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Hwange, Mana Pools, Kafue and Liuwa Plain


Raelond

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 I am doing Mana Pools separately  as my original trip report is only in the Zambia forum.  We arrived a day late to Mana due to wet weather and we were to spend three nights here and two at Chitake, but Doug advised us that it was too wet to go to Chitake.  We arrived at Dhumukwa Camp driving through large pools of water.  The camp was more rustic than I expected, but the staff was great and the food even better.  The political situation in Zimbabwe was the topic of conversation at camp and Doug was on pins and needles waiting to see what would happen.  We were the only ones in camp and we saw only two other vehicles during our  five days in Mana.  We went on a walk from camp and found three lionesses who we tracked for about two hours.  We saw elephants, buffalo, impala and sable before arriving back at camp for dinner.  A thunder storm developed while we were eating dinner and we had rain and wind.  Doug drove the camp vehicle to look around our tent for lions as we heard them in camp and discovered that our tent fly had blown off.  It took Doug and the staff over an hour to dry out our tent before we could go to bed.  We heard leopard during the night but never did see it. Morning was warm and humid and we went for another walk along the floodplain.  The setting was beautiful with everything so green.  We saw baboons bathing in a large puddle of water and saw lots of hippos.  After our walk we were picked up by the owner of the camp for a ride back to camp when we came upon two lionesses, four cubs and a young male lion.  We watched them while we had sundowners until it was almost dark.  The next day we spent hours watching the lions.  Doug was surprised that the females allowed the young male to stay with them.  The cubs loved crawling all over the young male and the females were ok with that but wouldn't let the young male get too close to them.

 

 

 

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michael-ibk

Great sightings of the little ones, and Mana certainly looks beautiful so lush and green. Where did you find Sable? That´s a pretty unusual sighting.

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@Raelond and @Micheal-ibk I just love this report particularly because I know just what an awesome guide Doug is. I'll be going with him on safari to Camp Nomade at Zakouma National Park in Chad next year. I'll be spoiled because there will only be myself and two others in my group and we will be guided by Doug. In all probability, in the future I'll be going on more safaris with Doug as my guide.

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My mistake @michael-ibk.   Saw sable in Kafue.  @optig Doug is extremely knowledgeable, not just about animals but about everything.  There was just the two of us and Doug in Mana and we felt the park was exclusively ours.  

 

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Weather was improving and by day three we had no rain and some sunshine.  Each day Mana seemed to get greener then the day before.  We started to see baby impalas still wet from their birth. It was difficult to get good pictures as they were isolated with their moms in fairly thick vegetation.  We went to see the lions again and found two females, two males and the young male but no cubs.  All of a sudden one of the older males started roaring and the females responded.  This went on for a few minutes then the one older male ran after the young male and chased him away.  Doug said that the young male may be killed.  We attempted to follow them, then returned to where the females were.  About ten minutes later the older male came back and greeted his brother, rolling around the ground together.  Later that day we saw three lionesses walking along the bank of a pool and as we followed them on the other side of the pool on foot, the young male appeared. The young male was obviously tempting fate by returning.  In the afternoon we drove a long way looking for wild dogs and was only able to see one dog running through the bush.  Doug was determined to find them so we went to the same area the next day taking a shortcut.  He had to make his own road in order to avoid the large pools of water on the tracks.  We meet up with the dog conservation officer and along with another vehicle we went searching for the dogs.  The dogs were out of the three mile range of the tracking device and we had to be content with seeing elephants, baboons, hyena, baby impala, hippos and crocodiles that day. Our afternoon walk along the river ended with sundowners and a beautiful sunset.  Back at camp we were greeted with buffalo right by our tent.  Mana is truly a beautiful, peaceful and unique place.

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More lion pictures! 

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The next morning we had a lovely farewell breakfast at camp and Doug suggested we take a two hour boat ride to the border of Zambia and he would drive his vehicle and meet us.  It was a wonderful journey on the Zambezi avoiding numerous hippo and watching elephants in the water.  We got our visas in minutes and enjoyed watching the goings on at the border while we waited for Doug.  I will continue the remainder of the trip report under Zambia.

 

A few more pictures from Mana.

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Ritsgaai

Magnificent Mana! Seeing it green like this is beautiful and seems unreal. Nice to see Eland.

Thank you.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Alexander33

Very interesting to see Mana so lush and green after @michael-ibk‘s report from

just a few weeks earlier in the year, when it was much more dry. I’m hard-pressed to say when I’d rather be there — so that means I need to go twice to experience both seasons, of course!  

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@Alexander33 I understand your dilemma.  We may have seen less wildlife than we would have if we had gone in the dry season, but the beauty and the feeling of having Mana to ourselves made up for it.

 

Anyone interested in reading the rest of my report can look for it under Zambia.  

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  • 2 weeks later...
Atravelynn

Those lion cubs make the delay and the relocation all worth.  They were waiting for you to arrive on your altered itinerary.

 

That must have been disrupting to be delayed a day by rain and then change your camp location.  But credit to Doug for making a smooth revision.  On safari, 99% of the time it always works out well.  Looks like it did for you.

 

Such brilliant green after the rain.

 

That's a nasty gash on the face of the lioness.  But they are tough creatures!

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We didn’t mind spending an extra day in Hwange as we knew the weather wasn’t great in Mana.  We were disappointed that we couldn’t go to Chitake as planned.

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Wonderful sightings of the Lion cubs.

Hopefully the young male was ok.

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  • 2 months later...
LarsS

@Raelond looks like a great trip! And with the park being so green, you get a whole other vibe of your pics as well compared to the hot and dry safaris. Looks awesome!

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