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I love that close-up, front-on elephant portrait in post #32. (Here's hoping that's a tight crop, as I wouldn't want to be facing that close-by!)

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Wow! Where to start? I was already three pages behind! The wild dog in the road was certainly unexpected; very cool that you were able to follow it a bit. You've got some amazing elephant photos, and the second two videos were also quite pleasant. I must agree that observing the dexterity of their trunks is really something. The drinking mongoose gathering is a unique shot, too!


The eagle's dignified reputation may have suffered with your series of photos, but what a series!


The nighttime sounds video is nice! I have a few "sounds of the bush" recordings I sometimes put on at night or for relaxation, kind of similar, even if yours was a wakeup call instead.


These two photos:




really have that something magical about them.

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Fascinating to see the interaction between the Fish Eagle and the Saddle-billed Stork. Great photos. And wonderful narration to your report. I feel like I'm there with you all. Can't wait to move on to Chitake!

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@@michael-ibk what a wonderful TR!


I like the photos from your first post - the lioness with kudu kill and especially the cub that looks like its swallowed a soccer ball. The photos of down-town Harare are really interesting and as for Kanga Camp, what can I say?


The waterhole looks to be wildlife central with so many species and the reflected leopard - pure magic.

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Wonderful night shots! I wanted to play in the mud with that little elephant in the last video. I am well aware of exploring the Chitake riverbed barefoot, but without clothes?


You really focused on the bill in your Scimitarbills in flight. And the fish eagle - saddle billed stork sequence is amazing!


I love the elephant trunk exposé - a unique perspective.


Kanga was a total success! From the looks of your intro pictures, so was everything else. A swimming cheetah - wow!


Thank you for those kind words on traveling with me.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Oh, Micheal! I've been waiting for this report of yours and have missed the start... I've always liked your trip reports and photos, but this time everything is really out of this world. What an amazing safari! And your photos are in general sharper, have you changed lens(es) or you have just improved your skills? I just noticed on one of the photos that you have brought your Manfrotto tripod along.

I really appreciate the fact that except the amazing animals and birds (including BIF) photos, you have published images of Harare and Zimbabawe in general.

What and adventure, I'm speechless and looking forward to seeing the rest of the report...

Edited by FlyTraveler
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Lovely report, Michael ....... Loving every post of yours! This looks like the perfect late dry season camp with all the game coming down to the water - what is awesome is how relaxed they are!!!


I MUST get to Mana SOON!!!!

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The first post was superb - and then it gets better!

Wild dog on the road -amazing

And then lots of beautiful waterhole pictures - wonderful elephant photos. The video of the baby playing in the mud is superb.

The fish eagel - stork interaction is fascinating.


I have always enjoyed your photographs but these are even better. Really enjoyable.

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Maybe we'll see you there @@Atravelynn - late Sept/early Oct is when we are booked to go (.......with Doug though - sorry!). It would be great to catch up with other Safaritalk members.

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The butchers shop is simply not tempting me at all, the Dog on the bitumen is just all wrong, the Lizard eating the Scorpion..brrr, and the place looks like a bushfire has razed it to the ground, what a great collection of photos. Wow, that Camp looks nice.



Well, at least you like the camp. ;) I´ll keep working on tempting you












@@michael-ibk, oh I love it all, even the harsh and unusual. The smiles on your two faces says it all. Fabulous vista through the tent walls.

The water-hole is certainly the heart and soul, just so harsh and barren out there away from camp. A couple of questions, did all the guests have a private guide and vehicle?

Your photos are terrific, do you mind me asking what camera and lens you are using, Im looking at gear at the moment and very confused. Your photo above, shows a fairly light-weight, compact set-up, Ive been shown some huge, heavy lenses which don't really appeal. Thanks

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Many thanks, @@Alexander33 , @@Marks , @@Treepol , @@FlyTraveler , @@xelas , @@Atravelynn , @@TonyQ , @@madaboutcheetah and @@elefromoz . :)


I have to point out that, as usual, quite a lot of photos are @@AndMic ´s as well. We haven´t changed our gear, the same we used in India and Kenya this year. I use a Canon 70d with the Canon 100-400 (Mark I) and a 18-135, Andreas uses a Canon 700d and a 600d with a Sigma 120-400 and a Tamron 18-270.



I love that close-up, front-on elephant portrait in post #32. (Here's hoping that's a tight crop, as I wouldn't want to be facing that close-by!)


Actually not cropped at all, taken with 100 mm, just clipped of to the left and right a bit. This one was less than 6,5 m away from us - I remember that because I had to change the lens settings (I have them on start autofocus at that distance normally).


This looks like the perfect late dry season camp with all the game coming down to the water - what is awesome is how relaxed they are!!!


I MUST get to Mana SOON!!!!


You really must, Hari. What was interesting to me that the animals actually are not relaxed at all around Kanga. Even Impala were very skittish away from camp, and Kudu would run as soon as they would see a vehicle come closer. Only Zebras were more stoic. As Doug told me, Elephants too are very wary when one sees them on the loops, and they try to avoid the cars.


It´s really only at the waterhole that all of them behave differently. They have no other choice than to come here, and they seem to have accepted that they can´t avoid humans and that humans are no danger - here. A very special setting, and quite wonderful.




A couple of questions, did all the guests have a private guide and vehicle?

do you mind me asking what camera and lens you are using, Im looking at gear at the moment and very confused. Your photo above, shows a fairly light-weight, compact set-up, Ive been shown some huge, heavy lenses which don't really appeal. Thanks



No, other guests used the camp guides. There was a group of Belgiums who shared two cars, and I believe the other couple got a private vehicle by default.


For my gear, see above. At the tent and often at the waterhole I used the 18-135 quite a lot since animals came very close, but for most shots - especially the birds - it´s the 100-400, which is not huge, but certainly not lightweight (1,4 kg).


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Chitake Springs - "Waiting for the Buffaloes"


The drive was not too long, maybe about an hour. Again, it was thick, lifeless shrubbery all around us, only now and then dappled with tiny hints of green where localized rain had lessened the dry season´s hardship a few weeks ago. I was constantly on the watch for the Caracal @@Zim Girl had seen a few weeks ago on the way here, but of course my plans and those of the Caracal were different ones. (On my very first safari I saw one and had no idea at all that that was a special sighting - but sooner or later I will get him again. :))


I was really, really excited about getting to Chitake - I had read so much about it, its wilderness, remoteness, the sense of that everything could happen at any given moment, that everyone and everything had to be alert non-stop. And yes, as we would see anything could happen at any given moment.


Also, I was looking forward to our camp here. Private "Mobile Camping" with an operator was very new for me, and I was unsure what to expect, how it would compare to stay in a tented lodge.


Answer: Very, very favourably! Given the choice (and the money!) I would now always prefer this, all necessities (and more!) are there, and it´s the most private and wonderful way of enjoying the African bush. Our camp was located right next to the riverbed, under some trees providing much needed shade. This is Chitake 3, an operator-only campsite. Chitake 1 is a few 100 m further down"stream", and we saw the people there a couple of times sitting in the riverbed but it´s far enough so that you don´t really notice them. Chitake 2 used to be up a hill, near some magnificent Baobabs, but due to bees had to be relocated. It´s now near to Chitake Springs springs in the bush.


Here are our tents:






Beds were comfy, space was no problem, and I enjoyed the breeze going through all night.




What you see in the back is the chemical "emergency toilet" for use at night - no one was to leave his tent at night, and for good reason with the number of Elefants, Buffaloes and predators around all the time. And I´ll say this: I´d rather have clenged my legs all night long (or done even far worse) than leaving the tent with all the noise around us. One night I almost didn´t dare to leave the emergency toilet, did hardly dare to move when all of a sudden lions started roaring 2 metres next to me. (I admit, could have been a bit farther away, but it sure sounded that way. :))


The daytime toilet a (a long-drop, which takes sand after use - staff provided a neat pile of sand for that purpose. They expertly estimated how much sand we´d need - when camp was taken down all the sand was gone too. :-))




I like bucket showers, and with them you get a clear sense of how much water a shower actually needs. We mostly were ok with one bucket for two people. I asked if it was ok to shower in the evening (when light was going out soon), and this was approved, we all took our showers after returning from our afternoon walks. The question was not unfounded btw, since I had read that a lion had taken a guy taking a shower a few years back, but Doug and Andy explained that the situation had been quite different. But we were told to always be careful, always on the watch, and so the sense of excitement never faded, even if one was doing the most mundane things in camp.




We had four members of staff, camp manage "Para", Henry, Lewuit and Chef Isiah. I was constantly amazed what kind of delicacies they were preparing for us with so limited means. Quality of food was easily "lodge level", very high quality and always super-tasty. For lunch we had Fish & Chips with salad, and a wonderful freshly baked bread.


Our lunch and dinner table:






Doug preparing our welcome drinks. See that Orange Juice bottle there at the right? I first noticed it next morning at breakfast, poured my glass full with it and took a hearty draught - PFLLWAHHHHH! And spit it out - of course silly me had not noticed that it was to be diluted with water. :rolleyes:


A short time after us Big Andy and Shirley arrived from Chikwenya and were beaming with excitement. As stated before, we were to share camp for the next 7 nights, but they had their own guide, @@Andrew Smith, who´s also here on Safaritalk. Hi, Andy! :) I was quite jealous that they had seen Nyala on the way down to Chitake - very high on my wishlist for this trip.

We then made ourselves comfortable in the midday heat and took our chairs to the riverbed. Impalas, Baboons, Guinefowl, a Kudu, Warthog or Bushbuck now and then - a steady parade of animals was coming down to drink, and we were watching these peaceful scenes. Since it was very dry this year, the water had stopped flowing a bit upriver, otherwise animals would have come closer. And yes, the dead elephant opposite our camp was still there, but since it has now featured in four Trip Reports at least, no need to show it again.




We relaxed, chatted, had some drinks, then some Muffins, and just chilled, the plan was to go on a walk a bit later when the heat would become more bearable. (It was well beyond 40 ° degrees). But plans often change in Mana Pools. "Why are they running?" (The Impalas) "What´s that?" (The tannish thing running down the hill at the river bend.) "Is that a ... was that a ...?" (Lion.)


YES! Lion! Big lens was not ready, I was still wearing my sandals, but doesn´t matter - in Mana Pools, contrary to all human instincts, if you see a lion you drop everything and run after it! And that´s just what we did, with Doug leading the way, all six of us were going, up the riverbed, and then we left it and walked up the ridge. I was excited, I was overjoyed, I was a bit afraid, I was tense, I was happy, I was alert, I was looking everywhere and listening to everthing, I heard my heart race - were we really going after a lion? On foot? In sandals?


Yes, we were, and it felt absolutely awesome, like something only other (much more adventurous) people would do, not chicken little Michael me. "Walk in a single line behind me". "Keep low, don´t move too fast!" And then we found her, resting between the bushes, not taking too much notice of us:




Meet Sapi, the grand old lady of Chitake Springs. 13 years old, and very used to humans walking in on her, so she was relaxed, and our guides were relaxed. We were certainly not relaxed. What was she, maybe 30, 40 metres away? How long would it take her to come over if she decided we were a nuisance after all? How great was it seeing a lion in the wild like this, on one level with her, with no metal car roofs between us? I´ve been close to lions a couple of times, but this was very different. Exhiliarating, and probably the moment the Mana walking bug morphed into a hungry giant and swalloped me up. *Slurp* There you go, jeep safaris! :)


We sat with her for I don´t know how long, shuddered with excitement when she would bother to raise her head and look at us, but after a while Doug suggested to get back to camp, to fully dress (shoes!), get proper camera gear, water, and then return. She probably wouldn´t move too soon, but who knows, as Doug admitted. "Indeed, she might try something.", he suggested, and smiled.


Sapi well might.

Edited by michael-ibk
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Please tell me the next installment is coming quickly...

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"She´s a grand old lioness", Doug told us, "a fierce predator, a fighter" - one of a kind. Many Chitake guests have met Sapi, and she often would stay very close to camp or even in camp, sometimes taking their cubs there, and she would sometimes even watch the humans trespassers have their dinner, while she would be resting less than 100 metres away. I wonder what she was thinking in such moments. :)


We were getting ready, cameras on, proper shoes, and took some pictures of the riverbed, excited that we would go visit Sapi again.


When all hell broke loose.
















Sapi had tried something. :) :) B) B) :D :D


Ok, a few :(:unsure: for the Kudu.


(Apologies for the picture quality, settings were all wrong for something like this, and all happened so fast we could just click away.)



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Sapi had tried something, and now a young Kudu was exasperating the very last breaths of his young life. This time we were ready, and within minutes we had approached her, took positions on the other side of the riverbed, close, oh so close. Chitake Springs - a place where anything could happen at any given time. Never would we have thought how fast that would become true for us.

It´s hard to describe my feelings when we were crouching down watching this scene unfold. Seeing a lion kill is pure "Safari gold", much more so on foot, it doesn´t get more exciting. Yet I don´t think "happy" would be the right word to describe this - it was much more a feeling of almost reverence, of respect for the power of this predator, of remorse for the young Kudu who had stopped struggling now, of feeling privileged of witnessing this age-old drama, and very much a feeling of "This is unreal".

It was all kinds of awesome.

And then the lights in the Kudu´s eyes broke.





And Sapi started to feed.

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Transfixated by all this, we hadn´t even noticed that both Andies and Shirley had long left the riverbed to get a different angle from the ridge above. And we also didn´t notice we were getting company. Doug did of course, and it was high time to go now - the Elephants were arriving!


Up on the ridge we were safe, and watched the giants below us, who were clearly wondering what the hell we were doing on their turf here.




After that interlude we watched Sapi again.



"Hey, Sapi, you´ve got KUDU on your tongue!"


"Who, me - really?"



"That´s Dis-GUSTING!"



As if we not had enough awesomeness for one day, a herd of buffalo approached the riverbed, obviously unaware of what was going on down below.





They came down to drink, and we didn´t dare breathe, what would happen now - would they confront Sapi? They stopped, watched her and the Kudu, encircled her. But Sapi just snarled, gave them her best "Yeah, come on, try it! Make MY DAY!" look - and the herd moved on.



Yes, Sapi is a fierce old lady.




Sapi had tried something - what an introduction to Chitake Springs!



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The image of Sapi, the one you used in the opening, is one of the finest of a lion kill and a kill over all I have seen.
it shows the desperation of struggle - the old lioness is tarnished and dirty, a far cry from the golden nobility the cats are described as. The mud also hugely emphasises her fierce amber eyes that steal the picture.
There is violence, the angle and the blood matting the kudu's neck just below her bite.

Fantastic, a great sequence and all on foot. Unbelievable.

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What an adventure, this is fantastic to read. Thank you.

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@@michael-ibk WOW!! Super exciting - and fantastic shots of Sapi with her kill - I really almost feel what it's like to be there!

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What an adventure. The settings weren't too bad. You caught the hunt/kill. How very exciting. And then the buffalo. Capped off by gorgeous sunset!

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Top of the top safari experience, I am not sure if it gets any better than this. You have captured this exciting moments very well, Michael!!!

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This gets better and better. Beautiful story telling.

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Exciting read!


Quick question - how do you charge your camera batteries?

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Exciting read, great pictures

The camp looks perfect!

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