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Tdgraves

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Tdgraves

Thanks @Marks tried not to overload with birds....

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Day 1: Evening drive, Somalisa, 2/9/17   First sighting of the drive, some cheetah....     Can you see them?? I had the 5D, but really, the 7D wasn't much better, they we

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Peter Connan

Fantastic sequence of the Gymnogene, and that is a really distinctive elephant bull!

 

Sorry to hear about the delay, and I hope the hippo was OK?

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Tdgraves

The hippo was fine, as far as I know ;)

they weren’t blocking it off and the guide had no idea why it went for them

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Tdgraves

Day 10, drive to the airstrip, 11/9/117

 

Our pilot had recovered from the hippo charge and was ready for action at 6am. It was really a transfer to the airstrip, but we saw a couple of things on the way. I had the 5D

 

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There were a pair of side-striped jackal on the runway, but they were too fast for me to get a shot of. We loaded up the plane and were off, with no issues!

 

Kariba town

 

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Kariba dam

 

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Mana pools from the air

 

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We made it!

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Tdgraves

Day 10, game drive transfer to Zambezi lifestyles, Mana Pools 11/9/17

 

We had finally made it! However, we did not receive a warm welcome. The couple who we shared a vehicle with had faces like thunder when we arrived, presumably as their morning game drive so far had consisted of driving all the way to the airstrip and then waiting half on hour for us to arrive. Our guide was also not chatty. He stopped for a few bushes and pointed this out as an olive bee-eater, which of course got my attention, as I have never seen one. However, this is what he saw...

 

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We stopped for coffee at long pool and I was a bit surprised to be offered two types of coffee, but what he meant was can I fob you off with instant, instead of going to the effort of making cafetiere coffee :(

 

We had clearly not made a good impression on each other, but I really put a nail in the coffin with his next topic of conversation. He said that the evening activity was a canoe ride on the Zambezi. This was clearly all arranged and of course would mean that he'd have the afternoon off. After a previous negative experience of canoes on the Zambezi, there was absolutely no way that I was getting in a canoe and I told him so. That put paid to his afternoon off...and our relationship.

 

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we did manage a new species though, a crowned hornbill

 

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Contrary to the airstrip experience, we received a very warm welcome at camp and were greeted with song and cold drinks, before being shown to our tent. (I have a video, but you tube doesn't seem to like apple videos...)

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Peter Connan

Another bad guide experience? Oh no!

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Tdgraves
5 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

Another bad guide experience? Oh no!

 

Oh yes @Peter Connan and it gets worse....

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Tdgraves

Day 10, evening game drive, Zambezi lifestyles, 11/9/17

 

It was very hot, so I carried my walking boots, rather than wearing them. When I asked if I would need them, I was told no. So I said "ever?" and received no reply. This did not bode well. For all who have been to Mana, you will know that to get the best game viewing and photographic experiences, you need to drive and then walk...We had made it clear to our agents and each camp that photography was very important and when we got into the vehicle, I made it clear that I was also interested in birds. this was not acknowledged. We then noticed that he did not carry a rifle. No rifle = no walking. :(:wacko:

 

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I had to shout at him to stop, as some of our vehicle mates were trying to photograph the sunset whilst we were still moving....

 

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A wild dog pack was in the area, so the plan was to try and find them. However, our guide drove right past where two vehicles had parked (and presumably were sitting with the dogs) and seemed content just randomly driving around hoping to come across them. This did actually happen, but then when he tried to follow, he seemed unable to follow the tracks and drove straight over where they had crossed the road. We had another glimpse in the half-dark, only because the other vehicle from camp (which was a PV) appeared

 

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Not impressed. We debated both before and after dinner about whether to complain or not. It was unclear to us who was actually in charge, which probably affected our decision. However, there were only 2 vehicles in camp and the other was booked for the next 3 days as a PV. As we had one less day than scheduled (so one night and 3 more drives left), due to the aircraft issue, we decided it would be best not to say anything, for fear of making the atmosphere in the vehicle even worse than it was, as they would not be able to offer any alternative. However, this meant that every drive was annoying and stressful, rather than the relaxing experience that it should have been.

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Soukous

@Tdgraves I'd be interested to know who your guide was at Zambezi Expeditions. I had a group there a couple of years ago and we had problems due to their lack of adequate vehicles and guides. the canoeing was very good, excellent guide, and our game drive guide was also pretty good, but seemed disinterested. We could not do the activities we wanted, both at Zambezi Expeditions and at Kanga Camp, because they did not have enough guides qualified to do walking.  I made an official complaint afterwards and was told that the company had just had significant new investment and that all these issues were being addressed as a priority. Very disappointed to hear the situation is still not good as I had terrific experiences with ABC in Botswana last year.

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Zim Girl

@Tdgraves

 

I have been really enjoying your report so far but your arrival in Mana sounds far from satisfactory.  Did they not have an actual qualified walking guide in camp or was it more a case of lack of vehicles?  Either way, that is very disappointing.  

I hope you were able to make the most of your last few drives.

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Tdgraves

@Soukous he was maxwell. I have since found out that ABC inherited him, supposedly on a trial basis. It seems that he has been guiding for a long time but has been unwilling/unable to do the exams. All of the other ABC guides we met were friendly and excellent. There were 4 photographers in one PV and up to   7 paying guests in maxwell’s vehicle. It did actually turn out that they had both another vehicle and guide, but they clearly did not wish to be using them. 

 

@Zim Girl the qualified guide was in the PV. So if we were at the same sighting, we could leave the vehicle, but clearly not go on a proper walk. Of all of the vehicles we saw in mana, ours was the only one with no rifle. On paper our subsequent drives were productive, but they were not enjoyable.

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Tdgraves

P.S. we were neither asked what sundowners we would like, nor served any.

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Zim Girl

@Tdgraves

That is a real shame and really not good enough on the part of ABC.

 

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Peter Connan

Sorry to hear that. As you said, the magic of Mana is found on foot.

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Tdgraves

Day 11, Morning drive, Zambezi lifestyles, 12/9/17

 

The other thing which annoyed us about this camp was their late wake-up/game drive times. They had been doing a 6 am wake-up for 6.30 drive, but it was already completely light at 6, when the park gates opened! This was ridiculous and we had persuaded them to leave earlier, but we never managed to leave at 6 am, despite the guests all being ready to go. I had the 7D today. The aim  was the local wild dog pack, so I was not too perturbed when the guide pointed out some very fresh lion tracks and then proceeded to go in the opposite direction to them. As it turns out, the dogs were easy to find, right next to an anti-poaching airstrip. The pups were visible from the road, but the adults were about 30 metres off of the road and behind a bush. We were not allowed to walk up to them, due to the lack of a qualified guide, which was made even more frustrating by the self-drive couple who casually sauntered up to them. At my insistence, I was told that we could walk up to them when the other vehicle arrived. This took a frustrating 10 minutes. Even more frustrating was that when the vehicle did finally arrive, the two guides just stood chatting for a further 15 minutes "waiting for the other people to leave". There was no way that Nick Murray was going to leave with his two private guests and I told our guides this. We were then reluctantly allowed to get closer, the whole point of going to Mana Pools.....

 

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Closer on foot

 

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Disturbed by a walking safari

 

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Pesky flies!

 

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Fun and games - I could see what this one was planning....

 

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So on paper, a good sighting, but in our heads and hearts, one of the most frustrating game drives/safari moments we had ever experienced.

 

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I did try pointing out a few birds, but the guide seemed reluctant to stop for anything that was not his idea, so I soon gave up.

 

We then went for coffee and there was nothing further of note from the drive.

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@Tdgraves You have some lovely wild dog shots. Frustrating to hear about your experience in Mana Pools. I can imagine how annoying it must have been, not to be out on foot. 

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Peter Connan

Great series of shots. What a cloud of flies!

Sometimes I am glad I can't afford a guide...

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Tdgraves

Day 11, in camp, Zambezi lifestyles, 12/9/17

 

It was too hot for siesta, so I sat at the front of our tent reading and taking the occasional photo.

 

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our vehicle mate and next door neighbour had an inquisitive visitor...

 

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and soon I had a small family who came to eat all of the dried leaves fallen from the tree under which our tent was pitched. Most of these photos were not taken at full zoom and at times, the eles were less than 2 metres away from me. an amazing experience :D

 

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whilst having afternoon tea, eles in the Zambezi

 

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and then it was time for another drive...

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pomkiwi

@Tdgraves I admire your restraint over the guiding - perhaps that's why you were rewarded with the elephant vist! Lovely photos.

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michael-ibk

Very sorry about your guide experience there, a real shame. That said you still got some fantastic dog pictures in great light.

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Tdgraves

Day 11, evening drive, Zambezi lifestyles, 12/9/17

 

Another drive that would unfortunately highlight our guide's incompetence. He seemed keen on using the radio to chat to his mates and rather than using the in-built one, he always used the handheld one, the one which you are supposed to use on foot. We had a long drive over to a couple of the pools, but it was very quiet.

 

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We then heard alarm calls. Lots of alarm calls. He acknowledged them and seemed to get a bit animated (the most animated that we had seen so far). He then proceeded to drive in the opposite direction to them. :(

 

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The kudu knew where they were....

 

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And then disaster struck - we broke down. The vehicle had trouble starting: every time we moved off from a sighting, it had taken him 2-3 goes to get the engine to fire. "My old horse" he called it. This time, nothing. And to make matters worse, he could not contact anyone on his pet radio. As you can see from the photos above, then sun had already set and we were far from camp. As he was not a qualified guide, we had no rifle. He was starting to panic. While he thought out what to do, we were given "sundowners" but only what was available in the cool box, as no one had ever asked our preference. After our drinks, it became apparent that the radio was not going to help, so a plan was hatched - we would push start the vehicle! Us, an elderly German couple and a young Swiss girl. Luckily, it worked but the long drive back to camp was even more tense than usual.....

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lmSA84

@Tdgraves - what an experience. No real excuse for this type of stuff. Lovely shots of the dogs and elephant trunk in the dried leaves 

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Peter Connan

I'm starting to think there may be a future for me as a guide after all!

 

:ph34r:

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Tdgraves
16 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

I'm starting to think there may be a future for me as a guide after all!

 

:ph34r:

 

You know that there is @Peter Connan - we have experienced it!

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Peter Connan

Thanks @Tdgraves.

 

Doubt I could match my current income by guiding though, so it will have to wait a few years at least.

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