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Hwange, past and present

Bush dog

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This report relates mainly to my ten day stay in March this year. I have included pictures, scans of slides, made in May 1998 during a business trip as well as those taken in September 2000 during a ten day stay.


In 1998, I spent only one night in Hwange and I completely forgotten where it was (nothing unforgettable, I guess ?). I made one game drive from Main Camp to Robin’s Camp. I saw a lot of elephants and hippos. The following pictures were taken somewhere between Sinamatela and Robin.




If I remember rightly, ten days in high season, even with better viewing conditions (less vegetation and no tall grass), sixteen years ago, were not better than ten days in green season, nowadays, but this is only my opinion.

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Looking very much forward to seeing a "Green Season" Hwange through your lens. Great slides, really like the Hippo picture with all the Eles in the background.

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Main September 2000 sightings :


- a lot of elephants




- a big herd of elands with many young ones


- five leopards, seen the same evening along the same road




- only two lions and one lioness





- a few roans and more sables




- many hippos




- a lot of baboons




- a lot of springhares at night


- bat-eared foxes





- Martial eagles




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So you were still getting some great images even back in the days of potions and wizardry when you didn't have unlimited tries to get it right. Got to say the blue elephants look a bit odd though. :D Good to get a perspective on how the park and wildlife viewing has changed over the years.

Edited by Big Andy
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@@Bush dog I am loving this Hwange through the years report. We are heading there for the very first time in 2017 and I am really looking forward to it. I am hoovering up any reports and info I can until we get there ourselves!

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@@Big Andy


Thanks a lot for your comments!



So you were still getting some great images even back in the days of potions and wizardry when you didn't have unlimited tries to get it right.

Well, in those days, it was still photography. Now , it's more like shooting! Nevertheless, now , I'm not coming back with a lot more shots than in the past.

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The first camp in 2000 was The Hide. I remember a comfortable and pleasant place with competent staff. The problem is that I did not see a lot there in 2000 as in 2016, when I went, twice, to Kennedy 1 & 2 pans, actual Jericho’s territory, that are close by The Hide concession.


The second camp was Makalolo. From there, sightings were much more better. What I recall from my stay at Makalolo is the company, during five days, of what Africa has best to offer in terms of guiding. Dave Christensen was managing the camp. I went on game drive several times with him. I also went out a few times with Fausto Carbone for whom the sky and the stars have no secrets. I met Benson Siyawareva who was managing Little Makalolo. I even had the chance, on a few game drives, to enjoy the company of Garth Thompson, who was in the camp for one night.


This year, I arrived with the BA flight from Jo’burg around 13 :00. After passing the immigration formalities in the brand new airport building, I met my driver. He drove me to the Victoria Falls Hotel where I was welcomed by Isabella from Inspiration Zimbabwe (http://inspirationafrica.travel/). She also organized the Botswana part (Selinda & Duba Plains) of this trip. Victoria Falls Hotel is a very pleasant and interesting building that can be visited like a museum. As I was tired by three consecutive flights, I took a nap followed by a most welcomed shower and then put me to walk down the many wide corridors with walls covered in prints and photos depicting the rich history of the region and this Station hotel. And the falls then ? As the sky was overcast and it began to rain several times, rainfalls will be daily throughout the ten days of my stay in Hwange, and also I had already visited the site in 1998, I decided not to go this time. In 2000, I directly took the flight to Hwange. Some years after I saw the Falls from the Zambian side, which is arguably the least interesting of the two.

Those pictures were thus taken, mainly from a helicopter, in 1998.




Looking carefully at this picture, you can see a bungee jumper, hanging from its elastik.



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The next day, at noon, a Wilderness car picked me up to drive me to the airport for the flight to Hwange which lasted an hour. On the way to Linkwasha Camp, I immediately understood that this was going to be dificult to spot animals whose size was less than the height of the grass. This was confirmed throughout these ten days, no wild dogs, no leopard and no smaller cats. Never mind, it does not prevent me to enjoy every moment of my first green season trip : flowers everywhere, bird species that I had not seen before, gorgeous light, almost no vehicles, not only in the concessions, but also in the public parts of the park. I don’t however recommend, at this time of the year, to come only for just a few days, or even more, if it’s a first time in the bush, because of the risk of disappointment that may result.

High grass.




Gorgeous light.




Teak flowers.








Abdim’s storck.




Couple of amur falcons.





Linkwasha Camp is a new camp with nine rooms. It was built at almost the same place as the previous one. It’s a camp, or should I say more a boutique hotel in the bush, of modern style and rather dull colors, in my view, at least as regards the common areas, not well integrated into the landscape. I heard that they will soon install air conditioning in the rooms which will made it definitively a hotel.




For the rest, the staff, at all levels, is very professional and the food is excellent. I just have to make one reserve. Though I had told the staff and mentioned clearly on the laundry list « strictly no iron », two pieces returned damaged. It never happened so far in all the camps I had been previously. The last three days, I was the only guest.


Linkwasha Camp is, together with Davison’s Camp and Little Makalolo, in the Wilderness Safaris concession that covers almost the far eastern part of the park, from Gweshla to Ngamo Pan.


The cars, Toyota Hilux, are very comfortable, especially the front seat.




All Zimbabwean guides are very good, but mine, and I was very lucky, was excellent. Indeed, qualified recently as Professional Guide, at only twenty seven, Honest Siyawareva, Benson’s son, is exceptional. He is the spitting image of his father, walking in his footsteps. Normally, he is working at Ruckomeshi, in Mana Pools, where the season does not start until the first of April. Well, a very good reason to visit Ruckomeshi.



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@@Bush dog - ive always loved your archive TRs and this is going to be no different.


The pictures of the elephants and hippos are amazing, especially the one where the ele goes so close to the hippos, forcing the hippos to stand up.

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@@Bush dog I particularly loved your photos of the Amur falcons,as well as Abdim's stork. I was also quite impressed with your photos of elephants and hippos. I'm planning to return to Hwange National Park in September of 2018, I'll be staying at Hwange Camp for 4 nights and possibly in Little Makalolo as well.

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Thanks a lot for your comments!


Next time, I will visit Hwange, I will go to Hwange Camp or Nehimba.

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The first game drive led us to Ngamo Plains. Ngamo is a wide open space with few trees, no tall grass and partly flooded in rainy season. It attracts a lot of wildlife that feels safer than elsewhere, except perhaps from cheetahs that were in the area, we saw tracks of two of them, but they did not show itselves.


The first sightings were a tortoise and ostriches.




A lot of elands also.



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During this first game drive at Ngamo, one herd of elephants, baboons, zebras, impalas, hippos, waterbucks and wildebeests were also seen. As I do not have photos of zebras and waterbucks taken during this game drive, I add some pictures from 2000.




A lot of birds also


Crowned crane.




Abdim’s storck.




Juvenile Kittlitz’s plover ?




Red-billed Teals.



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The next morning was quiet. We saw a young lion, probably from the Back Pans’ pride. It was lost and looked very hungry and weakened. It tried desperately, just in front of us, to catch a bird but failed.




Also an elephant and a solitary sable.




Then, we decided to go to Scott’s Pan where we only saw a few zebras. On the way back, close to the camp, we spotted a couple of ostriches with the survivors (only four) of their offspring.




Here, in the wake, pictures (of poor quality), taken in 2000, showing ostriches mating.




During the morning game drive, we saw a lot of raptors : Wahlberg’s eagles, black-chested and brown snake eagles, shikra, flocks of amur falcons, lesser and Dickinson’s kestrels, bateleur and tawny eagles and pearl spotted owlet, but also Bradfield’s hornbills,


Rufous-napped larks,




European rollers,




Carmine bee-eaters.



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@@Bush dog Again I love your photos of the eland and especially of the tortoise.I feel that eland are an underrated antelope to see on safari.

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The afternoon game drive of the second day led us again to Ngamo. On the way, we saw again the solitary sable and a lot of jackals. As the weather was turning to rain and the light extremely poor, I did not take any pictures. So once again, here are some photos taken in 2000.




On the Ngamo flooded plains, we were very busy trying not to get soaked but the wildebeests seemed to be very happy, it was like they were playing, galloping after each other in the shallow water. The hippos also enjoyed the weather and the elands remained stoic. Again some photos taken in 2000.




Eventually, I succeeded in taking some pictures when the weather calmed down.




The blond mane is due to a lack of melanin.



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A Billie Idol Zebra! :)

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The zebra with a blond mane is just astonishing. :mellow::D:lol: I enjoy seeing the freaks of nature when I go on safari. I remember seeing a baboon with a hunchback in Hwange National Park 6 years ago.

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Well that is a different looking zebra, probably not good for it's survival to stand out from the crown. Great light on the jackal images, really brings out the colours in the coat.

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The morning of the third day was, and will stay so until noon, sunny. We decided to go to Gweshla. On the way, a lot of birds.


Verreaux’s eagle owl




Verreaux’s eagle owl in 2000




Martial eagle




Coqui francolin & chicks




The solitary pelican with a broken wing at Little Samavundhla




Two pelicans in 2000




Crowned cranes







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I´m very glad to see the lone Pelican made it so far - it was already there in October.

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A few hundred meters from Gweshla, on the road to Main Camp, those lions, from the Back Pans’ pride, came from the opposite direction, passed along our vehicle, then left the road and finally disappeared in the woods. This was the only sighting, in ten days, where there was more than one or two vehicles.




Amur falcon




Mushrooms growing on elephant dung




Burchell’s sandgrouse



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On the way back to the camp, we encountered a very curious elephant.













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Concerning the weather, the afternoon of the third day will be completely different. The clouds will build up and the sky will progressively darken. The game drive will end with a thunder storm and in a pouring rain which soon flooded the roads.


We were very lucky to spot two male cheetahs, close to a small termit mound. Indeed, five minutes after they vanished in the grass.




There were many elephants (about seventy five) in the open plainss around Scott’s Pan.



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@@Bush dog I love your photos of the two cheetah,your photo of the amur falcon is especially good.It shows that many people enjoy going on safari during winter because not only are the rates considerably less, but there are so many species of migrant birds to be seen.The vegetation is also much lusher.

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