Mana Pools National Park – taking a break

30 07 2019

We were fortunate recently to be invited to Stretch Ferreira Safaris by the owner himself. I know him from school and he’d extended the kind invitation a while ago and it turned out they had a slack 3 nights at the end of July and could fit us in. The camp is in a prime spot on the edge of the Zambezi River in Mana Pools National Park in the far north-west of Zimbabwe.

It’s certainly Zimbabwe’s glamour national park and not without good reason. The trees are massive, the game is plentiful (usually) and one can camp right on the banks of the big river. Hippos grunt and splash the night away and sunbathe in the day. In summer it’s oppressively hot but winter is cold at night and warm during the day and dry, which is discouraging for the tsetse flies and mosquitoes.

This last season the park had received very poor rains so there was no grass close to the river and a lot of animals had moved off to find better grazing (the browsers were less affected but a lot of tree leaves were out of reach so they’d also moved off). Still, it was a great break from the stresses of Zimbabwean life, absolutely no cellphone reception and we had a great time. Stretch (real name Andrew) promises to get his clients up close and personal with the elephants that he’s known for many years and he didn’t disappoint. Most of the bigger males have names; JB who’s very chilled, The Donald (Trump) who’s bad tempered and Boris (Johnson) who’s a bit of a clown.


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4 responses

30 07 2019
OhPale

How were the stars at night? Special enough for an enthusiast to travel a thousand kms?

31 07 2019
gonexc

The stars were great but lots of big trees in the way. Most of Stretch’s guests are foreign so do travel a long way but mainly for the game and ambience.

31 07 2019
Felicity Ambrose

Thanks for sharing your lovely visit to Mana. My first visit was terrifying – way back in about 1968 – the ablution block had just been built. We had a fold-out camper van and my Dad chose a lovely site to set up camp under an enormous tree. Another couple were camping in a tiny tent on the edge of the bank. In the middle of the night all hell broke out as it turned out we had parked right in the middle of the elephants’ track down to the river. Baby elephants were tripping over our guy ropes, adults were spraying sand over the top of the tarpaulin….. very very scary. The poor innocent couple on the top of the river bank were nearly squashed during the elephants’ trek down to the river!

31 07 2019
gonexc

I had and exciting encounter years ago when camped at Mucheni 1 with Gary Goss. In my enthusiasm to get a good photo of elephants passing by (before the days of telephoto lenses) I got too close. Fortunately there was just a lot of noise and dust. We told Norman Monks the next day and he thought it was hugely amusing and left use with the advise never to surprise elephants!

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