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Safari Year 2018 / Part 1 / Zimbabwe


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2 hours ago, Tom Kellie said:


The image series by @Grasshopper_Club above is striking for the exceptional clarity of each shot. 


Disturbing as they are, the skill of making such high quality images earns my highest respect.



Absolutely!  @Grasshopper_Club had a very steady hand and maintained a great eye throughout.  I'm looking forward to the rest of this TR!

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Well dear fellow Safaristalkers, 2018 was another great Safari year for me.   I was able to match everything together into one large trip. So i ended up going on Safari for a full month! Thi

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Thanks @Tom Kellie     Shocking sighting at tea-time.... As reported before, on the first day on the morning drive, we spent most of the time with a breeding herd of Ellies on one

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@Grasshopper_Club What a remarkable sequence of photos. I'm not sentimental about kills but this almost had me in tears. The look on the baby's face is just so utterly pathetic and quite heart wrenching.

I'm looking forward to the rest of your TR, especially finding out about Nanzilha as I've been wondering about a visit there following a return to Musekese.

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I think that is the most heartbreaking sequence  I have ever seen. Photos are incredible but I can go the est of my life never witnessing this ( and I am typically not overly bothered by kills either). This was difficult to look at. I cannot image having to bear witness to it. Kudos to you for managing to photograph it. 

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What an incredible start to your safari. Such unusual sighting of animal behaviour but of course, very hard to witness. 

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Wow what behaviour - great photo's but obviously hard to take.


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  • 3 weeks later...

What a contrast in photos between that adorable first pile of ele calves and the killing of the baby hippo.  It would be interesting to learn of other documented cases of similar hippo behavior.  Your speculations on why this happened seem reasonable.  How heartbreaking to read the little hippo was looking your way for help.   In both instances, you did an excellent job with the camera.

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I’m already sort of drunk just from reading your account of all the booze they supplied you on the way over, but, what’s not to like?  Great start. Incredible — and difficult — hippo sequence, but that’s nature, I guess, and we have to take it at face-value. 


I hope we’ll get a next installment. It sounds like an epic trip to me. 

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  • 3 months later...

I'm sorry for my delay in posting the rest of the trip, but i was extremely busy the last few months.


So just lets finish the first part, or let's say the last 2 days at Bumi Hills.


On our game drives we were lucky to catch up most of the time with the same breeding herd around the hills. They were an absolute joy to watch, and as no others are around in the private concession. You'll have them for your own and so often we watched them for over 1h very closely. Sometimes they just walked around our vehicle and were inspecting us.






Bringing a stick to me? Reminds me of our dog..:D




On the afternoon we were heading towards Starvation Island, the Island just in front of the Lodge. It's quite a big island and inhabited by good numbers of animals. There are a lot of Impalas seen and some Waterbuck as well. I think even warthog. Naturally there are a tons of crocs around and some hippos.

A few years back they brought wild dogs to that island i think a pack of 5 when i recount correctly. The whole idea behind that was that there is no human on the island and that there is no other predator around like (Lions, Leooards, Hyena etc.). The whole venture wasn't building up, as the dogs were from (Hwange or the Matopos I would guess, but can't remember 100%). So what happend was that these dogs didn't known the threats from the water,  lets say crocs on the shoreline of these islands laying in the sun. So 2-3 of them were eaten by the crocs and the remaining lot was relocated again as the population was too small then to sruvive/reproduce and still be threatened to get eaten.


According to our Guide, it's called starvation island, because in very dry years, the animals starve here and die. As a lack of food resources. So sometimes they bring some hay onto the island. Before that happens, the animals on the island who can swim, like the waterbuck take a try and trying to swim ashore. Mostly getting eaten by the crocs, when using that option.


Interesting birdlife here as well, at least a dozen different fish eagles were spotted by our group on the boat in just a few mintes.


The reason for that was shown thereafter in the shallow waters behind the island. We were trying our luck with the fish by ourselves. I havent't had an angle in my hand for over 10-15 years. But even I've catched up 4 breams within a few minutes. It was stupidly easy....these shallow waters are just full of fish.


Starvation Island seen from my balcony.



Starvation Island by boat.



The sunsets over the Kariba are extremely beautiful. Some Kapenta fishing rigs in the center. These specialised fishing boats are going out during the night, up for fishing Kapenta, a very small fish like anchovis, and using strong torches like fishing squids.

The whole fried local Kapentas were often served as a bar snack, great with a beer indeed!



On our way back to the lodge..



The edges around the Bumi Hills Peninsula makes it really special...



Just arround the corner later on, we managed to find another breeding herd. This time a different one as there weren't that many young ones with them.



Ups a flying Impala...



An afteroon drive just on the front beach of the Lodge. The beach was seen from the terrace with it's beautiful red soil. Fortunately as always another young elepahnt was on display with his mother...




I really hoped to get a picture like the ones who are following. An Elephant in the lake at the edge and some of the dead trees in the water as a background. The pure Lake Kariba background scene!





Next morning was time to say goodbye and I was flying early to Mana Pools...



Kariba Shoreline with Matusadone NP in its backyard.



Forthergill island with its airstrip on it...




Now this picture gives you a good glimpse about matusadona national park from the shorelines up to the escparpement.



I couldn't resist to ask the pilot if he could take the plane a little bit to the left as I was the only passenger he did. and i get a glimpse of the kariba dam.




Flying into the Zambezi Valley up to the next step of my adventure..



More to follow from Mana Pools soon....

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Nice impala photo bomb with the eles!

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Day 5-7


I just said goodbye to my pilot and was watching my personal belongings be transported to the vehicle who'd picked me up.


We landed at Rukomechi Airstrip / Mana West, as Mana Main was closed due to a crash a day or two before, a micolight's nose was diving into the airstrip, we could see the damaged propeller later on..


This airstrip here is much further west from the camp than the main airstrip. I didn't fussed for that, because it gave me the opportunity to have a nice long drive to the camp all inside the park. So we were driving the river road from Rukomechi to Zambezi Expeditions Camp, which is nearly in the center of the park on the riverside.




A Last glimpse of the aircraft leaving with other passangers..



First sightings on the way to camp, quite a large group of Kudu...



A nice male Kudua was with that group of females...


A very nice patch of the park and uniqe to the western part, a lot of trees but not too dense, so a lot of vegetation inbetween. And a lot of dead logs around on the ground so quite a good part also for smaller creatures...



First sighting of one of the stars in the park. A Bull Elephant



He was a collared one , there are quite a few collared ones around. Gently he was after the treelines, with all the nice green leafs..



Just around the corner into the floodplains directions where the camp was, we spotted a large number of lions..A very nice start and I loved it with the beautiful lush green surroundings around...surely a differnt park/scenery during the later months Sep/October.





One wasn't looking very good, a lot of holes in the back where a kind of pink fluid was dripping out.....pus-filled probably and a mixture with blood. Poor thing..





Zambezi Expeditions Camp


I just setted into my tent after having a short lunch. Nice Tents with a a great view to the Zamebezi. The Camp is as most in the park a seasonal one, and the place this season was on a camping site allocated by the Parks Office.










Spacious inside.



The bathroom behind, with a bucket shower as it should be...


Unfortunately I had some unwelcomed guest in the bathroom each night. Frogs!! I must admit i have a little phobia with them....it's better now, but as a child i would "jump down the cliffs" when seeing one of these...

Night 1, there was 1 sitting in front of the loo, night 2 there were 2 of them. And on the last night there was a little frog party ongoing a group of 4 or so, but probably i had to much brandy and saw double...:D

Neverthelss I'm still alive and managed somehow to use the loo even in the darkness, but it was a tricky one..





On the afternoon I was joined by another lady in the camp on a game drive up east. Closely to my next destination Goliath Camp, we saw these 2 beauties. Always a good sign to see some Eland around.





As we watched the Eland there was some fuss in the thicket around the corner, we moved closer and saw a big troop of banded mongoose crossing the ground. I was able to get only a shot with 2 latecomers...But this was a prelude for more to come during my stay in Mana, in terms of Mongoose..I've never seen so many and so many different ones. Especially as all was seen during the day time, as night drive are prohibited.



A white-fronted bee-eater was posing niceley as well...



Having a sundowner which was a little bit overclouded at one of the Pools....as you most probaly know, Mana means 4 so 4 Pools...that have some water in it most of the times each year





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New Day new luck!


It was a beautiful morning and we were heading for our first walk. The walks here at Camp were led by Head Guide Kingsley. He's a very qualified guide and it was a pleasure with him on the walk and i felt very safe.




We watched this Elephant bull from a distance, but not much later on he was coming straight towards us. We had to use a large termite mount to go around and playing hide and seek. He was quite close and inquisitive, as he was getting our smell for sure. But he decided to go on and give another tree a try..


This part of the park had a clear similarity with the one on the othe sid of the river, Lower Zambezi NP.



It was very nice to walk along these ponds and streams of water. There was a huge hippo pond where we stayed by for some minutes.



Still a lot of water, according to Kingsley this part of the pool, will keep it's water during the season.



A nice morning and a very good walk with Kingsley.


In the afternoon everyone wanted to try the canoeing. I did it before at Chiawa in Lower Zambezi NP, across the river and loved it. So I was on this activity of course..


We were driving up the river with the canoes and were heading down the river back to camp. From time to time we had to stop in face of some Hippos, it all looks nice to watch them close, but they are nevertheless a real danger. So thats why we stopped and let them having enough time to pass by.



Shoreline which I would walk along the next few days.



To get some Hippos out of the way, we get into the reeds more in the center of the river, as the benches on the right hand side were occupied with several hippo pools.



It's all about the tranquillity on such a conoe trip. Not a sound from an engine of a motorboat.  Motorboats are not allowed in Mana Pools NP, which is quite interesting as on the other side they are so.



Back at camp we were expected..with Big Smiles.....Big smiles from my side as well, the wine was placed nicely in a cooler;)



Couldn't be better to end your day, hey?


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Last day at Zambezi Expeditions.


There was a large group in camp now, some tour operators from down under. They all wanted to go on a walk, so I decided to go for another drive as this would be a little bit quiter I thought.


Unfortunately my guide/driver was a little bit overenthusiastic, i've told him several times that i will stay at Goliath for a full week thereafter. But he was going to drive me around everywhere in the park, as much as possible in a day. So he showed me all 4 Pools in 1 Drive...probably this is the normal procedure they'll have, as most people, as I observed only stay 3nights in Mana with them and are doing a safari circuit as I did. So most obvious they'll do 1 walk and 1 conoeing for granted and then want to drive you around as quick as possible everywhere else, so that you'll se as "much" as possible in that short time from the park.


Naturally we missed out everything that day, because we were in a hurry and were driving around like crazy, as there is no tomorrow. Another vehicle passed by from Vundu twice, they saw leopard, lions even wild dogs. A little bit more patience would have done wonders, but we were driving back to these places in a total hurry, but as it is often so it was to far and too long ago, nothing was there anymore. I was quite happy to stay a further week in the park, as with this little detour of 3 days I would have completely missed the whole thing about Mana Pools. But I was sure I wouldn't be disappointed on my next destination.


Nice view above our heads before we left camp....



At the river close to Goliath we saw a pond of Hippos and I've asked to stop as the light was very good. I've noticed that a female had a tiny little one with her, more or less the same size as the one which was killed at Bumi Hills.

Something most unusual happend. Suddenly the same procedure as at Bumi happened again. A male Hippo was going after the mother and started a little uproar in the group, the mother decided to travel downwards the river even with that little one. The male was following, we watched and they both kept a fair distance. But the whole situation was quite a shock as we couldn't see the young one in the distance. But probably it was also to far away then. But naturally we couldn't stay for longer as we had do drive around the park.....after been asked 5times if we could go i agreed or nodded just out of frustration. I was the only person on that drive , so we didn't had to take any consideration for any other guests....



An extremely nice bull with it's lush green background, we followd him for quite a while. Iit was just a pleasure how gentle he was. The only moment when we spent a fair time with an animal today.



The Rules of the Park! Driving to Headquarters.



A group of warthogs just behind the parks main office, looked like a domesticated pet..;)



Baobabs were used as shelter by humans a long time ago, as this example shows quite perfectly. Standing by Chine Pools.



On the river road there are some beautiful and majestic fig trees.



The floodplains were full with Impalas, 2 different groups walking in files backwards to the main ground.



A nice male waterbuck in the late sunlight.



You can't see it that good on this picture, but that place was full with insects. Never seen such a congregation. All these little dots in the light were insects..



So this was the end of my stay at Zambezi Expeditions.


I enjoyed the company of the Tour Ops. from Down Under in the evening at the campfire and we were nearly emptying a bottle of brandy with coke that night^_^...it was nearly around midnight when i left the campfire and went to bed, the next morning would start quite early as I would be picked up by Doug at 6:00...


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Day 8


This mornining I was picked up early by Doug MacDonald at Zambezi Expeditions, our guide for the next week. Doug had a vehicle (proper Game Viewer) with him from Goliath our next camp, he just arrived at the park the night before. We were just driving towards main camp and heading then to the main road out of the park down south into the direction of Harare.


Due to the fact, as my Zambian pals Phil and Ty would arrive with their own airplane,  so we would catch them at the airstrip. But due to the closing of Mana Main, they'll had to use the airstrip near Kavinga. We crossed the Nyakasikana Gate, Dougs plan for the day would be to pick up Phil and Ty and driving back the the Nyakasikana Gate to turn right into Chitake Springs, were we could have some packed lunch there and spending the day. I was extremely glad that he mentioend Chitake Springs, as I really wanted to go there, of corse due to many great TR's here at Safartalk. Thanks for that!


As we used the main road out, the bush was getting very thick on both sides on the road and we had a good chat but not much was going on. It was quite a long drive and we did a tour round near the escarpment on the southern end of the park which was really nice and pretty with beautiful Baobabs. On our way slowly towards the airstrip, we crossed the old "Tsetsee experimental station" which is nowdays quite derelict. Even some of the old cages where they kept the animals could be seen behind the building. That station was according to Doug at the forefront of Tsetse research in the 60's. A part of the park which is not often seen by visitors I'll suppose.


We arrived just in time at the airstrip which is totally isolated and we could already see a plane in descent.  Plane landed with no problem and we were just driving over to them and greeted everyone and said Hello to Zimbabwe! We packed everyones bags into the Landy as well and were off to the gate again. Unforunately the lady in charge at the gate wasn`t that keen, to let us go to Chitake as the booking was not menioned for a specific date and there was a new boss at park HQ, so everyone was palying strict by the rules.


And as the gate officer wasn't informed by the HQ, we coulnd't go that day. No Problem at all, as Doug would sort this out at HQ and promised we could go there at another day during our stay.


We changed our planes quite a bit and were heading back to the floodplains, as Doug supposed, that there would our best chances to see anything going on. During our drive on the main road back we had some particularely great sightings. A beautiful big male Nyale crossed the road and went into the thicket again, unfortunately no picture as I sotred away my camera or was to late to hero. But this was great as it was a first one for me. Another new one I think a large flock of crested guineafowls.....hiding under the bushes.



Some last sightings in the morning leaving the floodplains for that morning/day.








We just had our packed lunch at the camp and droped off our bags in the tents but no Siesta time, we would just get out again.


My tent for the next few days in the beautiful Goliath Camp on the riverbank of the Zambezi...






After our lunch, we had our first walk with Doug on the river.



I really like these green trees in the background here in the Zambezi Valley, nice contrast.



On a nice spot we had our beers on the riverbank and watched the sunset over the Zambezi. Good start...


And just remember there are no night drives in Mana, so you have to be back at camp once dark. So it was a very wise idea for that half day to get our after lunch as quick as possible to get some first impressions on the floodplains/riverbanks, especially for the others as they just arrived.

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Day 9


Our first full day with Doug and I must say it started always very early with him. 5am wake up and 5.30 breakfast nearly in the dark, but with some wonderful porridge on the banks of the Zambezi River. We left Camp on the next days as well as early as 6am.


Not far from Goliath just on the side on the river road we found that particular nice female...





After a few minutes she decided to go back to the floodplains. We left our vehicle and tried to track her on foot, a great experience as we stalked from a distance closer to her. There was a second Lioness in the bush and we watched from a termite mound for a few minutes, before they decided to come back to our direction an heading into the thicker bush. We had to change our position to give us more space, just as we did, a Hyena was running out from the other sides of the bushes as the Lions moved closer in. The Hyena was  running 5m or closer by our side,  into the opposite direction. What a start!


We get back to the car and I realized how the next days would emerge here in Mana Pools. The option having an armed guide with you is great, as you just would always leave your car and would follow or getting closer on foot if somethin seen in the distance far away from the roadtrack. Which is a great plus, as you're not allowed to drive off from the roads. So restricted only to the roads here, you would definitely miss a lot. Especially during that time of the year, where you had to work harder to get to some wildlife action, compared as what I understood would be quite different later on in the year.


Back in the car we kept our eyes peeled....


Ménage-à-trois (or quatre) as the French say.....:)



At Chine Pool



A nice Dagger Boy in the greens...



Doug wearing his famous Pit Helmet....:lol: More to follow on that one..



We saw good numbers of Zebra during the whole stay.




If my mind serves me right, this is the dry Chavava River...or Chitake



On our way back to the floodplains some pools with some water and a nice monitor lizard laying on the sun...



A nice feature about Goliath is the extreme care the'll take. We were always served some "Sambos" new word I've catched up in Zim for Sandwiches, in the bush. SO at around 9:30-10:00 Doug would give Camp a message were we would be and they would drive out in the field and we would have some tea and some Sambos, this was unique and absolutely brilliant.


Our vehicle was driven back the guys who brough us the Sambos, Paul and Meghan I suppose. Due to that fact, we were able to walk back to camp, it took us nearly 3hours.


This fella was quite inquisitive and we had walk around in a huge distance, he even left the pool at one point looking towards us. He wasn't happy having us around for sure...



A dead porcupine scenery, quite stunning how often you walk by scenes like this. You would mind that there is not much sense in it, eating a porcupine with all the quirrels. But I got the proof later on in the Kafue that some "less inteligent" animals do.....



There is still a lot of water underneath this green carpet at another pool and so this Bull Elephant enjoyed a little swim.



A typical Mana Pools scenery...



In the afternoon we spotted as well some bigger game. The Elephants moved more inside the park during the green season as there is plenty of water around in many waterholes, same applies to the bigger herbivores.



But they were slowly returning back to the floodplains already. The only ones who stay most of the year around are the larger and older Bulls who are more territorial..



A nice herd later on in the afternoon, before we had to go back before dark.



Another day in Paradise as you could say and another great and enjoyful campfire with Stretch and some great stories from the bush. He's a great character and we had some great fund, I wouldn't have missed. It was a great idea indeed to choose Goliath as our Base for our excursion of Mana Pools!

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Day 10 / Wild Dog Mania!


Once again we tried our luck on that morning, with the eastern part of the park. Just after Park HQ, we could hear some alarm calls and also an Impala looking downwards into the lower floodplains.


Naturally this drawn our attention into it. We hoped today to find the wild dogs as we missed them the days before. As we went eastwards, Strech was going more to the West and would have kept us on notice if he could spot them on his side or we, if we would see them in our area.




Doug suggested that somewhere in the higher grass there are probably Lions and not Wild Dogs.


We parked our car again and could easily see some heads popping up (Doug was of course right), we started to walk a little bit closer and at some hight behind a tree we had a good position.


This was the time of the day early in the morning for a sip of water for these folks...^_^


A nice Lioness having her drink..



And just a little bit behind that scene, a beatiful male Lion was laying in the first sunlight, to warm himself up after quite a cold morning.



He now, was certainly warm enough....:D



I must say it was really nice to see these Lions in that beautiful scenery with the grass and the termite mounds and the trees in the background. Great stuff...



We even tried our luck a little bit closer and just enjoyed to be there...After a while the Lions moved on and we were focussing our interest more on the birds. close by on the left at a little pond of water.



Nice display from the Saddle-billed stork




We would have stayed here for much longer as the Lions reappeared again, but some sudden noise disrupted us. It was the walkie-talkie....

Stretch has managed to find the wild dogs and passed on the good news to us. We then decided to leave the scene for now, as we spent quite a time already here. We just jumped back into the car and were driving quite quickly into the other direction.


On our way to the scene, we saw a beautiful tree full of Lilian's Lovebirds, I really hoped for some shots of these nice looking birds during my stay, but agreed to get on as quickly as possible to the dogs. I really hoped that we don't miss them, because I didn't had such a good sighting of the lovebirds afterwards again....


We just saw Stretch parked with his car at the river road and said thanks to him. We could easily see the dogs about 200 meters away from us inbetween the river and our car at the river road. We left our cars, I decided to take the 400mm + D500 combo with me as this would give me 600EVF. I never walked upon wild dogs, so I didn't had a clue how close we got.


The pack was laying under the shade of a tree and moved only around to check out other mates on different shady patches. We had installed ourselves in a distance of about 10-15m in the middle of the plains and in direct sunlight, we were sitting down and were enjoying our luck for the remainder of the morning. What a fantastic sight!


The only issue I had, was that I was sometimes even to close with my camera combo....:o




After a time some of the dogs were getting up and having a look, they were alarmed.....far in the distance we saw a large group of Impalas moving closer to our carparking site, but still far away...



They must have eaten well the night before, as the blood cover of the pray was still visable in the fure of 1 or 2 of them.



Having an eye on these Impalas



Poor dogs were full with ticks..



Another vehicle arrived anyway with another guide and we decided to give them way and were walking slowly back to our car after nearly 1.5 hours.....The Dogs moved as well, but not far as their stalekd Impalas were noticing them as well and were giving alarm calls.


Doug suggested to go back to camp now and having our lunch, we were late anyways but thanks to the great flexibility at Goliath this was no problem. According to Doug the dogs would be around anyways in the afternoon as he suggested that they wouldn't move far during the heat of the day.


Great Morning eh? Mana Pools delivered..



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  • 2 weeks later...

@Grasshopper_Club This is really good! I am enjoying visiting these places with you very much, especially since you are having such good sightings. Hope you will manage to finish as that is a lot of safari days to get through! 

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Very nice experience with the wild dogs. However, a beautiful tree filled with Lillian’s lovebirds would have tugged at me as well. Here’s hoping we have another chance to see that. 

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@pault Thanks for your kind words and appreciation. I will do my best of course to finish this TR! But as you know, a TR is quite a time consuming experience..;)


@Alexander33 Yeah the dogs were a highlight for us all and something we really hoped to experience during our stay in Mana, which is so renowned for it. Just 2 months earlier in April 2018 David Attenborough was in Mana Pools for filming the intros to the wild dog section of "Dynasties". They had a BBC crew there for up to two years following these dogs. Which was even more interesting as the documentary was realeased later that year and it was a great throwback for me. Yeah these Lillian’s lovebirds are a type of another kind...great looking bird absolute special to witness them in huge flocks especially during that time of the year with a beatiful bluue sky as background.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Day 10 / Afternoon


The evening before a veterinary couple arrived in camp, as Stretch has aked them to come into the Park. As there was a severely wounded lioness with cancer wounds around her face and an Elephant Bull with a shooting wound was around as well. They tired already in the late afternoon when they arrive to find one of these "patients" but unfortunately without luck. I must say that Stretch and everyone else in the camp did literally there best to find these animals during the stay of the vets, often he was in the bush driving around and walking into shrubberies during our and other guests siesta time.


One of the guests in front of the main area at Camp during our tea time..



We decided to check out the same area as in the morning, as per Dougs conclusion the dogs would be still around and wouln't left before the sun was going down.


Some Impalas were already on a lookout position towards the direction we've seen the dogs in the mornign and soon after we saw them nearly on the same spot.



Vultures were around as well...




And here they are...using the shade and the scrub as a hiding place. There was a large group of Impalas quite close and were coming even closer...



Something which wasn't left unnoticed by them...





We were sitting now quite close the them as we heard even more alarm calls from the opposite direction from some monkeys near the river road. Doug was going to have a look as this could have beeen possible the wounded lioness, which everyone was looking for. It was also an area where she was lastly seen. We stayed here the rest of the evening. Doug was sure that there was a lion under the bushes as the monkeys were going crazy and radioed the news to Stretch and the Vets to come in and have a look. Soon after we saw their vehicle and Dough showed them them direction and returned to us (for our protections sake^_^).



Quite extraordinary these vultures coming so close to a wild dog. Sometimes I just thought maybe he will try to catch one...



The rest of the pack was a little bit behind under the tree and we now got the beatiful sunlight in the background as well.



Soon after the sun was setting behind the mountains, the dogs were all on alert and activity would start sooner than later.



A lots of playing whit each other, a sign that they would be on the move quite soon.



Just 5min later, they walked in a single file back to the road where we had parked our car. As it was time now for us as well to get back, as it would bee soon dark, we joined them in a distance in parallell file as well.  Which was another great experience for us all.



We arrived back at Camp quite late, so after dark. After such a great day we were quite excited about to hear if they managed to find the Lioness so far.


We had some chats with the vets at dinner, but unfortunately the lioness was hiding underneath a thick bush where Doug has seen here close by to our position, so our call was right. But even as Stretch walked into the bush at some pont!! she was hiding even further. So they had no chance to dart her and to check her wounds around the face as there was a point where nobody could go into it further, not even Stretch.  But the vets assumed they couldn't have done much anyways as it looked like from a ditance for them, that she had possible cancer and could only been cleaned and fumigated the wounds. The other animal they were looking for was the Elephant with a shooting wound,  but he disappeared totally since their arrival and also for their whole stay and was'nt close by or seen. The vets would have had a last chance the next morning before they would drive out of Mana to find the Lioness.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 11


Today we were heading to the west close to the Rukomechi boundary. The day was not as busy as others, but we had great sightings with little critters today.


On our way west, we encountered several Ellies, some quite unfriendly as this example, who was quite aggresive and let us turn back for a while with our car, as he approached the road quicker than us..




Shortly after he crossed a small group was crossing as well.



Another Bull further downwards, he was a gentleman. Some of us stood outside the car and he didn't bothered around and was quite inquisitive.



A nice Kudu Bull, more ore less in the same area where I've seen a large herd a few days before on my arrival in Mana.



This is the likewise habitat around in this area. Further inwards, there is more and more dead logs laying around, which is essential to give protection for smaller mammals and reptiles etc..



But we had great sightings of around 4 different species of mongoose within 1.5 hours.


A beautiful sighting of a slender mongoose.



A stunning sighting and an absolute highlight, this dwarf mongoose was posing for me for about 30-45minutes. I was standing in front of that log only about 2-3 meters aways. I'm still thankfull to the others with me, for their patience:):)



Going back and forth and inside the dead log. Very inquisitive animals.


Sometimes I was even to close with my lens...uups the tail is gone



We returned slowly back to camp without much of a sighting and were heading for lunch. We heard that the vets who left the camp in the morning, were again unsucesfull in finding that wounded lioness. So sad...


In the afternoon we had a large troop of baboons on a  tree which was in geat light to take some pictures.




Sorry for disturbing you on the loo....:D



Later on we enjoyed the last moments of another day now more on the inward side close to Goliath.



View down the valley..



Some Zebras were grazing in the last sunlight inbetween the shrub..


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@Grasshopper_Club Great trip report.  I am really enjoying following along.  I was thinking of booking African Bush Camps for Green Season 2021, and really didn't think of Bumi Hills.  But you've made me change my mind.

Keep it going!

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  • 4 months later...
  • 4 months later...

Hello again.


I was extremely busy over the last few months and was more or less absent from ST....


So let's try to finish this trip report....^_^ With some delay, but rather late than never.  And during these lock-down times, an armchair safari in form of a TR is probably the best cure....


Now as it's so long by now, when i started this TR. I had to read it again from the very beginning to follow up again.


But that's done now, so here we are...Lets go to Zim, on Day 11!  Definitely far better then staying in lock-down mode...


Early Morning:


NIce backlight from the sunrise with some Ellies..













Nice herd of waterbuck on a breakfast route..



The Impalas are not far by and already in a little fight....Ground Hornbill in the back..



Arriving on on eof the pools. This morning on a drive mainly along the pools and an a discovery trip along the Sapi River (Eastern Border).




Doug spotted this beautiful Lillac-breasted Roller sitting on a solitary wooden stick, used as a lookout for a morning snack.



This was my chance I just focussed on the stick and hoped once flying away for an insect, getting back to the same position. Great suggestion from Doug as always...









One of my favourite sightings was this playful Zebra, hiding behind a tree.....




And later on, displaying his morning snack, a sausage fruit. That whole thing was going on for minutes, absolutely hilarious.



Eland in the distance, which was seen on nearly every drive during my stay in Mana. Not in herds, but always an odd couple or some lone ones around.



Getting closer to Chine Pools again.



A lone dagga boy, goes "green"....



He knows, spinach makes you stronger...



Lovely scenery around that particular area.



On our drive back we used one of the tracks going far east the boundry in Mana, following the "Hinterlands" of Mana. This track isn't used much and Doug wasn't sure if it would work out as it was still early in the seaon. We made it but there was not much game in that part of the park, close to the boundary along the Sapi river. Which forms the boundary to a former Safari/Hunting Concession. It is now taken over from Great Plains and they transformed it into a Photosafari Private Concession. So fingers crossed that this will have a psoitive impact, which I'm quite sure.


Back again at the River, close by to Johns Camp.



This was a nice spot and as usual the camp managed to set up a picnic place for us with some "Sambos", a new term for Sandwiches we've learnt in Zim. Again the Sambos were delicious, especially the spicy smoked Chilli Sauce served with. We've consumed 6 bottles of it during our stay!


Here's the link for the sauce. I've ordered a whole box back home...great stuff. Produced in Zimbabwe.

Great flavour, smoked chilli sauce with a nice punch of lemon! My new favourite with a roast beef sandwich...






After our little break we made our way back again to the camp, slowly as we were not in a hurry.


We met that lone Elephant bull and decided to spend some time here.



Well some of us tried to take some pictures from a different "angle" of this nice bull, but sadly my nerves weren't that strong when he approached us even further. I decied to jump back into the car after and take my "usual angle" pictures from the vehicle. Sadly during our stay, we'venever encountered/crosed one of the famous older bulls, who are more relaxed and for which Mana is famous. The ones like Boswell and Co.



Ok, maybee not....he wasn't very well tempered. We decided to retreat. And by chance heading back to camp for lunch.



This pool on our way back was nearly empty of water, but even there was a loensome Hippo. Probably a male kicked out of one of the hippo ponds in the Zambezi river, not far away.


Thanks for that, Mr. Hippo!







As this was our last activity in Mana, close to the Zambezi. We decided to go out for a walk along the floodplains in the afternoon.


We parked our car near the same site, where we've seen the wild dogs a few days ago. From there we had to walk a bit to the floodplains. Quite dense woodlands there, during that time of the year and packed with it's inhabitants. Ellies...


A whole herd somewhere. but we couldn't see the, but they could smell us.


So it took us some time to get into the open again. What a beatiful afternoon that was, no clouds, perfect sky. Stunning.





I really hoped to see some lilian's lovebirds again, as I missed them the days before when we rushed back to the wild dogs. But the "Safari gods" were generous with me. We spotted a large flock on the ground in these floodplains. I tried my luck with the camera, but it was quite a distance inbetween. But a nice sighthing and we enjoyed them for some time.






A bit further up we found that carcass, definitely not caused by lovebirds. Probably it was an adder, my guess.....



On the open ground again with all these nice trees and the stunning mountain range scenery.



Spectacular sights and a real highlight.






Our spot for some cool beers.



From here we were provided with a car, again perfectly organized from the camp and it's managers. Exremely well runned operation to say the least, that Goliath outfit there! We had to speedy up again, to be back at camp before it was getting dark. As these are the rules in Mana.


So this was our last day @Goliath, as we planned to stay at Chitake Springs for 1night. Doug already set up everything with the Park Management and we've got a reservation for Chitake Springs 1, for the next day.


As guest of honours at Stretch's place, they've decided to bring up the weekly barbecue earlier as planned,  as it would have been on the day after we've left.


The Maestro Stretch personally took care of the Barbie....best Boerewors I've ever tasted.





Another great day in Africa was coming slowly to an end....


Okay it was quite late I think, nearly 1am when i returned to my tent....Brandy was going strong tonight...^_^


More to come sooner than later this time.


The grand highlight and finale of Mana Pools during our stay, Chitake Springs!


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Day 12


Time has come to say goodbye.


The last sighting of the Zambezi for good. The usual morning/breakfast view from Goliath, which we loved so much during our week here.


Very sad to say good bye as well...great hosts and naturally Stretch..:D



A wonderful morning and some great weather, which would be a pure joy later during the day @ Chitake Springs.





Chitake Springs / Chitake 1 / Morning


We decided to going up to Chitake, straight and not heading to the floodplains. We would stop only for some serious acton on our way up. As the goal was to spend as much time there as possible.


We arrived after a nice drive through the jesse at the gate, where we had to show our valid booking confirmation for the campsite. From here it was just a short drive of about 15minutes or so on the main road to a turn to the right hand side, a little sign showed us the ways..Chitake Campsites.


On our way up to in into the jesse from the floodplains, we had another short sight of a Nyala. Unfortunately no pictures, again. So a good reason to come back for sure.


We had booked the Campsite No. 1 (So there is Chitake 1,2 & 3). According to Doug this is the best place to stay and it would be proved later on for sure. We'll managed to check out the other 2 sites as well during the day and having our own thoughts about that.


We parked the car under the trees, so the camp is just on the right hand side in the shade behind the first treeline.

Stepping out into the dried-out riverbeed. Not completely as you can see, there is water around. A spring type of water coming up from the ground, just a little sip. But absolutely enough to attract all the animals in the surrounding, as this is far inland at Mana Pools. Far away from the mighty Zambezi. There is no water source during the dry season in the whole area, unless these spring types of water



Beautiful setting and scenerey as well, espcesially with these baobabs around us.and the red soil uphil.




We had our first glimpse of the area and wanted to move back to the car to build up our camp, when we could see the first buffalos coming around the corner. We just headed back to the treeline and took a seat in the sandy riverbeed. And waited for them to move into our direction where the most, or the deepest part of the water trickle was ....


More and more would come along..



We were lucky according to Doug, it is quite tricky to know when they arrive for a drink, especially during the early season. Because now there is still some water around and they don't really have to come here for a drink. I think later on in the year the have to move in on a daily basis for a sip of water.



It looked to me as it would never end....



So we couldn't move anymore...



The Impalas were coming in for a drink as well.



He catched our sight at the treeline.



He considered us as well....



Some impressive bulls and an animal which commands respect....these buffalos...when your on your foot as close as 10 meters  away, you're realising their might and strenght. And then you've just remembering....uuups it's one of the big 5.....not without a case...



Some massive horns. This example looked like a water buffalo to me, hornshape wise...



He was extremely inquisitive and we were all hoping that he wouldn't cross that water trickle. Which he didn't at the end, as you also can see, the herd was already moving out and going back upwards, leaving the riverbed. Must have been a herd of 300 animals or more.



Returning to the top, that dust cloud alone is a remarkable sight as usual with a large buffale herd corming in/leaving for/from a drink, at any place in Africa.



Some leftovers after....



And some butterflies.




Wow what a start we thought. Spending more than an hour watching buffalos...so close...great! We were now a little bit late with our camp building but, that shouldn't bee a problem we thought.


So we started building up and unpacking the Defender, as suddenly a solitary male Elephant was just crossing through our camp, just were we wanted to place our the tents. I could't grab my camera as we had to hide ourselves behind the Defender...that was closer than 5m distance and just sheer luck we heard some rattling of some branches he was feeding on following the riverbed.


Otherwise he would popped into us most probably. So we had to wait another half an hour, until he decided it's enough and passed by or passing upwards to the main "road track network" around these Chitake springs.


We just jumped back at the site and started to get ourselves comfy and building up our campsite for the night as quickly as possible, to have enough time to explore the surounding areas. Last but not least, and took some consideration for the placement of our tents after that short visit. Having the night in mind with all the probable visitors.



All set, all tents are up.



We were just moving back into the land rover and were heading out now!


Great start at a great place. Full of action....more to come..



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