I daily browse through my image library in search of content to share, and often find myself dreaming about returning to all of the beautiful places I’ve been fortunate to have visited.
Few places carry such weight in my heart as does Mana Pools, and I wanted to share a few special photographic memories with you here.
Few places in Africa offers you an equal experience with African wild dogs in the way that Mana Pools can. Almost every sighting you’ll have of them will be on foot, away from the confines of a vehicle – wild & free.
On this morning we found the entire pack within 15 minutes of leaving camp. We stayed with them on foot & watched as they brought down an impala. They were just too far ahead for any real photographic potential, but the experience was second to none!
They soon finished & regrouped and were looking to move again. That’s when I snapped this picture. Our base camp in Mana Pools is just beyond the tree line in the back of the image – talk about getting you in to the right place!
I have never experienced heat before like I did in November 2014. Mana was dry & incredibly dusty, and the animals were pushed right to the edge of the abilities to survive.
We found this herd of buffalo walking through the woodland en-route to the river for a drink. Typically buffalo are very spirited when approaching water. These beasts were tired, they heavy heads drooping low to the ground. It was a struggle, it was tough, it was Africa at its harshest.
After a long hot October afternoon we settled down on the banks of the Zambezi for a drink & a chat. It had been a good day out in the field and the sun had long set behind the escarpment.
This bull stood just off to the side of us and was intent some seedpods high up within the branches of this Winter Thorn. He put all his weight behind him & shook that tree, pods dropping to the ground all around him. It was an incredible show of power & his muscles rippled under the immense effort.
There’s a dark & mysterious aspect to Mana Pools & it’s woodland. It feels enchanted, magical, like a storybook tale.
These two eland – very close to our camp – were just too striking not to capture. Instead of trying to get closer to an animal, Mana & it’s beauty beckons to be seen from a distance, almost as if you should only look and not touch…
When was the last time you photographed in impala? In fact, when was the last time you set out on safari with INTENTIONS of photographing an impala?
Well, this is what makes Mana so special. You end up forgetting about that horrid “checklist”, and you just enjoy taking in nature, and photographing whatever comes your way. The environment is so striking & beautiful that it matters not what your subject is – with decent composition you can make the most “mundane” subjects seem spectacular.
The dogs are out in full force during September, October & November – a brilliant time to spend time with them. They puppies are a few months old and are introduced to the floodplains & surrounds.
These pups came walking up to my guests and I. We lay flat on our bellies and they felt very comfortable in our presence. The pups came to within 3 meters of us, and then settled down & played for some time, intermittently looking over at us to make sure we have not moved too much.
It was magic, pure safari bliss!
There are not many large elephant groups in Mana. They tend to consist of family units – a mom & likely 2 differently aged calves. From time to time they gather, perhaps to mingle, or at a common food source.
On this occasion, a large tree had fallen and presented an opportunity for the elephants to get at the leaves & seedpods. Off to the side stood this mother and baby, a peace-filled scene if ever there was one. I love the mirrored movement, baby doing what his experienced mom was doing.
Our camps in Mana Pools are always located on the edge of the Zambezi River. I love the drive as we return to camp – large elephant bulls often feed on the large Winter Thorns close to the river after quenching their thirst from the mighty Zambezi.
The sun sets across the river behind a large escarpment, and the golden light that fills the floodplain is almost tangible. It creates the perfect opportunity to photograph these big bulls – close to camp – in magnificent light.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read along. I hope the stories & images transported you to the banks of the Zambezi, and gives you an idea of all the great adventures I get up to when on safari with my guests.
Till next time,