michael-ibk

Mana Magic 2.0. - A Return to the Best Place in the World

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@michael-ibk thank you for the report and beautiful pictures. I'll heed your advice about how to deal with the heat if we do go there in November.

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Posted (edited)

Fabulous photos of a wonderful day @michael-ibk! From the early morning lions with their adorable cubs (that position IS funny!) to the imposing ABSO - and that angle is quite something - to the beautiful birds and interesting bird battle, to the mud-bathing eles, what a fun-filled day.


@anocn4 when I was in Mana Pools it was "only" about 40 but two things helped me with the heat, and I am one who suffers a lot from the heat.  One was I have my own little battery-powered fan that I take on all trips to hot places. The nice thing is you can bend it at a right angle and set it on a nightstand or even on the bed next to you to have it right up close to your face and I have slept all night with it on for several nights and not had the batteries die.  This is the fan https://www.amazon.com/Travelon-3-Speed-Folding-White-Size/dp/B003DGPWLK  Just be careful if you have long hair as if you get it too close to your hair, it can pull a hair or two into the blades and the hair gets wrapped around it and then it may not work any more. But other than that it's quite reliable.

 

The second thing I find very helpful is a Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad. You get this thing wet and squeeze it out then put it on your face, neck, etc. and it really cools your skin as the water evaporates. I have taken it on game drives and walks or just used it lying in bed at siesta time and it really is amazing how much it helps - more than just a wet bandana. It's made of some synthetic material. I love it. You can get a khaki-colored one if you like to stick with safari colors. https://www.froggtoggs.com/chilly-pad-2880/ 


Ok sorry for interrupting the report, Michael, please continue!

Edited by SafariChick
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During this 'how to deal with the heat' interlude in Michael's report, I'd very much recommend some sort of mist spray...great during the day, even better at night, especially with a small fan. 

 

Michael - you mentioned opening tent flaps to improve airflow at night...did this leave any sort of barrier and the toothy things outside? If not, I would caution doing this, I am aware of a number of very unpleasant incidents involving lion or hyena and people camping in Zim having left tent flaps/doors partially open at night.

 

Right, back to the trip report..... 

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@SafariChick I almost gave up on the idea of going there in November until i saw your post. I appreciate your advice very much. I have come across your posts a lot. I think you spend a lot of time in Zim and Zam right? I could be confused between you and stokeygirl on TA because i come across both of you all the times. Thanks again for always being helpful on the forum.

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Good points @Whyone? - I think opening the tent flaps might still leave a fine mesh screening between inside and outside tent? Spray is a good idea too.  @anocn4Thanks for the nice words. I've only been to Zim once and Zam once so maybe you're thinking of StokeyGirl - she has been to Zam a lot as I recall, not sure about Zim. She hasn't been around here on SafariTalk lately that I've seen but used to post here more. Sorry @michael-ibk please go on!

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I wondered what happened after we took leave of you and now I know.  What a fantastic start to MP.  Those temps were hotter than what I've had there.  I'm sweating just thinking about it.  Excellent lion activity, along with everything else.

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@SafariChick so long as there is mesh between you and the toothy things, counterintuitivly, you should be fine.  The entire dome of the tent I use at Mana is just mossie mesh - all the better to see what is going on in camp, moonlight permitting. Not so good when the baboons or vervets take a night-time pee though.   

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On 28.11.2017 at 9:49 PM, ld1 said:

I whatsapped Doug in mid  Nov and he was sat watching the lionesses and 4 cubs so hopefully all is well with them still.

 

Ah, i am very glad to hear that. I think many of us will have gotten in touch with Doug at that time.

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On 29.11.2017 at 4:42 AM, SafariChick said:

Ok sorry for interrupting the report, Michael, please continue!

 

Not at all, @SafariChick , very good advice indeed, am considering getting this stuff for March now.

 

On 29.11.2017 at 8:53 AM, Whyone? said:

Michael - you mentioned opening tent flaps to improve airflow at night...did this leave any sort of barrier and the toothy things outside? If not, I would caution doing this, I am aware of a number of very unpleasant incidents involving lion or hyena and people camping in Zim having left tent flaps/doors partially open at night.

 

Of course, sorry if I gave a wrong impression, wouldn´t want anybody to think leaving your tents open would be advisable. As mentioned we only opened up the back flaps which open up to the "bathroom", so of course there still was a full barrier to keep unwanted guests outside.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

We had a mission the next day - find the Dogs, come what may!

 

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It was again very hazy and cloudy - here at Chisasiko.

 

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A Buffalo herd interrupted our hunt.

 

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One of my photographic missions - find a Buffalo whose face says "Oh, I´m so happy and this is such a great day." It´s a difficult quest but I haven´t given up hope yet.

 

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More obstacles coming up - an Elephant herd was enjoing their breakfast tree on the road.

 

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It was a nice sigthing and we watched this family for quite some time.

 

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See Buffaloes, this is how it´s done - life is good.

 

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But we had to move forward, time was ticking away, and soon the Dogs would go rest and sleep, we had to hurry. - Hey Starling, have you seen the Dogs?

 

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Yes, just follow the Kudu guys, she will lead you there.

 

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We´ll see.:)

Edited by michael-ibk
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And indeed, Doug soon found tracks, and we were heading away from the flood plains, still hoping to find our canine friends. We stopped at Shumba Pan - and struck gold! The pack was there, lying in the shadows at the other side. I wouldn´t even have noticed them and that is why probably nobody else was around - they were all ours!

 

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So we took our gear, walked over and enjoyed 90 private minutes sitting with the Dogs.

 

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They liked to decorate themselves. :)

 

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As it was still early (07:30) they were still active, were playing, running around, interacting - wonderful to watch for us!

 

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I´m sorry I cannot offer much information about this pack. There are three around AFAIK and they all have very complicated names, Nyamamatusi, Chiruwe, Nagasomething, and I´ve become far too lazy to do notes on trips these days. @Atravelynn, another very good reason why you should come with us for every trip.

 

What I can say is that they were very cool and splendid Dogs to spend a morning with.

 

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The interesting thing while watching Dogs is you barely seem to register for them, most of the time they completely ignore you. It´s as if we´re on two different planes of existence (yes, sorry, I´m one of these SciFi nerds).

 

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Sharp teeth indeed. Dogs are fearsome, super-effective predators, but I do not worry at all in their vicinity. I have a huge respect for Big Cats and would never be as comfortable in their presence as with Dogs on foot. Why is that? It would be so easy for them to gang up on one human lying there next to them, presenting his well-nourished meaty form, and just rip you apart. But they never do, I do not think there have been any reliable recordings of Dogs attacking man. So maybe it´s that knowledge why us safaristas don´t fear them? Or just because they look so much like our family dogs?

 

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An Egret just to get a bit more White into this post.

 

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Wikipedia tells me there are five subspecies of Dogs. Here in Southern Africa it´s the Cape Wild Dog (Subspecies picturs), the other four are East African (darker), West African, Chadian and Somali (smaller).

 

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The pack numbered 15 I seem to remember, seven pups among them - and of course these are just adorable to watch.

 

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The elders much more aloof.

 

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One last batch and then it´s over, promise.

 

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Once in a while a Zebra or even a very brave Impala would come down to drink at the pan.

 

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Bloodthirsty people that we are we were hoping for some action but the Dogs were in no mood for sports.

 

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I often wonder why we like them so much - many people don´t.

 

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I´m sure most of you will have gotten the same reaction. When I show holiday pics to friends and family and they see the Dogs they say "Oh, that´s a Hyena, yes?" or a "They are not very pretty, are they?".

 

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Yet for many of us a good Dog sighting often is the highlight of a safari.

 

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I´d guess it´s their social nature, that they take care of each other, have very strong bonds, and that´something that resonates with us.

 

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Or we respect their efficiency, that they are so successful as predators.

 

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Or it´s because their pups are so cute.

 

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I don´t know. But I do know that sitting with them for this morning made me very, very happy.

 

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Posted (edited)

A great account of a wonderful encounter Michael.

 

Your comments echo closely many of my thoughts about Wild Dogs - no other animal in the African bush seems so content to tolerate the presence of people, on foot, in their domain, and just get on with their lives...and you're correct, there are no recorded instances that I am aware of of dogs attacking people - which given how long they spend in very close proximity to humans on foot at Mana is remarkable!  But not evertyone 'gets' wild dogs at all.  There was a very splendid...magnificent even...Indian gentleman who we bumped into a time or two this year at Mana (we nicknamed him the 'Maharajah of Jaipur'!) and he admitted he just didn't understand peoples fascination with, and liking of the dogs at all.  He much preferred the hippo which, most obligingly, visited his camp at 3pm each day.  Hippos for courses I guess!

 

`I can think of very few things better in this world than spending a morning sitting with a pack of wild dogs at Mana.

Edited by Whyone?
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4 hours ago, Whyone? said:

I can think of very few things better in this world than spending a morning sitting with a pack of wild dogs at Mana.

 

Amen to that, Ian!

 

Yes, I know many people simply are not very much into them - which is a good thing actually. Doug was joking at one point that Mana should do permits for dogs like for Gorillas - if everybody was as crazy about them as we are here that joke could be reality. ;)

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When the Dogs mostly went to sleep we left them. Doug suggested to try for Nyala while we were out here, and of course we were more than ready to try. He knew about a pan in the woodlands, only accessible by foot.

 

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I believe Doug said this is called "Nyala Pan" - and it shows that 2017 has been a very good year rain-wise. Very often pans like this are completely dry at the end of the dry season.

 

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Bushbuck

 

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Warthog

 

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Kudu

 

It was not easy sitting still and be patient - a nest of Mopane Bees was obviously close by. Anybody who has ever suffered from these little bastards knows how irritating they are. They don´t sting or bite but crawl into anything - ears, nose, mouth, eyes, they are just disgusting. But we managed to hold out, and were rewarded:

 

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A nice Nyala family with a very young baby!

 

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Weeks old at best.

 

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Last time we had only seen a male, this time the females - good symmetry!

 

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Fantastic Nyala pictures...now you have posted pictures taken at a location I struggle to locate in my 'mental map' of Mana. :mellow:

 

Mopane bees are also known as 'sweat bees' for good reason - they are attracted to moisture.

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Good dogs!!

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Posted (edited)

12 hours ago, Whyone? said:

now you have posted pictures taken at a location I struggle to locate in my 'mental map' of Mana. :mellow:

 

Well, I´m unable to give you exact locations, @Whyone?, I would never find that place again myself. As mentioned you cannot go there with a car. From Shumba Pan we drove away further from the flood plains and stopped after 15 minutes. From there it was a 20 minutes walk.

Edited by michael-ibk
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19 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

One last batch and then it´s over, promise.

 

 

 

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I don´t know. But I do know that sitting with them for this morning made me very, very happy.

 

and it makes me wonder why the heck i'm not in mana pools yet. maybe i shouldn't wait for the OH.....:rolleyes:

 

lovely doggie and nyala photos! 

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Getting anywhere without a car certainly isn't a problem - we tend to amble about in a fairly random fashion most of the time....occasionally getting lost (but having a large river with tall mountains on the other side time to limit this risk). Anyway, I'm pretty sure we haven't stumbled upon @Nyala Pan before - it looks a great please, even with the sweat bees!

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I'm with you @michael-ibk - wild dogs make me very happy, the more time with them the better! I think you captured some of the reasons I find them so appealing: the way they resemble the cuteness of our pet dogs but yet are such amazing hunters working as a team. And the way they are so social. I really like what I've heard about how they take care of their old or sick members sometimes, bringing them food like they do to the young pups. And of course yes, the pups are adorable. But then most young creatures are!

 

The Nyala are lovely, the light seemed really nice on them and their colors.  

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Cracking photos of the dogs, Michael ......... Brilliant!

 

Lucky with the Nyala?  I don't think we saw any last year - 

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Brilliant dogs, but a place where you can get a sigthing like that of a bushbuck ram is special indeed!

 

A visit to Mana remains item no.1 on my bucket list!

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On 11/29/2017 at 2:33 AM, michael-ibk said:

In the afternoon we wanted to check what the lions were up to but they had left their spot near the road! What to do now? Track them of course. I remembered how absurd I found that proposition two years ago when we did it for the very first time. After all, which sensible person would voluntarily run off into the bush and try to get close to Big Bad Teethy Cats on foot? But now, of course we just shrugged in a "Yeah, let´s do it" way and were Matrix-like cool about it.

 

 "Neo, sooner or later you're going to realize just as I did that there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."-_-

 

#37 1st  Dog photo is stunning, staring you down, that would be on my wall for sure. A great trip indeed.

 

 

 
 
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