TAKE A WALK IN MANA POOLS NATIONAL PARK…
ON SAFARI WITH MUPEMBERE SAFARIS
A long and interesting drive from Harare to Mana Pools National Park, driving over the Zambezi escarpment into the valley, saw me arriving at the tented camp a little after dark. Long before we pulled up, an assortment of flickering lights from the camp was seen, led the way and raised my expectations.
The intensity of the hippo honking increased as we made our final way to the camp and upon disembarkation I realised we were very close to the mighty Zambezi River.
The camp, even in the dark, quickly revealed the classic tented set-up, very charming and rather cosy. Seated around the fire with a drink in my hand and the African night sky covered with sparkling stars and the Southern Cross razor-sharp in all its splendour, gone was the fatigue after 24 hours of travel. I was back in Zimbabwe, a country I love for her beauty, wildlife and her people.
Dinner was a very special affair as all the meals were. The table was situated under a large nyalaberry tree, from where a chandelier hung, casting a wonderful light and creating a snug atmosphere. The table was set with fine china, cutlery and glasses. Nothing was missing and as it turned out, this setting was the perfect match to the wonderful food we had. The chef was in a class of her own, and every meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, was terrific.
The spacious walk-in tent with en-suite facilities, revealed fine beds with crisp white linens and a hot water bottle strategically placed under the duvet. I chose not to “close” the windows and through the netting watched as the moon came into sight, fighting to stay awake so as to hear the sounds as the African night awakens. Lion roaring, hyena giggling and whooping, elephant feeding. When I finally had to succumb, I fell asleep with a smile on my face.
Waking up wasn’t difficult, the large rafts of hippo singing their morning songs. Approximately 20 meters from my tent, the mighty Zambezi winds its way between the camp and on the opposite bank, the blue mountains of Zambia rose. The sun was slowly rising, turning this spectacular scenery red and orange. Getting dressed did not take long.
After breakfast, porridge complete with butter and brown sugar, perfectly made coffee, that really took the edge off my appetite and made me ready to do some walking in Mana Pools National Park. In front walks Collen, the owner and husband to Justine, the Camp’s manageress, a professional hunter/guide with many years experience.
We walked from camp and saw an awful lot. Elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and some very large lion tracks. Large numbers of antelopes, gracious impala, majestic waterbuck, and impressive kudu. Numerous beautiful birds, soaring eagles and noisy geese. Face to face with the wilderness. Collen is very knowledgeable and tells us about the game, the trees, the bushes, the tracks. We rest on large anthills and I understand that I am very privileged to be a part of this paradise.
Close to my tent is a large fig tree and every evening, a troop of baboons head for the top of this tree to stay the night. It’s noisy a while but it also results in large numbers of figs falling to the ground and every day, during the time I was there, a small group of elephants would arrive to feed on this delicacy. It is amazing to be so close to these large animals and we watch them, through bino’s and with our own eyes, only to see that they are also watching us, but they are completely relaxed even though there is a couple of calves among them. The antics of these small fellows are pure joy to witness.
Incredible walks and drives on the open cruiser, late afternoons we drive out with the purpose of finding the most beautiful spot to have our sundowners. I’ll admit it took some driving, since Mana Pools is one big beautiful place. It is a magic area, untamed and raw but surprisingly welcoming.
Justine and Collen and the entire staff of Mupembere Safaris are capable, welcoming and very proud of their camp and its abilities in Mana Pools National Park. On a scale from 1 to 10, when it comes to the authentic safari, they deserve top ranking and I highly recommend them.
Jytte Mejnertsen, Denmark
On safari with Mupembere, June 2010