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hubertj

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hubertj last won the day on September 18 2016

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About hubertj

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    Wildlife Photographer/Artist

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  1. Julie, the fridge is a standard one, 40L. I don't think they offer any bigger in any of their vehicle setups. For us this size was just ok. Only problem with the fridge we had was that we had to clean it every few days, as some eggs, or beer bottles were getting broken constantly on the bumpy roads If you are traveling as a couple, I can recommend 'Bushcamper' setup. It is really comfortable for 2 people. Theoretically there is also third place for sleeping on the lower level, but it is only suitable for a child or someone really short (we used this area as the luggage space). In my opinion the best thing in Bushcamper is the tent: erecting & foldng takes only seconds, and you don't have to remove sleeping bags and pillows before folding. It's great improvement over the standard tent, and it saves you lot's of time and hassle. Also access to the camping equipment and the fridge is very convenient, much easier comparing to the standard setup. You also have built-in easy-awning, but i don't think you will use it a lot if you plan to drive a lot. Our vehicle already had 160.000kms on the odometer, but technically it was perfect - no problem with the engine or suspension (we tested it really hard on some rocky and bumpy roads in Zambia, but it survived without any issues). The camping equipment was a little bit dated, and there was some minor wear & tear damages inside the driver's cabin, but we could live with it.
  2. Hello @@JulieM It looks like an epic trip. It surely takes a lot of detailed planning, and preparations but at the end I'm sure it will be a great adventure. Regarding your rental - we had a Bushcamper Hilux from Bushlore on our Zimbabwe & Zambia trip. If you would like to know any details about the vehicle - please let me know.
  3. Hi, I'm back to catch up with your trip report. I'm really enjoying it. From what I see this safari must feel like a jackpot - it seems you saw everything Mana has to offer. I'm most jealous about Boswell and wild dogs sightings. We too witnessed some spectacular dogs action, but never had opportunity to see them in such number, with pups playing etc. Great photos of carmine bee-eaters, too. When we were there, in the first week of August, they have not yet arrived. Hi @@KaliCA. As self-drivers we did hire a local guide Lovemore Chiwara for day trips, last year. He works for African Bushcamps, but on his free days he might be available for private bushwalks. It's best to contact him before your trip. Check our our trip report: http://safaritalk.ne...ls-august-2016/ and contact me for more details if you are interested. You may also hire armed ranger on-site, at Nyamepi to walk with you. We didn't try this, but from what I heard the rangers are mostly for keeping you safe, but when it comes to guiding it depends on luck (some of them might be good, but rather don't expect the same level as with professional guide)
  4. @@optig - you're probably right. It might be our over-interpretation. But I'm really wondering how this behaviour could be explained.
  5. Hello, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and everyone is well after New Year's celebrations. I'm back to continue my trip report from Mana Pools. This report may seem never ending, but today I think I will be able to make a step toward finishing it. Last time I stopped when the baboons made a mess at our campsite, so the last photos photos were rather ugly, so this time I'll try to come up with the ones you will find more attractive, I hope. So, let's continue. We are still on Day 7, and we are moving from Mucheni to BBC Campsite for our last two nights. BBC campsite is located several kilometers to the east, Nyamepi direction. Like Mucheni, it is also on the bank of Zambezi (although it's not directly at the edge of the river)., The name of the campsite comes from BBC tv crew which was once stationing there, while making a film on Mana Pools wildlife. After short drive from Mucheni we arrived to the BBC, but as we were approaching the campsite, we noticed that the previous campers are still there, packing their stuff. We stopped to say hello and find out how much time they need, before we could move in. They were nice people from France, and they explained that they could not leave campsite, because in the morning they found that.... there are lions with a kill just behind the campsite !. When I heard that, I could not believe it. We were looking for the lions since day 1, with no success - and we finally found them - at our own campsite (almost literally)! The French guy showed us the location of the kill. It was about 200-300 meters from the camp. Indeed there were lions, and the dead body of an unfortunate eland. The kill happened in the morning, the French did not see the kill, but they noticed that shortly after, so they could witness the whole lion family feasting on the eland. Now, the lions seemed already fed, and therefore lazy, so there were not a lot of lion action going on. It was a middle of the hot day, so they were mostly resting in the shade nearby (only from time to time one of them was waking up to snap a bite). You may remember that in the previous posts I was complaining about our bad luck with the lion sightings on our safaris, so far. But now is the best evidence that the sum of good and bad luck equals to zero in the long run. We realized that since the lions have a fresh big kill, chances are that they will stay with us for the remainder of our stay in Mana. Wow! The second thought was "All right... but will we be spending 2 nights with the family of lions as our only neighbours?". Well, isn't it that for such moments you come to the bush ? Kill location: This is what we saw from the campsite (it's one of the first pictures I made, as you can see - the midday lighting conditions are not the best for photography) We decided that we will quickly go to Nyamepi Office, to cancel our canoe trip (which was planned for this afternoon) We wanted to spend this time with the lions, and it was too windy for canoeing anyway. Those 2 photos were made from the main road (it's the opposite direction, so behind the tree on the left you can see our campsite loo) From the park office we also went to Nyamepi campsite for showers and dish washing. When we were leaving Nyamepi, there was another mishap of this day . We were still very excited and busy talking about the lions, so in this excitement - as I started the engine, while reversing, I didn't notice that there was an odd metal rod (once probably a road sing or parking sign) stuck in the ground behind the car, so I hit this rod, and our right door was scratched badly. Ouch. The car was no longer as nice as it was before, we knew it will cost us, but we figured that we could not do anything about it, so decided not to worry too much and proceeded back to BBC to spend afternoon with "our" lions. Lions were still there, so we spent most of the afternoon watching them, observing their behaviour, and waiting for some action. There was already a number of vultures and marabous crowded on nearby trees waiting patiently for an opportunity for feast of their own. From time to time some unaware impalas or warthogs were approaching, but the lions were completely uninterested. Their bellies were visibly stuffed with food, so they could barely move. In the meantime - the fantastic flock of yellow billed storks were flying above our heads. I really couldn't fit all of them in one frame, so here are only some of them. We watched the lions from some distance, but to see them - we had to walk some distance too (so we did not have a car as the safe hiding place in direct vicinity). Fortunatelly their laziness gave us some peace of mind. But they were well aware of our presence, so when they were giving us a long cold look from time to time, it was causing some goose bumps I must admit. In the evening we started a campfire and turned on all the light sources we had around us, to feel more secure and to control as much ground around us as we could. Fortunatelly the lions prefered their eland over our braai, so we could have a nice and peaceful dinner. Only several hyenas were passing by, as they began to gather in an attempt to steal the prey from the lions in the night. The night was very noisy, with lots of hyena howling and lion roars. Very special sound effects (I managed to record some of these sounds, so here is a sample, along with some photos, too) In the morning we were very courious if the hyenas were succesfull in their attempts, but when we went to check the situation, we found the lions in the same spot as we left them in the evening, confidently guarding their food. There were still lots of hyenas around, but at this point they seemed without hope, and started to disperse shortly after the sunrise. BBC Sunrise: "Hmmm... why is this hyena coming my direction?" "...Me thinks it will be better not to risk"
  6. Fantastic sightings you had on the floodplains. The dogs are great,. It must have been great to see such a big pack with pups.
  7. Short story from camper's life (no nice pictures in this post, sorry). Mana Pools have a great 'carry-in-carry out' rubbish policy. It means that you have to bring your garbage out of the park, and the rangers check if you have your full litterbag with you, when you leave. If you don't - you have to pay a fine. We fully support this policy. Only problem is that after several days the garbage usually start to stink badly. As we were setting off on our game drive last morning, we tried to avoid carrying this garbage stench with us. The idea that came up was to "hide" litterbag in our toilet at Mucheni, hoping that the animals will not find it. Of course it was a stupid idea, and when we returned, we found that the loo surroundings look like a mess. The baboons of course found the bag and carefully inspected its content. They also did not find necessary to put all the garbage back into the bag after inspecting, but instead they threw everything around. So, we had to carefully collect every bit of litter... But that was not the end of the story. After we finished cleaning the site, we put the litterbag down under one of the trees. We were resting in our chairs nearby, but at one moment, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the garbage is somehow flying out of the bag again. At first I blamed the wind (it was a very windy day), but when I stood up to check what is really going on, I noticed there is a baboon hidden behind the tree quickly ransacking our garbage again... I probably don't have to explain my state of mind. I grabbed a knife from the table, began to curse and run to chase the baboon out. The baboon obviously did get scared, but not enough to leave the litter bag - he started to escape but took the whole bag with him. Of course, I could not allow him to move away with the garbage, so I continued to chase him. For some moments my wife was experiencing cartoon-like scene: there was a monkey running around with a black bag in his hands, and there was a funny guy chasing the monkey, carrying the big knife above his head, and shouting death threats... Finally the monkey gave up, and left the loot. Please learn from our lesson: if you go camping - never leave your litterbag unattended. And never underestimate baboon's ability to steal things. So, only one night at Mucheni #2 and so much action... After we finally restored order, we were ready to move on to BBC Campsite. Good bye Mucheni #2 (ok, in fact there is one nice picture in this post)
  8. @@Bush dog, @@xelas I looked closer and and yes, you guys are definitely right. Those were Reed's Cormorants not darters. @@xelas Big Year? Do you mean ST birder's forum?
  9. Day 7 Plan for this morning is to make a game drive to the west, toward Vundu Point and Rucomechi River, to see more remote parts of the Park. We wake up at sunrise, with the light breakfast and morning coffee. Zambezi sunrise with hippos The coffee must have been too weak though, because we started our game drive with our roof tent raised! And we realized this fact, only after joining the main Mana road (it means we drove like that almost a kilometer!). Fortunatelly we didn't hit any hard branches on our way, so we just collapse the tent, have some laugh, and continue. As it turned out later, it was only the first of our multiple minor mishaps that day (but I will write more on the others later, in the next posts) The western part of the park was indeed remote. The only people we met in the western part of the park was the lone driver of safari operator vehicle who was looking for his lost shoes at Vundu Point (sounds strange, I know), and one game drive vehicle near Rucomechi camp. On our way to Vundu Point we were passing by the quite a big area of cleared land - it looked like preparations for some kind of construction works (the constructions itself have not yet begun, but the vegetation was already removed and two or three heavy vehicles were present. Anyone knows what is going to be there? (don't have any photos, sorry) The game drive was pleasant. It was nice to see zebras (which were not very common sighting in Mana), we also saw two herds of buffalos, and many other mammals which you usually see on a game drive, in beautiful Mana Pools scenery. We had a short break at Vundu Point to enjoy beautiful landscape. Vundu Point is the place where Zambezi river slighly changes its direction and part ways with the mountains on the Zambian side. There was a number of crocs, hippos and a lot of birdlife there, and all the animals seemed very lazy and relaxed. Punk's not dead waterbucks Vundu Point landscape 3 darters flying, at Vundu Point Egyptian goose & hippos, at Vundu Point A croc & white crowned lapwing On our way to Rucomechi river we had a great opportunity to watch and photograph some raptors flying really low, just above our heads (I think those were juvenile and adult bateleurs) At Rucomechi (which is a river of sand at this time of year), we turned back and returned to the camp. We enjoyed this morning drive, but there was a hint of disapointment, too. We hoped that maybe this will be the day that we will finally see the lions, but again no luck. We usually try not to set any expectations for specific sightings, but when it comes to lions our desire to see them is growing with each day. Our general safari experience might not be long, but we've already visited places like Etosha, Chobe, Savuti and Moremi before, but so far - we never had any good lion sighting (how come?) And now, as the end of our great Mana adventure stay is getting close, we are still without that icing on the cake. Will we finally have any luck with those lions?
  10. @@optig Yes, Safaritalk is indeed a great website. So many great people here. I only wish I had more time to read all the great trip reports that were published here (not to mention finishing my own TR in a reasonable timeframe) @@xelas Thanks with the IDs. When it comes to woodpecker - my guess would be a golden-tailed woodpecker, but you might be right as well.
  11. @@Bush dog I did my own research in the meantime, and I think it may also be a Common Scimitarbill. @@optig Yes, I was in Namibia in 2013. Not sure about the proper trip report, but when I finish with my photos from the last trip, maybe I will prepare a summary with some photo selection from Namibia, too.
  12. After our morning walk we had to come back to Mucheni 3, to pack ourselves, clean the site and move to other camp site. When we arrived to the camp, we had short delay though, because the family of elephants took over Mucheni 3, so we had to wait a bit until they moved away. Eles and Lovemore's car The family together From Mucheni 3 we were moving to the nearby Mucheni 2, to spend only one night there (later we still had scheduled the last 2 nights in Mana, at BBC Campsite). If anyone is wondering why so many changing places - explanation is easy: we made our bookings quite late (yes, December'15 is late when it comes to booking exclusive campsites for August'16), so we were filling last holes in the booking calendar, and we just took what was available. So, we moved to Mucheni 2 and had another idyllic lunch on the bank of Zambezi - in the company of birds singing (and woodpecker tapping), antelopes grazing behind our backs and hippos resting in front of us (in front of Mucheni 2 there is a big sand island very close to the camp, so you can see the hippos and hear their grumblings even better than in Mucheni 3). Jameson's firefinch (?) This bird looked like a starling with extremely long beak. Can anyone help with id? Oxpeckers, trying to eat hippos alive Egret, having a free ride After the lunch we went to Nyamepi park office to restock on firewood, and arrange a canoe trip for the next day. We also used the opportunity to take a shower and wash some dirty kitchenware. We did a short game drive on our way back, and managed to come back just before sunset. The family of baboons also decided to spend a night at one of the nearby trees so the evening was a bit noisy, but the felt asleep shortly after darkness. Resident vervet monkeys, at Nyamepi Park Office Baboon mama Mucheni #2 sunset
  13. @@optig - Yes, Kanal was also one of my favorite films by Wajda, with tragedy and drama of Warsaw Uprising in the background (one of the most heroic and tragic events in World War II, which ultimately turned Warsaw into post nuke Hiroshima-like landscape). I've just realized that I have not seen this film for years, and I need to watch it again. Ashes and Diamonds is also one of my Wajda's favorites. Generally I prefer his early films much more than the latest productions. Comparing to you I have very little safari experience, but I also consider myself very lucky with the dogs. I think I can also say they became my favorite animal to watch. I'd love to meet them again. Their social behaviors are extremely interesting. I hope to see larger packs and puppies one day. @@SafariChick - no, not sad at all. Photography is important, but I was happy to see this action in the first place. Missed opportunity is something that will happen if you're amateur like me Actually it was a good lesson - on safari you have to be prepared with your gear 100% of the time.
  14. I enjoy your trip report a lot, great reading. I envy you seeing those massive buffalo herds in Chitake, seeing them on the move is one of the better experiences you can have in the bush, with all the dust and noise they make. It's great you saw Boswell doing his thing. When we were in Mana we were not that lucky (we were said that he has not been seen for a while, because he ventured somewhere in more remote parts of the park).
  15. Ok, I hope this report was not entirely forgotten. Despite some huge delays I'm still determined to finish it. So, let's continue :-) As a short reminder - my report stopped on the day 5, when we were self-camping at floodplains, Mucheni 3. In our first days we already had lots of exciting moments and great sightings i.e.: - several herds of buffalos (although not as huge as @@Atravelynn and @@SafariChick saw at Chitake, but still impressive), - passing every day through the camp within meters (sometimes centimeters) from us, - we had to fight with monkeys to defend our food supplies, - hyenas coming each night trying to join us at the braai - we were preparing camp shower, using water from croc filled Zambezi waters- and so much more... But the icing on the cake so far was a bushwalk with Lovemore, our great local guide, with whom we saw wild dogs hunting and killing impala - really a thrilling experience. And there was still more excitement to follow. Day 6 After that incredible day with Lovemore, we instantly wanted to go for a bushwalk again (I must confirm what many others said before - walking is indeed the best way of experiencing Mana Pools). So, we arranged another morning walk, and Day 6 was the day we met Lovemore again. Our plan for this day was to find big cats, and Lovemore's idea was to look for them at Chine Pool area. But the gods of the bush had other plans for us for this day. The day started like a deja vu, from 2 days ago. Shortly after dawn, Lovemore joined us, and we started our drive up from Mucheni 3, and just after intersection to Mucheni 1&2 we met the wild dogs again. And again - there were only 4 of them, and yes - they were clearly in search for a meal. This time we were not the only people at the sighting, though (there were already two other cars at the sighting, and later another vehicle joined us). For some time the dogs were moving along the road (toward Nyamepi direction), so we followed them by car, but later we stopped and tried to follow them on foot. We manged to keep very close and we had lots of good photo opportunities, I'm satisfied with some close-up shot in a good light, but at times I was too excited to control my settings properly, so I missed some good shots, too. I did not have a chance to catch all four of them together, as they kept somewhat dispersed formation, but I caught some frames with three dogs, but unfortunately none is sharp. Some panning attempts: At one point, when the distance between us and the dogs were short, Lovemore started to make some whistling sounds. At first I didn't realize what he is doing, but shortly after we saw that one of the dogs became interested and came really close to check the sound. He approached within several meters from us, until he finally realized he was fooled by Lovemore mimicking a dogs call, and turned back to join his party. Later, as we were following the dogs, suddenly a group of elephants came from nowhere (there was a baby among them). One of the ellies decided to charge the dogs - there was lots of trumpeting and dust in the air. It all happened too quickly and unfortunatelly I was adjusting the bloody settings in my camera at that moment, so I was late and failed to catch the best part. Later we could not keep up with the dogs, and they started to move away from us. We went back to the car, and tried to keep up with them on wheels, but there was a car in front of us, and it was too slow, so ultimately we lost the dogs from our sight. We then tried to track them on foot again, Lovemore guess was that they could go to the plains near Trichilia (sorry if I misspelled the name of the place, correct me if I'm wrong), but no success this time. After a long walk we finally gave up. The dogs must have gone the other way (later that day someone told us that there was a dog kill somewhere around Long Pools so we presumed it might be our dogs). But still we saw lots of mammals (impalas, elands, waterbucks, baboons,...) and birds (ibises, eagles, spoonbills, and so much more...) in such great numbers, that now it really seems abstract. Our European wilderness areas are sadly so devoid of wildlife, that you can walk all day and you can barely see one big mammal... In Mana sometimes you can see three, four or more species at the same time. Oxpeckers Two-headed impala After we got back to our car we decided to drive to Chine Pool, as we initially planned, still not giving up in our attempts of finding lions. On our way we stopped several times to allow Lovemore to ask other guides about any sightings, but nobody saw them lately. We then walked for some time in the area where the lions were supposedly heard, we had a nice walk, but no lions were found (although we found their tracks). Saddle-billed stork Cattle egrets quarrel Hadeda Ibis African Fish Eagle 2x Hadeda Ibis +1x Sponbill It finally started to get really hot, so it was time to say good bye to Lovemore, and make the last photo together. I recommend Lovemore a lot, when you go to Mana on your own, and would like to arrange a bushwalk. He's been working in the Park for many years - he started as a ranger, but now he is working as a regular guide for African Bushcamps. He is also available for private walks when he has off days. He has lots of knowledge about Mana, animals and vegatation, and he is a very nice guy to talk to. We enjoyed time with him a lot, and based on our 2-day experience with him - he seems to work like magnet for the wild dogs (this clip is another proof of that, as you can see Lovemore talking about another dramatic dog sighting from last September: http://africageographic.com/blog/video-lion-kills-off-wild-dog-pup/ )

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