Monthly Archives: June 2016

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Part 3 – Hwange National Park

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Sunrise at Nehimba Lodge

To the casual observer or first-time visitor, Nehimba Lodge in north-central Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe seems to have been built in a non-remarkable area.  There’s not a view to speak of in any direction, a mountain in the background, no river to be seen or even much in the way of impressive vegetation.  Spend a day or two there and you will no longer have to guess why the camp is where it is.

On my first visit there one cool April night, my unasked question about this was answered in the form of several huge bull elephants that came lumbering out of the darkness to quench their thirst at a pumped fresh water source a few meters off the wooden deck.  Nehimba is located in this spot because that is where subterranean water was found.

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My friend Bob Pattan and I from Houston and two other guests – sisters from Australia – were wide-eyed and animated, shrugging off jet-lag and travel fatigue as we excitedly pointed at the approaching beasts, marveling at their size, their ivory and their simply unbelievable ability to walk around so nimbly and quietly.  Like great grey ghosts in the brilliant moonlight, they approached the watering point and either timidly or boldly – depending on their dominance ‘ranking’ – dipped their trunks into the clean pumped water again and again.  We watched as they lifted up their trunks and heard the liquid gurgling into their stomachs.  Imvelo Safaris’ MD Mark (‘Butch’) Butcher reminded us that there were still many ponds of water out in the woodlands so the elephants did not ‘have’ to come to the camp’s water source.  Just like us they may simply prefer clean pure water over the murkier version from a natural water hole.  Or perhaps they like the minerality of the pumped artesian water.

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On this evening – and the following one – we watched the night-time elephant activity for the better part of two hours, impressed by the seriousness with which they approached the water hole, particularly when there were other elephants present.  There were a lot of meaningful stares, loaded glances and the occasional bump or two, but nothing overly serious.  It gets a lot more hectic of course later in the year when the competition for dwindling water resources heats up considerably.

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Sunset at Camp Hwange

In the dry season it becomes all too clear that Hwange is in fact all about reliable sources of underground water.   This Switzerland-sized reserve in far western Zimbabwe – on the edge of the Kalahari – does not have any rivers to speak of, except in the far northern area of the park.   The erratic summer rains which usually fall from about December through March fill up some of the pans and leave behind scattered ponds and water holes.  They don’t last long.  In a month or two most of the pools of fresh water are consumed by the animals, drain away or evaporate.  From July through October and often stretching well into November and even later, much of the wildlife in Hwange and particularly the elephants depend on pumped water for survival.  If it weren’t for the approximately 65 or so artificially maintained water holes scattered throughout the park  elephant numbers would likely crash dramatically and Hwange would become far less hospitable a place for wildlife.  Not so much over the few wet months of summer but definitely during the long dry season or in years when the summer rains are sparse or fail altogether.

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Rock rabbits along the road to Sinamatella

Water has been pumped in Hwange for more than 80 years ever since the first warden Ted Davison drilled the first bore hole in the park in the 1930’s, in an attempt to provide a year-round source of drinking water for the animals.  His program has proven to be wildly successful to the point where Hwange now has 30,000-plus elephant seasonally moving into and out of the park.  This puts a lot of pressure on the water holes and in the dry hot months of September and especially October, camps like Nehimba and many others experience a non-stop parade of elephants coming to slake their huge thirsts. Which can be stressful for the animals but a boon for visitors who are treated to some of the best close-up views of dozens and sometimes hundreds of elephants, often in large breeding herds with lots of babies, a good indicator of the degree to which the animals are thriving.

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Last April we found ourselves in Hwange just a couple of weeks or so after some substantial and widespread rains had fallen.  Even though the rain was late by historical patterns, it was welcome and likely averted what may have been a catastrophic drought in much of the park.

It does have an effect on game-viewing though. Over the course of several days at Nehimba and Camp Hwange in mid-April, it became clear that the northern part of the park – which is dominated by mopane trees – is not at its best in the wet season.  Several times we found ourselves driving around aimlessly during the early morning and late afternoon ‘golden hour'; the time of day when any serious photographer wants to have his/her lens trained on a perfectly lit subject.

Giraffe seen en route to Nehimba

Giraffe seen en route to Nehimba

That is not to say that we did not enjoy the time spent at Nehimba and Camp Hwange; in fact we had a marvelous time there.  Even so, they are best visited later in the dry season, from about June or July onward, through October and November.  At this time of the year the water holes at both camps as well as at the natural seeps which are found in the area, and at pumped water holes such as Shumba, are hives of wildlife activity.  Visitors can be assured of viewing and photographing a good number and variety of animals including of course elephant, buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, eland and many more.  Plus good predator activity including lions and with a bit of luck, African Painted Dogs.

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An outstanding feature of a visit to Hwange National Park – it applies to all of the Zimbabwe parks – is being in the presence of or better yet walking with a Zimbabwe professional guide.  On average, it takes someone about 5 to 7 years to obtain the qualification which is without doubt the ‘gold standard’ for guiding throughout Africa.

 

Bob Pattan in action at a water hole, Ngamo Pans

Bob Pattan in action at a water hole, Ngamo Pans

Becoming a Zimbabwe Professional Guide

In an interview with Safaritalk, Zimbabwe Professional Guide Julian Brookstein described the process and requirements for qualifying as a Zim pro guide; what follows is a summary of Julian’s much more detailed description.  The process of becoming a Zimbabwe pro guide is complicated and demanding.  It starts with a written exam for a learner’s guide license which covers habitats & animal habits, firearms and legal issues among others. With this license and basic first aid training you can guide, but only in a vehicle.  You then take up an apprenticeship with a safari company which takes from three to four years but can be up to ten years.  During this time, while gaining experience and knowledge, a learner guide also has to hunt at least four dangerous game animals; this is usually done in a situation where a problem animal has to be eradicated.  Over this entire apprenticeship period, learner guides have to keep a logbook of everything from camp maintenance work to drives taken, walks in the company of fully licensed guides, approaches to dangerous game – in fact anything and everything to do with guiding.

Once a learner guide is at a stage of proficiency where his/her mentor thinks the person is ready to move forward, he/she has to complete an advanced first aid course, and then a shooting exam which tests the applicant’s speed and accuracy under conditions simulating an animal charging or the pursuit of a wounded elephant or similar.

Eland at Ngweshla

Eland at Ngweshla

The last two steps – which are the also the toughest – is an interview for final proficiency and then the actual proficiency test.  During the interview for proficiency as many as 10 qualified guides will test your knowledge of mammal skulls & skins and any other matters relating to guiding.  Passing this test comes with an invitation to proficiency, which happens once a year in the first week of October.  The aspiring guide usually teams up with another apprentice and sets up a full fly camp to host at least two examiners.  The camp is expected to be fully functional with food and beverages to be provided (you can take in a camp hand or two to assist).  After a camp inspection, the next week is taken up with small groups of apprentices and examiners spending hours out in the bush and the applicants having to answer questions on all aspects of the fauna and flora, tracks etc.  Most importantly, guide applicants will be put in a situation where they have to successfully shoot and drop an elephant with a single shot.  After all this, a guide will be fully qualified as a Zimbabwe Professional Guide and only then will he/she be allowed to lead guests on foot, in any of the Zimbabwe National Parks.

Sunset over Ngamo Pans

Sunset over Ngamo Pans

What does this mean to visitors?  It means that you can get out of the vehicle and follow your Zim pro guide on foot with the greatest of confidence.  They are trained specifically to be able to protect you under any and all circumstances.  The guides try to avoid potential danger but if something unexpected happens, you will know exactly what to do because your guide will have already properly briefed you.  It is on foot where Zimbabwe pro guides really shine and are best able to demonstrate their skills and knowledge.  So if you find yourself at a safari camp and someone asks if you’d like to do some walking, say yes.  It may end up being one of your best ever safari experiences!

Ivory Lodge - A good choice for a family safari

Ivory Lodge – A good choice for a family safari

Over the next week, I spent two nights each at several Hwange safari camps; here are some impressions:

Nehimba Lodge

Friendly, hospitable staff and management, casual atmosphere.  Huge rooms with comfortable beds, old-fashioned bath & outdoor showers. It was nice to have an electronic device to alert camp management when you were ready to be collected from your room.  We were guided by one of the most experienced Zimbabwe pro guides around (the MD of Imvelo Safaris) and experienced a good close encounter with a bull elephant while on foot.  Highlight was undoubtedly the elephants coming to drink right by the pool & deck at night.  Great food including a memorable traditional meal on the day of arrival, with three types of meat, sadza (local version of polenta), morogo (traditional spinach), a bean salad and more.   Wonderfully remote and peaceful area – highly recommended for particularly elephant aficionados. WIFI = Yes.

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Twin bedded suite at Nehimba Lodge

Camp Hwange

Exceedingly well-run camp with superior guiding staff.  Everything was spotlessly clean and in perfect working order including the vehicles which had nice special features such as an interior roof light which is useful when arriving back in camp after dark.  Highlight was seeing two male lions in perfect light near Shumba Pan on our last morning there. An all-day outing to the Sinamatella area was educational – we saw a part of the park which we had never traveled in previously – but ultimately disappointing due to very thick bush conditions making animal viewing difficult.  All three guides with whom we interacted namely Julian Brookstein, Spike Williamson and Adam were extremely knowledgeable, friendly and tried their very best to find animals for us.  We enjoyed a couple of memorable meals at Camp Hwange which had the highest occupancy of any of the camps we visited.  WIFI = Yes

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Main area interior at Camp Hwange

Lion seen on game drive from Camp Hwange

Lion seen on game drive from Camp Hwange

Somalisa Camp

Currently the most luxurious camp in Hwange, by a significant margin. Absolutely no comparison with the ‘original’ Somalisa Camp; the only thing the two  have in common is the location.  The new Somalisa has beautiful and expansive common areas and deluxe rooms which are huge, elegant and luxurious in every way, complete with old-fashioned bath and  shower.

Elephants at a watering hole near Somalisa

Elephants at a watering hole near Somalisa

The camp has easy access to Ngweshla which is one of Hwange’s best game-viewing areas, bar none.  Always something to be seen; over a couple of visits there we experienced great views of eland, zebra, impala, colorful birds and much more, previously we had also seen roan there.  Our afternoon game drive out of Somalisa with our guide Lewis was one of the best of the trip with great views of breeding herds of elephant with lots of tiny babies, among others.  Plus delicious meals including a memorable pita lunch with lamb meat balls, a variety of salads and couscous.   WIFI = Yes

Interior of room at Somalisa

Interior of room at Somalisa

Part of lounge at Somalisa

Part of lounge at Somalisa

Linkwasha Camp

This new Wilderness Safaris property is a sleek, well-designed new camp in the southern part of Hwange, close to Ngamo Pan.  I like the spacious, well-equipped rooms (overhead fan and efficient standing fan), excellent lighting, nice view over a nearby pan, mini-bar and indoor-outdoor shower with great water pressure.  The food was superb.   This camp delivered the best overall game-viewing of any of the Hwange Camps we visited this time.  Ngamo Pans is a jewel of a place for the green season and this camp – or Wilderness Safaris’ Little Makalolo or Davison’s Camp – is a great choice for the summer months.

Ngamo Pan at sunset

Ngamo Pan at sunset

A worthwhile side-trip was a visit to Ngamo Village where the local Headman Johnson Ncube (aka Mr. Johnson) and his wife Dorothy showed us around the neat little village and their private homestead.

Dorothy Ncube in the dining room at Ngamo Village

Dorothy Ncube in the dining room at Ngamo Village

Many game-viewing highlights with our professional guide Bulisane Mathe (‘Buli’) such as a fantastic viewing of a herd of Sable antelope seen in good light inside a simply gorgeous Rosewood forest; a small pride of lions at first light near camp and a spell-binding sequence of events when a few elephants chased away a couple of lions at sunset.  Our last morning game drive out of Linkwasha produced the first good viewing of eland on this trip and I captured a couple of good images, one showing the relative size of these giant antelope quite clearly, compared with a diminutive impala. WIFI = No.

Eland vs Impala

Eland vs Impala

Conclusion

In summary, Hwange is one of Southern Africa’s most underrated wildlife sanctuaries. Those of us who know it and who visit it regularly know only too well that Hwange delivers a fantastic African safari experience, time after time.  For one thing the abundance of elephants almost guarantees a great safari.  Everyone loves elephants and even on a slow day, you’ll see more than just a few.  But Hwange isn’t just about elephants.  They are the highlight but over the years we’ve had some brilliant sightings of lions, cheetah, buffalo, giraffe, sable antelope, roan, eland and many more – plus fantastic birdlife.

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Lion in early morning light near Linkwasha

Lion in early morning light near Linkwasha

Add to that the best guiding in Africa, top-quality camps, relatively few other visitors at practically any time of the year, a good road network and you have the recipe for an amazing safari experience.  Don’t rush it though.  Hwange is best experienced slowly so take your time and spend at least three or four nights at one camp and by all means do some walking with a Zimbabwe pro guide.  Take some time off from game drives, sit and wait at a water hole and observe and magical things will happen.

Secretary bird

Secretary bird

A few practical hints:

  • If you are a serious photographer, take a long lens (300 to 400mm) as off-road driving is sensibly not allowed inside the park.  The road network is good and most of the animals are seen at or near waterholes so there is no need to drive right up to them.  However occasionally you will need a good long lens to capture some of the smaller mammals and birds away from the vehicle.

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  • Hwange gets very hot in the southern African spring and summer months from about October to March or so, yet it can be bitterly cold with temperatures right down to 32F in winter (June, July & August).So go well prepared depending on the season:  layering is essential in winter, as are gloves & proper head-cover.  In summer the lightest of lightweight clothing would be appropriate and at any time of the year you will need a good hat and plenty of sunscreen.

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  • Hwange combines well and easily with several other Zimbabwe parks & areas.You can start a Zimbabwe trip in the Matobos (rhino, Rhodes’ grave-site at the View of the World & San cave art) & then go by road transfer (about 3.5 hrs) to Hwange.  Hwange is also a drivable distance from Victoria Falls (5 to 6 hours depending on what you see along the way inside the park) but better to fly.  For a longer Zimbabwe trip consider combining Hwange with Matusadona National Park (scenery, Lake Kariba boating & fishing, excellent elephant-viewing) and Mana Pools (remote, atmospheric, good game-viewing, very diverse range of activities).

Continue to Part 4: Matusadona

Ngamo Pan

Ngamo Pan


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Part 4 – Matusadona National Park

Matusadona National Park which lies between the Ume River and Sanyati Gorge along the shore of Zimbabwe’s massive Lake Kariba is not one of the country’s most-visited reserves, at least not by international tourists.  It should be.  It is unquestionably beautiful with almost too many visual elements competing for attention.  A golf course-like expanse of yellow-green panicum grass  along the lake-shore.   Acres of thick jesse and mopane bush just behind that.  The shimmering surface of Lake Kariba itself.  And of course the jagged Matuzviadonha mountains which dominate the skyline.    Put it together, add wildlife such as elephants or buffalo in the foreground and you have a natural masterpiece which is gorgeously lit usually twice a day, every day, at sunrise and sunset.

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Doing nothing at a safari camp in Matusadona is ok.  If all you want to do is sit in a comfortable lounger and take in the view and enjoy the balmy climate, nobody will mind.  They might offer you a cup of french-pressed coffee or a gin & tonic, depending on whether it is early or late.  If your camp of choice is any good, there will be a sparkling pool likely just meters away, for a quick splash if it gets a little too warm for your liking.  And at night – if you are lucky – a lake breeze will agitate the surface of Lake Kariba, creating the best white noise of all, the sound of waves crashing on the shore.

Relaxing at swimming pool at Changa Camp

Relaxing at swimming pool at Changa Camp

Most people come to Lake Kariba and to Matusadona expecting to do stuff.  They won’t be disappointed.   Almost as many things as you can see, you can do.  Being on the edge of the lake clearly boating is the most obvious of these and taking a boat cruise on the lake is a pleasant and relaxing activity.  It is often planned for the late afternoon to best enjoy the views of the sun setting over the water.  All you have to do is watch, drink in hand.  With snacks on the side.

View over Lake Kariba from Changa lounge

View over Lake Kariba from Changa lounge

One step up from that would be to mix in some fishing for either bream or the elusive but highly sought-after Tiger Fish, Africa’s top freshwater fighting fish.  A Tiger weighing in at 10 pounds and up is a trophy fish – something to talk about.  But of course this is catch and release, no animals harmed in the process.  Mostly it’s the person with the fishing rod in hand which gets his or her pride dented as Tigerfish will get rid of a spoon or an artificial fly almost 8 times out of 10.  If a Tiger doesn’t strip or break the line, it will jump clear of the water surface while shaking its head violently, in the process usually dislodging whatever it had bitten down on.

Changa fishing

Changa fishing

For the keen photographers, a couple of game drives along the Matusadona lake shore will deliver some of the best elephant photography they may ever experience.  Matusadona has lots of elephants and they show themselves off to their best effect when feeding on the nutritious panicum grass along the lake in the late afternoons.  This is your opportunity for that once in a lifetime ‘screen saver’ shot with a perfectly lit herd of elephants in front of a multi-layered, colorful background including grass, lake, mountain and sky.  It does not get any better or easier than this.

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The Matusadona elephants are totally relaxed and will feed right around a stationary vehicle; even females with very small babies show absolutely no fear or signs or agitation.  You won’t need a very long lens as they will get very close!  The Matusadona elephants are on average slightly smaller in stature than most other African elephants but many of them have long, elegant tusks.  Their hides are a deep golden brown color, caused by their close association with the Lake Kariba mud.   Other than elephants you may be pointing your lens at zebra, impala (capture them jumping!), buffalo, a variety of colorful birds including several large birds of prey, bee-eaters and kingfishers.

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On my third visit to the area over the last 10 years, the three things that are essential to any good safari magically happened.  I found the right camp, went at a good time of the year and was fortunate to have a superb guide.  I had returned to the area for a third time to check out a new property – Changa – and to see if we could finally start to include Lake Kariba in more of our clients’ Zimbabwe trips.  Our two previous visits to the area were enjoyable but not compelling to the point where I wanted to tell the whole world to go there.  This time around, the overall experience was fantastic and yes – Matusadona should be high on everybody’s list of places to see and things to do in Zimbabwe.

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Changa Safari Camp is a relatively small (10-room) tented property close to Fothergill Island, right on the edge of Lake Kariba and with post-card views in every direction and from every room.  Flying in from Hwange we landed at nearby Fothergill Island airstrip and it was a brief 15 to maybe 20-minute drive from there to the camp.  When Lake Kariba has more water  the trip may be done by boat which would make it even more special.

Sundowner outing from Changa Camp

Sundowner outing from Changa Camp

The rooms at Changa are comfortable but not overly luxurious; my standard room had a king size bed with 2 overhead fans, adequate but not exceptionally good lighting, plenty of shelf space to unpack clothing and other stuff.  A bonus:  an outdoor bath and a terrific front verandah with a hammock.  On the minus side, the towels can do with an upgrade.

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Room at Changa Camp

On my first afternoon at Changa I joined three other guests and our very competent guide on a pontoon boat outing on Lake Kariba.  With the lake being as low as it was at the time – about 33% of full capacity – there were stark black ‘tree skeletons’ all along the edges of the lake, lending a slightly eerie edge to what would otherwise be a fairly innocuous outing.  Seeing the massive dead Lead-wood tree stumps sticking several meters out of the water, prominently edged against the blue sky, inevitably makes one think about doing a similar boat trip when the lake is full.  I will never be able to go flat-out in a motorboat on Lake Kariba in future, without remembering those sharp dead tree limbs reaching up from below.  As it turned out the only excitement of the trip was what we could generate mentally as the fishing itself was a bust with just a few ‘rubbish fish’ (Squeakers) being landed.  It’s not always like that; fishing is unpredictable and all you have to do is try again.  Plus it gets better later in the year when it becomes warmer, from September onward.

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The following morning I was up early at 5:45A for a 2-hour foot safari.  From camp, I drove out about 15 minutes or so with Bruce Cronje, a Zimbabwe professional guide.  Bruce is an impressive young man, seemingly always totally in control, and clearly fearless.  I felt very confident walking with him, even in terrain where unpredictable animals such as solitary buffalo bulls may be encountered.  It ended up being a pleasant walk mostly through mopane scrub, through a couple of dry creek beds and eventually out onto the open floodplain, currently very extensive due to the low level of Lake Kariba.  From a distance, we saw some elephants emerging from the edge of the tree-line, and a bit later found ourselves very much in their midst, by this time back in the vehicle.  I was particularly impressed by a hefty elephant bull with massive tusks, seemingly fixated on one of the females and doggedly following her around.  The rest of the breeding herd peacefully passed around us, barely taking notice of the two of us in the open vehicle. It was an exhilarating experience.

Zimbabwe professional guide Bruce Cronje

Zimbabwe professional guide Bruce Cronje

Later that day we were alerted to the fact that a pride of lion was present in the Changa Camp area.  The Matusadona Lion Research Project monitors the movement of collared lions in the area and passes on the information on an informal basis to the Changa guides.  This does not mean that the lions are just out there to be seen.  Far from it – as we soon discovered.  Upon hearing the news of the lions being around, a few of us grabbed our cameras and binoculars and jumped into a vehicle with Bruce.  Even getting close to the GPS coordinates of the spot where the lions had last been recorded, proved to be a mission.  Had I been driving, we would not have made it one quarter of the way there.  The track was barely passable and in fact we did get momentarily stuck but was able to free the vehicle with a bit of effort.

A Matusadona lion

A Matusadona lion

Having reached a spot where we could drive no further, we got out of the car and the three of us followed Bruce on foot, in search of lions.  Walking into lions is high on my personal bucket list, having tried to do so several times previously, without success.  I was hoping mightily that this outing would end differently.  Just knowing that lions are actually around or had been recorded in an area recently, adds a lot of excitement and even some apprehension to walking in dense bush.  Your every sense is in hyper-mode; your breathing rate and heartbeat are elevated and your adrenaline is starting to pump in anticipation of what might happen, good or bad.  Just like earlier that day I was more relaxed that I probably should have been,  simply because we had a ZimbabweProfessional Guide leading us.  Ultimately the outing failed because the lions had already moved out of the area, even before we got there.  This became clear later in the day when we picked up their tracks somewhere else.  It would have been great to find the lions but I can’t say that I was disappointed.  Just being there in a situation where a pride of lions might be right around the next bush, was enough.  For an hour or so I thought about nothing else but coming face to face with a lion – or more than one – in a situation where I would be decidedly vulnerable.  I would have had to face a potentially dangerous animal in its own habitat, on foot.  Control my fear, refrain from giving in to instinct and running away.  Listen to and follow the instructions of the guide.  It was good practice for the next time when the lions might actually be there.

Our late afternoon game drive along the tree-line and eventually out onto the floodplain or lake shore, was one my best in several years. The light was fantastic and the backdrop was beautifully layered, creating a canvas so good that the framing became almost irrelevant.  This is where you close the aperture in your lens to f8 or smaller and try to impart as much of the depth of the scene as you can.  Of course no matter your level of photographic skills no photo or video can recreate the scene or come close to the impact of being there.  One after another, several small breeding herds of elephants slowly made their way from the lake towards the treeline, crossing this huge open expanse of grass, with the water and the mountains behind them.  They were not walking purposefully as elephants often do.  They were feeding on the panicum grass, lingering here and there, the prehensile tips of their trunks seeking out a bite-size tuft of grass, dislodging it with a twisting and plucking motion, raising it up to their mouths and repeat.

Meanwhile a very young elephant calf was prominent in the herd, clearly reveling in the experience of being out there in this land of plenty.  The baby was being visibly pampered by other members of the group who would put their trunks lightly on it, pay obvious attention to it, and subtly but clearly protect it from threats seen and unseen.

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For serious photographers, I would put Matusadona high on the list of Zimbabwean areas to visit.  Even on a relatively short stay you will be practically assured of getting some of your best ever elephant photographs.  The only other African destination where elephants can be photographed as effectively and strikingly as at Matusadona is Amboseli, in Kenya.  The elephant experience alone makes it worthwhile traveling to Matusadona National Park and I will definitely recommend it for inclusion in any longer Zimbabweitinerary.  Ideally of course one should include Hwange, Victoria Falls, Matusadona (Lake Kariba) and Mana Pools.

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Matusadona is also a ‘must visit’ park for birders.  The park  has an extraordinarily diverse range of habitats which of course attract and sustain a wide variety of birds.  At Matusadona you’ll see lots of birds around and over the lake such as African Fish Eagles, various kingfishers, terns, ducks and wading birds, plus of course the species which favor the grasslands (plovers, coursers, pipits, lapwings, guinea-fowl etc.) and the huge variety of birds which favor the thick bush and wooded areas including several birds of prey.

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In summary, Matusadona National Park is a much under-rated national park with a unique (for Zimbabwe) mix of grassy lake-front, bush and mountains and an above-average range of activities including boating, fishing, game drives, excellent walking & hiking  opportunities, superior bird-watching and a near-perfect setting for photography, particularly of elephants.  Having visited several different properties in the Matusadona area over the last several years Changa Camp delivered the best overall experience by far.  In terms of location and guiding – the two most important factors predicting the success of a safari – it is definitely tops.  Add to that comfortable rooms, delicious food and great all-round hospitality and friendliness and you have a winner!

Continue to Part 5, Mana Pools

Sunset at Changa Camp

Sunset at Changa Camp

 


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