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michael-ibk
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Curse you, Safaritalk! Without you I would never even have heard of these funny places down there South of the equator. Would have had no idea that these places would be a total gamechanger for me. That I would never be able to look at Safari the same way again. That walking with a Zim pro guide is the best! thing! ever! That nothing is as wonderful, as satisfying, and as awesome as getting close to wildlife, small and big, peaceful and trusting, or menacing and dangerous, on foot. That Zimbabwe is just wonderful beyond words. And the place where all safari dreams come true.

Artistic Elephants

 

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Life begins gently here:

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Only to come to a harsh and brutal end.

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Well, little predators need food, too - but sometimes they go a bit over the top:

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Others just wanna have fun:

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Others have less fun - this cat´s bath was very involuntary indeed.

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No Safari would be complete without the ghost in the darkness:

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This was the Safari of gettin´ down and dirty - rewarded withsome more unusual angles:

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Birds come in radiating red here:

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A dry country:

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But every trickle of water means life:

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And every drop of water arrives here - in the mighty Zambezi:

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And nourish the Mana Pools flood plains:

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And yes - finally! My two "wishlist" antelopes:

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A new kind of Safari bug has got me now - the ZimManawalkingDoug-bug. How to get this out of my system now? :)

 

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~ @@michael-ibk

 

The final photograph above briefly fooled me.

I glanced at it, wondering why it had been included with such a terrific collection of wildlife images.

When I spotted the standing elephant, I marveled at the composition, wherein it balances the dead tree stumps to the right.

Lovely, high skill photography — Thanks!

Tom K.

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@@michael-ibk

 

No. Curse you! You had incredible sightings! :D

 

That photo of a lioness with a kudu kill is one of the most dramatic I have seen in a long time. Congrats on a great capture.

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Some amazing photos you have taken - really like the two of the elephants on two legs and the overfed lion cub.

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madaboutcheetah

Amazing start - Michael, really WOW ..... Cheetah in mana? That's outstanding....

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offshorebirder

Fantastic photos @@michael-ibk! I was floored by the first one and they just kept going and going.

 

Better put some watermarks on some of those fine photos before putting them up on the Internet!

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Heehee, another one bites the dust :D

 

Wow, you had some serious fun, both of you, but esp delighted to hear that you also experienced the 'get down & dirty' theme with Dirty Doug! Those are some brillianto photos, Michael. Wow!

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@@michael-ibk

 

Lots of great shots but I love that zebra one, fantastic. I can relate to you're safaritalk issues! Although the budget probably won't allow me to venture there next October all these Mana trip reports are killing me, I need to go!

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@@michael-ibk

 

Oh, great start to this trip report. Lovely pictures of Boswell and the lion on the kudu - Wow!

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@@michael-ibk - what an absolutely wonderful set of photographs - I don't recall seeing better on ST!

 

Was the cheetah in Mana (I know they are occasional visitors as I was lucky to see a mum and 2 youngsters there a few years ago) or Hwange?

 

Unfortunately I do have some bad news. Once you have contracted the walking-at-Mana bug, there is no known cure. There is no better way to view wildlife and vehicle based safari's just wont seem the same.

Edited by Whyone?
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@@michael-ibk - what an absolutely wonderful set of photographs - I don't recall seeing better on ST!

 

Was the cheetah in Mana (I know they are occasional visitors as I was lucky to see a mum and 2 youngsters there a few years ago) or Hwange?

 

Unfortunately I do have some bad news. Once you have contracted the walking-at-Mana bug, there is no known cure. There is no better way to view wildlife and vehicle based safari's just wont seem the same.

 

100% in agreement. @@michael-ibk I really like the parse writing style which lets the superb photographs speak for themselves.

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@michael_ibk

 

All those superb photos ... and it is just the opening post?! I am so looking forward to enjoy the rest after this spectacular opening!

 

About the bug ... already becoming a Safaritalk member changed the course of our travelling life ... and each similar TR only "worsen" the "condition". So, take some comfort in the fact You are by far not alone out here :wub: .

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Awesome photos...going to need more and the full story of the lioness and the kudu!
Beautiful scenic shots too, and what a tank of an eland bull...even with the bird spatter on his back...

Edited by Big_Dog
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Did that wee little cub eat half the Kudu....nah, that Lioness is not sharing with anyone. The Roan and Sable, beautiful, that's something I'd love to see one day. I've never really "got" the walking thing, so keen to hear all about it.

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Fantastic @@michael-ibk what terrific sightings and lovely images. I, too am curious about where the cheetah sighting was.....in the water too! I am sure you will fill us in in time

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I'm looking forward to reading more - we are booked to go to Mana Pools and Hwange next year with Doug. I am already heavily infected by the safari bug, but it looks like I'll develop a secondary infection - the walking-on-safari bug!

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@@michael-ibk Curse YOU as you are making me feel again that I need to visit Mana Pools when I hadn't been thinking about it for a while! Love these photos, can't wait for more!

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I can relate to your curses comment. Looking forward to seeing what getting dirty produced for you!

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I wasn't the only one having some amazing luck was I? You can just stop right there. No need to post any more. That's the perfect trip summary.

 

.... oh, all right then, if you really must I guess somebody out there might want s bit of detail. ;-)

 

Fabulous photos.

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I am amazed by the variety and splendour of what you've shared with us. You've excelled and the TR has barely begun. It has been a fruitful time for safaris it appears.

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Oh! My! Goodness!

 

I am really looking forward to the rest of this report!

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@@Tom Kellie @@Safaridude @@Julian @@madaboutcheetah @@offshorebirder @@Sangeeta @@dlo @@Zim Girl @@Whyone? @@KaingU Lodge @@xelas @@Big_Dog @@elefromoz @@wilddog @@JulieM @@SafariChick @@Atravelynn @@pault @@twaffle @@Peter Connan

 

Thanks so much, everybody!

 

 

When I spotted the standing elephant, I marveled at the composition, wherein it balances the dead tree stumps to the right.

 

 

You are being far too kind, Tom. I only ever noticed the stumps balancing Boswell well after I took that shot. Which pleased me, but it was totally unintentional. :)

 

About the Cheetah - that shot is from Hwange, not Mana.

 

Sangeeta, I can´t remember when I´ve been so totally dirty all over the last time, probably as a kid. Doug did his best to "toughen me up", as he would put it. Actually I considered "Gettin´ Down and Dirty with Doug" for a title but I was too afraid of how brutally Pault would mock me then. ;)

 

dlo, my budget didn´t allow it either, and it won´t allow it in the future - but I have just chosen to ignore those limitations. As Whyone said, I´m probably lost to walking and Mana now. :)

 

KaingU Lodge, sorry, I tend to get a bit more verbose as these reports move forward. ;)

 

Elefromoz, I get what you are saying about the walking thing. So far, "walks" have been very nice, and informative about plants, birds, spoor and poo. But as we say in German - nice is shitty´s little sister. B) This here was a very different kind of walking, exhiliarating, intense, private, amazing, scary all in one - and just all kinds of awesome.

 

JulieM, I´m jealous already, you will have a super time!

Edited by michael-ibk
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What a start to a TR, have to agree that your first photo will take some beating. Lokking forward to the rest of the report.

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Looking forward to this very much, Michael. Your reports are always engaging and envy-inducing!

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Thanks, @@CDL111 and @@Alexander33 ! :)

 

Our itinerary was:

 

FR, 16/10 Departure in Austria

SA, 17/10 Arrive in Harare, o/n at Guinea Fowl Lodge

SU, 18/10 Drive to Mana Pools NP, Kanga Camp (http://www.africanbushcamps.com/camps-safaris/zimbabwe/kanga-camp/)

MO, 19/10 Kanga Camp

TU, 20/10 Drive to Chitake Springs (Mana Pools NP), Mobile Camp Chitake 3, Outfitter Natureway Safaris

(http://www.natureways.com/)

WE, 21/10 Chitake Springs

TH, 22/10 Chitake Springs

FR, 23/10 Drive to Flood Plains (Mana Pools NP), Mobile Camp Mucheni 1, Outfitter Natureway Safaris

SA, 24/10 Flood Plains

SU, 25/10 Flood Plains

MO, 26/10 Flood Plains

TU, 27/10 Fly to Hwange NP with Altair (http://www.dougmacsafaris.com/altair.php),

Little Makalolo Camp (http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/camps/little-makalolo)

WE, 28/10 Little Makalolo

TH, 29/10 Little Makalolo

FR, 30/10 Little Makalolo

SA, 31/10 Fly to Hararw with Altair, Departure back home

SU, 1/11 Arrive back home in Austria

 

Everything was booked with Doug MacDonald (http://www.dougmacsafaris.com/index.php), who was our private guide for the whole Mana part of the trip. In Hwange we had a camp guide. At one point we had discussed the possibility of going together with @@Atravelynn and @@wilddog , but our dates didn´t quite match. As it was clear we would go on this trip just the two of us it was only June 2014. But as it turned out Doug didn´t have many slots left, even had to reshuffle quite a bit, and the last two October weeks were our only option. So, if anyone wants to book with him (and you should!), do it fast- he´s a busy guy!

 

October is "suicide month", it would not have been our choice, since it can be incredibly hot, very dusty and hazry and there´s also the risk of the rains starting. Well, it was hothothothothothothot indeed but quite bearable, the air was clean, the skies were blue and not one single drop of water fell from the sky. So weatherwise we were very lucky indeed.

 

Our flight with Ethiopian Airlines was as ok as these things can be. In Addis Abeba (an airport so overcrowded these days it´s almost ridiculous) we met @@Big Andy and his wife Shirley. Though they had their own guide, we shared camp in Chitake and on the Flood Plains, so our respective trip reports will certainly overlap a couple of times. That was a very cool concept, in camp we had two guides (which must have been more fun for Doug and Andy too), they could exchange plans (and contact the other party if someting spectacular was happening, which was done at least once AFAIR), and of course it´s fun to have company at the table and see a lot of enthusiastic grinning faces after a day full of excitement and talk about it.

 

Doug had advised us to get off the plane quickly because the Visa queue can be quite a bore, so we hurried and got through quickly. The first Zimbabwean I met was the visa officer, and he was friendly, outgoing, polite and funny. And this is one thing I can say about this country - everybody is! No matter where we were and whom we were talking to, people were just delightful.

 

Doug personally welcomed us at the airport and then drove us to Guinea Fowl Lodge where we´d stay for the night before our adventure would really kick off.

 

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A lovely, lovely place, a very personal B&B with few rooms (I forget how many), it felt more like visiting somebody. There was only one other guest. Annette does a great job of running things there, and it was the perfect spot to relax after a long and tiresome flight.

 

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That´s why it´s the Guineafowl Lodge. :)

 

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Apparently we didn´t take pictures of the rooms, but they were spacious, immaculately clean and very comfy. Equipped with TV (which I never switch on on holiday on principle), and WiFi was available too.

 

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Oh my, loved that pool! It just felt so good diving in the cool water, drinks in hand afterwards - perfect!

 

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Dinner can be ordered, and we enjoyed a sumptuous home-cooked meal and were all giddy with excitement what the next days would bring.

 

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First birds - Laughing Dove

 

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Blue Waxbill

 

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Meet Alfie, Annette´s tame little Vervet. She´s had him since he was a baby (I think they found him orphaned), and showed us the most cute pictures of him drinking out from a baby bottle with hand and feet clutching the bottle. His cage is quite spacious, but of course it´s still a cage. Annette told me that Alfie can move freely on their farm, but here in the city really needs to be kept in the enclosure. He´s an old guy now, eight years, and Vervets don´t grow much older, so here´s hoping the little chap still has a lot of energy left in him - we certainly didn´t notice his age!

 

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Alfie loves human contact, and particularly enjoys removing dead tissue. Tickles!

 

Originally we had planned to fly into Mana, but the fantastic TR of @Id1 gave us the idea of driving up there to see a bit of the country. A good decision, as it turned out, with a big surprise on the way! It´s seven to eight hours at least, so Doug collected us around 05:45 next morning.

 

We drove through Harare first, and thought it was quite pleasant for an African megacity. Reasonably tidy, quite modern at places, and quite good roads - not necessarily what one would expect from Zimbabwe, which has had to endure so many very hard years.

 

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Really enjoyed the Jacaranda trees in bloom everywhere.

 

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@@AndMic hat wished to get a bit of a view of the city, so Doug took us up the Kopje, the site of the first pioneer settlement.

 

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For a monument, it was not in a very good condition, but that´s only logical - government is not very keen on preserving "colonial" sights.

 

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Now - let´s get on the road already!

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