yeahyeah

Zambezi Canoeing, Mana Pools and Chitake Springs Sept 2011

108 posts in this topic

Background & Planning

My whole life I've wanted to go to Africa on safari. Based on SafariTalk members' input (http://safaritalk.net/topic/4239-true-adventure-safari/ - huge thanks to everyone that contributed!) and my own research, I settled on the following itinerary:

 

Sept 9 – Flight out of the US

Sept 10 – Layover in London

Sept 11 – Arrive in Lusaka

Sept 12-15 – Zambezi Canoe Trip

Sept 16-20 – Mana Pools National Park

Sept 20-23 – Chitake Springs

Sept 23-29 – Livingstone, Zambia / Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Sept 30 – Soweto, Joburg

Oct 1 – Fly home

 

While on safari I wanted to get away from crowds as much as possible, but still stay in an area with good game concentration. I had seen pictures of traffic jams in the more popular parts of Kruger and that's not what I was looking for. Paved roads? Forget that, I'm trying to spend some time in the wilderness. If I could sum up what I was looking for in 3 words it was WILD – REMOTE – ADVENTURE.

 

I also wanted to go somewhere you can walk. While I did want to go on some game drives, I didn't want to ONLY go on drives. In a vehicle you are somewhat separated, but when you step out of the vehicle you become part of the ecosystem, part of the food chain. Sounds are no longer drowned out by a diesel motor. You're able to notice things that you otherwise wouldn't whizzing by in a vehicle. You've left the comfort, safety, and confinement of the vehicle behind and exchanged it for vulnerability and freedom to move about wherever you please. When I'm in the States and want to experience nature, I don't go for a drive. I go for a walk, a hike if you will.

 

After doing some research, Mana Pools and Chitake seemed like the perfect place for me to go. Throw in the option of a canoe trip and I was sold. The location was set, now it was time to decide what camps to stay at.

 

I ruled out self drive early on. Being my first, and possibly only, trip to Africa I didn't want to miss a beat and I figured a guided safari would provide me an opportunity to see and learn as much as possible in my limited time. When I first started looking around to see what was available, I was surprised at how luxurious all of the camps were. This was not what I had in mind! I didn't want to stay in a tent larger than my bedroom complete with a nice big bed, or some place with a swimming pool (although that would have been nice at Chitake). I just wanted to stay in a regular, small a** tent and camp in the bush (lodges and fenced camping areas were also not an option). I wanted to “rough it” a little bit. Besides the cost, I thought doing without all those luxuries would add to the experience. The image that was in my mind of the typical African safari sure seems like it is not very typical at all. While I know that the “budget” and “rustic” safari camps exist, they seem to be outnumbered and require a little more digging. I thought it would be the other way around...

 

I narrowed it down to a handful of operators and sent them all emails requesting info and rates. I decided on Kavinga Safaris. There was one other company that provided me with a slightly cheaper quote (and believe me, budget was an issue) but Kavinga just gave me a better impression.

 

Sept 10 - London

After an overnight flight I arrived at Heathrow airport in the morning. When I was looking at flights, most of them had 5-8 hour layovers in London (At the time I was trying to avoid any layovers in countries for which the US requires a Yellow Fever shot, only to find out later that South Africa requires the shot if you've been to Zambia, oh well). I chose an itinerary with an 11 hour layover in London. After all, this wasn't only my first trip to Africa, it was my first trip outside of North America. Rather than just sit in an airport for hours, the long layover allowed me to get out and see London. I took the tube to... well I don't remember exactly but somewhere where I could get on one of those touristy double decker buses. I took the tour all around London and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The architecture in the city is beautiful. I got off the bus near Big Ben, got some fish and chips and a cask ale, and then spent some time walking around the area. Took the tube back to the airport and tried to contain my excitement for the overnight trip to Africa.

 

6502277491_8fa849bc53_m.jpg 6502320321_690aeda11a_m.jpg 6502292673_498280e1da_m.jpg 6502296557_19fdce5ac4_m.jpg 6502298743_dbec7f39e0_m.jpg 6502297299_b1c747687d_m.jpg 6502301681_2955f14aa4_m.jpg 6502304157_b2f9377cf6_m.jpg 6502311145_4a83c81622_m.jpg 6502314529_cf7b72f339_m.jpg 6502317485_b4619277fe_m.jpg

 

 

Coming up in my next post, something you might actually care about, like pictures of animals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good start so far ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First trip out of North America and you chose to walk in the wilds of Africa … fantastic!!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WILD – REMOTE – ADVENTURE--your itinerary delivered on those goals. I am impressed with your courage to do something like this for your first trip to Africa. I am also impressed with your day in London, the first time out of North America. You really go for it!

 

Your selection of photos to illustrate your hours in London is brilliant and they are very nice shots.

 

This will be a gem of a report!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember your questions when you were planning this trip, yeahyeah. Sounds like you got exactly the type of rugged adventure you were looking for. Hope you've got the next installment lined up and ready to go :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fish and chips!! Stop the report, doesn't get any better than that!!

 

Just kidding, fish and chips down south are not the real deal :D your safari on the other hand........ can't wait

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WILD – REMOTE – ADVENTURE--your itinerary delivered on those goals. I am impressed with your courage to do something like this for your first trip to Africa. I am also impressed with your day in London, the first time out of North America. You really go for it!

 

Your selection of photos to illustrate your hours in London is brilliant and they are very nice shots.

 

This will be a gem of a report!

 

Go big or go home I think someone once said. Thanks for the confidence that it will be a good report.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just kidding, fish and chips down south are not the real deal :D

 

South London, is that what you mean? I don't know the first thing about the UK.

 

Regardless of what any local can tell me, I thought the fish and chips were good :P . The pub I stopped in was a nice little quaint spot. The booth-like seats had huge indentations in them, obviously very old. Two older ladies told me that members of Parliament like to frequent the pub. It was right across the street from Big Ben, anyone know of it? It's called St. Stephen's Tavern.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Sept 11

I arrived in Lusaka to a red setting sun and the sharp smell of smoke. There are two distinct smells that I seemed to encounter throughout my travels: smoke and BO. Anyway, everything I had read said not to travel by car at night so I got my bag and left the airport as soon as I could. Took a taxi to Lusaka Backpackers where I had already booked a bed in a dorm room. Got to the hostel well after dark and I'm told that it's all booked up and they don't have me down for a room. They recommend me to another hostel around the corner, Broads Backpackers I think it was. The taxi driver thinks he might know of it.

 

The street that the backpackers is supposed to be on is all torn up and barely driveable (turns out it's being torn up so that it can be repaved). As we're driving down the street another car comes from the other direction. At this point I'm worried that the whole thing is a big set up and I'm about to get robbed as there would be no way to escape on this road. Turns out to be a false alarm and we make it to the hostel which has room for me. Everything at the hostel is nice enough except for the bathroom/showers. Most people I know would have been pretty upset about it, but I really didn't care. I didn't come all the way to Africa to live like an American after all. My only real qualm about the hostel was that there was no place to lock up my valuables. I was staying in a shared room and was concerned about my camera gear and all the cash I had brought with me for Zim. There was a group of locals drinking at the bar and I didn't know who all would be staying in the room with me. I used a cable lock to lock my bag to the bed post and slid it under. It was getting late and I had to wake up early to catch the first minibus to Chirundu the next day.

 

I laid in bed, finding it difficult to sleep and wondering whether my dad was right. He had tried to talk me out of the trip. He was concerned because I had planned everything all by myself and was going alone as an inexperienced traveler for the first time to a third world country. He was sure that I was going to get robbed, kidnapped, detained, or something. He even went as far as to offer to pay for my entire trip if I would cancel my current plans and go as part of a tour group (He's a huge worrier and overreacted big time, knowing nothing about Zambia and Zimbabwe. He's traveled extensively for work having spent plenty of time in India, China, Mexico, South America, etc. but not all developing countries are the same eh?). I had an uneasy feeling, and hoped that I could pull this whole thing off...

 

Sept 12 (morning)

I woke early and one of the hostel workers helped me flag down a taxi to take to the bus station. I told him specifically which bus station to go to (the minibus one) but he took me to the wrong place (the charter buses) probably assuming that since I was a Mzungu that that's where I had meant. I told him no I need to catch a minibus and he then tried to get me to pay him more money to take me there. Again I told him no, you took me to the wrong place it's your fault, besides the bus stations aren't THAT far apart. We arrived and the taxi driver dropped me off at the minibus going to Chirundu.

 

Ahh the minibuses.

6507841953_b49aae675b.jpg

 

My first experience I was worried because I didn't know what to expect. The bus had makeshift seats, 15-17 people crammed in it, and I'd heard horror stories of crazy drivers. After my first two rides I felt comfortable traveling this way though, and I never had any crazy drivers. The whole thing is actually kind of interesting. Each minibus has a driver and what I'll call the hustler. The driver drives and the hustler gets people on and off, exchanges money, etc. It was clear that each minibus is not an independent operation by the way that I was switched between buses and drivers and hustlers sometimes changed mid-route. When nearing a stop, the driver will knock on the bus. If you want to get off, you knock back. Food and drink are bought and sold through the window at various stops along the way. But back to the story...

 

As I sat and waited to depart, I studied my surroundings. I'd say 3/4 of the buses have some sort of Christian slogan on the windshield like "Pray Hard", "Jesus 4 Life", "Blessed", and "God is my Judge". The other quarter were decorated with stickers of soccer teams, the most popular being Man U. When the bus was about half full we took off. By the time we actually got out of Lusaka the bus was full. I took notice of a sticker on the inside of the windshield, "Sit back and relax. We all make plans, but God is the decision maker." I somehow felt a little better than I did the previous morning.

 

About 2.5 hours and several herds of goats later, we arrived at Chirundu [Along the way we had actually passed a man walking on the side of the road wearing a t-shirt supporting a youth American football club from a town 15 miles from where I grew up! Small world! I had always wondered how the various t-shirts ended up in Africa until I saw this documentary a couple years ago]. I took a taxi down a dirt road to Zambezi Breezers which would serve as the launching point for the canoe trip. I was about an hour earlier than I needed to be and having not slept much the past few days I took a nap in the shade. A German couple and another solo German traveler who were part of the canoe trip showed up. Eventually the guide showed up, about 2 hours late. I never found out the reason why but assume that the reason is “it's Africa”. That was our whole group, nice and small. We got in the canoes and we were off...

 

I lied. No animals this post. Next post. I promise.

Edited by yeahyeah
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Intrepid indeed. What a great start and I love the photo of the mini van. I collect photos of some of the slogans on the Kenyan matatus (mini buses) and should dig some up, very inventive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Sept 12 (afternoon) -Sept 15 – Zambezi Canoe Trip

The canoe outfitter was Riverhorse Safaris. This was a participatory safari so we were expected to help set up camp and wash dishes and such. Each night we camped out on an island in the middle of the river. We carried everything with us in our canoes as we traveled and slept on mats about 1.5 inches thick. The food was pretty good. Not gourmet, but about what I expected. Going to the bathroom involves digging a hole with an oar, doing your business, and then covering with sand.

 

Our guide is Martin, a 33 year old black Zimbabwean from Siavonga. He's been guiding for 9 years and shared with me that this will probably be his last. He's getting married this year and doesn't want to start a family and be away months at a time. He also said that being a guide has provided him with the income to be able to study to be an accountant, which is what he plans on doing. I wonder how much he'll miss guiding? It's funny how I have an office job, but dream about quitting to do something that I'm more passionate about even though it would mean making less money. Martin has a job that he's passionate about, but is going to quit for an office job in order to be home more and make more money. Perhaps it's a little bit of the grass is always greener? Nevertheless, it's apples and oranges. There's no comparison of our situations in life.

 

I don't remember the exact routine and didn't write it down, but the typical day goes something like this: Wake up. Eat breakfast. Do some canoeing. Stop for an apple or similar snack and to get something to drink. Do some more canoeing. Stop somewhere for lunch, and take a break for an hour or two. Canoe some more. Set up camp on an island. Eat dinner. Retreat to bed. Repeat.

 

Throughout the trip we see plenty of hippo, crocs, elephants, babboons, vervet monkeys, and some antelope and fish eagles. My favorite parts of the safari were the first day and last evening. The first day we paddled down a small channel with grass and reeds on either side. We passed a few elephants about 15 meters away.

 

6501953821_ba63f49988_z.jpg 6501954521_348d7f90f3_z.jpg

 

The last evening we landed on an island with 7 elephants on it. Before dinner, I washed up in the shallows watching two elephants 50 or so meters away. I should have asked someone to take a picture for me. I love campfires (who doesn't?) and we built one for the first time this night. When we woke up the elephants were still around.

 

6501978513_3e6eca0769.jpg

6501980427_31f5b9ebb4.jpg

6501982665_4d88ffe050.jpg

 

A few different times during the trip we walked around on some of the islands in order to get a better look at some ele's and hippo. There was a big full orange moon each night and the sunsets were beautiful. At the end of the trip we drove back to Zambezi Breezers where I spent the night before heading to my next destination.

 

The canoe trip wasn't what I hoped it would be. The descriptions I've read and first person accounts from people I spoke to were much more adventurous than our trip. Depending on who you are, this can be a good or a bad thing. I never once felt unsafe at all. We stayed a good distance away from any hippos. We didn't get anywhere near as close as I've seen pictures. We didn't paddle as close to the banks as I would have liked, we were much too close to the middle of the river for most of the trip. I think this has more to do with the particular guide than the safari company. He mentioned that he's getting married and quitting after this year, why take chances now? He was also alone in a canoe with more supplies than the rest of us had so he was doing more work. A more direct route down the river is easier for him. My partner in the canoe (who may even be reading this :]) never wanted to stop paddling so we were constantly in front of the guide, a no no that was explained to us from the beginning. The guide may not have trusted us given that we didn't stay behind him at all times like we were supposed to. Regardless, I had a great time.

 

6501959099_9c2a1c7545_m.jpg 6501961455_45f7059166_m.jpg 6501964393_e2ea7cab79_m.jpg 6501966221_15bbcba44c_m.jpg 6501967355_3d571666cd_m.jpg 6501967659_b380d60367_m.jpg 6501968503_c47d1d93db_m.jpg 6501971973_ff64547263_m.jpg 6501973821_2e64243705_m.jpg 6501974503_835f4e45d8_m.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by yeahyeah
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Intrepid indeed. What a great start and I love the photo of the mini van. I collect photos of some of the slogans on the Kenyan matatus (mini buses) and should dig some up, very inventive.

 

You definitely should!

 

I have a lot of pictures of animals and Victoria Falls, but I only got a few of the everyday Africa stuff. I decided to be safe rather than sorry so I didn't take out my DSLR. I think this was over cautious and if (when?) I go back I definitely will take lots of pics of everything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enjoying your report and pictures and look forward to more, as I am going to Zimbabwe in August.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brings back memories. We did the canoe safari as a honeymoon trip. Recorded on Film camera. - I wonder where those photos are now.

 

They are very cautious of hippo. Things go wrong so quickly, and by that time its too late to take evasive action. We surprised a hippo once who come running out the reeds smashing into the water between the canoes. Lions roaring all night, and a pretty close encounter with an elephant. Our guide also caught a monster of a tiger fish.

 

That said, you have a pretty close encounter of elephant yourself. Ahhh and those sunsets - beautiful.

 

Cant wait to hear about Mana pools.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brings back memories. We did the canoe safari as a honeymoon trip. Recorded on Film camera. - I wonder where those photos are now.

 

They are very cautious of hippo. Things go wrong so quickly, and by that time its too late to take evasive action. We surprised a hippo once who come running out the reeds smashing into the water between the canoes. Lions roaring all night, and a pretty close encounter with an elephant. Our guide also caught a monster of a tiger fish.

 

That said, you have a pretty close encounter of elephant yourself. Ahhh and those sunsets - beautiful.

 

Cant wait to hear about Mana pools.

 

Look for the pictures and then write a trip report :) That sounds like an interesting honeymoon.

 

I understand being cautious and I'm glad they are, otherwise there'd be a lot more dead people. Another reason why the trip wasn't all that I think it could have been is that once we were in Mana Pools, we were paddling on the Zambian side of the river. I don't understand that unless we weren't allowed to be on the other side. Is there an invisible border in the middle of the river that guides are supposed to respect? We departed from Zambia but I think I remember hearing/reading somewhere that Riverhorse is licensed in both countries or something like that. Don't mean to complain about my canoe trip. I had a really good time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

A bit odd. You normally see canoeing parties in Mana Pools (on the Zim side). Must have been a license matter, as you mention.

 

By the way, the first part of 2011 had an higher rate of hippo and croc attacks to canoes than usual, probably due to high water.

Edited by Paolo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit odd. You normally see canoeing parties in Mana Pools (on the Zim side). Must have been a license matter, as you mention.

 

At one point there was another Riverhorse canoe trip ahead of us. We stopped to have a look at some hippos on an island while the other group paddled around the island seemingly continuing towards the Mana Pools shoreline although I can't confirm that. Also, I just took a look at the Riverhorse webpage. It states that they canoe along both sides of the river. Must have just been our guide. Doesn't make sense because I saw a lot of tiny animals on the other side of the river. I should have asked about it but didn't think to at the time, I was just going along with the flow.

 

By the way, the first part of 2011 had an higher rate of hippo and croc attacks to canoes than usual, probably due to high water.

 

Interesting. In Chitake I stayed with a couple that did a Mana canoe trip for the 4 days prior. Their canoe was bumped by a croc. The party behind them capsized on the first day (don't remember why) and decided not to continue with the trip. I'm sure their cameras were ruined. Glad I wasn't in that party.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

South London, is that what you mean? I don't know the first thing about the UK.

 

Regardless of what any local can tell me, I thought the fish and chips were good :P

 

Haha, no, south of England :D the fish and chips up here is so much better. But let's not allow that to detract from your report. I can't wait for more and really like your bluntness about the ins-and-outs of certain activities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't share that tale of the capsized canoe with your dad.

 

I would not have liked the hyper-paddler in your canoe.

 

 

Beautiful sunrise/set shots! Great eles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would not have liked the hyper-paddler in your canoe.

 

It's not that he was a crazy paddler, but we were going downstream the whole time and didn't need to constantly paddle. We were in no rush and we were constantly in front of the guide. I told him that as long as we were in front of the guide I wasn't going to paddle. He was good company though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You probably got the best photos since he paddled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally the game viewing is better on the Zim side. Zambian canoe trips often go to the zim side each day, then return to the Zam side for camping. Additionally, Mana Pools canoeing is "scheduled", so that multiple canoe groups are not encountering each other. Something that Zambian operators can't get together on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You probably got the best photos since he paddled.

 

And he probably thought I was a lazy American :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sept 16 - Mana Pools

Today I crossed the border to Zimbabwe and met Patrick from Kavinga. We drove down the tar road for a few kilometers and then turned off onto a dirt road. Twenty minutes or so into the drive we see some elephants up ahead right next to the road. Patrick gets out of the truck and tries with some claps and shouts to get them to move. I soon join him and after 5 minutes or so we succeed in scaring (bothering) them off. This road doesn't get traveled too often and there are some places with at least a foot of sand. We crossed one dry river bed where I was half expecting to have to get out and push but we made it through. Halfway to Mana, we met up with Rod and he drove me the rest of the way to camp.

 

Rod's what I think would be considered the camp manager. Upon meeting I'm offered something to drink. Water, coke, beer? I opted for the beer of course. Rod is one of the white Zim farmers that lost his land some time ago. He's not bitter over it and seems to have moved on. As we got closer to the park, the game started to increase. Once we entered Mana Pools, it was kind of magical. There's literally game everywhere you look. Babboons, impala, kudu, waterbuck, eland, zebra, elephant, warthogs, and buffalo were daily sitings. We make it to camp and I'm excited and filled with anticipation for the days ahead, although reserved on the outside.

 

Already at camp was Pat, a self driver originally from Zimbabwe. I think he lost a lot when s*** hit the fan and he no longer lives in Zim, but returns each year to get his fill of wildlife. Pat's an avid photographer and chose to go out on his own rather than with the group for drives and walks, but we were always together back at camp. The way Rod and Pat interacted I thought they were old friends. Turns out they had just met that day. I guess similar backgrounds and passions just helps people click. I feel pretty fortunate to have shared my stay at Mana with Pat. He's been coming to Mana since the 80's and knows the park, guides and operators pretty well. This led to all kinds of interesting conversations and if he were not in camp, I wouldn't have gotten all the behind the scenes safari industry gossip. Pat talked of the glory days of Mana, when rhino and leopards were regular sightings. That must have been something.

 

Camp was set up at Mucheni I, above the Zambezi River. There's a great view of the river and Zambian escarpment from here, and a colony of Carmine Bee-eaters nesting in the riverbank below us. Rod points to a tree near camp. I looked up and there was one of those trees covered in a vine with red blossoms that you see dotted in this area. Wait a minute... those aren't blossoms, they're Carmine bee-eaters! The tree is full of them! They're beautiful birds and being that the colony was located right at camp we had the privilege of seeing them each day.

 

6518484475_fdfd46a834_m.jpg 6507956901_4a87a8eb98_m.jpg 6507957279_1e089e8ee4_m.jpg

 

6507958289_768e67c3b4_m.jpg 6507957807_7c561296b7_m.jpg 6507957561_a4db5552a0_m.jpg

 

Here's camp

 

6507935789_07218350bb_b.jpg

 

And here's my tent.

 

6518449831_e8566356fc_z.jpg

 

It's exactly how I wanted to stay. There's a cot with a mattress and linens and a little dresser type thing to store your stuff. Each tent also had a mirror and a torch. Outside there was a chair and a washing basin which was filled each morning with warm water to wash your face. There would also be a bottle of water for brushing your teeth. While we were out on game drives the camp staff would sweep your tent and make sure it was nice and tidy.

 

Still to arrive at camp were Len and Susan, a couple from LA. They'd be leaving the next morning to do a canoe trip but we'd join up again later to spend some time at Chitake. Andy, the Kavinga guide, was supposed to pick them up at the Mana air strip but they still hadn't arrived in camp yet. After an hour or two we decided to drive out that way and make sure nothing had gone wrong. We found them and everything was ok, they're flight was just late. We took a little bit of a game drive back to camp and arrived just as it was getting dark.

 

After showers we all sat down for dinner. I was really curious what the food would be like as I had no idea what to expect. Patrick, the head chef, brought out a mushroom soup that looked like it was from a fine restaurant. The presentation was good, but how would it taste? It was the best mushroom soup I've ever had, no exaggeration. I still fantasize about it when I fall asleep at night. The food at camp was EXCELLENT and all cooked over an open flame, including the various breads we'd sample during our stay. All the food was good, but there were two desserts that were some of the best I've had. One was some sort of cooked pear covered in a warm chocolate sauce and the other was an apple stuffed crepe. This whole camp was a step up from the participatory canoe trip and I have to say, I quite enjoyed it.

 

In between dinner and dessert that night we watched 5 spotted hyenas stroll by. Dinner was always served with wine and afterwards we would sit around the camp fire and talk while enjoying a few drinks.

 

That night I heard the whoops of hyena and lions off in the distance. I had heard these sounds on the canoe trip, but now they seemed closer. I heard birds all night long which I found strange. The only nocturnal birds I know of in the Northeast US are owls and you don't usually hear a chorus of them all night.

 

Here's a few more pics that I took around camp that first day.

 

6507935653_587a48f306_z.jpg

 

6507936229_1536be33ef_z.jpg

 

6507936639_af1a064bb9_z.jpg

 

6507936789_9b6ae447b9_z.jpg

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Sept 17 - Mana Pools

In the morning we set out on a game drive en route to dropping off Len and Susan at the park office for their canoe trip. We had a nice siting of lion, 2 lionesses and 3 juveniles. It's known that this pride is bigger so Andy suspected that the rest of them were in the adrenaline grass (so called because it's tall and you never know what might be hiding in there). Two elephant passed through but there wasn't much drama. It was a busy siting but there was plenty of room for everyone. That is until some guys parked, got out of their cars and proceeded to stand right in our line of view. WTF? It wasn't that big of a deal, but I don't know what they were thinking.

 

6507937905_0c6f527634_z.jpg

 

6507939881_59ce782367_z.jpg

 

Back at camp Pat informed us that he had seen a pack of 29 dogs. Rather than waiting until late afternoon, we took off after lunch to go find the dogs. We found them lounging under a Mango tree not far from the road. A couple of other cars came by while we were there, but after they left me and Andy walked a little closer and then took a seat to watch them for awhile. There were 11 pups that seemed a little apprehensive of us so we didn't try to get any closer (we were maybe 20 meters away). Three hooded vultures were hanging out with the pack. They feed on the dogs' droppings so for this reason, hooded vultures are often used to help locate wild dog.

 

6507940479_ed15f7a69b_z.jpg

 

6507940925_fa8f811223_z.jpg

 

 

For the afternoon activity Andy took me to the Mopane woodlands in the western area of the park in order to get away from all the car activity. We walked towards the river and we saw a herd of buffalo headed to get a drink.

 

If you've been following along closely, you'll realize that I am a very, very lucky person. We had dropped off Len and Susan that morning. Pat's been doing his own thing as far as game viewing. That leaves just me and the guide Andy for each game activity. I essentially had my own private guide.This would end up providing me with some encounters that never would have happened had I been part of a group. This was one of those experiences.

 

The bank here was really steep and there were really only two places where you could get down to the water. We walked down one and made our way over towards the buffalo as they came down to drink. The pictures I snapped aren't that great, but they help give an idea of what it was like. I watched the buffalo drinking 20 meters away while Andy peered over the ledge at the rest of the herd. Then we switched. Then we both ended up focusing on the buffalo drinking. Andy peered over the ledge to check up on the rest of the buffalo. There wasn't enough room for all of them to drink here, so some of the herd had started to move towards the place where we had come down to the river and were already past us. Andy looked at me and said, "Let's move!" We ran along the bank and out so that we wouldn't get trapped down there. I don't know how well I explained it, but here's a diagram that I drew in my journal haha.

 

6518773825_d8c17b6cb4.jpg

 

Here they come

6518771463_222f297088.jpg

 

6518773335_8645263939.jpg

 

6518772487_f0eeaf8008.jpg

 

6518773799_a0ea19e8bf.jpg

 

6518771703_61fbff6277.jpg

 

Andy told me that he never would have ventured out onto the riverbank if we had more people with us since we wouldn't have been able to get out of there quickly if we had to, which it turns out we did.

 

On the drive back to camp we ran into the dogs again. They had taken down an impala not too long ago and the pups were having a go at it. We stayed there until it got too dark and then headed back to camp.

6507941581_e774cdfa25.jpg

 

6507941859_cdd1ff9e14.jpg

Edited by yeahyeah
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


© 2006 - 2017 www.safaritalk.net - Talking Safaris and African Wildlife Conservation since 2006. Passionate about Africa.