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August 2012 - Zimbabwe & Botswana Trip Report


ChristyDes
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Our trip price included all in-Africa commercial, bush flights between camps é countries, camp accommodations, meals, transfers and all activities, game viewing and excursions. We booked our trip with Jeanie Fundora at Travel Beyond and use did a magnificent job organizing everything from beginning to end for us - our group was comprised of my 13 year old daughter and myself (43 year old mom). This was my daughter's 2nd safari and my 3rd. Please note - This trip report was actually an email response to a fellow trip advisor reader who emailed me for details about our trip, our experience and who organized it for us.

 

This is what our itinerary looked like.

 

-Arrive Jo'burg - overnight at Intercontinental Hotel - you literally walk out the international arrivals area and the hotel is right there. Excellent hotel, clean, comfy and the restaurant food is excellent. The hotel concierge was kind also, they booked us a private guide to spend the afternoon visiting Soweto. Our guide was professional and very knowledgeable, we had a fabulous experience and saw a lot.

-Jo'burg to Harare commercial flight - hotel porter literally walked our bags all the way to the check-in desk to ensure we didn't get lost. I loved it!

-Bush flight from Harare to Ruckomechi Camp at Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

-3 nts. at Ruckomechi Camp

-Bush flight from Ruckomechi Camp to Little Makalolo Camp in Hwange Nat'l Park, Zimbabwe

-3 nts. at Little Makalolo Camp

-Bush flight from Little Makalolo Camp to Victoria Falls airport where we were greeted and picked up by a rep. from The Elephant Camp

-3 nts. at The Elephant Camp (this place was a fabulous break after being in the bush, we did a lot of different activities here)

-Bush flight from Victoria Falls to Kasane airport (20minute flight) and I recommend flying - we met some other guests who were being driven to Kasane airport and it is a 2 hr drive and very long and uncomfortable, when we crossed paths with them at Kasane, they were exhausted). In Kasane, we cleared Botswana customs.

-Bush flight from Kasane airport to Little Vumbura Camp, northern Okavango Delta, Botswana

-2 nts. at Little Vumbura Camp

-Bush flight from Little Vumbura Camp to Chitabe Lediba Camp in southern Okavango Delta, Botswana

-2 nts. at Chitabe Lediba Camp

-Bush flight from Chitabe Lediba Camp to Maun, Botswana airport

-Commercial flight from Maun to Jo'burg where we cleared customs then re-checked in for our international flight home.

 

You can specify or book a "private guide" at each camp which ensures that you will be the only ones in your vehicle and I think it costs extra. We did not request private guide for this trip (other trips we have or our agent Jeanie has done it as a VIP upgrade for booking multiple trips) but I can't remember if we've ever paid extra or not. On this trip we not only met people from all around the world at each camp, but each camp your "car mates" as they're called are usually whoever arrives the same day as you or a day before or after. Some camps my daughter and I had our vehicle and guide all to ourselves and some camps we shared with 2 other people. When you stay at Wilderness Safaris "CLASSIC CAMPS" they only ever put a maximum of 4 people in the car UNLESS your group is 6, then all 6 of your group will ride in 1 vehicle together unless you request otherwise when you book the trip. If you stay in lower category camps called adventure camps, then those camps put the maximum number of people in a vehicle which is 7. So I recommend sticking with classic camps.

 

During all of our bush flights in Botswana, we flew low and bumpy, so we could view the beautiful topography of the Okavango Delta. There are NO words to describe how beautiful the delta is from the air, you have to see it to truly appreciate its' beauty!

When traveling to Africa, I recommend picking camps based on the type of wildlife you want to see. That is the most important factor when organizing a safari. All Wilderness classic camps are fabulous so I prefer to concentrate on what wildlife I want to see and choose my camps based on that.

 

The only exception to this rule is that if you want to see Rhino in Botswana you have to go to Mombo camp which is a PREMIER camp not classic meaning it is like a Ritz-Carlton bush experience and is expensive, but it's the only place to see Rhino in Botswana (that's for our next trip) - heard this from a number of sources.

 

If you want to see wild dog, we saw a pack of 25+ on the hunt at Little Vumbura in August which is early to see them there, because they den until end of August in neighboring concession so viewing them is typically best there in September onwards, we felt very fortunate that they came out early. At Little Vumbura and Chitabe Lediba we saw lots of predators on the hunt, with their kills and much more. At Little Vumbura we saw many hyena dens with young pups of varying ages.

All of the guides we had along the way were very educational and knowledgeable and they were good trackers too.

 

In Zimbabwe, at Mana Pools Ruckomechi camp our guide Darmish was very educational and took us out tracking in addition to just traditional game viewing and we found wildlife based on what he taught us about tracking. We love Ruckamechi camp because the elephants are in camp all of the time, they come right up to your tent and so there are photo ops all of the time in camp. Because the camp sits along the Zambezi River, you see lots of Hippo in and out of the water, waterbuck, impala. Baboons and vervet monkeys are everywhere in and around camp also. At this camp you can also do water activities and walking safaris. I recommend doing a morning walking safari, the landscape is colorful and absolutely amazing and the game viewing was excellent. Meals, tea and sundowners were always fabulous.

 

At Little Makalolo (or Little Mak as it's nicknamed) - our guide Honest is the son of one of Zimbabwe's most famous guides and trackers and he is following in his father's footsteps. We did all game drives here, but you can also do a walking safari. We saw lots of animals and in big numbers too. On night drives we saw animals we had never seen before like Serval, Civet, Genet, Bush Babies, Bat-eared Fox and various owls - awesome! The staff at this camp really won our hearts too, Tracy and V are just so welcoming and made us always feel like friends at camp and not just tourists. They made a birthday cake and sang to my daughter - one of the guides Bully sang extra songs for all of us afterwards and it was fabulous. They also organized a bush bbq lunch out at the hide (the camp watering hole) and that was truly a special experience. The hide - yes this is one camp that has a watering hole right in front of camp where the animals are coming and going all day long. We went out to sit in the hide 2 days during the siesta time, you go out for an hour at a time with an armed guide and book it directly with your guide the morning of the day you want to go. Both my daughter and I loved it - we had so many up close moments especially with elephants and just watching the behavior of the animals at the water so close is special. Meals, tea and sundowners were always fabulous.

 

At The Elephant Camp which is just outside of Vic Falls town, we did a morning elephant back safari there with Wild Horizons - it's very personalized and educational on top of also being fun. We did a horseback riding safari(2hrs) at a local ranch and saw lots of wildlife. We had our driver drop us off at the Falls and we spent an afternoon visiting them independently - you get dropped off at the entry to the park, pay $30 per person entry fee and then it usually takes about 2hrs to walk the trail and for an additional $1 you can get a map at the entry. The Elephant Camp manager Jonathon organized for us to walk the resident cheetah Sylvester one afternoon with his caretakers Ed and Gift - this is not a commercial activity, it's something they typically offer guests to do in the morning in order to raise cheetah conservation awareness in hopes of receiving donations to continue their efforts, so we were the first to do an afternoon walk and my daughter being an animal lover was in heaven. The 2 hr. walk was very interactive and educational and our photos with Sylvester up close and personal will remain a highlight of our stay there. Also we were truly glad to have chosen the Elephant Camp over staying in town. This place really preserves the "being in the bush feel" but you have all the creature comforts and a spectacular view. The managers at camp are always available and whenever you need to go somewhere there is always a car and driver ready. They will also wait for you if needed. Our driver took us to a grocery store, we like to visit one in every country we go to for local products to bring home - and for Chloe to look for Nutella :-). All meals are also included here which was nice so we didn't have to think about where to eat. And the food was excellent - lunches being our favorite.

 

Little Vumbura Camp - We wish we would have stayed longer here and recommend that if you have a choice to stay at least 3 nts and if you can afford it stay 4 nts. This is a small camp like the others, but what makes it so incredibly special, wonderful and different is that it is situated on an island and you take a small motor boat to and from the island for game drives. There is also a nice variety of water activities offered here in addition to game drives, for example Mokoro outings. And the game drives are out of this world. Ask to have Savara as guide, he will make your game viewing experience so memorable. No tree was too big for us to drive off road and he made sure we saw and stayed with the wild dogs while they hunted. If he's not available ask for Rain. When we first met Savara, we explained that this was not our 1st safari and that we were interested in some very specific types of experiences and gave him a short laundry list of animals we were hoping to see. So keeping our expectations low and hopes high, we saw it all, but cheetah. Savara delivered an amazing and memorable game viewing experience during our entire stay here. Every game drive was not just "viewing" animals but rather there was "action" - lions and cubs feeding on fresh kill, mama hyenas babysitting multiple litters, leopard patrolling his territory and much more. It was the most interactive game viewing experience of our trip. We participated in a boma dinner fiesta here where the camp staff sings traditional songs and then dinner is an African bbq. They also organized a champagne sundowner out near our leopard sighting - great time!!!

 

Chitabe Lediba was our last camp of the trip and yes it was very luxurious, seemed more like a premier camp than a classic camp. Game viewing here is excellent too. Lots of predators and we actually found a dead giraffe that had died just minutes before we found it. It was a very sad experience, but it died of old age so it was a natural part of the cycle of life. What it meant though is that there would be lots of action here over the next few days and we were right. The next morning Bateleur eagles were eating the eyes and a hyena had begun feasting on the inside abdominal area. As the carcass began to decompose the odor traveled and in the night we heard the lions roaring all night long and well into the morning. They had found the giraffe and were feeding on it. When done they moved aside for a nap and in came the jackal for a taste. It was awesome to witness. We also saw a female leopard with her impala kill which she fed on for days, we witnessed her feeding on it, then hiding it, then napping. We followed the Chitabe pride of lions while they hunted. We also saw 3 other leopards here 2 different ones on the hunt and 1 in a tree napping on our way to the airstrip. We also witnessed a baboon fight - they were fighting over a female, and then we saw who won, as he strolled off with his girl afterwards. Meals, tea and sundowners were always fabulous. We also had the good fortune of meeting wildlife photographer Grant Atkinson here, he was here as a guide for a private family safari. Being avid amateur photographers, my daughter and I were thrilled to have met him!! One important note is that Chitabe Lediba has lost its' resident wild dog pack for now. There was once a pack of 31, but it split up and then the remaining pack lost its' alpha female - killed by lion, so there were then only 10 left, and now there are currently only 4 dogs left, no one knows what happened to the other 6. The remaining 4 have not been seen for a couple of months.

 

All the camps were great experiences, all were very different from each other, yet all were very typical classic camps except chitabe lediba which seemed more like a premier camp. Classic is excellent for us cause this style of camp really preserves the being in the bush feeling, the eco-friendly environment and the sense of being one with mother nature without over doing the "luxury" type feeling which is what we prefer.

 

Here is a small BEST of list we made to give you an idea of what we especially liked- This list excludes The Elephant Camp in Victoria Falls simply because we did not have guides or do any game drives here. Elephant Camp stay was to visit and experience different activities from what one experiences in the "bush".

 

BEST game viewing experience - Little Vumbura with guide Savara

BEST (our favorite) camp - Little Vumbura - loved it being on an island, so different from the others, 2nd place Little Makalolo - loved the ambiance and going to the hide, plus chatting with Honest and Tracy.

BEST camp staff - Little Makalolo - they are fun, social and always present and really have a sense of fun ! Plus the bush BBQ was very special. Loved Kay at Little Vumbura - always there for us!

BEST experience of animals in camp - Ruckomechi cause we loved how the elephants were always there around camp and our tents.

BEST food - Little Vumbura, excellent variety and lots of veggies all of the type, creative cooking.

BEST breakfast experience - Little Makalolo, nothing beats breakfast by the campfire when it's below freezing! LoL

BEST flights - from Kasane to Kihwei airstrip and onto Vumbura and flight to Chitabe and from Chitabe to Maun, all flying low and bumpy over the delta for exceptional views of the landscape and larger wildlife- spectacular!

BEST managers - Tracy and V at Little Makalolo

Now our ranking of our guides -

1. Savara at little Vumbura

2. Darmish at Ruckomechi and Honest at Little Makalolo tied

3. Gordon at Chitabe Lediba

 

Additional Information based on a question asked to me about comparing our ZIM experience to our BOT experience -

Hi, Thanks for your nice comments about my trip report. I'm not sure it's possible to compare Botswana to Zimbabwe. Might be like trying to compare apples to oranges. Each was so very different from the other - from the terrain, game viewing, camps and even hospitality of the people.

 

The wildlife in Zimbabwe seemed "wild" - the animals did not seem at all habituated to the presence of man or vehicle like what we experienced in Botswana, so when we went out on game drives in ZIM, we really had to pay attention to our noise levels and remain very still and quiet in order to preserve the viewing experience as long as possible - the slightest bit of noise made the animals skiddish. Mana Pools for me seemed limited in wildlife variety. There are lots of Hippos, crocs, else, impala, waterbuck, baboons and your more commonly seen wildlife, but the Ruckomechi camp area currently only has 1 pride of 4 lions - one is a mama with cubs she had in hiding and guides are hoping they will survive. We did not see any leopard or cheetah here, didn't see many predators at all here. The wild dog were denning which for me was a big disappointment, since that was one of the motivations of going to this particular camp (eles and wild dog) - I had done my homework, but mother nature had other plans, happens like that sometimes.

 

What may have also put a damper on game viewing at Ruckomechi was a cold front came through during our stay and the temps dropped to nearly freezing which apparently never happens there. But since it had snowed in Jo'burg the day we left for Mana Pools, the camp staff were expecting something cold to arrive. The cold temperatures pushed the animals further inland and it was nearly as cold as one would find in Hwange...a real shocker for us. But we still had great fun with our guide Darmish and went on some tracking activities and learned so much from him. And there were still plenty of eles and hippo.

 

As for landscape/terrain in ZIM - it was completely different from what we saw in Botswana. The Zambezi escarpment is just a photographer''s dream come true. Since a cold front settled in there was no bright direct sunlight instead it was kind of overcast but still golden and bright. This set the stage for some absolutely beautiful landscape shots. We did a walking safari the coldest morning and took some of our most beautiful photos of the trip. The color contrasts were amazing. The grasses, soil colors, background trees and even the mountains across the Zambezi could be seen and photographed. In both Mana Pools and Hwange, there were lots of Mopane forests, of course Mana Pools had more forested area to offer than at the Little Makalolo area of Hwange which was a lot of kalahari sands, open land and a few water sources - some artificial and some natural. Game viewing overall for the August period we were there was much better in Hwange and we also saw not only a better variety and larger populations of wildlife, as we had been expecting, but we also saw the more exotic nocturnal animals we had not seen before (and on several occasions). We also were more interested in wildlife encounters, i.e. lion with elephant, wild dog and elephant or hyaena etc. which we didn't see really in ZIM, but did in Botswana. We did see lots of lion and some Hyaena in Hwange, but we didn't see the white rhino, the anti-poaching team had not seen their tracks in over a week, so even though we tried to located them based on last sighting, it didn't happen, same for the cheetah. While overall game viewing was good, it wasn't life altering spectacular, as there weren't a lot of predator - prey action/encounters like what we typically have seen on past safaris and like what we saw in Botswana.

 

The camps and people were completely different than in Botswana too - even though they were wilderness camps, they had a totally different feel from the Botswana camps. They were much more "down to earth" where as the Botswana camps are really "over the top" in features, decor and services. I really loved the ZIM camps because they were all 100% solar powered and very eco-friendly - they were simple yet very comfy. I love luxury travel, BUT when I am on safari, I want to feel like I am in Africa and not at a "Four Seasons in disguise" which is how Botswana felt to me. The camps in ZIM had very comfy beds and set-up in the tents - indoor/outdoor showers, flush toilets and of course since it's solar power you pay attention to when you shower so you are sure to be able to re-heat if you or someone else in your tent needs to shower after sundown. They had wonderful libraries, common areas, plunge pool for entire camp, and Little Makalolo had the most fabulous hide. I just regretted that we were always so busy doing something that we never really had time to benefit from everything the camps had to offer in both countries. The meals were good quality and exactly the level of cuisine I would want or expect for being in the bush - good variety. What I really loved is at the ZIM camps at least half the guides and camp staff dine with the guests all of the time, so you really have a lot of interaction and conversational opportunity to get to know the Zimbabwean people and to learn about their lives, traditions and culture which was a very rewarding and education experience for us. In Botswana camp staff always seemed very formal and distant, with the exception of a couple of people at Little Vumbura who were very social. BOT camp staff behaved more like they were working in a luxury hotel, doing their job and that was it. At the ZIM camps, everyone always made a genuine effort to be present and they were just naturally very interested in socializing with guests and hanging out so we always felt like we wanted to be there. In Botswana, at Little Vumbura some of the camp staff seemed surprised when we wanted to sit down and have a chat with them - one of them, Kay, had spent a year working in the US, so she was very social and we had a good time chatting with her, but it took time for the others we spoke with to seem relaxed about our curiosity of their lives and culture.

 

I loved the experiences we had during our trip in both Zimbabwe and Botswana - there are only 2 things I would have loved or changed - 1 was the weather, the 2nd is that I would have booked a private vehicle and dedicated guide at each of our camps.

I would have loved it to have been warmer. We don't like the cold and even after all my research and preparation for cold nights, was disappointed with exactly how cold it was in August. I had just heard game viewing is optimal in August and I know it's winter in southern Africa, but I never expected it to be that cold (-4°c on a couple of occasions). I was happy to have packed all of our long underwear, thermal fleece and patagonia nano puffs we use for skiing, cause we needed all of it especially in Zimbabwe at the beginning of our trip.

 

We loved the guides in both ZIM and BOT, they were fabulous and very knowledgeable too. BUT you never know who you'll be sharing your 4x4 with and for how long and that can be either really fun or a total bore. We would prefer to have our own vehicle and guide to do as we wish and when. We don't need to stop and photograph every herd of impala...

 

I loved Zimbabwe, it was definitely worth the time to discover, but since we spent the majority of this past trip there and only 4 days in Botswana, we probably won't return to Zimbabwe any time soon. Only because I would like to now dedicate a trip to discovering more of Botswana. That may or may not exactly answer your question, but hopefully it gives you some insight into the differences we saw between ZIM and BOT.

Edited by ChristyDes
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Welcome aboard Safaritalk Christydes! Quick question, why the Tripadvisor deeplinks? That aside, hope you will be uploading images to compliment the writing. Matt.

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Hi and thanks. Didn't realize that there were any links in my report. I initially posted my trip report on Trip Advisor and so when someone there told me about posting here and that my report would be interesting for others to read, I simply cut and pasted my report from TA to here. Feel free to undo any links, doesn't change anything for me. It was a great trip and I hope others will enjoy reading about our experience and maybe even use some of this feedback to help with their own planning. I'm going to try to upload some photos another day, because I will have to shrink the file sizes. Currently all my photos are about 5-9 mb each in size.

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I thnk I just saw what you meant by the links so went in and re-wrote all the words that were highlighted, so all links should be gone.

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Welcome to SafariTalk, Christy. Thanks for ypur trip report What did your 13 year old like the best about this trip. Also if you have pictures you can add them into your report

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No problems with the links; Safaritalk is a sharing forum :)

 

This was my daughter's 2nd safari and my 3rd

 

Look forward to reading more trip reports :)

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Welcome to ST, ChristyDes and thanks for sharing such an informative report.

 

From your report, it sounds like you remained within the Rukomechi concession for the entire time you were at Mana. Were you offered the possibility of visiting the NP at all? Asking because you may have been able to see the dogs within the park, even if the Ruckomechi pack were AWOL. Perhaps something for STers to consider if they are based in the concessions adjoining the park, and in the event they come up short on the dogs within those concessions. It might involve paying extra NP fees but I would do it if I could. No guarantees, of course, but worth the effort IMO.

 

Looking forward to seeing your photos.

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  • 1 month later...

OK, I don't know if I am doing this correctly or not. I couldn't figure our how to access my trip report and add photos there, so I am adding links to a couple of facebook photo albums I created in order to share some photos from our Zimbabwe & Botswana Safari August 2012. If someone knows how I can include these links in my trip report, please feel free to explain it to me. I won't be offended.

 

More Zimbabwe-Botswana Photos - https://www.facebook...00612059&type=3

 

Morning Walking Safari Mana Pools - https://www.facebook...00612059&type=3

 

My favorites of my daughter Chloe's photos - https://www.facebook...00612059&type=3

 

We have a lot more photos than what we've actually posted on facebook, but due to work constraints for me and school constraints for my daughter, I was limited on photo selection.

 

Thanks for your patience and waiting for these to come online.

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Welcome to Safaritalk. Great itinerary for your trip. Certainly a birthday to remember for your daughter! Email as trip report, that's a serendipitous approach.

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Hi ChristyDes - I enjoyed your trip report very much. I wanted to see the photos but when I click on the links, it takes me to Facebook, but tells me "this content is not currently available" - and I do have a Facebook account though I don't know if that matters.

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I wasn't able to see the photos either. But I don't have a FB account.

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Oh sorry it's probably cause I have the photos uploaded as "for friends only to see". Totally forgot about that. I will try to upload photos here over weekend.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What's Facebook?

I think that's where you buy a book (of stock) and get your face ripped off :-)

Edited by johnkok
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Good report and welcome to ST Christydes.

 

Glad you mentioned that the game is skittish in Zim ,and the opposite in Botswana.

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It proves that hunting in an area close to or next to a wild life photographic area is not such a good idea,

There are lots of factors that can contribute to animals being skittish,not only hunting,I know all these areas and the surrounding areas and what goes on in them,hence my paraphrasing.

 

Based on previous threads and my experiece these two activities don't mix well.

 

This is also why Botswana is starting to ban all hunting period.

 

Why ,did you two think I had an ulterior motive by my so called " Paraphrasing " . Common sense really.Lots of hunting in and around Hwange and Mana as well as Matusodona.

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If I were to describe the situations I found in Hwange and in Mana Pools in Zimbabwe with a general statement, I too would have said the animals were more skittish. This October's safari to Zim was my first in that country and that's exactly my impression.

 

Having said that, most antelopes are skittish everywhere (to me at least). To one degree or another, they tend not to hang around my vehicle when I show up. I'm inclined to add - your mileage may vary :) .

 

The one animal that really built up this impression of skittishness were the elephants in Hwange - or to be more specific (so as not to tar every elephant with the same brush), those around the Makalolo area (Little Mak was my Lodge, and we drove all over those areas). They always moved off into the bush each time we got to them beside the road/track - without fail. This happens in other places too, but not always. On other safari, more often than not, they tend to continue munching away unconcernedly.

 

I have to admit that I'm rather blase by now about elephants while on safari. I've never failed to sight elephants. And most of the time, they just stand there and eat. There are only so many shots of elephants just standing there that I need :P

 

At the pans, they seemed more relaxed about us. Perhaps our distance from them was less an issue.

 

I was told there were hunting reserves in proximity. I too suspect that this is the cause of their skittishness. Another reason I could think of then was that Hwange was huge, and the number of roads/tracks dividing it up was relatively few (making for huge areas of intractable bush), so animals were less habituated to vehicles.

 

On the other hand, two well fed lions walked pass our vehicle without more than the usual casual look at us in Makalolo, just like all our other lion encounters everywhere else so far. The Wild dogs were totally not bothered about us being parked there where they were frolicking that morning in Ruckomechi up in Mana. So they were not skittish at all!

 

On a sad note, in Ruckomechi we did come across a youngish elephant alone with a broken right hind foot/leg. Timon my guide said it had most likely been snared by humans, but had managed to break free and to limp its way into the bush. The way it had to limp, there was no way it could survive in the wild. It looked very much in pain. Having heard about how elephants tend to look after each other I was surprised it did not get any help from the elephants we saw feeding not that far away from it. Perhaps they were not related. Timon said he would report the sighting to the authorities.

 

By the way, this is not a particular axe that I need to grind, be it scientific, professional or amateur. I have no skin in the game. I'm only adding to the conversation, if that is indeed what we are having here. If not, I will learn my lesson from that too :) .

Edited by johnkok
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Well put johnkok,my sentiments excactly. Hwange has two major hunting concession north and south of the reserve,elephant in peticular bare the brunt of this,as they tend to walk huge distances and leave the park boundries in both directions.As with Mana,big hunting area south ,and east in Mozambique,Cahora Basa area.Elephant are the biggest targets in these areas.

 

Do not want to high jack this thread,sorry.

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As with Mana,big hunting area south ,and east in Mozambique,Cahora Basa area.Elephant are the biggest targets in these areas.

 

 

And to the west too: Hurungwe, bordering the Ruckomechi concession (which is probably the least productive option in the area in terms of game viewing).

 

Having said that, the Mana elephant bulls are amongst the most placid and friendly. I wonder where else you can take for granted approaching (in the company of the right guide) - or being approached - by an elephant within a few meters when you are on foot, or having your lunch or siesta interrupted by a trunk hanging over you in the pursuit of some fruits on the tree above.... All so quiet and relaxed (at least as far as the elephant is concerned).

 

I have visited roughly 50 protected areas (some multiple times) in 10 different African countries, and I have never experienced such intimate interactions with elephants as in Mana Pools.

 

I hear what you are saying and yes I have seen these "tame" elephant as well ,but those few placid elephant have learnt not to wonder out of their areas,and like I stated before there are many reasons for game to act skittish.Elephant communicate with each other better than you and I understand,so I am sure they warn others of the dangers that lie in certain areas,mostly the bigger herd ellies are affected as the roam father in search of better grazing and are then subjected to the hunting issues.

In Matusodona I was chased by an old cow ,she came right out of a large herd right for my Land Cruiser and chased us for a few km till we managed to get up to speed,as the sand was very thick down near the lake.Will see if I can find the photo I took of this and post it here on ST.At that time there was lots of hunting in that area ,Omay etc and she must have been subjected to this at one stage or another.

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My experiences of Mana over the last 7 years certainly mirror yours, Paulo. Most of the game are relaxed particularly the bull elephants (even the eland seemed relaxed in our presence compared to other places I have been). My most recent trip (October 2012) produced similar close encounters on foot but more of that in my trip report.(pending). However, Gono re Zhou however is a very different matter.

 

A& M I am not sure it is reasonable to compare the behaviour of elephant bulls with those of cows, but having said that the cows in Mana seemed OK while in the vehicle; we kept out of their way on foot! Also not sure the word tame is reasonable.

 

I have not been to Rokomechi and would imagine animals might be more skittish there as it borders the hunting areas (as A&M point out) as does Chikwenya at the other end of Mana. The flood plains are effectively protected to some degree by the Mana border concessions.

 

Each of our travel experiences are different and clearly skittishness in Rukomechi WAS the experience of ChristyDes this year. I hope this will not put him off returning to Zim particularly to the Mana Flood Plains.

 

ChristyDes Sorry if we seem to have highjacked your thread, thank you for posting your report. At least you know we have all read it and the effort of writing it was worth it! :)

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Please don't get me wrong ,I love Zimbabwe as much as any other person here on ST, I have spent many years in these very areas and

beyond.Just pointing out what a negative effect hunting has on wild life in general ,when these two areas happen to border one another.

 

This is why the Delta is maybe a bit better off as far as photographic safaries go.

 

As far as I am concerned they can ban hunting of all species world wide.

 

Sorry Christydes again for high jacking this wonderful thread. ;) ;)

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