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Introduction  :    When I prepare a safari trip I will always look for remoteness and at the same time it has obviously been in the back of my mind to experience a personalized safari from a

IV . A memorable morning at the den :   It was a crisp winter morning , that 7 th of July , and we left before sunrise because at breakfast Nick insisted we should arrive at the latest at 7.

II . The preparation , the anxious anticipation and finally taking off :   Before Covid- 19 our safari planning started always more than a year before travelling and was finalized 10 to 12 m

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Enjoying all of this report, but it is Chitake that I am really waiting for!  Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, it evokes so many wonderful memories in this ‘ safariless’ time.

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Thanks @SeniortravellerI agree with you that Chitake is an incredible and beautiful place not for the faint hearted though as you will discover in the next episode ! 

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Waiting for the next part  another video my son Willem made when we were walking with elephants and the famous Boswell 


And last but not least the mad Impi in musth ! 




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XI . Lions , Buffalo Dust and Baobas : 24 mad hours at Chitake Springs :

I have always been surprised by the distinction travel guide books and most safarioperators make between trips for first time travellers ( the northern Tanzanian circuit for instance ) and returning safari lovers like many people on this forum ; for me places like Ruaha NP and the Kafue can be as rewarding for first timers than the Mara or Kruger NP ; at the same time diversity again in my opinion can be more interesting than simply counting the numbers.

I will make an exception though for camping in the southern part of Mana Pools close to Chitake Springs because it has to be said that I wouldn’t advise staying in this part to anybody that has never been on safari : not because it is more basic camping but because it is potentially dangerous with very difficult terrain and thick bush and at night lions , elephants and hyenas are all over the place.

Mind you , I never felt unsafe with a guide like Nick but in Chitake 2 very close to our camp Gary and Rachel , we would meet again in Kavinga Camp later , were literally surrounded by lions and stayed in their car for the whole night instead of their tent !

Compared to what I heard from the guys at Musekese about a first timer couple who swore never to go on safari again when two mating lions were in ( part of ) that very comfortable camp in the summer of 2019 this is in another league.


We couldn't stop admiring the landscape with the dry Chitake River against the backdrop of the "other" Zambezi escarpment when Nick suddenly stopped and said " lions over there" :








At first we thought there were only seven or eight at most but then we realised they were everywhere be it sometimes hidden in the bush and difficult to spot : we agreed on 24 but there might have been a few more cubs we didn't see .
























By day this all looks quite peaceful but you can imagine what our Harare couple must have felt at night ! By that time  the camp material had arrived with the Murray family but a first attempt to put up camp was abandoned because to dangerous in that sort of undergrowth .


So we moved a bit further very close to the riverbed and had a lovely lunch in the Chitake River whilst the crew set up camp.










After tea we drove to  "Baobab Hill" at Chitake, (also known as the 12 Apostles), situated on a hill on the other side of the dry riverbed :












After admiring this  magical place we decided to go see those lions again now with perfect light and we saw some intimate scenes and even some birds : 






























We left them at dusk when they started to move and hunt  but it was of course impossible to follow them in the thick bush so we returned to camp and had dinner ; I didn't sleep well that night : it was the first night in a new camp of course but there were hyenas close to our tent and elephants and lions around .

The morning of the 12th of July we heard from Jed that Italy won the European Football Championship ( I lost my interest since we left on safari and Belgium was beaten by that team ) and went very early to the springs :


After a short lion meeting we took our positions , not easy I can tell you on the steep slopes and moreover difficult to estimate on which side the buffalo would come down : 








Looking at a few vultures in the sky first and then a strange cloud like an UFO formed in the distance before it began :




















Nick told me before it started : be sure to get the dust in your pictures and that's what I tried !










And slowly some started to climb the hill again ... more dust forming .




Before the pace went up again :






Things calmed down .






Before a second wave arrived from the left with less dust .






But after a while the whole herd was gone and Nick proposed to walk to camp first through a bit of mud but then sand al the way ; the ladies took the car 















Lunch was already waiting for us :) and we would be returning later to the Springs ....

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I very much enjoyed the video of the elephants, good that Willem filmed for so long, one can really sense how exiting it must have been to be that close to the group with one being more or less behind you.

Mana Pools has a very special magic from what I have seen so far in your TR.

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After reading this, I think, I have to go to Mana Pools in the future ( I was in Zim in 2007, but decided to go to Hwange instead. I brought my 3-year old son with me, and people kept telling me that Mana was to wild and dangerous for a kid in that age).  I think they were right;). But i sure does look like a amazing trip, and 24 lions, that is a big pride :)

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10 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

After admiring this  magical place we decided to go see those lions again now with perfect light and we saw some intimate scenes and even some birds : 






Bronze-winged Coursers in daytime - good show!




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@BRACQUENE- Thank you for that!!! Brings back fond memories of Chitake when we camped there a few years ago! 

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Wow what a trip so far!

Elephants, dogs by the den, dogs hunting, lions, leopard, cheetahs, lions v hyenas, elephants eating from your salad bowl.  Who held the bowl steady for the elephant? 

Great photos & videos

You have added another place to our long list of places we would like to visit that will never be completed.

You also sold us the 747-800 & we have just booked our 1st ever business class flight on one to Johannesburg.




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On 8/9/2021 at 9:55 PM, BRACQUENE said:

VI.Day three at Little Vundu - Walking with elephants and meeting lions in the afternoon :






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finally I'm all caught up. gosh i held  my breath watching that male lion chase the hyena and felt that intense pain searing through that hyena when the male caught him. it looked like the hardy hyena survived. 


looking forward to more intense encounters....  

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XII. The last day with the Murray Family :


After tea the whole family joined us for the afternoon drive and we went for the last time to see the 12 Apostles with that fantastic view towards the Escarpment ; the "strictly no camping" sign on one of the trees you saw previously , has its reasons by the way : until 10 years ago this was the Chitake 2 campsite but despite the view it was never so popular as Chitake 1 because being on top of the hill it was exposed to the weather conditions at times and moreover it was difficult to see the animals coming to drink in the dry season ; also a bee hive with fairly aggressive inhabitants in one of the Baobas was sometimes a nuisance to campers and finally the Chitake lion pride we all know by now was frequently in that area!

Late 2010 at this campsite Pete Evershead , a 59 year old businessman camping with a group of friends from Bulawayo was killed by the local lion pride whilst showering just before dark in the bush 50 meters from camp ; the camp was moved in 2012 to its actual position but even there as we have seen extreme caution is needed.




















Then we went to the Springs for the third time with the beautiful late afternoon light as a bonus  to see a lonely impala , some Cape Parrots and Ellies ( and a bit of dust ) coming for a last drink whilst we had a sundowner :






























For the last night we had a lovely Braai barbecue in the dry Chitake River but Nick was constantly looking with the spotlights to the other side because Elephants were very close and remember our lion pride was in Chitake 2 not far away either:o


The morning of the 13 th of July Nick proposed a fourth and final visit to the Springs before we would be met at Nyakasikana Gate by someone of Kavinga Safari Camp ; we met some early birds on our way and baboons on arrival but then came the third Buffalo Run ; we expected them to come down from the right and took our positions there but after a long hesitation they came from the left so we mist the dust in the descent but had some when they went away up the hill after drinking.

























Then it was time to say goodbye to Nick , Des, Jed and Tait and it was quite an emotional moment after eight days and seven nights having been part of their privacy in a way we'll probably never experience again : for me this was without any doubt a week I will always look back to as the most intense until now on African soil not only because of what we saw but the way Nick made it happen :)




Blade , a young 23 year old guide , was waiting for us and so was Kavinga ....


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I always love logging in to see there is an update! 

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pedro maia

Wow @BRACQUENE, amazing, surely not for the faint hearted, I think if I would survive the lions and ellies, etc my wife would kill me after returning home :D.



Edited by pedro maia
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On 7/19/2021 at 1:24 PM, BRACQUENE said:


On 7/19/2021 at 1:24 PM, BRACQUENE said:


What a fabulous safari - Mana Pools and Nick Murray - doesn't get much better than that!


You might enjoy this talk Nick Murray did for Leadership for Conservation in Africa:

























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Thanks@Toxicand I had the advantage of having my wife beside me @pedro maia:lol: ; So happy you send us the link to that video and the LCA talks @RC88COR and your appreciation of this TR  : it is about time to have a look at your Zakouma NP TR by the way !

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XIII. At the waterhole in Kavinga Safari Camp : 


When we proposed Kavinga to Tony for our last three nights , after our safari became an exclusive Mana Pools adventure , one of the main reasons to go there apart from the fact that it was close to Chitake Springs and the only camp in that area was without undoubtedly their hide ; it is termite mound shaped and gives you a 180 degrees view of the waterhole from elephant-foot level.




The road to Kavinga was very scenic and we arrived in camp with Blade just before lunchtime ; Kavinga is in a private reserve on the southern boundary of the park , a full 42km from the Zambezi and has 7 comfortable raised tents, built on the edge of the cliff, facing east, with a view of the rising sun above the magnificent Zambezi Valley floor and overlooking the Ruckomechi River.  

For the moment we were alone and met some of the co-owners of the Camp who left the day after and members of the staff ; Marc an experienced guide would be with us all the time and was in fact still assisting Blade in the last months of his training ; the friendly Shannon was also a trainee and at the same time took good care of us at lunch :)












A view from the terrace with two lions in the shade of a tree we would be looking for in the afternoon 


After lunch instead of going to have a rest I knew were to go :rolleyes:


































































Then it was time for our first drive but you will have to be patient for that one as I am leaving soon for a destination ( not Africa) that could be useful in my favorite game on this forum :lol: ...


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Very good choice, a camp with a waterhole hide. beautiful pictures!

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Gosh that lion pride has increased its numbers in the last 2 years. a true force to be reckoned with. Chitake is seriously wild...


looking forward to your Kavings section. we were lucky to do a stop off there for a few hours before flying  out and enjoyed it. That waterhole hide is quite something and you got some great shots, most notably that elephant that had spotted your presence and the little one rolling around.



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Stunning photos of the waterhole, especially love that baby elephant living his best life in the mud!

Edited by Toxic
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Thank you @BRACQUENEand Willem for sharing the amazing images and videos of your Mana adventure. I'm looking forward to more....

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On 8/25/2021 at 7:49 AM, BRACQUENE said:

After lunch instead of going to have a rest I knew were to go


You did indeed!    I love the photo of the damp baby elephant and the White-crested Helmetshrike is a good one.

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That's a grand looking Baobab behind the two lions in that view from the terrace  and I'm captured by that photo of the five elephants in file beside the waterhole with the backdrop of a distant range, blue sky and drifting white clouds.

Loving your report @BRACQUENE

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