Visiting Mana Pools was imminent
The way from Matobo to Mana Pools is simply too far for a day drive. We decided to spend a night at Chinhoyi. Our goal was to avoid Harare and according to our GPS, there were two possible campsites. The caves of Chinhoyi were our choice. We met some locals who came to braai at the associated picnic sites. They invited us and we had a nice chat with these very hospitable people. Shortly before we reached Mana Pools, in Karoi, we filled up the car to the brim. After buying fresh vegetables at the local market, we set off to master the 170 km long approach road to Mana Pools – the first 100 km on tarred road – curious about what would await us.
Normally, the main roads of the park should be passable by mid-April, and we expected that we would not be able to drive the various loops due to too heavy muddy conditions. When we reached the main camp we were amazed. It looked like the end of the dry season. All trails were not only passable, but completely dry. Mud? No mud at all. In the office we got informed that the rainy season had been more than sparse and there had been far too little rainfall. The nature reflected that. We booked a campsite directly at the bank of the Zambezi river for four nights, and wanted to extend our stay for three more nights.
Mana Pools is dried up
The magic that Mana Pools exudes in many available videos and pictures was unfortunately not visible. The grass was brown or non-existent and the floodplains were mostly desolate. Two of the four “pools” were dried up (Chine Pool) or under filled (Green Pool) and although we drove every available and allowed path, we saw nothing except for some impalas and zebras. On the second day we suddenly had to fight with tsetse flies and these bloodsucking monsters were everywhere. Sonja was virtually sucked out and the appx. 20 bites immediately became infected.
Guido was spared and had no problems. We suffered: Sonja because she fought against the bites and Guido because the magic of the park didn’t want to happen, we didn’t find any wild dogs and also “Boswell” and the other elephant bulls used the “invisibility spell”. Boswell is the famous bull elephant who stands on his hind legs to better reach tasty leaves of certain trees. He developed this technique on his own and some young bulls have copied it, so currently there are four bull elephants in the park that can be found standing on their hind legs if you are lucky.
We didn’t see any of them and encountered a small group of elephants in the bush on the third day. That was it. Instead, we enjoyed the Zambezi River and the Bee-Eaters that nested right on the bank where we camped. The evenings were romantic – we actually always sat right on the bank of the river and enjoyed a campfire and the starry sky.
Come on – do it!
On our last evening nature had a mercy. Suddenly, one of the four bulls stood in front of us or next to our car, looked at us briefly and trotted leisurely along the riverbank. Guido was wide awake, took the camera and followed the bull on foot. When he suddenly started to stretch, it looked for a short time as if we would be able to see the famous trick, but unfortunately, he did not do us the favor, and it remained with the stretching. The branches were deep enough and there was no reason for him to stand on his hind legs.
Later he went into the Zambezi, and we could watch him feeding for a longer time. We both sat on the bank and just watched him – we love that so much, and again we could enjoy the privilege of such an encounter. Despite this great encounter we decided not to extend our stay and to leave the park the next day. Sonja did not get warm and the tsetse flies gave her the rest. You never know what you get!