Not your average morning stroll...
This morning we chose a different type of adventure, yes, we’re going on a walking safari. We’ve decided to walk away from the security of the truck, into the safe hands of Mark and Tatendah.
An early rise
Up and ready for a 6am start, I didn’t think I would say this, but I’m now becoming slightly used to getting up and at’em at 5:15 now.
Although, when you know you’re waking up to the view across Lake Kariba rather than a London commute, it is slightly easier.
Follow the tracks
Quick brekkie and we’re off, we jump in the truck and head to the spot where we saw the cheetah from our morning safari drive the previous day. Today we’re also joined by a lovely Italian family.
Heading out on the truck
Off across the plain, bouncing through the scrubland, it isn’t long before we spot our first elephant of the day, fish eagles and of course, the immaculately turned out Impala.
Suprised young elephant
Our guides notice hyena tracks, but apparently, they are from the evening before. We return to the cheetah spot, but no sign other than yesterday’s footprints. The landscape here is incredible, it brings back so many memories.
Don’t take it for granted
Some days you’ll see a rare sight and some days maybe not, but hey that’s the fun of a game drive you never know what you’re going to see.
The park landscape
A helpful guide
If you're considering an adventure around Zimbabwe, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.
Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.
A brief from the experts
Just beyond the cheetah spot, we park under a tree that overlooks the plain and jump out ready for our walk. Mark and Tatendah have come prepared with rifles, just in case anything untoward happens. We are all well aware this is an extremely dangerous place; this is not a playground.
We’re all given a brief on the do’s and don’ts of the bush, yesterday we were told to wear neutral colours as we don’t want to scare off the game.
Tatendah guiding us through the dry riverbed
We all need to walk in a single file, with Tatendah at the front and Mark at the back. We are also told not to run if we see any animals (hmmm… that might be easier said than done), and the bush walk will be for around 2 hours.
Mark said more often than not as we are walking; we may not see too much, as the animals can see us before we see them. They will usually move in the opposite direction.
Make sure you put sun cream on and also wear a hat. You’ll be out for a few hours, and the sun is going to track you down.
Oh, and of course your camera and binoculars.
Our anticipation builds
After about 10 minutes in, Tatendah spots a herd of buffalo, straight away this is exceeding all expectations. Quietly we wander to a high point which is nearby, and we have this magnificent view of the herd of buffalo below.
A herd of buffalo
The older male guys in the herd have obviously spotted us but stand their ground and keep a beady eye on us looking down on them from a slightly higher point behind some trees.
Buffalo keeping their distance
It is an incredible sight, and Tatendah believes it is a herd of around 100.
Buffalo watching us, watching them
As we are on foot, the buffalo do see us as a threat, due to poachers. If we were in a truck, it’s a different matter as they don’t see the truck as danger. Although, you’re still watched closely by the older guys of the group with their weird, grey middle parting.
We decided to move on and head along the dry riverbed, track footprints of animals that have recently sauntered by in the last day or two.
Taking a bush walk is an incredible way to enjoy different elements of your African surroundings. Although it’s impressive seeing the larger wildlife, you also get to experience the smaller creatures that live in the bush and gain a greater understanding of the evolution of nature.
Dug by an elephant in search of water
Don’t think I’ll eat this mushroom
Mark pointed out deep holes in the riverbed that have been dug out by elephants, as they could smell the minerals of the water underground.
And a terrapin, finally a creature I recognise from back home in Blighty, well, it looks similar.
Oh my, we saw a lion
Gary and I were quietly chatting with Mark when Tatendah suddenly stopped and signalled to us all to keep silent and move slightly back, he had spotted a female lion sleeping in the shade of a tree.
It wasn’t advisable to take any photos as this lion was not for disturbing, we were about 15 metres away. After looking through the binoculars, we slowly retreated, and Tatendah and Mark were on guard at either end.
We decided to retreat across the riverbed, back through the scrubland opposite and loop around so we could see her from a distance on the opposite bank. We saw a few warthogs scurrying away, they thought better of it too.
Through the trees, we could see the lion she was now around 30 metres away. She had spotted us, we watched each other for a while, but luckily, she was not up for fun and games, so stood up and walked away from us.
Honestly the lion is here
We once again headed down to the dry riverbed at a very safe distance to see if we could spot her, but she was nowhere obvious to be seen.
The guides believe she was from a pride of around 11, that have been spotted in the area who have cubs. Probably they were all watching us deep within the trees.
I reckon the female lion must have slipped away from the pride, keen for a peaceful nap away from the boisterous cubs, and then we come along and disturb her.
A welcome bit of shade
We are all taken aback as we genuinely can’t believe what we have just witnessed on foot. The spoiler alert is that she was too elusive to catch close up on camera, but to be honest, the emotion of seeing a lion in her natural home is a memory and feeling that will stay with me forever.
Catch our breath, but not for long
Not satisfied with our sightings so far, we head through the brushland back towards the buffalo.
We learn about some of the flora along the way, though I’m not too sure how many of the names are going to stick with me.
Janis behind the safety of a tree
Back in the dry riverbed, we come to a V where two rivers would’ve met and wallowing in a mud pool is a huge hippo.
As hippos are the biggest killer in Zimbabwe, we decide to be cautious, but looking at the sleepy contentment on its face, this hippo was dreaming of other things.
Preparing for your safari?
Did you see our post 'Preparing for your African Safari'? It'll have some handy hints 'n' tips for your next safari.
Hippo wallowing in the mud
Three of us headed forward with Tatendah, to take a closer look, this hippo was enormous and apparently around 2.5 tons. We retreated away, and it hadn’t moved.
Our walk was nearing an end, in single file we headed back towards the buffalo herd we’d seen a little earlier. It is such an exhilarating feeling wandering across the plains, knowing that you are just a visitor to this piece of Africa.
The Iconic landscape
We keep a reasonable distance from the buffalo and decide to go back to the truck and head down to the herd on 4 wheels.
Tatendah keeping an eye out
The buffalos, however, were a little more inquisitive and decided to keep an eye on us until they realised, we weren’t a threat.
Buffalo from the truck
Time waits for no man and four hours had disappeared, but boy, what a memorable four hours they were, we then to head back to the camp.
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