Big Andy

Safari Virginity --- Gone.

179 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

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.

Edited by Big Andy
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@@Big Andy So pleased it went so well. Will look forward to hearing all about it once you have sorted your pictures etc.

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Posted (edited)

I will repeat what others have said before, Doug Macdonald arranges a great safari and is great company to be with. Although he wasn't our guide we did share camps with his guests then went our own way during the day which I thought was a great arrangement as having two guides in camp meant they could compare notes when planning the next days itinerary. But that's getting ahead of myself and I should start with the Guinea Fowl Lodge.

 

We were met at the airport by Doug and his driver and were driven to GFL along with Doug's guests @@michael-ibk and his companion Andreas (spelling?). The GFL was very pleasant, clean and friendly with a pool for a refreshing dip before an excellent dinner. The only down side was the rugby on the TV had the wrong result for me and I had to suffer watching Wales leave the world cup, a very sad moment. :(

Following a good nights sleep Shirley and I were picked up for our return to the airport and our flight into Mana pools. Mean while Michael and Andreas were picked up by Doug as they had opted to be driven to the park to see more of the country on the way. This was to be my forth take off in a Cessna aircraft but only the first landing as on other occasions I had parachuted back to terra firma although that was many years ago and I was happy to stick with a conventional return to earth this time.

 

After just over an hour we flew in over the Chikwenya airstrip and the Zambezi river to be met by our hosts for the next two nights.

 

The Zambezi on our approach to Chikwenya.

 

22209001354_e1567ee044_b.jpg

 

 

 

The Chikwenya airstrip with another aircraft already down and our lift waiting for us. In the background is the Sapi river although just sand at this time of year.

22643734830_a538828636_b.jpg

Edited by Big Andy
Photo fix
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@@Big Andy...welcome back home. With the bad weather you will have more time to work on your trip report! And, like the rest of us you are most likely thinking about your next trip.

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Posted (edited)

Our two nights at Chikwenya were (in theory) to gently get into the Safari way of life after the traveling and chill out. It was not to be, thoughts of swimming in the pool and relaxing at the bar were sunk before we even reached the lodge. Talk was of drop of the luggage, a quick change of clothes then meet by the bar with our guide to plan the days events. For this part of the trip we didn't have a private guide but would be using the lodge resident Kaz Dube along with the other guests. I didn't think that would be to much of a problem for a couple of days, then was informed that as all the other guests were leaving that afternoon and we would have the whole camp to our selves apart from a couple there for the fishing who we didn't even see for the whole stay. Now that's what I call a result.

 

We had a chat with Kaz and he suggested we had a drive out around the area rather than walk as it was now getting on (about 9AM) and the heat would be building soon towards the middle of the day highs of around 40C which seemed a sensible plan to me so quickly finished our drinks and set out loaded with cameras and binoculars to see the real Africa for the first time in my life. To say I was excited would be a major understatement, I was like a kid at Christmas. Kaz asked if we had any preferences as to what to look for, but what could I say, it was all totally new to me and all equally wonderful so would be happy to see anything. We ticked off Impala, Elephant, Hippo, Eland, Kudu, waterbuck, baboon, vervet monkey and a few others I can't remember at the moment and we still hadn't left the camp. Some of you Mana regulars won't be suprised at that but it took my breath away, what a great start.

 

 

Water Buck

 

22439635949_f93a26596c_b.jpg

 

 

 

Impala, do you think we've been spotted?

 

22842941631_f2ea7c1c4b_b.jpg

 

 

 

Eland.

 

22413399507_12441f9d3d_b.jpg

 

 

More to follow.

Edited by Big Andy
photo fix
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@@wilddog I'll keep plugging away at it, it's a labour of love really.

 

@@marg As said above I'm enjoying it really and yes your right about planning the next one. I just have to find a way of blackmailing the bank manager then I'll be gone.

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Hey @@Big Andy - welcome back and I am delighted (and more than a little relived!) to hear you had a tremendous time!

 

I especially like your picture of the braided Zambezi channel systems.

 

I did make it to Mana after all, but (as you probably noticed!) sadly not over to Trichelia to meet up with yourself and @@michael-ibk.......we had a slight (!!!!) mechanical issue.

 

Greatly looking forward to the rest of your trip report....I guess you bumped into the BBC film crews at time or whilst you were on the flood plain?

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@@Whyone? Hi Ian, yes it was a wonderful experience as I may have mentioned above. Good to hear that you got to Mana after all the trials and triblations of working for a living. I've got to say I'm relieved you didn't look for us at Trichelia as we didn't get there either, something to do with a double booking or some such problem. We ended up at Mucheni 1 and had a great time there. We did look into the other Mucheni sites but you weren't there and didn't know where else you might be. Not a problem it'll just have to be another time.

Andy.

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Ah!

 

That (sort off) ties in with a conversation we had with a Mana regular - a fantastic Belgian lady called Carol. She was staying at Trichelia and later in the week she was saying that she was the only guest staying in camp - this is when I understood you and Michael were supposed to be there. I say 'sort off' as it doesn't explain the double booking explanation you received. Was Mucheni 3 completely empty when you visited or was our kit there (trailer, 2 tents, tables & chairs) but we were out and about? We noticed Mucheni 1 becoming occupied ~Wednesday 21st, I guess that would have been you guys?

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Posted (edited)

@@Big Andy - oh what fun it is to be reading TWO concurrent Mana reports at the same time! But try as I might, I can't see the pictures :( Sounds like others are not having this issue. Is it because I'm reading this on an IPhone?

Edited by Sangeeta

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@@Sangeeta -

 

I cannot see images in this post either - I am using an iPad and neither Chrome nor Safari web browsers are displaying images...

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@offshorebirder@Sangeeta. You can click through to see them so it's not the photo storage site down. Same problem for me, but sometimes these thigns resolve themselves.

 

Good start @@Big Andy and good luck with the bank manager. Invite him along next time.

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Ditto - on my Mac in Chrome and can't see the photos IN the report but can see them when I click. Hopefully it will resolve so we can see them directly in the report but in any case, can still see them when clicking on them.

 

LOVE the title of the report and love your excitement - looking forward to more!

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Your excitement is infectious. Living vicariously through your TR :)

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Hi Andy, good to see you and Shirley have arrived back home safely. Great start to the report. Pictures do show up for me, and brilliant pics they are. Looking forward to more, especially our "shared" parts.

 

@@Whyone?

 

Sorry the Mana GTG didn´t work out, but very glad you did get to Mana after all. :)

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@Sangeeta @offshorebirder @pault @@SafariChick Sorry to hear you are unable to see the images and I'm at a loss to know why :unsure: ?? I hope it will resolve it's self as these things sometimes do. One possibility is to try clearing your cache memory this has worked for me in the past when I've had similar issues, although I'm not an expert in these matters. If all else fails you can try going direct to www.pix.ie/bigandy to view them there.

 

@@michael-ibk Yes we're back safe and sound if a little shell shocked from the experience, in a good way that is. I'll stepping onto the shared bits shortly. Glad you're both home safe and sound and will be following your report closely as it's interesting to see another point of view on the same things.

Andy

 

Thanks to all for the kind comments above.

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@@Big Andy

 

Welcome back and I am really pleased you loved Mana. I can click through to your pictures which are great by the way.

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Posted (edited)

Big Andy - I do not see your pictures, just a rectangle with blue-and-white question mark in it.

 

Why is that, anyone?

Edited by Sverker

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@@Big Andy

 

First to report I have no problems with visibility of photos, using Windows 7 and Chrome browser. Will test later home how it goes with iMac.

 

Next what a treat to have not concurrent but complimentary TRs. Its like listening to a great music on a high-end HI-FI in stereo !

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I do no see the photos in Chrome on Mac, either.

 

Clicking the question mark takes me to PIX and the photo.

 

But that is not how it should work ... :angry:

 

And on Chrome there is no "Reply to this topic". :angry::angry:

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Lovely start and very nice pictures. I particularly like the view of the river as you head into Chikwenya. I remember it was spectacular but never got a photo.

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Great start - and your excellent pictures are showing well on Windows 10 with Firefox

First safari (actually any safari) is so exciting!

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Back home and on my iMac I can see photos normally, both in Safari and in Chrome.

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Still the same - even on my Chrome browser. I need to clear that cache thingie, I suspect.

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Posted (edited)

It's odd that some of you can see the images and others can't and I'm at a loss as to what to suggest.

 

To return to day one, as we drove around the concession Kaz informed us that there had been no cat sightings for four days now which was sad for the leaving guests as they had children with them who of course were desperate to see lions like all children. It didn't bother me particularly as we had eleven days ahead of us and was confident they would show at some time. The other information was that the local dog pack had been resting up in front of the lodges for the last three days which was great news and I looked forward to an afternoon in the shade on the balcony watching them.

 

Like they say the best laid plans of mice and men etc. we hadn't been in the vehicle for 20 mins when we pulled up to watch a small heard of buffalo lazily chewing the cud in the shade when Kaz exclaimed "pride, with cubs, look over there" and sure enough there they were doing exactly the same as us, watching the buffalo.

 

The back ground information on this pride I found quite interesting, it appears there were two pride males named as Dennis and Gerald. Unfortunately Dennis wandered into a neighbouring hunting area and met the inevitable sad end. The older two cubs in the current pride aged about one year old were his, since then Gerald has fathered two more now around six months old. What surprised me was the fact a new second male has now join and formed a coalition with Gerald and there have been no cub fatalities. A happy ending after the sad affair of Dennis being shot.

 

Not the best of images but a record of things.

 

22842920611_6ff74accf1_b.jpg

 

 

As I was trying to compose myself and sort the camera settings Kaz exclaimed again, "the males, both of them, the other side of the vehicle". I didn't know which way to look first, I was spinning around like a top, this was what I had been dreaming about for ages and had to pinch myself to make sure it was real.

 

22413398628_7666e77189_b.jpg

 

 

23253575856_7b3961c750_b.jpg

 

 

 

We stayed a good while watching things hoping something might kick off between the two arch rivals but it seemed it was not to be and the buffalo carried on chewing, the lions dozing, and me trying to fill memory cards as fast as humanly possible. There were of course plenty of other things to see all around us, this was a wonderful start to things and they did get better but you will have to wait for those bits over the next few days.

 

On returning to camp for lunch there was just enough time for the youngsters to get out and see the lions before their flight back to Harare, so a good result all round.

Edited by Big Andy
photo fix
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