Jump to content

Mana Pools, Zimbabwe


white stork
 Share

Recommended Posts

Was fortunate enough to do a 5 night self-drive camping safari to Mana Pools last week. A few stories from there and for those who are interested.

 

We camped at BBC camp which is wonderful – between Gwaya and Mucheni. We had a great view of the river and a resident hippo pod and also a perfectly located tree for setting up a camp shower right by the river to watch the hippos whilst showering!

 

The park is looking great with loads of young animals around, the amount of young impala, waterbuck, zebra and eland we saw was amazing. As we entered the park we saw two big eland bulls and a huge bull elephant – almost all the eles we saw were big bulls with the breeding herds still seemingly further back in the valley.

 

On our first morning game drive we had a fantastic sighting of a pride of 13 lion sat on an ant-hill not more than 10 metres from us. We were so happy to see the lions that we took 5 minutes to notice the 5 hyena sat 40 metres from them and at who the lions were staring! There must have been some kind of dispute during the night but we obviously caught the tail-end of it as it was now a stand-off. There was no evidence of a kill anywhere. Eventually the 13 lions got up and moved off, right past the car, and soon after the hyenas left in the opposite direction. Certainly one of the best lion sightings I’ve seen. And of course this being Zimbabwe we didn’t have to share it with anybody!

In the afternoon we saw the standard Mana fare of big elephants, a few old daga boys, plenty of waterbuck, zebra, eland and impala everywhere of course. Birding was reasonable throughout the 5 days and we saw around 100 species in total with a couple of new species for me: Western Banded Snake-Eagle and Temminck’s Courser.

 

Our second day was notable for a sighting of a lioness and 4 cubs whilst out walking in the park. We had gone for an afternoon walk from our campsite towards Mucheni and after about a kilometre saw the lioness with 4 6 month old cubs about 80 metres from us moving away from our direction to a thicket. We obviously had disturbed her so we let her be. But we heard other lions calling in the distance, probably the rest of the Mucheni pride, so as we were minus a guide and any kind of defence (except a couple pairs of binoculars and a tripod) we thought it best to retire back to camp. For those who are unaware in Mana you can go walking whenever and wherever you please, it’s at your own risk, which is quite amazing given the density of game there! Upon our return to camp we found lion tracks all over our campsite so sat down with a few beers to watch the sunset and hear them calling closeby.

 

The remaining days were also brilliant. We saw the 13 strong lion pride again one afternoon and sat and watched them for a few hours. By the time it was time to go home there were 5 vehicles around us, everyone was extremely well behaved, quiet and respectful, and a few words were exchanged at how surprised everyone was to see 5 vehicles together in a Zim National Park! The lions were extremely close to Nyamepi camp (the main camp in Mana) so that maybe explained it! We walked up to a couple of huge bull eles feeding in the pools and watched them, they were very relaxed and we got some great photos from 15 metres maximum. We saw the biggest herd of eland I’ve ever seen – well over 50 with at least 20 young clearly born during the rains. There were many hyena around including one who took a liking to our pots and pans one night! We saw a side-striped jackal sitting happily on his haunches right by the car. Our most comical sighting was a marabou stork trying, and failing, to swallow a huge catfish that it had caught. In the evenings we saw a few big bull eles swim across the river from Zambia and a big buffalo bull swim across from Zim to start grazing on the islands that are forming in the middle of the river. Mana usually has a few adrenaline moments and mine was stepping on a 3 metre black mamba as I went to take a shower, having my life flash before my eyes, before realising that the snake was already dead! A very lucky escape. Picture attached – enormous thing! And then, magically, on our last morning, we saw a cheetah sat on an ant-hill on zebra vlei. Our comments went something like this - "there's something on that ant-hill, looks like a cat, probably a lion", get the binocluars out, "no it's got spots, maybe a young leopard, holy *&^% wait a minute that's a cheetah!" Cheetah in the Zambezi valley are extremely rare so this was very exciting. A fitting way to round off our trip! We tried to approach it on foot but it was nervous and ran off unfortunately!

 

No leopards or wild dog but I’ll be back in September which judging from early June will be spectacular so maybe then! If anybody had any doubts about going to Zim you can now buy fuel at the pumps everywhere, food is readily available and the game sightings are fantastic!

post-5300-1244637421_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... for those who are interested.

Oh there are plenty who are. Now, more photos?

 

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

White stork,

 

What a great little trip. That's the only way to see a black mamba! How lucky to be able to do a five day self drive. An

 

inter-continental flight comes between me and a quickey! I haven't been to Zimbabwe for ten years, and I've had

 

some great safaris there, but I won't go back until certain things improve. You had some wonderful sightings, I shall be

 

looking forward to seeing some more photos.

 

 

Jan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I put some snaps up Matt, they are in the gallery. cheers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A cheetah in Mana Pools! Now that is exciting. Do you think they are moving in from somewhere? I cannot imagine your terror when you stepped on the black mamba. Wonder how it died. Thanks for the photo. The first of more I hope.

 

Even without the rare cheetah sighting and the snake incident, you had a fantastic and exciting trip.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the nice trip report, sounds like a good one.

 

You could create a nice story to go along with that pic about the life & death struggle you had with that Mamba which, fortunately, ended with you surviving the incident at the expense of the Mamba...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a great trip you had. I am so glad that things are starting to improve in Zim, it is such good news. Lets hope it keeps going.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A thoroughly enjoyable read. A cheetah in Mana! You are blessed. Blessed twice when I think about the mamba.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's it - I'm definitely up for another visit to mana on our next trip!

 

Great report. Mrs P and I stayed at BBC camp for the ecilips survey back in 2000. It's a lovely spot. I nearly feinted reading about the mamba, though. Great news about the big pride of lion and all the other game.'

 

Are you going to be at the Hwange Game Count this year? Oct 3-5.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, that was a cheetah. Great assortment of shots. The jackal looks young.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tony, wish I could be at Hwange this year but sadly it hasn't worked out. Maybe next year! I've got South Luangwa, Chobe, Hluhluwe, Matusadona and a return trip to Mana to look forward to in the next 3 months though so that will keep me busy!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lovely, report. Thank You!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tony, wish I could be at Hwange this year but sadly it hasn't worked out. Maybe next year! I've got South Luangwa, Chobe, Hluhluwe, Matusadona and a return trip to Mana to look forward to in the next 3 months though so that will keep me busy!

 

 

Shame, WS - I'll count come ellies for you. Sounds like you're going to be pleasantly busy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy