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Safari Year 2018 / Part 1 / Zimbabwe


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The Cathedral / Chitake 3 / Afternoon


We went out and headed straight for Chitake 3, this site is the most remote one of them and a drive going away from the riverbed, more inland territory.


Here are some pictures. The site is on a little hill, which is surrounded by Baobab trees. There are Baobabs around in the Park, especially closer in the south to the escparment. But never near in that density, as displayed here.


It's called cathedral, as it is thought that these trees may have been "planted" by humans and that this site was some kind of a spiritial place for the people to worship. lving in the area.


Nice with the escarpment in the background. This isn't that far from Kavinga and the Kavinga/Rukomeche(i) airstrip where we've parked our plane.




According to Doug, a few years ago there where even more of these trees around but some of them have died and crumbled down. We could witness that on the way up. Really impressive place.







Giving a feeling for dimensions, that Landy looks rather tiny compared to a massive Baobab....



It's difficult to give an appopriate view by these pictures, but just consider a circle going around the top of the hill with Baobabs...



Straight ahead close to the range, would be the airstrip I would guess.



We finished our sightseeing trip at Chitake 3 and went back to Chitake 2. So fo wildlife viewing No. 3 is the least promising one, according to Doug. As the whole thing at Chitake would play around the little waterstream in the riverbed. And as you can see from the pictures, your're away from that riverbed up here on the hill. But just for scenery, stunning and something I wouldn't wanna miss at all to witness.


Chitake 2 / Afternoon


There was a group who would stay at Chitake 2 during the day, so we couldn't go to the site directly. As they had a day booking. But they wouldn't stay overnight and No. 3 was empty the whole day anyway. So that would mean we had the whole area of Chitake for us alone during the late afternoon and night.


We were escorted by Doug to a place close to Chitake 2,  around the corner from the river from our side at Chitake 1.


This was a kind of hide used many times according to the ground and is in some bushes above the riverbank. Very well positioned. It gives you a good angle.


The plan was now, to have a small lunch and resting in the shade for the afternoon and just watch what could eventually happen.


We must have spent about 3 hours or so, including a short nap or two.


We had visitors at one point, 2 lone male buffalos were coming down for a drink. They were extremely cautious, whilst staying at the top. The've waited for about 10minutes before they would come down and event then only slowly.




But after a drink, one of them coulnd't withstand to take a mudbath as well..




Behind the river we could still see the close by escarpment and the river was grown over by trees in the background. It looked like a tunnel. Very pictoresque indeed.



These 2 guys left after some time and we've waited for another hour and a little nap in the shade again.


Suddenly a lone Elephant was in the riverbeed, completely unnoticed by us for quite some time.


Ha was strolling along the river into that "tunnel" later one, which was great to watch. Something I hoped for to witness.



I couldn't withstand to go down into the river , down from our position when there was no animal around. Just to give an impression from the area. Chitake 2 is about 50 meteres upstream on the right hand side of the riverbank I would guess.



As the day was passing along, we decided that our best chance would be to go back for the late afternoon to our one site at Chitake 1.  Especially with the buffalo in mind. Maybe they could come back for another drink?


It was quite hot during that particular day, as there were no clouds at all.

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That is such a beautiful riverbed. Thanks for the scenic photos!

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Indeed, such a good place - I think quite a few of us have sat exactly there. Good memories - thanks!

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Absolutely! @michael-ibk & @Peter Connan



Chitake 1 / Chitake Springs / Late Afternoon


On our way back to Chitake 1 from Chitake 2, we had to cross the riverbed again. This is a narrow part and covered with bushes on both sides of the road track, which was quite a thick vegetation druing that time of the year. We could already hear and see some Elelphants in these bushes, heading towards the riverbed. We had to wait for a while until the road was clear or should I say the sides were clear. We then just rushed back to our camp,  just to be there for the action we've waited for and not to get stopped again by these gentle giants having a snack close by the track again.


Just returend in time and rushing down the riverbed with our camera gear. We placed ourselves in the shade in the sand infront of the treeline.


The scenery at our camp on our return. The riverbed was again full of live, this time not the expected buffalos again.


The first Elephants from the group heading towards the riverbed seen in the bushes on our way back, were already in for a first sip of water. A large troop of Baboons was in the riverbed as well,  resting in the shade. A group of 50-80 I would guess, from our position we had the most of them in our back and that quite close. But they were just resting . We positioned ourselves in the sand at the edge of the riverbed, as close as possible to our vehicle, just in case. We would stay here for 2 hours, which should become one of the most impressive wildlife viewing in my lifetime!


During campfire in the evening, or even earlier with some beers, once the riverbed was becoming empty again, we agreed, that this was something special. One of these moments when you're tinking of  "beeing part" of something, not just "only a witness" of it, we had the feeling.



It was hard to have an eye on something particlar as there were so many things to watch.



I was still having an eye on the baboons on our back. Some brilliant moments, with some troopers walking around and chasing the butterflies around. Which resulted in a marvelous scenery.



A nasty fight was breaking loose, again just a few meters behind us. I kept an eye on them all the time, you'll never know.....




Refocussing again upfront to the Ellies...


So with my 400mm lens I was too close for the adults, but fine with 3 youngsters in the group.


They were of different age, due to their height. There was a very tiny one. He was the most extraordinary fellow. Just hillarious to watch,  sometimes even unsecure on his own foot on the sandy ground. Then at another moment, he was chasing the older youngsters around and tried to fight with them, pictures and video later on. The middle one was a few months older and the 3rd a year or two.


The only problem was sometimes they were encircled by their family. So often a lot of legs from these older ones were in the way. But neverthelss absolute stunning.


It was a joy to watch them of course and naturally the youngest one took our full attention. Trying to have a drink out of these waterholes (made by the elephants), to deep for him most of the times, but he always tried and went back on his feet again quickly.


The real problem we had was that there was so much going on, you couldn't notice everything as there was so much action around us. An absolute dream on a Safari, too much to choose from....


So everyone from our group was focussing his attention from time to time to different settings and you would get a chance to refocus on another situation, once noticed and shared by someone else.


The great thing about the whole time now was that we were so close and they definitly must have smelled us. But they accepted us there bravely sitting in the sand any being as quite as possible....Maybe my shutter from the D500 wasn't that quite...:D




That tiny baby elephant was a real cracker....




They were starting to play around with each other, once getting enough water to still their thirst. The younger ones against the oldest was the device.



The scenery with the red soil on the riverbed made the whole thing even more beautiful. Not just in the pictures, but also in realworld watching..



The youngest one, was the one with the most courage and used to take some advantage in each charge, by starting a run-up from a distance and running up to the older one and crashing his nose into him.

The older one was willing enough to play the beaten one with class all the time...



After a while,  our youngest of the group spotted something crossing the riverbeed. He was quick to follow...




There was a group of banded mongoose, crossing the riverbed to our side. The baby Elephant was inquisitive at one point, but these banded ones gave him a hiss , so that he halted for a moment and got into the typicall pose of an elephant in an angry mood, flapping his ears and shacking his head, and wanted to go for a charge. But he wasn't sure and stopped to think again. His mum wasn't very happy neither that he went away too far from the group and started with some rumbling, he was happy enough to go back again to the group for sure.





More to follow...

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What a great sighting, with the elephants, baboons and the mongoose all together! And all the little ones, playing!

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Chitake 1 / Chitake Springs / Late Afternoon


Part 2:


The "kindergarten" started to play now on a full time mode their thirst must have been stilled. The little ones were surrounded by the giant ones from the group, nicely coverd encircle. to protect them.




The little one had still a lot of baby hair around his body...which could be noticed very well.



A sudden interruption at the scene, by some kudus coming in for a late afternoon sip of water as well.



Quite stressed at the beginning moving into the sandy riverbed. But later one more relexed and inquisitive.



I'm not a fan of the french language and quite bad at all in it. But a french textbook once i had to study had a spelling I could rember, which reflects the next pictures quite well...."faire le guignol":D...as the french say...:huh:



From time to time, the wild play was more relaxed and the bonds inbetween these "cousins" was strengthened by touching each other with the trunk, all around the heads.



Or bums...



Mother! She was extremely relaxed having us in mind sitting so close by, with all the young ones around and especially her tiny one.



Some of the aunts were having an eye on the little ones as well, so that nothing gets out of control.




More "attacks" from the young ones were following, the older one played his part again very well....he posed and tried and tried to get back to his feet. But without luck he was once more very well challanged by the younger ones...



I mean the word cute gets a new meaning......was absolutely mindblowing to watch...




Hello! "can you hear me?"^_^




The best memories at the final, as usual.


I loved those 3 young ones playing with each other, again, the younger ones together against the older one. Absolultely brilliant...Something I will never forget.




That scene reminded me by the fairy tale of the brothers Grimm "The Bremen town musicians" and their famous scupture or scenery in the textbooks when they all stood on each other...



Uups its getting heavy now for the younger ones, the older one is for once on top....



But soon after the old dominance was restored.



At one point the older cow had enough and stepped in and the play was at it's end. the youngest was still running around on his own in the sandy riverbed but he was soon collected.


The group was slowly moving back into the bush and the riverbed was empty again, or let's say the usual guests were there...



I thought that we would have now a quite evening, but nope. It was still going strong.


We took our camping chairs out into the riverbed and had some beers. It was getting dark by now and i just heard something behind me in a close distance. I just pointed the torch and uuups, a lone hyena was walking into the riverbed behind us, from our camps direction,  about 5m in my back. Absolutely not discomforted by our presence, the hyena walked by in front of us not more than a few meters. Woulnd't have expected to see a hyeana here as well....


A few minutes later, deep in  adiscussions again, Doug pointed the torch just on the other side of the riverbed. A lone female Elepahn cowt was crossing the riverbed with a youngster. I coulnd't hear any sound from them, especially with the sand underneath. Something I'm always impressed. how such a large mammal can move so gently, without a sound if not wanted to be heard. Great end of a day....



We moved our chairs insde the camp area and had a lekker Boerewors on the fire again, we cadged that one from Goliath in the morning with some bread rolls. Great dinner again, beer was empty. But I had a last sip from my brandy, a leftover from the last night at Stretch's place.....




Conlusion of sightings of the day at Chitake just from the camp.

  • Buffalo
  • Elephants
  • Impala
  • Kudu
  • Baboons
  • Banded Mongoose
  • Hyena

A fantastic end at Mana Pools!


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Fantastic stuff @Grasshopper_Club - those Elephants pics are Sensational.

What an amazing experience - it looked like a wonderland with all the butterflies as well :)  

Edited by Hads
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Just brilliant baby elephants at play sequences. What a viewing!

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@Hads & @AKR1Absolutely was mindblowing that afternoon!



Here is a little video footage. It's a litlte bit shaky..my tripod was in the car so i only had the monopod with me. I had to cut it again for vimeo, so the soundtrack may be a little bit spoilt. We'll see...













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