On Safari in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

The view across the Zambezi, from Goliath Safaris Camp

After the wedding, the bridal party (consisting of the bride and groom, the groomsmen, and the bridesmaids) went to stay in Mana Pools National Park, at the Goliath Safaris Luxury Tented Camp. To my great delight, I was included, and spent a magical few days there.

This camp is unique, in that your personal guide is the legendary, Stretch Ferreira, also known as the "Elephant Whisperer". While most safari guides drive their clientele around to view game from the safety of the vehicle, Stretch specialises in walking safaris, where you get to experience the wildlife up close.

The tents are luxurious, each with its own shower room

There is also an area for guests to relax, and gaze out over the stunning view

This is not a permanent camp. Every year, the camp is taken down before the rainy season (usually at the end of October), and reconstructed again in May of the following year, although always on the same stretch of bank overlooking the Zambezi.

Every morning, we left early to look for game, sometimes they found us first!

Stretch led us really close up to this elephant, one he has known for 25 years

Posing to have your photo taken with an elephant in the wild, is quite scary!

We also walked up to lion...

Stretch persuaded us that if we don't threaten them in any way, they won't want to hurt us!

I found it rather intimidating when a pride of lion walked through our camp each night. I could hear then growling, and I was aware that there was only a thin wall of canvas between me and them!

Our group would walk through the bush, closely following Stretch,
 as he followed the animals' tracks.

This buffalo was rather scary too! What do you think? 
Am I being a whimp?

We came across this pack of wild dog

We had been watching the wild dogs for a while, when suddenly a herd of elephant appeared

Without warning, the elephants turned and charged at the dogs. I think it was a bit of
elephant fun, as once the dogs had dispersed, they trundled off again!

Seemingly unconcerned, the dogs wandered back again, and regrouped..

..while the elephants had a good laugh!

The wild dogs leave on a hunt

On another occasion, we watched as the wild dogs set off on a hunt, and then rushed to the vehicles to drive to where Stretch thought they were heading. We must have only taken 5 or 6 minutes to reach the spot, but by then, the dogs had already caught, killed, and eaten a baboon.

Here they are gnawing on the remains...
All that was left was the head of the baboon, and they had
even eaten the brains.

There were beautiful, and tranquil moments too! Not all animals are violent!

One very interesting fact we learned was that impala and baboons have a symbiotic relationship, Whereas the baboons have amazing eyesight, impala have a keen sense of smell, and hearing. They are often seen together, as they warn each other of any predators nearby.

I had such an amazing time at the camp, that I wouldn't hesitate to go back, however scary! I do hope there is a next time!

Elizabeth Coughlan

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