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Two Poles in the Pools (Mana Pools, August 2016)


hubertj

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Atravelynn

"If anyone is wondering why so many changing places - explanation is easy: we made our bookings quite late (yes, December'15 is late when it comes to booking exclusive campsites for August'16), so we were filling last holes in the booking calendar, and we just took what was available."

 

Helpful booking info. I was wondering why you were moving around and thought maybe you wanted to try out all the different spots.

 

Lovely sunset to go with the wildlife shots. After learning that baboon #s are down in MP, your baby baboon on its mothers back is more precious.

I have to say that the last time that I was in Botswana one of my co-passengers in my vehicle an Englishwoman was just appalled by the fact that she witnessed a pack of wild dogs tear a warthog to pieces. I recall a woman in my vehicle in Botswana saying she did not care for wild dogs, as we approached the den. Thank goodness she was outnumbered.
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Hello Safaritalkers, I started this thread because I'd like to share some photos and memories from the Mana Pools self-drive safari we (me and my wife Hania) made last August (actually Mana Pools was

Day4: Ok, no more chilling and laziness. Time for some action. We go on a bushwalk today. We wake up at after 5am, it's still dark outside. We quickly prepare some porridge and a coffee for breakfas

Day 2. It's time to go to Mana! After breakfast, we made some additional shopping at Spar (funny thing was that at cash register they gave us change in candys, as they do not use cents), we filled up

@@optig

Yes, Safaritalk is indeed a great website. So many great people here. I only wish I had more time to read all the great trip reports that were published here (not to mention finishing my own TR in a reasonable timeframe)

 

@@xelas

Thanks with the IDs. When it comes to woodpecker - my guess would be a golden-tailed woodpecker, but you might be right as well.

Edited by hubertj
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Day 7

 

Plan for this morning is to make a game drive to the west, toward Vundu Point and Rucomechi River, to see more remote parts of the Park. We wake up at sunrise, with the light breakfast and morning coffee.

 

Zambezi sunrise with hippos

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The coffee must have been too weak though, because we started our game drive with our roof tent raised! And we realized this fact, only after joining the main Mana road (it means we drove like that almost a kilometer!). Fortunatelly we didn't hit any hard branches on our way, so we just collapse the tent, have some laugh, and continue. As it turned out later, it was only the first of our multiple minor mishaps that day (but I will write more on the others later, in the next posts)

The western part of the park was indeed remote. The only people we met in the western part of the park was the lone driver of safari operator vehicle who was looking for his lost shoes at Vundu Point (sounds strange, I know), and one game drive vehicle near Rucomechi camp.

 

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On our way to Vundu Point we were passing by the quite a big area of cleared land - it looked like preparations for some kind of construction works (the constructions itself have not yet begun, but the vegetation was already removed and two or three heavy vehicles were present. Anyone knows what is going to be there? (don't have any photos, sorry)

The game drive was pleasant. It was nice to see zebras (which were not very common sighting in Mana), we also saw two herds of buffalos, and many other mammals which you usually see on a game drive, in beautiful Mana Pools scenery. We had a short break at Vundu Point to enjoy beautiful landscape. Vundu Point is the place where Zambezi river slighly changes its direction and part ways with the mountains on the Zambian side. There was a number of crocs, hippos and a lot of birdlife there, and all the animals seemed very lazy and relaxed.

 

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Punk's not dead

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waterbucks

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Vundu Point landscape

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3 darters flying, at Vundu Point

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Egyptian goose & hippos, at Vundu Point

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A croc & white crowned lapwing

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On our way to Rucomechi river we had a great opportunity to watch and photograph some raptors flying really low, just above our heads (I think those were juvenile and adult bateleurs)

 

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At Rucomechi (which is a river of sand at this time of year), we turned back and returned to the camp.

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We enjoyed this morning drive, but there was a hint of disapointment, too. We hoped that maybe this will be the day that we will finally see the lions, but again no luck. We usually try not to set any expectations for specific sightings, but when it comes to lions our desire to see them is growing with each day. Our general safari experience might not be long, but we've already visited places like Etosha, Chobe, Savuti and Moremi before, but so far - we never had any good lion sighting (how come?) And now, as the end of our great Mana adventure stay is getting close, we are still without that icing on the cake. Will we finally have any luck with those lions?

Edited by hubertj
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Bush dog

@@hubertj

 

Your three darters might be cormorants?

 

I'm enjoying your report!

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@hubertlj

Could be; for me it is missing the red stripe under the chin; yet that can only be determined on closer inspection.

The flying trio are cormorants; I would go for Reed Cormorant, non-breeding.

The bird behind the croc is a White-crowned Lapwing.

 

Hey, one year of the Big Year participant and I am almost a birder :rolleyes: ! Hubert you should join us next year !

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elefromoz

@@hubertj, just love the shot of the Dogs in the foreground, and the Elephants behind, with the dust and the light its just fantastic, how lucky. A couple of excellent raptors in flight photos too.

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@@Bush dog, @@xelas

I looked closer and and yes, you guys are definitely right. Those were Reed's Cormorants not darters.

 

@@xelas

Big Year? Do you mean ST birder's forum?

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Short story from camper's life (no nice pictures in this post, sorry).

Mana Pools have a great 'carry-in-carry out' rubbish policy. It means that you have to bring your garbage out of the park, and the rangers check if you have your full litterbag with you, when you leave. If you don't - you have to pay a fine. We fully support this policy. Only problem is that after several days the garbage usually start to stink badly.

As we were setting off on our game drive last morning, we tried to avoid carrying this garbage stench with us. The idea that came up was to "hide" litterbag in our toilet at Mucheni, hoping that the animals will not find it. Of course it was a stupid idea, and when we returned, we found that the loo surroundings look like a mess. The baboons of course found the bag and carefully inspected its content. They also did not find necessary to put all the garbage back into the bag after inspecting, but instead they threw everything around. So, we had to carefully collect every bit of litter...

But that was not the end of the story. After we finished cleaning the site, we put the litterbag down under one of the trees. We were resting in our chairs nearby, but at one moment, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the garbage is somehow flying out of the bag again. At first I blamed the wind (it was a very windy day), but when I stood up to check what is really going on, I noticed there is a baboon hidden behind the tree quickly ransacking our garbage again... I probably don't have to explain my state of mind. I grabbed a knife from the table, began to curse and run to chase the baboon out. The baboon obviously did get scared, but not enough to leave the litter bag - he started to escape but took the whole bag with him. Of course, I could not allow him to move away with the garbage, so I continued to chase him. For some moments my wife was experiencing cartoon-like scene: there was a monkey running around with a black bag in his hands, and there was a funny guy chasing the monkey, carrying the big knife above his head, and shouting death threats... :) Finally the monkey gave up, and left the loot.

 

Please learn from our lesson: if you go camping - never leave your litterbag unattended. And never underestimate baboon's ability to steal things.

 

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So, only one night at Mucheni #2 and so much action... :) After we finally restored order, we were ready to move on to BBC Campsite.

 

Good bye Mucheni #2 (ok, in fact there is one nice picture in this post)

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And never underestimate baboon's ability to steal things. - that one is so true!! Even when a large fridge is turned so that the doors are against the wall ... :( :angry:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and everyone is well after New Year's celebrations. I'm back to continue my trip report from Mana Pools. This report may seem never ending, but today I think I will be able to make a step toward finishing it.

 

Last time I stopped when the baboons made a mess at our campsite, so the last photos photos were rather ugly, so this time I'll try to come up with the ones you will find more attractive, I hope.

 

So, let's continue. We are still on Day 7, and we are moving from Mucheni to BBC Campsite for our last two nights. BBC campsite is located several kilometers to the east, Nyamepi direction. Like Mucheni, it is also on the bank of Zambezi (although it's not directly at the edge of the river)., The name of the campsite comes from BBC tv crew which was once stationing there, while making a film on Mana Pools wildlife.

After short drive from Mucheni we arrived to the BBC, but as we were approaching the campsite, we noticed that the previous campers are still there, packing their stuff. We stopped to say hello and find out how much time they need, before we could move in. They were nice people from France, and they explained that they could not leave campsite, because in the morning they found that.... there are lions with a kill just behind the campsite !. When I heard that, I could not believe it. We were looking for the lions since day 1, with no success - and we finally found them - at our own campsite (almost literally)!

The French guy showed us the location of the kill. It was about 200-300 meters from the camp. Indeed there were lions, and the dead body of an unfortunate eland. The kill happened in the morning, the French did not see the kill, but they noticed that shortly after, so they could witness the whole lion family feasting on the eland. Now, the lions seemed already fed, and therefore lazy, so there were not a lot of lion action going on. It was a middle of the hot day, so they were mostly resting in the shade nearby (only from time to time one of them was waking up to snap a bite).

 

You may remember that in the previous posts I was complaining about our bad luck with the lion sightings on our safaris, so far. But now is the best evidence that the sum of good and bad luck equals to zero in the long run.

 

We realized that since the lions have a fresh big kill, chances are that they will stay with us for the remainder of our stay in Mana. Wow! The second thought was "All right... but will we be spending 2 nights with the family of lions as our only neighbours?". Well, isn't it that for such moments you come to the bush ?

 

Kill location:

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This is what we saw from the campsite (it's one of the first pictures I made, as you can see - the midday lighting conditions are not the best for photography)

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We decided that we will quickly go to Nyamepi Office, to cancel our canoe trip (which was planned for this afternoon) We wanted to spend this time with the lions, and it was too windy for canoeing anyway.

 

Those 2 photos were made from the main road (it's the opposite direction, so behind the tree on the left you can see our campsite loo)

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From the park office we also went to Nyamepi campsite for showers and dish washing. When we were leaving Nyamepi, there was another mishap of this day :wacko: . We were still very excited and busy talking about the lions, so in this excitement - as I started the engine, while reversing, I didn't notice that there was an odd metal rod (once probably a road sing or parking sign) stuck in the ground behind the car, so I hit this rod, and our right door was scratched badly. Ouch. The car was no longer as nice as it was before, we knew it will cost us, but we figured that we could not do anything about it, so decided not to worry too much and proceeded back to BBC to spend afternoon with "our" lions.

 

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Lions were still there, so we spent most of the afternoon watching them, observing their behaviour, and waiting for some action. There was already a number of vultures and marabous crowded on nearby trees waiting patiently for an opportunity for feast of their own. From time to time some unaware impalas or warthogs were approaching, but the lions were completely uninterested. Their bellies were visibly stuffed with food, so they could barely move.

 

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In the meantime - the fantastic flock of yellow billed storks were flying above our heads. I really couldn't fit all of them in one frame, so here are only some of them.

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We watched the lions from some distance, but to see them - we had to walk some distance too (so we did not have a car as the safe hiding place in direct vicinity). Fortunatelly their laziness gave us some peace of mind. But they were well aware of our presence, so when they were giving us a long cold look from time to time, it was causing some goose bumps I must admit.

 

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In the evening we started a campfire and turned on all the light sources we had around us, to feel more secure and to control as much ground around us as we could. Fortunatelly the lions prefered their eland over our braai, so we could have a nice and peaceful dinner. Only several hyenas were passing by, as they began to gather in an attempt to steal the prey from the lions in the night.

 

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The night was very noisy, with lots of hyena howling and lion roars. Very special sound effects (I managed to record some of these sounds, so here is a sample, along with some photos, too)

 

In the morning we were very courious if the hyenas were succesfull in their attempts, but when we went to check the situation, we found the lions in the same spot as we left them in the evening, confidently guarding their food. There were still lots of hyenas around, but at this point they seemed without hope, and started to disperse shortly after the sunrise.

 

BBC Sunrise:

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"Hmmm... why is this hyena coming my direction?"

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"...Me thinks it will be better not to risk"

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Edited by hubertj
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@@hubertj I just love your story about the baboon stealing your garbage; I think it's hilarious!!! :):D I also like your lion photos.

Edited by optig
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