Safaridude

An Adventure through Botswana and Zimbabwe, September 2014 - by Safaridude and Game Warden - Part 2, Zimbabwe

179 posts in this topic

We drove from the Wilderness concession, (Ruckomechi), in which their airstrip is located to camp: a long and exciting game drive offering a first glimpse of the Mana Pools ecosystem as far as Mucheni 4. On the banks of the Zambezi we were staying with Humphrey Gumpo's Tailormade Safaris mobile camp - he had pitched our tents in the shade below towering mahogony trees, a dining table spread out below its canopy and the ground dropping down into a wide gulley - a dry rivulet stream bed with muddy pools which was soon to prove to be a wildlife highway to and from the river. Just above which was the camp fire, and on the opposite side a most incredible sundowner spot upon a promontory sticking out into the Zambezi below which hippos were grunting, snorting, splashing.

 

Following a quite delicious lunch, arguably the best of the trip thus far, I laid down for a moment in my cot, closed my eyes - and was woken much later by @@Safaridude calling my name repeatedly: they could not rouse me. An elephant was lumbering past the front of my tent on that wildlife highway... It was time to set off on our first game drive proper - it was time to know Mana Pools.

 

A circuitous route down towards Mana Mouth, the park's HQ, Goliath Camp then back inland via Long Pool, Zebra Plain: we drove through various and contrasting biomes and what became clear was the closer to the Zambezi one got, so the game increased. The 'dude, with his numerous safaris and extensive experience of Africa had not yet been here: we were both Mana Pools virgins and I think as excited as each other at the prospect of exploring this much talked of destination. Elephants, baboons, impala, waterbuck, eland, kudu, crocodiles, so many birds which I'll never be able to name, a fish eagle pair up in the tree overlooking one of the pools, calling to each other. I'm always thinking that round the next corner so we'll encounter Boswell, Big Vic, the Vundu pack of dogs - I hoped we'd meet other guides such as Stretch, Doug etc, all names common to me through the various Safaritalk reports I've read in the past. And it felt strange, that, despite it being my first time here everything felt familiar in a way, like almost, I was home - and that is thanks to you, the many Safaritalkers who have gone before me and brought back your memories to share...

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Views in and around camp...

 

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Low impact camping. Bucket shower, long drop toilet, scuffing through Africa dust no decking in sight.

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My tent, the 'dude's, camp fire and dining area.

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Two cots a table and some shelves. What more is needed? Simple, rustic camping. (And a sensory overload at night).

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A Mana Pools morning.

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The wonderful subtle pastel russet skies of sunrise.

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Coffee and porridge by the water's front.

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Thanks all. @@graceland Little Mak looks about the same. When was that photo taken? I don't recall a bird bath.

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More photos from Mana Pools

 

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Some lotion on that please

 

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A view from my tent

 

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Clever craft by the camp staff

 

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First light

 

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Sausage tree in last light

 

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Black-winged stilt

 

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Impala in false rut

 

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Buffalo in first light

 

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Matt and Humphrey

 

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Swear that color has not been doctored...

 

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That's Mana, again...

 

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Breakfast

 

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A ghost in the night

 

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If anyone could look endearing while carrying a rifle, it would be Benson

 

 

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@@Safaridude I love that stretching dog photo and the Mana landscape that follows. The photo of Zevie over breakfast ought to make it into the Tailormade brochure - they were all such lovely guys.

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@@Safaridude that was @@marg who had been to Little Mac....I had not been to Mana before this past Sept when we went with Craig Van Zyl

 

Your photos show the light so beautifully as well as the myriad of wild life sauntering through the park daily!

 

@@Paolo, we too rarely saw others; having arrived the day after game count in Mana we were fortunate everyone had left. We did have one sighting of rather tense moment when a visitor was running with tripod in hand from a too close encounter with lions. We had done the "sneak" on them and were not observed; the others trying to get a bit too close with setting equipment up for better pics, and Whoops...caught! Only other vehicle we ran across was a photog Craig knew.

 

Happily felt Mana belonged to us :)

 

Safaridude and GW, what an introduction for you two. Dogs and Daggas!

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Really enjoying this report. I wish I could take half as good images with the same set of lenses.

 

BTW @@Safaridude, when you say "There is a big party of Homines sapientes" shouldn't the latin be in the genitive? :D

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One can forget hopes of a restful night in Mana Pools if your campsite is upon the banks of the Zambezi. Things go crash in the night, splash in the night, fighting and grunting and snorted conversations, arguments: hippos throw their weight around and keep you awake. Clamber up onto the river bank making all kinds of grunching sounds as they feed. And the moment one finally slips into something approximating sleep, there's a wake up call, time to get up, another day begins in Mana Pools...

 

Coffee, porridge, slice of toast folded round a rasher or two of bacon. Breakfast of champions. The sun slowly comes up over the trees in a milky haze from somewhere a fish eagle calls out. Not too far elephants crash through the undergrowth on their way to drink. You see it all from where you are sat. Suddenly there's a splashing, down there on the water's edge. Something rolling around. It's a crocodile, it's taken a goose of some kind and is necking it - another goose stands folornly watching its partner's demise. As we approach, the croc slides into the water and the large V shaped wake splitting the surface is all that remains.

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Posted (edited)

@@graceland @marge

 

Oops, my apologies for confusing you two. But like I've said before, I think you guys are the same person, just flipped. Please come out with the truth! :D

Edited by Safaridude

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Really enjoying this report. I wish I could take half as good images with the same set of lenses.

 

BTW @@Safaridude, when you say "There is a big party of Homines sapientes" shouldn't the latin be in the genitive? :D

 

@@JohnR

 

You right there prove your superior erudition. :D I had to look that up on Wiki.

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Posted (edited)

I think that it is about time we had a new category of membership on SAFARITALK, - 'seriousy knowledgeable'.

 

immediate honorary members would be @@Paolo, @@Safaridude, @@inyathi @@armchair bushman and @johnR :wacko:

Edited by Soukous
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@@Safaridude...it's okay! We were there late August 2010. I looked at the trees (other photos) in front of the tent and they are shaped the same. So, it has to be the same tent. The dining area has changed.

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Sensational stuff, you two! Good to see the pith "coming home". :)

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Very cool descriptions and photos of these great sightings.
Though @@Safaridude, I think you were a bit harsh at that male lion, he wasn't too bad! Not exactly the King Lear lion in Lions of Darkness. Very cool photos of the big bull too. On a somewhat odd note, those face closeups really highlighted their relation to manatees, from an encounter I had with a curious one in a kayak. The mouth especially is very similar.

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@@Safaridude and @gamewarden, it's 20mins to 2am here but I can't peel myself to bed as i soak up all your stories, experiences, feelings, pictures, moods, wanting to know what's going to happen next. that dagga show was surely no laughing matter at that time, but you were hilarious recounting it.

 

once again mana pools have proved to be one place never to be missed.

 

got a question though - what's a walk-in? and how is it different from normal walking safaris?

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@@graceland @@marge

 

Oops, my apologies for confusing you two. But like I've said before, I think you guys are the same person, just flipped. Please come out with the truth! :D

As I think you and GW are one and the same! I've seen NO SHOTS of the "dude in Bots, Hwange or now Mana....

 

hmmmm @@marg, what you think?

 

GW as Safaridude or vice versa; GW traveling with Benson- and his pith is really the 'Dude.

 

It gets more frame time than anyone :D

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@@Safaridude and @gamewarden, it's 20mins to 2am here but I can't peel myself to bed as i soak up all your stories, experiences, feelings, pictures, moods, wanting to know what's going to happen next. that dagga show was surely no laughing matter at that time, but you were hilarious recounting it.

 

once again mana pools have proved to be one place never to be missed.

 

got a question though - what's a walk-in? and how is it different from normal walking safaris?

 

@@Kitsafari

 

I guess it's a term I liberally coined? In Mana, we didn't just set off for a two-hour walk, per se. We would find something from a vehicle, and then walk right into it or them. I say a "walk-in" is more appropriate because the animals are so obliging… they let you in into their lives, so to speak.

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Posted (edited)

@graceland

 

There is a photo of the Dude with his back turned (just like you!) in one of GW's posts. That's about all you are going to get. Camera shy...

Edited by Safaridude
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Mana Pools becomes ST HQ for a few days at least: my "office" looks out across the Zambezi flood plain, over the river to Zambia with its ethereal, ghostly mountain escarpment the horizon. A haze hangs low in the sky - smoke from great bushfires gusting in and across us. A milky mist turns those mountains into a watercolour painting in my vision. The channel in front of me green with fresh shoots and small stagnant pools choked with water hyacynth. An elephant passes by not more than thirty paces from my chair. I move - he stops. A young bull. Looks one side, turns his head, looks at me with his other eye: the breeze is blowing in my direction. He flaps his ears once then carries on up that highway in the direction of the trees. He's had his fill of the Zambezi already. At night, hippos graze whilst we eat, a mechanical crunching sound as they graze on grass metres from us, it's that noise which alerts us. We shine our torches in their direction, their eyes shine bright three here, a couple there - they remind me of grey hulking ships.

 

Lazy lunches in the heat, soaking tee shirts in a handbasin, wring them out, damp, cold against my skin, it makes me shiver but within minutes is dry again and I am hot. Even the breeze burns. Following dessert, @@Safaridude busies himself photographing the many eland and kudu which pass by and through camp: he doesn't have to seek them out, they are drawn to him, antelope meister that he is. Warthogs snuffle about on bent knees at the stagnant pools, impala alert awake nervous and ready to bolt at any provocation. A continuous stream of elephants lumber from the tree line to bankside in order to drink. I treat myself to an early G&T chunks of ice knock together, extra slices of lemon - it feels like this camp is my own.

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Very cool descriptions and photos of these great sightings.

Though @@Safaridude, I think you were a bit harsh at that male lion, he wasn't too bad! Not exactly the King Lear lion in Lions of Darkness. Very cool photos of the big bull too. On a somewhat odd note, those face closeups really highlighted their relation to manatees, from an encounter I had with a curious one in a kayak. The mouth especially is very similar.

 

@Big-Dog

 

You are right. I was probably too harsh on that lion. But when you consider how much cat food there is out there, it seems that a self-respecting lion at Mana shouldn't be showing ribs.

 

It reminds me of the one time I dined at a fine French establishment where they had a very skinny cheese sommelier. It didn't make sense. (Talk about having no credibility…)

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I think we saw the same lion; Craig said the same..With the abundance of possible" entrees", he felt they were being pretty darn lazy when we saw them. Esp. with impalas on one side, an ele on the other and buff behind.

 

I probably could have brought one down. ;) with the hard rocks I was sitting on.

 

I don't trust those anorexic chefs on tv food shows either. They obviously throw the goods away.

 

Going to have to have a re-check of photos and look at that back --to see if it resembles a pith helmet.

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@@Game Warden I love that description on Mucheni 4, we had the same setup and it too felt like it belonged to us. The steady stream of wildlife day and night was very special indeed.

 

Chikwenya have just posted a message on their facebook page which indicates an elderly male has just died, perhaps the same one?

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@Safaridude@graceland..I guess that he is not into selfies! But, it could still be only one person without proof.

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@@Safaridude and @gamewarden, it's 20mins to 2am here but I can't peel myself to bed as i soak up all your stories, experiences, feelings, pictures, moods, wanting to know what's going to happen next. that dagga show was surely no laughing matter at that time, but you were hilarious recounting it.

 

once again mana pools have proved to be one place never to be missed.

 

got a question though - what's a walk-in? and how is it different from normal walking safaris?

 

@@Kitsafari

 

I guess it's a term I liberally coined? In Mana, we didn't just set off for a two-hour walk, per se. We would find something from a vehicle, and then walk right into it or them. I say a "walk-in" is more appropriate because the animals are so obliging… they let you in into their lives, so to speak.

 

 

 

@@Safaridude, your perspective on walk-in is so lovely, how true it is that they allow us to walk into their circles and be a fragment of their lives.

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@@Safaridude - Cat food can be very hard to catch though! ;) Zebra wary, buffalo dangerous and impala quick!

Hah! Doesn't sound like the most appetising cheese...

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