Meeting the big African icons on safari in Zimbabwe
A safari will bring ups and downs as you can’t foresee where the animals will be every day. This day in Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe was far from dull.
If you go on a safari to Mana Pools, then you probably have a couple of things on your mind. Things that you really want to see and experience. This day brought me two of those things and both included big mammals and close encounters on foot. And, when I say close I don’t mean dangerous, but the possibility to actually meet the animals on foot in their environment giving us as safari tourists a new insight into their world.
The first encounter of the day was when we happened upon Boswell the big elephant bull that raises himself on the hind legs to reach the best leaves and pods in the canopies.
We had walked with Boswell some day before, but at that time he didn’t actively search for food. This day we discovered him and a small entourage of a mother and a calf together with what I think must have been a young bull. Boswell often has an entourage as his table manner isn’t the best meaning they can pick the leftovers that he drops on the ground.
This time we managed to follow him for a long period and got to see how the group of elephants interacted. The young bull was really cheeky trying to steal food which Boswell clearly showed that he didn´t like. The opposite could be said about the baby and his mother as they were tolerated by him.
I felt really humbled to be able to follow this gentle giant. At times we were really close, but that was before the mother with baby appeared. A mother elephant will be protective of its offspring so you have to give them plenty of room. Otherwise they can show their frustration and we really wouldn’t want to stress them in any way.
Walking with lions
The second encounter of the day was when we approached a lion pride on foot. They had killed an Eland antelope not far from our camp so this was a place we came back to more than once during our time in Mana Pools National Park.
The first rule for walking lions is that you need to keep track of the each individual and their movement. That meant we checked the site before we approach it as we needed to know what we walked into. Fisher our guide made us feel secure and I didn’t once consider this to be as dangerous as it sounds like.
We approached the pride in a single file to make them more at ease and used the surroundings, in this case a broken tree, to our advantage making it act as a natural barrier between ourselves and the pride.
We stayed with the pride for the complete afternoon watching them eat, mate and move around trying to stay in the shade.
I must say that I never thought it was possible to approach the biggest carnivore in Africa on foot, but it seems like the prides in Mana Pools National Park are used to see safari tourists on foot. If you use common sense and don’t act threatening then you can get close to them without disturbing them to much.
Every day is a different day
I think you understand that this day was something extraordinary and I think this isn´t something that you can find elsewhere in Africa. This really is Africa at its best and if you want to experience it yourself, then contact me as I am planning on going back there next year. You can read more about that photo expedition here: Magical Mana Pools
Enjoy the gallery from this remarkable day on safari in Zimbabwe.