Distance : 19km
Country : Zimbabwe (Mana Pools)
Another glorious sunrise over the Zambezi greeted the early risers today. The peaceful scene of birds chirping and hippos grunting was suddenly broken by the explosive flatulance of several crew members as the wildlife emerged from their tents. The previous nights stupendous cocophany of snorting, grunting, throat gargling and general nasal rumbling was replaced by the snapping and popping of geriatric joints as they exploded from their beds like snails on prosac.
The fire was rekindled and breakfast started while fresh coffee did the rounds. Due to the fact that the campsites are not fenced in and the real wild animals can walk around the tents at night we had all retired to bed the previous evening with buckets and stasoft bottles for the gathering nocturnal toilet breaks – no-one was prepared to do the 20 m sprint to the toilets and back! Thus a new daily ritual started with a stream of bodies trudging to the toilet with little white buckets in hand.
Gwaya camp is a private camp meaning that we were perched on the banks of the Zambezi with just an outside tap and toilet with shower. The setting was perfect for us as the nearest lodge was over a 100m away and hidden from us by the bush. We had a visit from a hyena as soon as the camp went quiet so the lads decided to erect, and I quote, a “pet friendly” electric fence. Not sure what teh elephants and hyenas were going to think of that but it did give us a sence of security the next few evenings.
After breakfast we chilled for a while, some fishing, some working on vehicles and some just sitting. BT headed back to his tent as he was suffering with a bit of flu (real flu, not the ethanol related version). The part of the river you see in these pictures is just a small channel that flows between the bank and one of many sand banks. The main part of the river lies behind the sand bank and is well over a hundred metres wide.
One of the really enjoyable aspects of Mana Pools is having the freedom to walk anywhere in the park – with the understanding that the animals, both predator and grazers, are walking out there with you. With this in mind, we did a walk out the back of the camp towards one of the pools approximately 500m away. Stopping regularly so that the birders could identify the various species, we gradually made our way to the pool.
Towards the end of the walk we curved round back to the river bank where we found a small group of elephants walking down the road behind us. The group, a mature female, a young male and female and small baby continued rignt through our camp. They passes right through the camp, literally metres from us, completely unpurturbed, stopping just past the camp for a bite to eat.
Later in the afternoon we took a short drive where we saw more elephant, a large herd of buffalo, zebra and many different buck.
The day ended, as they all do, with a few quite sundowners by the side of the river.