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Atravelynn

 

 

 

But you may be thinking of Chitake's reputation for delivering wildlife right to camp, as you sit along the river and watch. That also works. This trip we had to go out and find it more than last year, when there was more activity right in front of camp.

 

 

 

Loving your latest Mana TR @@Atravelynn Thank you. You are well aware of all there is to love!

 

Last year we were of course earlier in the year at Chitake so I guess the trickle we had directly in front of camp in 2016 had disappeared by the time you go there this year?

 

This could explain the lack of activity directly in front of the camp

 

Exactly. No trickle in front of camp this year. The timing had everything to do with that I believe.

 

 

Last days of August (in 2015), there often was a thin ribbon of water that formed small shallow pools (1-2 meters across) in front of Chitake #2 campsite. But not always. The slight flow materialized and disappeared depending on the time of day and also on the drinking habits of the animals upstream. A heard of thirsty buffalo could lower water flow considerably. In August (2015), baboons and crested guinea fowl drank just a couple of meters from us. Once or twice we saw a small herd of elephants stroll past the camp.

 

In contrast, the first days of October (in 2016) there were no daytime animal visitors that I knew of. One other difference was in 2015 the rains were not plentiful, but they were late. In 2016 we were in full drought mode.

 

Whether the show takes place a few feet from the tent or requires some hoofing to locate it, Chitake offers a special and intense wildlife experience.

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And quite a fun adventure it was! For me, the heat was not as bad as I feared the first few days in Chitake for sure. Even as we moved into the Floodplains, where it seemed there was less of a breeze

We were guided by Doug of Doug Macdonald’s Safaris to Africa. I booked direct, shortly after my 2015 safari with him (is there any better endorsement for Doug than that??) and was awaiting--fingers

Before our arrival at the Floodplains, we encountered this guy or gal which I THINK was a Grysbok? @@Atravelynn or someone correct me if I'm wrong! They are very similar in size to a Duiker.    

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Atravelynn

Recollections of our Final Morning in Chitake, 4th day – Depart at 11:00 am for Floodplains

On our final morning walk we encountered an impala that appeared to have vision problems. He did not flee our approach, but just stood quietly. After a few photos, we did not want to upset him further with our presence, so we moved on.

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Chitake Springs

 

Correct me if I am wrong, @SafariChick, but I think when we returned to where we had seen the eles the previous evening--where we had also been waiting and hoping for dogs--we saw dog tracks. Doug determined the wild dogs must have arrived shortly after we had left.

 

The presence of a distant buffalo herd can be detected by

(1) The sound of clacking horns. As they approach the water, the buffalo utter no sounds so as not to draw the attention of predators, but the tight formation of the herd means their horns bump and that distinctive sound carries.

(2) Massive clouds of dust, kicked up from many hooves, that swell beyond the size of the frequently seen dust devils.

 

With the help of Doug and Elijah, we detected both. The buffalo were coming back to drink! That made sense; it was about 24 hours since their last watering.

 

Yesterday we had gotten such good shots of the buffalo from our hidden spot in the trees that we all agreed to try a different vantage point. But settling into the ideal spot proved tricky—at least for me.

 

Doug patiently suggested various protected viewpoints and led me to them. He even tore off branches from a log pile at one location. Nope. Then he bent back reeds at another. Still not good. A tall spindly stick of a tree blocked my view at yet another location, so Doug bent the stick tree over (careful not to break it) and held it down with a boulder. Spot after spot, I tried out and rejected. We joked it was like the various Weavers where the male builds the nest and the female accepts or rejects it. In this case it was all rejection. Eventually we all had our places and the herd appeared across the river.

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3rd buffalo viewing – Chitake Springs

 

A group of 3 or 4 people found the spot we had used yesterday and were tucked in along the hillside behind the trees. But they were more restless than we had been and stood up and moved around. That presented a photographic opportunity for us of fleeing buffalo. They spook easily. Fortunately for the buffalo, they were able to return to the spring to drink, so they did not leave thirsty.

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In a short time peace was restored (the people sat down and remained seated) and the whole herd, estimated to be about 800, had drank their fill.

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The last of the buffalo herd having a drink. Baobab background in the other direction.

 

On our walk back to camp we saw yet another buffalo herd at a new spot, descending to drink at the springs, but at a great distance.

 

The separate buffalo herds in Chitake can combine, separate, mix and match. I think we saw them all.

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@Atravelynn @SafariChick Some nice ellie & buff pics. I'm impressed by the number of impala too.

 

I would have expected it to be hotter than the temps reported by Atravelynn.

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Atravelynn

@Atravelynn @SafariChick Some nice ellie & buff pics. I'm impressed by the number of impala too. Thanks!

 

I would have expected it to be hotter than the temps reported by Atravelynn.

We lucked out. I expected it to be hotter too. It does get several degrees warmer in the floodplains, but I think the rain cooled things off for 48 hours.

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@@Atravelynn I don't remember about the dog tracks so let's just say you're right! :P Oh I think I had repressed the memory of the poor blind impala. That made me really really sad as he was all alone and we worried he wouldn't be able to survive long :(

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That dust around the buffs makes for great shots!

 

I forgot that people go to Mana mainly to be able to walk among the wild things. I have yet to do a walking safari. The closest I have come to one is going from the ablutions to the campsite and encountering an ellie close by in Khwai, Savuti, and Tarangire. Heart-stopping but incredible.

 

I can relate about being sad when you see a hurt animal. That's tough to stomach. Poor Impala!

This year we saw a hurt porcupine and a buffalo stuck shoulder-deep in mud. The most frustrating thing is seeing it and not being able to do something about it.

 

Thanks for sharing your Chitake experience.

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Atravelynn

Nature can be cruel, you're right @@KaliCA. Who knows, maybe walking at Mana Pools will be in your future, maybe even a safari with Doug! If so, it hope it compares favorably with the ablution ellie!

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@atrevelynn, remember you gave me the tip about staying at Bagatelle Ranch for the meerkats? Well, we did and it was a great campsite and we saw lots of meerkats. So thanks!

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Gad to see you remembered the background at last @atravelynn I was thinking you had forgotten for sure because still giggling at the very funny weaver joke with Doug, but there it is.

 

Still a very impressive report @Safarichick but what kind of icing doesn't melt in a toaster?

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@atrevelynn, remember you gave me the tip about staying at Bagatelle Ranch for the meerkats? Well, we did and it was a great campsite and we saw lots of meerkats. So thanks!

Glad you saw the meerkats at Bagatelle. They were awol when I went.

 

Gad to see you remembered the background at last @atravelynn I was thinking you had forgotten for sure because still giggling at the very funny weaver joke with Doug, but there it is. Have to keep reminding myself, "Go wide, go wide!"

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Recollections of our First Afternoon in the Floodplains, 1st night Mucheni #4.

 

11:00 am we departed Chitake, very satisfied, and our dirty laundry packed with us. The Natureways staff asked if we could hold off on laundry until we hit the floodplains due to water shortages. There was enough water for us to personally wash our smalls.

 

We took about a one hour detour enroute to the floodplains to seek out a newly accessible pool. It turned out to be dry. We ate lunch there at noon, 95°F, 35°C.

 

I believe there were some mini quiches at lunch. Perhaps these were the quiches I had been denied for my birthday at the conclusion of the canoe trip that I took, prior to joining up with Doug’s walking safari. (Recounted as the comical Quote of the Trip, end of post #14 in this linked report: http://safaritalk.net/topic/16904-innovative-64-km-natureways-mana-pools-shoreline-canoe-camping-safari/ )

Good things come to those who wait.

 

3:00 pm arrival at the floodplains, Mucheni #4. We saw lions mating in 90 F, 32 C degree weather on our first afternoon walk from camp. Naturally they chose the shade.

med_gallery_108_1612_847774.jpgmed_gallery_108_1612_1660965.jpg Male lion, viewed on foot in floodplains

I was told this was the brother of the lone male lion I had seen about a week earlier, when guided by Craig of Natureways. Looking at @JulieM’s male lion,

I would guess she had seen that same lion about the same time I had . That guy had crossed the river in search of some Zambian girls.

His brother had found love right here in Mana Pools.

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Pair in floodplains, seen on foot

 

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Seeing mating lions on a walking safari is rather remarkable.

 

That night at dinner I decided to hit the sack early and leave the table before dessert. Before being escorted back to my tent, the torches were turned on to check out the vicinity. We had a lion visitor on the perimeter!

 

82°F, 28°C at bedtime, 8:45 pm.

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SafariChick

Before our arrival at the Floodplains, we encountered this guy or gal which I THINK was a Grysbok? @@Atravelynn or someone correct me if I'm wrong! They are very similar in size to a Duiker.

 

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When we arrived at Mucheni I thought it was just lovely. The setting there couldn't be prettier. Here's a photo of our camp set up:

 

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The first afternoon there we didn't have a ton of time, so it was perfect for a walk on the Floodplains along the river right from camp. Here's Doug surveying the scene from a termite mound:

 

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I thought as we walked, this place is just idyllic, a Garden of Eden. It just had that feeling about it. Elephants everywhere you looked and other general game browsing in a relaxed manner. The river on our left. Just a stunning, peaceful setting. The elephants there are different from anywhere else in Africa I've been in that they tend to be alone or in quite small groups or herds. A cow might be alone with her calf, bulls may be alone or with one other, and sometimes a small group of eles will be seen together. So there were just eles dotted about here and there enjoying pods from different trees all over the place! My ele photos were better on subsequent days though so I won't post any from this walk as I do have about ten thousand from other days!

 

Then, encountering this mating pair of lions while we were on foot - wow - that was something else! What a privilege to be able to watch!

 

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Also saw this lovely fella:

 

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Doug had arranged it so we would reach a beautiful spot for a sundowner just as the sun was going down and we would be met by a car with beverages in it for us. Incredible beauty.

 

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SafariChick

 

 

Before being escorted back to my tent, the torches were turned on to check out the vicinity. We had a lion visitor on the perimeter!

In fact, we saw this lion from the dinner table - he was standing just over on the border between ours and the next campsite - Mucheni 3? wow!

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Seeing mating lions on a walking safari is rather remarkable.

 

 

 

@@Atravelynn must be the master (mistress?) of understatement. :o

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Atravelynn

 

 

 

Before being escorted back to my tent, the torches were turned on to check out the vicinity. We had a lion visitor on the perimeter!

In fact, we saw this lion from the dinner table - he was standing just over on the border between ours and the next campsite - Mucheni 3? wow! But closer to ours! He was looking for the milk tart dessert (if I recall correctly) that I gave up by going to bed early.

 

 

 

"Atravelynn must be the master (mistress?) of understatement." That's because last year I expounded with a Mana Pools report of 80+ haiku stanzas, @@AmyT.

 

Right, the sunset you captured so beautifully! How could I forget the rest of that first evening on the floodplain. And we tried getting leaping impala. The giant lenses with us probably produced far finer results. Doug really needs to talk to these impala about increasing their hang time for his clients.

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Doug even found us a grinding stone from decades ago when villages stood where Mana Pools National Park is now. He figured we couldn't help but fit that in our frame, well focused to boot.

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Grinding stone for sadza - an easier subject than leaping impala

 

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Termite mounds and stationary impala are also easier subjects than leaping impala, and highly worthy ones when a gorgeous Zambezi sunset is added.

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SafariChick

Beautiful shots, @@Atravelynn! I must add here that perhaps the only negative thing I can say about Mana Pools is that there are little prickly things that will stick in your socks and stab you through them if you do not wear your gaiters when walking there. I actually had no reason not to wear them, I had a pair that I bought as part of my Bug Shirt outfit to go to Zambia with @@Sangeeta and brought them with me, but for whatever reason I thought I wouldn't bother with them on this first afternoon walk on the Floodplains. Big mistake. I was constantly getting pricked by these little things and having to stop, kneel down, and remove them from my socks. One of the times I did that, my camera, which was over my shoulder, slipped down a bit off my shoulder and actually dipped into the dirt. I would later decide that this was the moment that my camera decided it no longer liked zooming past about 10 to 12x despite the fact that it is meant to zoom to 24x. This made me not a very happy camper for much of the rest of the trip. After this day, for most of the rest of the trip, every time I tried to zoom past that far it would get stuck and then turn itself off entirely causing me to miss shots! By the time I'd get it turned back on, whatever I was trying to photograph would invariably have changed position. So I tried to learn to not zoom any farther than its sticking point which meant no real close-ups much of the time - GRR. But on the plus side, Mana is a beautiful place and it was nice in a way to be forced to include the scenery in my shots! :rolleyes: The better photographers all looked at the camera, we all dusted it and blew on it and used compressed air to squirt it but to no avail. Finally at the very end of the trip it started to zoom properly again SOMEtimes. By the time I got home it was good as new <_<:P

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@@Atravelynn it is indeed a Tilley, the headgear choice d'jour for the middle aged safari lady I believe. I tried a number of hats on over many months some years ago. I started with the Tilley, looked at the price tag and put it back. 6 months later and with only two weeks until the trip I conceded that the reason Tilley's stand out isn't just that they are well made, comfy,squish up and float. It's largely that they are least likely to make you look like a complete buffoon in a silly hat. Which is what I look like in all other hats.

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Atravelynn

By the time I got home it was good as new <_<:PThose 2 emojis sum up the camera's finickiness perfectly. The canoe guides told me that those prickly things (some of them known as star prickers) were especially bad this year due to the drought and the increased winds that blew them around.

 

 

@@Atravelynn it is indeed a Tilley, (You have confirmed my spotting skills) the headgear choice d'jour for the middle aged safari lady I believe. I have seen Tilleys grace the noggins of a wide array of demographics, even beyond middle aged safari ladies. But to make your case, I own 3.

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Atravelynn

Recollections of our First Full Day in the Floodplains, 2nd night Mucheni #4

75°F, 24°C at 4:30 am.

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Photo taken from the vehicle. Elijah pointed out that the leg length of zebra foals

is the same as the adults, which is illustrated in this pose.

 

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Theme of the photo: Eles and Arches & Eles as Arches (photo from vehicle)

 

Doug mentioned that the number of baboons in the floodplains had decreased over the years. One reason he cited was the increase in leopards.

My enthusiasm for seeing baboons increased along with their scarcity.

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Continuation of Eles as Arches theme (photo from vehicle)

 

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Warthog and elephant photos were taken from a vehicle

 

I’m not sure if it was these warthogs, but we encountered some warthogs that appeared disgruntled. “The Disgruntled Warthog, what a good name for a bar,” someone suggested. I think it was @@SafariChick.

 

 

Another chance for running impala.

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Running in the morning haze

 

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Sometimes the vegetation takes star billing over the animals, like this gnarly tree trunk on the right.

 

94°F, 34°C at 8:30 am.

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Still plenty of acacia seed pods left on the Winter-thorn aka Anna Acacia.

 

We spotted some buffalo and, after the Chitake spectacle, cracked a few jokes about the comparatively smaller herd size here in the floodplain.

 

“How many herds do you think we have here? I’d guess two herds of about 1 each.”

“The total numbers are probably in the tens!”

“Do you think they’ll drink the pools dry?”

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These unsuspecting buffalo were the butt of our jokes - photographed from the vehicle,

for a speedy getaway in case the buffalo took offense.

 

While we were looking for lions on foot, a small herd of eles preferred that we search elsewhere and “chased us” around. Actually it was more like herding us out of their territory. We complied and vacated.

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These elephants did a good job of moving us around and out of their territory.

 

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We gave up on trying to find lion, but it appeared this hyena remained

very interested and aware of the lions’ whereabouts.

 

We would not go lion-less. We spotted this cub who was not comfortable spotting us. He soon slinked into high grass, probably to join the pride that was estimated numbering in the 20s.

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Lion cub photographed from the vehicle & not too happy about it

 

On to Long Pool, where we were again hopeful for lions, and even followed tracks. No lions, but we were intrigued by surfing herons, as Doug referred to them.

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These Beach Boys lyrics are perfect, right down to the honeys (Safarichick and Me!)

 

Let's go surfin' now
Everybody's learning how
Come on and safari with me
Come on and safari with me

 

Early in the morning we'll be startin' out
Some honeys will be coming along

 

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Female kudu always have a sweet look about them,

especially in silhouette – photographed from vehicle

 

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Doug thought the wound could likely be from wild dogs, based on its location.

We were hoping this kudu and wild dog tracks would not be the closest we got to the dogs.

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Great update!

 

Hmm... those leaping impala appear to be gently jogging, but the sunset shots are beautiful and the running impala a great success! Two out of three is pretty good, Lynn.

 

Those buffalo jokes are really esoteric. I'm trying to imagine what I would have thought if I had overheard them. - "sunstroke" or "marijuana" probably - or possibly both.

 

 

@Safarichick Oh no - camera disaster.

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Lots of great stuff in here guys. @@Atravelynn I'm glad you have taken my baobab spotting to an even higher level! I've torn contacts on 2 trips but my worst misadventure was forgetting my glasses in the vehicle on the way to the airport. You can't wear contacts for 43 hours so I basically traveled blind for most of the trip home.

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Atravelynn

Great update!

 

Hmm... those leaping impala appear to be gently jogging, leaping between camera clicks but the sunset shots are beautiful and the running impala a great success! Two out of three is pretty good, Lynn.

 

Those buffalo jokes are really esoteric. I'm trying to imagine what I would have thought if I had overheard them. - "sunstroke" or "marijuana" probably - or possibly both. Neither on this trip, speaking only for myself.

 

 

@Safarichick Oh no - camera disaster.

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