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Ninety lions (90) and a couple of barred owls.

Bush dog

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I returned to Zimbabwe during the first half of October for 16 nights.


1 night :  Victoria Falls, Ilala Lodge

8 nights :  Hwange, Chitubu Camp

6 nights :  Matusadona, Changa Camp

1 night :  Victoria Falls, Palm River Lodge


All road transfers were carried out by Africa Travel Tours and domestic flights by Grand Air, companies that I highly recommend.


I was a bit disappointed by Ilala Lodge, where I stayed 25 years ago in 1998, mainly by their so-called top-rated restaurant.  I ordered beef fillet which turned out to be everything you could imagine but definitely not fillet. 


Regarding Chitubu Camp, information has already been given in a previous report (November 2022).  I was very happy to see Julian Brookstein again.   Busy with other professional obligations, he was only able to guide me for 2 days.  For the rest of my stay, his colleague Sibahale "Sibs" Sibanda replaced him.  Sibs is also a Zimpro guide who is just as competent and professional as Julian.  Perhaps what could set them apart is that Sibs is a little older and has more experience.  In both cases, the level of guiding once again reached a very, very high level.  They were both assisted by a young training guide, Daniel Woods.  Still regarding Zimpro guides, I had the great and pleasant surprise to meet, in Masuma, Adam Jones, young man whom I have in great esteem.  I did not expect that.  He had an appointment with Blade Bester, another young qualified guide.  I met Adam in 2016 during my first stay at Camp Hwange.  He had then just obtained his qualification as a professional guide. 


The next day, he allowed us to enter the Camp Hwange concession where he had spotted the wild dogs.  Unfortunately, these had already disappeared when we arrived.  As for leopards, once again I was unlucky.  Twice, self-drivers reported seeing one along the road, not far from the camp.  One evening when we were arriving at the end of dinner, we heard, in the camp, a jackal yapping loudly and continuously which generally signals the presence of a leopard.  In this case, it only stops when it no longer sees it.  By the time we got behind the kitchen, it had disappeared.

Like last year, I saw a lot of lions ; this time a little more, seventy, divided mainly into 5 prides on a territory going from Robins to Mandavu and Masuma via Deteema.  This time, they were seen, except for Deteema's pride, feeding on prey that they themselves had killed or not.  In fact, the drought that prevails at this time of year is worse than that of last year.  This is due to the poor rainy seasons of the last three years.  More animals, mainly elephants, die of exhaustion, which suits the lions well.  Temperatures were flirting with 40°C.

As usual, a lot of buffaloes and elephants - on the last day I saw a herd of about 75 individuals - and also sables, roans and kudus.


My first elephant and buffalo and……dinosaur (in this case also the last).



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I am so glad to be following a trip report from @Bush dog again!    Ninety lions is far beyond anything I have experienced.


Thanks Mike for your comments and sage opinions about guiding.   Funny how quickly "young beginners" transition into "eminence grise" status, isn't it?


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I stayed at Camp Chitubu for 4 nights in September. (Inspired by your trip report last year).

Was guided by Julian, assisted by Daniel "Woodie" Woods. I met Sibs briefly when he picked me up at the airstrip and took me to the Camp. 

Looking forward to rest of the report.



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Thanks a lot, Nathan, for your kind comment.

Regarding your thoughts about guiding, I suppose that's how it is, in all discipline, when you are gifted.



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Julian told me that he guided you in September and that you enjoyed it, also you had good sightings.

Looking forward to your report.

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To start the Hwange chapter, something soft.  In some cases, the sequel will undoubtedly be less so.


We are at Masuma.


Reflections of waterbucks.  They lick the ground for mineral salts.












Young waterbuck.




Somewhat rebellious and intrepid baby elephant not following his mother closely, which could prove to be dangerous.













This one on the other hand is much more cautious.




I saw a crocodile catch an impala and immediately dive below the surface.  It happened so quickly that I didn't have time to take a single photo.  Likewise, I was unable to photograph a honeybadger crossing the road to Shumba Pan.

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Arriving in the Robins area, we were warned, by an HBC guide, of the presence of lions at Dolilo Pan which is located opposite their camp.  Hwange Bush Camp (HBC) is owned by Dave Carson and run by Spike Williamson, two legends in the world of professional guides.  It is a seasonal camp closed during the rainy season.  It is in fact dismantled at the beginning and rebuilt at the end, not always at the same place. The other camps in the region, Robins Camp (Machaba Safaris) and Nantwich (Hideways) are also closed during this period.  The main reason is that a significant part of the region is made up of clay-cotton soil (in the dry season almost as hard as concrete) which in the rainy season becomes extremely muddy.  Due to its consistency when you get stuck in it, it is almost impossible to get out.  Some of their vehicles have 4 rows of 3 seats.  It is not uncommon to see them filled, in this case by 12 people.  I even saw one with 13 people.


When we arrived, the dominant male was leaving the kill (an adult male kudu), which they had done during the night, to find a place likely to shelter it from the sun.  Julian decided to start by following it for a few hundred meters, until it found a spot in the shade that suited it.









Then we went back to the kill.  Two lionesses had already moved away nearby to also protect itselves from the sun.  Three others were still busy feeding.









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They have clearly eaten well! That male is like a balloon!

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Indeed, it's really full but that's normal, he took the lion's share.

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A trio of elephants near Masuma.










Elephants at Mafa's Pan, a bulls meeting place.  Mafa's Pan is located not far from the main road on the Lukosi loop.










This lioness was in Mandavu.  It had been there for several days already.  The cause of its condition was not known.  We went back the next day but it was no longer there.  Did it feel better or did it go find a more discreet place to die peacefully?  No one will ever know.



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Enjoying this @Bush dog, great elephant pictures.

Oh, but that lion is a sad sight, such a shame.


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Yesterday, almost 3 weeks after returning from Africa, I discovered a small scorpion in my garage.  I immediately took a photo of it.  My wife then advised me to send a message to Julian asking if he could identify it.  The response was very quick informing me that it was an eastern nomad scorpion (hottentotta trilineatus), even adding a nasty one.  So I brought this specimen back in my luggage.  If you are interested in more details and photos concerning it, here is the internet address to consult.



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After this interlude, let us continue the report.


Near Masuma, coming from Mandavu, there is a viewpoint which offers a superb view which extends far into the bush, below the road.  This space is very popular with giraffes.  It is not uncommon to see up to 20 individuals together, feeding on vegetation.  Despite the proximity to the pan in Masuma, I don't think I've ever seen giraffes there.  Probably because the place is very frequented by lions.










From this point of view, another day, Sibs and Daniel briefly saw lions in the distance.  As we got closer to Masuma, there was an elephant dead of unknown reason but certainly not from the claws of the lions.  This one was not far from the road in a place that was difficult to access.  A flock of vultures and other scavengers were already there but unable to feed on it.  They were reduced to waiting for the arrival of lions or lappet-faced vultures, the only ones capable of disemboweling the carcass.  We had hoped that the lions, seen in the distance, would pick up the scent of the dead animal.  Coming back at the end of the game drive, nothing had changed.




On the Camp Hwange concession, we missed the wild dogs but not the Super Models.  This name was given, to these 2 superb lionesses, by Julian almost 10 years ago.  They must be  almost 12 years old but still seemed in great shape.  For my part, I saw them, for the first time, 7 years ago.  They were accompanied by 4 of their offspring.















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Great stuff @Bush dog, although that female lion is quite sad. My wife is always insistent that we need to keep our bags closed while in Africa, I have always thought that's overkill but your scorpion makes me rethink that idea! 

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Thanks for your comments!


It must be admitted that this type of incident is the exception.  This is the first time in 30 years of safaris that this has happened to me.  However, 25 years ago, someone who was in our camp in Botswana experienced a similar adventure.  It was a young lady who, while putting on her pants in the morning, was stung by a scorpion.  There was panic until the manager reassured her, in this case, that the sting was harmless.  However, without getting into any form of paranoia, shake your clothes before putting them on, as well as your shoes.

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@Bush dogwe found a scorpion in our tent at Tarangire Safari Lodge back in 2016, it really blended into the color of the canvas and we were quite lucky to not step on it. So we're always pretty careful since then!  In case you're wondering, if you spray a scorpion with enough of the in-room insect spray it will kill them... ;)

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   Your report worth the wait, Mike.


   Oh dear, though, to 12 people to a vehicle! 


   And oh dear to the sick lioness.  I doubt she suffered much longer; let's hope not.


   And your story about the scorpion and its survival for so long after getting into your luggage explains why Australia's import laws are so tough.  We couldn't even bring a LBR feather in. But a small scorpion hidden in a bag would be hard to detect. I don't think they train airport sniffer dogs to smell scorpions  :D

Edited by John M.
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About the insect spray,  I used it to kill this one.  I do not not like to get rid of living creatures except if it's necessary but in this case, with my grand children coming next week-end, it was.


I would also add, from my experience, that you must be particularly attentive when the first rains appear.  It seems that this brings them out of their hiding places.

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In the morning of the first day of my stay, we headed towards Masuma.  We had just passed Mandavu, for those who know, where the road is very rocky and rises then suddenly descends, when we saw a young dead elephant, lying on the side of the road.  There were no predators in sight.  It was more than likely dead from exhaustion.  We approached and stopped next to the unfortunate animal.  It was then that I noticed that it was still alive.  It didn't move but you could see its chest rising at a slow pace with its breathing.  Its mother was a hundred meters away in the mopanes, looking totally disinterested as if it had already understood that the outcome could only be fatal.  The agony could still last for hours until the lions found it.  We knew these were in the area.  They had been seen the day before but on the other side of the top of the road.  It was therefore difficult for them to pick the scent of the dying animal.  It should also be noted that its tail and part of its trunk were missing, probably due to a confrontation with hyenas or perhaps even with lionesses.  It probably got out of it thanks to its mother's protection.  In these conditions, the fact of having had enormous difficulty in feeding only accelerated its exhaustion.  We came back at the end of the day.  It was still alive and intact.  The next day, apart from the fact that it was no longer alive, nothing had changed. 




It was only two days later, early in the morning, that we found one of the 4 males from the Mandavu pride very busy feasting on the young elephant.





















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Oh dear, the eyes/facial expression of the dying lioness touches the soul.

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@Miss Biscuit


Thank you for your comment


I would like to point out that there was no sign that this lioness was in agony, although I must admit that it was in a deplorable state of health.  If it had been, I think that there would have already been scavengers around.  However, there were none.  The proof is that the next day, it was no longer there and there were still no scavengers in the area.  But maybe it had the strength to go to another more remote place to die or maybe it felt better.  We don't always imagine the resilience that animals have in front of illness or serious injury.

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On 11/2/2023 at 9:56 AM, Bush dog said:

Some of their vehicles have 4 rows of 3 seats.  It is not uncommon to see them filled, in this case by 12 people.  I even saw one with 13 people.

@Bush dogreally enjoying your report, particularly as we are considering this area for September 2024. Was very relieved to find out that our choice of  Hwange Bush Camp has vehicles that accommodate only six people!

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@SeniortravellerThanks a lot for your comment!

HBC is a fine camp and I consider its manager, Spike Williamson, as one of the 5 top guides in Zimbabwe.  

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