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Lady Lee, Princess C and friends go 'dogging'- a Mana TR


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As many of you know I am a true ‘Manatic’ having visited several times since 2006. So this trip was a welcome return to my spiritual home after 4 years, the last, travelling with @Blue Bird and @Atravelynn (who wrote the TR in her inimitable style, which can be found here ).


This time I rejoined @Princess c who I first met in Mana through @Doug Macdonald in 2012  My TR can be found here and the subsequent one we shared in 2013 here


We would be joining @Seniortraveller, who had initially organised this trip with Doug for herself, her sister Sue and friend Amanda. Always good to meet other ST members, so thanks for letting us join you.


OK so the title………….... This a long running joke with Doug, PC and myself but the origins of this remain back in the mists of time. Those that know me will understand it but, in the main ‘what goes on safari stays on safari’.  At least the title hopefully caught your eye.Whether the report itself lives up to expectations remains to be seen.


So........... to the trip itself


PC and I flew into Harare overnight from London Stansted with Emirates. PC picked me up on her route South in her car so I had the luxury of being driven rather than the slog to London on Public Transport with bags in tow. This also allowed us to have a bit of a catch up on personal news during the journey. Flights were on time, food was fine, seats comfortable (steerage) and the stopover was not too long, Although Dubai airport is stunning, shopping is not my thing so we managed to find some quieter areas. PC and I got separated whilst travelling on the transfer buses and she managed to find a quiet area with those loungers. Despite her telling me, by text, where she was I could not find it, probably due to no sleep on the first leg!


Arrival in Harare for us was early evening on the 28th September


Our first night would be at Malcolm Lodge (https://malcolmlodgezimbabwe.com/) and it was there that we would meet our travel companions. The accommodation was lovely and the hosts very welcoming. I understand that normally they do not prepare evening meals on a Saturday evening, but knowing of our long journey, they had prepared a very nice lasagna for us. Not to have to go out to eat was a real bonus. We had a good time getting to know the others at dinner time and enjoying a glass or two of wine. Our hosts use the honesty system for drinks as they do at most B&Bs here; help yourself, write it down and settle up when you leave.


Then an early night for us all ready to set off, at typical safari time i.e crack of dawn, for Mana the following morning


@Seniortraveller and co had been in Harare already for a couple of nights. This lengthy stay in Harare was the result of the planned BA strikes resulting in their whole schedule being affected. Of course, the strikes were then called off anyway but the changes had been made.They seem to have used the additional time there effectively and I will leave Senior Traveller to tell about what they got up to.


Although I am the primary author of this TR I hope that both @Seniortraveller and @Princess c (and perhaps your sister, Senior T?) will chip in with their memories/ experiences and photos of the trip to give it some breadth and depth.


I should add that at this point I have already received a few photos from SeniorT to add the report some of which are included below.



Starting as we mean to go on, at Stansted Airport




My bedroom at Malcolm Lodge, and my first elephant sighting this year :lol:IMG_20190928_204705.jpg.ee3670da71a39336e13f137ca61e6c4f.jpg


Views of Lodge exterior






Edited by wilddog
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@wilddog I'm so excited to follow your trip report! Mana is high on the list for my next safari.

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Thank you @refox3488  I hope you are managing to do your homework ;) by reading the earlier TR's by members (not only those I have linked to); There are many of them and as you will see, Mana is much loved.....and I am sure you will love it too. 


Happy planning 😊

Edited by wilddog
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Wishing you more ele sightings.  So glad you have returned to a place that has captured your heart.

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It's a place I'd like to visit so looking forward to this

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I think I know the story behind ‘Lady Lee’, @wilddog :) 

Looking forward to a rollicking time with the doggies...

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Originally our plan had been to fly in and out of Mana but the other three were driving up, and for many it was the first time going by road, which is an interesting trip. It transpired that PC had not driven up before either, so our plans were adjusted to join the rest of the crew on the road trip.


This time it would include a boat trip down the Zambezi from Chirundu to Nyamepi. This would be a welcome change from the nightmare descent into Mana by road, with all those ‘dead’ lorries scattered at the bottom of the hillside.


We were up early ready to transfer to Mana pools. A substantial Continental breakfast was ready for us with lots of hot coffee ; a must for me in the mornings. We settled up our bar bills and then Doug arrived with our transport and greeted us with his usual style. A proper coach trip with packed lunch!




We had a coach driver for the trip which meant that we could all chat with each other and, of course, with Doug.The trip to Chirundu took about 5 hours and we stopped off at the famous biltong shop for a coffee, biltong supplies (Thanks @Princess c) and a bathroom break.


When we reached Tiger Safaris mooring at Chirundu our boat was nearly ready. So we had a little walk around and spotted this boat adjacent to ours!


On closer inspection it transpired that this was a mock Hyena, which frankly looked very realistic (I guess the head is genuine) and would certainly deter me from boarding it.













The trip down the Zambezi, which was about 2 hours, was very relaxing and a great improvement of the road journey.


We saw some elephants and hippos on the way down and for me it was interesting to note all the camps I have stayed in or seen before.


Vine camp which was very new when I was last there had mellowed overtime with its bright yellow thatched roofs now faded and the surrounding greenery softening its outline. (apparently the word ‘rooves’ is now outdated! That tells me something!).
















On arrival we were met by our safari vehicle, where Doug took over the wheel and we set off for camp



Edited by wilddog
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Ohh, that´s a really cool new option doing the boat instead of the scary "dead truck" road. And remembering that Biltong shop just made me hungry! Eagerly waiting for more.

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I was one of those who had chosen to go by road to Mana Pools. If seemed to offer an opportunity to see a part of Zimbabwe, that we had not visited before.  It didn’t quite work out that way however, we spent more time talking than enjoying the passing scenery!
The journey by boat from Chirundu to Nyamepi, came as a welcome surprise when we were informed about it, some weeks before travelling. It probably took longer than it might at another time of year, as the water levels were low. The very skilled driver ( I am sure that is not the correct term! ) zigzagged back and forth as we travelled downriver, avoiding seen, and quite possibly unseen, sandbanks.


We were not the only people travelling on the river that day.


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It was now about 2pm. En route to camp we stopped at Marongara where Doug needed to complete some paper work and pay any fees that might still be required.









Subsequently, we came across this recently dead elephant with two lionesses laying claim to it. These were the remaining two ‘Spice Girls’. The story at this point (from another guide) was that the elephant had died in childbirth and the calf had already been eaten. I have no way of telling whether that was a fact or not.










We spent a lot of time here. Although the lionesses were chilling out in the shade, we had lots of elephant passers by, including this one which I believe is a young bull.

Watching his behaviour around his dead ‘relation’ was intriguing. It seems to be a mix of curiosity and possibly distress. There as a lot of sniffing but it is unclear whether he actually touched the carcass. The lions just watched on. He finally back over to the lions, showing his displeasure at their presence.










Similarly two adults and a calf came past, causing the lions a bit of concern...............


At this point we were all holding our breath a bit in case the lions fancied a light snack of baby elephant but it seems they were content with what they had in the carcass












By this time it really was time to get to camp, where a very late lunch awaited us.


I will tell you more about the camp in the next section but, for now, having dropped off our bags and eaten an excellent lunch we returned to the elephant carcass where the girls were up and about in the slightly cooler weather.


There were hyaena, vultures and marabou stork lurking, but at present they could not get near. The carcass was well guarded and one of the lions was back feasting. Note the umbilical hernia on one of the girls.












Then another bull made an entrance and decided to give the lions a bit of a shake up


We had our sundowners at the vehicle while we watched for any further action.







Edited by wilddog
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A great start. The boat looks a good way to travel. The elephant behaviour is fascinating with the body of another.

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Yes @TonyQ they spent a lot of time there, much more than the photographs suggest; walking around it on all sides and sniffing.  what they make of it those intelligent brains who knows.

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So how was it in Mana?


Very hot and very dry. As most of you will know there were poor rains last year and it certainly shows. The ground was much dryer and more dusty than I have seen it at this time of the year. More like early November normally.


We did see wisps of clouds and a small build up one day but no rain came, We could see some on the distant sky line and it was reported that it had rained in Kariba, but nothing while were there.


Some of the wildlife looked thin; a few elephants and buffalo struggling but no actual deaths from starvation that I am aware of whilst were there.


Long Pool was much shorter than is usual, and more shallow but still bringing in the wildlife.


And as of today 5th November, I understand Long Pool has now dried up! I can only assume that the hippos and crocs have gone to the river but it does make you wonder how the waders and hippo riding herons etc will get on.


Many of the Impala on the flood plains were suffering from quite severe mange. I have seen this before but not in these numbers. Interestingly there was no sign of mange when we got to Chitake a few days later.


Currently here is a feeding programme underway, not necessarily approved of by everyone. We saw evidence of this, seeing the piles of Rhodes grass deposited along the road side, which seemed to be enjoyed by most of the grazers.


We also saw a truck full of Hay on a huge lorry at the Mana main road entrance gate which would later be distributed.


The one ‘drying pools calamity’ we saw was an elephant who was stuck in the mud (up to his or her chest) at the edge of a drying pool. I did not take photographs (I am a tough cookie but I found this too distressing) but I did ask Doug if he thought a rescue would be attempted, but he was not sure. I assume it was reported to the authorities, possibly even by Doug but he is always discrete and would not tell us if he had done so. Just after my return there was an elephant rescue from the mud posted on FB. but whether this was ‘our’ elephant or not I do not know.


I hope that any more recent travellers to Mana or Chitake will be able to update us in due course in their Trip reports.


To date there is still no rain

Edited by wilddog
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While the other, more intrepid travellers, braved the high temperatures and returned to the elephant carcass, my sister and I relaxed. We had our sundowners as we enjoyed the view from camp. 


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It had been a long day for all of us, but some people were not content to  have just a quick shower and change of clothes before our evening meal. Have you ever heard of a mobile camp, in the middle of the bush,  having a dress code for dinner?

I will just say that some of us were embarrassingly underdressed.........over to you @wilddog!

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Hmmm .... Lady Lee and the Princess hook up with strangers online for a bit of dogging in Mana Pools. But the origins of this are long ago and you won’t say more because what happens on safari stays on safari? Am I reading this right?  Did I miss any double entendres? :P

Well, call me shallow, but I’m hooked! 

And, seriously, I am very much looking forward to this. 



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The elephant behavior around their deceased brethren was most interesting.  The lion behavior was too.  I hope that ele rescue from the mud that made the Facebook and international news was "your" ele.


Where are the photos of the underdressed for dinner?

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@pault ...... not with you there :rolleyes:


and @Atravelynnmy friend how could you think that of me;)......!!!


Having said that I am rather hoping @Seniortravellerwill expand on her hints above later today...


If not I will do so in a couple of days.  Doing my Tax return today. 








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I have no hard evidence to support this, but I think @wilddog may have.


We all joined together for pre dinner drinks, well all but two of us! As we sat in the dark, with only a small fire and possibly a head torch or two to provide light, an apparition appeared. Two LADIES, guess who, dressed for an evening out. Little black dresses, plenty of bling and I think one even wore the latest dress hiking boots! Lady Lee and Princess C were dressed to impress. Tiaras were missing and I do remember Doug saying he would arrange this.

Much jollity ensued, a good start to the very enjoyable week we all spent together.

Edited by wilddog
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Following on from @Seniortraveller 's post above, here is the story………


Given our propensity for aristocratic eccentricities, some years ago we had joked about wearing ball gowns. When @Princess c rang to finalise arrangements for the journey to Stansted Airport, she said to me ‘have you got your ball gown?’ My reply was something along the lines of ‘don’t be daft’, but it got me thinking.


By the time PC arrived the following day I was prepared:- 2 lightweight slinky, long, black numbers, 2 necklaces and 2 bracelets. We agreed at that point to give this a go. We did look in Accessorize at the airport, in case they had some tiaras, but to no avail.


On our first night in the bush, after our shower, we emerged resplendent in our outfits much to the amusement Ann, Sue, Amanda, Doug and the camp staff. PC was looking pretty good with her accessories of a head torch and flip-flops. I was a touch more extreme with my best safari hat, with attached head torch plus very fetching safari boots and socks.


Sadly nobody took a picture of me at the time, but I have a lovely one of PC gracing the dinner table, and for the edification of ST members, I have recreated my outfit today to complete the picture.


It was such a fun evening, well fuelled by Red Wine and Gin and Tonic (well for PC and I anyway :)).









Edited by wilddog
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Ball gowns on safari!  I bet Doug got a big kick out of it.

As for tiaras,  you've done that before, @wilddog!



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You are right @Atravelynn Tiaras and Crowns are 'so last year'. One must not be seen in the same garb twice. It would simple not do.


@pault the socks do give that classic touch don't they? Once seen never forgotton. 


Fashion thought for next time...... A safari talk sash? @Game Warden

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Normal ST trip report service will return shortly....... Thanks for reading along so far. 

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You have really veered off track with the sash suggestion.  But I must admit the concept is rather intriguing!  I'm thinking either basic khaki or maybe a leopard print, perhaps coordinated with gaiters when on a walking safari.  The possibilities are endless.

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