Guest Blog: The Mana Pools Adventure Trail, Off Camera

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The following guest blog comes from first time Wild Eye guest Britta Muller who joined us for the 2018 edition of the Mana Pools Adventure Trail

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Imagine: a fairy tale forest in golden light, below the arching branches THE elephant with magnificent tusks positions himself perfectly and raises on his hind legs to get to the tasty leaves – the iconic image you wish to go home with after visiting Mana Pools. Did I get that image: no. Am I disappointed: no. In fact, many of the most memorable moments from that trip are not on my memory-card, they are only engrained in my brain.

Some experiences that are hard to catch in camera are of course the noise of the night in the bush. Hearing lions calling from the distance and then a bit closer during the night only to find out that they had checked out the shower and other parts of our camp wasn’t too shabby. Of course, you can also have similar experiences in other unfenced camps but the difference here is that you go out walking the next day, looking for those tracks and the possibility of encountering those cats on foot intensifies the experience (and I’m not really an adrenaline junkie). Then there is the smell of the buffalo herd making its way to the water. The dust they generate when finally daring to come down to the river creates a special mood. Once the dust settles you are met by the intense stare of some of the bulls while you are kneeling in the riverbed taking your photos – you become quite aware of who is in charge. The list could be endless.

And then there are camera moments that never made it on camera. One happened in the riverbed in the dark.

We were doing night photography and I had just put away my gear when a small herd of ellies walked down the riverbed. They just strolled past us, quietly and calmly, one after the other on the other side of the riverbed. They decided it was OK to pass us 10 meters away instead of taking a detour up the banks of the riverbed – a humbling moment. Another image that is only available in my brain is what I witnessed when being inside a gigantic hollow baobab. The trunk was open at the top allowing for some light inside. It was a leopard pantry with the bones of its prey. This was a special experience. To top this off, we could suddenly notice movements in the trunk above us and then see the backlit ears of a bat hanging on one side of the tree. This ancient tree has for sure many stories to tell of those that found shelter in it.

In a way I’m glad that I didn’t get these pics, because it made it even clearer that, to me, a large portion of this trip wasn’t about snapping away, thinking about camera settings and composition but rather about experiencing the bush and savouring nature from a different perspective.

So, yes, the Adventure Trail has broadened my experiences of the world and WildEye has lived up to its slogan of changing the way that people see the world!

Join us for the Mana Pools Adventure Trail

A new look itinerary will see guests spending 3 nights at Chitake Springs, 2 nights sleeping beneath a canopy of stars, and 5 nights on the floodplain of the Zambezi.

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If you would like to contribute to the Wild Eye blog send a mail to gerry@wild-eye.co.za

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