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Found 70 results

  1. Hello Everyone, I have been a silent member of ST for a long time now. I have not posted any trip report (I started one and never finished it) till now, out of pure lethargy and nothing else, all the time enjoying reading other's! Thanks to some encouragement from Sangeeta, I am posting some of my images taken on a trip to Mana Pools in July 2016. This was a photography trip arranged by Wild-Eye South Africa, hosted by Morkel Erasmus, a great photographer from South Africa. The agenda for this trip was chasing the heavenly mana light, rather than chasing sightings (although we did chase a few sightings, albeit unsuccessfully). As a result you will find images of common subjects, presented in entirely different light (pun intended) :-). Morkel was a superb host and teacher and we had a small (just 3 guests) but lively group. I don't think I have laughed and enjoyed so much on any other safari that I have ever been. We stayed at a camp hosted by Tess Arkwright and Dave (they have a small operation called Mwinilunga Safaris), a great couple. We were guided by Kevin Lou, a Zim pro guide who was absolutely fun to be with and we always felt very safe with him. After that preamble, here are a few images. Can anyone help in putting images from my album (already uploaded on ST) here?
  2. As @@twaffle stated in her superb trip report http://safaritalk.net/topic/16602-the-hundred-acre-wood-and-the-search-for-heffalumps-and-woozles/ , there are many trip reports on Mana Pools, and it's hard to imagine I have anything new to offer. But, I for one, love reading EVERYTHING I can get my hands on while trip planning, and so there may be something I write that inspires someone else, so I will push on. I also like preparing these trip reports, as they become like a diary to me, to read on those dreary work days when Africa seems just too far away, and I need to remind myself why I continue to work! And so it was, after reading many of these said reports on Mana Pools, and of the reportedly outstanding Doug MacDonald, that I found myself, on the 2nd of December 2014, sending these words to Doug: "Hi Doug, I feel really silly asking, but I hear you book up really quickly, so I was wondering how far ahead I should book you if I wanted a September 2016 private safari in Zimbabwe?" Doug, to his credit, did not make fun of me, and did in fact answer my email (which the other guide I contacted at the same time did not, and still hasn't), and we started planning our adventure. Initially I had another couple coming with hubby and I, but unfortunately they had to pull out only a few months out from the trip. Fortunately we were able to go on our trip regardless, although with some changes and extra expenses for us. Our itinerary was: Depart Brisbane 16th September 2016, then 2 nights Victoria Falls, 4 nights Davison's camp in Hwange, 3 nights Chitake Springs, and 6 nights Mucheni 2 on the floodplains. We were supposed to have 2 nights in the Chikwenya Lodge as well, with 4 in Mucheni 2, but they changed hands and shut, so we ended up remaining on the floodplains. Our original itinerary had Doug guiding us in Hwange, but unfortunately when our friends pulled out it just added to the cost too much, and so we didn't meet Doug until Mana Pools. I wish we had had Doug guiding in Hwange From Mana Pools we flew to Harare, then on to Johannesburg to stay overnight, before heading up to Rwanda and Uganda to see the gorillas (trip report here http://safaritalk.net/topic/16804-habituation-gorilla-trek-uganda-2016/ ) Australia to Africa is a long way! This time we flew South African Airlines from Brisbane to Perth and then Perth to Johannesburg, where we had a 6 hour stopover at 5am. I had slept quite well on the Perth to Jo'burg flight, but we elected to get a room at the airport hotel (cost around US$70) to get another few hours sleep. It was a good decision. When we landed in Victoria Falls, we felt refreshed and ready to go. We stayed at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, overlooking the lovely waterhole and the vast Zimbabwe plains. Our first activity (all planned and booked by Doug), was the sunset cruise on the Signature Deck of the Zambezi Explorer. It was a lovely relaxing introduction to our safari. Hubby anxiously awaiting his first Zimbabwe beer of the trip! Having slept well overnight, we were up very early as Doug had arranged for us to be picked up at 5.30am, to get to the gates of Victoria Falls in time for opening, and sunrise at 6am. I had found a small ebook about how to photograph Victoria Falls, http://www.danielpeel-photography.com/how-to-photograph-victoria-falls-e-book so I knew I wanted to head straight for Viewpoint 8, to get a shot of the falls with the sun rising.... this one.... Unfortunately we weren't the first photographers lining up at the gate, so the other two, who also know where to head, ended up getting a slightly better position to my left. Never mind - they were very kind and let me sidle up as close to their tripod as I could! I took many shots of the falls: We had thought about crossing to Zambia for a dip in Devil's Pool, but then we thought - ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND!!! - and elected not to!! This was the only spot there was a rainbow at the time we were there. It was the correct time of the month to photograph moon bows when we were there, but we didn't do it. It is quite a different view from the Zambian side! Being dry season the water was low, which made it quite interesting I thought, with the variation in the water flow along the falls, and we also didn't get wet! I was there in January 1999, and I got absolutely soaked! It was much easier photographing the falls without constantly worrying about a wet lens. Back on the Zimbabwean end, there was an astonishing amount of water here! I could stand and watch water like that all day. Of course we had to say hello to Dr Livingstone too: We were on a tight schedule, though, as we were being picked up at the gates at 8am for our helicopter ride. We had wanted to go early, before the really harsh light, but it did mean we only spent 2hours at the Falls that morning. We had planned to possibly go back (which would have meant paying another entrance fee) but we ended up elsewhere....(it involves cocktails and lawns!).
  3. @@Game Warden made a suggestion that a topic could be started here for those of us going to Mana Pools with @@Doug Macdonald in November 2017. As well as myself I think that @@ice and @@Seniortraveller (plus I think her sister and a friend) are signed up. As well as fostering a sense of unearned smug self-satisfaction I thought it might be useful to have a topic in which anyone going or has previously gone on a similar venture could ask questions, give advice or just get to know each other a little better before meeting. I am grateful for the report provided by @@Atravelynn and @@SafariChick and the insights into what we have let ourselves in for
  4. We are thrilled to say that there has been fantastic interest in this special already. We have had several bookings confirm and wanted to share it again so that you do not miss out! Doug Macdonald's Safaris to Africa has been given exclusive rates for a tented mobile safari camp on the famous Mana Pools floodplain. The camp, which has walk in safari tents with ensuite facilities, has been given permission for an extended stay in their site in Mana Pools which reduces their overall cost and so they are able to offer these great prices USD$350 per person per night including all meals, non premium drinks, scheduled activities, national parks fees and transfers from Mana Pools Airstrip. No Single Supplement!! See more about the camp on this link: Mana Pools Special Offer - 2017 For charter flights from Harare to Mana Pools it is $600 per person* return (1st April - 30th November) *(Sadly a single traveler would need to purchase 2 seats should there not be any others on the flight) We recommend a minimum of 4 nights on the floodplain and you should also consider linking this with other areas and camps of Mana Pools and Zimbabwe. Contact us directly and we will be happy to help you design and arrange your dream safari. bookings@dougmacsafaris.com - Chloe Cottrell and Doug Macdonald
  5. For 2018 we have another special week in Mana for members of Safari Talk. Its slightly different from the 2017 trip in that we end at the very relaxed safari destination of Kanga Pan, but we still do Chitake Springs and the Mana Pools Flood Plain. Part of the reason for this safari is to provide a donation to the Zambezi Elephant Fund with the Zambezi Society who do a tremendous amount of work in helping the anti poaching effort to secure our elephant populations. You will get to see some of the work they do and meet the people who actually do the dangerous work on the ground. - and enjoy this amazing safari destination, I look forward to meeting you in Mana. Safari Talk Mana Pools Special Safari – Nov 2018
  6. We were guided by Doug of Doug Macdonald’s Safaris to Africa. I booked direct, shortly after my 2015 safari with him (is there any better endorsement for Doug than that??) and was awaiting--fingers crossed--for others to sign up. SafariChick booked through Chalo Africa. There were also two other Chalo clients so we were a group of 4. Doug Collage Regarding the pith rescues above: The pith never went sailing off of Doug’s head, only when it was placed on the ground and the wind kicked up. @@JulieM will be glad to know the koala that sat atop the pith survived the sailings and then was safely stowed to protect it from future unexpected gusts. How hot was it in early Oct? Since October is known as “suicide month” in this part of the world, I brought along a small thermometer to check temps at random points in the trip. It’s the second half of Oct and into Nov that becomes more suicidal from what I experienced. Can’t say that I suffered severely during our trip (SafariChick can give her take) that reached as high as 104°F, 40°C. But it was a dry heat, for what it's worth. SafariChick can fill in any pertinent details from her end in the itinerary before Oct 2, when we all became safarimates and headed out with Doug. On my end prior to Oct 2, I had some glimpses of @@JulieM (who was traveling with Doug) and we even waved to each other and called out, “hi,” in the floodplains when I was with Natureways for a day at the start of my trip. Also, after canoeing and on my way to Kanga I saw @@Shreyas at the Nyakasikana Gate. He mentioned he had never finished his Namibia report. And here he was in Zim! Hmmm. For that I should have looked disapprovingly at him, but I was too surprised to see him and even more surprised that he recognized me. We had a pleasant and very brief exchange. Thank you Shreyas for coming over to check if it was me! It was. Specifically, pre-Oct 2 for me was Sept 26 Arrive Harare, 15 minute transfer to Guinea Fowl B&B. Sept 27 Transfer back to Harare and Fly Altair to Mana Pools Main Airstrip, O/nt Natureways (Mucheni #4). Sept 28-30 3-night shoreline camping canoe trip w/Natureways Oct 01 Off the river by 8:00 am at Chikwenya and arrive Kanga about 3:00 pm Typical Mana Pools floodplains scenes. Waterbuck were a SafariChick favorite. Our Mana Pools itinerary with Doug was 3nts Chitake, 4 nts Floodplain, 2 nts Ilala Oct 2 Doug picked up 3 of our team at the airstrip near Kanga, Dandawa Airstrip, then they all collected me at Kanga Bush Camp. Drove 2:00-3:35 pm to Chitake. O/nt Chitake private operator campsite, staffed by Natureways Oct 3 Chitake private operator campsite, staffed by Natureways Oct 4 Chitake private operator campsite, staffed by Natureways Oct 5 Depart Chitake for floodplains, 11:00 am–3:00 pm, stopping at newly accessible pan (but it was dry) for lunch. O/nt Mucheni #4, staffed by Natureways Oct 6 Muncheni #4, staffed by Natureways Oct 7 Muncheni #4, staffed by Natureways Oct 8 Muncheni #4, staffed by Natureways Oct 9 Morning in Floodplains. Bid farewell to 2 Chalo Clients at the airstrip and picked up a new couple. Drove to Ilala 12:00 noon-1:40 pm. O/nt Ilala, staffed by Tailormade. Oct 10 O/nt Ilala, staffed by Tailormade. Oct 11 Morning in Chikwenya, then morning flight out of Chikwenya Airstrip. Classic Chitake Scenes --------------------------------- After months of planning and emailing and waiting, there was Doug and my 3 safarimates in the vehicle outside of Kanga. In the front was SafariChick. We could finally do an in-person hug. The adventure began!
  7. We have a very exciting special to share with all Safari Talkers! Doug Macdonald Safaris to Africa has been given exclusive rates for a tented mobile safari camp on the famous Mana Pools floodplain. The camp, which has walk in safari tents with ensuite facilities, has been given permission to have an extended time in a site which reduces their overall cost and so they are able to offer these great prices USD$350 per person per night including all meals, non premium drinks, scheduled activities, national parks fees and transfers from Mana Pools Airstrip. No Single Supplement!! For charter flights from Harare to Mana Pools it is $600 per person* return (1st April - 30th November) *(Sadly a single traveller would need to purchase 2 seats should there not be any others on the flight) We recommend a minimum of 4 nights on the floodplain and you should consider linking this with other areas and camps of Mana and Zimbabwe. Contact us direct and we can design and arrange your safari. bookings@dougmacsafaris.com - Chloe Cottrell
  8. Safaritalk Mana Pools Special Safari guided By Doug Macdonald and in Support of the Zambezi Elephant Fund. I’m really pleased, thanks to Matt, to be able to offer Safaritalk members and their families the chance to come and experience Mana Pools with me in November this year on a Safaritalk Special Safari. Also we’ll have the chance to meet and speak with members of the Zambezi Elephant Fund. (ZEF) works to actively protect elephants in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe by putting a stop to poaching and developing and putting in place systems that ensure the long-term safety of these incredible animals and the security and growth of other wildlife in the area, together with the protection of the environment and the improvement and sustainability of these efforts.The Zambezi Elephant Fund recognises the importance of involving and supporting local communities – and projects are in place already that can be further supported by the Zambezi Elephant Fund. It’s an organisation that I personally support and you can find out more about their work by visiting their website: www.zambezielephantfund.org. (Note: a 250 USD donation to the organistion will be made from the total cost of each participant.) The itinerary is as follows: 1 Night Harare 2 Nights Chitake Springs 4 Nights Mana Pools Flood Plain 2 Night Chikwenya Safari Lodge US$3750.00 per person – Minimum 6 guests (confirmed by 1st July) 21 Nov 2016 – You arrive at Harare International Airport, after clearing customs and immigration formalities you will be met by a representative of Doug Macdonald’s Safaris. We then have a short transfer to your lodge for the night in the suburbs of Harare at the very comfortable Guinea Fowl Lodge – here we will all meet and relax with a great home cooked meal and get ready for the safari the next day. 22 Nov – After a good breakfast we shall then head to the airport for the flight to Mana Pools in a light aircraft – we will land at the main Mana Pools airstrip and from here we shall set off in an open safari vehicle to our first destination at Chitake Springs. This amazing place is close to the Zimbabwean side of the Rift Valley and this remote area has an amazing and permanent spring that supplies water to a large number of animals in an otherwise dry area. All through the day and night there is a steady flow of animals coming and going to Chitake Springs and of course with this comes the predators. This often makes a stay here quite action packed and our camp will be set up right on the edge of the water so there is often wildlife very close to or in the camp. The camp itself will have walk in safari dome tents that have two beds and the toilet and shower facilities will be shared, the bucket shower will be shared, and meals will be cooked on an open fire by a well experienced safari chef. As there are very few roads here we spend most of our time walking in this area or just sitting at a vantage point watching the activity around this very active and exciting area. 24 Nov – From here we travel across the Zambezi Valley and down to the Mana Pools Flood Plain where we shall be for the next four nights. On our way there we will stop at the Zambezi Elephant Fund Rangers Post where you can meet the men involved with protecting our elephants and wildlife and see for yourself the facility and how the money we donate is spent. The mobile camp we had at Chitake will now be changed and you will have larger tents with en suite facilities and will be set up for us on the banks of the Zambezi River in the heart of the Mana Pools Flood Plain. From here we shall be able to explore the whole Mana Pools flood plain area – either on foot or by vehicle. You will be amazed by the density of wildlife on the floodplain that are drawn by the water and food provided by the Zambezi River. Highlights here could include tracking on foot a pride of lions or one of the packs of wild dogs that hunt through this area, and at this time of the year it is usual for them to have their puppies moving with the pack. Following on foot behind a big elephant bull as it makes way through the day is also a great way to spend some safari time. We try here to do as much walking as possible as this is the best way to enjoy the Mana Pools experience. Meals will be served al fresco under the canopy of trees that line the river bank and always with the sounds of the bush in the background. 28 Nov – Today we head further downstream and cross the Nyamatusi Wilderness area of Mana Pools before reaching the private concession area of the comfortable Chikwenya Safari Lodge on the boundary of Mana Pools. This is a very remote area of the Zambezi Valley with excellent wildlife and from here we have the flexibility of being able to go out on the Zambezi River by boat and to do night drives as well along with the game drives and walks. It’s a great way to finish off a stay in Mana Pools. 30 Nov – Today you leave Mana Pools by charter aircraft that will fly from Mana back to Harare and the flights will be times to correspond with your International Flights. Price Includes Accommodation and transfers in Harare on a Bed and Breakfast Basis All Accommodation in Mana Pools on a fully inclusive sharing basis as described above which includes drinks and meals. (Note: Drinks not included at Chikwenya) All Game Viewing Activities Transfers between camps in Mana Pools Seat rate air charters between Harare and Mana Pools – Mana Pools and Harare Private vehicle and privately Guided by Doug Macdonald in Mana Pools National Parks Fees Departure Taxes from Harare A US$250.00 donation to the Zambezi Elephant Fund Price Excludes Travel Insurance with remote evacuation cover Tips and Gratuities Items of a personal nature How to book: contact me at Doug Macdonald’s Safaris to Africa via email: doug@dougmacsafaris.com stating SAFARITALK SPECIAL OFFER in the subject line and mentioning your Safaritalk screen name in the enquiry so I know who you are. Feel free to ask any questions via email, or, if you’d prefer to add your questions in the replies below, I’ll be happy to respond. I look forward to personally guiding you in Mana Pools later this year. Doug I'll be uploading photos of the various accommodation in the next couple of days.
  9. Having read through the vast array of Mana Pool’s trip reports I feel that I have little to add that’s new, so my first visit to Zimbabwe will consist of reflections, anecdotes and quotes from A A Milne and his animals who reside in the hundred acre wood. Animals who are far wiser than I will ever be. Why Winnie the Pooh? Prior to leaving home for this new destination, the thought came to mind that in reality I was heading to a wilderness dominated by forests and elephants. The dead mopane trees of Matusadona, raising their old limbs above the waters of Lake Kariba and the living forests of Mana Pools, resplendent with mahogany, albida, baobabs, mopane amongst others would provide cover for much of the wildlife we hoped to see. The wildlife dominated overwhelmingly in these two parks by elephants. Of course, both Matusadona and Mana Pools have forests that cover a great deal more acreage than Christopher Robin’s legendary woods and Winnie the Pooh, nor any bear, would be found during our stay. Both though, are known for the mythical nature of the adventures to be found within their boundaries. Many years of procrastination and failed attempts later and I finally would be exploring this place, with its light, scenery and dancing elephants. Beloved of so many Safaritalkers, I wondered if it could possibly live up to the hype. It probably wouldn’t matter in the end. We all look for our own truths in the destinations we choose and no doubt mine would be different to others. I just hoped that I wouldn’t need to climb leadwood trees or termite mounds, especially as I’d stupidly twisted my knee a few days before leaving. Our trip consisted of 2 nights at Ilala Lodge, Victoria Falls; 4 nights at Rhino Camp, Matusadona; 3 nights at Chitake 3, Mana Pools and 6 nights at Mucheni 4, Mana Pools. Apart from the first 2 nights we were guided by Doug Macdonald and the mobile camps outfitted by Tailormade Safaris. The mobile camps were managed by George with an excellent support staff. Sangeeta and her company Chalo Africa helped me sort out logistics and handled all the bookings. “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.“ A A Milne, Winnie the Pooh Zimbabwe was a lesson in being patient, having no expectations and not worrying about what we might see or what we might miss out on. “The long wait in Jo’burg airport drags on. Our first sunrise back in Africa is a good omen of times to come, at least we hope so. Piles of zebra and gazelle hides are as good an indicator as anything that illustrates the difference between wildlife utilisation between South Africa and Kenya. Handbags made of wildlife skins abound and I wonder what my friends will say if I turn up carrying one. They might not understand the realities that is conservation in this modern world. I’m sitting here with all of our gear, between a rather mundane shop ‘Taste of Africa’ and a Haagen-Daz ice cream shop that’s depressingly closed. There’s a desultory stream of weary passengers passing by me. An equally desultory stream of workers plod past, either at the end or the beginning of a shift, they all look bored. I guess there’s no reason to rush, one day rolls into another inside an airline terminal.” VICTORIA FALLS: I’m pretty impressed by Victoria Fall’s airport, not realising just how new it is. There is a handsome waterfall inside the customs and immigration hall that looks very refreshing. In arrivals, as we wait for the other people transferring to Ilala, we have time to look around. A small group of local men are giving a welcome dance outside and inside I’m amused by the ATM that looks like it has already been speedily accessed! A common theme across our travels in Zim is the lack of USD available in ATMs or banks, fortunately Sangeeta had let us know that this was the case and we were well prepared. It’s pointless thinking about all the thousands of visitors to the Falls every year and every possible type of photograph they’d be taking, let alone trying to take something new and different. I think the best thing is to approach an iconic landscape such as this with an open mind. Focus on the magnificence of the natural world and tune out the helicopters and mass tourism, knowing that it’s needed to support these wonders. I really do feel like the last person to visit the famous falls and there’s not much I can tell anyone about them that they don’t already know. Despite reading lots of reports and seeing many photos over the years, I still didn’t have much idea about what to expect and it turned out to be so much more than I imagined. The afternoon we arrived we walked to the café that overlooks the railway bridge and watched intrepid tourists swing from ropes, slide along ropes, look terrified hanging from ropes. All pretty entertaining. The gorge itself looked like a spider web of metal. The next day we spent at the falls themselves. Sunrise view of the Falls from our bedroom verandah. Walking from the gate towards the falls was like walking through a forest wonderland. The trees had lost most of their leaves that lay in a carpet of russet and gold across the ground with a host of butterflies flying across them. Nearing the falls themselves the vegetation suddenly changed to an almost mystical, enchanted rain forest where imaginations could run wild with possibilities. Staying focussed on the natural wonder in front of me gave me the chance to zone out the constant sounds of helicopters and chatter from the stream of tourists. Thank goodness I’d been meditating a lot! Moving on the left path along the falls we paid our respects to David Livingstone as he permanently looked down and across the falls that so entranced him all those years ago. Walking further on we came along side the Zambezi river as it moved towards the precipice. Water birds waded through the shallows and hippos briefly surfaced for air. In the distance a lone fisherman cast his net on a long stick, occasionally catching a fish. Moving back past the old Dr. we went down the steps to the 2nd lookout. In fact, we did these lookouts several times over the course of the day and the photos aren’t in time order. The mist falling at the first few lookouts was delicate and fell like snow. On our morning walk to No 2, it was very quiet and you could almost imagine yourself in another time and place. Amazingly, as we continued our morning walk there was a movement on the edge of the gorge and nibbling at a small shrub was a very relaxed bushbuck. Perhaps because of the spectacle of the falls behind the animal, people just walked past it. I suppose we see what we expect to see. We spent about 8 hours in total at the falls, just ambling. It was so relaxing stretching our legs and not concerning ourselves with anything else, just being. “Mid morning and we’ve taken a break at the Rainforest Café. A freshly squeezed carrot, ginger and apple juice and a cool breeze is very welcome. A young man dressed in traditional tribal dress (for the tourists benefit no doubt) walks past us as if on springs. Tourists walk towards the souvenir shop with a look of purpose in their eyes. I answer some work emails and then find that I can’t send emails for some reason. The young man with his imitation zebra skin dress has returned and is filling water bottles.”
  10. Due to circumstances beyond their control, our travelling companions are no longer able to come with us on our epic adventure to Mana Pools, so we're looking for a couple of fun-loving adventurers to join us. We've booked @@Doug Macdonald to guide us, a legend here on Safaritalk and an absolutely top class guide. It should be a great trip. The Mana Pools section of the trip starts on 23rd September 2016, with 3 nights in Chitake Springs, followed by 4 nights on the floodplain and then 2 nights in the Chikwenya section of Mana Pools. It is a mobile tented safari, but I hear the tents have ensuites. Our whole itinerary includes Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park to start with and I'm sure Doug could organise something for you either before or after Mana Pools as well. About us: we live in Australia. I'm a kiwi and hubby is an Aussie. This will be our third trip to Africa, having done Botswana, Namibia and Kenya on other trips. We absolutely love being in Africa and relish every sighting. I'm into photography, but not in any professional way. I'd like to think we are fun travelling companions. If you are interested please let me or Doug know.
  11. Well I promised a trip report from my first safari and although I still feel a little punch drunk from the experience I'm going to start it now while it's still reasonably clear in my head. To say it was the the best holiday of my life is like saying the arctic is a bit chilly, it was an awesome experience that I now know I will have to repeat as often as possible whenever the bank manager allows. We booked the trip through Doug Macdonald although he had a previous booking and was unable to guide us himself he did arrange for Andrew Smith to do the guiding and I can't fault that choice in any way, he was great to be with and share the experience the whole time. The itinerary was as follows, Leave London on the Friday evening with Ethiopian Airways stopping at Addis Ababa on route to Harare, then overnight at the Guinea Fowl Lodge before our flight into Mana the next morning. Two nights at Chikwenya Lodge, a private concession on the banks of the Zambezi. Three nights at Chitake Spring in a Nature Ways mobile camp. Four nights on the Mana Pools flood plane also with Nature Ways. Two nights at Kanga Camp before our return flight to Harare and back to a wet, cold, miserable British day. I'll try to keep this report ticking along without to many breaks between postings but as I have over 6500 images to sort through there may be the odd hiccup. Be back soon. Andy.
  12. The Zambezi Society have posted their April 2016 news bulletin. It includes a 5 year Elephant Management Plan and Anti Poaching Operations amongst other topics. The Bulletin can he found here http://us10.campaign-archive1.com/?u=f4943277ce971cb1c9028d068&id=a10245916e
  13. This is a great mobile tented safari to Mana Pools, guided by Doug Macdonald which has 4 spaces left. The safari is 4 nights on the Mana Pools Flood Plain and then 3 Nights at Chitake Springs. You also have the option of adding in Kanga Pan at the start and then Chikwenya for the last part to give you the complete Mana Pools experience. This is a great time of year to see the Wild Dog Packs operating on the flood plain and hopefully they will have all their puppies with them at this time of year learning to be Wild dogs. Please have a look at the link below for the full details and contact me doug@dougmacsafaris.com to book your space for this top safari. Mana Pools 7 Nights – Chitake and Flood Plain – Guided by Doug Macdonald
  14. Curse you, Safaritalk! Without you I would never even have heard of these funny places down there South of the equator. Would have had no idea that these places would be a total gamechanger for me. That I would never be able to look at Safari the same way again. That walking with a Zim pro guide is the best! thing! ever! That nothing is as wonderful, as satisfying, and as awesome as getting close to wildlife, small and big, peaceful and trusting, or menacing and dangerous, on foot. That Zimbabwe is just wonderful beyond words. And the place where all safari dreams come true. Artistic Elephants Life begins gently here: Only to come to a harsh and brutal end. Well, little predators need food, too - but sometimes they go a bit over the top: Others just wanna have fun: Others have less fun - this cat´s bath was very involuntary indeed. No Safari would be complete without the ghost in the darkness: This was the Safari of gettin´ down and dirty - rewarded withsome more unusual angles: Birds come in radiating red here: A dry country: But every trickle of water means life: And every drop of water arrives here - in the mighty Zambezi: And nourish the Mana Pools flood plains: And yes - finally! My two "wishlist" antelopes: A new kind of Safari bug has got me now - the ZimManawalkingDoug-bug. How to get this out of my system now?
  15. Last Chance Safaris has put some different itineraries together for 2016. Our emphasis is as much on conservation as it is on getting that unique picture in a phenomenal setting. All our trips do more than just search out the big game. Our participants also get to meet and interact with the conservationists who are actively involved in saving many of Africa's most endangered animals. Our Painted Wolves Expedition explores Zimbabwe's best wild dog destinations, including Hwange, and culminates in the magical Chitake Springs of Mana Pools. Remote and unique the chance of footing it with wild dog (and other predators) is high. The Great Apes Expedition is more than just gorillas & chimps. We take a tour of beautiful Uganda off the tourists' beaten track. Starting with Kidepo Valley National Park (voted by CNN as in the top 3 of Africa's national parks!) and ending with a bang high up in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for two gorilla treks. Chimps, forest elephant, shoebill and a variety of primates are all to be seen - not to mention some of Africa's best birding. Want to walk with Rhino? Our Rhino Expedition takes participants on a walking safari that focuses on these critically endangered animals. Hwange, Matusadona, Matopos or Pamushana - all fantastic wildlife locations in their own right, but also the strongholds for Zimbabwe's rhino population. Big cats and elephants your thing? Try out the Africa's Giants Expedition. From the Chobe to the Okavango, we visit the best Botswana destinations to get a fill of lion, leopard, cheetah, and of course elephants. A mix of national park and private concession ensures that the best areas are covered. You can contact us directly through Safaritalk, by emailing reservations@lastchancesafaris.com, or via our contact form.
  16. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Kanga Camp, Zimbabwe 2) Website address if known: http://www.africanbushcamps.com/camps-safaris/zimbabwe/kanga-camp/ 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Oct 18th and 19th 2015, High Season pricing, USD 684,-- for 2016, USD 477,-- in Shoulder Season 2016 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Our trip operator Doug MacDonald suggested it as a start for a Mana Pools safari. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Agent. No direct communications 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 8 times 8) To which countries? Tanzania, India, Brazil (Pantanal), Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? It´s a pretty luxurious camp, somewhere between Kwando´s Kwara Camp and Wilderness´ Little Makalolo. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 tents, 12 beds 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Tent Nr. 4. Very good view, water hose directly in front of tent (the second water hose is at the main area) so animals are coming very close to the tent, esp. elefants 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable. Airy tent with everything you need. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes. Good varied breakfast buffet with lots of fruit. Buffet for lunch as well, veg and non veg choice. Dinner is three courses, soup, main and dessert. Not outstanding but high quality 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) No. Don´t know about vegetarian. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal dining. Guides and managers do host. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Didn´t do neither, so don´t know. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. 19) How many guests per row? Not sure - we had a private guide. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? N/a - didn´t use camp guides. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? N/a - see above. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Yes, and Kanga camp is the only lodge using it, so three cars max. Never saw another car on game drives. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? N/a 24) Are you able to off-road? No 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Don´t know. Not very likely because of low vehicle density 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Kanga Camp is a fantastic waterhole camp for the dry season. There´s no water left in the surrounding area for miles, so all animals come to camp to drink. Lots of elefants, countless Impala, lots of Baboons. Kudu, Bushbuck, Buffalo, Zebra are regular visitors. There´s a local lion pride and a pack of Wild Dogs. At night very good chance for nocturnal animals - we saw Honey Badger, several Civets, Hyena and six Leopards. Game Drives were less rewarding, very few mammals seen, but we only did two short drives and spent most of our time at the waterhole. 27) How was the standard of guiding? N/a 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/a 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: N/a 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Absolutely, very friendly staff. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Don´t know. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/15467-mana-magic-and-hwange-highlights/?p=176964 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: This is a camp at its best in the dry season. I think it could be a much less rewarding experience earlier when there are still natural water pans around and there´s no need for animals to come to camp. As mentioned before game viewing here is tricky, few open areas, not much visibility. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Camp: Dining area: Pool Tent: Bathroom Waterhole Aerial view:
  17. This is a set date safari guided by Doug Macdonald for a maximum of 6 guests that will give you 5 nights on the flood plain area in a mobile camp and then 2 nights at the new Kavinga Safaris Camp,this is a permanent camp built at the back of Mana Pools NP in a private area on the Rukomeshi River - not far from Chitake Springs. The safari is costed to start and end in Harare but this can be adjusted if you would like to add in other safari areas of Zimbabwe or other countries. Please have a look at the safari using the following link http://wetu.com/Itinerary/Landing/19801f0f-503c-f325-f5eb-bdcf33ecaa4f Please contact me for details on doug@dougmacsafaris.com
  18. Another sensational trip to Africa. This one to Zimbabwe. We stayed at three camps: Goliath in Mana Pools (Stretch Ferreira), Little Makalolo and Camp Hwange, the last two both in Hwange National Park. We tracked lions, wild (painted) dogs, elephants and were fortunate to arrange meetings with scientists, Long Shields Lion Guardians, Painted Dog Conservation and the Scorpions Anti-Poaching unit. It was an amazing learning experience and was hugely beneficial to understand the complexities of conservation in Zimbabwe. In addition to Stretch Ferreira in Goliath, we also had the pleasure of being guided by Themba in Little Mak and Julian Brookstein in Camp Hwange. Three fantastic guides with diverse and different skills. We had heard that Zim had great guides and we saw it first- hand. We learned first-hand about Cecil, his ancestry, and met with Brent Stapelkamp from Lion Guardians who monitored Cecil's collar and the scientists, Jane Hunt and Justin Seymour-Smith, that collared Cecil. They were fascinating and provided incredible insight into the consequences of the different constituencies (conservationists, locals, hunters, camps, animals, politicians). Zim is a country with 90% unemployment and people do what they need to survive. We also saw thousands of elephants and their babies. There are tons of them in Zim, likely too many. Dry season is cruel and some won't make it through. We got to walk with Stretch and I can't say enough about how exhilarating that can be; literally a few feet from bull elephants, within 75' of lions feeding on a Cape Buffalo. He creates experiences like no other guide in Africa. Africa is the most beautiful place; it exhausts all of your senses. From waking up in the middle of the night to the sounds of a hyena or hippo, or the soft elephant purrs that we heard a million times. The smells, sights and emotion of watching babies nurse to seeing a lion feed on a buffalo, the entire cycle of life presents itself every day. Goliath Camp Needless to say, Goliath is largely about Stretch. This is a small camp that sits right on the Zambesi directly opposite Zambia. There are only a small number of employees, and generally you are exposed to four or so. They have eight tents in total. The tents are comfortable at night but a bit warm during the day. Because power shuts off at 9 PM, you have to navigate in low light after that. There are also only power strips in the common area and none in the tents. They have a nice bathroom area that requires you to unzip from the common area to enter. The outdoor shower is great and actually has hot water despite the power limitations. At night, the sounds are over the top. Hippo, elys, lion, hyena, frogs, etc… If you love the sounds of Africa, this is a must. The food is very good even for us vegetarians. Caitlin made a point of accommodating us and did a really nice job. For most nights, Stretch joins the guests, which makes for a ton of fun. The stories, most funny, some sad, really endear you to Stretch and his affable personality. It was a great place to meet people and we made some new friends – Inge & Thomas, Jane & Bernie, Pat & Margot, Arnie & Leila, Peter & Alison. Days started with a wake-up at 5:15 AM and you head out around 6. We were fortunate to generally be in Stretch’s vehicle. The other guide is Ruben who has been with Stretch for 14 years. Stretch has been in the bush since 1981. With all of those years of experience, and as a former Zim special forces officer, he has great tracking skills. Due to the proximity of the Zambesi, there is ample water and all of the animals take advantage. Although, the release of water from the Kariba Dam regulates the depth around camp. There are thousands of hippo in the water. They honk, screech and play constantly. We also witnessed the elys walking across smaller parts of the river that abut the camp. These included baby elys that completely submerged themselves to keep up with mama. To see the older siblings help the little ones was great to witness.. We would generally drive and track in hope of finding something interesting to pursue on foot. Stretch also likes to take you to areas that he knows are frequented regularly, some are wet or dry pans. On one day, we hoofed a long while in the heat and at his 6’4’’ gait, it was sometimes too much for people. I loved the hiking and enjoyed tracking, even though you sometimes end up empty handed. However, we were able to get close to elys, lions at least twice and dogs on foot. We also drove to the “wilderness area” where the rations are shot by locals. The difference between the behavior of the animals is noticeable. They don’t stick around in the wilderness area, but there are animals in droves: Sable, elys, buffalo, eland, zebra, impala, hippo, crocs. A beautiful are that I suggest visiting. As the sun sets over Zambia, it is breathtaking. The BBC happened to be filming wild dogs in conjunction with Painted Dog Conservation while we were there. One morning we passed the photographer with his massive set-up waiting for the dogs to approach. We had seen him a few times and he seemed friendly. We drove away about five minutes and saw the dogs! The BBC had picked the wrong area….We all had a quick chuckle. Eleven of them with one collared (also limping) in total. They treated us well and mostly stayed on the road. They allowed a few photo ops, but they are difficult to follow, especially through a lens. As we followed them, we came upon a dead ely that must have been 20 or so years old. We had found it the day before and it appeared to have died from natural causes. The park rangers had removed the tusks and sliced its side open to attract predators, but in the 48 hours following our first sighting of it, no animals had touched it. Now came the dogs. Stretch said that dogs don’t eat carcasses. Their curiosity was hilarious although none took a nibble. Then one of them approached the trunk and playfully attacked, retreated, attacked, retreated. It finally pulled on the trunk and extended it until it was sticking straight out. It was a really adorable shot. Then; as dogs do, they were gone. However, we picked them up about 10 minutes later approaching the Zambesi. They didn’t appear to be hunting, but I think they are ALWAYS hunting. As we neared, Stretch saw an impala out on a peninsula of the river. To its left was the river (full of crocs) and directly in front of it were the dogs. Stretch said “uh-oh, he’s in trouble”. Sure enough, the dogs began their approach flanking the impala. It was keenly aware of its predicament and eagerly trying to find an escape route. All of the sudden it turned toward the river and sprinted toward it. As it neared, it jumped as far as it could to make its way across. Immediately a massive croc was in pursuit. It was closing in and we were all waiting for the deadly outcome when all of the sudden, the impala popped out of the water and had made it across. At least 30 meters across. The croc and the dogs were left without a meal. For us, it was only 7:30 AM and already an extraordinary day. We also met with Jane and Justin at the camp. We had scheduled time with Jane but she had something come up. We did get to go out with Justin to check on some of the 180 camera traps that he monitors. Justin is a fascinating man that has unbelievable knowledge. He helped us understand the ecosystem why the land looks like it does (barren) in many areas. He also explained about the diverse amount of animals, particularly, hippo, elephants and impala. The numbers in Mana for these three species is over the top. His knowledge of the history is also deep. Stretch is really about the experience. While he is likely a professional guide, his approach is more about getting you close to animals. He has tremendous knowledge, but it’s really the personality and demeanor of Stretch that makes this such a special experience. He isn’t going to be guiding forever so we’d like to visit again soon. Little Mak and Camp Hwange reviews to come.... . Mana Mana Mana Little Mak Mana Mana Mana Mana Little Mak Little Mak Little Mak Little Mak Mana Mana
  19. Wilddog made a plan Celebrate in Mana Pools Her special birthday On Safaritalk A question: “Who is planning for 2015?" Wilddog was posting An invitation to all. I accept! Thank you! Late August we’ll leave Wilddog, Blue Bird, and me….plus Guide Doug MacDonald. Arrive Harare To Guinea Fowl B&B We will launch from here. Guinea Fowl B&B in Harare I wait for my friends. It’s now dark. Where could they be? Lost luggage delay. Bags finally found. Here’s Wilddog, Blue Bird and Doug. To the bar for drinks. We get acquainted. Compatible group we are. Doug heads home next door. We’re three for dinner In Guinea Fowl’s dining room Fine food, company. Early departure On Altair from Charles Prince Watch farms morph to bush. Aerial view flying to Mana Pools Haiku Hiatus Sometimes flights leave from Charles Prince Airport instead of Harare International Airport. This less busy option was a nice surprise. Our Guinea Fowl B&B breakfast box was so ample that the airport staff were the recipients of bananas and yogurt. Land at Main Airstrip Nearby wild dog tracks are seen The sole trace of dogs. Drive to Chitake Rocking the party mobile Festooned with balloons. Doug is the driver and Birthday Girl Wilddog rides shot gun in the party mobile Tents near the river Activity comes to you If you wait and watch. Tents, staffed by Tailormade Safaris, and riverside view at Chitake. The outstretched legs belong to Blue Bird. The elephants walked down the riverbed in front of our dining table with only a few trees separating us. Across the river In front of our tents it lies And decomposes An elephant carcass Decayed after several months Odor wafts toward me. View of elephant carcass from my tent (top) and from up close (bottom) When they can sense death Elephants seek out water A final thirst quenched Or perhaps heeding A primal call to return To aquatic roots. Whatever compelled This once sentient gray beast To die on the bank I wish that old age Even mortal battle wounds Felled this great creature. Please, no poacher’s gun. Civets and jackals scavenge Bones without wishes. Haiku Hiatus Sirenia (manatees) and Proboscidea (elephants) are both known as tethytheres. They share an ancestor that lived more than 55 million years ago in Africa or South Asia called Moeritherium. Manatees and elephants have an uncommonly -shaped heart that is spherical rather than the well-known heartshape like other mammals. The West Indian and West African manatee have three or four fingernail-like structures on the tip of their flippers, just like the toenails on the feet of elephant. Manatees and elephants have molars which move toward the front of the mouth, eventually break off, and are restored by those at the rear. Elephants have a limited number while manatees are never-ending. Manatees have two incisors in the location of elephant tusks. Manatees’ large, flexible muscular lips break apart vegetation in the water and skillfully bring food to their mouths, similar to the manner in which an elephant uses its trunk. Cautious but thirsty Guinea Fowl pushing closer Forgetting their fear. The flock drinks it fill Step, look, head down, drink, head up. Scurry back to brush. The normally shy Crested Guinea Fowl approached us along the Chitake Riverbed in front of our camp. Having these goofy looking birds come so close was actually a trip highlight for me because they are usually so hard to see. Silent shapes in sand A small elephant parade Calf tucked in middle. Chitake. Viewed from our dining table. Calf in the middle Elephants dig down Searching for moisture below Below sand...water The river deceives No current flows or ripples Water runs beneath. Viewed from our campsite at Chitake. Much of the riverbed appears dry. The elephant found water to drink below the surface. Kudu, impala, A family of baboons Daily hydration. The water forms puddles along the sides and is not flowing like a typical river. The baboon encounters along the Chitake riverbed are as intimate as much of what I did on baboon walks with habituated troops near Simons Town. Both are Chacma Baboons.
  20. I have space for anyone interested in coming to Mana Pools for an amazing safari in this top destination, game drives, night drives, cruises on the zambezi river and of course walking being a key component of this wonderful safari. A really good time to see this park. Please use this link or visit my website www.dougmacsafaris.com to see the details of the safari. http://wetu.com/Itinerary/Landing/0b7c61c1-d500-3df5-b2e3-449f8450c685 Please contact me on doug@dougmacsafaris.com for any questions - I look forward to hearing from you.
  21. We have just recently returned from our 4th visit to Zimbabwe. For something new, we spent 3nts in Matopos and then back to see old friends for 10nts in Mana Pools. As usual the trip was booked through Expert Africa. We chose Matopos for several reasons. We wanted to track rhino on foot and we also wanted to see the rock art, the Cecil Rhodes grave and to do plenty of walking amongst the great boulder scenery of the National Park. To do all of this we booked Paul Hubbard as our private guide. He totally lived up to his billing of being one of Africa’s great guides and I would absolutely recommend anyone going to Matopos to book him. He is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. Equally at home tracking the rhino with us, to talking in great detail about rock art, to climbing huge boulders. Archaeology, history, geology, wildlife - his list of specialist subjects is endless. We stayed at Camp Amalinda and loved it. The rooms are built in amongst the rocks (literally) and we were given a wonderful big room – No 10 at the top of the site. I must give a special mention to Colin, our young host who was looking after camp while the managers were having a break and Zeph, the barman and waiter who has been with Amalinda for over 20 years. Both of them looked after us extremely well and were a pleasure to spend time with. I don’t think there is much on ST about the Matopos, so I will post quite a few pictures of the Camp and the different places we visited. We left on 10th September and flew BA overnight to Jo’burg and then onto Bulawayo with South African Airways in the morning. The Jo’burg-Bulawayo flight took 1 hr 30 mins and arrived at 12.15. Camp Amalinda - our room, which had a swing bridge to a separate sitting out area. The bar area Some of the art sculptures placed around camp. The main dining room A little elephant shrew who stopped long enough for a photo.
  22. 3 x nights Somalisa 3 x nights Kanga 3 x nights Zambezi Lifestyles US$4,450.00 per person sharing was US$5,650.00 Click here to see website itinerary Free return flights to and from Mana Pools African Bush Camps in their continued efforts to create cost-effective and authentic safari experiences, are delighted to announce that all guests travelling to Mana Pools, between now and June, and spending 6 nights at the African Bush Camps Mana Properties, will have access to free return flights to and from Mana Pools. Flight routings included are Vic Falls, Hwange, Matusadona and Mana Pools. Create your own combination of 6 nights between Kanga Camp and Zambezi Life Styles and enjoy the riverside and inland experience of this Untouched wildlife area. Zambezi Life Styles As one of the most sought after destinations for walking safaris and up close wildlife encounters, Zambezi Life Styles offers one of the best ways to experience Mana Pools on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. This 8 bedded tented camp is set up prior to your arrival and includes en-suite bathrooms with a flush toilet and al-fresco bucket shower. Activities include game drives, walking safaris and canoeing safaris, all of which offer exceptional experiences of the river and the wildlife prolific open flood plain. Our professional guides will share with you their knowledge and passion for this unbeatable wildlife destination and ensure you leave longing to return to Mana Pools. Kanga Camp Kanga Camp is set within the most remote part of this World Heritage Site: Mana Pools. The camp is built around the Kanga Pan, the only permanent water source in the area available throughout the year, making it a hub for wildlife and a delight to explore on foot. Pristine and undeveloped, this area gives you a pure, unspoilt, private African safari experience. This 12 bedded luxury tented camp comprises of 6 luxury meru-style tents all furnished simply yet elegantly, with en-suite bathroom facilities which include flush toilets and running hot and cold water. One of the tents is a honeymoon unit with a private deck for dining and relaxing in the afternoons. The honeymoon unit can also be converted into a Family unit on special request. The main area has a comfortable lounge and dining area offering you uninterrupted views of an active water hole. Relax in the upper deck lounge under the shade of a mahogany or sit on the deck below near the splash pool and enjoy Kanga − the old Africa in a new era. PLEASE NOTE: This special offer is only valid for guests travelling between now and June 2015 and is only valid for International guests. Flights to and from Harare are not included and will be quoted for separately.
  23. 1) Name of property: Chikwenya Lodge, Mana Pools 2) Website address if known: http://www.chikwenyasafaris.com/files/ 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season: 10th -12th October 2012 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Chikwenya was suggested by my TO/safari guide as this would enable exploration of the full length of the Mana Flood Plains, after visiting a more centralised camp. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Through my safari guide who is also a tour operator. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? Approx. 15 times in Africa 8) To which countries? Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Non-Africa- Sri Lanka and India 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Normally I go for less luxurious accommodation, so difficult to compare. My only other luxury lodge would be Beho Beho in Tanzania. Chikwenya was very comfortable pleasant, spacious and peaceful. It has electric power and air conditioning and the air-conditioning was a bonus as October can be very even at night. But I felt very guilty if I used it 10) Was the property fenced? No. - An elephant was wandering through when I returned to my lodge one lunch time. 11) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? There were about 10 lodges, on raised platforms, which flanked the main restaurant and seating areas. I think I was in number 3. The lodge had a large, private terrace with comfortable seating overlooking the flood plain. 12) How comfortable was the bed - were suitable amounts of blankets/duvets/pillows provided? Very comfortable with large mosquito net so you could sleep with windows open if you wished. Any extras required were readily available 13) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes, good quality 3 course meals. Quality of the food etc. is not a big issue for me but this, like most places I have visited, provided a good range of well-presented nourishing meals, meat, pasta pizza with vegetables and salad. And puddings…………. So very difficult to resist. 14) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Set menus. I did not ask about vegetarian option but was asked to provide this information to tour operator. I think this would have been provided if I had requested it. 15) Can you choose where you eat, i.e. privately or with other guests, guides? Single tables or communal dining? At this site there were private tables. You could select whether to eat in the dining are under cover or outside in the open. Dining area had a good view of the flood plains 16) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Not applicable. However we were given a last night braai out in the bush which was excellent. 17) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. We had our own vehicle but the camp ones were large open topped cruisers/land rovers 18) How many guests per row? 3 rows of seats behind driver. Not known how man they would expect to accommodate as the camp was under occupied. 19) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Covered different terrain over the 2 days. Tended to have long morning drives and normally returned for lunch as the temperature was very high. Shorter evening drives which ended when it got dark. I think it was the same for other guests. 20) Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e. not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? As we did not use camp guides/vehicles this is difficult to answer. We did not request a packed lunch. 21) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Nyala are seen in this area; other key species, wild dog, lion and elephant and a variety of plains game. 22) How was the standard of guiding? I had a private guide so cannot comment on the Lodge Guiding skills. 23) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? Not Applicable 24) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: I have known this particular private guide for over 6 years and would employ him whenever it is convenient for both him and I. 25) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? All issues dealt with by our guide. The lodge team seemed very helpful and accommodating. 26) Trip report link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/9669-my-annual-migration-to-mana-pools-zimbabwe-october-2012/ 27) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: This was a very good place to end the trip. The facilities which included electricity gave the opportunity to get organised ready for the long trip home. We also enjoyed some very fine sightings, often alone, but on occasion joined by the one other group of guests. The boat trips on the Zambezi added a different perspective 28) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. The bedroom The Bathroom The Terrace The outside bathroom
  24. Ngoko Safaris is thrilled to announce the launch of a small group tour in Zimbabwe next year. This special itinerary will be guided by Benson Siyawareva and will run with a minimum of 3 guests and a maximum of 6 guests, ensuring an extremely exclusive experience. The outline of this 11 night itinerary is: 3 nights Linkwasha Camp, Hwange National Park 3 nights Changa Safari Camp, Matusadona National Park 3 nights Ruckomechi Camp, Mana Pools National Park 2 nights Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls The price of this unique safari is US$9,480 per person sharing, with a US$1,320 single supplement. With just four guest rooms available (maximum 2 singles) please contact us for further details if you are interested in joining Benson on this very special trip. Please email fiona@ngoko.com for a detailed itinerary and to register your interest.
  25. Introduction **** The dramatic Chilojo Cliffs and the Runde river in front of our camp in Gonarezhou. One of the most inspiring and magical locations I have seen in all of Africa – a place that truly gets deep under one’s skin. **** Most of my 28 African safaris so far, I have been travelling with my dad, who – I guess – is now fairly known on Safaritalk. The second trip in 2014 was different, in the sense that – after a hiatus of many years – my mum, as well as a lady friend of ours (“Mama Erminia” as she is called in Kenya, where she spends a couple of months each year on the coast during our winter) travelled with us. This meant that relative hardships vaguely resembling those we had recently experienced in Ethiopia (not to mention Zakouma in Chad) were completely out of the question, and so we planned a “soft” adventure in beloved Zimbabwe. Whilst you cannot help but visit Mana Pools time and again, we also wanted to see a new part of the country for us – namely Gonarezhou National Park in the eastern Lowveld bordering Mozambique. Moreover, I had not been to Hwange for 21 years, so spending a few days in that park – albeit a different section from the one I had visited last time in 1993 – seemed well fitting with our plans, and so we settled for the following itinerary: August 4 – overnight Highland House, Harare August 5 to 10 – 5 nights Gonarezhou N.P. (private mobile camp) August 11 to 13 – 3 nights Hwange N.P. (Camp Hwange) August 13 to 20 – Mana Pools N.P. (private mobile camp, 5 nights at Trichelia and 2 nights at Ilala) August 20 – overnight Highland House, Harare Originally, I wanted to go back to Chitake Springs in Mana Pools but the need for avoiding too harsh conditions and the consideration that we were travelling a bit earlier than the best time for Chitake, convinced us to give it a miss. The choice of guides and operators was a no brainer. We had had a wonderful time with Craig Van Zyl as our guide and pilot in 2011, not to mention his superb crew running an excellent mobile camp set up, and thus we would have the privilege of having Craig as our guide again in Mana and Hwange. As an aftermath of an unusually wet rainy season, animals in Hwange were quite dispersed and fairly scarce at the time of our visit. Luckily, the lions hanging around Camp Hwange were a reliable source of entertainment. Nyala bull and female at a pan in Mana Pools, 12 km inland from the Zambezi. Craig really goes the extra mile to ensure that his guests have the most private and exclusive game viewing experience, even in a popular place like Mana. During our 8 days we shared only one sighting with others. Ant Kaschula, who really specializes in the Lowveld (even if, as one of the most coveted and up and coming private guides in Africa, he does not limit himself to it or to Zimbabwe but has a burgeoning pan-African activity) and is the one operator running a proper mobile camp inside Gonarezhou, would be our host and guide there. During a walk at the beautiful Machaniwa Pan in Gonarezhou, several elephant families (numbering more than 100 individuals) quietly circled us. Seeing those non-habituated herds going about their daily business all around us standing behind a big tree was perhaps the highlight of the entire trip for me. There have been so many excellent trip reports on Zimbabwe lately, in particular Hwange and Mana Pools (by @@Safaridude and @@Game Warden, @@graceland, @id1, @@Soukous, @@Pennyanne – not to mention those by the regular “Manatics”), that I feel I must keep mine as succinct as possible, and I will try and concentrate on some particular aspects, since the wider picture is so widely known. All the photos you will see have been taken by my dad.

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