12.15.

 

Camp Amalinda - our room, which had a swing bridge to a separate sitting out area.

 

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The bar area

 

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Some of the art sculptures placed around camp.

 

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The main dining room

 

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A little elephant shrew who stopped long enough for a photo.

 

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Our brief to Paul was to be out all day in the Park, to walk as far as possible and to see as much as we can.

He was delighted as this meant he could walk through parts of the Park that he hadn’t been to for a while. The first morning we spent around 4 hours taking an extended walk to a rock art cave.

 

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Looking forward to reading this report, as the countdown begins to our first trip to Mana Pools (unfortunately still some time away....)

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Some of the balancing boulders we passed on the walk back from the cave.

 

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World's View - The site of Cecil Rhodes' grave

 

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The Shangani Memorial

 

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Cecil Rhodes Grave

 

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Another photogenic elephant shrew

 

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We had the entire site completely to ourselves, and had sundowners watching the sunset.

 

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The next day we were to spend the morning ‘boulder bashing’. This basically meant climbing up the sides of ridiculously steep rocks and having a huge amount of fun.

 

The yellow covering the rocks is lichen.

 

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The afternoon had been set aside for rhino tracking. We did this with Paul and one of the Parks scouts. I am not giving any more detail on the areas we went to, but we had 2 very close and wonderful sightings of white rhino on foot.

 

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The next day we were due to travel to Mana Pools. Originally I thought 3nts would be enough in Matopos, however, after having met Paul and seen how beautiful the Park was, we could easily have spent a few more nights here, looking at more of the rock art caves and walking more areas.

Other wildlife we saw here included klipspringer, reedbuck, zebra, wildebeest, warthog, impala and kudu, but for me Matopos was yet another wonderful place in Zimbabwe to walk.

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How nice to see a TR including Matopos. Thanks @@Zim Girl. Glad you found, and got some good pictures of, the rhinos

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Lovely to see photos of Matopos, as we don't hear much from this area.

 

I like the elephant shrew photos very much and am looking forward to hearing about Mana.

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What a beautiful landscape, love the rock formations. Terrific pic of the elephant shrew, and you had great Rhino tracking as well. Fantastic start, looking forward to more. How about birds, did you see Verreaux´s Eagles?

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Elephant shrews, plural. Great sightings of those little fellows. The statues are beautiful. I don't recall they were there when I went many years ago. You had excellent success with the rhinos!

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the topography is so different! Your photos especially at sundowner time are beautiful. And, you are so lucky to have been able to get the elephant shrews.

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@@Zim Girl

 

The rock art is stunning! Camp Amalinda looks fantastic. Great use of the natural rock and love the bridge over to the seating area.

Matopos itself has some from interesting geology and topography going on. Very good to have some photos of the landscape itself. Sometimes lacking here!

Great rhino sightings.

Looking forward to the rest.

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The accommodation looks utterly charming as well as unique!

The rock art and surrounding scenery looks captivating.

Also, nice job with the shrews!

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What a beautiful landscape, love the rock formations. Terrific pic of the elephant shrew, and you had great Rhino tracking as well. Fantastic start, looking forward to more. How about birds, did you see Verreaux´s Eagles?

 

@@michael-ibk We did see a pair of Verreaux's eagles, but not close enough for me to get a picture I am afraid.

 

For everyone mentioning the elephant shrews, I know, I couldn't quite believe they stayed still long enough for a picture. At the grave site, we saw several of them zooming around.

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We left Camp Amalinda at 8.30am and drove to Hwange airport for our flight to Mana.

The drive took 3.5 hours. Our flight turned up at 1pm and it took 2 hours to fly into Mana Main, just stopping the once at Mana West to drop off a passenger.

Mark (our guide) was waiting for us and we had a mini reunion in the middle of the airstrip - we had to move eventually as the pilot wanted to take off!! Mark has been guiding us on all our trips to Mana since our first visit there in 2011.

 

We set off on our way to Chitake, our first campsite. The drive took about 2 hours. On the way we spotted a Caracal in the distance. This is the first one I have ever seen so we were very excited. We couldn’t get too close, so the pics are a bit blurry. We watched it wander from one side of the road to the other and then pounce into the bush.

 

We stayed at Chitake for 3 nights and as usual the evenings were spent listening to the many elephants passing camp on their way to the spring. The lions were even more vocal than normal keeping us awake every night and on one occasion came into camp making a right racket. It turned out they had pulled some of the awning away from the back of Mark’s tent and were having a game with it. It was found in the branches of a nearby tree the next morning.

 

During the days we were seeing more elephant around than we have in the past and for the first time at Chitake we found the dogs. There were 4 adults and 6 puppies in a small group. They wouldn’t let us get too close but it was great to have our first Dog sighting of the trip.

 

Caracal on the road to Chitake.

 

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Wild Dogs found not far from camp.

 

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Group of buffalo in the river bed.

 

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Crested Guineafowl next to camp

 

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Heuglins Robin - these were everywhere in camp

 

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Some of the Chitake scenery

 

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You put the Chitake part up just in time for me - Caracal and dogs, terrific! :)

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Wetting your appetite as well is it Michael? Thanks @@Zim Girl for the great timing of this part of your trip, I'll be devouring every word of this while waiting for Friday to arrive.

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@Zim Gril - brilliant Elephant Shrew photo!

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Great stuff @ Zim Girl.

 

Lovely to see Matopos.

 

The Caracal is a rare treat, and the picture of the Crested Guinea Fowl wonderful. I have only ever had fleeting glimpses of them - we call them 'Ken Dodd' birds (sorry to non-UK based ST members, I am pretty sure that will mean nothing to you!)

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@@Zim Girl

 

Lovely photos, and excellent trip report! As my trip is still a few months away (not like some other lucky guys here) I will enjoy it during next rainy autumn days.

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@@Zim Girl

 

All these Mana Pools reports are really increasing my desire to go next year. Looking forward to more.

 

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Great stuff @ Zim Girl.

 

Lovely to see Matopos.

 

The Caracal is a rare treat, and the picture of the Crested Guinea Fowl wonderful. I have only ever had fleeting glimpses of them - we call them 'Ken Dodd' birds (sorry to non-UK based ST members, I am pretty sure that will mean nothing to you!)

Very funny, totally see where you're coming from!

 

@@michael-ibk

@@Big Andy - are you going to Chitake as well?

 

You will both love Chitake. We were particularly lucky seeing the dogs this year, but you never know. Really though, just enjoy the feeling of wilderness during the day and look forward to the elephants and roaring lions at night which is when Chitake comes alive.

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