Mana Pools wildlife greeted us in September 2017. We had many memorable encounters with some of the iconic animals you find inside this lovely National Park in northern Zimbabwe.
Back at Mana Pools National Park
I went back to Mana Pools National Park in September 2017. This time I had two friends with me from Sweden. Frode had never been to Africa before, but Martin had been with me on two trips.
We were to spend a full week in Mana Pools on an authentic safari. The goal with the trip was of course to work with the different iconic animals found in the National Park.
This time I opted to go the waterway into Mana Pools. We travelled with a small motor boat from Chirundu to the Head Office inside the park. There we game along the way, but we only stopped once when we found Elephants out in the water. The Zambezi isn’t deep so it is fairly easy for the Elephants to actually walk across the river. You will find small islands in the Zambezi that is used by animals and humans when they are out canoeing on the might river.
Boswell with friends
At camp we met the other guests, a couple from New Zeeland that had arrived the day before us. They had done a little game walking and that was exactly what we did the coming days. It is hard to describe the feeling you have when you are out in the wild like here in Mana Pools. I have done game walks elsewhere, but this place is special in so many ways.
The first mornings game walk took us into the world of Boswell. We found him and Fred Astaire not far from the Zambezi doing there stuff. Boswell was really in the act and went up a couple of times for us. It is a special sight when you see this massive bull on the hind legs, but I think the closeness we had with them was what made this morning special.
Video: The Elephants of Mana Pools National Park
Exploring Mana Pools National Park
We did not only travel along the river front as I wanted to show more of the park. If you go up from the river front you will find a different type of habitat in which you find more species and a greater variation. This area is great for Birds of prey, but you can also find the Painted dogs there if you are lucky.
Our biggest find was an African Civet. We found it during broad daylight which isn’t normal as this is an nocturnal animal. It did run away, but we managed to capture a couple of frames of an animal I only had seen once before.
Running African Civet in Mana Pools National Park
The African Civet is a medium-sized mammal and looks a little like a crossover of a cat and badger.
The two Painted Dog packs
For the rest of the stay we had luck with the Painted Dogs. We found the Nyamatusi pack at the same spot twice during successive evenings. During the second evening we watched them kill an Impala just by the road. It was a real treat to first be able to spend time with them and then watch them hunt and make a successful kill. I made a video of our time with the Nyamatusi pack.
Video: The Nyamatusi pack in Mana Pools National Park
This was the last safari for our friends from New Zeeland before they headed into Botswana for the second leg of their trip. They were replaced in camp by another couple from New Zeeland together with a Zimbabwe/Swiss couple with a friend. This change in guests meant we didn’t see the Nyamatusi pack more. Instead, we were greeted by the Nyakasanga pack that made our camp their primary hunting ground for the rest of our stay.
It wasn’t anything else, but crazy. We didn’t have to travel more than a couple of hundred meters to find them each day. Once we stood in the middle of the hunt with Impalas and Painted Dogs running more or less into us, but that is another story.
Other interesting things that happened in camp was when the Spice Girls, four lionesses, passed by in the dark when I took my evening shower. We also had one of the big males popping by before the dessert one night. We found him a couple of hundred meters out on the floodplain calling.
This was an exceptional trip if you only count the time we spent with the Painted Dogs. It could have been a greater variation in pictures, but when the Dogs hunt you stay and see what they are up to.
I feel my setup is really great and I will keep the group size small. I think first and foremost of the well-being of the animals as I don’t want to stress the animals. Secondly, the better photo potential a small group gives you and thirdly that the group gets tighter.
Please enjoy the Photo Album from Mana Pools National Park.