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Hot dry season at Camp Hwange


Bush dog

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Bush dog

Having spent two weeks, last month, in the Western Cape, on the way back home, I made a stop-over of eight days in Zimbabwe, at Camp Hwange again.  This time, it was very hot (around 42° C) and dry, as we will see on the pictures, but not as it should normally be at this time of the year.  Indeed, some trees, mostly teaks, were already covered with leaves.  Is it because of the last rainy season, which had been extremely wet, and late rains in June?  The two days before my arrival, there had also been a few heavy showers.

 

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The large natural pans were not yet completely dry as they should have been, but apart from Salt Pan and Dwarf Goose Pan, they were only good for mud baths.

 

Salt Pan

 

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Dwarf Goose Pan

 

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But as far as wildlife is concerned, everything was as it should be at this time of the year, namely:

 

A lot of elephants,

 

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Large herds of buffaloes,

 

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Many lions (I’ve seen about 35 different lions and most of them several times),

 

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A few leopards,

 

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And many active scavengers.

 

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I unfortunately did not see the male cheetah which regularly visits the concession (there are several marking spots).  This male covers a large territory and had been seen during several days before the day of my arrival.  As for wild dogs, they had been seen at Mandavu.

 

Twice, we went to Little Toms and Big Toms to see the Toms pride, but in fact it was not necessary to go so far to see anything as there was always activity around the waterhole  in front of the camp.

 

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Having spent two weeks, last month, in the Western Cape, on the way back home, I made a stop-over of eight days in Zimbabwe, at Camp Hwange again.  This time, it was very hot (around 42° C) and dry, a

End of the first day   After the sundowners, we tried to spot one of the servals that live around Shumba and we succeeded.           

Second day   Early in the morning, at the water hole, the constant comings and goings of elephants was in full swing.  In fact, from the trumpeting and sounds of movements in the water heard

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Looks wonderful.  I will be in Hwange next week and am hoping for rainless days.

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Bush dog

@Raelond

 

It is wonderful indeed.  I had a look at the weather forecast.  It seems that there will be here and there some rains and thunder storms between the 11th and the 20st.  Nevertheless, enjoy your stay.

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Peter Connan

Some beautiful photos in the intro!

 

Looking forward to more.

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Bush dog

First day

 

I was very happy to see Washington who was, once again, my guide during those 6 days.  We decided to leave very early, at 5:30, taking the breakfast with us.  Our destination, Big Toms, is quite far, more than 1:30 drive by not stopping at all on the way, Washi having seen at it, the previous day, the Toms pride on a buffalo kill.  Near Little Toms, we found that there were some vultures perched on the trees on either side of the road.  After vainly seeking the cause of it, we continued our way.

 

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We found them a few hundred yards away from Big Toms, Vusi, a tall thirteen-year-old male, still in perfect condition for its age, and its nine females.  From the carcass of the buffalo only the bones remained.  The previous days, they had already killed three others.  The carcass was in a gully, close to a small pond, the perfect place for an ambush, and the lions on the other side.  The temperature starting to rise, they crossed then the little ravine, just at the height of our vehicle, to find some coolness in the shade of a big bush.

 

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We moved then to Big Toms to have breakfast.

 

Vusi was, a couple of years ago, together with its partner Naxha, dominating the Shumba pride.  When its partner died, it was chased out of the area by two males, much younger than it, Liam and Mandla, the actual rulers of the Masuma pride.  It then dropped totally out of circulation for many months until it reappeared with a female near Robins.  Since then, with his nine lionesses, which are formidable hunters, it has not done too badly for an old lion.

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Bush dog

Continuation of the first day

 

After breakfast, we went back to the lions.  As all of them were resting and even sleeping in the shade of bushes, we left them.

 

Black-shouldered kite

 

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We then came across a young leopard of about one year old.  It looked, as all the young leopards when their mother begins to abandon them for a few days so that they learn to fend for themselves, a little confused and helpless.

 

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In the afternoon, we stayed on the concession.  We began with Shumba.

 

Elephants

 

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Water thick-knee

 

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Little grebe (Dabchick)

 

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Bush dog

Continuation of the first day

 

Then, we went to Dwarf Goose, where we found elephants.  They will be everywhere where there is water.

 

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A small group of kudus also came to quench their thirst.

 

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Near the teaks forest, we saw a leopard that left us very little time to admire it so much it was quick to run away.

 

Our first buffaloes.

 

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Back to Shumba for sundowners.

 

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@Mike Bailey I just love all your photos. It makes me think just how lucky I am to be going to Camp Hwange for four nights next year. as well as Little Makalolo.

It will be the second time that I visit Hwange National Park.

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@BushDog as you know from experience Camp Hwange is consistently regarded as one of the finest lodges to go on safari in Africa. I know that it offers a great combination of location, bush vibe, superb guiding, lack of other visitors in it's concession in Hwange, and of course excellent viewing of wildlife. I also know that it offers a great combination of walking and night drives.

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Bush dog

@optig

 

Even outside their concession, you will not come across a lot of vehicles, only a few self-drivers.  That part of the park is so far less busy than the eastern part. 

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Christopher Moran
14 hours ago, optig said:

@Mike Bailey I just love all your photos. It makes me think just how lucky I am to be going to Camp Hwange for four nights next year. as well as Little Makalolo.

 

When will you be at Hwange next year Optig?  We are also visiting Little Makalolo, looking forward to the log pile hide.

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@Christopher Moran I'll be at Camp Hwange and Little Makalolo from the 14th to the 17th of June next year as part of my second longest and most ambitious safari ever.

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Bush dog

End of the first day

 

After the sundowners, we tried to spot one of the servals that live around Shumba and we succeeded. 

 

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Further on the concession, we found an African wild cat.

 

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@Wild dog I just love your photos of a serval as well as an African wild cat. I've only seen a serval twice, but I've been fortunate to have seen African wild cats several times in various places. 

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wilddog
22 minutes ago, optig said:

@Wild dog I just love your photos of a serval as well as an African wild cat. I've only seen a serval twice, but I've been fortunate to have seen African wild cats several times in various places. 

 

@optig      I think you mean Bush dog not Wilddog,  Sadly not mine but great shots

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@Wilddog thank you so much for correcting me!!

Edited by optig
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michael-ibk

Great photos as always Mike, Hwange really must have mad quite an impact on you, so many trips there recently. An interesting Wild Cat, completely "unstriped", usually there are at least some on the legs, aren´t there?

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Bush dog

@michael-ibk

 

Thanks, Michael!

 

Strictly speaking, it's not really the whole Hwange that made quite an impact on me but more that western part, as I said less busy than the eastern one, and the camp of course.  As you probably know I'm not a fan of the big camps chains where everything is to formal and suffers from a lack of flexibility.  I'm looking for places where I can find the same atmosphere I felt in the camps of the good old days.  Camp Hwange totally meets those requirements but also the Great Plains Conservation camps.  When you are there it's like you are part of the family. 

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Alexander33

Great serval and wild cat shots!  Thanks for sharing your opinions regarding Hwange and the western vs. eastern sectors, and especially about Camp Hwange. That type of insight is always most appreciated. 

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Peter Connan

What a magnificent serval sighting, and the wildcat wasn't half bad either!

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Bush dog

Second day

 

Early in the morning, at the water hole, the constant comings and goings of elephants was in full swing.  In fact, from the trumpeting and sounds of movements in the water heard at night, it has been already so and so it will be the following nights.  Some of them were so thirsty that they began to run when approaching the water.

 

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Magpie shrike.

 

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Elephant skull: comb structure of the brain.

 

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Christopher Moran
On 06/11/2017 at 6:49 PM, optig said:

@Christopher Moran I'll be at Camp Hwange and Little Makalolo from the 14th to the 17th of June next year as part of my second longest and most ambitious safari ever.

 

Sounds very intriguing @optig... we will be visiting Little Makalolo a little later, 30-Jul-18 for four nights.

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