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


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12 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

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.


With sashes, not really off track @Atravelynn. I agree on colour scheme for the sashes, Khaki for day time and the leopard print for evening wear.  a plan in the making................;).  Regarding gaiters....personally I prefer the idea of sox suspenders. but each to their own style.:lol:


Anyway..... I must stop being frivolous and get back to the serious stuff fo Trip Report writing..........................or the powers that be will tell me off!



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The camp set up


I had assumed we would be at Mucheni as usual but in fact we were to be at Old Ndungu a little further west and not far from Vine camp ( I think Vive is now called something very posh now)




The operator that set up the camps and provided all our meals was Classic Africa Safaris.




The tents were spacious; with most of us, apart from Ann and Sue, using them on a single basis. All had twin beds with bathroom attached and flushing toilet. The tents were set up back from the rivers edge, under the shade of large trees. I kept finding sausage tree flowers on my bathroom floor, which I threw over the bathroom 'wall' to help the hungry impala that came through the camp at night :) 


A jug of warm water was provided every morning for a quick wash and hot water provided for our showers, either around lunch time or early evening after our evening drive.






The food was absolutely amazing and beautifully presented. The catering was led by Megan who is an independent caterer and I think Doug will be employing her again for some other safaris.


We were provided with an early breakfeast each day , comprising of cereals, yoghurt adorned with fresh fruit, toast, jams and peanut butter and tea and coffee. We had a brunch on return to camp after the morning activities sitting in a shady area under the trees near the kitchen area. In the evening we had pre dinner drinks around the fire and the table was moved nearer to the river for dinner.. Doug used a red spotlight to see what walked by in the river bed.


Note the elephant wandering through at the back..............








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@wilddog Thanks for the camp description, it's always nice to have an idea of what the accommodations will be like along with the animal sightings!

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  • 2 weeks later...

First Full day in Mana 30th September.


We made an early start as usual.














We then headed further south into the hinterland.


Our mission this morning would be cheetah tracking.


Having parked the vehicle we walked across the open terrain. Doug found tracks of two cheetah so we followed them. In addition I spotted fresh male lion tracks at the tree line adjacent to where we had parked.


It is always fascinating following a tracker and on occasion, we also spotted where the cheetah had changed course, and could help. Always a good feeling. This was to be quite a lengthy but fascinating walk as we crossed to the northern tree line.

There we stopped for a drink and a rest, as the heat of the day was increasing rapidly.


It was clear at this point that the two cheetah were not around or if they were they were hiding on the trees. We headed off back to the car taking a slightly different route, and again, found lion tracks.



Thanks Sue for the photograph of Doug tracking



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I remember our first morning. Wake up call at 4.30, breakfast at five and we left camp at 5.30. It was pleasantly cool, but unfortunately it didn’t take long for temperatures to start rising! 
Amanda, Sue and myself have little experience of tracking, the opportunities we had to watch and learn on this trip were enjoyable and something we have since reminisced about..


We didn’t find the cheetah, but did see a number of animals and birds from the vehicle. With such dry conditions it is surprising that they looked as good as this.




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After a lovely brunch and siesta time we went out for an evening drive. Having had considerable exercise in the morning we were not planning on any major treks through the bush.


We saw a lot of plains game and saw how the feeding programme seemed to be well received. One species I did not see this time wsa Nyala, which I have seen pretty regularly in Mana in the past.





























We returned to see the carcass which was decidedly worse for wear. The lions were not in residence and this allowed us to have a closer examination.









We then headed up to Long Pool for sundowners. The pool was definitely lower than I had previously seen and of course a few weeks later it would be almost non existent.


The far bank was covered in crocodiles and there were some on our side fairly close by













@Seniortraveller please do add any pictures and details you may have. I know you took some notes.. ;)


Edited by wilddog
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I am afraid my notes often degenerated into a simple list of animals and birds seen!
We saw our first skimmers at Long Pool and had lovely views of hovering pied kingfishers. There were several hyenas lying at one end of the pool, where normally there would have been water. I remember the hyenas, because even with Doug’s patient guidance and the use of binoculars, it took me some time to find them in the fading light.

My pictures are pretty much the same as yours, but I will include another of the pretty spectacular kudu bull. One of my favourite pictures from this trip.


Edited by Seniortraveller
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October 1st – Dogging day


I am of course a huge wilddog fan having seen my first in Selous, Tanzania with Doug when he was working there at Beho Beho. Subsequently I saw them in South Luangwa with Tony Mckeith and then regularly, again with Doug in Mana and Hwange and Kruger. 4 years ago for the first time ever we struck a blank. It was inevitable that my dog luck could not continue. But I was hopeful that this year my luck would return.


In the last year there have been huge disruptions to the pack dynamics in Mana. Firstly with the loss of Tate and subsequently her daughter, Tammy, who had moved out to cover and be alpha female in the Nyamutsi area


I am not party to the official numbers but but this has obviously had an impact on behaviours territories etc. So much so that as we arrived in Mana one of the Hwange packs, had been flown in to the Chikwenya area to boost the population to the East. This pack, the Mpinda pack, had got itself into potential trouble, twice, by moving out of the protected area of Hwanga and denning near villages and taking local livestock. PDC had twice moved them back into Hwange. The pack are now homed in a boma at Chikwenya, I understand, and are not likely to be released until next April/May in the hope that they stay in Mana. Time will tell.


On checking the local info on the ground we are advised that the local pack had just left their den with their pups and were now thought to be now be in a particular area of dense bush. The suggestion was that tourist pressure had made them move but of course they could have been entering the nomadic phase. I cannot say exactly where this was but Doug understood.


So Today's mission was to try to locate them.


We went up to an area of Jesse in the hope of approaching their new home on foot. We parked the car and armed with hats, lots of water and a camera we set off down hill and into the woodland. It was hard graft and of course the temperature as noted on Amanda’s back pack reached 38 degrees. We often had to take a detour as we heard an elephant grumbling in the bush but we persevered. Unfortunately there was absolutely no sign of the dogs at all. No track, no scat………..zilch.


Walking back up to the vehicle after about 4 hours was tough. I don't think any of my companions were overly thrilled with my dog addiction, which had put them under such pressure, but to be honest we all felt that we had achieved something personally my making it there and back, Such resilience in a group of older ladies!


One can only try and accept defeat when it comes.


Edited by wilddog
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We had a quiet drive back to camp and enjoyed another superb lunch and, for me, Zambezi beer.


We went to our tents in preparation for siesta etc and as we did so some elephants passed my tent (I was at the far end) as they headed for the river. I watched as they walked past and then went to the edge of the river bank to watch their progress. The plain was filled with animals.






I was just moving cautiously back to my tent when another group appeared.


I was stuck in the open! :o I edged my way diagonally away from them toward the next bush near my tent. They were so keen to get to the river that did not noticeably respond but they must have seen me. A few pictures as they walked past and I hid behind the bush and then from the front of my tent.















When we met up later for our drive. Doug said ‘I saw you creeping around from bush to bush’……………..No secrets there. :wacko:


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Well done getting through all that walking in that heat, and what a shame you came up empty-handed. A great adventure all the same.
It seems that the dogging lark gets harder as you get older then? 


And well done hiding in the bushes - less well done not spotting the other group in time, but it happens I guess? I like the tale - especially Doug having his eye on you.


So you met Doug in Tanzania? At Beho Beho of all places. That was a surprise. And there it all began! Funnily enough I was idly wondering the other day (on the packed and rather long train journey home) when the first recorded sighting of Doug by a Safaritalk regular would have been, Might that be it? The origin story? :D

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13 minutes ago, pault said:

So you met Doug in Tanzania? At Beho Beho of all places. That was a surprise. And there it all began! Funnily enough I was idly wondering the other day (on the packed and rather long train journey home) when the first recorded sighting of Doug by a Safaritalk regular would have been, Might that be it? The origin story? :D


Yes, met him in 2004 when he was working out of Zim for a season or two. My First Zim trip with him was canoeing down the Zambezi into Mana in 2006 (no one there at all!) and many other trips since. So yes you can blame me. :)

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Hi @wilddog - I've finally got around to catching up with your wonderful trip report...ably assisted by your travelling companions.


I'm enjoying both the lively narrative and of course, the photographs which bring back so many happy memories. 


When did you visit in 2006....if late October, someone was there! ;) It was another very dry year  IIRC. 


Very much looking forward to the next installments!

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Hi @Whyone? Thanks for tagging along. My canoe trip was April/may 2006. When did you start visiting Mana with your friends? Many moons ago I guess. 

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Now there is a good question Lynda...certainly lots of moons!


I'm thinking 1998, but I'm going to have to check now. It was pre-digital camera (good old 35mm film) which makes that trickier than would otherwise be the case. 

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@wilddog I remember the wild dog hunt vividly. Walking through the jesse, with frequent twigs catching our clothing, or long supple ones springing back to catch the unsuspecting person behind!  As time went on and temperatures increased, our stops for water and shade became more frequent.


We came across an area that Doug described as a proper aardvark home. Uneven sandy ground with a number of entrances to the underground burrows. I have only seen an aardvark once. It was my second safari, and I didn’t really appreciate at that time, how fortunate I was. An odd fact I discovered recently....aardvark are good swimmers.


Lying amongst the shredded remains of a baobab tree, we found two pieces of ivory. According to Amanda, Doug told her that the piece she is holding weighed around two kilos and was worth about £5,000.

This reminded me of when we found the broken end of an elephant tusk pierced through the trunk of a baobab tree, in Gonarezhou. I assume this must be quite a common thing.


Before heading out again that afternoon we met for tea/coffee. Megan surprised us all by producing a plate full of chocolate eclairs, in response to a special request from Doug. I think we all thought he was joking....how can anybody produce home made eclairs in the middle of the bush!





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8 hours ago, Seniortraveller said:

Lying amongst the shredded remains of a baobab tree, we found two pieces of ivory. According to Amanda, Doug told her that the piece she is holding weighed around two kilos and was worth about £5,000.

This reminded me of when we found the broken end of an elephant tusk pierced through the trunk of a baobab tree, in Gonarezhou. I assume this must be quite a common thing.



@Seniortraveller that brings back memories - I'd forgotten about it until you raised it. I recall Ant showing us that piece in the trunk and it was just amazing to me how the elephant must have plunged its tusk into the tree to leave that piece of ivory there. 


thank you for reminding me. :)


still enjoying the dual-voice of the TR in a place i've yet to go. 

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Thanks @Seniortraveller for adding the details and photos. How could I forget the chocolate eclairs!



The afternoon drive


A bit of driving this afternoon was welcome after our marathon morning and we came across variety of game.















The feeding programme was well I evidence and I think that is why we saw this battered, old, dagga boy bedecked with oxpeckers, smashed up horns and I think a dry leaf at his lips.






We also returned to the elephant carcass where we found the vultures in the process of stripping it down to the bone. 48 hours since her death has made a good meal for so many.




We found this old lioness, who looked a bit worse for wear, resting by the side of the road. The rest of the pride must be nearby so perhaps we would see more lions tomorrow.










Edited by wilddog
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  • 2 weeks later...

"When we met up later for our drive. Doug said ‘I saw you creeping around from bush to bush’……………..No secrets there."  And now we all now.  Good thing your creeping was effective!


Your photos take me right back to Mana Pools. 



A new camp location, how exciting!  And homeade eclairs?!


If you are trying for dogs, you have to give it your best and you did!

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@wilddog - just catching up with this report ....... fabulous trip to Mana as always it appears!!!  How are the conditions at the moment at Chitake?  That was my absolute favourite part of our trip in 2016 ...... 

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@Atravelynn yes the eclairs were amazing. Megan really was a star with the catering.  I thought you might all have a laugh about me being caught out in the open with the ellies and being spotted by Doug. You could put my survival down to the excellent bush craft I have picked up from Doug over the years. :lol: But to be honest, I think they were 1. used to people around camp and 2. totally focussed on getting  a drink.


@SafariChick Glad my TR is evoking some nice memories


@madaboutcheetah Chitake was certainly 'not as we know it' . More later .  I will get there in the TR soon



Edited by wilddog
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October 2nd -Last full day in Mana


The next morning we set of with no specific plan (that I am aware of). We came across the tracks of a lion crossing the road. As we moved on there was another track…..and then another, and more. It looked as if about 8 lion had crossed the road and gone into the bush from the direction of the river, quite recently.


We parked up and set off for a walk to get south, circling around the thick bush into which the lions appeared to have gone


And there she was a lone lioness at the edge of the bush, across a gully, being watchful,. We sat down and waited. I fired off a few shots, most of which were garbage, due to the distance, my ineptitude and those damn twigs were in the way.









We watched for 10 or 15 minutes, hoping the others would appear, but she suddenly got up and set off away from us, alone.




We, too, went back the way we came and low and behold found this python with an impala kill. Some of you will remember my ‘once in life time experience’ at Porini camps last year when we watched a python consume a Tommie. Who would EVER ave believed I would get that privilege again..







This time we could clearly see how the python had killed the impala by biting on it’s throat and presumably suffocating it, just like so many other predators, I have to be honest and say I did not know they bit their prey to kill; ignorant I know but this was fascinating,


The python was starting to drag the impala deeper into bush when guess who turned up ?The lioness.


Doug said that she had obviously heard the commotion as the python grabbed impala and needed to investigate.


And then the battle ensued. The python drove the lioness off once but she returned. She lunged at the python, who thought better of it all, and grabbed the impala triumphantly, carrying it away. My sympathies were with python who had done all the work and lost his/her lunch, but at least had survived the encounter.



Edited by wilddog
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Fascinating piece of footage showing the python trying to drag away the impala, shame it lost it in the end.  Great sighting.

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1 hour ago, wilddog said:

I fired off a few shots, most of which were garbage, due to the distance, my ineptitude and those damn twigs were in the way.


Wouldn't Doug go & clear the twigs out the way?  Poor show on his part :D

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