Our first full day in Mana Pools started early with a lovely breakfast around the campfire. By 6 am we were loaded in the vehicle and off in search of adventure…
First up was an eland using a termite mound as a step stool to reach the best branches, or maybe he was just posing for us?
A herd of eland, plus a single impala, gather under a tree – thankful to have survived the night.
There were of course, a lot of elephants and a lot of baby elephants. This youngster was doing it’s best to keep up to mom.
We also saw a lot of zebra. They can be quite skittish, but these ones didn’t seem at all bothered by our presence.
Zebra are pregnant for 13 months, this particular mother-to-be couldn’t have had much time left before the arrival of her roughly 70 lb baby!
More elephants, it really never gets tiring…
Around 8 am we caught up with our canine friends from the night before. We approached them on foot, crouching down low and coming around a termite mound one by one. Then we sat and observed them for a little while. It really is special to spend time like this with one of the world’s most endangered animals!
Not even 8:30 yet and it’s already been a great day! Is that it for the morning? Absolutely not! Not far from the dogs, also resting in the shade, we found these lovely ladies…
We stayed in lodges on this trip, but it is possible to camp and self drive in Mana Pools. How is this for wild camping?
Our quest for one of the standing bull elephants continued. We saw some reaching, but none standing on their hind legs. It was early still, almost lunch time on our first full day…
There are 2 bull elephants known for standing on their hind legs to feed – Boswell, who is believed to be the first to do it, and Fred. Just as we were about to head back to the lodge for lunch, Cloud spotted Fred and one of his friends not far from the road.
5 minutes later, we were rewarded with the most spectacular sight!
Elated from seeing Fred stand for us, it was time to head back for lunch. The end to an amazing morning!
After lunch there was plenty of time to rest, relax and chill out. Much like the baboons around camp!
After some downtime, we headed back out for our afternoon drive. The cape buffalo is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, they can be extremely tempermental and need to be treated with respect. This muddy fellow was giving us the look as we stopped to photograph him.
The African Fish Eagle is quite common in southern Africa and is the national bird of Zimbabwe (along with a few other southern Africa countries). They can be seen perching near pretty much any body of water.
We were on our way to catch up with the wild dog pack when we got distracted by this beautiful lady. Leopards are normally quite elusive, but she was quietly sitting and keeping a close eye the humans and on her youngster who was hiding in a thicket across the road.
We didn’t stay long, leaving not only to find the dogs, but to give the leopards the opportunity to reunite.
The dogs were walking in the dried up riverbed, so we drove up ahead and sat in the riverbed, waiting for them to arrive. They took very little notice of us and passed right by. What an experience that is! Many thanks to our apprentice guide Bryan for the video!
And just like that it was time for the dogs (and for us) to return to the den for the night.
It was an incredible first day – we saw 4 of the big 5 – lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. There are no rhino here, so we saw all that we could. We also had 2 encounters with the wild dogs and Fred stood for us. There really are no words – this place is amazing!